#IWSG April 2017 – Anxiety

I’m an anxious person. I get stress about getting stressed. 

Anxiety can hold you back from submitting your writing to magazines for fear of rejection. It can lead you to frustration at a lack of output, drive you to release self-published work without the proper feedback needed – because you know you need to get something out there.

I am trying to own my anxiety and make it work for me. I’ve tried medication for anxiety, and it works to some extent, but let me tell you – without some legwork, no amount of Zoloft is going to help that much.

Literal legwork, as in exercise – if you’re an Insecure Writer, chances are, writing keeps you busy. Maybe you wonder how you can have time for it. Well, the only answer is to make time. 

Do you have 7 minutes in the morning? A lunch break long enough to step outside? Stairs you can take instead of an elevator? I find that even a bit of exercise does wonders for anxiety.

And keep a darned diary already. I’m guilty of not keeping one regularly – I have to force myself. I have to accept that I am never going to want to keep a diary. But I wil keep one anyway – it’s essential.

The point of this rambling? Good habits have to be forced sometimes. You may need medicine for your anxiety, there’s no shame in that, but there are also habits you absolutely DO need. Anxiety and insecurity do not give you excuses – find helpful habits and stick to them. The anxiety won’t go away, but it will be a lot more manageable.

One question remains: did I write today’s post for my readers or for myself? The answer, of course, is a resounding yes.

Exercise 3 Results – Character Conflicts

On Tuesday, I asked you to write about conflicts facing your characters.

 

I gave you one example:

Character Goal: Flynn wants to be a good news reporter.

Conflict: He can’t be a reporter because he is the story now. He has to figure out his new role, and how his skills can help.

 

Here are two more examples for the same character:

Character Goal: Flynn wants to propose to his long-time girlfriend, Darya Fitzgerald.

Conflict: His ship is stranded in unknown space on the other side of the universe.

Character Goal: He wants to be adored and respected among the colonists of his ship.

Conflict: When aliens start talking to him first, many colonists are wary and some even fear him.

 

Note that I still have room to make the above problems even worse. Let’s worry about that next week.

For now, let’s see your characters and conflicts.

 


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#IWSG Follow-up & New Writing Exercises

Hey folks, here’s a quick round up of some of the visitors I received from last week’s Insecure Writer’s Group Post:

James Pailly came over from Planet Pailly, which combines post about real science with a love for science fiction.

M.J. Fifield posted a quick comment, and it turns out she has a book out called Effigy that looks great.

Shari Elder writes steamy genre romances such as Race to Redemption and seems to be quite active in the IWSG.

Arlee Bird of Blogging from A-to-Z fame stopped by. I’m sorry to say my participation is still a “maybe” this year as editing my novel takes priority.

I also had quite a few visitors hop over to my other blog, which was nice to see. The rendition of Far Flung over there is due for some big changes, the first of which is coming very soon – the currently-available version won’t be there much longer.

Thank you to all who visited, and I hope my new series of writing exercises proves of some use to my visitors. I love you, IWSG and all my readers.

iwsg

 

#IWSG March 2017 – My Teaching Begins

Welcome folks with the Insecure Writers Support Group and all my visitors.

This promises to be a busy month, as I’m off vacation and back to work as a teacher. I’ll be teaching ESL to university freshman as I continue hammering out my novel, Far Flung!

I love the question for this month,

Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

Uh, that’s what I’m doing, basically. I tried Far Flung as serial fiction, but my results were not so great. I made the mistake of rushing out the chapters instead of prescheduling – I was too eager to get it out after so many years of being an aspiring author.

What I’m working on now is based heavily on the chapters I released freely earlier. What I released is still available, but might not be for much longer. I will soon replace it with preview chapters for the novel I’m working on. It will be so different, I’m confident people will want this book when it is finished. Characters are deeper, there’s a lot more danger and action, and the story is just better. I expect to have a major announcement regarding my progress later this year.

It’s wonderful to work on this, and in the meantime I’ve been able to do things like help compile another book for the Busan Writer’s Group, and I’ve prescheduled some cool new content for Write, or Else!

Starting next week, some new writing exercises will go up on this blog. These exercises are based off the fiction writing curriculum I made for my advanced ESL students, and should help new writers get started. The first post goes up on Tuesday, March 7 – I hope you stop by when it goes up.

How about you – did you ever dig up an old story and revisit it?

iwsg

 

 

Write What You Know? – #IWSG Post Prompt

This is my January post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

Late by my clock, but hey, it’s still Wednesday is some parts of the world!

iwsg

The prompt for this month is What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?

Write what you know.

Oh yeah, I’m gunning for the big one – which is odd, because I teach this rule in my writing classes for ESL students.

It is a deceptive rule, because it makes you think you should write only from personal experience. Now, do you suppose J.K. Rowling ever actually went to a wizarding school? Did P.L. Travers really have a magical nanny? You think George R.R. Martin ever found himself at a wedding that went horribly, violently wrong?

Probably not. But those writers knew people and knew history. They filled in gaps in their knowledge by researching and talking to people. They blended in their own experiences along with facts and experiences learned from others.

If writers only wrote what they knew, every book would be about a struggling writer, trying to make words flow across the page while wondering how the heck they’ll pay for their next meal. Every character would be just like the author (only far more handsome or beautiful, of course). Conflicts would involve overcoming writer’s block, the quest to find an outlet for an outdated laptop, or the constant paradox of needing to talk to people but being hopelessly introverted. (I love stereotypes, don’t you?)

I humbly propose a revision to the old rule:

Start with what you know.

This is the way I wish it had been taught to me. It’s a far more accurate for the stories I think are my best – I started with an event or situation I knew and worked from there. Characters were based on people I met, though I’ll admit that my main protagonist is often very close to being me. But I never stumbled across a family secret so horrible as that in Painted Blue Eyes, nor did I ever experience a car wreck so bad as the one that kicks off The Door I Chose. I had similar experiences, and I talked to family members and friends who had such experiences. And I picked up from books, TV shows, movies, plays, musicals, and so many other sources. I imagine that successful, best-selling authors will tell you the same thing – they experienced events somewhat similar, or learned of events that they fictionalized. They met people very similar to the ones in their books, or borrowed traits from characters in other media.

Can we all start teaching the rule this way instead?


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From Apathy to Determination

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From Apathy to Determination

I wrote about apathy earlier this year because I couldn’t bring myself to write at all. I was just fed up with everything – a crappy family situation and other things not going well. I rested, I reevaluated, and I nearly lost my full-time job because of burnout. The family situation hasn’t improved, but my writing determination has. I went back to Far Flung – my work that was an online serial, but which I haven’t updated in quite a while now.

I looked carefully at it, and I took in some new inspiration. I played a bit of No Man’s Sky (I’m one of those chumps who preordered, sigh), I read the Legacy Fleet series by Nick Webb, and I started reading The Expanse by James S.A. Corey. Suddenly, Far Flung took over my consciousness again, but I found I din’t want to continue the serial without some better incentive. I simply don’t blog enough to get many readers – I find it too difficult to make good blog entries often, and I type too darn slowly. But if I had something real to show for my work – say a book on Amazon – that might be just the kick I need to revive both Write, or Else! and TCC Edwards dot com.

Just like that, I started writing. I took on Far Flung, going back to the beginning and editing the story. I’m now expanding what I already have, with the goal of producing a book between 300-400 words. I’ve set a goal to finish this draft by the end of November, with editing to follow after that. I’m considering the Inkshares program to get it edited and published.

Just as suddenly, other projects showed up on my radar.

IWSG, a group I love being part of, has a new anthology in the works. My writing group is starting another book. Writers in Daejeon, a city not too far from mine, want me to join their book. And I still have to get something on my blogs, darn it!

I have my fingers in all of these. I have a draft for IWSG in the works, but it’s a trainwreck right now. Editing it into something I’d actually want to submit could take too much of my attention away from other jobs.

I wish I could work faster!

Unfortunately, it’s looking more like I’ll scrap the IWSG project in order to keep the most important things going.

Funny, huh? I went from writing nothing to taking on more than I could handle. It’s a shame – I really did want to be in the anthology with the other IWSG folks, but I have to do a bit of project triage here. The last thing I want – the very worst thing that could happen – is to get too frustrated and find myself unable to finish the book. I need a book out there – a real novel, with my name on it, properly edited, produced, and published. I need it as soon as reasonably possible.

So that’s where I’m at! Working away on this novel and trying to keep my social presence both online and with my writing group. Having to choose carefully what I take on and in what capacity. Deciding what to do with these blogs I pay for.

Honestly, writing itself is the easy part. It’s all this decision-making and figuring out that some things just aren’t going to work that gets difficult!

A Thank You for September’s #IWSG

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I’d like to give a quick shout out to the great people who visited and responded to my September Insecure Writer’s Support Group post!

These commentators include:

Jo-Ann Carson, lovindanger.wordpress.com

C.D. Gallant King, cdgallantking.ca

Joylene Nowell Butler, cluculzwriter.blogspot.com

Elsie Amata, mockturtlemusings.com

Victoria Adams, victoriaadams.blogspot.com

Debbie Johansson, debbie-johansson.com

Mandy and Justin, aandj8804.blogspot.com

Diane Weidenbenner, dianeweidenbenner.com

Karen Lynn, reprobatetypewriter.com

 

And of course, a big thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh and all of the IWSG for great work this month.

 

Don’t forget to try your hand at the latest IWSG anthology contest, folks – it looks like a good one!