Jilly: Time Lock

time-lockDo you set yourself long-term goals? Do they inspire you?

In my personal and professional life, I’ve always been a pantser rather than a planner. I have a set of psychometric evaluation reports written about me more than 25 years ago that resulted in my setting a personal mission statement: to enjoy life and seek challenges. If I could track down the coach that helped me write that statement, I’d shake her hand. It’s as valid now as it was in 1990.

I don’t think I’ve ever set myself a concrete, specific long-term goal. I do think I’ve been good at recognizing—and grabbing—special opportunities when they’ve crossed my path. Continue reading

Nancy: Writers Resist

democracy-pen-americaAn interesting thing happened in America on Sunday. Writers – novelists, poets, songwriters, essayists, and artists of every stripe – gathered in cities and towns across the country for “a re-inauguration of our shared commitment to the spirit of compassion, equality, free speech, and the fundamental ideals of democracy.”

The collective movement is called Writers Resist (#writeourdemocracy), and the gatherings encouraged writers to read original works, participate in panel discussions about democracy, and show support for the most important pillar holding up the house of democratic government – free speech. Many of us in this country have taken for granted a right that is, in actuality, far too easy to stifle, as many of our kindred writer souls across the world could have told (and have been telling) us.
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Jilly: Filling the Well

filling-the-wellWhat have you done to recharge your batteries/top up your creative well this week? I’ve spent most of the last three days with my nose in a book (well, pressed against a Kindle.) It’s been wonderful.

I had great plans to read and recharge over the holidays. That didn’t happen, because I used all my spare time to work on my Golden Heart entry. I wrote a new opening scene—it took multiple attempts before I finally found one I liked. I figured out an opening sentence that made promises about the story instead of just plunging into the action. I filled in plot holes. I checked the etymology of every significant word to make sure it was appropriate to my world. I tailored my metaphors. I wrote a new synopsis that reflected Alexis and Kierce’s relationship arc instead of wandering off into the mystery sub-plot. And then—yay!—this week, I uploaded the lot to the RWA website.

I have a lot of work left to do on this story, but I needed a breather so I decided to treat myself to the book binge I didn’t get in December.

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Michaeline: January Potpourri

New Year's post card with David Bowie as a rooster

Wishing you a New Year’s full of creativity and surprise! (Original artwork by Emily Duskova)

First of all, let me wish you a prosperous, productive 2017, full of stories and fun! It’s the year of the Rooster in Japan, and soon enough, we’ll be able to celebrate Chinese New Year on January 28, so if you missed your goals for Occidental New Year, there’s a second chance coming soon! Clean, plan, and get your eggs all in the proper basket, LOL!

Today, I have lots of little things to clean up. How did last week’s puzzle work for you? (Missed it? You can play HERE.) Continue reading

Michaeline: My Favorite Tip of the Year

A Venus Pencil advertisement

Grab your pencil! Let’s write for the love of the game! (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

My favorite trick of the year is a mind trick. Remember when I made a word puzzle full of happy words to prime my subconscious? If not, I talked about it and the scientific evidence supporting the technique here on Eight Ladies Writing. This is purely anecdotal evidence, but I had a great writing week after I did it (see results here on 8LW), and I meant to do it again. Can you believe it’s been just a smidge over 11 months since we tried this? Well, here’s trial two, just in time to give your new year a little writing boost.

Will it really work? Well, it depends on how you work. Priming experiments haven’t been reliably replicated, but . . . it may work. A Psychology Today blog here explains how priming may be the first step in “canalization”; in other words, the first step in creating a track for your thoughts to flow down. If you can channel your thoughts in the same direction enough times, they will begin to flow in that direction naturally. But like the placebo that works if you think it will work (and there is scientific evidence to prove that it might), it just might work.

Here’s the game: I’ve jumbled up some positive words. Your task is to unjumble them, and then see what happens to your writing. I’ll report back next week with my results. Here we go: Continue reading

Nancy: It’s the End of the Year As We Know It

Happy-New-Year-2016Is it just me, or was 2016 a terrible horrible no good very bad year? We had Brexit and the US election; ’nuff said. Then there were the deaths of icons: David Bowie, Prince, Keith Emerson, Leonard Cohen, Gene Wilder. Things felt strange on the good days, bleak on the not-so-good-days. On the personal front, I fought through the day job from hell and dealt with a minor but weird medical issue that culminated in surgery.

But in good times or in bad – perhaps especially in bad – writers need to write. We do it to save our sanity and maybe even to save the world. As Donald Maass told the group gathered at the UnConference I attended in early November, the world needs our stories now more than ever. So if 2016 is our inciting incident and writing is our call to action, where are you in your story quest?

Looking back at January 2016 (was it really just a year ago? really???), I was facing months of a crazy day job with impossible deadlines and terrible hours. I anticipated that would mean less time for writing, and unfortunately I was so, so right. But this year I set different goals than in previous years, goals that were not about word counts and finishing multiple stories, but about joie d’ecriture. Now almost 12 months later, it’s time to analyze the results and fess up to how well I did or didn’t fare. Continue reading

Michaeline: Let’s Have Fun With Writer’s Block! Strategy #3

Playing with puppets was a little bit awkward, but it paid off.

Two children in the ocean playing with dolls in a toy boat.

All at sea with your work in progress? Try finding a friend to play off of. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

My writing buddy came over for lunch on Sunday, and fortunately, she’s the kind of bright, cheerful person who is willing to try anything. So even though I felt like a fool for asking, I knew she’d probably give the puppet play a work.

Anyone who has played dollies in the past (or with figurines) knows how it goes. I had my friend read the prequel to my current WIP so she’d get a feel for Thom and Nixie, the characters who were giving me problems. Then I said, “You be Thom, and I’ll be Nixie.” And we played.

After one slip-up, I gave her free reign with the character – it’s not productive to say to your partner, “No, he doesn’t act like that.” The point is to figure out things your own brain can’t think up. I can play the scene later by myself and make the character “do it right”. But my friend was very kind. After her short joke about, “That’s not how you play dollies,” Continue reading