Blogging Blahs

I’ve been a shamefully neglectful blogger lately.

I can’t offer any excuses, other than I just haven’t been into it. I’ve kept up with the blogs I follow, mostly. I read your posts when they land in my inbox, but I’ve been too lazy to let you know I was there with a Like or a comment, so my apologies. I’ve come down with a case of the blogging blahs.

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That’s not to say I haven’t been busy with other writing endeavors. Currently I’m enrolled in two different workshops, one of which may appeal to you. Why? Because it’s offered through The University of Iowa (of the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop) and it’s FREE.

How Writers Write Fiction is a free workshop that runs through the 21st November. Each week a new craft topic is presented by video lecture, an assignment is given, and students have the option of posting the assignment on the course forum. Participation is worldwide, and is open 24 hours per day.

The extent to which you participate is entirely up to you. Although the course has already begun, it’s not too late to sign up. It’s worth checking out — who doesn’t like free?

At the same time, I’m workshopping the first three chapters of the YA novel I began in July’s Camp NaNoWriMo. It’s one of many courses offered through WOW! Women on Writing.

Even though I haven’t finished the first draft, I took a long break from the manuscript to rethink the plot and my character’s goals and motivations. Thanks to the encouragement of many of my blog readers, I finally made peace with the notion of revising as I go. In my case, breaking this writing rule has fueled my desire to continue.

Going forward, I hope to get back on track in the blogosphere. Have you ever been weighed down by the blogging blahs?

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , | 54 Comments

What’s Your Most Valued Writing Tip?

When I started writing creatively some years ago, it was magical. I adored my characters and the story I was trying to tell. Since I knew so little about craft, there was nothing to weigh me down. The hours I invested were pure joy.

Unfortunately, all that magic went up in smoke when I enrolled in a workshop. I realized how much I had to learn. Opening work up to readers (and their criticism) will do that, and it hurt. I missed my safe, solitary writing world.

Still, the workshop taught me a lot about rules every writer should follow: show, don’t tell; limit adverbs; open with a strong hook, and on and on.

Crown Fountain in Chicago

Crown Fountain in Chicago

Besides these hard-and-fast rules, there’s no shortage of advice for writers, and much of it’s conflicting. What works for one may not work for another.

For example, author Kourtney Heintz blogged about a no-no she lives by in Confession Time: I Revise as I Go. Her post illustrates how individualized the writing process is. There’s really no right or wrong way to go about it.

Write every day is an axiom many embrace, but I can stick to it for only a short period of time. I inevitably burn out and need time away from the laptop to recharge. And that’s okay. It’s what works for me.

How do you know which advice to follow and which to discard? Maybe it’s as simple as knowing your writing self and feeling comfortable in your own skin.

A tip I recently discovered in Wired for Story, by Lisa Cron, has become one of my favorites:

Whether it’s your first draft or your fifteenth, relax. Instead of thinking each draft has to be “it,” just try to make your story a little bit better than it was in the previous draft.

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What’s the best advice you’ve received? Is there a tip you value above all the rest?

Please share in the comments!

 

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , | 43 Comments

Rainy Day in a Corn Field

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Anyone who writes knows how lonely the process can be. I’ve often wondered how writers coped with the solitude before the age of the Internet, since I’ve connected with most of my writing friends online. Maybe that’s why meeting my virtual friends in person is so exciting.

This past July, I got to meet my writing buddy Kourtney Heintz, who was touring the Midwest to promote her debut novel, The Six Train to Wisconsin (check out my review here). As luck would have it, a stop on Kourtney’s tour included a workshop presentation about an hour’s drive from my home in Chicago.

We met up at a university in DeKalb, Illinois, a rural hamlet nestled among the corn fields. There’s nothing quite like meeting an online friend in person: hearing her real voice (not just her writing voice), seeing her smile, enjoying her humor. She’s taller than I expected, too.

It rained for much of the afternoon, but we managed to fit in a leisurely walk around campus. Kourtney filled me in on the book tour happenings and gave me a glimpse into the non-writing side of an author’s life. After our walk, we relaxed in the air-conditioned comfort of a coffee shop and chatted about all things writing. Friends can cover a lot of ground with online conversations, but it can’t compare to an old-fashioned face-to-face over a nice up of tea.

Kourtney’s workshop, “Turning Up the Heat: Writing Good Love Scenes,” was a small but personal gathering. I loved seeing her in action and learning her 7 techniques for making the most of an intimate scene.

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Author Kourtney Heintz (center), with me (right), and ultimate fan, Margaret.

Probably coolest of all was a local fan, Margaret, who turned up to attend the workshop. Margaret had discovered The Six Train to Wisconsin in DeKalb’s public library, and her enthusiasm was infectious. She gushed about the characters and Kourtney’s writing style, and how the story spoke to her as both a reader and writer. I’d imagine these are the moments emerging authors live for.

On my way out the door I picked up another copy of Six Train, which Kourtney personalized with a charming message and autograph. It was the cherry on top of a really exciting day.

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The Six Train to Wisconsin is available in Paperback through: Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Ebook available through: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, and iTunes.

Love is a journey, never a destination ~ Author Kourtney Heintz

 

photos courtesy: wikimedia commons, Kourtney Heintz

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , | 37 Comments

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