Let’s Celebrate: An IWSG Post

Good day,
It’s the first Wednesday of August. (Can’t believe we’re in August already.) As such, it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group post. Alex Cavanaugh, the fearless leader, spearheads this campaign to encourage writers of all levels with stories from our peers. Those who participate either post a story from their experience or answer an optional question provided by the captains. Any questions or to learn more about the group can be found here.

So, let’s chat.

Camp NaNo is in the books for a lot of writers. To those who participated, I hope you made progress with your WIPs, whether you made your word count goal or not. At the end of the day, I believe that’s what it boils down to. I, myself, have never participated in Camp NaNo, so this is pure speculation. But usually during the camp sessions and the real NaNoWriMo, I have my own writing goals. This month, I made two goals: to write every day in July and to write a short story a week. 

Let’s start with the first. To write every day in July. I admit that there was an alterior motive for this goal. I’m a member of the 365 Writing Club Facebook group. And the administrators award badges for certain accomplishments. From the beginning, I set the goal to write every day. And every month, I fell short. (May was the worst.) Then, over the summer, I found a group on Twitter called the Turtle Writers (#turtlewriters, for anyone curious). So while I was getting more familiar with the group, July came around. And the group discussed goals. One member mentioned that she wanted to focus on writing every day. I jumped on board, thinking that this might give me some reward for writing every day for the month. Soon after, another person joined in on the conversation, and soon enough we had an accountability circle.

So July has passed and I am happy to say that I met the goal. This had been a first for me. And certainly, there were days where I didn’t think I would meet this goal, especially considering my daily schedule. But I came to the realization that if I was going to meet this goal, I had to focus. I had to make the time and spur myself to write something, whether it be a journal entry or a blog post or a section of a short story. I had to be more aware on what time was available to me and use it to write. Like I said, it wasn’t easy. But I felt so better getting something down, even if I fell short of my daily word count goal. 

Now, on to the second goal. And like the first one, there’s a reason behind it. I’ve heard it said from numerous sources that a writer should be able to write a story in one sitting. And for the longest time, I held to that belief. But that’s never been my style. Whenever I write stories, it takes, at minimum, a week. There have been few occasions where I complete a story in one sitting. But I went against what a lot of my writer friends deemed old-school thinking when it comes to the length of time to write a story. I decided to play conservative and write a story a week. And not just write contemporary pieces, but challenge myself to write outside the genre. I created a Twitter poll on what genres I should write one of my stories in. 

Sadly I missed this goal by one story. But it’s still worth celebrating. Yes, I wrote my contemporary story, but I wrote two stories outside my “expertise.” I wrote a fantasy and science fiction story. I have to say that both stories took a good amount of time to craft. The reason being that I didn’t trust myself. I sought approval from those more experienced. But I found myself not being happy with them. I had a good amount of false starts. I shared my grievances with a friend on Twitter and she encouraged me with three words: “Go into hyperdrive.” In layman’s terms, it meant let myself be free. Don’t worry so much about the rules. Don’t be afraid to write what I wanted to write. So I did and I felt much better writing them, even if it took longer than what I anticipated. The science fiction story took two weeks to finish. But in the end, I felt better about it.

So I have three stories I wrote in July. I wasn’t going to worry myself overcpolishing them. There are a lot of inconsistencies, but I went into the mindset of just writing them just to say I wrote them. After some consideration, I decided to edit and make new drafts. And there’s the Flash Fiction Hive group on Twitter. They’re starting a new month of challenges. I will certainly take them up and post one or two on my blog.

So, that’s the summary of July. All in all, I did a great job. But I want to hear from you. What goals did you set for the month? Did you meet them? What lessons did you learn from the experience? Feel free to share. We’re all in this together. 

Until next time, take care…

Weekend Coffee Share: The Last Moments of Summer

Good morning,

If we were having coffee, we would be at Starbucks right now. Thought it would be nice to have a change of pace. I usually get a frappuccino whenever I’m here. 

I’m still a little beat after yesterday. Actually, the past week. Kind of a last hurrah before Zoe starts school this week. We entertained some of the neighborhood kids. And one of our friends’ daughters visited Zoe and spent the night for a couple of days. Tuesday, we took a trip to downtown Atlanta to visit the Children’s Museum and Centennial Olympic Park, where she and Jaxon played in the fountain. Yesterday, we had a neighborhood yard sale. Didn’t make any money. It’s not like people didn’t know, but it was last minute.

Work is work. Walmart has been kind of stressful. Not only because it’s the back-to-school season, which is the precursor to the holiday season, but we’re having inventory. That’s always a stressful time. For the managers at least. I’m grateful I’m not in that position, but it seems like they pass the stress to us lowly associates. Doesn’t seem right, but what can you do?

I am reconsidering my second job. Delivering pizzas has been a nice change of pace, but it’s not working out as I hoped. The pay has not been contributing to increase the income. But part of that is because of the payments I’m making on some of my bills. Right now, I’m making payments on my new car every two weeks. I have to keep it up for a couple more months. And I’m not getting the full forty hours at Walmart anymore because they’ve changed the operating hours in my department. So I’m looking for another part-time job. My wife suggested Lyft. It would be no different than what I’m doing at Pizza Hut, except there’s no food involved. And I would have more flexibility. I can set my own hours. At least that’s what I’ve been hearing. I’m going to look more into it. 

My writing has been wonderous. I set a challenge to write every day this week. Saturday, I almost broke the streak. Not that it would be a bad thing, but I wanted to prove to myself that it was possible. I may take a small break from it once the first of the month rolls around. Between the posts on my blog, writing in my journal, and the short story project, I’m a bit tuckered out. Speaking of the short story project, it doesn’t look like I’ll make that goal. The science fiction story took almost two weeks to complete. But to be fair, I had trouble writing a story I liked. I went from a military operation to a tree in a space colony and back to the military thing. The third attempt was the charm as I brought back a character from my first foray into writing. Gave him a real name and added a ton of new characters. 

I wrote three stories this month. The most since I don’t know when. Granted, they’re first drafts, but still, I’m proud of myself. When writing them, I hadn’t thought about editing them, but I’ve changed my mind. I’ll read over the stories and pick which one to edit and rewrite first. In the meantime, the Flash Fiction Hive is starting a new month of challenges in a couple of days. So I’m looking forward to it. And hopefully, I’ll be able to add more stories to my blog. And maybe not have the whole “Happily Ever After” thing go on. 

Well, it’s time to wrap things up here. Have to get to work. Glad you guys could meet me here. Please let me know in the comments how you’re week has been and what you’re looking forward to as the start of the school year closes in. 

Until next time, take care…

2017 Midyear Update: An IWSG Post

Good morning,

The first Wednesday of the month has arrived. So, it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group post. For those unfamiliar with this, bloggers all over post something the first Wednesday of the month, sharing something about their writing journey. The purpose is to encourage writers of all levels. If you want more information, click on the link here.

So, the bloggers of the IWSG have options. We can share something original or can answer a question provided by the group leaders. Today, seeing as we’re midway through the year, I thought I’d share what I’ve been up to thus far.

At the beginning of the year, I kept my goals to myself. I thought there was no need to put my business out there because it meant I wouldn’t be as disappointed if I failed to meet my goals. But three months ago, in another IWSG post, I did. I had to share my goals. I needed encouragement, yes, but I also needed accountability. And I thought that by posting my intentions, people would read it and volunteer to hold me to what I set out to do. I had a few people step up after the post. But I’m always searching for more.

All right, enough of the prelude. I set four goals this year. Here’s the progress report. 

Write a short story outside my genre. I kind of put a halt on this goal. I did write a draft of a science-fiction story, but it’s been only the first draft. I haven’t started the second draft. But I’m looking to start a new story in another genre. Maybe fantasy. Maybe adventure. Haven’t decided yet.

Submit a short story to a magazine or contest. I just about gave up on this goal, but thanks to one of my Twitter friends, Julie, I decided to pick this goal back up. She gave me a website that had a database of contests and magazines I could submit my work to. I’m sure many of you have heard of it, Poets and Writers. I have it bookmarked on all my electronic devices. So I’m still trying to decide on where to send my work. 

Compile stories for a short story series. I have one story written, but am working on more. I almost gave up on this goal as well, especially given my track record. But I’m pushing through. I am bound and determined to make this happen. 

Write a short story a month. Out of the four initial goals, this is one where I haven’t done so well. I’ve lost track on how many stories I’ve done, but I know it’s not where I hoped I would be.

Honestly, I could have done better with the progress of these goals. In between the last update and this one, I about gave up on writing for some dumb reasons. The biggest was that I wasn’t writing every day. I’m part of a writing club on Facebook where you record word counts each day. In the month of May, I recorded more zeroes than in previous months. Some days I recorded back-to-back zeroes. In addition, I felt like I was getting a lot of support in what I was writing: contemporary short stories. And I posted my frustrations on both on social media.

I acknowledge the stupidity of those reasons. And I say stupid because after my rants, I was reminded of the support I have from fellow writers, even though they write works that are different from mine. And it also helped that I followed some friends’ advice to search outside the box, especially on Twitter.

Like I said, I feel like I made some slow progress on the initial four. But I developed some new goals along the way. 

Write a short story a week. This wasn’t something I initially thought about doing. It’s hard enough to write a draft, edit, and compose a polished piece in a month. Doing it all in a week sounds near impossible. And yet, I keep hearing that it’s possible for writers to write a short story in a week. So, I’m going to try it. I have a bunch of prompts I’ve pulled from Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook (thanks to the 365 Writing Club), and searching Google. And the prompts vary in genre. So I am going to pick the four that scream to me to be written. I’ve already started one. Wish me luck on the rest. 

Read a book outside my genre. I wrote a post about this a few weeks ago. To summarize, I regretted not reading more books outside of school requirements and I’m trying to make up for it. Reading more leads to writing more and writing better, as it has been quoted numerous times. And my thought is that if I am to write outside my genre, I need to know some things about those genres that interest me. Research is involved, yes, but I think it’s going to take reading and studying the stories to learn what works and what doesn’t. I got some good suggestions from some fellow bloggers. And I’m on the hunt for more leads. 

Write every day for a month. This sounds generic and highly unlikely. I joined the afore mentioned Facebook club with the intent to write every day. But that May, I lost sight of the purpose of the club: to build a healthy, realistic writing routine. So, this month, I’m going into writing every day with that mindset. And it helps that I have some friends on Twitter that are going to hold me and each other accountable.

Well, that’s where I stand halfway through the year. I want to hear from you, my fellow writers and bloggers. 

Where are you as far as your writing journey goes? Is there anything I can do to encourage you? Do you need an accountability partner? Please let me know in the comments. Whatever you need, I’m here. Let’s help each other.

Until next time, take care…

Quitting Time: An IWSG Post


Good afternoon.

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time for another post for Insecure Writers Support Group. Bloggers like me write a little something to inspire and encourage fellow writers. We either write an original post, or answer a question provided to us by the group. If you want to know more about the IWSG, click here.

For today’s post, I am going to answer this month’s question:

Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

This is a topic I covered before on my blog, as well as read on others. It’s one of those things that never gets old in the sense that we’ve all felt like giving up on our writing. The reasons are different, but it doesn’t change the fact that at some point in our writing journey, we wanted to throw in the towel. 

I wanted to quit–and have–on several occasions. One time, I quit because I wasn’t doing anything with my degree. I wasn’t taking that next step in writing a novel. Another time, I quit because I wasn’t writing as often as I “should have.” I took it as I wasn’t serious about writing, even though I had a degree. And even when I decided to take my writing more seriously, I felt like giving up for the reasons I just mentioned. 

I jumped off the wagon too many times to count. Just recently, I wanted to quit because I felt like I wasn’t getting the support I hoped for on social media. It sounds silly, like the afore mentioned “reasons,” but allow me to elaborate.

I’m a member of a few Facebook groups and I follow a lot of writers on Twitter. I say about 90% of the members and writers I follow are writing novels in either science fiction or fantasy. And most of them are geared for young adults. The hashtag games I follow on Twitter feel like it’s skewered toward those genres. Nothing wrong with it, but those are not my interests. I’m set in writing short stories in contemporary fiction. That’s what I know. And it’s been hard finding writers who share my interests in the format and genre of my choice.

To move this subject more towards writing, I dreamed up of writing numerous series of short stories to post on my blog. Recently, I had an idea of writing stories set in a barbershop. But I gave them up because I felt there were too many issues that couldn’t be ignored. I chalked them up to a number of reasons. Not having enough experience in the matter. Not having enough conflict in the stories. Too many characters in the stories. The list can go on and on.

So, as you can see, I have a history on giving up on writing. And until now, I spouted a lot of reasons. But the more I think about it, I’m coming to understand a single trend. Writing, no matter the endeavor, requires two things: passion and commitment. It’s one thing if you’re burnt out. It’s another if you aren’t passionate or committed to push through when the times get tough; when you feel like no one supports you. I haven’t been either committed or passionate. I gave up on my projects way too easy. I wasn’t willing to stick with it. 

So, I have a commitment issue. I have a passion issue. But…I still write. So the question is, what keeps me going, knowing the issues I have? The answer: I love to write. I can’t imagine not writing. I believe it’s in my blood. And no matter how many times I’ve fallen off the horse, I get back on. Why? Because I love it. So maybe it’s not a passion issue in terms of the whole spectrum; just a specific area. And, contrary to my beliefs, I have support. Support from many writing friends on social media. Support from my family. And I have hope. Hope that regardless of what I write, I will find someone who shares my passion and will spur me to write the best damn story I can. That’s what keeps me going. 

I want to hear from you. Have you wanted to quit? Be honest. What keeps you going when you feel the urge? Let me know in the comments, and let’s talk.

Until then, take care…

2016 A to Z Challenge: T is for Twitter

2016AtoZDay20

Social media has blossomed into a community all its own. Many platforms like Facebook and Google Plus have used these platforms to their advantage. Writers, in particular, have seen the social advantages of these platforms, creating communities among its peers. I think out of all the social media sites writers use, I think Twitter is the best. Continue reading “2016 A to Z Challenge: T is for Twitter”

Free Writing

I have been in some lovely, informative Twitter chats the past couple of weeks. So what I want to do is to post my perspective on these sessions. Obviously, it’s not going to be every week, and not every session is going to provide blog material. But I feel privileged to be among fellow writers that have the same struggles as I do and are gaining the same experience. Continue reading “Free Writing”

Students of the Game

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Fireside Chat.”

As a new blogger, I am fascinated how others started blogging and sharing their works. There are a few whose blogs I follow and have “met” on Twitter. Those who share a passion for writing. I want to learn from them on their writing process, what they’re working on, and incorporate their lessons and techniques so I can become a better writer.

It’s true that when we write, we usually spend it by ourselves, shut off from the rest of the world for moments at a time, creating something out of nothing. But as in life, writing is not meant to be hoarded or boxed away. Writers, as with anyone else, cannot navigate the waters alone. Writers need other writers to balance them out; to share their works, to discuss what works and what doesn’t. One of my goals is to meet and join a writing group. So far, it’s gone rather slowly. Partly because I haven’t dedicated the time to research groups in my area. I look to get better and find a group that can work around my hectic schedule. (Good luck to me finding such a group, but that’s what social media is for, I suppose.)

There are so many people I’ve met through Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress, it’s hard to choose one or two or three people I really want to sit down and have a long chat. I want to meet them all. I believe we can learn from each other. In a way, we’re all students of the game.