Let's Talk Drought

6:00 AM

So Nano is next month. *cue the screaming* I'm super pumped to be writing a brand new project! I love the first drafting process, and the chance that November gives me to revel in that. Normally I spend October on planning posts that are focused on developing book ideas, characters, settings, etc. But in light of the recent hiatus, I felt that the blog was in need of a different sort of planning month.

So. Let's talk drought.



What exactly is a drought? Or, in writer lingo, a creative dry season?

There are many definitions, and many aspects of a dry season, but for this post I'm going to assign writing dryness a simple definition.

No motivation. 

When you're in a dry season, you have no motivation to do anything. You might want to do something. You might want to write that blog post or edit that chapter, but when you sit down you just ... can't. It's like someone's stacked bricks on your arms and locked your brain in a closet under your grandmother's staircase. You want to work in a logical sense, but your spirit just isn't there. Your spirit wants to watch Netflix for three hours or curl up and sleep. Or read that book that's been on your shelf since last April. Or play Settlers of Catan with your little siblings. Or--

You get the point. When you're in a dry season, anything looks better than writing. Writing, which was once this glamorous, enticing escape from the monotonous reality we all live in, is now something you dread. It's something you try to avoid thinking about, and quite possibly hide from.

And sometimes it's something you don't think about at all, and it's not intentional. That's almost worse than avoiding it on purpose. Because you can't help it if you don't consciously think about your book often. You can go days--weeks, even--without your characters coming to mind even once, and then before you realize it, it's been a month since you even touched your third draft.

Anyone relate?

I lasted a long time before hitting major dry seasons, and I think there's a reason for that. We all write because we love it and like doing it, to some extent. But there comes a point in every writer's journey when the like of writing, the desire for it, the drive to do edits and make your mess of a novel a masterpiece becomes ... work.

Because, to some extent, that's what writing is for us writers. If you're in it for the long haul, if you're serious about your writing, if you want to craft a good story ... then it's going to take work.

And sometimes, work just isn't fun.

I don't have the answers. If I'm being honest with you all, I'm still in this dry season. I haven't touched my edits in exactly a week. Two years ago, that would never have happened. But nowadays, it's a common occurrence.

Now. Am I just trying to drudge up unpleasant facts, or is there a point to what I'm saying?

There is a point, believe it or not. The point is this: if you acknowledge that writing is hard, and that writing takes work, you won't be taken by surprise when it begins to feel like it. You won't be taken by the fear that you're doing something wrong, that you've messed up somehow because this isn't what you signed up for. You'll be ready to tackle that dry period with determination.

We'll talk more next week on what that looks like. But for now, I want you to think about your writing routines. What do you do when sitting down to write or edit? What do you think about to get yourself in the zone? How do you approach writing, and what makes you stick with a project?

I'll see you next week!

<3

My Unplanned Hiatus and the Battle for the Future

11:27 PM

I know what you're thinking. "She's alive? She hasn't been on here in ages!" 

I know, I know. I was wondering where I went to. Well, I'm here to shed a little light on that subject. 



Here's the deal: I went to college. I'd been planning it in my mind for ages. I knew I'd be leaving home and facing a lot of new things. School, friends, social life, being independent, being on my own, etc. The list goes on. I didn't know what my blogging would become, but as I feared, it became nonexistent. 

It wasn't that I didn't want to blog. It wasn't even that I had no time. I was busy, yes, but I've always found a way to make time, and going to college wasn't going to change that for me.

It's that I was creatively drained and, to be honest, I didn't know what to say. Every time I thought about writing a blog post, my mind went blank. Suddenly, I had nothing to write about anymore. I was empty. 

And then, last weekend, I went to the ACFW conference in Nashville.

This conference changed my life. It majorly impacted the way I perceived a lot of things in the writing world. It changed the way I thought about social media. It gave me peace and foundation in my plan to wait for pursuing publication. But the biggest thing I brought back from this conference (aside from the fantastic friendships I made while there) was the information I gleaned about building a platform.

A lot of people have been saying blogging is dying. I don't think that's entirely true. At least, I'd like to believe it's not. And while it's not "where it's at" compared to Instagram and Twitter, it still holds a special place in my heart. 

I realized several things at the conference, and one of them was why blogging mattered to me, personally. Other forms of social media/platform are great, but the blogging community (at least, the one I've found myself part of) mainly consists of artists. More specifically, writers. There are all sorts of people on Instagram (which is FABULOUS!) but with blogging, I have a chance to reach out to people who really get me. People who know, first hand, the blessings and challenges of doing what you love. People like those at the conference.

Being surrounded by writers reminded me of who I am and, more importantly, who I want to be. I want to spend my life writing books and telling stories and reaching out to people through vivid characters and vast storyworlds. That's what I love. And that's why I'm here, typing up this blog post in my college dorm room in the deep hours of the night. I'm here because I love writing, and I want to share that love with anyone who comes along, and offer advice from things I've discovered to my fellow writers.

I'm probably not going to post every week, and that's okay. The point is I'm going to post when I can. And that's the best I can do. 

So. I now have a stronger mission for this little blog than ever. I'm going to become a better writer every day that I'm alive, and this blog is going to be my way of holding to that. I want each and every week of my life to pass with a lesson learned. It doesn't have to be big or earth shattering. It just has to be change. 

And that change starts now. 


Do you blog? Have you ever found yourself in a season where you no longer know what to say? Talk to me in the comments. I've missed you all!

<3

Writing

Keys to a Balanced Writing Diet

6:00 AM

"You're so pretty."

"You're so sweet."

"Man, you're such a good writer!"

"I love your ideas--you're so creative and inspiring!"

Don't comments like this just make your day? When someone says something, be it in a blog comment or in an email or message, I get all warm and fuzzy inside. The words lift me up into the clouds and make me feel as if I can do and be anything.

The power of words is extraordinary.

But while words are good and healthy and beneficial to us, they can also be dangerous. 

See, while compliments can lift us up, insults and criticism can bring us down. If we let the words of others have too much power over us, we surrender our peace and happiness to their will. It's easy to see the harm in harsh words, but we have to remember that whether it's a compliment or an insult, it's still one person's opinion. Ultimately, you need to decide what you think of your book. You need to decide if you're going to keep writing and why. Are you going to write because your little sister thinks it's the most amazing book ever? What happens when she finds a new favorite book? Or her best friend thinks your first chapter was just "okay"?

Feedback and praise from others is so great to take in. But it's kind of like sugar. It's sweet--but addictive. If you only eat sugar, you're going to get weak quickly. You need solid foods in your body. The protein of good craft books and blog posts, the vegetables of self discipline, and the grains of determination.



PROTEIN 

If you keep feeding yourself constructive criticism, you'll keep growing. One problem with just eating sugar is that while it tastes good, you don't grow. That's why constructive criticism is so valuable. It expands you as a writer, and helps you see both your strengths and your weaknesses.

The best kind of feedback is full of positive comments, and notes on weaker areas in your writing. Even though that doesn't feel like the most awesome feedback at the time, it is the healthiest for you. Everyone needs protein, even if they don't really like eating chicken or kale.


VEGGIES

Everyone needs their veggies. In writing life, you've got to write for more than just your readers. You've got to write for yourself. Because at the end of the day, it's you that has to do all the work. It's you that's left with your characters, it's you that has the stack of paper filled with your messy words, red pen waiting. You're the one that has to spend hours in front of a screen trying to find the right words.

At the end of the day, you're the one that writes the book. While sugar is a great treat--word wars and sharing snippets--sometimes you're not going to have access to those sweets. You won't be able to find a good snippet to share, and so you won't be able to flail much with your writer friends. You don't really have a good way to explain your book, so you just have to tell them theirs sounds amazing, and you'll tell them about yours someday.

At the end of the day, it's up to you.


GRAINS

Shove down the rice. You've got a book to write.

Determination is your fuel. Just like carbs give you energy to run that mile, determination will see you through those countless hours of work that your book requires of you.

Writing stamina is something that grows over time. But it's also something you can't get from anyone else. People can encourage you and help you along the way. They can give you boosts and spikes of energy, but the long endurance of the writing journey is up to you and you alone. If a certain writing friend were to stop messaging you, would you still write your book? If a dear friend you met through writing were to grow apart, would you drift from your novel also?

Grains are important. And grains are a lot of small things that pile into a big one.


DESERT 

Sugar is not a meal. It's a reward for having eaten (as we say in my family) a "happy plate". Once all the veggies and meats and grains are gone, you get to reward yourself by downing that delicious bowl of ice cream.

Struggling to edit your next chapter? Tell yourself that when you finish, you can look at the comments your critique partner sent over. Having trouble editing during the war? Tell yourself that if you meet your goal, you can tell your friend about that book idea you had the other day and can't stop thinking about.

Others can help you (we need their help!), but they cannot do the work for you. Writing can be encouraged and supported, but being a writer is up to you.


What are your small grains? What keeps you writing? What do you think of feedback?

<3

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