Tag: writing process

Home > ArchivesTag: writing process

How To ReStart Writing After A Prolonged Break

July 12, 2023 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , ,

How do you restart writing after taking a prolonged break? Do you jump in to a daily quota right away or start slowly one time a week working on your manuscript? Do you spend time reading what you wrote, first? Or, do you start writing a new scene to work with something fresh? Do you start a completely new project, or go back to the one you were working on before?

Blog banner titled how to restart writing, after taking a break by Denise M. Colby

I don’t think there is a wrong way to restart writing, but there may be ideas we can use to help us get back into strong habits right away. I’d love to hear what you’ve done. Share them in the comments below.

As I am writing this blog post, I’m facing this very thing, restarting writing. I took a few months off to enjoy my sons’ graduations (college in May, hs in June) which I wrote about in last month’s blog post, and now I’m ready to write and edit again. As I started working on a few scenes over the weekend, the time flies. And I need to it to be quiet around me, which is hard to do with everyone home. All of these thoughts made me realize I need a game plan. And I couldn’t remember what I did before.

One thing I’m truly thankful for is my critique group. With a possibility of a weekly submission, I have a built-in deadline to help me complete a task. This is a huge motivator to restart writing.

Next I need to figure out when everyone will not be home, or I need to go somewhere to write. I love my large monitor, but maybe getting out the house will be exactly the best approach.

Denise is writing a western historical series set in 1869 California. She’s in the middle of editing the first book in the series, a full-length novel as well as a fun rom-com novella, with a few side characters.

0 0 Read more

Trying vs. Training by Kitty Bucholtz

March 9, 2023 by in category It's Worth It by Kitty Bucholtz tagged as , , ,

A few days ago, my friend Joe sent a link to a podcast episode he thought some of his friends would like. Now Joe is a professional personal trainer and very athletic, so when I started listening to the episode host, Craig Groeschel of Life.Church, talk about jujutsu and wrestling, I was thinking that Joe overestimated my interest in getting more fit. Hahaha! (Joe helped me get in better shape when I was training for a half marathon a couple years ago.)

But as I listened to this episode I started thinking about writing. What is the difference between “trying” and “training” when it comes to writing, finishing, and publishing books?

To give you an example, I’ve been “trying” to finish rebranding and republishing my backlist for the last two years. Two years?! Yes! And I can explain every single thing that has come up, gone wrong, had to be fixed, and all the reasons finishing has been bumped lower on my priority list every month. But that is what “trying” looks like.

I’m trying, but I got busy.

I’m trying, but I got sick.

I’m trying, but I had to wait for my audiobook narrator to be free to make the changes.

I’m trying, but after I upgraded Vellum a couple of my old files wouldn’t open.

I’m trying, but I should put my clients’ work first ahead of my own, always.

And on and on. See any of your excuses — good reasons — for why something in your writing life still isn’t done?

Now let’s compare it to training. When I’m training to run a half marathon, I have to commit in advance to 4-6 months of work because I’m about to pre-pay for that race. At the beginning, I’ll need to take about 5-10 hours a week to focus on running and weight training. By the month before the race, that number is up to at least 15 hours a week. That’s just to finish the race, avoid injuries, and be in the range of my average time. To try to beat my best time will take more work (i.e., more time).

Sitting here in my warm living room on a snowy cold day in March, that doesn’t sound too appealing. (If I’m thinking about it on a day the sun’s out, it gets more appealing! Haha!) But I really like the idea of beating my best time, faster for me than I’ve ever run before, at the age of 55 (in two weeks!). After all, I beat my best time two years ago when I was 53. What if I could have my all-time fastest race when I’m 60?

Now I’m weighing excitement against what I’ll have to do (see above) and what I’ll have to give up (time that I could be writing, watching TV, hanging out with friends).

That’s the difference between trying and training — what am I willing to commit to, what will I do more of, and what am I willing to give up in order to meet my goals?

I had all of these ah-ha’s going off in my head during that 30-minute podcast, and I immediately saw a couple areas of my writing life where I needed to STOP TRYING. “I’m trying” is often a phrase that is waiting to be filled with excuses (even good ones!). But “I’m training” says I’m learning how to do what I need to do, I’m applying what I’m learning, and I’m going to keep evaluating my progress and tweaking what I do.

Whether we’re on book one or book one hundred, there is someone we can learn from. If something was working for us once but no longer works, there is something we can tweak to get back on track — or get onto a different track we now want to be on.

What’s going on in your life, writing or otherwise, that is now waving its hand at you, shouting, “Over here! Stop trying! Start training!” You can do it!

And it will be worth it! 😀

0 0 Read more

Consistently Write In Order to Meet Your Writing Goals

September 12, 2022 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , ,

Each week my progress feels limited, but add the work all up together (it’s the 37th Monday of the year) and I’m finding that consistently writing a small amount week to week is working for me. It’s fun to check in mid-year, or in this case, September, and take a peek at the goals I set for the year. Am I even close? Did I miss my mark this year? Should I give up writing? 

Blog Banner with laptop on right side, and Left side text saying Consistently write in order to meet your writing goals by Denise M. Colby

And learn I HAVE made progress.

It’s just so hard to see when we are going word by word, page by page.

Be Encouraged to Keep Writing Consistently

I want to encourage my writing friends to not give up. Set realistic goals for yourself on a week to week basis and keep plugging along. Stay steady. Be persistent.

Have I reached all my goals? No. But the year isn’t done yet. And yes, I have some far-reaching goals that can overwhelm me if I try to hurry up and get them done all at once. But this is where breaking tasks into manageable chunks help. 

Put in the work (my word for the year) and you will see results. If you are like me, figuring out what that work should be in each stage of the process can be challenging. I’m not able to focus on my writing full-time at this stage in my life, so my writing consistently has to be squeezed in between my day job and the family commitments. 

How do I do that? 

Find The Schedule to Help You Consistently Write

At first I selected a specific day and time, one day a week. But that fell through when other required events popped up. Then I tried to just touch my ms sometime during the week. Constantly touching your MS even if it’s one page at a time is better than no writing at all. But it was hit or miss how far I would get and there wasn’t any accountability to myself to keep going.

Then a door opened that was exactly what I needed (which is something that has happened a lot in my writing journey). A new critique group came along at the perfect time within one of my writing groups. Out of all the writing clubs I belong too, this was really where I needed to put in the time. But I was afraid of the commitment. Yet it’s the commitment to consistently write that helps us complete a book. So finding the way that works for you to do that is key.

So this critique group came along at the perfect time. Sure I wanted my MS completely edited and ready to pitch ASAP. But instead I’m focusing on a chapter a week, by relooking at the scenes, editing, submitting and getting great feedback. And learning how to provide feedback back to others. Which has helped in many ways as well. 

Overall, this has helped me streamline my story and make it stronger. And I’ve become a better writer. The bonus with working on this one writing task consistently every week? By the end of the year, I’ll have gotten feedback on every chapter. This was the accountability I needed.

Choose Your Own Way to Be Consistent

I’m not writing this post to encourage you to join a critique group. Maybe a critique group isn’t for you at this stage. For each writer, what helps you consistently write can be different. So know yourself. And spend some time figuring out what you need to do at this stage in your writing. What you need can change. Allow it to change. There just needs to be forward momentum (which happens when we consistently write) in order for us to reach our goals.

It’s the consistently writing, however we approach it, that counts.

Denise M. Colby loves to write words of encouragement blog posts. She also loves to write about her word of the year she chooses each year. She’s been working on her first manuscript for a long time and hopes to publish soon, since she has lots of other stories in her head waiting to be put on the page.

0 1 Read more

What Is a Writing Partner and Why the Hell Do I Need One?

September 3, 2020 by in category Partners in Crime by Janet Elizabeth Lynn & Will Zeilinger tagged as ,

A writing partner or co-writer should be an actual writer—and someone you trust, respect, admire, and support, because two heads are better than one.

Writing is a lonely profession, and many times ideas get stuck in our heads. Having someone you can contact who knows you and the project.

Co-writers and/or writing partners are there for early feedback, bouncing ideas, critique, story direction, moral support, and so much more!

Some of the greatest writing, from novels to screenplays, to music, has been done by partners. Why is this so? Collaborative writing is one of the most productive and successful ways to write—If you find the right partner.

A question many writers have asked us is “How exactly does that work?”

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but there are some strategies that can help, whether you need someone to co-write a project or someone to share a writing career… and maybe even life.

Your Writing Partner Might Be Right Under Your Nose

Because writing, like collaboration, is an intimate relationship, it’s best to begin looking at people you know. If you’ve figured out how to be together, you’ll have a better chance of successfully writing together. So, it’s no surprise that most successful writing teams have grown from close personal relationships—friends or family or lovers.

But what if you don’t have a friend, a spouse, sibling or lover who is “partner worthy?” If you can’t find someone you can collaborate with among the people you know, go meet more people. As the circle of writers you know expands, so do your chances of finding a compatible partner for your writing.

If you’re a college student, enroll a writing class, or take a drama class, or join a comedy group. Alternatively, attend writers’ conferences. Join writers’ organizations. It may sound overwhelming, but you have to get out there . . . socialize.

Remember, it’s crucial to find someone with qualities that lend themselves to a good partnership. Look at these for example:

Similar Tastes and Sensibilities

Have the same sense of humor. This is a key factor for a human connection and a good collaboration. You may share inspiration, like what makes you laugh, or what keeps you on the edge of your seat. You can even consider what bores you.

Yin and Yang—Complimentary Strengths

Partners in any creative endeavor should have strengths that help the other, and each should be able to buoy up the other’s weaknesses. You need to understand your own strengths and keep this in mind as you search for a co-writer or writing partner.

Must Play Well With Others

Even the most compatible, peace-loving co-writers or writing partners will, on occasion, argue, and that’s not a bad thing. Different points of view are an integral part of collaboration. It is precisely the reason for getting together. Sharing differing views of the same project brings life to the final product.

Have Some Respect

I’ve emphasized the importance of knowing yourself and your prospective co-writer or writing partner, but it’s equally important to know their work. If you don’t, read something they’ve written. Request a writing sample and offer one of yours. If you don’t have respect for their writing (or vice versa), run don’t walk to the next candidate.
In the end, no one can know if writing together will work until they’ve tried it.

So choose the most promising co-writer or writing partner and see if it clicks. You just never know.

0 0 Read more

Develop Strong Decision Making Skills as a Writer

August 12, 2020 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , , ,

It’s important to develop strong decision-making skills when writing a novel. As a writer we have many decisions to make when writing our stories. For our characters we have to figure out names, color of hair and eyes, and flaws and strengths. We also have to figure out where they live, where they work, who they will clash with and whom they will love. Do they have a large family or small? And what was their family life like?

Blog banner with the title Develop Strong Decision Making Skills as a Writer by Denise M. Colby which discusses why it's important to be a strong decision maker

Many important pieces that, like a puzzle, connect together to create a strong story. And portray characters our readers can relate to. So, it’s very important for us to get it ‘right’.

But what does right, mean?

And what can we do if we get it wrong?

See, in the past, my own fear of getting it wrong, prevented me from moving forward. And I had a hard time making decisions, especially not knowing if they would work or not. And not having answers made it difficult to write my story.

When I first started this novel-writing journey, I would save every word cut and paste it in another file. I was terrified to erase an idea or phrase. What if I couldn’t come up with something better? Or I forgot the idea I originally came up with? I found myself unable to know how to make the right decisions.

And then I couldn’t make up my mind if I wanted my heroine to be sassy or shy. Or what she even should look like.

Part of this was because I had never done this before. Another part of it was my own lack of decision-making skills. I needed to figure out how to become a strong decision maker and fast.

Who knew that to become a good writer, I needed strong decision making skills?

I’ve since learned I just have to make decisions, but that they can change if I need them to. It’s better to have a direction, than no direction at all.

Also taking workshops from other writers has helped me learn a variety of ways to approach the writing process. Yes, some of the decisions are still pulled out of thin air. You have to start somewhere! But I’ve since learned how to think through these points when writing.

I’ve also learned that I don’t have to save the words. Now I can trust myself to come up with new content that still fits my story. I’ve also learned that sometimes it’s better to start over with a new way of writing a scene. This decision has helped me try different approaches rather than adding patches and bandaids. And the practice has allowed me to apply new techniques I’ve learned in recent classes.

Now I can say with pride that I can rewrite my opening a 7th time and still survive!

A word that comes to mind when I think about this – everything we do in writing our stories is redeemable. 

Redeemable—able to be recovered or saved from faults or bad aspects.

Did you know all the other words linked to redeemable in the thesaurus?

Rectifiable, improvable, restorable, fixable, reparable

Do you know what this means? Our writing is not permanent and frozen with the first things we write. It can evolve and grow and improve.

That’s huge encouragement to me.

So I can decide away, and then redeem what works. I don’t have to make ALL the decisions final each step of the way. There’s room for change and room for me to make strong decisions with each layer of edits I do.

This change in mindset has allowed me to change scenes completely and try them in a new way. Because, if I didn’t like it, I can change it back, or try again. It might mean more work, but that’s okay.

This is because the hard work isn’t what scares me, it’s the fear of not getting it right. There are so many different ways to put a phrase together!

I wrote a post Facing your Fear and I think I need to reread it every once in a while. I’ve come a long way in my writing, but my fears still can get in the way of my goals. And I’m not about to let my fears stop me now.

That’s why I wrote my blog post on Listing out Your Accomplishments. When I track the things I have accomplished, it helps me face my fear. Which in turn helps me make better decisions going forward. It’s like each decision I make, encourages me to make more.

Making decisions makes me a stronger decision maker

I’ve come a long way from saving every word I cut and not knowing what I want for my characters. Now I sometimes try out a scene a completely different way just to see it from a distinct angle. And then I can redeem the words that work the best from either version.

Do you have areas that are difficult for you to decide on?

0 0 Read more

Copyright ©2017 A Slice of Orange. All Rights Reserved. ~PROUDLY POWERED BY WORDPRESS ~ CREATED BY ISHYOBOY.COM