Gotta love a notebook

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

The awesome co-hosts for the February 1 posting of the IWSG are Jacqui Murray, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Pat Garcia, and Gwen Gardner!

February 1 question – If you are an Indie author, do you make your own covers or purchase them? If you publish trad, how much input do you have about what goes on your cover?

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I can’t wait to read writers’ experiences with book covers and get some secret insights into the publishing world!

Since I don’t have any publishing experience, I’ll share a small victory I’ve had in my writing lately.

I had been feeling discouraged and was having trouble making myself sit down in front of the laptop, so I made a change. I bought a small mechanical timer (didn’t want to encourage myself to pick up my phone while I was supposed to be writing!) and pulled out a notebook and pen. I set the timer for five or ten minutes, figuring that those amounts of time wouldn’t be too intimidating. The experiment worked and now writing longhand is my favorite process. Usually, I end up writing for much longer than five minutes. Other times, I grind out the five minutes then take a break. Later I set the timer for another five minutes.

It’s been great! I’m writing a lot more and I have much less anxiety about what I’m writing. Maybe it is because there is no temptation to “backspace” and remove the horrible material I just put on the screen. I just keep going.

Editing will be more of a challenge than usual, but a rewrite from notebook to screen can act as an editorial pass, so I think it will work out when I finally get to that point. In any case, writing a bunch of words in a notebook is better than staring at a blank screen, no matter how it affects the editing process.

Have a great month!

Lori

Word of the Year (so far)

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

You can sign up here.

 January 4 question – Do you have a word of the year? Is there one word that sums up what you need to work on or change in the coming year? For instance, in 2021 my word of the year was Finish. I was determined to finished my first draft by the end of the year. In 2022, my word of the year is Ease. I want to get my process, systems, finances, and routines where life flows with ease and less chaos. What is your word for 2023? Why?

The awesome co-hosts for the January 4 posting of the IWSG are Jemima Pett, Debs Carey, Kim Lajevardi, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, and T. Powell Coltrin!

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Self-proclaimed word philosopher checking in! I love words. Of course I do, I’m a writer, right? But words are fascinating beyond the stories we tell with them. The words themselves have stories and I love that about them!

I’ve never had a word of the year before (generally I’m a “Give me ALL the words” person), but I love the idea. Pick a word? Twist my arm!

It took me a day or two to decide on a word. I wanted something positive, but not sappy. Active, but not naggy.

I finally decided on “already.” If I’m waffling about doing something—either procrastinating or being insecure—I will remember “Get it done already.” It will also work as a celebratory word when I can say, “I did that already.”

I’m excited about this word of the year. If it turns out to be a little too aggressive, I’ll revisit and try to come up with something a little gentler.

Thanks for the great question!

The Impossible Dream?

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

You can sign up here.

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

The awesome co-hosts for the November 2 posting of the IWSG are Diedre Knight, Douglas Thomas Greening, Nick Wilford, and Diane Burton!

November 2 question – November is National Novel Writing Month. Have you ever participated? If not, why not?

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I have participated in National Novel Writing Month several times. My results range from bailing mid-month to completing the word count challenge. This year, in addition to the word count goal, I am trying to incorporate more “writer-y” type activities into my life—things like reading craft books or listening to writing podcasts. I do those kinds of things now, but I don’t do them with any regularity. By the time NaNoWriMo ends, I hope my routines will have changed enough that my thoughts will default to things like “Hey, you have time to bust out some paragraphs! Woot!” or “Check out that blog on commas while you’re waiting on the dentist.”

So November’s goals are super easy—just 50,000 words and a new outlook on life. No big deal.

A girl can dream, right?

Good luck with your November goals everyone.

Have a great month!

Lori

P.S. I’d love to hear about your favorite books/blogs/podcasts. Feel free to post your suggestions in the comments.

Epistolary for the Win!

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

You can sign up here.

The awesome co-hosts for the October 5th posting are:  Tonja Drecker, Victoria Marie Lees, Mary Aalgaard, and Sandra Cox!

October Question: What do you consider the best characteristics of your favorite genre? If you want to read a variety of different responses, then hop around to the different blogs. 

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Epistolary novels are fun to read and write because you get perspective from each character. There are other ways to approach that (the omniscient viewpoints), but the structure of a series of letters, journal entries, etc. is more fun sometimes.

When someone writes a letter, they provide the overall story with some important details. There is less description of surroundings and less “‘Let’s go to the mall,’ said Robin” type prose. That can make for a more fast-paced story.

Epistolary form can also provide a way to contrast a character’s reactions to a situation. For example, the main character will respond to an insulting email from a customer in one way, but will text her real feelings of outrage to her best friend. You get an extra layer of character development with one scenario!*

Epistolary novels are cool!  

I hope everyone has a great weekend. Try not to be sad that summer is over. Yeah, fall is awesome, whatever, but I am already missing the warm weather.

Peace and love!

*This happens in real life, too. I am writing in my blog how much I love epistolary novels, but later I will be writing “Is this a stupid idea?” in the margins of my work in progress! I’m kidding. (A bit.)

I’ll stick with my strengths

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! You can sign up here.

The awesome co-hosts for the September 7 posting of the IWSG are Kim Lajevardi, Cathrina Constantine, Natalie Aguirre, Olga Godim, Michelle Wallace, and Louise – Fundy Blue!

September 7 question – What genre would be the worst one for you to tackle and why?

Horror is the genre I’d have the most trouble with.  I haven’t read a horror book since high school. It wasn’t required reading of course, but a group of us went through a phase of reading Stephen King and Dean Koontz. I guess some of those are classified as thrillers, but I wouldn’t be any good at writing thrillers either. I don’t remember how horror/thriller books work, and even if I did, I just don’t have the writing skills to maintain that level of suspense.

Supernatural is cool though—just not the “vengeful demon ripping out throats and entrails” type. I’m currently trying to write a ghost story, but the ghost is mainly annoyed and sarcastic. For some reason I don’t seem to have much trouble with sarcasm.  ( __ <— This space for your shock.)

Peace and love (and sarcasm!)

Lori

You’re going to love it here

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer help and guidance. It’s a safe-haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day.

You can join here

Thanks to our awesome co-hosts for this month:

 J Lenni Dorner, Janet Alcorn, PJ Colando, Jenni Enzor, and Diane Burton!

July 6 question – If you could live in any book world, which one would you choose?

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If you read by my previous blog posts, you’d probably guess I’d want to live in a country house in an Agatha Christie novel—cocktails on the lawn, walks around the estate (I still want to see a ha-ha), and entire rooms dedicated to books! I could say, “I’ll be in the library if anyone needs me,” and it would be an actual library! In my house! I’d definitely get some writing done there. (Ha!)

It does sound relaxing. Maybe I can spend my weekends there. But if I were looking for a good place to work I’d pick the world of the “Thursday Next” series by Jasper Fforde. Thursday Next technically lives in (a version of) Great Britain. But within that world is Book World, a sort of meta-book land where books are made and maintained. I could get a job in Jurisfiction and spend my time fighting the mispeling vyrus and the verbivores. There are mysteries, too—who sabotaged Miss Havisham’s hot rod?

Best.job.ever.

You could make an argument that this is sort of like wishing for more wishes, because in Book World you can travel to almost any book. (Jurisfiction agents lead group therapy in Wuthering Heights, for example.) But I’m making my own world here so I have approved it. Leisure time will be in Agatha Christie land and work will be in Book World with Thursday.

I will meet you for lunch (or cocktails!) in either one.

It’s not a completely terrible way to pass the time

IWSG time!

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The awesome co-hosts for the May 4 posting of the IWSG are Kim Elliott, Melissa Maygrove,  Chemist Ken, Lee Lowery, and Nancy Gideon!

Check it out here!

May 4 question – It’s the best of times; it’s the worst of times. What are your writer highs (the good times)? And what are your writer lows (the crappy times)?

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One of the best parts of writing is when a piece I’ve been having trouble with suddenly makes sense. The perfect angle on an idea fights its way out of my brain, and I finally know how to rewrite and rearrange all the paragraphs I’ve been working on. Euphoria!

Some of the low parts are my usual “who will ever read this” thoughts and my feeble “end the story” skills. (I feel like I am not good at endings. Maybe I can take a seminar: “Endings: the complete how to guide for wrapping it up already.”)

A specific instance of “it was the best of times; it was the worst of times” was when I was first published. It was before the internet was the all-encompassing everything it is now. I submitted a silly column-type item to the local newspaper, but I didn’t tell anyone because, you know, insecure.

Weeks went by without a response. Then a friend called and asked, “Did you know that you are in the paper?”

No, I did not know! Woohoo! My writing was out in public for the first time—how exciting! People (unprompted!) congratulated me and told me they liked the column. I couldn’t believe it was happening.

I was so excited that I even mentioned it to a few people that lived elsewhere. “Check me out! I was published in the local paper!”

My poor first-time-published feelings were crushed when one of those people responded, “Big deal. Newspapers always publish letters to the editor.”

Cue a low part of writing. Sigh.

It did discourage me for a while. I gave myself mental pep talks, pointing out that even small weekly papers don’t publish every submission. I’d also remind myself that my piece was not a letter to the editor—I had a byline! I even said “A byline!” out loud a few times.

Eventually I recovered, but trying to ignore the killjoys (especially the ones in my own mind) is still difficult sometimes. I just try to remember the most important things about writing: it’s cool and I don’t 100% suck at it. A bit of both the high and the low there, but as philosophies go it’s pretty good.

Peace and love!

Lori

Reading is for Losers

It’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day!

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Check it out here!

Remember, the question is optional!

April 6 question – Have any of your books been made into audio books? If so, what is the main challenge in producing an audiobook?

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My brother law is never going to read the books I write. He’s not anti-book. He’s not even anti-me. He’s anti-reading. Hold a book? Turn pages? Not for him. He plays audiobooks on the car radio while driving back and forth to work. “Reading is for losers,” he says. “Put that in your blog.”

While I commend the word play, I obviously would never say that reading is for losers. Reading is cool!

In conversation, I think listening to a book and reading a book would be considered the same thing, but my brother-in-law got me thinking; if you say listening to a book is not reading, what would you call it instead? (What can I say? This is what my brain does for fun.)

I considered “consume books” for a while because it played into my “30 day, buy only consumables” goal. (I can buy books! Yay!) I decided against consume* because it reminds me of fires, and who wants to think about burning books? No one! Burning books really is for losers.

Apprehend books? Seems like part of a criminal enterprise. Take in books? Sounds vaguely digestive. (So does consume, really.) Hear books? I mean yeah, people are hearing the books, but it doesn’t work, does it? For comparison, consider that people who read don’t say “I stayed up late seeing a book.”

 In the end, I wasn’t able to come up with a phrase better than “listening to audiobooks.” It’s doesn’t have much literary flair, but it does have the advantage of being clear. Boring, but effective.

So, for lack of a more fun term, “listening to audiobooks” is how I’d describe my brother-in-law’s choice for enjoying literature.

I know that he’s a fan of audiobooks, so you’d think I would have thought about the possibility of audio versions of my books. Of course, none of my drafts have been made into actual books yet, so maybe it’s not that surprising that the audio option hadn’t occurred to me. Once I get the books published, I will have to look into audio versions, especially if I want my brother-in-law’s opinion of my writing. (He doesn’t read blogs either. If he asks, tell him that he is the hero of this month’s post.)

Let me know if you have any fun ideas for what to call “listening to audiobooks.”

Peace and love!

*Though I didn’t classify books as consumable, I did exempt them from the spending goal. Goals are supposed to be realistic, right?

Writing Makes Everything Better

Time for IWSG!

Purpose: To share and encourage.  Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Remember, the question is optional!

January 5 question – What’s the one thing about your writing career you regret the most? Were you able to overcome it?

The awesome co-hosts for the January 5 posting of the IWSG are Erika Beebe, Olga Godim, Sandra Cox, Sarah Foster, and Chemist Ken!

You can get more details (and join!) here: IWSG

I am surprised at my reaction to this. At first I joked with friends that I would say “I regret I didn’t try harder. The End. Love, Lori.”

The regret part is still true, but when I started examining some of the reasons I quit trying—things that people did or said that I let affect me—my mood changed from joking to aggravated.  Those writing memories brought up other memories, blah, blah, blah. Before long, my mood escalated to “inordinately angry with all concerned, especially myself.” I had to fight the urge to write a manifesto titled,

“POOR LIFE CHOICES”*

No worries. I’m not going to subject you to a manifesto. I probably won’t even write one, though I’m sure it would improve my mood if I did.

That brings me to the second part of the prompt: Was I able to overcome it?  Maybe? Sort of? I didn’t even think about trying to be published for over twenty years, so technically overcoming that regret is still a work in progress. But writing did help me deal with other difficult times in my life, so I’m going to give myself an “A” in the Writing/Overcoming category.

Thanks to the IWSG for prompting a self-therapy session this month!

Peace and love,

Lori

*Capital letters intended because it’s a manifesto. Some style rules must be adhered to.

I said it out loud-it must be official!

It’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog post!

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

You can join the IWSG Here. Give it a try!

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Remember, the question is optional!

December 1 question – In your writing, what stresses you the most? What delights you?

The awesome co-hosts for the December 1 posting of the IWSG are PJ Colando, Diane Burton, Louise – Fundy Blue, Natalie Aguirre, and Jacqui Murray!

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Lately, the thing that stresses me the most is wondering if there is any point to what I am writing. I have learned to deal with my inner critic/perfectionist/nag. That inner person is always there, but it’s easier these days to tell it to not be so uptight. On the other hand, the voice saying, “There is not a person in the world that is interested in what you have to say, Lori,” is much harder to ignore. When that voice gets to me, I quit writing whatever I am working on and try to find a more interesting idea. But in most cases I go back to the project. I figure that no one is making people read what I write. People are welcome to click the red x and put me on ignore. I hope not everyone does though. I’d hate to prove that voice right!

Just saying “I am a writer,” out loud is fabulous. My brain seems to be wired for writing, but until recently I rarely said, “I’m a writer,” to people. Now I do (in appropriate circumstances of course. I don’t just announce it to rooms at large), and I have to say that it feels pretty cool.

Peace and love (and sometimes sarcasm!)

Lori