Dramaquill's All Things Writing

September 16, 2015

Top Five WORST Places to Write

Filed under: writer's block,Writing — dramaquill @ 3:09 PM
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It’s been a long time since I wrote my previous post.  Life got in the way.  What can I say!

Every writer has a favorite spot or two that they feel best helps them tap into their creative muse.  I love writing outdoors in a beautiful, quiet spot by a lake or inside a cozy room with soft lighting and a fireplace.  Sadly, it isn’t often that I am able to enjoy either scenario.  Most of my writing is done at my desk in my home office or at my place of business when I have a break from appointments.  And that’s okay.  I get a lot of work done in both of these places.

Not every spot, however, is conducive to feeding my creativity and churning out those much needed plays, books and articles.  These are what I would consider MY top five worst places to write:

  1.    In the house (when other people are home)
  2.    Starbucks   (always buzzing like a busy ant hill)
  3.    Mall food court  (but great for people watching for potential characters
  4.    Waiting rooms (either way too much distraction or way too quiet)
  5.    Church (Shouldn’t I be listening to the sermon?)

Please comment with your WORST writing places.

And just to set the record straight on this one – SUMMER is the worst time of year to write!

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March 11, 2015

Writing Prompts: Writer’s Block Beware

Writing prompts are great when you need a kick start to get you writing again.  Don’t concern yourself with whether or not you’ll craft a new full manuscript – just have fun!

Here are a few to get your creative juices flowing”

1.      She burst into the room, surprising…

2.      The last number was about to be drawn.  Robert held his lottery ticket as tightly as he held his breath.

3.      Laughter erupted from behind the office door.

4.      A pair of eyes blinked from behind the crack in the rickety old wooden fence.

5.      A trumpet blared.  Thunderous applause filled the auditorium.  The curtain opened and…

Here are some articles and sites with a wide variety of prompts.  What are you waiting for?  Writer’s Block beware!

http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/7-creative-writing-prompts-to-spark-your-writing

http://www.writersdigest.com/prompts

http://www.dailywritingtips.com/writing-prompts-101/

http://awesomewritingprompts.tumblr.com/

http://heartofwisdom.com/blog/instant-online-writing-prompts/

February 10, 2015

Who is your favorite suspense novelist?

Part of learning to write well is reading good books by successful authors in your genre.

Here’s a list of some of the top writers who create suspense to keep you flipping pages well into the night.  Who’s your favorite?

Mary Higgins Clark     http://www.maryhigginsclark.com/

Nora Roberts  http://www.noraroberts.com/

Dean R Koontz  http://www.deankoontz.com/

Stephen King  http://stephenking.com/

James Patterson  http://www.jamespatterson.com/

December 31, 2014

Resolutions or Goals?

According to several online sources, it seems that approximately 40-45% of folks make new year’s resolutions.  Sadly, it’s also reported that approximately 60% fail at keeping them.

As a writer, do you make resolutions?

Several years back, the moderator of my online critique group challenged the members to submit their writing and writing related goals for the coming year.  As a member of the group, at first I struggled a little.  What was the difference between a goal and a resolution?

What I discovered was that my goals were quite specific and focused:

  • Revise the last five chapters of my novel and submit it to my critique group next month.
  • Draft a query letter and send it to (insert name of publisher here) the week my critique group goes over my chapters.
  • By the end of January, finish the second act of the play that my drama group will be performing in the spring.
  • Pick three agents from my list of potential agencies to query.

Everything was quite specific.

Had I made a list of resolutions I fear they would have been very similar to those made by many who fail to see them through:

  • Write more everyday
  • Read more books
  • Start or keep a journal
  • Pick your platform
  • Join a writing group

These are all very respectable but since they aren’t as specific (no deadlines or set amounts) that it’s much easier for them to fail.

So this year, are you going to make a list of resolutions or are you going to set some writing goals?

October 28, 2014

Pros and Cons of Nanowrimo

For those unfamiliar with the term Nanowrimo, it stands for the National Novel Writing Month.  It’s an online challenge for writers who’d want to jump start their next project (or this year, complete a work in progress).

The goal of Nanowrimo is to write 50,000 words during the Month of November.  That averages out to approximately 1660 words per day for 30 days.

I’ve participated in Nanowrimo a couple of times but have yet to cross the finish line with a total of 50,000 words.  So does that mean I failed the challenge?

PROS:

1.    You write something everyday

2.    It develops a habit of writing daily.

3.    At the end of it all, you have a large chunk of writing done.

4.    You meet people online and in your area who are also doing the challenge.

5.    You gain new contacts

6.    There are lots of motivational articles to get you through the month.

CONS

1.    You have to make the time to participate

2.    When you’re finished you may just end up with 50,000 words of horrible writing

3.    For those who like to edit as they go, that’s a no-no with Nano.  This will drive some writers crazy.

As I see it, the Pros outweigh the Cons so why not give Nanowrimo a try?

For more information (and to register and participate for free):   http://nanowrimo.org/

Happy Nanowrimo!

October 11, 2014

The Collapse of my digital publisher – what should I do?

During the summer, my digital publisher of my suspense novel, When Love Won’t Die, disappeared. The website disappeared. Messages to the CEO (both phone and email) unanswered. My book vanished from Amazon, B&N, RRP and all the other sites where it was being sold.

Still no correspondence from the publisher and no formal announcement as to the status of the company.

My contract states that if the website goes down for anything other than technical reasons and if the publisher appears to no longer be in business, then all rights revert back to the author…me.

So what to do next?

What do my loyal readers think I should do?

1. Query agents
2. Re-sub my book to other publishers
3. Self-publish my original book and query agents and/or
publishers for my sequel and other suspense novel?
4. Hold off until I hear something from my publisher

I’d love to hear what you think as I continue to ponder my next steps.

August 11, 2014

Writing conferences: Online or in Person?

I’ve attended conferences both online and in person in the past five years.

Online has the 24 hour convenience of being able to read, write and participate any time of day or night.  You can wear anything because nobody can see you.  If you get interrupted, you can come back and pick up right where you left off.  You can meet new people, including editors, authors, publishers and even agents.

Going to a conference in person allows you the excitement of seeing people in person and interacting with them during lectures, workshops and even meals and coffee breaks.  You can make eye contact and banter back and forth.  And yes, you can meet new people, including editors, authors, publishers and even agents.

Online conferences don’t cost as much and in fact, many are even free.

Going in person means packing, traveling, staying in a hotel and making a commitment to a block of time set aside for the conference.

To me, both have their pros and cons.

I like the convenience of the online conference but the interaction in person cannot be replicated in the online venue.

Whichever you choose, writing conference do teach, excite and inspire us to be better.

Which do you prefer:  Online or in Person

May 20, 2014

Writing contests – 2014

Writing contests can be a terrific way to get your manuscript seen by those in the publishing biz. Often, prizes include publication.

If you do choose a contest with an entry fee, make sure that the prizes warrant the fee charged.

Here’s a short list to get you inspired:

http://client.writersrelief.com/writers-classifieds/writing-contests.aspx

http://www.freelancewriting.com/creative-writing-contests.php

http://www.placesforwriters.com/?cat=41

http://www.writermag.com/writing-resources/contests/

Remember to read all contest info. carefully before sending your manuscript.

Now what are you waiting for?

July 3, 2013

What Distracts You from Writing?

My little Distraction

My little Distraction

Meet Molly, my little distraction!

If Molly had her way, I’d be on call for her amusement 24/7.  Feed me…play with me…walk me…cuddle me!

So how do I resist this little dollie when I have some serious writing work to get done?

I bought a cute little doggie bed that I keep right beside my computer desk and chair, nestled into a little nook at the side of the desk.  Molly curls up and snuggles in her cozy space while I get my work done.  I’m close enough to rub her belly or give her a scratch and she seems to like our new *together* time.

What distracts you from your writing?

December 31, 2012

Top Ten Distractions that keep me from Writing

I love the internet!  I love all the information that is so easily accessible.  I love that it no longer matters where a writer is located in order to find a publisher or agent.  And I especially love making new connections and discovering new writers/new books.  Yes, I love social media, too.

But it seems that there are more and more distractions that can steal my precious writing time.  Here’s my list of the top ten things that distract me from writing:

  1. Facebook (not the writing-related pages but the updates…the games…you know what I mean)
  2. Email (why do I feel the urge to check it so often?)
  3. Surfing (one Google search leads to another and soon an hour has gone by)
  4. Phone calls (working at home definitely means screening calls)
  5. Having a full-time job (obviously making a living has to take priority over writing)
  6. TV (do I really need to watch most of the dumb stuff on the tube?)
  7. Researching (from markets to freelance jobs to info. for my next book, this can really eat up a lot of time)
  8. Cooking/cleaning/laundry (if only I could afford a maid LOL)
  9. Reading (but I do feel that this distraction is necessary for all writers)
  10. Too many projects at once (I get a lot more done if I focus on one thing at a time)

What’s your biggest distraction that keeps you from writing?

September 18, 2012

Teaching Drama inspired me to get back to writing

As the owner of a performing arts studio, my schedule becomes almost overwhelming from late August through mid September.  It’s both exhilarating and exhausting.

I’ve now entered the phase where all of my classes have begun and I’m re-connecting with former students as well as meeting new ones.  It’s an exciting time at my studio.

Saturday was the first day of classes and as it happens, all of our drama programs are on Saturday.

First up was the 6-10 year old group.  As we all played a fun drama game to learn each other’s names, I saw snippets of creativity begin to emerge.  Even the shy children were eager to say and do something that would make everyone remember them.  The collective energy in the drama room produced an encouraging atmosphere where the students felt themselves trying things outside of their comfort zones and enjoying it.

The second group consisted of the 11-17 year old crowd.  This diverse group ranged from kids with plenty of creative experience to others with absolutely none.  Interestingly enough, as we worked on a variety of group and individual activities, this group definitely had a noticeable split between the “up for anything” creative types and the “shy and guarded” individuals, however, by the end of the class, the split had weakened considerably.

Finally, the last class, a large group of students ages 9-18 entered the studio.  Many of these kids have taken programs with us before, however there was also a handful of newcomers.  One might think that such a mix of ages would result in chaos, but the opposite took place.  Different levels of creativity took shape as we integrated ages and abilities, familiar and unfamiliar.  The creative energy became infectious during the ninety minute session.

You’re probably all wondering what any of this has to do with writing.

Writing alone is great when your creativity flows and the words just spew out of you and on to the page.  But as we all know, there are also times when the complete opposite happens.

Creativity grows when surrounded by creativity.

Join a writing group.

Talk to other writers.

Talk to potential readers.

Read books that aren’t in your comfort zone and see how you feel when you’re done.

Participate in a critique group.

I always feel more inspired and creative after I’ve done any one of these things.  It just took me a day of teaching drama to remember how great it is to interact.

August 19, 2012

It’s all part of the creative process

This summer has been strange to say the least.  Warm sunny days where the sun’s up around six a.m. and doesn’t go to bed until after 10:00 p.m. makes for the perfect writing environment for me.  I can grab my iPad or a notebook and head to one of the nearby parks or lakes, sit sipping a mochaccino on an outdoor coffee shop patio or hunker down under a shade tree in my backyard.

At least that’s the way my writing life has gone until this summer.

I can’t say that it hasn’t been bugging me that I can’t seem to find my stride with my current WIP, my second adult suspense novel.  I’ve started re-reading the 31 chapters I’d previously written, hoping to find myself jumping back into the rhythm of it all.  But that just hasn’t been the case.

Am I worried that I’ll never finish my second book?

No, not at all.  But I sure don’t like waiting for this dry spell to end.

Oddly enough, my creativity did get a jump start in another area of writing.  Next week, my studio is offering a drama camp for kids 8-14 years old.  I started flipping through all our scripts and through my computer files and suddenly camp up with an idea – a campy spy play.  I got to work.

My fingers flew over the keys as the ideas formed.  It’s a quirky, silly, fast-paced romp through a day in the life of a secret agency of spies, made up of a bunch of ordinary kids.  Only thing is, nobody is allowed to know who anybody else is so they all wear white masks and go by a number rather than their name.

It felt good to exercise my creative chops again, even if it wasn’t on my WIP.

Maybe a week of creativity with this drama camp will be just what my muse needs to make an appearance.  Let’s hope so.

Don’t get discouraged when the words don’t come.  It’s all part of the creative process.

July 17, 2012

Will Anybody Want to Read my Sequel?

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As I continue to struggle with creating any form of decent writing, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the projects I’m currently avoiding.  My biggest avoidance at the moment is the sequel to my first suspense novel.  This is a book that I’m very passionate about finishing.  My characters need me to let them tell the rest of their story.

And yet, as each day goes by, I do not write anything.

The other night I sat down to watch Bunheads, a new Amy Sherman-Palladino series on ABC Spark.  I was drawn to the show for several reasons.  Amy created The Gilmore Girls, one of my  all-time favorite shows.  Amy’s dialogue is snappy and her characters embrace uniqueness.  One of the leads in the series is Fanny, played by Kelly Bishop, formerly Emily Gilmore of Gilmore Girls fame.  The studio that I co-own teaches ballet and pointe and a variety of other dance classes.

I knew I’d love this show.

As of last night, I’ve now seen five episodes of Bunheads.  Much to my surprise, I’m not really loving it.  Although it contains the same type of quirky characters and quippy dialogue, it somehow plays like a poor second cousin to Palladino’s Gilmore Girls.  I’m hoping, with time, that it will find its way into my heart, but it’s going to take work.  I don’t know how much longer I’ll hang in.

That got me to thinking about my sequel.

My first suspense novel, “When Love Won’t Die”, has been very well received.  I’ve had lots of great reviews and just as many inquiries as to the status of the sequel.  Most of my followers can’t wait to get their hands on the next book.

But what if it’s a poor second cousin to the first book?

What if people don’t really like it?

I know what you’re probably thinking.  Bunheads and “When Love Won’t Die” are completely different.  Obviously one’s a TV show and one’s a book.  But they do have something in common.  They are both another product of their creator.  They are both going to be compared to other works by the same author.

So do I quit writing the sequel for fear it won’t be as good as the first book?  Will anybody want to read my sequel?

Yes, I really do believe they will.

Why?

Because I’m going to make sure that the writing is even better than the first book.  I’m using many of the same characters, but for those who have read “When Love Won’t Die”, they will see more complex, interweaving sub-plots and lots of character development.

Bunheads isn’t a sequel to the Gilmore Girls.  Unfortunately, many viewers will compare Kelly’s Fanny character to Emily Gilmore and the new young lead, Michelle, to Lorelei.  I know I have. But they shouldn’t.  This is a new series.  It’s not a sequel to anything.  Maybe I don’t really like it because it doesn’t revisit Stars Hollow and all the quirky characters I grew to love during the Gilmore’s seven year run.

So what has all of this taught me?

Once your stuff is out there, you develop a following.  Your readers will be inclined to compare your books to each other.  I don’t want to disappoint them.  Maybe that’s why I haven’t been able to work on my sequel. 

Or maybe, I just have to stop thinking so much and get my butt in the chair and write something…anything.  Finish the darn book! 

Amy Sherman-Palladino isn’t sitting around wondering whether or not she should create another series.  When The Wyoming Project didn’t make it into the 2010-2011 TV schedule, Palladino went on and created Bunheads.

Will anybody want to read my sequel?

I’ll never know if I don’t finish it. 

Do you have a project that you’re avoiding?  Join me and let’s finish them together.

To find out more about Amy Sherman-Palladino, read this article:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amy_Sherman-Palladino

To find out more about her new series, Bunheads,follow this link: http://abcfamily.go.com/shows/bunheads/

To purchase “When Love Won’t Die”, check out the following sites:
http://www.amazon.com/When-Love-Wont-Die-ebook/dp/B004AYD6YE

http://redrosepublishing.com/books/product_info.php?products_id=649
http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/When-Love-Wont-Die/book-p2VHGKHWAE6biZdRsFV_tA/page1.html

June 25, 2012

There Will Be Times When You Just Can’t Write

 
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Well it’s been a couple of months since my last blog post.  Life has most definitely hit me with a few stumbling blocks, the worst of which was having the basement of my home flooded with a foot and a half of sewage water…eww!

Say goodbye to a hot water tank, furnace, washer, dryer and thousands of dollars of items that had all become unsafe to keep or damaged beyond repair.

Usually, during times of stress and frustration, I grab a notebook or my iPad and head somewhere peaceful and just write.

Not this time!  Something was different.

If I wasn’t waiting at home for visits from the insurance adjuster, the restoration crew or someone from the furnace company, then I was emailing pictures of the damages or trying to figure out the cost of all my lost contents.  Picking up the pieces after this devastating flood had become a full-time job.

But the worst part of all was that my “go to” stress reliever, writing, wasn’t working this time.  Even freewriting came to a standstill.

Into the third week of not being able to write, I really started to get concerned.  No matter what life has dealt me, I’ve always been able to hunker down and find a way to write.

What was different this time?

I have a theory, but I really don’t know for sure. 

I think I was simply too exhausted, physically and mentally.  When I look at everything that happened from around the 23rd of April to mid June, I can only attribute this dry spell to exhaustion.

But today’s a new day – and a new week.  And here I am…writing again. 

What have I learned from this experience?

There will be times when you can’t can’t write…and that’s okay.

April 22, 2012

Don’t be a Loner: My cure for Writer’s Block

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There have been times when I’ve been working on one of my manuscripts and I just can’t seem to produce ten coherent words.  Yep – that dreaded writer’s block!

Writer’s block used to panic me.  What if I never get any more ideas?  What if my writing ability has dried up?  I’m sure you’ve all been there at some time or other.

For the most part, writing is a solitary activity, unless you happen to be collaborating with another writer on a project.  But let’s face it, most of a writer’s working time is spent alone.

All that alone time is great when your creative juices are flowing but it can become pretty debilitating when the words stop coming.  Yes, you can get up and move around.  You can check your email, make a snack, phone a friend or do a million other things to get you back on track.  None of these have ever worked for me.  All it does it take me further away from figuring out how to get back to writing.

But, if I talk to another writer, whether in an email from my online critique group, or in person with another local writer, it doesn’t take long before I’m excited to get back to one of my projects. 

Just the other day, I opened up the file for my second suspense novel and realized that I’ve hit a brick wall.  I haven’t been able to spend as much time working on it these past few months and the entire story has just stalled.  I really need to finish it and submit it to my publisher by summer. 

Then, yesterday, I had a great conversation with an author I know who is on her fifth revision of her first novel.  A ten minute conversation and I could hardly wait to get home and get writing.  Just ten minutes and my writer’s battery recharged.

This isn’t the first time that connecting with another writer has inspired me.  I cherish my online critique group.  Every time I feel sidetracked or wonder if I’ll ever write another intelligent word, I just need to interact with these writers for a bit and wham – writer’s block gone!

And it usually isn’t a conversation about me, my writing or even writer’s block that gets me going again.  It could be an email that one of the group just got picked up by an agent.  Perhaps it’s a fabulous chapter, written by someone in the group, that I have to critique.  It could even be the mention of a new contest or opportunity that might be of interest to someone in the group.

All I know is that the quickest way for me to get out of my own writer’s block is to connect with another writer.

How do you handle your periods of writer’s block?

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