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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July 27, 2015

My Top Five BEST places to write

Filed under: Writing — dramaquill @ 4:57 PM
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Some people can write absolutely anywhere…

In the doctor’s waiting room
In line at the supermarket
At the kitchen counter while cooking dinner
At a noisy coffeeshop

You get the idea.

I’d like to say I was one of them, but I’m not.  I need comfortable, inspirational places that channel my creative energy.  I need room to spread out.  And most of all, I need my writing space to be free of distractions.

My Top Five BEST places to write:

5.   The front porch of my house (big windows – lots of light

4.   In my car at Mission Marsh (great scenery with minimal distractions)

3.   Outside on my deck (when weather conditions are just right – not too hot – not too windy)

2.   My home office/desk (when no one else is home)

1.   My bedroom (the twinkle lights that surround the ceiling have to be on)

Where are your BEST places to write?

May 31, 2015

Writing to get published

What kind of writer are you?

Does everything you write have to get published for you to feel like you’re a writer?

Do you ever just write because you have a brain overflowing with ideas?

I think (and this is just my opinion) that if you write solely for the purpose of getting those words published, you may be in for a disappointing time.  I’ve written some fine sentences – maybe even some fine paragraphs that will likely never make it to an editor’s desk.  Sometimes, you just have to be willing to write it and let it go.

But that doesn’t make you less of a writer, now does it?

I truly believe the best writers are those who write consistently…all the time.  They won’t see every single word they’ve ever put to paper come to life in the form of a book, short story, article or essay.  But they will have known the satisfaction of getting those words down and creating a body of work that is meaningful.

Lots of great writing never gets published.  How saf, though, if because of that, it was never written.

What kind of writer are you?

May 7, 2015

Do you need to work on your time management?

Filed under: Writing — dramaquill @ 2:40 PM
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The complaint is always the same:  I don’t have time to write.

Inspirational religious speaker, Joyce Meyer, has a great saying that she uses when she hears people say they don’t have time to study their bibles.  To paraphrase Joyce, basically she tells her listeners that they each have twenty-four hours every day – just the same as everybody else.

When you look at it that way, and you see what others are accomplishing, then technically you DO have the time to write.  But what if you really don’t seem to be able to find the time?

Perhaps a few simple time management skills will help.

  • 1. Set a specific time to write.  Could be first thing in the morning…in your car in the parking lot at work at lunch…before you go to bed…while you are waiting at an appointment…while dinner is cooking.  Schedule it in like everything else in your day.
  • 2. Set a time frame for your writing.  Even if you can only carve out fifteen minutes, five times per week, that would be seventy-five minutes of writing time each and every week.
  • 3. Decide on a writing goal for each session.  Even just a couple of paragraphs is better than no writing at all.
  • 4. Pick the easiest method for the location.  I use a variety including the notebook in my purse, my iPhone’s notes app, my laptop at home, my iPad upstairs.  I have even been known to scribble down some dialogue or plot ideas on the back of a program during intermission at a concert or on a paper bag from a fast food chain.
  • 5. Don’t let the internet or phone calls interrupt you for those fifteen minutes.  If you have to, disconnect from the internet and let your voice mail answer your calls.

Ask yourself this question the next time you start bemoaning your lack of time – How badly do I want it?

If the idea of not writing causes you more stress than the notion that you don’t have time, then you WILL find a way.  If not, perhaps you should leave the writing to those who cannot live without getting those words onto paper.

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?

December 8, 2014

I didn’t finish Nanowrimo – am I a failure?

First of all, congratulations to all those writers who conquered and won the Nanowrimo 50,000 word challenge.  I salute you!

I chose a WIP (“Summer at Birch Beach”) this year.  I had about two thirds of it written in a very rough draft.  I thought I would use Nano to not only finish the rough draft but also begin working on an amazing revision.  After the month was up, I would have a new manuscript to shop around.  Needless to say, after about a week, and 8859 words, my Nano writing got detailed.

Since I didn’t finish Nano, am I a failure?  If you didn’t finish, are you?

Let’s look at what I did accomplish during November:

  • Secured a contract with a new publisher for my suspense novel, “When Love Won’t Die”
  • Finished the second act of a full length melodrama play for my acting class
  • Wrote lyrics, music and accompaniment for two original songs for the melodrama
  • Started final revisions on my sequel, “Amorous Obsession”
  • Wrote a synopsis for the back of the print version of my book
  • Wrote a query letter for my sequel

I may not have managed the 50,000 word goal on “Summer at Birch Beach” but I wrote every day.  The melodrama script had to be finished by December 1st so the students could begin learning their lines, blocking scenes and singing new songs.  I had to do a small revision for my new publisher so that I could get my book up before Christmas.  And now that my suspense novel is available again, that inspired me to work on the sequel.

So…I did NOT win Nanowrimo.

But I did win the writing battle.

If you didn’t complete the 50,000 word journey of Nanowrimo this year, you aren’t a failure.  Just signing up and giving it a try deserves a high five.  You did write.  You do have a word count.  Now…keep going!  It will pay off.

To purchase “When Love Won’t Die” in ebook Kindle format OR in print, go to:

http://www.amazon.com/When-Love-Wont-Jacqueline-McMahon/dp/1987854012/ref=asap_B0056TVHO8_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1418047723&sr=1-1

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!

September 17, 2013

Writer’s Block Tip

Filed under: Writing — dramaquill @ 2:30 PM
Tags: , , , ,

No doubt every writer has, at one time or another, suffered from a bout of writer’s block.  

Empty page…cursor blinking…
White notebook page…pen in hand…

…and nothing!

The crisp fall air reminds me that there’s inspiration everywhere.  

For example, what did you do all summer?  Did you have company come and visit?  Did you go on a trip somewhere?  Were there special occasions to celebrate?  Did you meet new people or reconnect with those you hadn’t seen for a long time?

Fall is the perfect time to use something from summer as an inspiration to begin writing something new.

Or…just look out the window at the beautiful colours and the people buzzing around with their hectic schedules and let one of the scenarios unlock your creativity.

What’s your best tip for getting past writer’s block?

July 26, 2013

Writing Advice: What Do You Want To Know?

Over the years I’ve blogged on a wide variety of writing topics from playwriting to suspense novels, marketing, book reviewing, contests and more.

After going through my archives, I thought I might turn my blog over to my readers for the month of August by answering your writing related questions.

Please fill out the form below. I’ll post answers (and links, if appropriate) to my favourite questions every Tuesday in August.

December 7, 2007

My favorite online writing resources

Do you ever get so involved in what you’re writing that even the smallest interruption, like having to get up from your desk and walk over to a bookshelf to grab a dictionary frustrates you?

If you’re like me, when you’re in that zone, you don’t want to break your creative flow and moving away from your keyboard isn’t an option. 

So do you pile your desk with every resource book you own, just in chttp://www.urbandictionary.com/ase you might need one of them?  Well, I couldn’t because I’d be buried under the pile. 

Thanks to the internet, writers can find literally anything they need at their fingertips and I’ve collected a few sites that I really can’t live without when I’m writing.  Many of you may already use these tools but for those who haven’t discovered them yet, here’s a list of my most-used favorites:

http://www.dictionary.com
An online dictionary that’s so easy to use.  Just type in the word you want to look up (I use this most to double check spelling) and get your options. 

http://www.thesaurus.com
Partnered with dictionary.com, this is my other most favorite online resource.

http://www.rhymezone.com
Since I dabble in kidlit rhyming PBs, this site is always one I turn to when my story sends me to words that are more difficult to rhyme.  But I do have one piece of sage advice for all rhymers:  Don’t end a line with orange.  No amount of resources will find you anything to rhyme with that word.

http://www.urbandictionary.com/
Now this is one resource not everybody will find a need for but if you’re writing a streetwise character, it’s worth the look.  Don’t make the mistake of using “out of date” expressions.

http://www.verlakay.com/boards/index.php
This is one of the best places online for writers of kidlit to chat, ask questions and get the latest info.  Often visited by editors, agents and professional writers in the genre.

http://www.plagiarismchecker.com/help-authors.php
This one is great for writing teachers (and all teachers who have students write papers) but also for authors.  Ever wondered if something you wrote sounds too familiar.  This is the place to check it out.

http://www.onelook.com/reverse-dictionary.shtml
This is a neat site to use when you’re on a roll, writing away and suddenly, you can’t think of the right word to use.  Type in a concept or a definition and get the word choices.

http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/default.aspx
There are lots of good grammar sites online and I’m sure you all have your favorites.  If you’re looking for something a little different, try Grammar Girl.

http://anotherealm.com/prededitors/
I think this site is the most useful of all my links.  Before submitting anything, check out the information at this site.  Don’t let yourself get sucked into a vanity publisher or a publication known for not paying writers.  Check out a wide variety of topics from Agents to Publishers to Resources to Submissions.  Also a section on Warnings that is very useful.

Now these are only a handful of my favorites.  Care to share any of your links with the readers? 

November 23, 2007

I may not finish but I’m giving it my all

Despite a couple of bumps in my Nanowrimo road, I’m back on track again and churning out a new section of my suspense novel.

At close to 30,000 words, I’m feeling pumped.  Has there ever been another month when I’ve written 30,000 words on the same project?  On multiple projects?  Until Nanowrimo, I never really thought about it but I suspect this is a record for my 3 week participation.

Will I finish the 50,000 goal?  

I hope to.

Will I be disappointed if I fall short?

Well, maybe a little bit.

But I can’t say enough how great the Nanowrimo PUSH feels.  And I haven’t spent nearly as much time as I would like to writing this book.  Imagine, if I can get to 30,000 words with an hour or two of writing time each day, what I could accomplish if I continue this disciplined focus on writing from now on.

I can’t wait to get back to revising my first suspense novel that’s getting ready to go out the door but now I have a new project to keep me busy once I’ve subbed it out.

So thank you Nanowrimo, for giving me the jumpstart to realize how many words I can get down on paper if I just believe I can do it.

Anybody finished yet?

Let’s hear from all those Nano hopefuls and those cruising through the final stretch.

November 19, 2007

You never know who might be watching

I just heard a fascinating story from an online writer friend who has a blog that I’d love to share with my readers.

There are a ton of blog spots online and blogs on everything from soup to nuts.  So do you ever wonder why you bother?  Do you ever questions whether or not anyone even cares to read what you write?

Well this might make you all get inspired to keep up with your blog and to remember that anyone, and I do mean anyone, could be reading…

An agent, in the same genre as my writer friend’s unpublished novel, contacted her with a request to read the manuscript – all based on reading her blog.

So remember as you post comments, entries and interact in blogdom, you never know who might be out there checking you out.

Anyone interested in a suspense novel?????

Hey, it was worth a shot.

November 16, 2007

It’s after midnight – do you know where your writer friends are?

Well for the fifth night in a row, it’s after midnight and here I sit, at my computer, looking for ways to get my muse to come for another late night visit.  Ain’t blogging a great distraction?

Actually, I’m pleased with my progress.  I’m well over 18,000 words and hope to be at 20,000 before I go to sleep tonight. 

 My book has its ups and downs right now.  Some chapters just fly onto the pages while others fight me a bit before revealing their purpose.  My main dilemma right now is that I have a lot of chapters with my two main characters and I’m running out of ways to introduce new people who would be necessary to the story.

So, I’m looking at pictures of people right now, trying to get inspired.

What are the rest of you nano writers doing to get to the 50,000 goal?

Hang in and keep at it.

November 15, 2007

Nanowrimo – it’s half time

November 15th – Nanowrimo has officially hit the mid point.  So how is everyone doing on their word count?  I’m over the 17,000 point, which makes me feel good, but at the same time, I know I should be at 25,000. 

I’m sure we’re all feeling the difficulty surrounding having to churn out 1667 words every day.  I know that some days I churned out less than 500, but other days my creative spurts took me well over 2000.

My strategy for the second leg of this race is not to concern myself with word count anymore.  Instead, I’m going to let my characters tell their story, no matter how good or bad it is, and see what happens.  If I make the 50,000 words, great.  If not, I’ve still written more this month than last month and hopefully, even with the holidays approaching, I’ll write more next month than my usual December output.

This first time Nanowrimo participant highly recommends this challenge and plans to enlist again next year.

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