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Author Archives: Jennifer

Thank you!

I’m the kind of person that thrives on keeping busy. I like to see a full calendar spread out before me with  various events filling the spaces. Being a stay-at-home mom makes me especially excited to attend gatherings where I get a chance to interact with other people whose ages are of the double digit variety. As a matter-of-fact, the busier I am the more I usually get done. There is something about knowing I only have a small amount of time allotted to accomplish something that forces me into action. The more time I have to do something, the more likely I am to put it off until later.

However, even someone like myself has a point at which maximum capacity has been reached. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any busier, they did. I’m going to spare you the gory details of my hectic schedule. Sufficed to say, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that if I am ever going to finish that book, I ‘m going to have to let go of some of my commitments. Unfortunately, blogging is one of them so this will be my last post with Gemstatewriters.

Thank you to my fellow bloggers for giving me a forum to discuss one of my favorite topics. Also, thanks to all the people who have read my blogs and left comments.

Happy writing!

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2013 in Idaho

 

Finding Some Time

Finding the time to write is a challenge for almost every writer I know. Most of us don’t have the luxury of doing it on a full time basis. It takes some resourcefulness but if you put your mind to it, you can usually pick out a few times during the day that you can squeeze in a little creativity. This may mean sitting down to type, jotting down some ideas in a notebook or even just taking advantage of a few moments to mull some ideas over in your mind.

Always keep a pen and paper handy so you will be prepared when an opportunity presents itself. It may be while you’re waiting at an appointment, in the pick-up line at school or during soccer practice. While it might seem that the only spare minute you have in a day is while sitting at a red light, I don’t encourage utilizing this time for writing or daydreaming.

There are other less obvious possibilities too.  For example, you could have your child write with you. Keep them busy by setting them up with paper and colored pencils to explore their own creative side.

I’ve even heard of writers that plot ideas out with a dry erase marker while in the shower. Now that’s ingenuity.

Also, don’t be afraid to say no. Treat your writing time like you would any other job. Set aside time for it and make it a priority. It’s not easy but with a little perseverance and schedule tweaking it can be done. It helps to remind yourself often of how good it feels when you’ve taken the time to write. Every little bit helps you move closer to the ultimate goal of finishing that book.

Where do you squeeze in some writing time?

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2013 in Idaho

 

“The attempt to develop a sense of humor and to see things in a humorous light is some kind of a trick learned while mastering the art of living.” –Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

I have to admit this blog post is of a self-serving nature. My goal is to share with you a couple of books or phrases that have captured my attention and left a lasting impression on me. In return, I’m hoping you will share some of your favorites with me.

One of the most compelling non-fiction books I’ve read is Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl. Most people are probably already familiar with the works of this amazing WWII concentration camp survivor. In college I had to read this book and write a paper on it. I’ve held on to it ever since. I’ve gone back and skimmed through it countless times over the last twenty years. The dog-eared pages are yellowed. Sticky notes peek out from all directions. Multi-colored highlights abound from the pages as I found different passages spoke to me depending on the time in my life that I was reading it. It even smells a little dusty. At this point it’s become more of an old friend than a book.

The next book wasn’t a particularly profound read but more of a fun one. However, there was one passage in the book that grabbed my attention enough to warrant jotting it down. The book is Shannon Hale’s Austenland and the passage reads, “Why was the judgment of the disapproving so valuable? Who said their good opinions tended to be any more rational than those of generally pleasant people?” This captured my attention because it made me realize how much credence I sometimes put into the opinions of people who are inherently difficult to please.

Now that I’m done baring my soul (what a book lover won’t do for a few good recommendations), I’d love to hear your favorite books or passages. Maybe it’s completely different from these. It could be one that always makes you smile, motivates you or just makes you think.

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2013 in books, inspiration, Psychology, reading

 

Writing Backwards

“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” ― T.S. Eliot

At retreat last month a friend of mine was feeling stuck at a point in the middle of her manuscript. A fellow writer suggested that she try writing out the end of the story to see if that would help give her some direction. She tried it and it worked.

I recently found my own manuscript stalling and decided to give this approach a try. It turns out that this little snippet of advice happened to have a profound effect on my writing process. I have to admit that I’m still working through whether I’m a pantster, plotter, or somewhere in between. I don’t think it matters though. In the romance genre the ending is obviously going to be a happy one but I found it to be amazingly helpful to start at that point.

I had a vague idea of what my ending was going to be like but actually writing it out gave my story a renewed purpose. It has kept my scenes lean and focused by eliminating a lot of the fluff I had created while meandering somewhat aimlessly through the plot. Now I know that every scene I write advances the story in the right direction. I’ve heard it referred to as “connecting the dots” too. You write a beginning and an ending before connecting them with everything in between.

Something else that this approach helped me with was torturing my characters. I usually have a hard time subjecting them to various tribulations because I want them to be happy. By writing their future first, it helped me visualize how the trials they endure will make it all worth it when they are awarded a happy ending. It solidified how much my characters would need to grow from beginning to end.

Have you tried this approach? Does it work for you?

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2013 in Idaho

 

Writecation

As the weekend of the annual Coeur du Bois retreat approaches, it makes me think about how important those few days of the year are to my writing process. I can’t think of anything that stimulates my creativity more than secluding myself in a cabin with other writers. It’s an entire weekend filled with eating, going for walks, talking shop and working on my manuscript. If you’ve never done it before then I highly recommend it. I accomplished more writing at last year’s retreat than I did the entire rest of the year.

Unfortunately, I can’t write a whole book in one weekend. Just as the retreat creates the perfect writing environment for me, my house has the opposite effect on my productivity. My characters refuse to show their faces in my home. I think my children’s squeals of glee terrify them. Even if I’m home alone, which almost never happens, there are numerous other things that bombard my mind. I’ll sit at the table with my hands poised over the keyboard ready to type. As I tilt my head to the side pondering the next point in my story, my eyes fall upon the small spaghetti sauce handprint on the wall. I immediately become fixated as I find that I can’t possibly write another word unless I clean it off first. It’s important to note that this particular smudge has been there for six months already and has only now passed my tolerance limit. This is just one example but you get the idea.

So, instead I must find other places where I can create my own small cabin-esque environment. Coffee shops, books stores and libraries work for me too. I’ve even sat in my car in a parking lot just to get some writing done.

When and where are you the most productive?

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2013 in Idaho

 

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” ― Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

I haven’t sold a book or even finished one for that matter, so I haven’t had to answer to a publisher. However, I’ve heard many of my own self-implemented deadlines whoosh on by. What I’ve found to be a more effective form of motivation is to make myself accountable to someone else. Have you ever noticed that it’s so easy to break plans with yourself but not with others? For example, I’ll make a goal for myself to sit down in the evenings and write for 30 minutes. When the time comes I’ll tell myself something along these lines, “I’m too tired. After all, it’s been an exceptionally long day. I’ll start earlier tomorrow. Yes, that’s it! I’ll write for 60 minutes tomorrow to make up for not writing tonight.” And so it goes, another day with a zero word count. Now, if I make plans with a friend to meet at a coffee shop and do some writing then it’s a different story. I might consider some excuses but in the end I’m probably going to meet her just like I planned and I’ll actually get some writing done.

While I haven’t been getting much writing done on my book lately, I have been writing in various other forms. What I’ve found is that these tasks still perpetuate my creativity. A few of the things that I’ve been working on are my blog post, a letter for the PTA, and correspondence with some school board members. While none of these things have to do with fictional writing, they still require me to write. Some other things that force me to write are setting dates with my critique group, agreeing to write an article for a newsletter, joining a group blog (it’s too easy to ignore my own), or any other commitment that requires me to get creative.

Are there any commitments you have that force you to utilize your creativity?

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2013 in Idaho

 

Finding Motivation

A couple of months ago I started going to the gym on a regular basis. The first few weeks were the hardest. Each day I had to give myself a mental pep talk to get me going. I started out by walking and/or jogging around the indoor track. It wasn’t long before I got bored with that routine and decided to try a cardio kickboxing class. I loved it and it started getting easier to get myself out that door. I made a few new friends in the class and I began looking forward to seeing them. Feeling myself getting stronger motivated me even more.

Maybe you’ve already recognized a few of the ways that this relates to writing. I feel like the process is very similar for me. First, I need to get myself mentally prepared. Then, I have to force myself to take the time to do it. I also have to find an environment that promotes the process. For me this means relative quiet and coffee. After I’ve done this a couple of times I find that it becomes a routine that stimulates the writer in me. At this point, it doesn’t take much to get my imagination going and I begin seeing stories everywhere. Also, being around other people with the same interest in writing motivates me. I look forward to seeing them and I learn from them too. Just like with exercise, it’s accompanied by a feeling of accomplishment.

Is there a particular mindset, environment, routine, person, etc. that motivates you?

 
13 Comments

Posted by on March 26, 2013 in inspiration

 

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