Times Up

The two main reasons for not putting pen to paper as a writer are fear of rejection (another blog post) and lack of time in our busy schedules. I know firsthand how time deficiency can eat away at our optimism with each passing minute we aren’t creating, twisting and stringing those lovely words together.

I used to feel that if I weren’t able to spend a large block of time writing then I wasn’t able to write at all. Then, a friend challenged me to write every day for only FIVE minutes; no more and no less. Exactly 5 minutes.

I purchased an inexpensive kitchen timer from a local Big-box store and tried her simple test and wrote daily for three weeks for 5 minutes (now, to be fair, I did also spend a couple of extra minutes re-reading what I’d written the day before to get my juices flowing- so overall, I spent about 7 minutes each day.) After the three weeks passed, I was amazed to see what I had actually produced in only 5 minutes daily.

Now I realize I’ll certainly accomplish a greater word count if I’m able to set aside a 2-4-hour block of time; but some days you just aren’t able to sacrifice that much time.

It’s easy to fall into not producing prose as other activities chip away at our day; especially if those activities are on-going and are just as important as writing might be. Before we know it, months have flown past and we haven’t fashioned a single sentence. Then guilt sets in and begins to nag; making us even more unproductive. Some of us even begin to question whether we are a writer or not.

But this cycle can be broken. Try my friends test. See if it works for you.

Set a timer for whatever time you’re able to spare producing words at any given moment; some days it might only be 5 minutes, others it may be 20 or 25 minutes—and that’s okay. The point is to condition yourself to write something, every single day.

If you really want to do the actual test of 5 minutes daily for 3 weeks and see where it leads you, then absolutely go for it! Like me, you might be pleasantly surprised at what you actually produce in that time frame.

If you’re new to writing (or are struggling with writers’ block) and find it difficult to generate idea’s, then start your 5-minute challenge by just writing anything that comes to mind. Pick an object in your room and about a character holding it, or selling it to someone she doesn’t like. Or write a blog post about the object: Where it came from, why it’s special, etc. Write about a book you’ve read or T.V. show you watched; why did you choose it? How did it make you feel? What is important about it?

Write about something you miss in your life. I’m a grandmother now, with an empty-nest and I miss my boys as toddlers around my feet.

If you’re really blocked, then write about the breakfast you ate, or skipped.

The point is to WRITE. Every day for 5 minutes (or more.)
I’d love to hear about your experiment with my friends’ test, or what think about trying it out—Don’t be shy! Leave a reply below.

Thanks for visiting, and Happy Writing!

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How to Find Your Passion

January seems to stimulate the desire for fresh resolve during the New Year; but it can be difficult to set quality goals if we don’t understand what drives us. It is the same in our writing; in order to land on deeply moving prose that creates a desire in the reader to keep turning our pages we must first grapple with finding our true passion before we can bring our message to others.

friends-holding-hands-images-HOLDING-HANDSIn this regard, passion and theme go hand-in-hand.

As writer’s we all feel to some degree that we have a message to share with our world, but sometimes we find it difficult to discern what that message might actually be. So then, how can we know for certain what our individual message is?

For starters it might be wise to determine just what ‘theme’ is. Theme is the message we bring. It’s that thing we want each reader to take away with them after they’ve laid our prose down for the night. It’s that one, quiet idea we want them to reflect on.

Our task now becomes figuring out just what it is we hope our readers will ponder during their reflective moments. It’s not difficult; but to do this we must decide where our passions lie. What is it that makes us tick, so to speak?

We can decipher our passion by analyzing the things we love to do, the things we hate; those events that bring deep-seated emotions to our surfaces.

Because of the various abuses I’ve suffered throughout my lifetime my passion is Justice.

Not simply that someone is brought to justice, or that someone finds justice; but that true sense of a black and white, right and wrong with hard-lines firmly drawn—where everyone should play by the same rules or face the consequences for failing to do so. Those things that are: good, fair, just, lawful, reasonable, honest and upright.

My own writing reflects my passion of true justice. I like things to be black and white with little or no gray—and in my writing I usually depict those lines nicely drawn in the sand. Whenever readers bed-down my prose for the night they can be very clear that I hope they too will join the side good.

Because I have such strong convictions my message becomes extremely clear: Do what is right, because it is fair to others. When everyone plays by the same rules, no-one gets hurt. This then is my theme—my theme carries the message of my passion to my readers.

If you’re writing a story that just doesn’t seem to click together for you it’s possible that it has nothing to do with what you’re passionate about and therefore the message has become lost. Find your passion and will find your message. Find both and you’ll find your story because passion is the magic key that will unlock your story.

Where do your passions lie?
Religion, honesty, love, good in mankind, equality, freedom, gun control, education, food for the hungry, save the whales, abortion issues?

Think about the different causes you love and are drawn towards; then pick each of those apart to decide just what it is about each topic that you care deeply should be known by others—that aspect, my friends, is your passion.

Don’t be shy, leave a reply—I’d love to hear what you’ve learned your passion might be.

Happy Writing!

Photo from Clipart Panda

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Easy-Peasy New Year’s Resolution

Make more time for writing. Yep, it’s just that simple; or at least the enormous amount of advice on the subject seems to suggest it is.

If you’re like me then daunting tasks often feel insurmountable and cause procrastination rather than to produce productivity. Whenever a task like this taunts at me, I tend to build it up in my head as larger, and far more dreadful than it really is.

The truth about goals is that they should be measurable. There’s an enormous difference between qualitative goals and measurable goals. Qualitative goals simply qualify you have a need as a writer: I want to be a good writer, I want to be a successful writer, I want to produce better material. The problem is that none of these statements are actually measurable. After-all, each person measures success differently from the next; and better can always be beat. My opening statement isn’t truly a measurable goal either. It’s just the idea that ‘time’ needs to be made; but it fails to strategize as to just how to reach that goal.

Instead, and for true success, don’t make such whimsical resolutions that you can’t stop at various checkpoints along the way to ensure you’re certainly on track. Instead, develop measurable goals that can easily be tracked to ensure success: I will write 1,000 words each day, I will contact 5 editors each week, etc.

On my job as a Project Manager we often had projects to accomplish which required the skills of several team-members. In these cases we held meetings to discuss and dole out the various tasks involved in the final product of the project. At the time my company used a very simple (almost archaic) form that basically outlined who will perform which tasks and when their portion of responsibility will be complete. We also used checkpoint dates; usually set about halfway between the date assigned and the date of completion, to debrief and ensure we were on track at each interval.

I have to admit that when I first took my position I felt this form was an interference, a sheer waste of time (and we all know how much I dislike Time Wasters.) But as time progressed and deadlines approached I found it an invaluable tool for keeping every project and every employee within my entire department on schedule at every checkpoint.

I decided that since this very simple form proved useful in steering an entire department towards success that it might also be useful in some way in my writing life as well. So, in December I played around with it and altered it to reflect my writing goals. This allowed me to outline my own writing goals.

Now, I simply have one main goal, which I’ve broken into two parts (mind you, I have several minor goals as well that cover the span of the entire project, but for the sake of focus will spare you at this time.)

Do The Math

Friends, up to this point I’ve already written 447 words which took almost one hour to write. So, I’ve decided to work with a two hour window to show you the break-down (since many people have other work and/or family and simply can’t devote endless hours to writing.)

I checked for the word-count of a full-length novel with Writer’s Digest
and learned it should be 90,000 words.
If I write 500 words in one hour and 1,000 words in two hours then I can reach my writing goal of producing a full-length novel of 90,000 words in just 90 days!

1,000 words daily x 90 days = 90,000 words = 1 complete, full-length novel

The beautiful part is that I can create my own schedule; one that works for me. I can break those 90 days up into a formulated timetable that best works for my family’s needs. All of the sudden a full-length novel doesn’t seem so overwhelming does it?

Now that we can see how easy the math is, we can move to part two of this resolution.

Show Up Consistently

It’s all well and good to figure out how many words we should produce each day, but if we fail to show up and actually do the writing none of them will appear on the paper and next year we’ll face the same regret and the very same resolution.

So, simply put… put our butts in the chair! We can’t write if we’re not there.

For my own writing goals I’ve modeled my writing time after NaNoWriMo guidelines since I plan to try to complete my 90,000 word count in just 90 writing days.

If you’re interested in joining in on the National Novel Writing Month project which takes place each year during November, visit NaNoWriMo.

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Don’t be shy, leave a reply! Let me know what your resolutions and goals are for New Year.

Happy Writing!

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Time Wasters

There are many time wasters in our lives, but there are some that disguise themselves so well you don’t recognize them until it’s too late. Some even disguise themselves as important business opportunities.

I enjoy listening to published authors speak on various topics, and keep my eyes and ears open for local events featuring such happenings. The other day I learned that a local Author would be hosting a free workshop nearby, so with enthusiasm I marked my calendar for the affair.

Yesterday I attended the event, and to my dismay was completely disappointed with the evening.

I learned at the onset that this particular Author has but only a single book published. Furthermore, this very manuscript received 62 rejections from Agents and 54 rejections from Publishers before the Author decided to invest thousands, that’s right, thousands of his own dollars to self-publish the book; which he now promotes and sells at these events.

Well, to his credit he has been a High School English Teacher for 22 years, so at least he knows grammar right? Well, apparently teaching a subject does not automatically make you gifted in it. As we soon learned his dear wife was his strict at home editor, as well as his event Manager.

This Author was a very nice man, very genuine, and sincere. A very likable man indeed. He certainly enjoys teaching, but I was disillusioned when he rushed through the material he had planned, and his presentation was so extremely choppy that a complete novice would have not taken a single piece of information away from the evening.

Honestly, the only reason that I was even able to follow what he referred to is because I had actually just completed an online course at the local Community College on Fiction Writing wherein our Instructor covered the Three Acts in Fiction and Plays.

So all-in-all it took me an hour to drive there, 2 hours for the workshop and an hour to drive home: 4 hours of completely wasted time that I could’ve been working on my novel or visiting with my lovely Husband.

Moral: Before you just run off to hear someone speak rather than work on your own prose check their credentials first! Make sure what they have to say is something that you really need to hear. Otherwise stay home and work… your pocketbook will thank you when you land than book contract.

 

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Point of View

I’m hearing more and more lately that Editors these days want to see manuscripts (Ms) from new, unpublished Authors that are written in first person Point-of-view (POV).

I have never even attempted to write in first person before, but have decided to tackle the challenge on one particular Ms I’m currently working on before I get too far involved with it.

 If I like the changes I will execute them throughout the rest of the work.

  • How about you, Have you written in first before today? I’m interested in knowing what you like or don’t like about writing in first person.

 For those who don’t know what first person is I’ll offer this brief description:

  • First Person is writing the scene from only one person’s point of view, not jumping to the view point of any other person’s.
  • Let’s say that your main character is Cindy. Everything that happens in the story is told strictly through how Cindy experiences things happening.  If Cindy cannot see it, hear it, touch it, smell it, or think it… then she cannot tell your reader about it.
  • No other information can be relayed to your reader unless it comes from Cindy.
  • Many stories that are written in First Person are actually told by a secondary character that is not the main character, but in any case, the same holds true that everything relayed to your reader must come directly from the character telling them the story.

 Welcome to the world of First Person POV.

Try writing a short story about something that happened to you today in first person. It might be easier to write because you can actually use all the appropriate “I” or “me”, etc where necessary.

Please post your comments and let me know how you liked trying this POV.

 Happy Writing, Dina

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Fall Romance

This year I’ve decided to host a Couples Valentine’s dinner~ the clincher is I will host it in late summer or early fall. Everyone does something special on or near the real Valentine’s Day, but toward the end of the year husbands aren’t thinking so much about romance anymore. So I thought I’d help them out just a tad.

 If you’ve been to a Romantic venue of any kind and would like to share some thoughts on what made the occasion special, or if you have an idea of what you’d like to do for a special romantic evening of your own~ Please feel free to share your idea’s with me.

 I’ll share updates with you as the event nears closer, and post photos of the evening when it arrives.

 *** Here’s a fun party game:

Write a ‘weird’ sentence that most people would never say on card stock and place them under each place setting. At the start of dinner each person must read (silently) their sentence, and then they must work that ‘weird sentence’ somewhere into the evening’s conversation.

 Whoever does it best, will win the evening’s prize.

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Friendship

I once read a cute little poem on a friend’s refrigerator magnet that made grandiose statements in a simplistic verse about the various people who enter and leave our lives. The poem discussed the idea that each person holds a significant purpose to aide our journey in some form or another and that once their purpose has been served they often exit our lives—some might re-enter, but others may never. The poem also made the distinction that some of the people in our lives will never leave until death separates us.

My life personally has been marked by many who enter and leave again; in my opinion far too soon. My father and first husband both were military men who moved to new duty locations whenever Uncle Sam decided they were needed elsewhere. As a result I gained friends and lost them again more than I care to recall. Although I have loved every location I’ve lived, loosing friends has never settled well with me since I am a person who tends to friend for life.

Today I had the joyous opportunity to re-unite with a friend who has been a very dear part of my life. It was a privilege for me to re-connect with her and share a discussion of the paths our lives have taken during these past six years.

She is someone with whom I felt a very real and deep fondness for almost as soon as I met her, and I am so excited about the renewed opportunity of our awakened friendship and am eager to watch our journey unfold within our lives and hearts.

I am certain that our talks during the near future will un-earth many new insights for us both, but I couldn’t help thinking during the course of our five hour telephone visit about how happy I am to have found her again, and about how proud of her I am for the road she has taken as she walks her journey through life.

We laughed with each other as we reminisced about some of our good old times, our crazy antics, and even the men we dated. We cried with each other over having lost contact and shed happy tears over regaining it again.

The years during our close friendship have been some of my fondest memories, and one of my deepest heartaches has been losing contact with her. I thought she was gone forever, but still she had remained a very real part of my heart, my thoughts, and my life. I am so very grateful to have her with me again.

I had felt during our time apart that our journey together as friends had not concluded, and I was grieved for our premature loss. After finding her now I finally see the wisdom in that little poem I read on that refrigerator magnet so many years ago.

Dear One, I raise my glass to you and offer this toast… “Welcome home my friend, welcome home.”

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The Dictionary defines friendship as: An attachment between people who share an intimate association with each other through a deep and genuine fondness of one another.

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Inspiration for my Blog Title

I’ve always loved the quote from Michelangelo which says; “There’s an angel in that marble, and I shall set him free.”

I can imagine the great sculptor circling a mammoth chunk of rough marble as he studies the rock to discover what it speaks to him.

I imagine this was never a quick endeavor, but rather one that most likely took days or even weeks as the artist listened carefully before he placed his chisel for his first precise blow of the mallet.

The world has truly been blessed by the beauty of the enhanced shapes Michelangelo has offered through his carved sculptures and gorgeous paintings.

I know that when God looks down from His throne on me he too must feel as Michelangelo; that there is something more that lies deep within my heart that only he can bring out with the precise blow of his mallet.

God promises that if we will allow him to mold us he will form us into a vessel worthy to carry His Glory into the world. I cannot think of any greater honor, or any greater freedom than that of belonging to the Creator Himself!

God’s work in my life and Michelangelo’s quote have been the inspiration for my blog title; for I know deep within me, somewhere, lays a true writer… and I want to set her free.

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Story Ideas Are Everywhere

I lived in Germany during the time the Berlin Wall was dismantled. Out of that experience came an interesting novel Idea I have recently been developing.

A few months ago I stumbled across a reward ad in a local small-town newspaper that spawned yet another story idea.

Story ideas are everywhere; you simply have to be open to seeing them.

One good practice is to carry your digital camera everywhere you go. Take lots and lots of photos; you can always delete the ones you no longer wish to keep.

Take a good, hard look at the photos you take and ask yourself what inspired your interest in the first place? Then begin to play the “What If…?” game.

It’s very possible your next great novel idea will come out of something in which you were originally inspired by.

If you don’t have a digital camera, take heart, you can also either talk into a mini-tape recorder or hand write your idea on paper.

No matter which way you choose to record you can be certain your next story idea isn’t far away.  

Leave a comment and let me know where you have found your own writing ideas. Or leave a comment and let me know you’d like a few more ideas on just where to dredge up some great ideas.

Happy writing~ Dina

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