Tag Archives: writer

Why It’s Okay to Be A Writer Who Isn’t Writing

Okay to be a writer who isn't writing

You have to write to be a writer. Practice the craft. Put words to the page, even if they aren’t good words.

These are the mantras of the writing world.

And I understand them. I agree with them, even. If you want to get better at something—anything—you have to practice. That’s just a given.

But this writer, who loves the process and is dedicated to growing in the craft and writes stories in my brain all. the. time, is a writer who isn’t writing.

And that’s okay.

It’s okay because I find myself in a season of life that requires that my priorities shift away from finding daily time to hone my writing skills. And I know that there is a time for everything under the sun.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens… Ecclesiastes 3:1

Perhaps you find yourself in a similar place.

You know, when the characters in your head are so vivid that you start to worry that if you don’t get them onto the page they’ll take over and you’ll be committed and medicated.

Perhaps you should be committed for even enjoying the conversations you have with imaginary people. We can share a padded cell.

Whatever. All that aside, writing is a gift. It’s a talent. And if you want to be published, it’s a full-time job.

And I’m a writer who isn’t writing.

Shouldn’t I feel guilty?

Shouldn’t I worry that I’ll lose my “place” in the writing world if I’m not publishing at least three to five blog posts a week and adding 10 scenes a day to the 5 manuscripts I’ve got open on my desktop? Shouldn’t I feel bad that I’m not willing to give up my time with God, my husband, or my children in order to squeak in a few hours a day to write? Should I give up the precious little sleep I get? Shouldn’t I be laying aside everything else in my life to focus on this career because a) I believe it’s something God has called me to and b) because I love it and want to get my stories into the hands of readers all over the world?

No. No, I shouldn’t be laying aside everything else. It isn’t possible right now.

I’m a wife. I’m a mom. And those things cannot be set aside.

I’m also a sister, a daughter, a volunteer, a singer, a friend. I’m a chauffeur, teacher and researcher, a crafter and an organizer. I’m a cleaner, chef, and “life coach”. I’m a full-calendar-looking-for-time-to-breathe-most-days kind of person.

That’s life.

And it’s all this living that I’m doing that’s got me looking for writing time, wishing for it, and warring with myself over the feelings that come when I don’t get it.

Life is getting in the way of writing.

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But it’s the living that I want to write about.

Everyday living supplies the fuel for the fires of creativity.

Daily living is the thread that weaves together the soul of the writer with the heart of the reader.

Day-to-day tasks are what make us all human and create characters that touch lives and identify universally.

So you’ll please excuse me if I’m not writing full-time and not beating myself up about it.

A day will come when my children are grown and need me less, when my calendar clears and I find that my time isn’t already committed to the requirements of daily living. In that time I’ll be able to sit and give time and energy to my writing—the way I truly wish to.

And I’ll have so much life to write about.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 1 Peter 5:6

If you find yourself stuck between your passion and daily living, enjoy the moments of life that present the nuggets of genius that fuel your passion. Look for them. Seek them out in the day-to-day, identifying God’s touches everywhere.

Your ability to recognize those glistening moments from God’s fingertips is proof that you’re called to use them to His glory. He will lift you up, but enjoy the “due time.”

Share with me: What’s the one thing that takes up most of your waking hours? Job? Family? Volunteer work?

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Six Places To Take Your Characters to Get to Know Them Better– A Guest Post from Wendy P. Miller

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I laugh in the face of writer’s block. Why? Because I’ve got back up. I tuck away ammo for days when the doldrums sneak in and try to steal my creativity. As a novelist, I consider it a great treasure hunt, a psychological expedition trying to get to know my characters better.

Today I’m providing a fresh way to understand more about the main characters you’re creating.

Oh the places we’ll go…

A Festival

The swirling lights, towering sticks of cotton candy, and overpriced games…a festival is a great venue to watch and learn.

Does she lurk on the edges or do you see her in the center of every crowd? Is she quick to race to the Ferris wheel or does she avoid heights at all costs? Did she once get so sick on a drumstick she’ll never try her luck again? What did she show up wearing? A pastel cardigan and loafers or steel toed boots and a plunging V-neck?

The Mall

One of our pastors once said you know where your loyalties lie when you review your checkbook. What better place (albeit chaotic, overpriced, and not my favorite of all places) to bring your character to observe her behavior.

Does she head straight for Barnes & Noble? Or is she buying more sugar-coated pretzels than she can carry? Does she tire quickly and call it a day after an hour or is she browsing every single storefront? How fast does she walk? Does she make conversation with anyone or is shopping all business with her? Does she have the money to buy what’s she’s ogling?

A Sporting Event

This is where my husband would love to zap me into a character so I’d go with him to a sporting event. That aside, what fun to see how your character would react to the wave, the break-your-budget cost of food, the jeering and cheering crowds.

Does she wear layers or is she freezing the whole time? Does she avoid going to the bathroom at all costs? How rowdy does she get? Does she meld with the crowd or stand out like an oversized thumb (guess she wouldn’t stick out much at all with those awkward fan thumbs wielding around in the wind)? Who does she root for or does she discreetly pull a book out of her purse?

The Library

Ah, my haven. Enough about me…what does she do?

Does she dart in and out within a matter of seconds? Does story time catch her eye? Is she able to carry all of her books out without tripping? What kinds of books has she checked out? Does she ask anyone’s opinion about a specific book? Does she use the library system to look anything up or browse randomly?

An Elementary School Field Trip

Yah hoo…a field trip.

It almost doesn’t matter where she goes. What’s more important is how she interacts with the children. Is she constantly rolling her eyes or is she laughing and giving high fives as they learn new things? Did she preplan and bring wipes for sticky hands? Does she take notes? Is she sad because of something she remembers about her own childhood? Where does she sit on the bus?

Church

Pretty sure I don’t need to expound upon this one much.

Her actions will scream at you if you choose to bring her here. Tears, non-stop fidgeting, swaying to the worship music, going over her bills, head bent in reverent prayer? Watch closely. See her. Let her show you who she is.

Have you ever been inspired to come up with unconventional ways of getting to know your characters better? Which one of the above has the potential to reveal the most about a character you’ve created?

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 Bio: Wendy lives in New England with her husband, their three young girls, and a skunk-dodging Samoyed. She feels most alive when she’s spending time with loved ones, speeding on a boat, reading, writing, refurbishing furniture or taking risks. Her work has been published in Christian Fiction Online and in numerous anthologies, including Love is a Flame published by Bethany House. She graduated with a BA in English from Wittenberg University, where she earned an Honor of Distinction for her accrued knowledge of literature. Visit http://thoughtsthatmove.blogspot.com/ to learn more about Wendy. Or check out her Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Writer-Wendy-Paine-Miller/232985413400039 and Twitter https://twitter.com/wendypmiller pages.

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Writing Ain’t Just Writing Anymore

I’ve been asked many times, “when do you have time to write?”

I appreciate that question because it means that the person asking acknowledges that writing is a long-term process that requires a block of time to accomplish.

But this post is not for those people. This post is for the non-writers. For those who enjoy reading a good book, but don’t exactly know what goes into creating that book. For those who might wonder, “what do you do all day?”

This post is about a day in the life of a full-time writer.

I don’t know much about accounting. I don’t know much about being a stock broker. I don’t know much outside of the areas in which I’ve been educated.  That being said, I don’t think the majority of people know much about what a writer does.

It seems simple–writers write. Yeah, if only.

Writing as a career (that is, actively pursuing and publishing multiple novels as I am), is a full time job.

The vast majority of writers already have a full time job doing something else, so writing is a full time job that has to be fit into another full time job.

In my case, I am a full time wife and mother, and I have to fit my writing career into that. That is much easier said than done.

I have responsibilities to my family, to my church, to my community, to my friends, and to myself (gotta keep healthy!). I have a full-time life. And I had one well before I decided to pursue writing. So making time for writing has become the challenge that I overcome on a regular basis.

In my life I’ve found time to write in the afternoons when my boys are either napping or having “quiet time.” I normally can carve out a couple of hours on a good day, and zero hours on a bad day. Occasionally, if I have the energy, I’ll write at night after my boys are in bed. But seeing as how my alarm goes off very early in the morning, this is a rarity. Sometimes, on occasion, I’m able to carve out time on a day when someone has offered to help me with childcare. On those special days, I can devote more hours to my passion. My husband is very supportive of my writing, but even with his help, I don’t often have time to write everyday.

Crafting a story isn’t all that easy.

It’s often said to me, “I could never do that. I don’t have any ideas for a story.”

Well, that’s part of my passion. I have a very, very, very, very, very long list of ideas. I’m constantly coming up with new ones.

But committing those ideas to paper is a process.

A good writer researches their story to make sure details are accurate.

For my current WIP (work-in-progress as it’s known in the writer-world) I’ve been researching Cambodia, even though Cambodia is only a very small portion of the book. For historicals, I have to delve into my history knowledge and make sure that my details and events are accurate. Just the research portion of the creative process can take a l-o-n-g time.

Another step in the process is plotting.

In the world of plotting there are two groups: the Plotters and the Pantsters. I am a Pantster.

I’m not a good plotter. I’m just not. I can’t sit down and create an outline of my story in detail before I’ve written it, but I do have a general idea of where the story is going, and what scenes I want to include (flying by the seat of my pants). So, I do make a list just to keep myself on topic. Some writers are very detailed plotters and have an outline that almost looks like a completed novel. God bless ’em.

And then there’s the actual writing.

Some days, when time permits, I can hack out several thousand words. This is a very, very good day. Other days, either time is an issue or I’m still thinking through elements of the story and I might stare at the blinking cursor for a while and be happy to produce a couple hundred words.


And when my manuscript is done, a first draft complete, then comes the editing process.

This involves hours of carefully combing through the story and editing the big elements–plot, conflict, character motivation, etc, and the little details like tags, beats, word choice, spelling, and all the nitty-gritty details. This is a long, continuous process. Every time I read my stories I can find something to edit. I’m an obsessive editor, so I actually enjoy the editing process more than the first-draft writing process. The more I learn about writing and story crafting, the more I want to edit. Once the backbone of the story is there, it’s the details that I like to tweak.

When I feel like the story is fit for human consumption, I have some readers get involved. 

Beta readers–those who normally like books in my genre and will read it and give feedback. My critique partner, my agent, and writer friends who will read with a critical eye and help me fix any gaps, holes, or problems. And my mom. Because she loves my work but will always give me her honest opinion.

And when I’ve gotten feedback from those people, it’s more editing.

Then it’s time to send it off to publishers via my agent. To do this an author must create what’s known as a packet that includes not only a short blurb about the book, but a 3-5 page synopsis (that is a bad word in the writing community. Do you know how hard it is to crunch an entire book into 3 pages??), market comparisons, marketing strategies and all sorts of other things.

And some of those publishers, believe it or not, want you to do more editing before they’ll even consider publishing your book.

And the publication process is a whole ‘nother animal that many other writers have been wonderful about sharing. Suffice it to say, it’s editing on steroids. And book promotion. Massive work on book promotion. And marketing. And a whole host of other things that can be, even to the seasoned writer, overwhelming at times.  

So, I’ve finished a story. What now? Start another one? 

Sure, but in between ALL of the steps in this process, there’s the important goal of creating a reader fan-base or following.

How does an author do this? Via the web of course. Hence the blog, Facebook and Twitter followings that are very important.

It is the goal of any author to connect with their readership. And believe it or not, publishers actually consider how many followers an author has on various social media networks when they are looking at their work for publication. 

I’m not just blogging for the fun of it. It’s part of my job–part of my career as a writer.
I’m not just on Twitter for fun (yes, honey, I actually am cultivating my career although you think I spend entirely too much time on Twitter!).
I’m not posting things on Facebook just for the heck of it.

This is all part of the bigger picture–my career as a writer. 

We writers of the world would really appreciate your support in the following ways:

Follow us on Twitter. Like or Friend us on Facebook. Follow our blogs and share our posts with your friends–and please please PLEASE leave comments on our posts.

The point of blogging is to instigate conversation, so we want to hear from you. Please don’t be shy. Please contribute your opinion. It’s what we want–it’s what we need. It’s how you can help support us.

Oh, and read our books, of course. 🙂 And if you read a good book, pass the word along to as many of your friends as possible so that you are promoting that author. This is the best thing you can do for any writer.

**And I haven’t even mentioned the process of a writer finding an agent. Blessedly, I already have an agent, so that is not a process I have to undertake anymore. Praise the Lord! But it is a major step for many writers still.

Also, we find time to support our fellow authors by following & commenting on their social media contributions and by reading and talking up their published works.

The moral of the story is that writing isn’t just writing. It’s a full time job.

Thanks for your help and support. You guys are the best!


Share with me: What part of a writer’s life most surprises you?  Writer-friends– what part of your career as a writer do you find most challenging; most enjoyable?

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