Mini Writing Retreats Are A Great Idea!

Most of us know of someone in our circles that is writing or wanting to write. Joining writing groups can be expensive and a little crowded. If you are just wanting to hang out and talk about writing, why not gather up those friends and get away with your laptops. It’s a great idea! Author Julie Musil did just that. Follow her posts to see how things turned out.

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mini Writing Retreat #IWSG

Welcome, Insecure Writers! Not a member of this group yet? Remedy that STAT!

I’m currently on a mini writing retreat with two of my closest writing buddies. How is it going? I’ll report back later! But I did want to chat abut a couple of things. Writing retreats can be expensive and inconvenient–especially if you’re on a tight budget and have little kids at home. I’m not one to dump a lot of money into the writing process. It’s just not my style. But when my friends approached me with the mini retreat idea, I jumped on board. Why?

  1. Lower cost. We’re not paying for expensive workshops or roundtable critiques. We’re simply getting away with our laptops to write. Most of the stuff covered in workshops or retreats can be found online for free. READ MORE HERE.

Story World Tips


When you mention world building to a bunch of writers, most are instantly going to think about fantasy worlds. Makes sense since that’s the genre that does the most world building from scratch, but every story needs a rich world, even if that world is set in the good old USA. Luckily, the same tricks genre writers use to flesh out their worlds can also be used by non-genre writers.A Room With a View

One of the strongest tools writers have for world building is our point of view character. She can ground the reader by what she sees and provide context for those details. She can show what’s normal and what’s unusual for that world by how she reacts to things. Just as readers have never been to Middle Earth, they might not have ever been to the Midwest. Sure, they’ll have a general idea what it’s like (corn, flat, farms), but imagine how much richer we can make that world if we treat it like the reader has never seen it before. Especially if our world isn’t what the average person thinks of when they hear the location. READ MORE HERE.

5 Things I’ve Learned About Writing

process writing

process writing (Photo credit: vogmae)

When I first realized I wanted to write I wasn’t aware of how it would impact my life. My first writing project was an administrative manual for a job I held for more than eight years. I wasn’t sure on how to begin putting together a manual that anyone could read, understand and find useful. But, I can tell you once I put my fingers to the keys and started, it was like someone opened the garage door and let the sunlight in. Since that moment I have been reading, writing and thinking about what to write next. So far, I’ve learned a number of things about writing and its process. Five things have been consistent.

I see writing ideas everywhere.

On the street, with my family and friends. Some ideas will require research and asking an expert. Some ideas have been done over and over, but I can put a different twist on them. Some ideas are way out there and need to be kept there. I have been lucky and haven’t had to visit a site to seek out writing prompts.

I eat, sleep and drink writing.

I keep a journal close so I can jot ideas down. I have awaken many times in the middle of the night with a story or article idea. I carry notepads and a planner with me everywhere I go just in case something strikes me. I keep my phone handy so I can take a snapshot of an interesting piece of art or someone doing something funny. I have been caught without pen and paper and never wanted that to happen again.

I know when to put a topic to rest.

Sometimes I get so hurried when I am writing that I’m not sure that I wrote what I meant. I get sidetracked or my brain is working faster than my fingers can type. So, I write the article and leave it alone for a few days. I come back to it, read it, and make necessary adjustments. Or, I may scrap the whole thing and start over.

It doesn’t get old.

It can be frustrating when I am looking for the right words. I keep a thesaurus and dictionary close by for quick reference. Sometimes I use them sometimes I don’t. Shame on me. Even with frustrations I don’t ever want to stop. If I stop writing it would be because I am physically not able to. Heaven forbid that ever happens. Talking about writing and sharing ideas with other writers will never get old.

Editing is just part of the process.

One thing I’ve learned and most writers know is that editing is just a part of writing. We’ve all edited projects over and over. I write on paper first so you can just imagine what a page might look like. Scribbles and scratches with words written above and below, it’s a mess. I actually love my writing process and the editing that goes along with it.

I love writing and recommend it to everyone I meet. I have lots of folks who’ve come to me asking questions about where to start. It’s true we all have a story to tell. The hard part is sitting down to do it. What have you learned about your writing?

Writing Rituals

As writers we know we are supposed to write every day so that we can get something done and polish our skills at the same time.  So what can you do to really get yourself into the habit of writing? Will writing rituals help you get the job done? According to the blog Procrastinating Writers Blog  there are some handy tips and advice to help you decide if writing rituals will help you keep on task.

Pen & Ink

Pen & Ink (Photo credit: mbgrigby)

This is a guest post by Rich Furman

One of the principles of writing productivity that most writers, writing coaches, mentors and researchers believe in is the power of daily writing.

Simple statements such as, “writers write,” typify this sentiment. Yet, in spite of having this knowledge, many writers and aspiring writers struggle with achieving the consistency of daily writing.

There are many tools that have been suggested for helping achieve the practice of daily writing, from starting each day with writing, ending each day with writing, or putting writing into your calendar and making it an appointment with yourself.

For some, these work; for others, they may not make a significant difference.

Why These Tools Don’t Work For Everyone

Part of the reason these tools don’t work for everyone is that these scheduling methods do not change anything about you.

What you need is a method that helps make you need to write, and creates a negative internal consequence when you do not. In other words, you need your writing to take on the hallmarks of an addiction.

Do I mean that writing should make your life spin horribly out of control? Of course not. You need to make your writing into a positive addition, or a habituated behavior that is supported by environmental, psychological and biological stimuli.

When you engage in a positive addiction, you experience a sense of meaning. When you do not, you feel a sense of loss, and may actually experience biochemical changes, just like with a less positive addiction.

Sounds complex and time consuming perhaps, but its not difficult. One of the most powerful principles in addiction treatment is that rituals often support people’s compulsive behavior, and can be used in creating behavioral change. 

What you need is to create behavioral rituals that support a dependence on writing.

With drug addiction, or behavioral addictions like gambling, rituals set into motion powerful biopsychosocial triggers that compel one toward a substance or behavior. This is why creating rituals for yourself, simple habituated, routinized behaviors that you do prior to writing, can help you achieve the consistency you need. Read more here.


R.E.A.D. 7 Tips For Writers

Before we are writers we are readers. Perhaps that is the one thing that encourages us to start a writing journey of our own. I’ve discovered some inspiring tips from Emma Dryden of the SCBWI. Her philosophies in regards to reading, expanding, adapting and investing in our writing are very useful.  Happy Writing!

Do you love reading? [Explored #28]

Do you love reading? [Explored #28] (Photo credit: Fiduz)

Staying on the Road: 7 Tips for Authors & Illustrators

I was asked recently by my colleagues in the SCBWI-Oregon region to share some inspirational thoughts for authors and illustrators. I am happy to share these remarks with a wider audience:
Read.  Read as much and as often as you can. Read books within the genre and style in which you write.  Read books in genres and styles with which you’re less comfortable. Read aloud – from books you love, from books you don’t love, and from your own work – to learn about voice and narrative flow. Read in order to become a stronger writer.
Explore & Expand. Explore all options for yourself as a writer or illustrator—explore creative options and publishing options. Expand your thinking as a creative person to try new styles in your own work. Explore new avenues for the exchange of ideas and for inspiration, be it through social networking, critique groups, conferences. Expand yourself and expand your art – try something you’ve never tried before in your writing or artwork.
Adapt. Adapt to change. The creative environment and the publishing environment are underdoing significant changes right now and it’s critical to remain as adaptable as possible. Be flexible and open to new ideas, new strategies, and new business models.  Be flexible and open to new approaches to your own work. Adapting to the new environments in which we live and work doesn’t mean giving up any creative instincts; rather, it means expanding the possibilities for yourself and your work.
Diligence. Be diligent with your craft. Practice. Write and rewrite. Sketch and re-sketch. Be as diligent with revision as you are with the first draft of anything you create. And be diligent as the marketplace throws up its barriers: if you get rejected, keep sending out your work; if you get feeback, revise; if you have questions, take time to figure out the answers.
Invest. Invest in your work and in yourself. Figure out what you’re willing to invest in your craft and recognize it as an investment in your future, your career, and your confidence. Investment can be many things: saving up to attend a conference or two throughout the year; working with a freelance editor and designer to ready your work before you submit or self-publish; taking the time to research the marketplace, agents, and publishing options. Read more here.