Ah, show, don’t tell. One of the most spouted pieces of writing advice, and one of the most confusing.
When I first heard of it, I had no idea what it meant. Surely writing that my character “rose from her chair and walked across the room” was showing? Yes? No? Maybe? No. It’s a no. A hard no. It’s “telling” the reader what the character is doing (and in a very uninspired way).
Showing is using your words to create a picture in the reader’s mind. It’s using words to put them in the moment, to allow them to feel as if they are the characters. That it’s them “pulling their tired bones from the stiff seat and shuffling across the dusty floorboards”. It’s all about forging a connection between the reader and the characters. And it isn’t as confusing as you think.
Originally, today was supposed to be a Work in Progress Wednesday. I was going to post for you an excerpt from my current (and never-ending) WIP, Love Poetry, you were going to love it, I was going to be motivated to keep on writing and finish, and overall, it was going to be a happy day. Then I read the excerpt again…
Let’s just say I have a “mess” on my hands. A hot damn mess. Good thing I have Miss Candice here to encourage me to keep working on it.
Keep working, I shall. Check out her post if you, like me, are struggling with a messy project. 🙂
I’m struggling, y’all. Struggling to find inspiration. Struggling to write something worth reading. Struggling to write anything that won’t get decimated when my trigger-happy finger presses the backspace key. I can’t even think of a good Monday’s #1MinFiction prompt. Hence why there hasn’t been one for the last two weeks.
I guess I’ve been busy. I got a new job editing “science-y” articles. I’m not a “science-y” person, and the “science-y” lingo is frying my brain. Who knows if that’s the true reason for this current bout with writer’s block, but that’s the excuse I’m going with for now.
Then again, I don’t really want to use it as an excuse, because I actually like my job… A LOT. Some nights, I sit up and think, “Wow, I actually made it. I actually found a job in my field. And it has benefits. Paid vacation. Paid holiday. An optional work from home week for the Fourth of July! All that money I wasted, er, paid (am still paying) for a degree actually means something now! Shoot, maybe I’ll get my degree framed. Maybe I’ll hang it up on the wall!” And it’s nights like those when I feel most inspired to write again, and I post encouraging tidbits like this.
But the fiction has been few and far between, the poetry even less. I don’t know why that is, I don’t know why the creativity in me is so spent, especially when the ideas have all been there. It’s the writing, the writing . The turning it into an actual story or poem, a piece of art (because what are writers if not artists?) that just can’t come together for me.
Recently, I received an email from Camp NaNoWriMo. Yes, camp is starting again, and I want to use this year’s camp to find my drive for writing again. Writing something, anything, even if it’s just 100 words a day, even if those 100 words are total rubbish, at least they’ll be rubbish that I wrote and rubbish that I was confident enough about to hit publish for. And no, I won’t wait until to July to get started. Any more waiting, and I’ll just talk myself right out of doing. I’ve been talking myself out of doing a lot of things for far too long. That ends today…
Now that I’ve shown my age ( 😉 ), let’s talk about writing, and writing A LOT.
After wallowing in my own self-pity for many months due to the incessant beast that is writer’s block, I’m happy to announce that I’ve caught the writing bug! For the last two months I’ve been writing nonstop, posting almost every day for April’s A to Z Challenge and May’s Short Story a Day Challenge, and during the first week of May, I also participated in the poetry challenge, #fapalywo. My followers have slowly started to come back to visit, now that I’ve assured them I won’t disappear again. It feels good to be back to form.
But now it’s June, and I don’t want to wear myself down by committing to another month-long writing challenge. I could already feel it starting to become a burden toward the end May. I was reaching for good short story ideas. The last week and a half of prompts weren’t all that inspiring, so I really had to force myself to write something. The ironic thing is the stories I posted in the last week of May seemed to have been the most popular. That is truly a confidence boost, so thank you. (You really like me!)
One of my goals for May was to write a new short story to submit to literary magazines. I haven’t had anything published since 2015, mainly because I haven’t written anything. For the second half of this year, it is my hope to change that. Unfortunately, that will have to wait at least another month, because I didn’t get to write the story yet. I have an idea for what could be a strong story. To give you the basic premise, it’s a redemptive tale about a wayward woman who wanders into a church service one Sunday morning and has a life-changing experience. I’m still working out the details in my head, but while that story is still in progress, another rose to the surface while I was deep in the trenches of Short Story A Day May.
In short story #10, “I Can’t Stay,” I was exploring a story that came to me in a dream a few years ago about a woman who is running from her current boyfriend and has a “chance encounter” with her ex/the one who got away. I brought it back and expanded a little more with short story #31, “To Rewind Time,” and I think short story #26, “A Mother Still,” will also be a part of that story arc. So I will spend this month further developing the story and bringing it all together, and hopefully by July, I’ll be back to submitting to magazines and receiving more rejection letters than acceptance notices. (Hey, you gotta laugh at these things sometimes).
One portion of the Short Story A Day May Challenge that I really enjoyed was novel week. It not only gave me the opportunity to do some further sketching for my NaNoWriMo novel, Lost Boy, but I also got to revisit some characters I haven’t looked at in two years: Jessica, Whitmore, and Bruce, from my 2015 A to Z Challenge melodrama, Love Poetry. And it gave me a wonderful idea—Why not write this novella (which I should have finished in 2015) for Camp NaNoWriMo in July? Camp isn’t as strenuous as the real deal in November; at least here we can choose our own writing goals, so if I don’t make it to 50,000 words, I won’t be a total failure. Camp will also prepare me for writing (and hopefully finishing) my first novel, Lost Boy, for NaNoWriMo in November. (My heart is pounding just thinking about it!)
So I took fifteen minutes to sketch out a quick outline for Love Poetry, which is slightly different from what I posted back in April 2015 but not too much, and for July (so you don’t think I’ve disappeared again), I’ll be taking a chapter out of fellow blogger, Marquessa’s, book (I hope she doesn’t mind), and while all my focus will be on completing Love Poetry for Camp NaNoWriMo (what’s ironic is that I first attempted to write this novel back in 2014 for, you guessed it, NaNoWriMo 😀 ), I’ll be re-posting my 2015 A to Z Challenge, along with other Whitmore and Jessica related stories (because I have more than a month’s worth). If you’re a new follower since May 2015, you’ll be getting a treat, and for those of you who’ve been here a while, a blast from the past!
Getting back to June, I have a few ideas on where I want to take this blog moving forward, but I need your help.
First, I am overdue for another serial story. If you want to check out previous (completed) serial stories, read the Buried Series from the beginning here, and my 2016 A to Z novella, 26 Husbands—26 Unusual Deathshere. I thought my next series would be Oceanview, but while attempting to write Part 3 for one of the Short Story a Day prompts, I went completely blank. So that story goes back to the drawing board for now. However, I did write a few stories that are a little more developed and could possibly be expanded into a series. Below are the links to those stories. Which one do you think I should turn into a series? Vote in the poll, and I’ll reveal the winner next week!
Was there a story not included above that you would like to see in a series? Not a problem. Let me know in the comments, and I’ll consider it in the voting too.
Also in June I’m doing a test trial for a new Flash Fiction writing challenge. Last year, I hosted a short-lived challenge, Moral Mondays, which was fun, but too much of a commitment for me at the time. I may be shooting myself in the foot here, but I’m bringing back the Monday challenge, because we all need a little Monday motivation, right? This challenge will be One-Minute Fiction. As the title suggests, you’ll be challenged to write a flash story in one minute, no more no less, based on the prompt (a word, a phrase, a photo, whatever I’m feeling for that week). Sound promising? It should really light a fire under your bum and set you up for a whole week of writing! If it’s a success, I’ll keep it going; if not it’ll end June 26. (womp, womp )
Other June personal blogging ideas:
Throwback Thursday – Share a post (fiction or poetry) from the past.
Fright Night Friday – Post a frightful (thriller, suspense, paranormal, etc.) story or poem every Friday night. (You already know I love a good ghost story.)
Book Reviews – I have a lot of book reviews in my arsenal. I think I might reserve these posts for Saturdays.
So what do you think? Are you excited for June? Do you think writer’s block is plotting its revenge? Would you be interested in purchasing Love Poetry if I were to self-publish it? Do you plan to participate in the one-minute fiction challenge? Are you looking forward to the next serialized story? Or maybe you’re waiting for me to mention the one left unfinished…I’m being really secretive about it.
You’ll see why in due time… 😉
By the way, are you enjoying these beginning of the month goal setting posts? They’re my way of holding myself accountable, but sometimes I think I’m just talking to myself. Prove me wrong and leave a comment!
We’ve all heard the saying, “April Showers Bring May Flowers,” right?
Well, my April showers started at the end of April last year. After finishing my A-Z theme of Grandma’s 26 Husbands—26 Unusual Deaths (which you guys really seemed to love), I descended into a nasty case of chronic writer’s block. In hindsight, I believe I had become obsessed with topping 26 Husbands. The series had become so popular, and I wanted to continue that popularity with something even better. Unfortunately my perfectionism was at its peak also, and eventually I crashed, flipped over, rammed into a tree, exploded, and burned.
My posting became erratic, and eventually I disappeared from blogging altogether. I couldn’t force myself to write. Everything my pen produced was total rubbish (according to editor bitch), and if my writer’s block relented enough for me to start a new project, it came back with a vengeance so catastrophic, I was never able to finish.
But that all changed this year. If last year’s A to Z Challenge put me in this crud, then this year’s A to Z Challenge would get me out of it, and that’s just what it did.
This year’s A to Z Challenge was all about planning for NaNoWriMo, another project I’ve unfortunately never been able to finish. For 26 days—yes, 26 days—(some days were harder than others, but I stuck in there), I wrote outlines, character sketches, and back stories. I brainstormed on themes, conflicts, subplots, stakes, and resolutions. Last night, I finished—yes, finished—with my zealous “Z” post, and I only want to continue. It may be be the end of the April A to Z Challenge, but it’s just the beginning for me. I still have a novel to write, and I’ve never felt so prepared for NaNoWriMo in my life!
But it’s not just NaNoWriMo, I feel reinvigorated to write any and everything! Writer’s block, hear me roar!
The end of April marked not only the end of the A to Z Challenge, but also the end of National Poetry Month, which means that May is . . .
Short Story Month!
Ahh, short stories, my first love. I’ve been writing them since I was old enough to write, been reading them for even longer. I haven’t written a new short story to submit to literary magazines in a long time. Speaking of submitting to literary magazines, I haven’t submitted anything to a magazine since 2015 (yikes)! So in honor of Short Story Month, I’ve challenged myself to keep this writing buzz going and write a complete short story that I hope to submit to some magazines and get back on my publishing journey. I’m giving myself a whole month to write just one story (probably between 3,000 and 5,000 words), which is plenty of time to produce something great! I’ll be posting weekly updates on my story status for you guys just to assure you that I won’t let writer’s block win, but in the meantime I have a couple of treats for you.
Also for May, I will be participating in the short story a day writing challenge. Each day, I’ll post a micro fiction tale between 100 and 300 words. There is an optional prompt, but I can’t guarantee I’ll stick to it; it just depends on how the prompt inspires me that day.
I also want to exercise my poetic pen (since I didn’t get a chance to during NaPoWriMo in April) and jump back into #frapalymo, which is now called #frapalywo. If you’re unfamiliar with #frapalymo/#frapalywo, it’s a German poetry writing challenge, translated Frau (Miss) Paulchen’s Lyric (Poetry) Month/Week. It’s usually held every May and November, but it looks like she’s changed the May challenge to a series of week-long prompts (the first one was back in February) leading up to the big shebang in November, which I won’t be able to participate in because of NaNoWriMo, but I can still do the week-long challenges. This first week of May, the prompt is “noise.” So stay tuned for seven days of NOISY POETRY!
It looks like I have a lot to do for May, so why am I still talking? I’d better get started—we’re halfway through the day already! I’ll be back soon with a new story for Short Story A Day May. Writer’s block won’t hold me down!
As we approach the final hours of this last day in March . . . I am reminded that tomorrow the April A to Z Challenge officially kicks off, and in my typical procrastinator fashion, I have waited until literally seconds before the challenge is set to begin to reveal my theme.
Truth be told, I didn’t think I would even participate this year. I haven’t been able to finish much of anything lately, and the last thing I want to do is get you invested in a set of characters, hooked into a series of stories, only to disappear off the map, right at the climax of it all, and leave you hanging—not even off a cliff, just in midair—desperate for a way down, frantically seeking a resolution.
Such has become my custom as I wrestle with this nasty beast called writer’s block—an on-going battle I’ve been dealing with since the end of April last year.
But enough wallowing in my own self-pity! I have an uncle who calls himself a writer too (we all have that one family member, right?) and every time I see him, he always has one question for me: “Published anything new?” An innocent question for the most part, but sometimes I feel he’s mocking me, because he already knows what my answer will be, and quite frankly, I’m sick of telling him no.
So while sulkily scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed a few days ago, I came across a picture that really lit a fire under my ass.
If I ever want to get back on the wagon and return to being the prolific writer and blogger I was at this time a year ago, I have to write something, anything. It doesn’t even have to be good, but at least I’m making an effort.
Which is why I’m taking a NaNoWriMo approach to this year’s A to Z Challenge. No, I will not be writing a 50,000 word novel in 26 days, instead I’ll be planning out a novel idea that has been brewing on the brain for several months now. Backstory, character sketches, outlines, maybe a few deleted scenes—anything and everything to help me formulate a plan of attack going into NaNoWriMo this November, where I hope to write and complete my first novel (because I have a ton of unfinished ones collecting megabyte dust on my hard drive).
As for that perfectionist editor bitch in me, who’s had a time deleting everything I attempt to write (even this very post, which I had to sleep on for a night because her perfectionist editor bitch finger was hovering over the backspace button), she’s getting shipped off to Timbuctoo, or a work camp on the frozen tundra of Siberia. She has no place here. The goal is to start. Simply start.
I have no title, not even a synopsis, just an idea, an image I hope to flesh out as I trudge down recovery road back from writer’s block. You may not like it. Hey, you may even hate it, but I’m seeking no one else’s approval but my own. What’s more important for me is to actually start and finish something I can be proud of. The editing part will come later. Much, muuuuuch later. So who else is joining the A to Z Challenge? Link me your blog and I’ll try to follow your posts! They changed the rules on us this year, so it’ll be interesting to see how much participation we get. Nevertheless, my only concern right now is my own participation. A friendly reminder from one of my favorite movies…
Just keep writing. Just keep writing. Just keep writing, writing, writing…
I’m sure all of you are wondering why you haven’t seen a new creative piece from me in months (over three months if we’re talking about poetry). It’s quite simple, actually . . .
I HAVE WRITER’S BLOCK.
And not just any writer’s block, but a fatally chronic writer’s block (is that a good diagnosis?). The sad think about it is that this particular writer’s block only seems to be affecting my creative side. I can still mange to force a well-written blog post onto the page (by the way, for all you fashionistas, & natural hair lovers, check out my articles on 4cHairChick here and here), but the moment I sit down to write a story, all that emerges is gibberish that looks like it’s written by a five-year-old! What’s worse is that I’ve had several good story plotlines floating around in my head for months! Why can’t I write them down. At least with poetry I have a reason for my writer’s block: NOTHING. Not a single idea for a poem has come to mind in months! Maybe I should get my Taylor Swift on & date someone for a couple months & have our messy breakup inspire a fiery poem.
I am working diligently to overcome this latest spell of writer’s block. I’ve been reading lots of literary magazines (because I’m sure their rejection of my work is what has caused this), and I also plan to read Gone Girl this weekend, so nobody tell me about the movie!
By the way, as far as NaNoWriMo goes, you can guess that I failed yet again. At least I got the first chapter written. I’ll post that soon so you’ll have something to read from me this month, and who knows, November isn’t over yet. Maybe I’ll finish with a 20,000 or 30,000 word novella that will cure my chronic writer’s block.