writer wednesday

Writer’s Mission

Since the end of last year, I’ve thought more about this topic than I have for a while. What’s my mission as a writer?

As an entrepreneur, I have a business plan with my long term goals and what I’d like to accomplish. That’s a different cap than a writer’s mission though.

The pull for me to become a writer comes from my childhood. I used to escape into books and let reality take a back seat, even if it was for a little while. Exploring a world that I might never get to see, all through the pages of a book.

For the first time in a while, that’s happened to me again. I fell face first into a book that started out a little slowly, but now that it has sank its claws into me, all I can think about is getting back to it! I’m relieved it’s the first book in a series because the book is almost over, and yet, I don’t want it to end.

That’s something I crave to create for my own readers. To entertain them and whisk them away to make believe worlds too. To let the book sink its claws (or fangs) into them and not let go. To keep them thinking about it until it’s over.

It’s a great time to reflect on that mission. I’m truly grateful to everyone who has read my books. Hearing from people that they love them is humbling (and blows my mind).

Until next week,

Sarah

Refueling the Muse

One thing I’ve learned is how important it is for me to keep my muse fueled up. It’s pretty easy for me to switch into workaholic mode and go go go without taking time for myself. Then again, I think that’s probably true for a lot of authors. However, that’s not sustainable.

Taking the hiatus last year and focusing on myself and my health was fundamentally important. Not only did it help change my outlook on self-care, but I feel like, for one of the first times in my life, I truly understood the importance of having balance. I also realized how much I enjoyed writing once the pressure was off.

I had a few weeks where I was busy and out-of-town where I was overcome with an overwhelming need to put words down on the page. That was a magical moment that I hadn’t felt in a very long time. Before re-evaluating things, I let myself get bogged down with the business and marketing side of writing biz that my passion for writing was smothered. However…

This year, I’m taking steps to keep that balance in mind. Here’s what I’m doing:

  • – Prioritizing writing, even if it’s a few hundred words, no matter what needs to happen.
  • – Meal planning to keep my body fueled with healthy food.
  • – Journaling for my mental and creative health.
  • – Using two planners, one for my business and the other for my personal life. The personal planner has daily things to accomplish that’s just for fun (like reading and video games). Planning fun sounds strange, but if it works!
  • – Exercising to keep my body and mind healthy.
  • – And finally, making time to do something fun with my hubby and family.

What are you doing to keep yourself mentally/physically/emotionally in good shape this year?

Until next week,

Sarah

Plans for 2019

2018 was something else. I’m happy that it’s in the past. I accomplished some great things, but I’m so excited for this new year. It feels like there’s so much potential, and no, I’m not just saying that.

In December, I stumbled upon Heart Breathings and started devouring the YouTube videos. (They’re really good.) There was a planning/productivity course detailing Sarra Cannon’s method of quarterly goal planning. I wasn’t sure about taking it, so I waited until the last minute to make a decision before taking the leap. That course really changed my outlook on goals and planning.

A couple things I learned, for instance, was breaking goals down into quarters makes it easier for someone to accomplish their goals. She also discusses the difference between a goal and a project. A goal is focused on an outcome while a project is something that can be broken down into tasks.

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been utilizing what I learned and getting so much accomplished, even with it being a holiday season. Now that it’s January 2nd and the holidays are over. I’m excited to see how productive I’ll be and how much more balanced my life will be with a plan in place.

Until next time,


Sarah

Staying Focused

Since the beginning of November, I’ve been doing National Novel Writing Month. That’s been going well! I’ve written over twelve thousand words so far, which I have to say is the most on top of it I’ve probably ever been. 🙂

Over on my Instagram, I’ve been participating in a NaNoWriMo Instagram photo challenge. You can find it at #igwritersnano. The fifth day’s prompt was How Do You Focus?

For me, I think one of the important things that have helped my productivity this month has been the fact I laid out a solid foundation for my book with the prep challenge I did in October. Knowing more about my characters, knowing about the locations, and knowing what’s going to happen (for the most part) in the book really helps. My problem before with writing was I’d get so excited to start writing that I’d dig into the book, then get stuck because I didn’t know where the story should go next. Having a beat sheet handy helps a lot.

With that said, I fire up Scrivener and put on my headphones. There’s something about using headphones that helps me block out the world and focus harder than if I’m listening to music without headphones. For music, my favorites are Electronic Dance Music and The Game of Thrones soundtracks.

Something else that’s helped keep me on track is using the PomoDoneApp, which is a Pomodoro timer that syncs with my to-do list. That helps me keep track of how long it takes me to write or create a blog post and ideally plan my days better.

I also enjoy doing word sprints on NaNoWriMo’s Sprints Twitter. Seeing other writers share their word counts too makes it exciting. You’re not the only one out there, just writing alone in the void.

The great thing about both of those methods is it allows me to focus on writing, but it also reminds me to take small breaks to get water and move around a little in between sprints or Pomodoros. In the past, I’ve had a bad habit of staying at my desk for hours upon end and forgetting that the world outside of my computer exists until I look up and I’m so hungry or thirsty and several hours are gone. I’m glad those days are gone! That certainly wasn’t a healthy way to work.

Until next time,

Sarah


Plotting? Check!

First of all, Happy Halloween! I hope whatever you do today is spooktacular. Once the clock strikes midnight, I’ll be writing since tomorrow begins NaNoWriMo. 🙂

Over the past month, I decided to try out something different from what I usually do. Normally, I get my beat sheet done, then I begin writing with basic ideas of characters, locations, and so on. Most of that stuff is in my head and doesn’t go down on paper.

Whew… Not this time!

This year, I saw an October Prep Challenge for NaNoWriMo, and I decided to go for it. It had been a while since I’d done anything like that, so what could it hurt? There were plenty of different topics from the Premise to Setting Lists to an Antagonist Profile. It helped me to see the plentiful benefits of going deeper with plotting than just throwing together a beat sheet and diving in. In fact, I’ll probably do a modified version of it for future books. Maybe I’m more of a plotter than a plantser I realized?

Part of Jacob’s Profile

As seen above, I created a template for character profiles with pictures to get a better picture of the hero, heroine, and all of the other characters I can foresee making their way into the story. My Google-fu even came in handy to find pictures for the settings. 

Overview of October Prep

I’ll get it all a little more tidily organized within Scrivener today, but knowing that all the major information I might need when I’m writing is just a click away feels pretty awesome.

Until next time,

Sarah

News on Writing and Life

Hey there,

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here at my website or been around on social media. My love of writing has really fluctuated over the last couple years, coupled with some health issues that didn’t make things easier. Earlier this year, I decided to take another break from writing. I gave myself time to focus more on making good, healthy decisions and in the process searched inward to see where I was writing-wise.

Over the summer, I did some freelance writing, which helped me fall back into a pattern of writing. That evidently sparked a fire within me. The freelancing stoked a burning desire to write again. Something I hadn’t felt in a while! Before it was more urging myself to write, knowing it was a task on the to-do list, instead of feeling that inner drive.

Coming back is pretty daunting even with my rediscovered passion for writing. So I’m dipping my toes in a little at a time. 

My MacBook Pro!

In other news, I did something pretty exciting. I bought a MacBook Pro. It’s an older one, but I’ve always wanted the chance to use Mac’s version of Scrivener and Vellum, two great pieces of software for writers. It’s been fun learning getting familiar with it, and with November–and National Novel Writing Month–right around the corner, I’m feeling ready to put some words on the page.

Until next time,

Sarah

Writer Wednesday: Growing as a Writer

Before I start my Writer Wednesday, I have a couple News Bytes to share. Today Jungle Heat is being featured on Nook Lovers as a Daily Cheap Read. I also have been interviewed by Linda Andrews on her blog. Also, tomorrow I’m guest blogging at TRS Blue’s blog, and I’ll be participating in the TRS Release Party. I’d love if you would stop by!

It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve done a Writer Wednesday. I was looking through my early blog posts to see if I could get a glimmer of what to write about, and I noticed how much I used the word “try” in my blogs. I give myself credit for all that trying since I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had stopped, but there’s something pretty important I’ve learned in the time between then and now. As the Yoda quote goes, “Do or do not. There is no try.”

I can’t say I’m perfect now. I know there are still some areas that I struggle with in being a writer. Some of them are even ones I struggled with back then, but I have more fortitude and willpower because I believe in myself more. My ability to write and edit have increased, and I know that getting published isn’t like winning the lottery. I know it’s possible, and it will happen. Obviously, since I just had a book come out with my publisher, right?

Wherever you’re at as a writer right now, strive toward what you want whether that’s improving your writing craft or getting published. It might take a while, but then again, I’ve been on my journey quite a while too.

How have you grown as a writer?

Writer Wednesday: Reading Challenges

Hey everyone! I hope you’re having a fantastic New Year so far! Welcome back to Writer Wednesday. Reading is important to writers because it helps them hone their craft. Hence why I’m discussing it today.

With a fresh new year here, I know I’ve been thinking about what I want to accomplish in it. One of those things is read more. Last year, I failed with my reading goal, so this year I’m setting a new one. Probably one that’s more ambitious, but I’m hoping to stick to it. Yes, it’s… 36 books (novels, more specifically). No, no, please don’t start laughing…

Anyways, I’m a slow-ish reader. If I don’t do anything but eat, drink, use the restroom, and read, I can finish a book in one day if it sucks me in. Otherwise, a little over a week is my pace. Yes, writing, and then computer games, take up the other portion of my time. *grins*

So, I’ve been looking at quite a few blogs recently, and I’ve seen a lot of people doing a wide array of reading challenges this year. The three that I’m doing are:

Goodreads’ 2012 Reading Challenge: Pretty simple, all you need to do is join Goodreads, set a goal for yourself, and read those books. It keeps track by you specifying “read” and when you read the book. Their widget shows if you’re ahead or behind of your goal.

Book Chick City’s Horror & Urban Fantasy Reading Challenge 2012: This is a genre based challenge. To sign up, you just go to the website, fill out the linky, etc. and read the books!

Book Chick City’s Speculative Romance Challenge 2012: The same as above here, except this one is for all kinds of romance like sci-fi romance, paranormal romance, fantasy romance.

Book Chick City also has other Reading Challenges. There’s more here, and I’m sure if you typed in reading challenge (romance, sci-fi, etc.) that you’d find more.

So… who else has taken the dive to read more this year and joined a reading challenge? If you have, which ones?

Writer Wednesday: Motivation or Inspiration?

Hi everyone! It’s the second week of 2012. We’re all still excited about the fresh new year, right? That leads me into my Writer Wednesday topic this week.

Motivation or Inspiration…

Some writers only write when the mood hits them, while others put themselves in their chair and write no matter what. Sure, I’ve been guilty of writing when the mood hits before, but it’s important to work consistently on your work-in-process.

I’ve learned a few things about that:

  1. It’s harder to keep track of what has gone on in the story if you’re not working on it every day. Chances are you’ll have to do that much more revision, unless you’ve got it all plotted perfectly.
  2. It puts distance between you and the story, causing the story to go cold.  You begin not to have the passion for it, then as each day goes by excuses not to work on it start. After a while, you sit back down to find out that you’re not as enthusiastic about the characters and scrap it to write a different story. (Yes, I’m speaking from experience on this one.)
  3. You’re not producing work consistently. If you’re contracted on a story, then producing new words is super important to fulfilling your contract (or getting the contract in the first place).
  4. Writers write. If you want to be a writer, shouldn’t you enjoy writing?

So, how do you make it through the days when the muse is off somewhere else?

Two Helpful Tips in Getting Published

Welcome to another edition of Writer Wednesday! I hope you’re all having a great week so far. This week, I’m going to share a couple tips I learned on my journey to get published.

First of all, it’s important to keep writing and moving on to the next manuscript once you’ve finished something. It can be hard to let go of a story you’ve written and edited over and over, and you should definitely send it out on submission, but I can say the two most helpful things I’ve done in getting published is writing a lot and finding a fantastic critique partner, Kinley Baker. She helped bring my skills to a whole new level.

Something to consider when you look for a critique partner(s) is to find someone on, or close, the same level as you. Yeah, it’d be great to pair up with someone who is a multi-published New York Times Bestseller while you’re an unpublished, and if you can do that kudos to you, but the chances are unlikely. My critique partner and I leapt from unpublished to contracted in about three months of each other. That’s pretty darn cool! (I also have two other awesome critique partners, Bella Street and Lisa Kessler. They moved to that next level within the three months too, which is so amazing.) It’s been helpful since we know what the other person is going through.

It might not seem like you’re moving and shaking and gaining a lot of knowledge by just writing, but you are. I think National Novel Writing Month is really helpful in giving yourself permission to make writing a priority. It helped me to write my first book, and then my second, third, fourth… and well, I’ve been doing it (and completing my novels) every year starting in 2005. Some of them, I wrote and put aside because I was working on another book at the time, but that doesn’t matter as much as simply honing your craft.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them.