“Just Show Up”

Training to Write

This will be a shorter blog post today–it is “Study Day” where there are no classes, but I want to use the day to catch up on reading and schoolwork.

“Just Show Up” is what Desiree Linden, the first American to win the women’s race in the Boston Marathon in 33 years, told a reporter in an NPR interview after the race.  Desiree tells how training wasn’t going well and that some days felt great and some days felt less great, and goes on to explain that she told herself to “just show up” and on the day of the race, to “just show up for one more mile.”  This is exactly the sentiment that we as writers and that myself in particular need to hear.

Writing to Train

One of the things that Desiree Linden said in the interview that really spoke to me as a writer was that her training phase was particularly brutal (as was the race with the poor weather conditions).  She said that some days the training “flowed” and went to plan, but that some days it was really difficult and arduous.  She, however, decided to stop thinking about it so much and to just “show up.”  She has a Twitter mantra that says that she makes a choice every day “show up” and that she needs to stop worrying about what the day gave her and to just “show up.”  This is so applicable to me and my writing life because too often, the writing doesn’t “flow” like I want it, or rejections come that are out of my control.  Like Desiree, I just need to “show up” for each writing project and enjoy the process.  Her crossing the finish line was an accomplishment and winning the race was a victory.  I need to make finishing projects my accomplishment and publication (which is out of my control except to write the best story I can) my victories.

Music Makes the Medicine Go Down

One thing that I noticed was that she had a strong love of music–it begins and ends the NPR story.  Finding a strong musical choice can help motivate you and give you the inner strength and energy to “show up.”  I’ve noticed that I don’t write to music as much as I use too (the room is silent right now even as I type these words).  I’m going to have to get back to giving myself a musical boost if I want to follow Desiree Linden’s example and “Just Show Up.”

Have a great day!

Sidney



 

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Getting It Done

Important Note:  This is the final week of school for me and then Final Exam Week occurs Friday through Thursday of the following week.  I have a final paper and final exam (and to be honest, I’m behind on other school work as well), so the blog entries may be a bit erratic for the next two weeks.  I’ll try to be consistent, but I may not always upload a daily entry during these two weeks.

Getting it Done

So, there is a screenwriting channel on YouTube that I recently found and it has reignited my passion for screenwriting and storytelling, in general.  One of the interviewees talked about working at several jobs and working tables as a waitress while writing in order to have steady income until writing became her primary occupation.  I really liked what she had to say–the problem is, she specifically referenced writing at night after the job was over.

I really like the idea of writing while working until writing becomes your primary job as this feels a lot like what I’m trying to do even while I’m in school.  However, I’ve found that writing after class is next to impossible for me.  I usually have to expend so much energy getting ready for class (reading, writing, papers, etc.), that by the time I get home, I’m usually mentally drained.

Adjusting to Make it Work for You

So, for me I really need to do my writing before going to class, to work, or wherever/whatever I need to do, otherwise I do a lot of thinking about writing, but I never actually seem to write.  Writing at the end of the day just doesn’t seem to work for me and since the writing process is so individual, you have to take whatever advice you think will work for you, try it, and then adjust it as you need to do so.  For me, writing before is better than writing at the end.  Just like for the interviewee in the above YouTube video, I really like writing and my projects.  I’m just not a “night-owl,” so I’ll need to adjust my way of thinking and incorporate her advice so that it works for a “bright-eyed, up-and-at-’em” type of morning person that I am.

Whatever works is a good motto to have if you’re a writer–you just need to make sure to adjust and apply (writing) advice to your own unique process and situation.  Something that I need to remember and be reminded of from time to time.

Sidney



Celebrate Good Times

Important Note:  This is the final week of school for me and then Final Exam Week occurs Friday through Thursday of the following week.  I have a final paper and final exam (and to be honest, I’m behind on other school work as well), so the blog entries may be a bit erratic for the next two weeks.  I’ll try to be consistent, but I may not always upload a daily entry during these two weeks.

Celebrating Student Writing

I missed Friday’s blog entry because I attended an event at my school, MTSU called the Celebration of Student Writing (CSW).  This is the second year that it was held and it is a really neat event for student writers.  Imagine a Science Fair, but instead of science projects, the students talk about the writing projects that they’ve been working on in class.  While some students used technology (one presentation that I listened to was a Podcast)for the most part, it is a decidedly old school affair with tri-fold poster-boards and images to help illustrate the topic.

I’m including a link to a video that Dr. Detweiler of MTSU and his students helped to create last year about the CSW.  Fun fact: I’m actually in the video (unknown to me before I saw it–see if you can find me)

Student Writing

This event is important in that it gives students a chance to talk about their writing in an authentic writing environment.  Too often, papers are just that: “papers” written only to be turned in or read by professors/teachers.  Events like this gives students a chance to interact with an audience to be able to engage and explain their writing work and choices.

Not to go too political here, but this is where politicians err when it comes to funding of higher education and education initiatives.  They complain that higher education is too liberal (or conservative, or whatever is popular to “hate” on in the moment), and complain about the quality of students’ reading/writing/learning (the whole “Why Johnny can’t read” motif), but when events such as the CSW are planned and initiated, they neither show up, nor provide funding, nor talk about them as successes to counteract the stigma that they themselves have created.

This event was dreamed, planned, and executed by a core group of English professors, graduate students, and of course, the writers of the future–student writers.

Have a great day!

Sidney



Going Loud (but not Stupid)

Going Loud

I guess the theme is going to be mostly about characters this week. One of the things that I really want to do is to make my characters become more distinctive. I’m trying to address a concern that I have about my characters being too passive, not in that they do not act, but rather they’re too reserved and don’t emote. I need them to become more distinctive and to stand out more.

Being Stupid

So, I’m probably going to step on some toes here, but I hate stupidity in ALL its forms. There are people on YouTube/Twitch who do “drunk ” streams and I can’t click away from their content quick enough (and in some cases, block them entirely). So I have to make sure that as I’m creating my characters and trying to push them out more and give them more distinctive traits, that I don’t overdo it and push them into “stupid” territory. Hopefully, my beta readers will let me know if my characters become too farcical rather than the real emotive beings that I imagine them to be.

Sidney



Larger Than Life

Image Source: IZQuotes.com

Reserved by Nature

I am a reserved person by nature. You’ll never find me gadding around being the life of the party. I am quiet and most definitely an introvert. However, as I’m writing Project Poet, I’m finding that maybe my characters really aren’t ciphers, but rather maybe they are too much like me– very quiet and reserved.

Larger Than Life Characters

People want distinctive and memorable characters. I personally am not distinctive or memorable unless I truly want to be–my choice (heck, yes would be hard pressed to find an image of me online) . However, in writing characters who are just extensions of various parts of my psyche, I’ve unwittingly been writing boring characters rather than dynamic and unique ones.

Living La Vita Loca

So, a way to fix this is to give my characters a one-word trait to describe the character’s behavior. For instance, the character for Project Poet just wants to have fun–so “frat-boy”/”party-guy” would get that fun loving personality with a little bit of immaturity & insecurity. Now I just need to characterize (show how these traits manifest themselves in the story) him better and make sure he is larger than life. I also need to make sure his backstory reflects his fun loving outlook on life.

To steal from a popular saying: “go big or go home!”

Sidney



Stop Signs

stop signs

Stop Sign.  Image Source: Amazon.com

Writing Advice (Stop Signs)

So, as I’m sure that you’ve probably already guessed, I didn’t get a lot of writing done.  As a matter of fact, I got exactly 0 words done last week.  I’ve resolved not to worry about it and just to continue on this week.  I read in a book on writing–I think that is was On Writing Science Fiction: The Editors Strike Back, but I could be mistaken–that one should be mindful that sometimes life gives you “Stop Signs” in your writing life.  I don’t rightly remember, so if this advice isn’t in this book, my apologies (I wrote a list that includes many writing notes from several sources, but I didn’t note exactly which piece of advice came from which source).

When to (Temporarily) Stop Writing

Sometimes life and the writing life don’t align.  Last week was one of those times because the sinus pressure and sneezing made just being upright a real pain (both literally and figuratively).  Again, I did have the app on my phone for WordPress and for SimpleNote, so theoretically I could have worked on blog posts and drafting, but the pain was such that it was next to impossible to even watch TV, let alone focus on creating anything close to a coherent blog entry or work on a story.  My personal approach to stop writing (at least temporarily) is not when I’m “distracted” from writing, but when it is impossible to focus for even a few minutes.

You Shouldn’t Look for Stop Signs Everywhere

The second piece of the writing advice is that you shouldn’t be looking for “stop signs” all over the place.  Rather, you should try very hard to minimize your stop signs and make sure that you put your “behind-in-the-seat” in order to get writing done.  That is my plan this week.  I’m not going to try to “make-up” the lost writing time, but I’m going to try to find another writing time a way to get 250 words down on paper each day this week.  We’ll see if I’m able to get it done.  Wish me luck!

Sidney



250 Words a Day

Why 250 Words?

As I detailed in a different blog post, 250 words (using a serif font, like Courier, or the like), when typed out on the page and double spaced, equals about 1 page of manuscript draft.  So for instance, if you set the margins to about 1 inch/1.25 inches, double space, and set the font to Courier, then once you’ve typed your draft from top (ignoring headers) to the bottom (ignoring the footers), you should have approximately 250 words on that page.  This was a trick that typographers in the 1930s-1970s used when setting type from authors manuscripts during the heyday of popular fiction/reading in America. It was so ingrained that it was repeated in the writing handbooks of the day (I know because my local library used to have a fairly large selection of how to write books in the 800s that were fairly old when I was growing up and I often saw this advice–too bad that I really didn’t try to use this advice earlier in life–ah, the follies of youth).

By Any Means Necessary

Now that I know this and now that I know many prolific writers have word counts, I’ve started with the very basic–let’s try for 1 page a day (=250 words).  So far, I’ve been fairly consistent and I’ve managed to finish Project Skies and I’m on Scene 2 (of 3) for Project Poet.  The key is trying to get 250 words down by any means necessary.  Yesterday, I failed at it–I’m just going to be honest.  I only managed about 75 words on Project Poet because I left it too late in the day and by the time bedtime came around, I just didn’t feel like working it (Too tired–I was asleep minutes after going to bed).  This morning, when I awoke, and I tried to write while eating breakfast, but the words wouldn’t come.  I took a shower and then thought about all of the schoolwork that I have to do today and tomorrow and the words on the story came flowing out of me–I had to stop writing it so that I could work on the blog.  If I have other things to do (such as schoolwork), I stop putting off the writing, but if I don’t have other things to do, then its the writing that I put off.  As I always have plenty of schoolwork to do, maybe that’s the key–250 words before starting on the schoolwork

Now I just have to find a way to make sure that my schoolwork doesn’t suffer.  😉

Sidney