Monday, February 11, 2013

Checking Back on New Year's Resolutions


Sue Viders

When those New Year’s Resolutions on writing go down the drain what do you do?

I never make New Year’s resolutions because I know I will never follow through on them. For many years I tried. Did okay for a few weeks, but then... well you know the story, other projects pop up. Stories that were started seem to wither on the old vine as after the opening few chapters I would lose interest. Family intervened. Kids got sick. Work called. Etc.. etc...

So I have learned not to make resolutions. I have developed other methods of getting my writing projects done. They are:

                        1 - have a critique or writing partner that you meet with weekly who keeps                         you accountable

                        2 - use a calendar and write in deadlines. Final deadlines, ie, those that                need to go to others, get written in pen, while my deadlines are in pencil

Let me expand on both my ways as they have worked these many years and I do stay ahead of the curve... well mostly.

1 - Working with another person. This, in my opinio n, is the very best way to get your writing done. Of course finding the right person, the right personality and the right time and meeting place is not always an easy job.

I actually have several WWAP’s...(working with another person) I have a wonderful writer/teacher that I have worked with for years. We both teach together and write nonfiction books together. Although we meet every few months, we do almost all our work together by email.

Another WWAP I met just recently when I offered to give a speech to our city on writing a memoir. It was pointed out to me that this writer had just published his memoirs and perhaps I would like to meet him. Instant friendship. We now give speeches together and have just finished our first memoir guide.

My third WWAP is a writing friend, over 12 years now, who co-authored with me, the Heroes and Heroine Archetype book. Together we are writing a series of 14 guides for both fiction and nonfiction writings. We keep each other on track with weekly face-to-face meetings.

Oh great! You have your WWAPs... but how the heck do I find one for me? Good question. Here is how I did it.

First go to any and all writing groups in your area, meetings, seminars, take a writing class, find a writing coach, see what your local library has to offer, etc. It’s up to you to get out and look. WWAP’s do not come knocking at your door.

Finding that perfect person, well, there is no absolutely perfect person, we all have faults, but that special writer who compliments your talents is like dating... you’ve got to hang out with a lot of frogs. Grin.

If you find that you simply can’t get to a meeting or due to where you live have no active writing groups near by, the next best way to get your own writing done is to invest in a calendar.

Oh, I can hear the moans now. But I have a family or the other good one is, but I work. Both take time, energy and time. There’s no way to avoid either. Well, I suppose you could leave where ever you are and go live in a cave somewhere, but actually that doesn’t really work either, as you still have to eat, which means you have to shop somehow for food, cook it... it’s get complicated.

Back to the calendar. I can only tell you how this helps me stay current. I have two calendars. One large one on the kitchen fridge, and a small one on my desk. 

On both I write my deadlines. In the kitchen, if someone needs something done they have to work AROUND my deadlines if possible. If not possible we negotiate. Let’s say your middle child needs you to drive him or her to a late afternoon soccer game or dance rehearsal... You need to tell them they have to put it on the calendar or it won’t happen. Be firm. The first time they miss their activity they will learn to write it down.

On my personal calendar, which is coordinated with the kitchen calendar I tend to write in a lot more. Pencil it in works best for me, as things change daily. I’m in the midst of forming a small publishing company for my guide books which will soon go up as a Kindle on Amazon. There are a million details from what font to use, how the covers should look, to what POV to use if two writers write as one person.

The only way I keep all this strait is to have weekly face-to-face meetings... email works well but discussing and brain storming over breakfast, at least for me, is the only way all these things get decided and done.

Bottom line - Throw out your big resolutions, you probably won’t keep them anyway and think about either getting yourself a WWAP or a calendar.

One final thought is - keep your deadlines small. Little baby steps do add up. And of course, reward yourself if they are accomplished.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Dottie to the Rescue

Dear Dottie...
I know you help writers and I’m hoping you will have some suggestions for me.
I have this great idea, but ... help... what do I do next?
                                                      A frustrated writer


A cry from the writing wilderness. Grin.
Not to worry Dottie is here to help.

First I’m impressed that you have an idea. That’s the most important part. You have some notion of what you want to say.

Now, I’m going to make a huge leap and assume your idea is going to be a work of fiction. That is a make-believe tale that has come from the depths of your creative mind and soul. Probably been there for a bit but has finally broken through and you’ve actually put the idea down on paper or into a new file on your computer.

No matter how you’ve started, it is important that the idea is down on paper. Can’t go to the next step until the idea is out and we can talk about it, work with it and start the process of developing the plot.

Ah, the plot. Here we have the chicken and egg problem. Which comes first, the plot or the character? Do we need a plot first so we can fit the right character into the action, or do we develop a character and then work the plot around his or her actions or beliefs.

Dottie strongly believes the plot needs to come first. But even before you start thinking about the story concept, you need to determine the genre.

So the first question you have to ask yourself is what do you like to read the most? For example if you read nothing but romantic suspense, write in that genre. Dottie loves science fiction and mysteries so if she ever wrote a book, it would be about a murder on a distance planet.

Once you know roughly what your story is going to be about, the next factor you need to think about is how the story will end.
  Who will fall in love and why?
  Who will be killed and why?
  Who will solve the mystery?

Because all those “who’s” become the foundation of the main character.

  Once we know who will fall in love and why, we can start throwing up road blocks for that character to solve. And enough road blocks or problems to overcome and we have a plot.

  Once we know who will get killed or who will find and capture the bad guy or gal, we can start putting obstacles in the way of our protagonist.

And there you have it. Your plot. Dottie knew you could do it.

To recap here are the steps to organizing and starting your plot.

            1 - decide on an idea
            2 - find the best genre for that idea
            3 - decide on the ending of the story
            4 - dream up some wild and crazy complications that your protagonist must                overcome or solve in order for the ending to work

Let me know how your plot works out as I would love to hear back from you.


Getting off to a Fresh Start

At the beginning of every new year don’t we always look at different ways to start off fresh? We want to make our resolutions or set goals ...