By Ryan Rivera
At some point, most writers feel they are not cut out for this thing they are pursuing. Whether they regard it as their passion or something they’ve always wanted to do, some often feel they do not possess enough skills to produce material that’s worth reading. Self-doubt can be crippling, and writers are not exempt from being bogged down by this feeling. Once it sets in, your vision is clouded with thoughts of inefficiency, not being good enough, and just not being meant to do it. This will hinder you from reaching your maximum potential.
At the same time, you can use it to propel yourself toward improvement. Conquering self-doubt is no easy feat. It comes in bouts, which can be hard to shake off your system. It can be healthy on occasion, if you learn to use it to your advantage. Claim those ill thoughts and unleash your power over them. You must kill it before it kills you. (more…)
This morning, I’m typing up a couple of “found” scenes I wrote in a notebook almost four years ago. (I mentioned these scenes in an earlier post.) When I wrote these, I wasn’t really thinking about them in terms of scenes, but was scribbling out a freewrite with some ideas I had for a novel.
Many of my freewrites begin with me telling myself about something I want to do, and then they morph into scenes as I enter “the zone.” So it was no surprise to me when the first few paragraphs I typed up were back-story. But as I was typing, it occurred to me that what I had on the page at this moment was a theme, not a scene or even back-story. (more…)
It’s funny how I write a lot of poetry when I’ve been reading a lot of poetry. I don’t really read much of it at all, unless I have to for school. But this month, several of the blogs I follow have been posting poems as part of the Poem-a-Day Challenge. So, here I am, popping out poems when I should be working on my novel. But I guess I could use the distraction. Who knows, maybe my prose will be the better for it.
Here’s my latest:
Love Long Distance
ever noticed (more…)
I’m writing to you this morning from Café de Arts in Waukesha, WI. It’s a cute little café in a big, old Victorian house with a huge sunflower painted on the side. I so want to open my own business in an old house in my town and paint the house purple with a huge sunflower on the side. I even have the house picked out. It’s a foreclosure that’s been sitting empty for about three years, just calling me to buy it.
I have a dream of opening my own writer’s studio/café/bookstore where I can hang out with other writers and discuss our craft in a homey setting. I’m picturing fluffy couches with books lining the walls, and a barista conveniently stationed in a cozy corner.
I’d hang out all day, writing in my notebook in between talking story with my customers. Sometimes, I would offer writing classes and workshops for more focused work. Ultimately, I would create my own little writing community where I can plug in to my local writing scene and keep my creative juices flowing while offering the same service to others. (more…)
I know I’ve brought this up before, but I really wish people would spell-check their Facebook posts. I don’t know about you, but rotten spelling on Facebook has caused me to hide more than a few ignorant Facebook friends from my News Feed. Okay, so maybe you know that red squiggly line under half your words means you’ve misspelled them, and you’re just in too big a hurry to fix it at the moment. But do you realize what your momentary laziness says about you to your 437 “friends?”
I stumbled upon Kickstarter quite some time ago and played around with the idea of launching a Kickstarter project to fund my writing. Unfortunately, I really didn’t have an actual project to work on at the time. It was more of a general wanting to settle into the writing life and write *something.* Not having an actual project to launch, I gave up the idea and moved on. But recently, my professor and fellow writer, Shana Deets, brought up to my class the idea of setting up Kickstarter projects for our current novels. So, I headed over to the website to give it another look. (more…)
As a reader, I expect a lot from a first chapter. I want to be drawn into the story immediately, from page one. I can’t stand a novel that makes me wade through three or four chapters before something “happens.”
Choosing a natural starting point is key. I wrote the first draft of my chapter one last week after completing several writing exercises for class. I was looking for that seemingly small action in my character’s life that would help set the story in motion.
I provided my character with a choice to make in the very first chapter. It may not seem like a huge choice at the time, but it’s one the reader will look back at four or five chapters later and realize that none of the conflict of this novel would have ever occurred had the main character chosen differently in chapter one. (more…)
Last year was my first shot at National Novel Writing Month. I didn’t get very far at 11,654 words, but I still found NaNo a valuable experience. As I mentioned in a previous post, last year’s NaNoWriMo really pushed me to look at my writing process and figure out this whole outlining of the novel business. (more…)
It’s hard to believe summer is over already. So much for all of that writing I meant to do this summer. I only taught one course over the summer semester, and that was online so I never actually had to BE anywhere. I did a bit of freelance writing, but the work was hard to get this summer for some reason. I had a lot of time to write, yet somehow couldn’t ever seem to get anything done. Now that I’m back to school with a full-time teaching schedule, I suddenly have all sorts of material begging to be written. It seems I need chaos in my life in order to write. (more…)
I can’t seem to write without reading. And when I do read, I always end up writing in the same genre I’ve been reading. When I read a lot of poetry, I find myself writing a lot of poetry. If I’ve read a couple of good YA novels in a row, my brain wants to write a YA novel. So, it was no surprise that an idea for a fantasy novel popped into my head right as I was finishing Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind a couple of weeks ago.
I was out for my almost-daily walk one morning when a couple of interesting characters began to have a conversation in my head. Normally when this happens, I reach for a pen and paper (or my laptop) and rush to capture these conversations word-for-word. What I usually end up with is a small bit of compelling dialogue that goes absolutely nowhere. (more…)
It’s been some time since I’ve posted for Poetry Friday, but inspiration struck a moment ago, so I decided to pounce. Is it too soon to hope I’ve finally recovered from my bout with writer’s block?
Today’s poem is inspired by my kitten, Zelda, who is turning out to have quite the personality:
My cat thinks I’m her prey.
She stalks me through the house,
Crouching on the stairs
Or behind a curtain,
Just waiting for me to pass
So she can pounce.
~By Amanda L. Webster (more…)
If you’re a teacher or student (or both, like me,) your head is probably about to explode from all of the recent end-of-year academic activities. So, for today’s Wednesday Writing Prompt, I thought it might be appropriate to pick something fun and light to write about. Of course, if you’re in the mood for deep and dark, you could probably take it that way too. Here goes:
Without looking, reach into a drawer, any drawer, in the room in which you are right this moment. (If you’re in a public place or someone else’s home, you may want to ask for permission first.) Pull out the first item you can get your hands on. Remember, don’t look in the drawer or look for a particular item. Instead, I want you to grab one random item (more…)
As a high school student, I always hated it when my literature teachers insisted that we identify the themes and motifs of the stories we read. However, as an adult, I have found that my life is laced with a few distinct recurring themes and motifs.
For today’s Wednesday Writing Prompt, I invite you to take a look at your own life and consider what themes and motifs seem to appear most frequently. Then choose one of these themes (and/or motifs) and write an essay, short story, or poem that explores the impact of this theme on your life.
You might also consider how the themes and motifs from your everyday life influence your writing in general. For example, do you often find yourself incorporating these same themes into each piece? (more…)
One of my students told me last semester that her mom is an English teacher, and that she doesn’t even bother trying to teach the difference between active and passive voice to her students anymore because none of them ever “get it.” What a shame.
I wonder sometimes why passive voice is such an easy trap to fall into. After all, active sentences are typically simpler than passive sentences and require fewer words. Wouldn’t you think the brain would take the path of least resistance and lead the writer to write more active sentences? Apparently not. (more…)
Do you consider yourself a “real” writer? Why or why not? What makes a writer?
Please feel free to skip this post, as I have nothing to say today.
One of the secrets to running a ‘good’ blog is to blog often. So, I feel the need to write something today, considering I have posted nothing since Friday. I hate when life gets in the way of writing.
I’m back to school – playing both student and teacher, for the semester – so I’ve been fairly busy lately. Not to mention the fact that my kids have been sick this week, and I am trying desperately not to get sick myself until at least tomorrow. I teach two classes on Wednesdays, so I just can’t afford to be sick today. I’ll be sick tomorrow and get well in time for my Friday morning class. (more…)
Today I’m writing a story about something that happened to me about 13 years ago. I don’t know how you feel about the passing of time, but for me, 13 years is a LONG time ago. So, I can remember major details, but some of those minor details have me questioning my memory. In this particular story, there is a nasty fight and an unfortunate incident with an apple pie. But I can’t, for the life of me, remember which happened first. Dilemma, dilemma.
So, what do you do when you’re writing about something that actually happened but can’t remember such important details? And what if you can remember the details, but the story works better if you rearrange events? I’m not writing a memoir, simply using actually happenings as the basis for a short story I’ll pass off as fiction. All names will be changed to protect the identities of those involved, of course. (more…)
I’m one course and a thesis paper away from completing my masters degree in professional writing at Mount Mary College, and I’m feeling pressed to decide on a specific career course. So yeah, I’m a writer: but what kind of writer am I? I’ve written poetry, short stories, parts of novels, but for a long time I’ve struggled to find that one niche that I am really passionate about. Until I recently discovered YA.
Okay, so I’m sure I’ve read plenty of YA novels in the past. I’ve occasionally read some of my son’s books, and he’s getting into that age range. And, I’m quite sure I read tons of YA when I was a YA myself. But until recently, I haven’t really studied the genre.
While taking my poetry course this past fall, I read Crossing Stones, a novel in verse by Helen Frost, and I just LOVED that book and form. I then read a few of her other books: The Braid, Diamond Willow, and her latest, Hidden. All great reads. I found a lot of inspiration in these books and began to wonder if I could write something similar myself. (more…)
Blogging. You wouldn’t think it would be so hard. But, I tried and tried to start blogs in the past, and they never seemed to go anywhere. Take for instance the blog I started for my now-defunct online bookstore (I still take special orders if you’re looking for anything in particular.)
The blog is still there, I could always pick it up again. My plan for that blog was to post book reviews of all the books I was reading, use those as my blog posts, and tie it in with books for sale on my website. Unfortunatly, I needed to work at a job that was actually paying and just didn’t have the time it takes to keep an online business up and running. That blog quickly fell by the wayside, along with my poor bookstore. In fact, I have an ever-growing stack of books next to my desk just waiting for me to review. And that’s nothing on the stack of books I’ve had to return to the library in the meantime. (more…)
“They” say history is written by the winners of wars. But really, history is written by writers. Writers often write to observe humanity and preserve a space in time. Seconds, minutes, years, all can be preserved by the pen. Seconds may be experienced as hours, hours as minutes. Time can be manipulated by the skilled writer, shortened and expanded at will.
And so too, can humanity be manipulated. A writer’s work leaves a mark. Whether a history book, a trashy romance novel, a dollar store paperback western, or a classic tome, all tell the story of the time in which they were written, as well as the time which they are written about. All writing serves a purpose. Sometimes our writing serves the purpose we intend. (more…)
I started keeping a journal around the age of 12. I used to lay in bed at night and write in my journal almost every evening before I went to bed. I filled notebook, after notebook, after notebook. I kept up with this practice for almost 10 years until my (now ex-) husband decided to read my journal, wasn’t happy with something I wrote, and then proceeded to burn my journal and forbid me from writing anything anymore. Needless to say, it was not a happy marriage. (more…)
Today marks the first day of the last week of the fall semester. I just finished grading a huge stack of essay booklets from my written communications course and will be grading research papers next weekend. I also just submitted my final poem of the semester for the course I’m taking on writing poetry for children and young adults. And now, it’s time to write my final reflection paper of the semester. The topic for this paper is the writing process.
So, what have I learned about my writing process? For one thing, I can now boil it all down to a few simple steps: (more…)