Category: Creative Writing

On Gutting Stories We Love

Let’s face it. Very few of us are natural-born writers. That is, very few of us are perfect at what we do. As writers, we become attached to what we write. We fall in love with our characters because we spend countless hours creating them and adding that dimension of reality that’s needed to make readers like (or hate) them, too. We love our settings and the descriptions of them. Many of us love everything about our stories.

Because of that, the revision process can be pretty daunting. And by “pretty,” I mean “so frightening that we don’t want to bother.” That last part, the “not bothering,” is detrimental to any writing career. Revision is an integral part of writing because there is always room for improvement. Always. “Revision” is a big word. It encompasses a lot. A revision can be something small like a few lines or one chapter to half of your book or even a complete overhaul on a novel. Regardless of how big your revision is, it needs to be done. Period.

Because we’re not perfect, in many cases a revision is huge. It’s not uncommon for an entire storyline–that is, an entire novel–to be overhauled. This is where things get really scary. When a story needs to be gutted, we have to cut scenes, lines, and much more that we love. Please believe that it’s a regular occurrence. You’re not the only one removing favorite lines or killing of characters. We’ve all done it. We’ll all do it some more in the future. If you’re ever on the verge of tears over losing a piece of your novel or story that you love, remember this:

The things you cut will almost always make a reappearance. While something may not fit where it is right now, the perfect, scene or chapter will come long and the fit will be perfect. You’ll only have to part with your loves for a little while.

See? Things aren’t so bad now, are they? Revisions are hard. Large revisions are even harder. But you can do them. And you will do them. Why? Because you’re a writer, and revising is what writers do.

Happy Writing,

Lesley University: MFA Residency (June 22-30, 2012)

This post is a bit late, but I’ve had so much going on since returning home, and this is better late than never, right? Right.

As most of you know, I was accepted into the Writing for Young People track at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts back in February. The program is a low-residency one, so twice a year, we all meet on the campus for ten days of residency–intense, writing-focused days full of seminars, workshops, and readings. My first one as a new student took place last month, from the 22nd to the 30th.

Writing in the Morning

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to write at night when almost everyone else in the house has  gone to bed. I’ve written very few pages this way and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m more of a morning person when it comes to writing. I believe this for a few reasons.

  • I’ve always felt that coffee and writing go together. And because I like my coffee in the morning, it’s only natural that I’d write in the morning as well.
  • A lot of the time, I have dreams about what I’m writing. Lately, it’s been my school shooting story (because that will be my main focus once I start at Lesley University). When I have these dreams (which isn’t all the time), I always write them down as soon as I wake up. Sometimes, I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and write them down, too. But! I like to put the dream fodder into action right away while it’s fresh in my mind, so writing right after I wake up has become a routine.
  • By about 7 p.m., I’m tired. Too tired to sit down and write. Perhaps that’s a bad excuse, but it’s true. I wouldn’t call myself a morning person, but it’s much easier to think and write in the morning. I’m not sure why.

I just find that I’m much more productive when I start my writing time in the morning. This routine seems to work well, and even though I haven’t been writing every morning, I’m going to stick with it as long as I can. If I have to change things up in the future, then I will, but for now, morning is the best time for me to write.

Happy Writing,

Writing, Readers & the Inspiration to Carry On

Lately, I’ve been trying to get back into my writing. The itch to write has been present for almost two months now, but things were preventing me from actually sitting down to write. The main thing was packing up my apartment and moving. I’m done with that now and am settled into a spare bedroom at my parents’ house for a while.

So, why can’t I write?

It’s not that I don’t want to. Its not that the itch to do so isn’t there. It’s that nobody I live with respects the fact that I write. Here, writing can “always be done later,” and isn’t a “real job.”

This saddens me. Because it feels like my writing doesn’t matter to anyone but me. Perhaps that’s the way it’s supposed to be? I don’t know. It would just be nice to have some support from family. Right now, it feels like there’s nothing and to be honest, that hurts.

So, what to do about this situation.

I have one friend who is constantly supportive of my writing endeavors. He offers daily encouragement, yells at me when I don’t want to writer (thereby making me write), and always reads new chapters and offers wonderful feedback. I’m so grateful for this that there’s really not a word to describe just how happy I am that I have this person. What I’ve determined is that I need a group of people like him. I need more than just him, even though if that doesn’t happen, I’ll always be grateful with him alone.

I think I’ve convinced myself that without more than one reader, I can’t get very far in my work. I don’t know if this is true or not. I think the problem is that I feel belittled when people aren’t interested in what I do or what I’ve created. As I stated above, the fact that very few people care is disheartening. It hurts. It hurts because I believe–I’ve always believed–that support is essential to any type of long-term endeavor, especially writing. I feel that without support, my writing means absolutely nothing. But, at the same time, it means so much to me that I’m not willing to let it go. So, there’s that.

I’ve considered putting a call for readers out there somewhere. But, until I’ve determined the best way to go about doing so, I’m going to write. Because I need to. I have to get this story out there. Somehow, some way. So, I’ll continue writing until it’s done, and afterward, I’ll see where it takes me.

Happy Writing,

Writing Prompt: Finally

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons & John Althouse Cohen.

Writers block, defined as “a usually temporary condition in which a writer finds it impossible to proceed with the writing of a novel, play, or other work,” is a plague that we’ve all dealt with at one point or another in our writing careers. Ideas are hard to come by sometimes. Ideas are like fireflies; they flit in and out of mental vision, but they are hard to catch.

Keeping this in mind, a writing prompt will be offered here every Sunday (in different formats, of course). The length of what you write is your decision entirely. It is my hope that these prompts will spark creativity and kickstart the writing process.

This week’s prompt: After years of writing commercial jingles and cheesy, B-movie scores, a composer writes a masterful piece that propels him (or her) into the limelight (Writing Forward).

[How did this prompt help you? Please feel free to let me know in the comments below, or send an email!]

Happy Writing,

This Week in Links: 2/26/2011 – 3/3/2011

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

I subscribe to quite a few interesting RSS feeds in the book/writing niches. Perhaps you do as well, but in any case, I’d like to share my starred links from this week:

Sunday, February 26, 2012:

Monday, February 27, 2012:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012:

Wednesday, February 29, 2012:

Thursday, March 1, 2012:

Friday, March 2, 2012:

Saturday, March 3, 2012:

Happy Writing,

UMass-Amherst: Rejected

Photo courtesy of dreamstime.com.

As you know, I’ve been waiting to hear back from UMass about my application to their MFA program. This morning I received an email telling me that a change was made to my application status. I logged in to check it out.

I didn’t get accepted.

I found the entire process odd, since UMass usually send out a letter and then waits 21 days to change the status online. I don’t know if I just never got my letter or what, but none the less, I wasn’t accepted.

I’m strangely okay with this. It leaves me with no decision over which school to attend. I’ll be going to Lesley University. I’ve heard nothing but good things, so there’s no reason that I shouldn’t be happy about going there. I still wish I could know why UMass and PLU didn’t accept me, but there’s no use wondering about it. It’s over and done with.

As a side note, I’m in the middle of moving, but I’ll be back to write again soon. A post on dealing with rejection may be in order.

Happy writing,

Writing Prompt: Behind the Picture

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons & John Althouse Cohen.

Writers block, defined as “a usually temporary condition in which a writer finds it impossible to proceed with the writing of a novel, play, or other work,” is a plague that we’ve all dealt with at one point or another in our writing careers. Ideas are hard to come by sometimes. Ideas are like fireflies; they flit in and out of mental vision, but they are hard to catch.

Keeping this in mind, a writing prompt will be offered here every Sunday (in different formats, of course). The length of what you write is your decision entirely. It is my hope that these prompts will spark creativity and kickstart the writing process.

This week’s prompt: A picture on your mantle unexpectedly falls and crashes to the floor. As you go to pick it up, you notice a note hidden behind the picture. The message is from the future—and written by you. It instructs you to do something important. What does it say? (Writer’s Digest)

[How did this prompt help you? Please feel free to let me know in the comments below, or send an email!]

Happy Writing,

This Week in Links: 2/5/2012 – 2/11/2012

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

I subscribe to quite a few interesting RSS feeds in the book/writing niches. Perhaps you do as well, but in any case, I’d like to share my starred links from this week:

Monday, February 6, 2012:

Tuesday, February 7, 2012:
Wednesday, February 8, 2012:
Thursday, February 9, 2012:
Happy Writing,

Pacific Lutheran University: Rejected

Photo courtesy of dreamstime.com.

As most of my readers know, last fall I applied to three MFA programs. I was never really sure when I’d be hearing from any of them, so I’ve just been anxiously waiting since the beginning of the new year. Waiting can be a bear sometimes, am I right? I thought I wouldn’t hear back from any of the programs until at least March or April.

I was wrong.

Today, I received a letter from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. I didn’t get in. They encourages me to apply again in the future. That’s nice, but I don’t think I’ll need to.

The news still stings a bit, but I’m okay with it. After all, I couldn’t expect to get into every school I applied to. This makes the decision to go to Boston that much easier. I still have one school to hear from yet and that’s UMass. I don’t know when that decision will come, but I’m looking forward to it.

Happy Writing,