paperback writer

I have a confession: I’m in a stalemate with my current project. Every time I sit down to write, I can’t seem to get into the groove.

My characters sound like they’re verbally constipated.

My descriptions have lost their senses.

My attitude is leaning toward obligation rather than passion.

Sometimes, writing is this way. We can’t get around it. There are times when we stare at our project and want to walk away and just start something new in order to avoid this feeling all together.

(Which I would never do… or maybe I’ve already done just that? Temporarily, of course.)

But if we never finish the project, we will never continue down the road of “success” as authors. And that road is paved differently for everyone.

Have you ever heard the song “Paperback Writer” by The Beatles? I’m pretty terrible with my music knowledge, but my dad used to play it for me nonstop because he was certain it was my future.

At least, to be a writer.

I don’t think he meant that I was going to be begging to sell my soul with the rights to my book to make a million overnight. Which isn’t entirely the point of my song, but you catch my drift.

The point is, sometimes you have to accept the mood you’re in and find a way to push through. It’s hardest to take my own advice, but if I don’t I’m going to end up like the song– just wishing and thinking I’ll add more in a week or two, never reaching the end of the manuscript and wasting my dreams away.

Yikes. That sounded like a TERRIBLE rain cloud.

This is why I’m blogging right now instead of writing. Because I have no idea where my characters are. I know the story, but man…my poor MC is going through hell and I just don’t think I’m doing her justice.

Now I’m word vomiting while my characters sound stuck.

I think I’ll stop here and leave you wondering….

 

Maybe not.

 

I started a new project, plotted another, and now I’m back to working on the WIP. Sometimes, you have to empty your mind of what you see as distractions in order to get back to where you are really needed.

The life of the writer. Sometimes, it sounds more like a psychiatrist (er, or psychopath?) than anything else.

 

 

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changes: when to do it & when to stay true to your story

As writers, we have to learn to go with the flow. Sometimes the best ideas don’t translate on paper, and we learn to be open minded and not bitter when others point this out. Whether it’s critique printers, beta readers, or editors–we tend I learn that our first draft is just that: first. Odds are, there’s almost always going to be a second. And potentially a third, fourth, fifth, sixth….

When I was working on my first manuscript with Katelyn (of Stark Contrast Editing), I ran into a lot of places with the book that I wasn’t sure I wanted to change. It was so near and dear to my heart, loosely based on something I had been through myself, that I didn’t know how to take her suggestions. At first I wasn’t open to them, and she handled it with grace. However, as time grew, I knew she was only trying to help me. The manuscript took on a new life, one it never would’ve had if I hadn’t opened my mind to changes.

This was a good type of change.

Recently I got some feedback on another manuscript and i wasn’t sure what to do. Thankfully, I have an agent who believes in me and this manuscript and we decided to make changes not to the book itself but to how we were presenting it. I went through maybe a week of stressing and trying to find things to move around and chapters to cut and more things to add, but in the end I just knew I didn’t WANT to change it. Going in with an open mind to what my agent was going to say, it was the biggest relief when we ended up on the same page.

The feedback was solid, but what someone has to remember with feedback is that it’s all so subjective. Everyone has a different opinion, and just like we don’t all love every book we read, so it is with everyone else. Not everyone will think your manuscript is the bees-knees– and that’s ok.

So how do you balance between being open to change and sticking to your original art?

STICK TO THE HEART

Are the changes going to stick to the heart of the story? If they’re going to make the feel of the story even stronger, odds are they’re good suggestions. Take time to think about the possible changes. Sometimes they won’t be easy, but if you are avoiding the changes because of how difficult it could be or how much work it will take, you might want to rethink what you’re getting yourself into as an author.

 

DON’T SACRIFICE FAVORITES

Sacrifices are always necessary, but if there is a certain line or phrase or moment that you don’t want to let go, then don’t. Sure, it might need to be moved or tweaked as your manuscript goes through edit, but you don’t HAVE to cut something because someone says so.

 

GO WITH THE FLOW

In the end, I can’t say more than this:

Every manuscript is different. Every author is unique. Every editor, agent, publisher works differently. All you can do is go with your gut. Sometimes you might be ‘wrong’ to everyone else, but overall the most important person that matters with YOUR writing, is you, the author.

 

when life & writing overwhelm you

It is very easy for life to get the best of you.

And when I say you, I mean me.

Oftentimes life does not go as you wish. Days produce nothing but a longer to-do list for tomorrow, and months seem pointless when you haven’t reached that writing goal that’s been pushed to the back burner  because of family, or your daytime job, or personal reasons.

Believe me, I get it.

More than not, I find myself at war with my to-do list. Instead of cleaning my kitchen, I sit down to write for thirty minutes. The next morning, I’ll sometimes regret it. I mean, who can work when the kitchen is a mess? Not me. Or instead of writing, I’ll zone out in front of Netflix when the day is done and I’ll tell myself, “I’ll write twice as much tomorrow.”

If you remember a few past posts of mine, you know this is typical for me.

But the thing is, your writing is yours.

Sure, you may be stressed out about edits or deadlines. You may be stressed out over questions, blog posts, interviews, reviews–whatever. When it comes down to it, though: your writing is yours. Even if you signed away the rights for the movie, or for a translation, or any of that– your writing will always be yours.

And that shouldn’t overwhelm you.

I don’t want to be one to tell you what should and shouldn’t overwhelm you, how you should and shouldn’t feel. Everything in this life comes with a balance, and you have to find yours.

So here’s what I do when life & writing start getting to me and stressing me out, when really, they shouldn’t.

DO A LITTLE DANCEgiphy

Put on your favorite dancing music and shake it. There is nothing like movement to help you feel better.

 

EAT SOME CHOCOLATE

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Chocolate is actually proven to raise your spirits. Seriously. I read it somewhere. Just a hershey kiss could be what it takes.

 

TAKE A NAP OR GO TO BED EARLIER

giphyKids aren’t the only ones who get cranky when they don’t get enough sleep. While you might think another cup of coffee and burning the midnight oil is the way to go, sometimes you do just need to slow down.

 

JOURNAL

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Your feelings, fears, excitement, dreams– get it all out so you can clear your head. It’s amazing how much better you feel after you put into words what’s overwhelming you and driving you crazy.

 

What I’m still learning– and probably will always be learning– is when things are getting to me… it’s usually best to clean the closet and let go of things that aren’t necessary. It’s hard to put yourself first sometimes, but especially when you get to a breaking point, it’s a necessity. You can’t give to others if you’re running on empty.

they are the exception. your writing is the rule.

imageEvery day I plan to write at night time. When I’ve taken care of everything on my to-do list, finished clean-up duty, and snuggled in to the couch with a blanket and my laptop.

And almost every day, I never get much, if any, writing done.

My name is Emily, and I am a morning person.

You’d think the progression of life would have changed the way I feel about mornings, but I have always been the one to get up early and seize the day. I feel most at peace when I have my first cup of coffee, sit down with my journal and planner, and figure out how the day is going to go.

It’s just how I am. But somehow I have yet to learn that that’s the time I should be writing.

We all have the idealistic relationship with writing. Let’s sit down with a snack, our laptop, our thoughts, and hash out a few thousand words in one sitting. Some people can do that. Some people have the luxury to do that, but most of us don’t.

 

Let’s be real.

 

So what do we do? How do we figure out the best time to write? And more importantly, how do we stick to it and make it happen? At what point do we need to put other activities to the side so we can dedicate more time to our writing? 

Figuring out the right time of day to write can help you when it comes to making writing the rule, not the exception.

 

TAKE NOTES

Are you grumpy in the morning and bouncing off the walls around 2pm? That’s your high-time! While you may not always be able to dedicate your best time of day to writing, at least find five minutes to jot some things down to feel accomplished.

 

BE INTENTIONAL 

Be intentional about making extra time to dig deep and work on your project, especially on the weekends or holidays. I’ve found myself setting my alarm for what may seem as an ungodly hour, but it works wonders for me to get those words on paper. When I’m able to seize those extra moments, I start my day feeling accomplished instead of getting to the end of the day feeling guilty for doing “nothing.”

 

DON’T FEEL GUILTY

There are always going to be times when you miss a moment or opt out of it to do something else. Writing may be your life and it may be your job and it may be your passion, but you’re always going to have other things to do, too. Don’t beat yourself up for not getting up one morning because you had a late-night with the baby. Or not staying up and writing but instead going out with friends.

 

There are always going to be special occasions. Visitors. Things to do. But the important thing is that they are the exception, and your writing is the rule the majority of the time.

 

You got this. Set that alarm and drink some more coffee—you’ve got some writing to do.

 

Like this post? Check out: finding the time to be a writer and writing through the distractions, too! 

 

This post was originally written for & posted on Stark Contrast Editing‘s blog. Make sure to check out Katelyn’s amazing new site and the services she and others offer. Plus, more posts by yours truly!

an author’s dream

an author's dreamWhen I was younger, I used to dream about being famous.

Didn’t we all?

It started with writing. From a young age I loved to read and write so much, I dreamed of my books being in the book fair catalog, and it only escalated from there. Every couple of years it would switch– pop star, movie star, Broadway star, symphony member–but overall it was the same concept:

I wanted to be known. I wanted to be recognized. I wanted to be famous.

That’s the world we live in. We want to be set above everyone else and talked about by people we don’t know. Even, sometimes, if it’s negative.

As I’ve gotten older, the dream has settled with my writing. While I still admittedly dream of being the next Ann Rinaldi or Janette Oke, mostly I just want to get my stories out there.

I want to release them into the wild. I want them to be read. I want them to be appreciated.

The written word is a beautiful thing. Someone has slaved away to string sentences together in a new style, his/her style, to form a story of his/her imagination.

I’m not trying to give myself too much credit here. But writing is work. Don’t be fooled in to think differently.

It is fun, of course, too. It is amazing when those voices come to life and everything flows like a stream in the desert–but the times when the water runs dry are the times you wonder what the heck you’re doing, and then realize how your passion is also work.

I know there are still those out there who dream of being famous. Who write to make the bestsellers list or hope their works will be turned into movies. There’s no shame in that.

But I think, over all, authors–writers–write because they have to. Because there are these stories inside just bursting through every pore of their bodies, and if they don’t come out, it’s like they’re purposefully trapping a dream from coming to life.

And we wouldn’t want that, would we?

If you are able to make your dream come to life, to the best of your ability, the only person who you harm if you don’t–is yourself.

If you’re an author, keep dreaming. You’re going to make it.

My coffee mug was a birthday present from my amazing CP/BFF. You can get yours here. Also, if you missed it & liked this piece, make sure to check out: own the word: you are an author.

own the word: you are an author

imageI used to say I was “just a writer.” That I “just write.”

Whenever someone would call me an author, I would humbly respond, “I’m just a writer. I haven’t been published.”

Somewhere in my mind was this idea that I wasn’t a true author until my book was published. Not until I could see it on Amazon or a shelf at Barnes and Noble. Only then would I be a real author.

Not before. Not now.

Right now, I just write and dream of being an author. I’m an aspiring author.

But what does aspiring mean?

aspire

to long, aim, or seek ambitiously; be eagerly desirous, especially for something great or of high value.

Do I long, aim or seek to be an author?

author

person who writes a novel, poem, or essay; the composer of a literary work….

Well, according to those definitions–no. I don’t aspire to be an author.

I AM an author.

If you ask if I’m a person who longs, aims, and seeks to write a novel, poem, or essay, that’s wrong.

I’ve already done that.

I’ve already written a novel. I’ve written two, actually, and I’m working on a third. I’ve already developed the words and sentences and chapters and characters and everything that goes into the literary work.

So, I am not “just a writer.”

(In fact, according to the dictionary, there isn’t a difference. A writer is an author. They can be simultaneous. If someone is in the business of writing books, he or she is an author.)

It doesn’t matter if you haven’t been published. It doesn’t matter if you’re only halfway, or a third, or a fourth of the way through a piece of work.

YOU are an author.
You have come up with a beautiful, new idea. You are writing that idea. You are slaving away over every word choice, every twist and turn. You are getting to know your characters and bringing them to life. You are breathing the story in and out so others can one day do the same.

You ARE an author.
If you have queried a book that has been rejected countless times or you got an agent on your first try, you are an author. If you have gone on rounds and rounds of submissions, only to have to turn to another project, you are an author. If you have self-published and gone through the hard work of promoting your own story, you are an author.

You are an AUTHOR.
You have created a story, a life, a world out of nothing but words and your imagination. You have stayed up countless nights, lived off of coffee alone, and missed opportunities to make a deadline. You have sacrificed favorite characters or storylines for the sake of your art and stuck to your guns when you weren’t willing to sacrifice your hard work.

When you say you’re an aspiring author or you’re just a writer, you are saying that you are TRYING to be something, or you are MERELY something.

Don’t belittle yourself. Enough people are going to try to do that for you as time progresses.

YOU ARE AN AUTHOR.
Own it. Be it. Write it.

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Get your “own the word” tee in pink, blue, yellow, or purple ombre. Available in various styles and colors!

 

This post was originally posted on Stark Contrast Editing‘s blog and has also been featured on Golden Wheat Literary‘s blog.

 

 

respect your inner writer

imageI have not been respecting my inner writer.

Let’s just get that out of the way.

I’ve had a hard time lately getting much done. I don’t mean to sound whiny, or negative, but it’s true. There’s been mostly playing catch-up and acting like I can somehow get ahead of everything I have on my plate.

And let’s be real, we all feel that way some times.

I recently got a rejection that I didn’t want to mention or share on here. Partially because I think it’s unprofessional, and partially because it felt like a below-the-belt rejection. However, rejection is a part of life… and if I can’t share at least the big picture fact that I was rejected, then this doesn’t seem like a place I’m being honest with everyone.

The thing is, because of that rejection I started plunging into different projects. I was avoiding sitting down and writing, because I was afraid that my writing was no longer worth it.

Call me melodramatic, but it’s how I was feeling.

Everything was so personal. The words, the reasons, the rejector. And as much as authors have to grow an extra layer of skin for these types of things, there is no denying that some rejections are going to hit harder than others.

And this one, my friends, hit HARD.

After looking around, I stumbled upon this article by Alice Osborn (poet and author).

Suddenly I realized, she was right.

No, she doesn’t mention rejection or how to handle it. In fact, this post has nothing to do with rejection. It has everything to do with being a writer. We have to respect ourselves and our craft, and not just talk about it.

That’s all I’ve been doing. I’ve been talking about writing. And writing about writing. But, ironically, I haven’t been WRITING.

I’ve been talking about my latest book, or my book that’s on submission, or another new book idea, or what I want to do to an old project… but I haven’t been doing. I’ve just been talking.

That’s no good.

We have to respect ourselves as writers.

What does that mean?

It means setting the stage to get our jobs done.

We don’t write because we want to, we write because we HAVE to. There’s a burning fire way down deep that can vibrate through our bones, our veins, through our fingertips. That fire is what keeps us going, and only we have the power to squelch it or help it grow.

No one said it was going to be easy.

The things that are worth it in life are never easy.

Love. Beliefs. Jobs. Relationships. Goals. Dreams.

They all hold their own challenges, and we find out what kind of people we are when we decide to reach for them, to hold them, to protect them, to perfect them.

But in order to do anything, we first have to have self-worth and self-respect.

So, I’m challenging myself to follow the steps from that article.

Set boundaries. Show up. Take risks. Make goals. Invest.

WRITE.

 

 

 

Have you been devaluing your inner writer? What do you think you can do to change that?

 

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life & balance & seasons

imageOften times, I run through a day complaining about how little time I have. How much there is to do. What I need to plan for the rest of the week. Who I need to call or who I should get in touch with.

Go, go, go.

It’s so easy these days. I’m the worst at getting disconnected from living and reveling in this beautiful life, and instead just looking at it like a long to-do list.  Something to get through. Something to get DONE. And then, even if every day is slightly different, it all seems monotonous.

How sad is that?

I want to make a name for myself. I want to have a social life. I want to invest in my family. I want to have a foundation in Christ. I want to reach others. I want to lead by example. I want to have a clean house. I want to have a pretty yard. I want to do Pinterest projects.

Balance.

That was is my word for 2016. I had this idea that I would find the magical way to balance everything I wanted to do without stress and with a thankful heart/good attitude.

Admittedly, I probably didn’t realize how great of a goal that really was, or how heavy that word truly is.

“There is TIME for everything and there is a SEASON for every activity under the heavens.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1

There is time for everything. There is a season for everything.

It just might not happen during the time I want it. Or the season I’m in may not be the one I’m looking for.

Now I’m trying to enjoy life. To bask in the season of my life that is the present, and remember that I can’t do it all alone. And if I keep trying, I’m going to keep falling on my face.

Right now, I’m putting one foot in front of the other and keeping my eyes up instead of down.

 

What do you do to stay in the present and balance what you want to do, and what you need to do, and what you “should” be doing?

finding the time to be a writer

I’ve been the worst at making time to write lately. (My life is a constant state of chaos.) So at the end of the day I try to justify it by reminding myself of everything I got done… and then promise I will write at least 500 words the next day.

finding time to be a writerBut the next day turns into the next day, and then the next day, and then the day after that, and so on and so forth until I can’t remember the last time I really sat down and WROTE.

The thing is, I have to stop telling myself I don’t have time today, and instead ask myself, “Is it a priority?”

The answer there should always be the same: YES.

If you’re a writer, writing is always a priority.

Yes, we usually have other lives. A daytime job, school, family, a social life to keep up with– but writing is still at the top of the list. If we keep putting off the words in our heads, soon enough we may find ourselves forgetting them.

And we don’t want that.

But how do we find the time we say we don’t have? How do we sacrifice something that sounds fun in the moment, for sitting down and very possibly having writers block? It’s not easy, but I have a few suggestions.

  1. Make the time.

This sounds silly, but it’s not. Pick a time of day where you know you’ll have an opening. Whether it means waking up a half hour early or cutting your Netflix time short, do it. Don’t just find the time—reserve it. Reserve that time to let the voices inside your head come alive and speak on those pages. You owe it to yourself, and to your future readers.

  1. Carry it with you.

Whether you have Google Docs on your phone, an ongoing note, an easily accessible laptop, or a good ‘ole pen and paper—have something with you to write on, always. There is a time in everyone’s day, or even in the middle of the night, where an idea strikes, and you don’t want to be panicking to find something to write it on. This helps enable your ability to write, always.

  1. Don’t feel guilty.

That one friend that you haven’t hung out with in forever is begging you to go out, but the wheels are turning and you haven’t had this much inspiration in, well, forever. Tell your friend you’re sorry and keep those keys clicking. If she’s not a writer, she may not understand—but she’ll get over it. Never feel guilty telling someone “no” because you’re writing. It is a part of who you are, and you shouldn’t have to sacrifice that.

All in all, everything is easier said than done—but if you want to get that book finished, you have to make the time to do it. You can’t blame lack of time for not doing what you love, because really that only leaves one person you can blame.

Don’t be that person.

Be a writer.

 

 

Make sure to follow my Instagram for more writerly & bookish things. Giveaways are in the future, starting with the 100 followers mark!

This post was originally written and published on Stark Contrast Editing. Check out the amazing services Katelyn and staff have to offer (and for more pieces by yours truly).

 

the beauty of scrubbing toilets

scrubbing toiletsI hate scrubbing toilets.

There’s something about cleaning a toilet after knowing who used it last that makes it even worse. And that’s what I’ve been doing lately. Scrubbing toilets.

It doesn’t matter if you have to clean up a shared bathroom where someone pees on the seat, or you have to clean up after someone who tossed their cookies. It doesn’t matter if you’re forced to clean before you have a visitor, or after a visitor, or even if you have to clean your own bathroom. When it comes down to it, there’s a reason we all dread cleaning bathrooms. Because it’s gross.

And if you don’t agree with me, well, good for you?

But today I’ve been scrubbing toilets thinking about how much I HATE scrubbing toilets. And I think life in itself is just like that. You have to do things you don’t like over and over again because, well, that’s just how it goes.

If I was bitter about having to clean bathrooms, then every time I went to put cleaner in the bowl or sanitize the handle– I’d really get into a funk.

And if I’m being honest, sometimes that DOES happen.

But that’s not how I should be going through life. Always in a funk over the next worst thing.

What does this have to do with anything?

Attitude.

Life is hard, and there are many parts of it that suck. But if we focus on the hard things and what we hate about them, we miss the beauty.

Like the beauty of meeting new people. The beauty of helping someone who needs it.

Like the beauty of getting to sit down and write something. The beauty of discovering a new story, or the beauty of reading a story that never gets old.

Life is made up of beauty and bitterness alike. Today I’m choosing not to be bitter, or resentful. What about you?

 

To answer the question I know you’re dying to ask:

I still haven’t found what’s beautiful about scrubbing toilets.

But when I do, I’ll make sure to let you know.

 

Looking for something sweet? Head over to The Newfangled Housewife for a Red Velvet Donuts recipe!

red velvet donut