5 Ways to Not Be A Lonely Writer

Writing is known for being a solitary pursuit. While there are writer’s groups and ways to create a network around writing, the work itself has to be done alone. Chatting with friends cuts into writing time. It’s easy for a write to tumble into THE ANTI-SOCIAL BUBBLE aka the thunder dome where no one makes eye-contact or speaks. It’s even easier when the creative life takes a nosedive and depression crawls in.

You get wrapped into the world of writing and see relationships drift away until you look up to see you’re a thousand miles from where you started with no one there to help and little energy to even call for help.  There’s a reason that the classic image of a writer is someone alone with nothing but a bottle keeping them company.  Writers tend to be introverted but that doesn’t mean that you don’t need people, social contact and to remember how to say hello and have a conversation. Having a rich fantasy life won’t save you from having to still call the phone company, interact with readers/reviewers/editors/people or any number of other things.

Not to mention that writing can be an emotionally draining and challenging roller coaster. I always fall into a heavy crash after I finish a project and even though I don’t want to be around people, it’s what I need to help get me out of my funk and into the next project. A support system can be a lifesaver.

Here are five ways that I try to get myself out of the bubble and back into being a somewhat functioning part of life.

1.     Make plans in advance

Know that you’re finishing a draft at the end of September and going to crash emotionally? Make plans with a friend to do something you’re excited about. It could be a big trip, or it could just be watching a TV show you’ve been meaning to catch up on.  Have those plans in place in advance.

2.     Reach out online/text/phone/video

Sometimes the people you most want to see aren’t able to physically be there. That’s okay. We live in the future and you have a device around where you can send someone a message. Email a friend and talk about what’s going on. Text a friend that you’re having a hard time. Skype with your sister. Send a silly cat video to your friend who lives in Korea.

3.     Celebrate.

I like throwing parties so planning a gathering almost always helps throw me out of a funk. There’s so much to do to get ready that I keep myself busy and excited about my friends coming over. Plan parties around times you think you’ll be feeling rough.

4.     Go to a class

Interested in Sky Yoga? What about marketing? Find a class, online or in person, and go check it out. You’ll learn a lot and meet interesting new people. Who knows, maybe you’re next story will spring from what you’re learning?

5.     Find help.

Sometimes you need more than just a friend to talk and you need to look to talk to a therapist or other type of professional. There are options online, there are help lines and ways to reach someone at little to no cost. Don’t be afraid to reach out for that lifeline.

The roller coaster of the creative life can be a challenge to manage, especially when you’re a new writer and still learning what patterns your work might trigger, or when you’re querying, going on submission, or through a rough edit for the first time.  There’s no shame in reaching out to the people around you for support.

Five Ways to Keep Writing While Stressed

So I just finished moving and somehow managed to not pull out all of my hair even though I really wanted to. Along the past month I spent a lot of time stressed out and trying to hit a deadline with an office in boxes. So here I am back with a blog post about writing when stressed out and some tips that helped me live through box fort island.

Moving Mess

CHAOS FOREVER

1. Write first thing.

Get out of bed even just 15 minutes early and use that time to write. It’s easy to get drowned in the chaos of the day and stress. But if you get some words down before the rest of the day can beat you up then you can get some great work done.

2. Writing sprints.

Another way to get some writing in is to just do a writing sprint for 10-15 minutes. Waiting for the next appointment and have some down time? Grab your phone, tablet or paper and write. It’s impressive how much you can get done in these little chunks. I started writing on the train ride to work to just get words down.

3. Break out.

Go somewhere new and spend time writing. Getting out of a stressful environment can help you get some writing done. (Please don’t actually break anything)

4. Put it on your calendar.

Make a date with your laptop and commit to it. Block it off on your calendar and stick to it. This can be tough to manage but it’s incredibly effective.

5. Don’t.

I know, I know! But sometimes there really is too much going on and you need to accept that words are not happening. Don’t beat yourself up about it and don’t say anything mean to yourself. It’s ok.

Those are a few pointers for writing while stressed but I’d love to know your tips.

Interview with Lisa M. Collins

I have the pleasure of having Lisa. M. Collins on my blog to answer a few questions. Lisa is a talented author (and an amazing friend!) and I’m happy to have her here to talk about writing and her new novella, The House Bast Made: Reid Cannon Archaeologist.  You can buy her new novella here.

So without further ado… here’s Lisa!

Lisa about to take flight!

Lisa about to take flight!

What’s your new book about?

The book is novella length. The House Bast Made is an adventure where a young archaeologist, Reid Cannon, learns myths need not be fairytales. The story is set on a dig near the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.

Do you write for a set time every day or aim for a certain number of words each day or do something else?

I work a 40hr a week job. Often I can find time on my breaks or at lunch to jot a few words down, but those times aren’t really productive. I hit my stride around 5pm-8pm, and if it wasn’t for the pesky commute I do at 5:30-6:30ish that would be my ideal time to get my word count. For now I write after my shift while waiting to be picked up, after dinner while I’m hanging out with my family, and on the weekends.

Do you outline or just run with an idea?

Oh, Lordy, you really want to know about my process? LOL. OK.

For shorter works like 1,000-8,000 words, I pretty much fly by the seat of my pants. My imagination works much like watching a movie—I can see the cuts and the action, and all I have to do is add the dialogue. Now for works that are longer I usually make notes and do a bit of research. I very rarely outline or do story boards, but I think that may change in the near future.

I recently read Rachel Aaron’s book: 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love. Rachel has so many great ideas to get you productive. I decided that I would take her advice on my next long format novel. Who knows this could be the end of my footloose and fancy free days!

What was the hardest thing about writing your newest work?

I have a deep and abiding love Egyptology and specifically the Valley of the Kings. When dealing with a large pantheon of gods and goddess you have to keep your stuff straight. Each of them has a unique personality leading them to actions. Keeping the good guys and the bad guys batting on the right team took a bit of notes.

The House Bast Made: Reid Cannon Archaeologist

The House Bast Made: Reid Cannon Archaeologist

What are you currently reading?

The Atlantis Gene by A.G. Riddle.

What is your favorite piece of writing advice?

First drafts are where the writing happens, but editing is where the authoring happens.

So many writers think each word perfect must be perfect, editing as they go. The problem is nothing is ever perfect, even in Pulitzers you will find grammar errors or misused wording. What is the difference between a writer and an author? Authors finish. Churn out that first draft, don’t worry, no one has to read it but you. Editing is where the magic happens.

How can readers discover more about you and your work?

Twitter http://twitter.com/coolvstar650

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/lisaauthor

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisacollins

Pinterest http://pinterest.com/coolvstar650/

Google+ http://google.com/+LisaMCollins/posts

Instagram http://instagram.com/coolvstar650

Soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/lisa-matthews-collins

Pen and Cape Society: http://penandcapesociety.com/lisa-m-collins/

Wookiees for Cookies Racing team https://wookieesforcookies.wordpress.com/

For Deep Fried Dixie Goodness follow Lisa as Tea and Cornbread https://twitter.com/teaandcornbread https://www.facebook.com/teaandcornbread

And at the Tea and Cornbread blog http://teaandcornbread.wordpress.com/

“I love Southern charm and food. I think everyone should get a taste of what we have cooking down here in the South…and not just in our skillets, but what we have cooking in our industry and our general Faulkneresque attitudes about life, liberty, the Oxford comma, and pursuit of happiness.”  – Lisa M. Collins aka Tea and Cornbread

Looking for more of:

Healthy Writer Series https://lisacollins.wordpress.com/category/healthy-lifestyle/

Author Interview Series https://lisacollins.wordpress.com/category/interviews/

You can buy The House Bast Made: Reid Cannon Archaeologist here.

Bio:

Lisa M. Collins has always been interested in Outer Space, Adventure stories, and Southern culture. She was born in Dixie and has always lived south of the Mason Dixon Line. She graduated from the University of Arkansas with a bachelor’s degree in history with specializations in American and Russian history. Lisa lives in central Arkansas with her husband and an adorable cat, Baby Girl, who believes she is Lisa’s co-author. Lisa has one adult son who is married to his high school sweetheart.

Lisa’s non-fiction has been published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. . She copy edited and researched on Understanding Global Slavery by University of California Press. Her science fiction story, The Tree of Life, is in the 2013-2014 anthology by Holdfast Magazine. These days she edits for Metahuman Press, and is an upcoming creative contributor with Pro Se Productions and Mechanoid Press. She is a Sally A. Williams Grant winner from the Arkansas Arts Council for writing.

 

Sign up to get the latest info on Lisa’s book launches and special newsletter only promotions!

Dear future me…

HAPPY BIRTHDAY FUTURE ME!

Birthday cake

I’m writing this to you from 2014 and scheduling it to appear on your 2015 birthday, isn’t technology great?

Hopefully there hasn’t been a tragic accident and you get to read this. If not, I love you everyone reading this.

2014 was a great year, huh? But I’m willing to bet that by your 2015 birthday, things are even greater.

I hope you’re still writing and busting your butt to reach your dreams. Maybe you’ve landed an agent and a cool book deal by now, but if not, that’s alright too. I just hope you’re keeping at it and working hard.

Are you still thinking about getting a pet? Maybe now’s the time to just do it and get a furry little friend to have around to keep you company. I hope you’re also doing better at taking care of yourself and not just eating mac and cheese all the time (though mac and cheese is awesome).

Are you still planning to go to San Diego Comic Con? Have you bought a house?

It’s weird to think that so much can change in a year, but I bet a lot has shifted since 2014. You’re another year older, (maybe) wiser, and another year closer to your goals!

Here’s to you kicking butt in the future!

Happy birthday!

2014 Andrea

Hiatus!

In super exciting news… I’m buying a condo!

So I’m putting my blog on hiatus until I’ve moved.

I’ll be back in July! Wish me luck with closing and the move!

Stretch it out part two!

I’ve previously put together a list of some of my favorite stretching videos but lately I’ve been feeling tighter than usual (that whole being a desk all the time thing will get to you) and wanted to share some more stretching videos that I’ve found.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are some stretches that help you when you’re getting that tense stiffness from sitting at a desk?

Stressed out about overworrying about being anxious

Stress

I’m an incredibly anxious person. I over worry about everything. For example, I once panicked about what I was going to wear on a flight to interview for a job in Oregon… BEFORE I had even submitted my job application for the position. I’m always thinking 15 steps ahead, and at least 13 of those steps are worst case scenarios and what could go wrong.

I live with the constant thought that people always hate it when I text or email them because I’m bothering them. I worry that I responded too quickly to a message; I worry that I responded too slowly to a message and that either option means I’m a lost cause and this person will no longer respect or like me. I wake up some mornings with a sense of doom that wraps around my neck like a wool scarf suffocating me in the middle of July.

I stress out about what’s going to happen today, tomorrow, in a month, a year, ten years, twenty years. I panic about the imaginary things I haven’t done yet, and I worry that the things I have done, I’ve done all wrong somehow. I worry that every time I mess up even in the slightest, that I’ve doomed myself forever and should just go shove my head in the ground and hide.

It’s an exhausting way to live, and sometimes it flares up in wickeder than usual ways that leave me ill, depressed, and a general mess who just wants to lock myself in my room so I don’t have to interact with anyone.

Sometimes I can write my way through it, and other times I’m so worried that what I’m writing is awful, and therefore I’m awful that I can barely write a sentence. One of the things I struggle with as a writer is building high enough conflicts because tension worries me (yes even fictional tension) and I just want things to go smoothly which doesn’t make for compelling stories exactly.

I write this not because I want coddling or anything like that (and I worry immensely that’s what this post will be taken as), but because I know it’s a problem, and I’m not going to continue to hide from it, instead I’m working on ways to manage it.

  • I run, walk, or just jump in circles in my room.
  • I send a message to someone I admire and tell them why they’re amazing.
  • I look through a folder of all of the things I have accomplished.
  • I keep track of what I do every day, and praise myself for finishing things.
  • I do yoga or just lay on the floor and listen to the sounds of a thunderstorm.

Sometimes these work, some days it’s like trying to run from a swarm of killer bees that I can already feel digging into my skin. No day is perfect, and I’ve come to accept that and to try to not (hahahaha) worry about it.

I know I spend most of my time on this blog talking about writing, but this is a part of my writing (and every day life) that I don’t mention much, and I feel like it’s time to own it. Writing on some days is like trying to wade through a locust swarm in my gut that’s constantly trying to devour me from the inside out. But the things I want to write help me make it through the storm and to the other side where I can see the non-bug-infested light again.

I wish there were some piece of advice, some great tip from a self-help book that I could pass along, but the truth is, I just sort of throw a dart towards where I want to go and blindly push forward through locust swarms and all. Some days I lay down and let the bugs crawl all over me, and some days I walk through beautiful sunlight. But at the end of the day I try to do the best I can with what I’ve got going on, and to just keep pushing forward. You’re not alone.

Friday Review: Hit by Delilah S. Dawson

I have loved everything Delilah S. Dawson has written. I loved Servants of the Storm and was even more excited about Hit because the story has such an interesting concept.

HIT by Delilah S. Dawson

HIT by Delilah S. Dawson

HIT starts on day one of a dystopia which is the most interesting thing to me. Most of the people don’t realize the world has changed and that everything is different now. Patsy is one of the people who knows things have changed and will never be the same again.

Valor National Bank has saved the US from their own debt and is calling in everything owed. The choices are simple: pay your debt, become an assassin, or die. To save her mother Patsy becomes an assassin hunting collecting debt and delivering ultimatums to 10 people to save her mother’s life.

With the current atmosphere and fear of debt, Hit pushed a lot of buttons the entire time I was reading it. Watching the various reasons Patsy’s targets were in debt (student loans, YIKES) and the choices she’s forced to make as she learns that these ten targets aren’t just strangers assigned at random.

Her sidekick, a rich boy named Wyatt, watches Patsy’s back even when they both know the last name on Patsy’s list is Wyatt’s brother. As time runs out, Patsy’s faced with an impossible choice, and a bank out for blood money.

Hit was a violent, rough ride. The story doesn’t pull away from the violence of what’s happening and at times was rough to read. The chapters are longer than average and each chapter is named for one of the ten targets on Patsy’s list. I’d suggest only older YA readers enjoy this title since the violence could be very upsetting for younger folks.

The ending opens the way perfectly for the sequel, Strike, which is out in March 2016.

Fandom First: Demographics

While in grad school I had the chance to study quantitate methods of study and was tasked with running a small  survey. I ran a survey through social media to take a look at the demographics of Fandom. I was a bit overwhelmed when over 500 people responded to the survey.  While the survey is not perfect (hey I was in school learning about surveys at the time) I found the responses very interesting and wanted to share the results.

What is your gender?

This one matches most conceptions of fandom as a female dominated space. Many of the creators of fanwork are women and the community skews female. This survey is also influenced by the reach of social media and the demographics on use on those sites.

What is your age?

This presents a different idea of fandom than many people have preconceived. Fandom is frequently viewed as the space of teenagers. However, the results show that the community is primarily between 18-34 not primarily under 18.

Where are you located results?This is heavily influenced by the location the survey was posted on social media sites and by my own network that the survey was exposed to which is heavily USA based.

What role does fandom play in your life? results

For most people fandom is a large part of their entertainment, expression and community. However, in all categories fandom was view as most important even if by a slim margin.

I believe fandom... results

The theme of community and expression continue in this question. Many people admitted to finding and making friends based on a shared fandom. In the open answer portion of this question, it also represented a safe space for many people to explore and question topics ranging from sexuality to morality.

Fandom is very important to me results

The majority of those who responded viewed fandom as very important part.

How do you interact within the fandom community

Again the distribution of the fandom survey via social media skewed the results and the majority of respondents said social media was a means of interaction. (Also I’m so sorry I neglected to include cosplay as an option! I spaced out on that. )

Is fandom an important part of your identity?

Overwhelming the majority of people viewed fandom as an important part of their identity and that labeling themselves as fans/nerds/geeks was an important part of who they were.

How involved in fandom do you consider yourself? The majority viewed themselves as moderately involved.

You can view the full presentation about these results, including many of the extra comments included: here

Patience aka WHY CAN’T I HAVE MY BOOK NOW?

Patience is probably one the virtues I wish I was better at. Writing is a slow process THAT TAKES FOREVER AND WHY CAN’T I HAVE MY BOOK NOW?

Depending on how fast you write, finishing the first draft of a single short story can take a month or more, and if you start working on a longer piece… that can drag on for years (just don’t be one of those people who is ‘working on a novel’ without ever writing a word, okay? Get it on paper.). You finally get the story done and stare at your lovely, little word blob and then it just magically becomes a book instantly. That’s a new mac attachment clearly, the iPublishnow.

Truth: ALL OF THAT WRITING ISN’T EVEN THE HALF OF IT.

After you finish that first steaming draft full of problems and trouble THEN you have to go back and edit, and sometimes rewrite it. And you do this step over and over and over. Until your eyes sizzle and coffee drizzles from your nose.

After that, you submit it off into the wild blue-green yonder where it either a) goes off to an agent to look for representation b) goes to a publisher (and probably the BUMBUMBUM slush pile) or c) self-pub baby!

(okay, those are not every option ever available for a writer, but let’s just stick with those three for simplicity’s sake, kay?)

From here, everything requires more steps.

AKA No don’t just type THE END and throw it up on Amazon and wait for the money to rain down from the muses that live above your bed.

From here it will try to find a home, contracts will be negotiated, drawn up, yadda yadda, THEN it will go through a series of edits, a title will be decided, descriptions created, covers  made, and formatting fought with. Annnnd probably more that I’m forgetting or just plain don’t know about because they haven’t happened to me yet.

End of story: There’s still a TON of steps from after you type the end to when you hold your precious word vomit baby in your arms and coo over it.

The fastest one has gone for me is a short story that took roughly 6 months from THE END to print version, and that was damn fast because it only had four people in the anthology.

The longest?

Well, let’s just say there are some 3+ year projects that haven’t moved forward past typing THE END yet.

That’s another part of writing you don’t learn about until you’re there. Projects can and will just freeze for unknown reasons. Sometimes a project falls through the little literary cracks and plops into a whole lot of nope. When that happens you’ve got to pull your story out of that muck and try to find your baby a new home. Sometimes it doesn’t work out and that little sucker lives in a drawer in your desk for forever.

The point is, if you’re going to play the game and get your thing out into the world then you’ve got to have a certain level of patience and know that things move SLLLOOOOWWWW when it comes to publishing.

Finish your projects, send them off, meet your deadlines (please don’t be the jerk to hold up everyone else), and then START ON A NEW PROJECT. Don’t sit and stare at the screen, waiting for an email of every step of the process, let go of that sent-off darling and start vomiting out a new lovely, word baby. Try to have projects out and about all the time, and remember to just breathe and keep writing: that’s your job.

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