Redesign of a Writing Space

public.jpeg

Shortly after my last post, I decided to work on my writing space that really is just a storage space. I completely reorganized the desk, and organized all my edited manuscripts- the printed ones, at least, and built a mini wall to block off the rest of the area. Really mini. The organizer on the left? Yeah, that’s my Great Wall of Blocking. We do have two old doors in our garage. I may just clean them off, hinge them together, and use them to really block off the space. I’ve actually sat down there a couple times, too, and did a bit of work! I still prefer a comfy chair, so having a larger part of a bigger room would be awesome, but not feasible right now. How long before the kids move out????

What do you think? Do you have a designated creative area?

#50PreciousWords Entry

This is an annual contest run by the amazing Vivian Kirkfield. Head over to her site to check it out!  There’s a TON of amazing stories up so far. The contest is in honor of Dr. Seuss, and his accepting of a challenge, and writing Green Eggs and Ham with only 50 different words.  The twist to Vivian’s #50PreciousWords is that your word count has a MAXIMUM of 50 words. So, give it a shot! Just make every word count!

My entry came from a story that I wrote in 2014, but never really did much with.  I did have to cut out around 120 words, but I like where it finished. So, here it is:

Hunting Dragons

I’m bored. Woof.

Let’s pretend Duke’s a dragon!

Get the dragon!

Into the forest!

He soared over the swamp!

He flew up the mountain!

There he is!

He’s too strong!

Run!  Woof!

Down the mountain!

Through the swamp!

Into the castle!

Stand our ground!

Hurray!

Hunting dragons is hard!  Woof!

StoryStorm 2019

IMG_0332.JPG

I’ll be joining many others for StoryStorm.  For those that don’t know, StoryStorm is a challenge to come up with 30 picture book ideas in 31 days. Originally, it was called Picture Book Idea Month held in November, but creator Tara Lazar switched to to January a couple years ago to give everyone a fresh batch of story ideas to work with for the new year.

I first did StoryStorm back in 2015, when it was PiBoIdMo.  I have “won” the challenge each year, and some of those ideas have been turned into manuscripts. For the ideas that do not get turned into a manuscript, I keep them on file on my iPad, and also as a small booklet in my bag. 

I create a file on Scrivener for each year, with each idea following the same format:

Idea # 7


Characters:

Setting:

Problem:

Adventure:

Solved:

Notes:

I used to keep each as a separate notecard on scrivener, but putting them in one file is so much easier. From there, I just fill in the info that comes to mind when an idea slaps me on the back of the head.  The idea might just be a location, characters, or a problem.  I rarely end up with just one part filled in.  I usually get three of them filled in.  Many of my ideas come from Storybird.com For ideas that come from there, I write in the notes what pic it was.  On my account, I try to remember to favorite them so I can look back at them.  Sometimes I’ll e-mail myself a link for the pic.

 

Do you participate in StoryStorm?  Where do you get your ideas from?

REJECTED!

IMG_0319.JPG

Rejects. No. Pass. Whatever you call them, you’ll get lots.  That’s all part of being a writer.  Every writer has a file of their rejections. Well, at least I do.  I have a real one, for physical rejections, and a virtual one, for e-mail rejections.  Plus another one on Submittable.  I guess that’s a double up on the virtual rejections.

How do you handle them? That’s personal. Not as in, “I’m not telling you!” But as in how we handle the experience. Over the past few weeks, I’ve had three. Not just rejections, but three different reactions to the 1,256 MSs I’d sent out in early August. Hear they are, in order of preference:

IMG_0320.JPG

1. NO!  YOUR WORK SUCKS!  WHY ARE YOU EVEN DOING THIS ANYMORE!

I had this reaction after my mentor had recommended a small publishing house for my picture book manuscript, I sent it out, and got a rejection.  I’d even included the proper postage to get the MS back, and they didn’t send it back. Just the rejection form in an envelope with three stamps (I only used two to sent it out with the SASE).  This one hurt.  A lot. But you have to move on, and I did after some sulking and pondering why I’m even doing this.  Rationalizing it helped: they accept 40/20,000 titles a year. Odds are not in your favor. 

2. Okay, I have it out with a few other agents I carefully research, this just wasn’t the right agent.

This is my reaction for most of my rejections.  I have two strong stories, one of which I’ve sent out to nine agents, and I have seven or eight others waiting to send it to if it gets passed on by all of them.  I’m still waiting to hear from six (I think...).

3. HAH!

I had this on Saturday.  I sent it out around 9:30 A.M., and got a form rejection around 7:30 P.M. ‘after careful consideration.’  Very careful. What could you do?  I laughed. We were definitely not meant to work together!

There are others, too.  A couple times I’ve gotten a non format rejection, and once I got a rewrite and submit.  And, one I haven’t gotten yet, which is an ‘I’d like to see more work’ or ‘I love your work, please call me!’ Yet.

Did I miss any? Let me know!

Breaks

No, not the fun kind where you fall and break 17 bones because, like me, you’re old (no, that didn’t really happen).

I’m talking about the Creative Break, where you break all your pens, pencils, brushes, canvases, brains...no? Not that kind either?

IMG_0249.JPG

Well, what kind of break are you talking about?

I’m talking about the kind where you take a Break from your creative endeavors (okay, and maybe break a pen or two).

A couple years ago, I was listening to an episode of the podcast Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert.  In it, she helped a fellow author who was stuck.

 

You know stuck, right? Where you stare at a blank screen, a blank journal, a blank canvas, and you get a strong desire to smash it, quit, never do it again, but you don’t because you were told to just paint, write, create whatever comes to your mind because that’s what you’re supposed to do since everyone in the history of the world did that and it’s easy so why isn’t it easy for you.

So you decide you need to quit. 

Yeah, that kind of stuck. 

How did Elizabeth Gilbert help? Well, she told her to take ONE MONTH OFF. 

<gasp> 

NO!  You can’t!  You HAVE to stare at a blank space and create...something...eventually! 

Yeah, take a month off. Then, use a timer and sit, and write for one hour.  When the timer goes off STOP! No matter what- okay, maybe finish that sentence, BUT THAT’S IT! 

That part of the podcast ended there, and she interviewed Neil Gaiman (MY WRITING IDOL!!!), then interviewed the author at the end of that month. 

At that point in my writing, I was stuck.  I didn’t want to write! I wanted to give up before I ever really got started. 

So, what did I do? 

I took September off. 

I’m a teacher, so I figured September would be a good month off.  I had plenty to do early on in the school year.  But, I still had to fill that time at night when I’d sit, and write.  Or stare at a blank screen. 

IMG_0247.JPG

It was hard, especially towards the end of the month, as I was chomping at the bit to write.  I had ideas flowing, things I wanted to edit.  The ideas I did write down (can’t lose them!), but I held off on EVERYTHING else until October 1st. 

Did it help?  Yes! Tons! That next calendar year was my most productive EVER.

I did it again in September of 2017, even though I didn’t feel I needed it, and had another productive year.

This year?  Well, I took off part of August already, and will take off the next two weeks, to complete a month, but I’m ready to go already. 

Do I feel like I want to quit? Nope! Did I feel frustrated when I started? A bit, but nothing major.  I’m just taking the month off to refresh. 

Try a break from creativity when you’ve hit a prolonged slump, you never know what might come of it. 

Have you ever taken a regular break from creativity? Let me know about it! 

Take that break, and come out swinging!

Take that break, and come out swinging!