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Friday, October 23, 2009

A Few Shout-Outs
I’ve been reminded about the beauty of friendship and how it can really encourage and motivate you. Excuse me a minute while I get a little personal: 

·          Stacy- It was great to catch up with you yesterday. I truly miss regular interaction with you. Thanks for putting my name and Word’s Worth’s name out there for the masses to see.
·          Nicole- Lunch was truly motivating. Thanks for sharing your NaNoWriMo spreadsheet and giving me the chance to do what I love in the middle of a hectic day.
·          Jey-Thanks for taking our idea and running with it. Sorry I couldn’t finish the script, but I’m sure you did a great job with it. Can’t wait to read it.
·          Darrell-Thanks for spreading the word about the Writing and Food-Wine and Cheese event. I appreciate your support of my efforts!
·          Katrina-Thanks for sharing in the load of things to do. A simple thing like picking up cups was really a relief to me. I look forward to continuing to work with you. 

Sorry for the little personal aside from me, but it had to be said. The point? Surround yourself with good people and when the week is rough, like mine has been, they will keep you going. Whether it’s a small errand, a motivating talk, picking up some slack, or singing your praises, you friends will always have your back and keep you going…and writing.   

Phone a Friend,

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Short Term Memory Boost
I had the best idea for a story the other day, it happens to me occasionally. Then, somehow in the hustle and bustle of the day, I let it get away. I find it quite frustrating when this happens.
There is an easy fix for this, steal a few minutes to write it down. If you're in a rush, scribble it on a post-it note, receipt, or a napkin. Dedicate a page in your journal for an idea collection, for those times when ideas are hard to come by.
Write it Down,

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Good, the Bad, and the Good
I was talking to a student of mine about a recent rejection they received. I was as surprised as they were, it seemed like a winner to me as well. Bottom line: Rejection comes when we least expect it and it's always a little hard to take no matter how good we think a piece is.  

Whether you have aspirations of getting published or just write for fun or are even just starting to explore writing, be prepared. There are bad writing days ahead. Sometimes it's hard to get motivated, other days the words won't come, and then there are times when you won't like anything you write.  

As long as you know there are tough days ahead, you can take advantage and make the most of the good days. Besides, the good days will always outnumber the bad.

Go for the Good!

It's the National Day on Writing! Been looking for a reason to write, well you've got it. Find a few minutes today and put down on paper what you've been wanting to say: maybe it's a letter to a friend, a recipe you've been wanting to pass on, or the start to a story that's been bouncing around in your brain.  

Need more inspiration? Click here to see what others say about the practice of writing.  

C'mon...what are you waiting for?

Happy Writing!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday State of Panic
It’s been a great weekend, so far, but now that it’s nearing mid-day Sunday and I’m starting to panic a bit. It happens often in the teaching field. We’re so ready to shed the responsibilities on Friday that when 4 o’clock Sunday rolls around we end up thinking…oh no…I have school tomorrow! 

It has been on my mind all day that I need to get this writing prompt out to my subscribers and I definitely didn’t want to shirk this responsibility. While it all didn’t happen at the time and the way I wanted it to, it’s still getting done and that’s the important part. 

Simple lesson: Don’t let your writing goals go, even when you’re going. Remember what you want to do on a daily basis and get it done.  Now gotta go and get ready for tomorrow! 

Get Busy! 

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Mark Your Calendar--National Day of Writing
Did you know on Thursday, October 8, Congress passed a resolution declaring this Tuesday, October 20, as the National Day of Writing? What a special day for writing geeks like me!  

If you've been unable to find the time to write, try to designate some time on this day. Then you can submit what your wrote, or maybe something from your collection to Word's Worth Writing Center's Local Gallery Space in the National Gallery of Writing. Wondering what that is? Read below:

The National Gallery of Writing is a virtual space-a website-where people who perhaps have never thought of themselves as writers-mothers, bus drivers, fathers, veterans, nurses, firefighters, sanitation workers, stockbrokers-select and post writing that is important to them. The Gallery accommodates any composition format-from word processing to photography, audio/video recording to text messages-and all types of writing-from letters to lists, memoirs to memos.

There you go! More details to follow about posting to Word's Worth's Gallery in an upcoming email. For now, make your plans, block out some time, and join the legions of writing geeks across America. 

Click here for more information on The National Day of Writing.  

Writing Geeks Unite!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Some Writing Advice from Katrina Kittle
This fall Word’s Worth Writing Center has been fortunate to have local author Katrina Kittle teaching a fiction class and leading a workshop for writers. She has been inspiring me for years and now there’s a new flock of fans added to the fold. I asked her for some wisdom to share with all the subscribers to this email campaign. Here’s a bit of what she has to offer…  

What do you do to motivate yourself when you don't want to sit down and tend to the manuscript?
I actually keep a timecard, as if I were punching in for any other job in the world. There is no other job that would allow me the luxury of "deciding" whether or not I felt like showing up. You have to show up, right? Or you'd get fired! When I was able to leave teaching, I kept my school day schedule as my writing schedule. I have to schedule time off during the day (for dentist appointments or whatever) and make up those missed hours at some point. This kind of discipline is the only thing that works for me. Somehow we always manage to show up for our other jobs, so I think just that adjustment of the mindset helps: our writing time should be as non-negotiable as a school day.

Are you a big picture writer or do you progress part by part?I am definitely a part-by-part writer. For the longest time, I wouldn't begin my first novel because I didn't know how it ended! Thank goodness I finally came across a great quote that inspired me to dive in: “Writing a book is like driving a car in the fog.  You only see as far as your headlights go, but you can make the whole trip, a trip of 100 miles, that way.”-E.L. Doctorow  Often, as I'm writing a book, I can only see this event, this scene. I have to trust that I will reach the ending, even if I can only see this much at a time. And I always have! 

What part of the writing process do you enjoy most?
In all honesty, I usually enjoy whatever process I'm in at the moment, but nothing beats the joy of constant discovery in a first draft. That chipping away and finding the gems of the story for the very first time are so wonderful and energizing. Want more? You can pick up one of her first three books: Traveling Light, Two Truths and a Lie, or The Kindness of Strangers at your local bookstore. Her new book is expected to be released in the spring.  

Thanks Katrina!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I Sometimes Struggle with Writer's Block
So I sat down ready to do today's email. I started with this section and couldn't think about what to write. I moved on to compete both writing prompts and "Something to Think About" section and when I came back to this portion of the email I found I still had nothing to say...WRITERS BLOCK.

Oh well, it happens to the best of us.
 So let me tell you about the things I enjoy doing: playing with my dog, Cooper, escaping by watching mindless TV, drinking a good cup of coffee, playing Scrabble or cards, playing with my niece and nephews, crossword and soduku puzzles, and eating a decadent treat. 

I don't enjoy: going to the dentist, cleaning toilets, listening to people yell at someone else, being sick, getting rained on, missing someone I care about, people who are rude with their cell phones, and liver. 

Hey, at least I wrote something...get the point?


Thursday, October 8, 2009

7 Days-7 Writing Prompts
You've been at it for over a week now...or maybe you haven't, or maybe you have a bit, or maybe you really, really wanted to, but haven't yet. No matter where you find yourself, just acknowledge it and prepare for the days to come. 

A quick assessment of your progress over the past week can help you to make decisions for the next three. Maybe you signed up to be inspired and will write when you are moved to do so, or maybe you wanted to start a daily routine, or maybe just some type of routine. No matter where you find yourself, make today the one in which you take the first step toward that writing goal, no more waiting. 

It's taken me years to develop a routine that works for me. I still find myself some days kicking and screaming all the way to the keyboard and then there are days when I wish I could have a few minutes more. It's funny how often our desire to write often brings on an array of emotions, but it's important to not get caught up in them and to do one simple thing: write. 

What are you waiting for?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Be a Rebel!
If a prompt doesn't get you when you sit down and write, try and simply write about what's on your mind. Use the time you set aside to write a diary or journal entry. Write about the events of your day, an interaction you've had with somebody, or how you're feeling at the current time. Journaling is very therapeutic, a great exercise in creating stories, and a helpful writing practice. They are also fun to read after time has passed. Most times you see yourself or your situation in a different light. 

Go on, feel free to ignore a prompt or two and write what's on your mind. Don't just don't make a habit of it

Happy Writing!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Woe Are You!

I spent the weekend grading my students' rough drafts of their poetry and short stories. I was lamenting to a friend after a long session with the colored pen that I needed a break from all the teenage angst.

Those were they days, eh? Every love had the possibilities to be the ONE for the rest of our life, every small squabble with a friend was IT and you were never speaking again, parents just don't GET you, life is NOT fair...remember?

But now that I think of it, those little buggers are really onto something. The power of emotion and its link to a character's motivation is essential to good storytelling. Granted not every little detail needs to be put on the page, but once they're all out there then you can pick and choose which one you want to use that's key to your story. There's nothing wrong with a little overwriting...but I'll save that for a future post.

So go ahead. You now have permission to rant, scream, wail, whine, and complain. Put it all out a teenager again. Life's not easy, remember? Luckily, we've got most of the hard stuff behind us. 
Write, write, write!

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Teachable Moment
I've been without internet service at home for almost a week now...I won't go on about the numerous phone calls to various parts of the country depending on what number I push on the menu of my internet and phone service provider (I won't mention names, but there is an A and a T in their title). I also won't bore you with the numerous ways I've had to rearrange my life just to grab an hour or two of internet service each day. I was recounting the entire story to my sister yesterday and became embarrassed at how silly I sounded. Bottom's been bit inconvenient and a little irritating.  

An opportunity to learn for us all--don't let a minor setback or inconvenience stop you from getting your project accomplished. You want to write, then do it. If the phone rings, the baby cries, the pot of spaghetti boils over on the stove, then stop, attend to it, and get back to what you were doing. The time you set aside may not go as you planned, but if you keep your goal in mind, you will find the time and capabilities to get it done. It just takes a bit of creativity, flexibility, and patience on you end.

Meanwhile, I'm anxiously waiting for Tuesday. Keep your fingers crossed.
Happy Writing,

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Put Yourself Out There
Have you ever shared your writing with others? It's often scary, sometimes rewarding, and not an easy thing to do. Try it sometime. Find somebody you trust and give them one of your favorite writing projects to read. You can take a couple of approaches--ask them what they think and to give you their honest feedback, or have them tell you what they think your message or theme might be, or even ask them to say nothing at all, simply read it.  Sharing your writing with others is the first step in finding your audience and setting yourself up for possible publishing opportunities such as contests, submissions to publications, or participation in a writer's workshop.  

If during the 31 Days-31 Writing Prompts campaign you write something you'd like to share, send it to me at With your permission I will publish an excerpt of it in a future email to other participants to encourage them in their efforts. Go on...put yourself out there! 

What are you waiting for?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

What Are You Waiting For?

When do you write? Think of the number of routines you have in your day. How many of those daily tasks are done around the same time--the first cup of coffee, lunch break, a call to a friend or family member, a glance at the evening news, or checking email. It's just as easy to add a writing routine to your day

Give it a try. Maybe you can write in the morning while sipping on that first cup of coffee. Writing a few lines in between bites of lunch might work well or even some time writing after checking the email at night would do you good. Point is, find out when writing works well for you and make the time for it. Make writing a routine in your life and you will find that you are writing more often and the more you write, the better your writing will become.

Now Get Busy,Darren

Grab Your Sledgehammer
A student walked up to me yesterday with a single paragraph written on her paper. “I just don’t know what I want to do with this,” she exclaimed. “I’ve hit a wall.” I couldn’t help but giggle a bit at her (which every good teacher should do to their students, right?), but immediately went to work with my sledgehammer knocking down that wall. I gave the paragraph a quick read. It was a nicely crafted, about a young woman sitting down at a piano and playing a song for another character who was sitting nearby smiling. 

“I see three opportunities here,” I told her. “What song is the girl playing and when was the first time she played it?” “Who taught her to play the piano and how does it affect how she plays today?” and “Who’s this person sitting nearby and why are his/her lips pale?” I told Shan that she’s only just begun telling this character’s story. She was a bit amazed at the possibilities I saw in her piece, smiled, and said “Oh, okay…thanks!” and she went back to her table and started writing. When I stopped by to see how she was doing at the end of the period her page was completed and another page had been started. SUCCESS!

Think of how many times we think we’ve hit a wall with our writing. “I just can’t go on!” we scream, and shut our laptops, and go dust the furniture. I challenge you to look for the opportunities you’ve created for yourself. What are those small cracks in your “solid” piece of writing where story can sneak in? If you can’t do it for yourself, hand your story to someone else and have them ask you the questions that resonate with them as they read.

That’s it from me…the Story Whisperer…hey, I kinda like that title…
Happy Writing!Darren

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Go Ahead, Take a Sip
Ah the joys of a new project! Isn’t it great when you have something bright and shiny before you and all you want to do is bask in the glory of all its newness? That’s how I’m feeling this morning about approaching the next 30 days and the 31 Days-31 Writing Prompts campaign. Now all I need to do is bottle this feeling to sip on when this project gets a little old and worn.

It’s a bit like all those board games in your closet that sit unplayed, yet at times you think: “I like Monopoly. I really do. I’m gonna play it someday real soon.” Then you gather a few friends, choose the thimble, try to stay out of jail, and hope that you land on Park Place. There is still fun to be had; you just have to work harder at it.

Many of you may find yourself in the same place I’m in today. Perhaps you are hoping that a writing prompt that arrives in your inbox will spark your inner creative writing beast and you’ll write pages and pages over a number of days or maybe you plan to sit down with a journal every day and see where the muse will take you. Yet you know that somewhere down the line you’ll not approach your inbox with quite the same enthusiasm, you’ll think about taking today off and picking up again tomorrow, or you may even hit a lull that you think you can’t write yourself out of.

Let’s make a deal: I’ll stick with it for the next 31 days if you will. I’ll show up every day, but can’t guarantee I’ll always be at my best. Not to be cliché, but there’s a saying about showing up being half the battle. I’m realizing the truth behind that idea in many different venues in my life and you know’s true.

Now, let’s play! I get the race car…

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