Sunday, January 15, 2012

"The Writer's Workout" Day 12 - Find your comfort zone in writing

Hunker Down - (Settle in for the long haul)
Today's workout took more thought than anything.  There was nothing to write down, or ten questions to answer to get you motivated.  There was only a question for thought.  (And it does stimulate some serious thought!) 

The major question for today was simple.  Do you allow yourself to write, or do you sabotage yourself?  Well, at least that's how my brain interpreted it.  I won't pose the actual question here, in hopes that you will be interested enough in what I am writing to pick up your own copy and write with me. 

Unfortunately, I found myself answering this after about an hour with a resounding..."Oh No! I do sabotage myself!"  From my writing hours, my priorities, my wants, and down to my relaxation time, I always seem to let so much come before my writing.  If my writing is rejected, I take it extremely personally, and don't want to share it with any other publishing house.  (I know I shouldn't.. trust me... I know, but I can't help it.)  Once rejected, I go on a writing hiatus.  (Why should I write, when I'll never get published.) My self-esteem is completely deflated and I am truly a failure, because I am ACTING like one! 

Now, with this great revelation comes the next question that I am going to pose for myself.  What am I gonna do with this knowledge?  That's a little more tricky.  But, the only correct answer is to watch.  When I find myself doing these things that I've mentioned above, I need to realize what it is that I am doing to myself and then... move on. 

Something inside of me is saying, easier said than done.
Lisa Adams

Saturday, January 14, 2012

"The Writer's Workout" Day 11 - You mean I can write nonfiction?

Incorporating Nonfiction

So catch up from Thursday night, I only regret one major thing about this particular night and this day's workout.  I am a teacher by day, so when I think about writing nonfiction there's only one type that I absolutely know that I am good at... writing Lesson Plans.  Blame it on the day job, I guess.

I couldn't get past this day's exercise as well.  Thursday and Friday night were spent looking at things that dealt with my job and creating new worksheets and doing a little research.  What was the research?  Well, it goes back to Day 2's workout and Selling your words.  Where on earth could I sell my lesson plans?  Well, if any of you have ever just googled "lesson plans", I'm sure you were as amazed as I was.  Now, to go along with this story I have to let you know, I've been a teacher for quite awhile.  I knew of a lot of lesson plan pages that I could get information from... For FREE! We don't get paid much, so as you can imagine the cheaper the better. 

But! I found an amazing website called TeachersPayTeachers and it was all lesson plans and worksheets and everything.  Free Membership and the money is paid to the teachers.  Worksheets are being sold for a buck!  Yeah, I'd pay a dollar for a great worksheet, especially if it covered exactly what I needed.  And I guess a lot of other teachers feel that way, too.  One of the number one paid downloads was a dollar worksheet and... it had been downloaded over 10,000 times!  Which means, with the terms and agreements of the site the author created just ONE worksheet and received almost $5,000 dollars.  Oh, I can so do that!  And the muse hit me again, right upside the head and I created some pretty cool things to use in a middle grades classroom that focused on certain common core strands. 

I have not posted these as of yet, because I was thinking about a whole collection at first for a cheaper amount and then posting them individually at the dollar rate.  That way, if the teacher wanted the full collection they could get a discount. But, if the teacher only wanted a worksheet or two then they wouldn't have to spend the whole amount for things they didn't want.

To make a long story short, I'm now two full days behind for the "1 workout per day" that I had set myself as a goal earlier.  I'm still not worried.  Christina Katz said at the beginning of the book that you should "Take your time".  Don't be in a rush to finish.  Maybe I was rushing just a little too much.
Lisa Adams

"The Writer's Workout" Day 10 - a brain stretch; getting ready to write

Get Warm! (I started with some lunges and decided to run the marathon!)

First, let me start by saying that I think my original goal of completing this in just a year was a little obtuse of me.  On Tuesday, Jan 10th, I started the 10th day of my Writer's Workout and was absolutely outmaneuvered by my muse.  Let me explain...

Day 10 is about warming up your brain to do some writing and Christina Katz has some wonderful ways to get you jump started. It was merely a simply exercise of answering questions.  But the questions she listed gave me some wonderful insight into things that I could write.  And to make a long story short.... I did.  So I didn't get on here Tuesday night to let you know how it was going because by the time my husband told me to go to bed, it was 3:53a.m. and I had to wake up for my day job at 6:30.

Wednesday, I came home so ecstatic to get back to writing, it took the kids hounding me to fix them dinner.  With regards to the story, it was coming along nicely and with just a few hours of sleep the night before, I found myself typing away and falling asleep behind my keyboard at 1:22.  Which of course led my husband to wake me up gently and again tell me to go to bed...

But, though I missed the day per exercise routine that I wanted to aim to hit this year, I'm sure that maybe there will be an exercise or two that I can do on the same day to hopefully catch up.  Besides, I don't regret the writing.  That's what writer's do, Right?

Lisa Adams

Monday, January 9, 2012

"The Writer's Workout" Day 9 - Why do you write?

Embrace the reasons
Oh! How I love thee... let me count the ways. 
Today's writing workout has me reflecting on all the reasons why I even started to write in the first place.  Christina Katz gave me a great list to start with and I have a few of these on this list checked off but I really had to think about quite a few for awhile.  Then I realized that the reason why I write was not on this list at all.  (Well, the reason I first started writing anyhow.)

I started writing for peace and quiet.  It was my own personal time.  Something that I had to create for myself with my five children, husband, house chores, and full time job.  Today, it still serves that purpose.  The ground rules have been set over a few years, and when I'm writing my kids actually go ask my husband for things instead of me all the time. 

Now, my reasons have grown and my number one reason now a days is to have accomplished something with all that writing.  I want to be published traditionally one day and actually host a book signing at my local Barnes and Noble. There, that's the big dream.  That's why I write, in a nutshell of course. 

Lisa Adams

Sunday, January 8, 2012

"The Writer's Workout" Day 8 - You CAN get published!

Forget Fretting
Wonderful words of encouragement on today's writing.  Christina Katz delves into the time old question of, "Can I actually get published?"  The overwhelming and completely positive answer?  Of Course, in fact according to Christina, and some independent research I've done on my own, there are actually more opportunities for a beginning writer to be published than ever before.

Yes, I know.  E-books are it, right?  Not exactly.  Yes. E-books have made self-publishing easy, but self-publishing can be extremely difficult to market unless you have an awesome plan.  And let's face it, most of us aspiring or "prepublished" authors are looking to write for at least enough to pay the water bill one month.  The electric bill would be a bonus!  (Small achievable goals.. remember?)

Beyond self-publishing there are probably hundreds of NEW e-publishing houses out there that are simply putting up your book to sell on the web and reaping the benefits of being the middle man.  (I can actually think of two that I am somewhat suspicious of exactly that.)

But, traditional publishing is still around and is actually more efficient than ever.  Most companies have updated their services and allow you to send query letters and synopsis through e-mail. This actually speeds up the process tremendously and what used to be a 6 month wait has now decreased in many publishing houses to only 3-4 months.

As I stated in my last post, I own quite a few copies of "The Writer's Market" and every year I see more and more publishing houses that accept new authors, unagented authors, and the publishing houses themselves are growing in number every year as well. 

So even though the number of actual people trying to write has increased, the publishing houses have expanded as well to meet our demands.  So don't worry about it!  You CAN be published, and you will.  You just have to write something first!

Lisa Adams

Saturday, January 7, 2012

"The Writer's Workout" Day 7 - So what have you done?

"Take Stock"
Day 7 exercise has me feeling a bit unaccomplished.  As I went through the day's writing tip, I realized that the main objective was not to seek approval for your writing.  You must be comfortable with what you write and confident enough to realize that you've done your best so that you can move on to your next project.

So, why do I feel unaccomplished?  Today's assignment has you list all your past writing-related accomplishments.  To help you get started, Christina Katz provides her own list of 13 things that you can use as jumping off points for what you have done so far.  My problem is that of those thirteen things, I can only write about two of them. 

List all the milestones in your writing career.  -  For me my first milestone came when I put my first query letter in the mail.  I count my first rejection as a milestone, too.  Add my second submission to that list as well, namely because I didn't just give up after the first :-)  There are dozens more like contests I've entered, published authors that I have spoken with, and every class that I complete that is writing related.

List all the people who have helped you in your writing career - Currently, it's Christina Katz, my personal writing coach.  I also have to remember all my family members and especially my husband, who are all extremely supportive (though not good critics.)  My best friends, Tammy and Samantha, who encourage me and celebrate every success and failure right beside me, my writing friends on e-harlequin and a slew of others that work with me on Critique Circle and in real life.

Oh wait! There's one more... List all the writing career development books that you have read -  Unfortunately, this would take more space on this blog that I am willing to spare and I'm sure you are not willing to read.  I have two whole bookshelves dedicated just to the craft (not including the Writer's Market books I have that date back to 2005.)

So, I've taken stock now of all the different things I have done in my career and added a few here to share with you.  I have some knew ideas based off Christina's list that can help me further my career, and I just know that at the end of it all (359 more days to go) I'll have learned so much and done even more to make my writing career grow.

Lisa Adams  

Friday, January 6, 2012

"The Writer's Workout" Day 6 - Dare yourself to write!

"Tap your Chutzpah"

Chutzpah?  What?   Christina Katz tells us that chutzpah is a yiddish word, with a loose translation of "nerve".  This particular day's workout spoke volumes to me.  Within the first two paragraphs, she defines the difference between an actual writer and an aspiring writer.  Just six complete sentences and I realized... I can't categorize myself as an ACTUAL writer.    Actual writers write.  I am definitely an aspiring writer.  I do all the things that a wanna be writer would do.  What separates me from an actual writer?  I don't put words to paper as often as I should.

I believe that this book is helping me to be better at that.  Keeping up with the Day 1 workout of writing a minimum of a page a day, is at least adding to the word count of my current WIP. 

I also believe that this blog is helping me as well.  Keeping up with the workout in a diary format really helps keep it all in focus.  And to those of you reading me... well, thank you and I only hope that you will stay with me on this journey, or better yet... JOIN ME!

If you have been thinking about really preparing and getting yourself ready for a real writing career, buy "The Writer's Workout" by Christina Katz, work through this year with me, and Dare yourself to be an ACTUAL writer and not just an aspiring one.

See you soon,
Lisa Adams

Thursday, January 5, 2012

"The Writer's Workout" Day 5 - 8 things under $100 that can enhance your writing career!

"Microinvest in Learning"

Reading today's topic in my wonderful Writer's Coach book, "The Writer's Workout" by Christina Katz, reminded me of a saying that a dear family member told me.  "You have to spend money to make money!" 

If you are like me, you are one of those lovely people that make up the "blue collar" working class of America. We are experts at living paycheck to paycheck and though we may have a little saved up if the heater or something goes out, we are pretty much stretched to our limits.  So, the question remains, "How can we invest in our writing careers without breaking the bank?"

Well, you are currently looking at one way, which ties in nicely with Day 4 workout.  Blogging is great for social promotion and creating a platform of readers that doesn't require any money to start.  You can always personalize your blog for a small fee of usually under $20 and get your own ".com" that links straight to your blog site.

But, I want to talk about some opportunities under $100, that can really help boost you and the career in the right direction. 
  1. Continuing education classes. - Almost every community college I know of in North Carolina has linked into something called Ed2Go.  They are distance education classes that are taught on just about anything from teaching to (you guessed it) creative writing and publishing.  Avg. cost $65 a class. Oh... and classes start monthly.
  2. Books, books, and more books! - If you want to learn from professionals how to write, books can be an invaluable expense.  Not just for writing but publishing as well. Try Writer's Digest, great selection and sales all the time. Avg. cost $25
  3. The "Writer's Digest" magazine subscription - No monetary amount can be placed on this wonderful desk reference for writers.  10 issues packed full of writer interviews, tips, website info, you name it. Yearly subscription? $14.95 from the card inside a magazine.
  4. Online Writer Group classes - I'm sure there are site all over the world for other genre's but since I am a romance writer, I just know where to find these easier.  There are so many chapters of RWA that offer online classes for minimal fees.  These classes are taught by highly respected authors and professionals of their field.  Avg. cost $16 - 25 for a four week class.
  5. Speaking of RWA - join a professional Writing Association for your genre. Most genres I know about have one. Avg cost $45 a year.
  6. Local Writing Groups - Barnes and Noble in my area sponsors a "Writers in Motion" get together every 3rd Thursday of the month.  It's completely free to have someone to write with, critique your work, offer advice, and for general support.  Avg. cost $ a few bucks in gas and whatever books you happen to buy while you're there.
  7. WD Webinars and Tutorials - Many subjects covering many different genres.  These are sure to be a wealth of information.  They are a little more costly, but once you purchase one, you have pretty much unlimited access to it.  Watch it a dozen times if need be, and feel like the instructor is actually there talking to you.  Avg. cost $75-95.
  8. "The Writer's Workout: 366 Tips, Tasks, and Techniques from Your Writing Career Coach" - I cannot speak more highly than this.  I had to add it to this list as a separate bullet from Books because it really has become a Great Inspiration to me as far as my writing career goes. Avg. cost $20. (and worth every penny!)
I'm sure that this an incredibly short list but it is a true sample of some of the things that I have already done in "Microinvesting in Learning".   I truly believe these things have already helped my writing career, and I'm sure they can help you as well, as long as you use them correctly.  Give one or two of them a try.  You may be amazed at just how much it has helped!

Good Luck to us All!
Lisa Adams

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

"The Writer's Workout" Day 4

"Promote yourself"
More and more, a writer's ability to self promote has become almost a requirement for getting that novel published.  And if you plan on going with self publishing, it is an absolute essential for you. 

Today's step reveals basically the same information.  The goal for today, is to get writer's like myself from out behind the computer all the time, and stick our necks out the door occasionally to let people know that we are alive and are thrilled about what we've just written.

Website?  Well, if you consider this blog... Check.
Facebook?  Not for my pen name.  ...           To Do List
Twitter?                                                         Check
Community forums to link to blog...             Check  (but could do more)

I'm sure there are dozens of other ways to self-promote and I will learn as I go.  But for now, I think I have a pretty good start and I have accomplished today's goal.  Yes, I am willing to shamelessly self promote.  (And ask others to promote me as well!)

Repost this, blog about it, tweet it, Like it, the more the merrier, or so I've been told!  Be sure to mention that I'm following "The Writer's Workout" plan by Christina Katz!  Swing back by tomorrow for Day 5!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

"The Writer's Workout" Day 3

"Serial Focus" AKA "What do I need to do next?"
Well, if there's any writer out there who needs it put bluntly to them, it would be me.  And Christina Katz does a wonderful job of this, especially today. 

Focus. We must learn and maintain this skill so we can succeed. Something so little and so "hey, I already know this!" But still makes you examine carefully.  Yeah, you may know it, but have you applied it. 

My honest answer, "Nope."

I will be the first to confess, I have about seven different novels that I have written anywhere between 10k and 32k in.  I get to the middle, and have a flash moment where another idea strikes me and I run with it.  Perhaps, it's a new contest that I have to write a piece for, or a great character that pops in my mind.  Whatever, the problem, I lose my focus on my current project.  I don't finish, and move on to bigger and better.

So, how do I use this great epiphany in my new writing career?  I'm going to go back through my stuff from Day 2 that I cleaned off my computer, pick one thing, load it back on my computer and go with it.  UNTIL IT'S FINISHED!  If I get an epiphany, I will write quick notes down in one of my several books laying around from Day 1  and then get back to the project at hand. 

I've written it here, and it's now hanging on the wall behind my laptop as well.  Pick ONE project, and Go With It!  Not just finish it, but nail it!  Time frame?  By February 14th.

You joining me?

Monday, January 2, 2012

"The Writer's Workout" Day 2

"Sell your words"
Okay, this day's goal I thought would be easy.  I wrote for my page like I was supposed to for day 1 and tried to knockout day 2 quickly.  That was somewhat of a mistake.  The author, Christina Katz, and my personal writing coach for the year through her awesome book "The Writer's Workout", tells me to print out all my previous writings and put them in a binder to shelve.  I am assuming that this is only for awhile so that I may focus on my current writing and go back to look at some ideas later. 

The only problem is that I don't have enough paper to print out all my papers to file away!  I'm sitting her looking at the mass number of writings that I have on my laptop and realize that, my writing is really all over the board.  Anyways, we aren't supposed to be to overly critical of it, just file it away for now. 

Solution?  Pen Drives! Back up CD's, and an external hard drive. Why 3 different methods?  The writing on this machine constitutes a good portion of my last few years of writing. I'm not ready to part with it so easily.   (Do I think she means to erase it from your computer?  No.  But this is going to help me clean up my work area and be prepared to write exactly what I am going to sell.)

After all, what indeed is the reason of writing, if you don't mean to share it with someone.  (now I just need to skip ahead to day 38 "Dismantle Dismal Thinking" But, I will resist. All in order, one day at a time.)

With a much cleaner desktop and a good copy of the 2012 Short Story Market by WD, I am ready to begin with my selling and my writing to sell.    Are you??  Join me!

Lisa Adams

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Writer's Workout Day 1

"Write Like You Breathe"
I'm sure that this will be an ongoing goal.  But, one that I could set myself up with easily.  The object here is to really forget about striving for perfection and to just go with it.  Anywhere the notion hits, you should be ready for it. 

So, to prepare... since it's after Christmas and I have acquired a plethora of writing tablets and pens as gifts, I have strategically placed them throughout the house.  One on the counter next to the stove, a set in the laundry room, on the shelf in the bathroom next to the toilet, a set on the bathroom counter, one on my nightstand, and one on the end table next to the recliner.  That pretty much covers my bases on the inside and I hit the outside as well.  I have one in my car and one on my front porch (carefully tucked away from the elements).  So next time the muse smacks me upside the head, I'll be prepared to reign her in and throw her down on paper :-)

The second part of this is to write (of course) everyday.  The coach says strive for a page a day.  Anyone can do a page a day, right?  Well, of course we can.  I mean I have a full time job, five children, a husband, and am affiliated with all types of after school functions, and I can make the time for at least one page a day.  But, it's a good place to start.  Last years goal was 30 minutes a day and I couldn't always get that one in.  This year it will be easier.

My writing for today was totally random and will stay that way of course.  I have a girl sneaking out of her house.  It was just a set up.  But, it lead me to write down all these wonderful questions about her that I know the readers would want to know as well.  I have a list of about 20 so far and growing.  This will be the beginning of a plot for me once I start answering some of these questions.  (Oh, and I actually got two pages down!)  The only real thing I know is that it's a YA and I think I'm leaning to a paranormal romance (though vamps and lycans are out of the question.)  But, we shall see.  Perhaps my writing tomorrow will help answer some of those questions I asked about her.  Maybe... she will answer them for me.

Lisa Adams

January 1st, Resolutions 0... They just don't work.

Today being the first day of 2012, makes people reflect on their past year and try to find better ways to improve themselves in the next year.  This is often followed by a list of things that the person wants to change or complete.  First and foremost on the list for most.... Lose Weight.  (Can you hear my laughter?)  Be happy with who you are, accept yourself and others will accept you no matter what!  If you want to change...Change.  But don't call it a New Year's Resolution, because when you look back on next year, you don't want to say, "I failed last year so this year... I'm going to do it!" I'm sure we've all heard that wonderful definition of stupidity, right?

For us writers, weight usually isn't the first thing on our lists.  It's something about our craft, our writing time, whatever... and unfortunately for most of us, we fail these as well.  The one's that make it?  The one's that have new books that are being published, or short stories in magazines, or whatever. 

It's not resolutions or promises that we should be making for ourselves... "I want to write my novel this year and will get it published."  Promises to yourself can just be broken when life gets in the way.

It's goals that we should set for ourselves.  Measurable, achievable and flexible.  These are the things that will work.   They will keep us on track, and when you finish one of your shorter term goals, you'll be well on your way to those long term goals.

In essence, next year, you can be one of those that say, "Hey, this year I completed these goals.  These need some work, and these I didn't complete.  But these goals will be the ones I set for the next year. I will do my best to complete these the best I can."

So, I start today with not a resolution, but a goal.  A measurable, achievable goal. 
Goal number 1:  I will read one page a day in "The Writer's Workout" by Christina Katz.  I will try to follow the advice and the recommendations of the author or coach.  And I will have completed reading the entire book by the end of the year, honed my writing skills, focused on one small task at a time, and learned to grow as a writer. 

Best of luck to all out there with your goals and let's make this a year for writing!
Lisa Adams