Friday, October 28, 2011

Some thoughts on group blogging

"If you've ever been around a group of actors, you've noticed, no doubt, that they can talk of nothing else under the sun but acting. It's exactly the same way with baseball players. Your heart must be in your work." ~~Christy Mathewson (One of the first players admitted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame)
And so with writers... We can talk writing, study writing, write about writing until our faces are blue or our fingers grow numb. And in many different venues. Like blogs. Like group blogs.

Everyone and their family pet seems to have a blog. I'll admit to a couple myself. Okay, more than a couple. I'll post some pretty pictures or inane comments, a recipe, some chatty talk or the week's school lunch menu. The kind of things you really wonder if anyone does ever look at.

That brings me to the idea of group blogs. Hmm, what could be better than a crowd of fairly like-minded people getting together to share thoughts, ideas, joys and sorrows with others?
Group Blogs: Friend or Foe

I've thought a lot about this topic over the past couple of weeks, finding myself leaning too much into the Foe category. So let's talk about Friend first. A group blog is my friend--not food. (sorry, the fish staring at me reminded me of something else). Because there are others committed to regular posting, I don't have to come up with all the ideas myself. (A definite benefit when I'm trying a **100 blog challenge all by my lonesome.) Some days that's a great thing-either the idea well is pretty dry or the swirl and noise of too many ideas leaves nothing on the page.

Friend--An interesting blog might lead beyond new ideas to a new way of looking at your work in progress, or a new avenue of research, make you think or simply bring a smile to your face.

Friend--A group blog is simply a congenial place to be, a haven for expression and creativity.

That brings us to the Group Blog Foe. I believe most authors have a dynamic, forceful internal voice (be it editor, competitor or self). That voice loves to compare. Well, maybe not compare--perhaps it's more of a contrast. That contrast being... everyone else is so eloquent, their thoughts make so much sense. The wording is perfect and gets their ideas to the reader easily.

And what you write is pure dreck. (or whatever word your internal nag uses.) And the voice goes on. Who would ever want to read your thoughts. With so many clear thinkers out there, why would your rambles make anyone sit up and take notice. Nope, they'll just move on to a better blogger and never return. And on... why did you think you could keep up with anyone else in a group blog. See that great blog? Didn't you think about blogging about the same thing? Too late now, kiddo.

You know, being really prominent in my head right now, this voice is much too easy to write. So let me counter with a Friend thought or two...after I stow the nag in a locked box in the closet!

So, someone else blogged about a topic I'm interested in. Bet my take on it will be different. Maybe not hugely different, but worthy of consideration none-the-less. And no, maybe my topic isn't interesting to everyone... but as long as one person takes away a tiny thought or has a smile when they click their next favorites button--I'm happy. I write the way I write...which whether for good or bad, is kinda how I think. I can sit down and wax theoretical on a subject, appear learned and educated. But I don't wanna. I like to chat. And a group blog is a great place to do just that!

"That process by which you become a writer is a pretty lonely one. We don't have a group apprenticeship like a violinist might training for an orchestra." Anne Rice

Perhaps we don't have a true apprenticeship, but there is a place to practice and discuss our craft ... the friendly group blog. Like this one right here!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Composition--Books That Is

Like so many authors I love paper, pens, and all sorts of office supplies. As evidenced by the variety of those items spread across the desk top at this moment. And no, I won't show you a picture!

But one of my favorites is the Composition Book.
In the past I've done a fair share of my writing by hand. And my favorite place to write is the lowly composition book. Sometimes when my thoughts don't seem to flow well at the computer, I'll return to handwriting. It's slower and my thought process is different. I like to write on the right hand page only. This leaves the left side for notes, ideas, additions, even the odd grocery list or two.

Don't worry, I don't waste paper! When I reach the end of the book, I turn it upside down and keep going on the now fresh right side pages. When I run into those notes made during earlier writing I skip that page, or if it's a small note, draw a circle and then I write around it. I hear you wondering what I do if I need to write out that grocery list or idea now... I'll enclose it in a doodled line and write around it.

Doodles. I'll do a lot of those too, while I'm paused in putting down words. Doodles are a great way to stimulate your mind and focus your thoughts. In school I listened better when I doodled. My 'talent' got so good while in paralegal school fellow students would give me suggestions then check to see how I used their ideas in my doodles. Did it help? I finished school with a 98, so I'd say so.

It does take a little time once a notebook is full, going back and recovering the notes and story ideas I may need later. But hey, that's a good use for another composition book!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Monkeying Around With Writing Prompts

For todays **100 blog challenge**I'm offering you writing prompts in the form of pictures.
 Pick one of these three pictures and write your 100 words about it. Fit it into your WIP if you can. :)

Then be brave... post your words in the comments.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Calendars Redux

I'm taking the easy way out for today's **100 blog challenge** since I had no internet access at home. And, I wanted to write about calendars anyway. Those of you who have been with HWG and this blog for a couple of years will recognize this post. If you're new, here's some info and encouragement for using a desk calendar as a writing tool!

I’ve served as the Goals Guru for HWG for a number of years. We’ve experienced a whole slew of ideas designed to help Heartlandians meet their writing goals. But even though the writing derbies, challenges, visual representations and bookshelves have gone through a variety of changes, one goals idea has remained constant.

The calendar.

I don’t remember how many years ago I first brought up the idea of using a desk calendar for keeping track of goals. The concept has been successful for some, and not so for others (like any writing tool!). Let me explain a bit about the Heartlandian calendar concept.

First…find a desk style or engagement calendar that shows one week per page. Find one that has pictures that are meaningful for you. Doesn’t matter what makes your smile, or dream, or encourages you…find that calendar. For me, it’s a dachshund calendar. My brother bought me my first one, and had provided most of them since then. Last year, neither of us got the calendar, so I thought I’d try a different design. Along came Paula Deen. Now, I love Paula, and the calendar was great with recipes, stories and pictures, but it wasn’t what my creative mind needed for writing. And, my writing suffered. This year with my doxies, I’m more on track.

Now that you have a calendar, what should you use it for? Anything you want to.

Donna says... “I use my calendar to record time spent writing, editing or researching. I also record my page counts with times to give myself an idea of the productivity level I can achieve when I sit my butt in the chair and work at it. I also record any contests judged or entered, critiques attended or given on-line, workshops attended or taken on-line, meetings attended, etc. In the back of my calendar I keep a list of all of the books that I've read during the year (recorded as I read them). In the front of my calendar I keep a list of my writing goals for reference. My calendar always sits on my desk by my monitor, as a silent reminder that I need to sit down and get to work."
That covers a lot, doesn’t it? In my calendar I have my goals broken down into different categories, lists of editing I’ve done, contests I’ve judged (It’s so great to see when one of your entries makes finals--or more), contests entered, contacts made AND the books I’ve read. This list helps me see how much I have read, I make notations for favorite authors to look for again and whether the book is fiction or non-fiction. So, use the calendar in whatever way it works for you. Oh, and use it ONLY for writing!

Besides having the pictures or quotes for inspiration, using the calendar can be a remarkably visual for your progress. Stickers are a popular way to show you’ve met your daily or weekly goals. Take a look at Cheryl St. John’s writing calendar.

One year we used colored sticky tags in a set of five colors. Each Heartlandian chose their favorite color and the least favorite. The fave color was obviously for achieving a goal. The least favorite--for those weeks when you didn’t quite reach that page or word count, or whatever your goal was for the week. Other colors of flags were designated for meetings, classes, any number of writing related things. Placed along the edge of the page, these flags show how consistent you are in meeting goals.

I encourage you to consider using a desk calendar for your writing. Post your own ideas here on the blog. Perhaps your idea will help another writer!

To close, Cheryl says…”My datebook is my lifeline. I keep track of deadlines, submissions, page progress, appointments, blog schedules, goals, my online class and just about everything. My goals are printed in the front, and the books I've read this year are listed in the back. I'm already out of sync because I don't have a 2010 datebook yet, and I have things scheduled into the new year. A new one is a must on my to-be-shopped-for list.”

Let’s go calendar shopping!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs--RIP

Today we join the world in mourning the passing of Steve Jobs. Sure, I'm writing this on a Windows system, but where would the world be if not for his vision and drive? Just a simple listing of a few of his projects for Apple and Pixar, not to mention how we plug into our ipods, shows his amazing love of technology--and the ability to understand what folks are gonna want next.

It makes me wonder what new ideas may now have to wait. 

Take a few moments with this **100 day challenge** blog and think about the good old days. Some of us remember pounding out stories on a manual typewriter ...erasing ...retyping ...oh, it took so much time and effort! Or think about that first big, clunky computer that had NO memory--everything revolved around a huge floppy disc. Or your Walkman... And be thankful for Steve Jobs and folks like him who constantly push the envelope to bring new ways and technology to the world.
I love this picture--can't you just see the future in his eyes?

 As President Obama said..."There may be no greater tribute to Steve's success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What Gender Is Your Brain?

Aren't there times when we're simply inundated with stupid personality quizzes? Sometimes they're fun to take, and can be actually fairly accurate. I did this one today then thought... what if. (Uh oh, the writer is wide awake already this morning!) What if I answered these questions like my characters would? This could be interesting. Does my hero have a male brain? That would probably be a good thing for an alpha hero. How would a kick-ass heroine's brain be divided? Is the sidekick a good mix allowing them to understand and help the main characters? Lots of possibilities.
want a jello brain? Go here.

I haven't done a character yet, but here's my result. Take a look, then follow the link below. Post your brain gender in the comments--let's see how brainy we are!

Your Brain is 73% Female, 27% Male

Your brain leans female
You think with your heart, not your head
Sweet and considerate, you are a giver
But you're tough enough not to let anyone take advantage of you!

**Of course this is the 100 day challenge blog!

Saturday, October 1, 2011