I am thinking of my favorite paintbrush — poetry 🖌
My first experience with loving the poetic word was in a high school literature class when my teacher assigned us to choose a poem and deliver a short speech about it to our class. The poem I chose was Sylvia Plath’s Edge.
…odors bleed From the sweet, deep throats of the night flower.
The moon has nothing to be sad about, Staring from her hood of bone.
— Edge, Sylvia Plath
There was something so deeply disturbing, yet profoundly magical, in that poem. I was drawn inexorably to those words.
I began writing creatively in high school and poetry as early as 16. A Tale of Two Poems is an article I wrote featuring two of the poems I wrote in high school. And, I don’t think they are too terrible. 😉
Poetry is a living, breathing element of my being, the tool by which I choose to express parts of me I dare others to attempt to understand.
It is my favorite tool, and as I choose to paint, and I paint with words. What poetry means to another individual is completely unique and right in its own way as all of us are touched and moved by it in varying ways.
Despite my initial attraction to poetry, at times writing it has eluded me, the brushes remaining in a dusty cup on a shelf in the corner of life. As a child, I was compelled to pick up this brush and sit with it in my hand, yet no poem would pour out of its colorless brushes.
As I have grown into my adult skin I have both lived and consumed and observed the colors of life that fill my brush again and again.
This gives me means by which to splash myself onto paper, eternalizing that which could otherwise be washed away in time. I have learned through the years that sometimes I write the poem, and sometimes the poemwrites me.
Poetry can breath itself into us, painting our souls with richness, emotion, clarity, and a whole range of other reactions, or it can be bled out of us, inviting others to grasp its music and its colors with canvases of their own waiting to be filled.
Consider the poetry in your life. Consider the paintbrushes with which you write. And always seek to fill those brushes with wondrous color.
Beneath this earth so many souls. In this ground right where I stand, my bare-heeled ache on the grit; do they linger here?
Do their solemn hazes pass me by as my breath drifts me one day to the next? Am I aware of that chill, that pressure in the air shifting, disturbing, a moaning whisper to my human ears? Does it shift me?
I turned on the light I asked you to leave
In the pierce of afternoon sun an oak; a bleak, towering, ivy-choked oak. An angular ghost. The last leaf fell long before I appeared, a shifting soul, nowhere to go. I contemplate its lean.
When comes the terrible fall? When comes the violent creaking that will rip me from my sleep?
Sudden noises — squirrel-gray antics on maple boughs, on living, bending boughs or dead bark-bare and bony limb; no difference to them, with their inexorable ramblings all toenail and chatter. They gather and they gather.
How soon will I sink into worm-foul and rot?
They will scurry across my grave. They, or their generations of they.
The dead tree refusing to fall… These wiry-tailed rodents’ gatherings… These shadows of souls carried quietly by… and I? Barefooted, sore-footed I; standing in the dirt left to ponder it all.
There is a fine line in writing between being vulnerable, open, honest and being over-exposed. We walk this line, a tightrope of credibility with a chasm of wide-mouthed readership, an ocean of clappers below us, waiting to give us feedback.
What if that feedback is in thought? The thought that our writing is merely self-serving? We cannot take advantage of the generosity of our readers by making it “all out us.”
We have to remember that our readers want us to be honest.
They want to know who we are.
But they want to read things that will touch their hearts or change their minds. They want to learn something valuable to add to their day, to their life.
They want to bemoved.
So how do we walk this line of vulnerability without appearing to be so wrapped up in our own lives that we forget the needs and wants of our readers?
There are continuing education classes to take in writing, art, music. I think by finding our talent and expressing it, we learn more about what it is to human. Such expression can be deeply illuminating and satisfying. — Jean P. Moore, author of Tilda’s Promise
Honing our Craft
To honor our reader in our writing we must improve our craft, by whatever means possible. Being the best we can be is the most crucial element of writing — one that will take you, and your reader along with you, to the next level of relationship.
And that is what writing is — a relationship between your thoughts and your reader’s life.
Educational opportunity —
Shaunta Grimes, and Zach J. Payne are offering summer courses to support writers on their journey, teach tried-and-true methods of success, and to grow writers in their craft. Head over to their Ninja Writer’s Academy to learn more about this. Spaces are limited and there is a cost. Shannon Ashley has also been teaming up with Shaunta to offer videos as well — sign up for Shaunta’s email to get the information. You don’t want to miss out on the free workshops!
Here is an article about honing your craft that offers 16 ways to become a better writer. Immerse yourself in readings like this, take a writer’s workshop, step up your editing game. The tightrope gets more balanced and you will be able to open up new levels of emotional connectedness with your reader within the context of credibility.
Taking your reading to next level is crucial. Readers know good writing when they see it. If you open up about your life, express a personal opinion, and reveal deep layers of your inner creative spirit — but do so with poor writing, you can rest assured that your reader will take their minds, their loyalty, and their claps elsewhere. As they should.
Now, for the big reveal. Your heart.
Just how open should you be? Where do you draw the line? I have recently touched on this subject and the highlights show that my perspective on this matter is shared.
There are no rules in writing. And there are no closets to hide in when it comes to “over-sharing.”
Where do you draw the line? For me, I draw the line at exposing my family members’ and friends’ stories in a way that is disrespectful of their privacy.
But for myself — all bets are off.
I haven’t always felt this way but as I strive more and more to live in my truth, it becomes harder to not disclose the difficult, the embarrassing, the truly raw and personal. — Christina Ward, from “Writer Tell-All”
Set your limits. Know what they are and stay true to that purpose. Your self-honoring tactics will not come across to your reader as selfishness, but a strength of character to be admired. Readers ultimately want to read writing by writers that they look up to, respect, admire, and they will demonstrate loyalty to that relationship. Honor their efforts by having discipline in your writing.
A writer needs three things: experience, observation and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others. — William Faulkner
Now that you have focused on creating the quality of work that garners respect and readership, set the standard for yourself for the dusty closet corners you are or are not willing to sweep into your writing — it is time to open up with honesty, to allow your voice to shine throughout your work.
Tell that difficult story — the one that brings you to tears. Share them with your reader one tear at a time until your readers cry with you. This is a beautiful place to share the relationship, celebrate the connection that your openness creates. The chasm closing — some of your readers will join you on the tightrope and share those moments with you.
They will empathize, but they will also remember you. And they will want to know the next parts of the story — your story, because they are now not just emotionally invested in an experience they read about, but they are emotionally invested in YOU.
Credibility. Relationship. Loyalty.
Share your intimate thoughts. Your intimate moments. Your deepest ambitions and dreams. Your reader knows these! They have their own! If you touch that place of human nature within other people, your writing builds bridges across the ocean of claps, of readership, of the “bouncer” who doesn’t stick around long enough for you to connect — get them to stay, to read, to join your journey.
As shallow as this seems, it is the claps, the return readers, your tribe that you write for. Increasing that tribe increases your reachability.
Make their journey worthwhile.
Allowing your reader to get to know your heart will lead to a more lucrative experience for you on your writing journey. Reaching your words out to grab the hearts of others — this is truly priceless. After all, we want to make a difference.
You can’t do that by being closed-up, stale, distant. We all want to be memorable.
Readers want to be moved. I’ll say that again because it bears repeating. Think on that with every article that you write. With every poem you construct. With every letter you type. They want to be moved.
This could kill you–words you don’t want to hear from your doctor.
There are no rules in writing. And there are no closets to hide in when it comes to “over-sharing.”
Where do you draw the line? For me, I draw the line at exposing my family members’ and friends’ stories in a way that is disrespectful of their privacy.
But for myself — all bets are off.
I haven’t always felt this way but as I strive more and more to live in my truth,it becomes harder to not disclose the difficult, the embarrassing, the truly raw and personal.
Which is why, of late, I have been more open about my health struggles. Other Medium writers have inspired me to be more truthful about this part of my life.
So, in the spirit of vulnerability, I’d like to share, without apology or pity-seeking intent, today — I am in pain. Considerable pain. Earlier today it was laying-on-your-face-on-the-couch-and-sobbing kind of pain.
And because I write, because that is what I do…here I am.
Nerve pain is no joke.
It is a raging beast that seizes you and has its way with you. There is no fighting it. You lose. Very few medications will even touch it, aside from opioids (which are not prescribed anymore here due to the opioid crisis) and some medications such as Lyrica (which I am allergic to) and a few other medications such as Neurontin, which is not a pain medication, but a medicine that helps calm the nerves.
You can take all the Tylenol you want — nothing. I already take an anti-inflammatory daily so Ibuprofen is off the table. Do NOT Ice nerve pain! Unless you want the lightning show to be ICE-LIGHTNING pain.
I take a very substantial amount of Neurontin to treat my chronic pain and nerve pain. 1800 mg per day. This is also an anti-seizure medication often used for people suffering from epilepsy. This has caused me significant weight-gain, but it is the most effective treatment available to me.
So the fact that I am having horrific nerve pain, and have in conjunction had facial seizures, in spite of all the Neurontin and anti-inflammatory I am on, then I guess that says this tooth thing is serious.
For those of you that haven’t read my post explaining the situation, you can catch up here.
I saw the orthopedic doctor yesterday and was very pleased to hear that I do not need neck surgery to deal with the disc issue and bone spurs in my neck. This is the first good news we’ve had all week! But the doctor did say that she believes I am suffering from some type of pain disorder and gave me a referral to a pain clinic. She recommended CBD oil treatments as well.
Given my body’s response to pain (inflammatory, exponential, difficult to manage) the current dental nightmare that I am in is even more unbearable.
I need emergency surgery to remove three teeth, two impacted wisdom teeth that are sitting on the nerves causing Trigeminal neuralgia, and an infected tooth feeding infection in and around one of the wisdom teeth.
The occipital nerve is also part of the problem even though it is on the back of my head— because for me and whatever pain disorder or condition I have when one nerve gets inflamed — it invites its nearby friends to the party.
This is what my dentist said to me after a drastic exclamation at the x-ray imagery; composed and alarmed he explained:
I have never seen anything like this before in my career.
It is no wonder you have been in terrible pain.
The nerve damage in your face may be permanent at this point.
You cannot wait.
This could end your life.
So, there it is. Full disclosure. I guess I should point out that 2 days prior to the dental appointment my boyfriend lost his job.
Aside from what I make on Medium (and 8 weeks in, that’s not a super whole lot yet) he is my only source of income.
The tears in my house the last few days have been many. There have been intimate moments of shared fear and worry, and my current medical situation has done nothing to alleviate our worries.
Yes, I’m whining here. And that is ok. I am grateful to have this thing — this writing thing — as an outlet. Perhaps someone out there in the world of words is reading this and thinking — I AM NOT ALONE. (I see you, by the way. I get you. You are ok.)
Pain teaches you empathy. It is a costly lesson.
After the recent ER visits (x4 in 6 days!) and doctor visits, a stay in the hospital, and the last 2 weeks of intermittent nerve pain through my face, I sit here grateful for my dentist. He wrote me a pain prescription (the first one I have had in nearly 3 years), he empathized with my pain, and he showed true concern over my health.
I know you are hurting. And I am sorry. — memorize these words. This is what you say to someone who is hurting.
If someone tells you they are in pain, do not look at them suspiciously. Pain is sometimes invisible. That does not mean it isn’t there!
So, as I wait nervously for my June 4th surgical consult, and work to “raise” the money for the surgery, I will write when I can. I will keep trying. I will get up, show up, and do the best I can. That’s the plan. And when the pain is too much, I will bear that as bravely as possible.
Nerve pain is a beast. it does not care who you are or how tough you are — it wins. –Christina
Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever. —Lance Armstrong
Expect there to be some poetry over the next few weeks that may be a bit more “deep and dramatic” than my whimsical faeries-on-swings, happy singing moon stuff 😉
It’s ok — pain is a great creative catalyst.
Thank you all for reading. It is of great comfort.
She shares her insights on her book and some advice
(Stay tuned for a follow-up book review post of Tilda’s Promise!)
I am a member of the Friends of the Library Book Club
at our local library. Occasionally we have the joy of hosting an author and on
May 22, Jean P Moore visited with us and
shared about her book Tilda’s Promise,
which was our latest book selection.
The Friends of the Library book club meets every other month at our local library. We discuss the current reading selection, giving each person a chance to share their thoughts on the book, and discuss questions led by Rich, our librarian.
The conversation around Tilda’s
Promise was stimulating. People shared their thoughts on the book, about
their personal grief, and about their thoughts on gender-confusion. It was a
beautiful thing to talk about the book while having input from the actual
author of the book.
Promise is a novel that deals with heavy subjects in a tender way, with
characters that are well-developed and knowable. Tilda herself is an empathetic
and strong woman that I found to be both likable and inspirational. She is not
a particularly religious woman and she’s dealing with the terrible grief of the
sudden loss of her husband and doing so while dealing empathetically with the
difficult life circumstances of those around her.
You will remember her journey.
I found the book to be most similar in style with Eat, Pray,
Love, although the protagonist in each book handled their grief
differently — both were on a quest of self-discovery and healing. I found the
pacing of the book to be a bit on the slower side, to allow for the story to be
told in real-grief time, giving time for the characters and their stories to
Moore was, herself, an empathetic, genuine, thoughtful soul. Her
kindness and openness about her writing were touching to me. I asked her how
she preferred to write, and she described how she used Word for her writing,
emailing segments of it to herself for safe keeping and to guard against
I enjoyed hearing her describe how the characters of her book lived in
her head while she was writing. How she cried with them.
She expressed a joy about coming to book clubs such as ours and being
reminded that we are still a nation of readers that love to come together and
When I asked her about what inspired her to write Tilda’s Promise, Moore had this to say:
inspiration came from what I was observing around me: the losses my friends
were experiencing, the deaths of spouses and in one very tragic instance, the
death of an adult daughter. These made me realize that our time on this planet
is fleeting. At any moment we may be touched by the death of a loved one. I
wanted to explore how one goes on after such loss, how does one find meaning?
are continuing education classes to take in writing, art, music. I think by
finding our talent and expressing it, we learn more about what it is to human.
Such expression can be deeply illuminating and satisfying.
I wanted to see and to express how one find’s purpose in life after experiencing life shattering loss.
I also asked her if she had any advice for other writers, such as myself, and her answer was eloquent and helpful.
advice to writers on their journeys is to stick with their passion. If you are
a writer, you will know that you have to write, no matter what. You will
develop a tough skin when it comes to rejection; you will not be discouraged. You
will also know that writing is at its heart a form of communication, one being
to another. You will strive to find your audience. And when you finally begin
to have publishing successes, you will be helpful to others who are trying to
follow the same path.
The evening, the refreshments, and the open
conversations were a memorable and invigorating. If you’re not a member of a book club I
hope that you will find one. This nostalgic activity could be just what your
soul needs on your reading journey to add a richness that cannot be matched. I
am so grateful that I got my introverted self to step out of my comfort zone
and into the conversation. I encourage you to do the same.
Moore’s closing remarks were:We’ve all read and heard that we don’t read books anymore, but when I visit book clubs, I am always so touched by the appreciation for books. These groups give me hope that in our communities, in our homes and libraries, we are still engaging in deep and rich discussions of ideas.
(That’s what I call my writer friends these days–out there nurturing your dreams and rising in the sun!)
If you are interested in promoting your poetry, your articles, your photography, then this is the post for you.
Where have I been lately? I have been on Medium, making a little money for my poetry and getting some exposure for my writing.
Medium allows me to post my poetry into “publications” which are like online magazines, which have one or many editors that approve your posts. Several of my poems have been published this way in the month I have been on Medium, and since I am in the Partner Program, I make a little money while I am at it. THANK GOODNESS.
Check these out! You may be impressed with the clean interface and impressive presentation of my poems as published on these Medium Publications:
***note that P.S. I Love You has over 120K followers!
So what to do first? Here’s what to do if you want to get involved with this and get your work moving, out there, seen…
Join Medium — I know, it costs. 5.00 a month. If you are worried about it then spend about 5 days on Medium just reading through things. (You will be limited on how much you can read if you are not a member.) Then you will most likely want to join.
Of course create a profile. This is a given.
Look for publications on the Medium homepage that have articles in your “lane” of writing–you are welcome to use the ones I listed above. they are great!
Join publications (follow them) and if you want to write for them be accepted as a writer for their publication. Look around the publication for “submission guidelines” and you will likely see the process you need to follow to become a writer with that publication. (I now write for 16 different publications!)
Next, study the format of other stories that are highly successful on Medium. Pay attention to length, spacing, use of white space, and by all means NO ERRORS in your work helps your article or poem to be approved.
And–FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS on the publication for submission. Otherwise they will reject your story.
If you have any interest in promoting your writing, by no means do you have to leave your beloved WordPress blog, which gives you a lot of control over the appearance and design of your blog, but I would suggest, strongly, that you take a look at Medium as a lucrative income stream and avenue for self-promotion. I joined the site (for $5.00 a month) which gives unlimited readership and it has been well-spent. I spent much of my online reading time perusing articles, clapping for other readers, highlighting crafty sentences and phrasing that just speaks to me in some beautiful way, or shocks my soul into motion. I try to comment on as much poetry as possible and support other poets as well.
Come on over…the Medium water’s fun!
I’ll be back on soon when I am feeling better to post about my experiences with another acute-pain flare up this week. this one landed me at Duke University for an overnight stay and a bunch of tests and electrodes and…well, it was miserable. But the scary part is passed and I am on the mend. Doing a LOT of resting and a little writing today. Thanks for reading and I hope you have a wonderful day!
May your footprints in the moss leave whispers of good memories.–Christina
Let’s face it; Writers do NOT get paid their worth.
In light of my current health situation, I have not been working for the past few years. I rely on peddling craft items occasionally, and mostly on selling myself as a writer…for pennies.
But we have to start somewhere. Getting a freelance writing career off the ground is a bit like rolling a giant boulder uphill, while wearing roller skates.
I joined Upwork. Yes, I know there is some controversy over that. I have seen other writers condemn the site, saying that it lowers the bar–regarding the PAY that writer’s receive–and makes things worse for writers across the board.
But–as I sit here, back aching like fire, pain in three of my back teeth causing my jaw to swell (which is causing a nerve problem in my face), and out my opened front door what do I see? CORN FIELDS. Trees. Rural life. I search all kinds of jobs for writers in my area…either a great big NOTHING, or a scam, or it pays 10.00 or less an hour.
At least Upworks has JOBS. SO, I bit my pride and joined. You have to have reviews to get the “good jobs” that might actually pay me enough to get my tooth pulled, get my car fixed that’s been hovering in the “check engine” zone for two years, or pay at least A payment toward my debt mountain.
My first job will pay me $7.00. Seven Hundred Pennies. But, at the end of that job I will get a review. Then take a higher paying job…another review…then a higher paying job. After some work, it will pay off.
Another site I am working on is Medium. I invite you to check this site out, join for $5.00 a month if you love reading quality articles, and follow me here: @fnfwriter
Medium pays writers when readers : clap” for the articles. The more claps, the more pay. My first week on medium I made $0.09. The second week $0.79. The third week $3.39. And this, my fourth week $ 8.32. So, with only 64 followers thus far, and a few publications that accept me as a writer, this number will continue to climb with my popularity.
And get this: my POETRY posts get more claps than my articles!
This is exciting! If you are interested, medium may be a fun place to post some of your best writing and get paid for doing so…just make sure that you join the Medium Partner Program, and get in with some good publications that have lots of followers. Submit to them to get in with them as a writer and you will be on your way! MAYBE pennies will turn into quarters…then dollars.
A third way my writing is starting to pay off is by writing for my local paper: Observer News Enterprise. who has given me a weekly column that pays me …get this…$0.00 dollars. Yes, nothing. But it gets my name “out there” and if they ask me to do an article or if an article I write gets front page, there’s a pay of $25.00.
You can bet when those checks come in, I am doing a freak-show happy dance at my mailbox.
I AM ALSO SUBMITTING POETRY TO A HOST OF LITERARY MAGAZINES AND CONTESTS–THESE TAKE MONTHS TO REPLY–BUT MY FINGERS ARE AS CROSSED AS THEY CAN GET. THIS WOULD BE THE ULTIMATE PAYOUT FOR ME, EVEN IF IT DOESN’T PAY CASH.
MY ULTIMATE GOAL IN ALL OF THIS IS: TO BE RECOGNIZED AS A POET AND HAVE A LOYAL FOLLOWING WHEN MY BOOK GETS PUBLISHED–AND IT WILL GET PUBLISHED!
WHY am I writing this article? Because perhaps you are out there hustling your writing, the same as I am. I want to encourage you not to give up. And to take pennies ONLY TO GET STARTED. Then use that resource as a reference, a STEPPING STONE. The ultimate goal should be to get paid your worth. While you work for pennies, hone your skills, learn all you can, and collect as many references as you can that will speak to your value as a writer.
Give it all you got…I invite you to share your story, and by all means share your link so others may support you in your venture. Best of luck to you!
(My book is in self-edit phase of the first draft…wish me luck!!)
Some of you all know, who are loyal followers of my blog, that I have been very busy writing a book.
The idea formed when I was fresh out of college in 2007 and has not left my mind since. I wrote a few thousand words on it back in 2008 but had not returned to it due to a lack of computer, writing program, etc.
This year: Got a laptop.
This year: Got Scrivener.
And 2 months ago I was rockin and rollin!!
Now, some 84,000 words later and I am doing my first edit of the rough draft. And whew, what an emotional ride that was wrestling with all of the scenes in my head, fleshing out the characters that whisper to my brain cells and putting them into words, and preparing dynamic scenes. (Writing those intense scenes…was INTENSE.)
Now for the hard part. Editing. Searching for beta readers who will be generous with their time (for free, because, let’s face it…) and their input. Then querying agents.
So a brief introduction to what the book is all about, and if you’d comment please: Would love to read it. Would NEVER read it. Or something to those effects…I’d love to know 🙂 Thanks!
The book is a literary fiction novel (possibly general or mainstream fiction, women’s fiction, or literary-suspense…this depends on how an agent choses to market the book to the publishers. For the sake of ego, I have been calling it literary fiction as that was my original intent. Truthfully, literary fiction is difficult to market, to sell, and I am not convinced the writing measures up to being called “literary.” Hey, I am honest. I think mainstream fiction would suit me just fine. Just don’t call it YA, or my heart might break a little.)
On to the synopsis:
Book Title: Elephant Song
Cassandra Belle is a mess. Her good intentions as a mother have been swept away by haunting memories, trauma, and mental illness. Her parents and family disowning her. Angel’s father leaving her destitute, standing on the broken stoop, baby on her hip. And when her daughter Angel, now 15 and fiercely independent, falls prey to an online madman, Cassie has to call up strength she never knew she had, lean on people she never knew she had. When Angel disappears…everything changes. …click…click…click…click…
It’s not for the faint of heart or the weak of resolve
My father always told me:
To be a success you either need to do something no one else wants to do, or do something everyone else wants to do and do it better than everyone else.
Yikes. Take one look at the picture above and literally everyone gets a fuzzy, heart-happy, nostalgic, dreamers-dream of sitting at a wooden desk at a clickety-click typewriter with a simmering cup of hot coffee sitting next to them, and long leisurely days of plinking out a finely-crafted novel.
OK so not literally everyone, but damned close to it.
Well, as I have just finished plinking out my first draft of my first novel, let me tell you, the nostalgia is malarkey. You may quote me on that.
The nostalgia is malarkey
Let me tell you what it is…
*It is a lot of saying to your family, “I am working.” *It is being harassed 24/7 by the characters living, talking, acting out various scenarios–in your head. *It is late nights and back aches. Neck aches and headaches. *It is stressing over whether or not you can tell the story that will honor the characters. *It is worry that your audience will not love the characters as much as you do.
*It is hoping your readers will be just that–READERS.
*It is a LOT of typing. A LOT. *It is a LOT of research…and sometimes of VERY weird things. God help, I hope my laptop never gets confiscated. *It is a dedication you can only tap from within. *It is a daily commitment, even if you feel tapped out. *It is EXHILARATING. *It can give you quite the God-complex. *It is an honor to tell the story of characters you love. *It is isolating and somewhat lonely. *It is an emotional journey. *It will make you question every aspect of your intelligence, your talent, and your skill. *It will teach you new things *You do it knowing the chances are HIGH that you will never be published.
And it is worth every every second.
When I was a child I knew 2 things: I loved nature and all the awesome things in it. And, I wanted to WRITE SOMETHING. Today: I love nature and all the awesome things in it. And, I want to WRITE SOMETHING.
So to those of you who share my dream of becoming a published author, I encourage you to consider this: are you a creator/collector of ideas but lack the stick-it-to-itiveness to follow through on the very hard work of fleshing out, editing and publishing a novel? Hire a ghost writer. Your ideas may have great merit and are still of value even if you’ve started writing 10 times and just can’t get to the finish line. If you are truly committed to the writing process, and love every step your novel takes, even if that wasn’t the plan,
…then GO FOR IT.
Don’t let the dust settle on your dreams. Brush away the cobwebs and the fear, the insecurities and the excuses, and….. apply hope like a verb.
–Christina Ward (Author of a book that WILL be coming to a store near you.) –stay tuned…
I am not
going to sugar-coat it; that first novel can kick your tail. But it
doesn’t have to be so incredibly daunting that the great idea for a
novel that you dreamed up one foggy afternoon six years ago, can’t be
brought to fruition. The idea is there. Perhaps the characters have been
mingling, getting to know each other, playing out various ways of
interacting…but it’s all between your ears. So how do you get them out
of your head and into print? Don’t they at least deserve that? Here is
some practical, useful advice to get that overwhelming rough draft
as best you can which genre your novel will be, and research how many
words that genre typically would be. This seems obvious, but there are
several sub-genres or your novel could fall within that gray area of “is
this literary or mainstream fiction?” You will want to do this because
A. It will affect the language you use, your target audience, how much
description or what “atmosphere” you choose to develop while writing
your novel. And B. It will give you an idea of how long your novel would
optimally be. Knowing the length of the novel gives you keener sense of
what pace to take your writing, when to add in crucial elements to your
plot, and where the arc of your story should be. It is easier to break
your novel into sections of words than starting and adding to the pile
with each word you type. Make a timeline of word counts and plot the
main parts of your novel…this is an excellent visual of knowing where
you are going. Having a plan you can change is better than no plan at
can do this, just let “one foot in front of the other” aka “one word at
a time” apply to your attitude and mental approach, not to your overall
plan to completion. A race is won, yes by this method…but what if you
don’t have a route?
Choose a program and/or method. Some love Word, some write on napkins, but consider the way you write and your personality. I like a structured program so I go with Scrivener
and could NOT write my novel without it. Research a few different
options and see what will work best for you. Take time to learn the
program, get the “For Dummies,” or like up some favorites of resources
on your browser. Just have the tools you need at the ready. This will
eliminate a huge roadblock that many first time novelists trip so hard
over they can’t hear their characters for the stars in their eyes. Don’t
be distracted by formatting and structure so much that you aren’t able
first draft is a “just get it written” draft. So DO NOT overthink so
much that you take the comma out, put the comma back, take it out again.
This draft is about getting the content out of your head and onto the
screen. You will do several reads-through and edits. Don’t get too tied
up in correcting plot holes or spelling or fleshing out your characters
perfectly because you will be doing this as you go through your edit(s.)
Your goal is plot and making sure the webbing of the book is in place.
That structure is crucial to having a novel that can stand up on it’s
Set a REALISTIC writing goal for yourself.
not pay a single bit of attention to the writing goals of others…set a
goal for yourself that is fairly easily attainable. Writing every day is
best, especially if you have trouble staying motivated. if motivation
is no problem for you, but the obsessive spirit in you makes you write
for six hours straight at a time with complete disregard to your hygiene
and important responsibilities, then perhaps your writing goal is a
reminder to pace yourself, avoid burnout, and avoid the terrible neck
aches or eye strain that accompany your all-nighters. You know yourself
and what you need to stay motivated. Make a plan to stick to, but make
your goals reachable.
the troops. You are going to need supportive people around you to keep
you motivated, but also to pick up the slack in other areas of your life
so that you can stay focused on your writing. If you have planned to
write certain hours of the day, you will need to be able to thwart
potential distractions such as Facebook messages or texts and phone
calls. Is your mom your best cheerleader? Then talk to her about your
plans and use her support as a way to keep motivated. You need to
isolate yourself to a certain degree to finish your work and to do this
you will need people to be understanding. Have a small team of people
you can count on to help you through. These people are not to be
confused with beta readers. These folks are your support staff, your
cheerleaders, your emotional supporters. They are also not your
therapists, but the people that help out with the laundry to give you
more time to work. The people that fix you a coffee or who respect your
need to hole-up for a few hours a day, undisturbed. Perhaps they are the
ones who are willing to kick in more financial support if you are
working fewer hours outside of the home. Prepare your troops because the
battle is a fierce emotional one and you may need back up on the
homefront to make it to the victorious first draft finish line. Let your
support people know what your commitments are so they can honor those.
In my home it is a s simple as “I’m working.” My family has been very
supportive and helpful when they hear me say those powerful words.
go of some things that are distractions. Turn off Netflix. Put your
phone on silent while you work. Opt for simpler dinners or smaller goals
in other areas of your life so that you have the time you need to work.
Facebook and Twitter can wait on a social level while you disengage,
unless, of course, you are researching for your novel. Find a place that
you can work that helps you to stay focused and puts you in the best
headspace for energy flow and creativity.
put — you can do this. Confidence is key. Novel-writing is not your
therapist. While you put your heart into your writing, your writing is
not your therapy. It does not define you as a person, although it is an
extension of you. You exist independently, confidently, wholly as an
individual with or without this novel being finished. It is a personal
goal. A journey you take. Not a way to work out your internal struggles.
Use therapy if you need to do that and let your novel be the story of
your characters. You are their catalyst, not the other way around.
JUST DO IT.
CAN DO IT.
WILL DO IT.
your goals into writing. Write yourself sticky notes of daily goals or
motivations. Map out your plan, share it with your cheerleaders, and get
to work. The finish line awaits. If you have other tips to share with
regards to fleshing out that first draft, I invite you to share them
here with others that may need them. I wish you the best on your