Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Early Hours, 750 Words, and Writer's Butt

Happy holiday week! I don't know about your house, but around here, this week is a tough one to get anything done. The older kids are home from college, the younger kids are on winter break, my DH is off from work until the first of the year. In short, it's a week of hanging out, seeing movies, lunching with friends, and generally doing nothing productive. Which is great... except for those of us who have edits to tackle, new projects vying for attention, and about a million emails to answer so we can start 2012 with a clear inbox.

It's times like these that I rediscover the joy of early-morning hours. When the kids were younger and less self-sufficient, I had to get up early to find time to write before they awoke or it wouldn't happen. As they grew and I had the school hours free to write, I got out of the habit. But I'm actually glad to have been "forced" into the wee hours again. It's tranquil and quiet at four in the morning. And since everyone else is sleeping, I don't suddenly feel the pressing need to clean out the fridge or run a load of laundry. The dog doesn't need to be walked. There are no phone calls to distract. It's practically perfect. (It would be completely perfect if I didn't also enjoy sleep at that hour...)

Another fun discovery this month came from my writing groupmate, Jenny Patton, who shared a link to a fun website for writers who enjoy a little incentive to reach their writing goals. You can find it here: 750words.com .The idea behind it is to challenge writers to write 750 words per day. That works out to be about three pages, which is doable... even with kids home from school, right? (Another member of our group, Margaret Peterson Haddix, says she writes 5 pages per day, which is roughly equivalent to 1250 words (unless some of those pages are a lot of dialog!) so if you want to be more prolific like Margaret, set your goal higher.) In fact, there will likely be a lot of days you're on a roll and turn out much more than 750 words, but the idea is to get in the habit of writing every day, and this seems to be like an attainable number to help you do so. And! a fun bonus on this site is that you can get rewarded for reaching your daily goal with encouragement and little stickers and all sorts of fun, motivating stuff. It's fun. Many thanks to Jenny for the website info!

Finally, one more discovery I have to tell you about. Many of you know I had a bit of a health scare earlier this year. I'm fine now, but the experience shook me up a bit, and opened my eyes to a lot of things - a couple of them writing related. One of those things was to value the time I am given to write. Another huge thing was to understand the relationship between body and mind. Being unwell took its toll on my creativity and my ability to think clearly. And it got me thinking - once I was 'out of the woods', so to speak, I had to keep my body healthy to allow my mind to do its thing. Enter Ginger Calem, my dear friend and critique partner, who also happens to be a personal trainer and owner of a CrossFit franchise. With Ginger, I discussed health, diet and exercise in relation to my writing. She is so full of great information - and as a writer she understands the impact a sense of well-being can have on one's writing - that we decided this journey was worth sharing. We'll start discussing the mind/body connection and talking strategies for eating well, sneaking in exercise, and generally staying healthy despite the hours spent with butt in chair, caffeinated beverage in hand. Starting January 1, watch twitter for the hashtag #writersbutt, and join the conversation. Better yet, join the commitment to be a healthy writer in 2012!

This week's links:

Real rejection letters. Why you should never give up. (Hillary Wagner) Perfect.

PR, Cross Promotion, and Knowing Your Audience (Magical Words) Good stuff.

Don't Get Burned by Branding (Terrible Minds) Own your voice. Live up to your name.

28 Superhero Cliches (Superhero Nation) Ha.

13 Picture Book Tips (Artzicarol Ramblings) Good overview

10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Dialog (Write to Done)

5 Top Posts of 2011 (Anna Staniszewski) Great links.

4 Ways Not to Bore Your Readers (Paranormal POV)

The Only Way to Become a Real Writer (Goins Writer) Own it.

"Pathetic E-mail" (Sean Ferrell) <<Moody Writer) Liven up your scenes.

Advice from an Agent (William Dietrich)

Beyond the Basics - Push the Story, Push Yourself (Editor's Blog)

The Secret to Finding Time to Write, Market, Promote, and Still Have a Life (Writer Unboxed)

What Slate Doesn't get About Bookstores (Salon)

Slipping Sideways Into Your World (YA Muses) World building. Excellent.

Private Letter From Genre to Mainstream (SF Signal)

Does Your Denouement Murder Your Characters? (Plot to Punctuation)

How Do You Decide Which Story You Should Write? (Word Play)

Dialog - my characters talk to much (Editors Blog) Find the balance.

Undercover Soundtrack (Memories of a Future Life) Find the rhythm in your story

Now go. Write!