Writing Is…Seeing the Details

Writers are observers. We need to observe life in all its grand scope and small detail—places, things, people, events, words, emotions.

A couple of weeks ago, I moved from one state to another one—literally across the country. Since everything about my new home is new, I’m in major observation mode right now. There are so many details that may or may not ever make it into a story. But whether a certain detail actually makes it into a book or not isn’t really the point. Every detail observed and pondered is another wrinkle on the brain, another thought or sound or smell added to the richness of experience.

Details like the dirt road I drive on every day that leads up to the house where I’m staying. I’m learning the spots along the road where the rain has eroded the dirt into a washboard surface, and the spot that looks smooth but the dirt makes the car fishtail ever so slightly whether the road is wet or dry.

Details like the lichen that grows in abundance on the trees. So many different kinds and colors:

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What to Do When you Can’t Write

Lately I’ve had trouble writing. It’s not that I’m out of ideas or have hit writer’s block. It’s also not that I don’t have time to write – I have the same amount of time I’ve always had. But sometimes life just does things, and often it feels like everything happens at once. For example, I’m getting ready to move to another state, my car has been in the shop and needs to go back to the shop again, and I’ve been struggling with some health challenges.

I’m not trying to complain or air all my dirty laundry here, but because of these factors, my brain has not been letting me write the way I want to. The expected stress of packing and dealing with car repairs, along with the distraction caused by ongoing pain, has drained away all my creative energy.

So what do you do when you can’t write? I wrote a post some time ago about ideas to help you get past writer’s block, and here are some more thoughts about what to do when you can’t write: Continue reading

How to be a Good Critique Partner

Over the past several years, I’ve been very blessed to be a part of some very good critique groups. Even though writing itself is a solitary endeavor, I believe that associating with other writers – whether it’s with critique partners, a creative writing class, or a big writers conference – is vital to any writer’s growth.critique

So what are the benefits of joining a writing critique group? How do you know if your critique partners will be helpful or useful? How can you make sure that you yourself will be a good critique partner?

Details Matter

Critiquing a fellow writer’s work involves much more than just saying “I liked it.” It’s also much more than line editing, where you call out every unnecessary comma and misspelled word. Every critique group has their own set of rules and expectations, but usually groups are made up of writers submitting a first or maybe second draft, and looking for overall feedback. Does the story flow? Is there too much head-hopping or other issues with point of view? Are there confusing plot points? Do the characters feel real, or just one-dimensional? These are some good aspects to consider when you’re critiquing other’s work. Continue reading

Should Writers use their Author Platforms for Political Posts?

This post is a question – a question I don’t have an answer for. I’m truly interested in hearing from you – whether you’re a reader, a writer, or you just stumbled across my blog for the first time. I’d love to hear your opinions and views.

If there’s one thing that we can probably all agree on it’s that the political climate of America – and the world – is highly charged right now. Everyone has an opinion, and many people are not shy about voicing it. As a writer, I fully agree with this in principle – the freedom of speech is precious, and we all have a right to our opinions, even when our opinions may or may not be right.

However, in the highly charged atmosphere of today’s world, I’ve noticed some changing trends. Many authors who I follow on social media are posting more political content – some to the point of excluding all other content. I have actually unfollowed several authors on various platforms because all I see them post are political rants. Even those who post political content that I agree with I have unfollowed, because I did not initially choose to follow them for their political beliefs. I wanted to follow these authors because of the content they shared about their books, the publishing industry, writing tips, geeky book memes, or gifs of cats falling off furniture.

I am all for transparency and authenticity on social media. I believe that authors should be themselves, because people want to connect with other people, not just faceless products. Nobody likes posts of nothing but “buy my book!” Continue reading