The Value of a Writing Retreat

A few weeks ago I took a four-day writing retreat with the members of my monthly writing critique group. Last year we’d decided to try a retreat, and loved it so much that we did it again this year.

We booked a 6-bedroom cabin at a retreat center in a nearby town, and spent four days just writing. Yes, we did other things, too – went for walks or a swim, got together for meals and a movie every evening, and chatted here and there about our writing projects. We all get along really well, and even though we’re all writing different things in different genres, we enjoy talking about writing and even helping one another with brainstorming ideas.

A scenic view near our writing cabin.

Continue reading

Advertisements

5 Creative Quotes about Creativity

How do you like that creative blog post title? Seriously, though, here are a few quotes about creativity that are way more creative than my lackluster title. Read on, and be inspired!

Continue reading

Small Town Writing

Two years ago I made a huge change in my life: I left my hometown (the only city I’d ever lived in) and moved clear across the country to a small town that I’d never even visited before.

I haven’t regretted the move at all. Even so, after two full years now, I’m still finding myself periodically marveling at the differences between the big city east coast life I grew up with, and the small-town north-west life I live now.

It’s great fodder for stories, for sure. Even though my current WIP does not take place in a small rural town, I’m filing away my observations for potential future writing use. And now, I’m sharing these little observations with you! So if you’ve never lived in a small rural town, then feel free to take some of these tidbits and use them to inspire your own writing!

A Town of “The”

My town is small enough that it’s a town where many things are “the.” As in, “the post office,” “the Chinese restaurant,” and “the gas station.” It used to be a town of “the traffic light,” but then the light was removed. There is only one other traffic light in the entire county, just past the north edge of town; so my town is officially now a no-light town. Continue reading

Overcoming Writer’s Block

I don’t believe in writer’s block. Yes, I believe that writers can get stuck, frustrated with, disillusioned by, and tired of their writing projects. I believe this because I’ve experienced all of these things.

However, “writer’s block” to me sounds permanent and insurmountable. And it is most certainly neither of these. So whether you’re experiencing writer’s block, writer’s pause, frustration with your characters, or uninspired by your plot, there is a way out. Here are three tips that I use when I get stuck.

Go for a Walk

Or a run, or a swim, or vacuum your house, or work in the garden. In other words, do something besides sitting there staring at the blank page. Physical movement helps—it gets blood flowing, and distracts you. And if you haven’t cleaned in a while, well, then you’re killing two birds with one stone. Double your productivity! But seriously, I do some of my best thinking while I’m doing physical tasks that require very little conscious thought, such as vacuuming or talking a long walk. Continue reading

An Imperfect Christmas Tree

It’s been some time since I’ve blogged, and I’m rather frustrated at myself for that. For several years, I posted a new blog faithfully at least once a week, but this year I’ve become more and more sporadic with my writing and my posting. The reason for it isn’t important. I’ve been busy, I’ve been distracted, etc., etc. Whether my reasons are valid and reasonable, or just lazy excuses, also isn’t important – the upshot is that I’ve fallen behind on my writing goals for the year, and I’m feeling rather lousy about it.

This tree is far more lopsided than this picture shows.

I’m feeling unproductive, feeling like a fraud (I can’t be a writer if I don’t actually write), and generally wondering if even the little bit I have written this year was worth the time and effort. But something that helped me to get it all back into perspective was earlier this month when I put Christmas lights on the little crooked fir tree in my front yard. Continue reading

What to Read While Writing

So what do you read while you’re in the middle of a writing project? From my personal experience, and some research and reading of other blogs/articles on the topic, there seem to be several different schools of thought on this topic.

Read in your Genre

If you want to know what’s popular in the genre that you’re writing, then read some recent books. Learn about popular tropes, what current readers expect or enjoy out of that genre, average acceptable story length, and so on. After all, how can you expect to write a cozy mystery or a sword-and-sorcery tale if you’ve never read one (or a few) before? Continue reading