Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Friday Five

It's almost November! Can you feel the excitement in the air? If you know a writer who is gearing up for NaNoWriMo, then you've probably encountered the roller coaster of emotions this crazy, month-long challenge brings.

At the moment, I'm gearing up for NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Novel Writing Month. November, the time of year when tens of thousands of word-slingers put on their writing hats, crack their knuckles, and attempt to write FIFTY-THOUSAND words in a single month.

It's crazy, exhilarating, daunting, sapping, thrilling, and so many more things!

I can't start NaNo without some preparations and knowing what I'm going to write, so I spend the last couple of weeks of October getting ready. So I thought today's Friday Five would be:

Five things I'm doing to prep for NaNo:

1. Creating Characters. Figuring out what personality types they are and how they will react in certain situations.

2. Plotting. Post it notes, Goals, Motivations, Conflicts, Black Moments, Look-In-The-Mirror moments, etc.

3. Updating my profile on the NaNo site and logging into my local group to see when they'll be having write-ins and activities.

4. Finding writer-friends who are also attempting NaNo to buddy with so we can encourage one another.

5. Daydreaming about this new story, becoming familiar with the fictional landscape so I will know where I'm at when I open the document each day.

How about you? Do you NaNo? If you do, buddy me! My user handle on the site is: ericavetsch

Sunday, October 13, 2013

3 Tips for Stifling Negative Voices

I hear voices. All the time. In my dreams, when I'm reading, when I'm watching tv, when I'm driving down the road...

Before you begin to doubt my sanity, let me qualify that by saying...I'm a writer, and it's okay! All writers hear voices. Heroes, heroines, villains, even plot events and settings have voices.

Fictional voices are great for a writer to hear. It's when those voices stop that we get worried.

But there are other voices, too. Ones that are not fictional but psychological, and if these psychological voices start talking at the same time, it gets pretty noisy and chaotic.  For me, there are three main voices that can crash around in my head and bring my productivity and contentment to a gear-grinding halt.

The first is the Voice of Writer's Doubt. This, I believe, is the source of most of my procrastination and writer's block. I begin to doubt my ability, my story, my decision to even try to write choice of hair color, and the color of my socks, and so on. When I'm in the throes of a bout of doubt, my creative process dries up, and I feel as if I can't trust the merit of any thought, much less produce anything worth reading.

The second is the Voice of Writer Talk. Sometimes when the Voice of Writer's Doubt is shouting in my ears, I seek refuge in instructional materials to get me out of that funk. Writing books, writing articles, how to write fiction blog posts, webinars full of tips and ideas, etc. If I can't write fiction, at least I can feel busy and productive by reading about the craft, right? I try to immerse myself in 'writer talk' to stifle the Writer's Doubt, but often what I wind up with is a squish-squash of noise. I find myself picking up ideas and laying them aside, unsure of how to apply what I've learned to the story at hand. I overload my brain with techniques and prompts and how everyone else is doing things, and I am paralyzed.

The third is the Voice of The Writing Industry's Imminent Demise. This is the voice that can scare me rigid. I heard it said a few months ago that traditional publishing is in love with its own death since every couple of weeks there is another naysayer, gloom-spreader, croaking-Cassandra who says books are dead, nobody is reading anymore, only A-list authors will ever get published by traditional houses, and the market is shrinking into oblivion. Bookstores are closing their doors, publishers are afraid to take risks, and if you aren't writing Amish, bondage smut, or epic fantasy, you might as well give it all up. Not exactly the stuff of which dreams are made.

When all three of these voices get to yakking in my head, it's hard to hear anything else, especially the voices of my story.

So what's a girl to do? Here are a few things I do to quiet these voices so I can hear my characters:

1. Be still. Listening to the noise and negative voices means I can't hear the answers and solutions when they come. Spend a little time remembering why I fell in love with my story in the first place. Relive some of those emotions that came when the story idea first emerged. Give myself permission to not write for a few days if necessary and just let the story marinate. Stop the frantic chasing and let the story come naturally.

2. Step away from the Internet and its wealth of information. Don't read the writing blogs and articles, and don't watch the YouTube videos on writing. Everyone has their own process of creating fiction, and by trying to follow too many other voices and processes, I can lose my own. Instead of seeking to fill myself up with more noise, I work on something else, like crocheting, cross-stitching, watching a movie, things that jump-start my creativity (as discussed last Monday in THIS post.)

And most importantly:

3. Put things back into perspective and priority. When the voices grow the loudest and I find myself at the most chaotic point of writing despair, that is when I frequently realize that I've made an idol of writing and I'm serving that idol rather than worshiping God and serving Him with my writing. I've blown things out of proportion and put my desire to write above my desire to serve God. As much as I love it, fiction-writing isn't what I was placed on this earth to do. My primary purpose on earth is to glorify God. If writing fiction gets between me and that process, then things are out of step with my purpose for being and an adjustment is necessary. It isn't until I get to this point that I can truly quiet the voices that I shouldn't be listening to and focus on what I should.

Do you ever listen to these negative voices? What do you need to do to dispel them?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Friday Five

I love posting on Facebook. The people who I interact with there in my various groups and lists and pages are upbeat and fun and compassionate. Of all the social media, it's Facebook where I feel the most social and connected with people.

I often get comments on some of my posts that are fairly regular. People expect them on certain days or on certain forums, and some of my friends have even started posting on similar topics. That being the case, I thought I'd list here the five things I post about most often on my Facebook page and invite you to do the same.

1. Nearly every Sunday I post something positive about my church. I almost always start with "I love my church" because it's so very true. I love this body of believers, and hands down, we have the most grounded in the Word, hilarious, loving, grace-giving, grace-needing flock of sheep in the planet.

2. My husband. I love to brag on my husband on Facebook. He's so great, and I want everyone to know it.

3. My writing progress and my books. I have lots of writer friends who are encouraging and supportive of my writing, and lots of reader friends who want to know what's going on with my latest release. (Thank you, friends!!!! :) )

4. The Kansas Jayhawks Men's Basketball Team. Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk!!!!

5. Shares of things I think are funny. I don't post political things or hot-button issue things on Facebook, but I will post things I think are funny.

What do you post on Facebook? Are you a fan of Facebook? Are you on Facebook?

If you are, are we friends on Facebook? If so, yay! Gimme a shout out on my page at  And if you're  on Facebook and we're not Facebook friends yet, send me a friend request!

Sunday, October 06, 2013

5 Ways to Keep those Creative Juices Flowing

Sometimes the well is just dry. The creative spark is fizzling. Your soul is famished. You want to write or paint or create, but you're tired, stressed, or cluttered in mind.

This has happened to me, and through the past few years, I've developed a few strategies to help me break through the dry spell, and I'd love to share them with you.

1. When I find writing difficult, I often try creating something else. I crochet and I cross-stitch. Working to create something other than fiction frees up that part of my brain to work on my story subconsciously, to roll ideas around while my hands are busy with something else.

Here's the project I'm currently working on:

Here's how far I've gotten on the cowboy sampler.
What the finished sampler will look like.

2. Take a walk and enjoy some nice scenery. Especially in the fall when the wind is a little crisp and the colors are so amazing. Let your mind soak in a different vista than the blinking cursor on the blank page.

Some of the trees on our property. 
3. Take your laptop or notebook and pencil and find another place to write. Sometimes a change of workplace can jump-start those creative thoughts. For me, this usually means a trip to the coffee shop or library. 

Me at Dunn Brothers Coffee shop, my office away from home. 
4. Talk to someone who refreshes you. Find someone who recharges you, who makes you laugh and makes you think and makes you feel better. Face to face conversation is the best, but Skype, phone, or even email will work in a pinch. I have a handful of people I can turn to that always give me a boost. 

My beautiful daughter, Heather, who is always up for a mother-
daughter chat.

5. Watch a movie or read a book that you love, something that evokes a lot of emotion in you, that makes you feel. Creativity flows out of your feelings, your emotions, because you're trying to evoke emotion in the one who reads your work or views your art. I have a few go-to movies and books I like to read when I need recharged.

John Wayne movies, Dick Francis and Grace Livingston Hill books,
Elizabeth Peters and Essie Summers novels...those recharge me.

So, how do you recharge your batteries? A bubble-bath? A weekend away? A chocolate bar?