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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Writing 'Castle'

(Just typing that subject line made me smile. 'Castles' was the working title of my first novel. Although I still believe in the story, some of it is almost painful to read it's so self conscious. But this post isn't about that story. Sorry, Lisbet.)

I just watched a movie called "I Capture the Castle" based on the novel by the same name. I read the book probably a dozen years ago or so, but it stuck in my head. I'd actually forgotten it was, in part, about a blocked writer. I was looking for movies about writers and was surprised to see that one on the list. And, lucky me, it was available to stream on Netflix AND I actually had time to sit and watch it.

I'll skip over the plot and synopsis and all those sorts of details in favor of one scene that captured my imagination. The father had published an acclaimed novel twelve years before the story opens. He hasn't been able to write since (for lots of reasons) and he is slowly going over the edge. In an attempt to help him start writing again, his daughter and son lure him to bring his typewriter to a landmark of their childhood - a free standing castle turret. Probably the rest of the castle had crumbled centuries before. Anyway, they all climb down the ladder to the grassy floor of the turret, where there is an old iron bedstead. They help him set up his typewriter, toss a picnic basket toward him, and then they climb up the ladder and take it with them. He is effectively trapped in this turret with nothing but his typewriter, and told they will not release him until he writes 50 pages.

Think about that. No phone, no television, no internet, no people, no internet, no nothing except you and a keyboard. Or maybe just a notebook. Food and drink supplied. . . . Heaven or hell?

I think this might be the writer's version of "If you were trapped on a desert island, and could only have one book, what would it be?"

So. . . what would your writing 'castle' look like?

Monday, January 09, 2012

Why Do You Write?

"Goals. There's no telling what you can do when you get inspired by them. There's no telling what you can do when you believe in them. There's no telling what will happen when you act upon them."—Jim Rohn

What are your goals? Can you state them clearly? Holly Lisle's last two newsletters were about goals in a way. Not the kind like "I want to lose 10 pounds" or "I want to complete a novel", but more general type goals. Since my focus this week isn't about concrete action-oriented goals so much as it is about a mindset I need to accomplish those action-oriented goals, Holly's newsletters struck a chord in me.

Her first question was "What do I want to get OUT of my writing? What's in it for me?" The easy answer is usually "I want to publish." That's a freebie. But what is it that drives you to want to write in the first place? Have you thought about it? I need to remind myself of my reasons, of what I want to get out of writing. I'm still pondering the question and my answers to it.

Holly's second question was "What am I willing to put INTO my writing?" Her angle wasn't about time or effort, but about how much of yourself you're willing to put on the page. How naked are you willing to be? I think I'm pretty willing to be naked on the page most of the time. For a long time I wasn't. That's why I chose fiction. Hey, they're made up stories, right? It took a number of years and a look back at my early writing to see just how clearly I showed up on the page, between the lines. Fears, dreams, fantasies, worries, probably prejudices, too, if I'm honest.

When you think about your goals, think about the answers to Holly's questions. Set real, concrete goals, S.M.A.R.T. goals—specific, measurable, achievable, reasonable, time-limited—and aim for them. But don't lose sight of your original reason for wanting to write.

Sunday, January 08, 2012


First of all, I want to thank Nicole Maggi and her blog on Friday "It's a practice not a perfect." (Go ahead, go on over to Nicole's blog and read it real quick. I'll wait.)

I think the aim for perfection (quote every day) got in the way of my practice of writing. I think I even had a post about this very thing as I was trying to catch up a week or two ago. Obviously, I'm a bit slow to catch on. Gotta walk the talk. Practice what I preach.

Ooo, there's that word practice again.

I've been thinking a lot about my "all or nothing" expections for myself. If I can't dive into the deep end and swim across the channel, I won't do it at all. Not a productive way of thinking, is it?

In yesterday's blog I asked myself a question. "What would Debbie say?" I can add to that maybe, what would Nicole's yoga teacher say? Or how about Nicole's New Year's resolution blog in which she resolves to fall in love with writing again in 2012? Or Ginger and Linda's WritersButt project advises to start with baby steps?

The key isn't instant success, it's not a destination or a result, it's a journey. A practice. A daily walk. Some days are going to be better than others. Some are busier than others. (And some days are downright insane.) The point isn't never missing a day. The point is having the goal and aiming for it, but knowing that if you fall short, it's more about getting up and heading toward the goal again than it is about never falling down in the first place.

Feel free to remind me of that now and then, okay?

Saturday, January 07, 2012


As the first week of the new year closes, I have to confess I have not been able to walk my talk. I had great intentions last week of catching up, but the best laid plans yadda yadda yadda. The further I got behind the guiltier I felt and the harder it was to make myself write. So I asked myself, "Self, what would you tell someone in your situation?" and then, in the spirit of how I renewed my intention to blog every day last September, I asked myself "What would Debbie tell you to do?"

I'm pretty sure Debbie would tell me to remember my purpose—write every day—and redesign how that looks for me. The quote of the day is a good plan and I want to continue writing my quotes (just maybe not every day), but I plan to broaden my scope and include other topics which ultimately translate into how I'm facing the page.

With that in mind, I have decided to participate in the WritersButt project. The idea is that a healthier, more active body leads to a more creative mind. Since I was already planning to shift the family menu in a healthier direction, WritersButt comes along at a perfect time. I was originally excited about WritersButt because Ginger and Linda are long time friends of mine and fellow writers, and I knew lots of people would be excited about WritersButt.

When I read Ginger's initial blog post/challenge, I was even more excited—It wasn't a huge challenge I would have to gear up for and grit my teeth to do. It was something even time-challenged too-busy me could manage. You can read the rest of the details here: WritersButt.

Ginger plans to post a new WritersButt blog each Wednesday with more challenges, recipes, fitness ideas—all designed to be eensy weensy baby steps toward a healthier new me. You can follow on Facebook and on Twitter using the hashtag #writersbutt.

Off to drink some water now . . .