The Process of Failure

Fear of failure has stalled many a writer. In growing up, we’re taught that failure is bad. Don’t fail your test, don’t fail your classes, don’t fail the team, and don’t fail your family. Just. Don’t. Fail. At anything. When we ‘fail’ we are conditioned to believe that there is something fundamentally wrong with us. We are not worthy of success. (To this I say, “Hooey.”) We can be paralyzed by our seeming inability to do what someone else appears to do effortlessly.

Failure as a writer can take many forms, and it can take us out of our comfort zone in a big way.

  1. Bad reviews of our work, or no reviews at all.
  2. Few or no book sales.
  3. Basic invisibility in the publishing world. No one seems to notice all the hard work you’ve put into your book. What if nobody reads it?
  4. Rejection letters.
  5. Your editor or critique partner doesn’t like the passages that you poured hours of work into and feel are some of your best work, and they suggest you cut them all.

Really, what would happen in your life if any of these things took place? I can tell you every single one has happened to me. And ultimately they didn’t change my life in the ways I thought they would. The sun still comes up, I still go to the evil day job. Still fix dinner, and still struggle to find time to write. Maybe I’ve failed enough times that it doesn’t matter as much as it used to. Or I finally understand that writing is a process, and what others may view as failure is really just part of one’s progression as a writer. I can’t not write, therefore I must continue on.

The act of writing is what brings me joy. Creating a vision with words and sharing it with the world fulfills me like nothing else. And yet, it includes failure. Just like it includes editing, proofreading, formatting and all of the other things that are necessary to make a book happen. Failure simply means discarding things that aren’t working and keeping at it, until you find out what does work. As I’ve come to understand this, failing doesn’t scare me nearly as much as it used to.

Here’s to embracing our failures because truly, they are part of our success.

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About Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in Bluegrass Country for life in the Windy City in a home she shares with The Man, a lonely cat, and her beloved dog, Lucy. When she’s not working the edj, you can find her writing or spending time with her extended family.

Finding Great Ideas ~ #LynnCrain #PCers

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Many times I have been asked where I get my ideas. That question can be asked at a book signing or a conference and can come from a reader or another writer. My ideas have been considered outside the box and many times an idea will sit in a file until I can either use it or keep it until the right time. Most of the time though, I am quite happy to tell people I have a great imagination but there are times when I will take something that is known and twist it to my own ends.

Still, those germs of imagination have to come from somewhere so here are my top five of where I get my many, many ideas.

1 ~ I am a voracious reader ~ Most authors would agree that they will get some ideas by reading stories by others. Frankly, you can’t be a great writer unless you’re a great reader. It just doesn’t happen. I’ve been reading novels since I was in second grade. Sure, they were little kids’ ones but they were much longer than the standard book.

The one thing I do as a writer is not read in the genre I’m writing. Meaning, when I’m writing sci-fi romance, I read regular romance. When I’m writing fantasy romance, again I will read some form of regular romance. No writer wants to find out they’ve ‘accidentally’ used something from their favorite writer and one needs to be very, very careful there.

2 ~ Science Magazines ~ Being that sci-fi anything is one of my favorite genres to write, I constantly look over the many science magazines online. They can be a fount of information and I’m always game for twisting the currently known and making it my own. It’s where I found my first holographic display, where I noticed that the nanites were getting smaller and smaller. Anyone can use magazines to find out the current trend in the world then figure out to best use it in their story, no matter what the genre.

3 ~ Music ~ How many times have you listened to a song and wished there was a full story behind it? Add a music video along with that and sometimes it just clicks. Of course, you’d have to change it to make it your own but it does give you that germ of an idea for the ball to start rolling.

4 ~ TV Shows ~ This is the easiest one for me because there are times I’m a very visual person. You can watch a scene then think to yourself, ‘What if I took it one step further?’ And again, the ball starts rolling. Another thing I’ve done is watch a totally contemporary story and wonder what it would be like if it were set 200 years in the future or in the past. Some shows keep the ideas flowing for days.

5 ~ Be an observer of people ~ This is the best one. I used to go to airports early while waiting for my husband because I loved watching people. I would try to figure out their stories and then wonder if I could make it my own. Many times I’ve been caught in a restaurant booth where I overhear a conversation that grabs my interest. Of course, I know you don’t get the whole story that way but I realize I can make it my own. Think of the many times you’ve seen people and wondered just what was going on or what their story was.

One thing to remember is to be very careful that whatever method you use, it’s totally new because it’s from your mind and your perspective. It is never cool to take a story from somewhere else and claim it as your own.

For the ideas I don’t use, I keep an idea file that is sorted by genre then by type. If I’m ever at a loss for what to write about, I will pull out that file then scan the contents. Sometimes I will use one I’ve previously done or it will trigger a totally new idea and I’ll go off on a different tangent. The one thing I do know is that I have more ideas than I’ll ever write. At last count, my idea file had over 180 ideas in it. Now if I could just write a story a day…and that’s what makes writing so fun…it’s never boring!

See you all next month!

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About Lynn Crain

Award winning author Lynn Crain has done it all in her life. From nursing to geology, her life experiences have added to her detail rich stories. She loves writing full time as she weaves contemporary, fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales, tame to erotic, for various publishers. Her home is in the desert southwest and she’s just returned from her latest adventure of living in Vienna, Austria while her husband worked his dream job. You can find her hanging out online at www.lynncrain.blogspot.com, https://www.facebook.com/LynnCrainAuthor, and on Twitter, @oddlynn3. She loves hearing from her readers at lynncrain@cox.net.

Rich in History

I’m sitting here, watching a documentary on the Kennedy family–The Kennedy’s Irish Mafia. And it makes me realize just how much we have today in regards to resources. I can just sit here and watch video after video, read article after article on any subject I want. The night before this was a movie called The Monuments Men.

People are fascinating!

The scope of lives affected by one family, like the Kennedys, one name, like Hitler, is astounding.

Because I’m not a technical writer or an historian, I like to use my imagination. Hearing real stories like this always makes me think of new characters. The stories make me ask myself questions…

What would it be like to work for someone with such strong convictions and desires for power?

How would it change a person?

What would a hero do to make things right?

Is it possible to stay true to yourself during trials?

Maybe. I think we have to believe it. Because, we learn these bits of history, of life… As writers we have to ask the questions that will bring the stories to life.

They don’t have to be real. They just have to have real emotions.

 

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Feeding the Muse

As you read this, I am somewhere in England, traipsing over the countryside near Keswick–famous during the 19th century for poets and pencils, known then and now for its breathtaking beauty.

A panoramic view of Keswick, Derwentwater and the surrounding fells, as viewed from Latrigg north of the town. Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

A panoramic view of Keswick, Derwentwater and the surrounding fells. Photo by David Iliff. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

The Illustrated Magazine of Art, Vol. 3, No. 16 (1854), pp. 252–254

Pencil-making at Keswick, 1854

October, sadly, is the wettest month of the year in northwest England–by several inches–but I am hoping my new hiking boots are up to the task.

My primary purpose for this trip, aside from the very real pleasure of seeing a few college friends, is for research. The book I am hoping to finish this week (oh please, dear Muse!) is set largely in southern Cumbria–which is also on the agenda.

William Westall, Greta Hall and Keswick Bridge, c. 1840

Greta Hall and Keswick Bridge. William Westall, c. 1840. (public domain)

My friend Helen and I will be visiting Blists Hill Victorian Town (a living history sort of museum, or so I understand), Mayfair (because nearly every English historical romance is set there at least part of the time), the Jack the Ripper museum (it promises to be stomach-churningly gruesome so I suppose we’ll have to eat afterwards…), a tour of Parliament with a friend who reportedly does lofty important things there, a few literary landmarks like Jane Austen’s house and Stratford-upon-Avon, and what I fully expect to be a record number of tea shops and pubs en route.

Jane Austen's House, Chawton, Hampshre. By Rudi Riet. CC BY-SA 2.0,via Wikimedia Commons

Jane Austen’s House, Chawton, Hampshire. By Rudi Riet.             CC BY-SA 2.0,via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve never truly taken a writing research trip before. I have found unexpected inspiration on trips to Italy, Paris, New York, Nebraska, Ohio, and other places, but this is the first time I’m setting out to go where I want to go solely for the purpose of gathering information for my writing (with the advice and consent of my traveling companion, of course, who is strangely willing to indulge me–thank you, Helen!).

I’ll be scribbling in notebooks and taking lots of pictures to share with you all, and I hope the Muses will help fill my head with wonderful stories to tell when I return in about a week–starting with a new book for NaNoWriMo.

Until then, may your Muse be with you, whatever your endeavor, wherever you are.

The Muses Garden, by Lionel Noel Royer (public domain)

The Muses Garden, by Lionel Noel Royer (public domain)

 

 

About Marin McGinnis

About Marin McGinnis Clevelanders are tough, a bit cynical, and just a little crazy, and Marin McGinnis is no exception. When she’s not chasing after big dogs or watching tweens skate around hockey rinks, she is immersing herself in Victorian era romance. She lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband, son, and two standard poodles named Larry and Sneaky Pete. You can find her here, at marinmcginnis.com, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

It Takes a Village: The Benefits of Writing Groups

it-takes-a-villageHere at Heart-Shaped Glasses, we’re not just authors who blog together, we’re family.

We started as a private online critique group which has evolved into so much more. Yes, there’s critiquing, which is invaluable. Especially when it’s from people who focus just as much with what’s right as what’s not working. I trust these ladies with my precious stories, I trust their experience, which probably (added together) is a lifetime of writing.

I love that we all bring something different to the table. We each have strengths and weaknesses, not only in our writing but in our critique styles. I’m constantly learning. 

The next best thing about being part of a great writer’s group? The cheerleading. We’re all at different places in our careers, going down different paths of publishing, writing different genres. But the support we give each other transcends all those things. 

I get hurrahs when I succeed at something, even if it’s meeting my wordcount, and sympathy when things are going rough.

Which brings me to my next point on why writer’s groups (the right ones) are awesome: trust. It takes trust to upload a first draft for critique. It requires trust to say, “Hey, I’m having a rough time in my life right now, and this is why.” And I’ve never, ever seen anything shared in that private group shared anywhere else. It’s like a vault. A vault of caring, kindness, and support.

We’re not accepting new members right now, but don’t worry. Your perfect writing group is out there somewhere. Here are some articles on finding and getting the most from writing groups. Read all about them, then find your perfect writing home.

Tell us about your experience in writer’s groups. Has it been more positive, like mine, or do you have horror stories?

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About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Sassy humor for the heart, captivating contemporary romance for the soul.

Fighting the Doubt Monster

As a writer, a full-time worker, wife, and mother of two, I find myself constantly analyzing my actions, reactions, and doubt-monsterefforts. For the story writing part of me, it gets worse as the book unfolds, then the edits, and before I know it the Doubt Monster takes hold and I’m paralyzed.

Doubt Monsters are red, with tentacle-like legs, razor-sharp teeth, and beady eyes. The visual manifestation looks like that anyway. The mental manifestation is fear and anxiety, followed by a lovely dose of procrastination on social media, maybe some candy crushing. They  won’t disappear with these tactics. The battle wages on regardless of the side tracks. I get scared about not living up to expectations, about how everyone will hate the words AND the best one of all – that I’m a fake. A no-good, useless waste of writing space, posing as a person with good ideas/plots/characters when really a four-year-old could come up with this stuff.

These are not issues only affecting me. I’m not unique. Most writers deal with the Doubt Monsters day in and day out. Nasty suckers, aren’t they?

If you’re suffering from one of these Doubt Monsters, thankfully there’s a few tips and tricks to defeat the beasts.

  1. Music  – I’ve got a few songs to help me through the tough times. Uplifting beats. You may remember employing similar efforts after a bad break up or when you’re stressed out.
  2. Sunshine and a walk – Break up the blurry eyes by getting away from the computer a bit. The problems aren’t going anywhere. The words will still be on the page. It’s time to let your brain process the information and then play catch up. I do some of my best work sometimes sitting in traffic.
  3. Talking things out with a friend – Most writers have a critique partner, along with a writing group. It’s part of the magic formula that helps get a lot of writers to the finish line and then into the ever-coveted, winner’s circle. Many times my CP is the one who listens to my ideas, the crazy ones, the problems, and the doubts. She’s the voice of reason to battle against the Doubt Monster.

Don’t believe me? Well, I come with articles to back me up. They are not fool-proof, and sure some of this is in my head, but

13 Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

The Benefits of Amazing Writing Critique Partners

There are more articles you can find talking about getting outside being good for the soul, critique partners enriching lives. I imagine you even have your own ways to fight the Doubt Monsters invading your mind and making a home in your amygdala.

How do you fight the monsters? 

If you’ve got a Doubt Monster creeping up on you, I have a song to help fight it.

Hugs, Love, and Battle On my friends.

 

About Landra Graf

Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

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