Self-Styled Writers Retreats, Part Two

writer retreat 2This is the second part of last month’s post, in which I describe the outcome of our writing get-together. I’m writing this blog post in June because I wanted our “results” to be fresh in my mind.

Please note that while I’m dividing up what we completed, a great deal of it was things we accomplished together.

I:

  • Did a complete read-through of a 96k manuscript without some of the other POV scenes in it for consistency and pacing.
  • Finished plotting a full-length novel from the mid-point to the end.
  • Came up with my catchy new tagline.
  • Edited my manuscripts blurb and tagline.
  • Got through one half of my first-round of big edits on my manuscript.

Our friend:

  • Added over 20k words to a story she was taking from novella-length to full-length.
  • Plotted a series of fantasy novels.
  • Worked on her secret project. I’m not sure of all the details, but I know she was happy with the amount she accomplished.

Landra:

  • Finished the final seven chapters on a full-length contemporary romance she’s been writing.
  • Outlined and plotted not one, but two stories.
  • Edited the entire second 50k novella in her Alternate History series.

Together, we all accomplished far more than we would have alone. Not only were we there to brainstorm with one another, but when you’re the only one in the room not working, you pick up your notebook or your laptop, and you start again.

We went out for dinner, there was an afternoon in the hot tup (with a writing notebook, to be fair), there was happy hour at the hotel (or in our room) every evening–but we still managed to accomplish an amazing amount of work in four days.

I will (and hope to) do it again in a heartbeat.

Have you had a similar experience? What’s your best tip for working in tandem?

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. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

Self-Styled Writer Retreats

SELF-STYLEDTwo friends and I are meeting this week for a mini-writers retreat. It’s not at a B&B, scheduled by some entity with time built in for socializing, writing, and critiquing–all on someone else’s schedule. And it’s not a conference.

We have an agenda. I’m personally planning to finish plotting a full-length novel and discuss synopses for my now complete novellas set in 1958 Las Vegas (I mentioned those a couple of months ago).

We’re literally meeting at a hotel nearby to create writing synergy. Synergy is one of those business buzz-words overused so much it’s lost its meaning, but it does have a definition.

Synergy, according to dictionary.com, means:

the interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements, contributions, etc.

What happens, when writers get together to brainstorm and share ideas and energy, is nothing short of amazing. Work gets finished in half the time and it’s of better quality than what one writer could produce alone.

I’m struggling to describe the phenomenon, so instead I promise to tell you next month what the three of us accomplished in our four days together.

See you next month!

If you’ve experienced something similar, please post about it in the comments. And, if not, consider getting together with few writing friends, even for one dedicated day, to see what you can accomplish.

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. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

How I Relieve Stress

hand-labor-1151300x225We writer’s tend to be an anxious lot. Will I be rejected? Will that email come? What should I say when I query this publisher? Do I even have any talent? The unrelenting worries are constant.

I think there’s a lot of writing that involves putting ourselves out of our comfort zone. Anytime you do that, anxiety is a natural byproduct.

What I’d love to know is how everyone manages their stress levels. I write–I’m kidding. When I get into the zone, I can forget about those worries as the story sucks me in, but when I stop for the day, they’re all still in my head.

Personally, I crochet. The repetition and production of an item is very calming for me. And I love that I can create beautiful things out of a single (very long) thread of yarn. I recently made two baby blankets, a teddy bear (this is called amigurumi), and I’m working on a shawl for my daughter’s formal in a couple of weeks.

I’m truly curious… what do you do to relieve stress?

siglori1

If anyone is interested in crochet, Youtube is a fantastic tool for learning! My new favorite stitch is called c2c (corner to corner) and works up in a gorgeous way. I’m including the video that I used to learn c2c.

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. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

Writing Accountability

Writing Accountability HeadIn January I wrote about a method I planned to try to increase my writing output. The basic idea (which comes from Jerry Seinfield) is to work every day on your writing. Every day you work, even a little, you put an X on a calender, until you have a chain of Xs. Here’s the link to my original post. –Link

I have since evolved the method for myself. I want to share that with you as well as my results.

First, I discovered I didn’t like Xs. They had too much of a negative connotation for me and didn’t give me that “I did it!” thrill I wanted. I changed to a star for a day I work on writing. If I miss a day, then I put an X. If I have to miss a day, for example, I’ve had some doctor’s appointments out of state, then I just put a scribble. Neither positive or negative.

Second, I decided after a month or so to write what I did that day. My calendar is small (I just bought a monthly calendar from the Dollar Store), so it’s often in shorthand. “Read thru JS,” or “plotting FT,” because all my stories have code names. I’m sure everyone does that–it saves time.

Third, by the time I got to March, I decided to schedule two critiques per week for my critique group and to plan on the calendar to write blog posts ahead of time. (It’s May 26 as I write this.)

This method has made me wildly, exponentially more productive than I have ever been as a writer.

I HATE breaking my chain. I hate seeing those Xs. I kind of even hate the squiggly–if I can squeeze in work those days, I do. I’m all about the stars, baby. If you want to see evidence, here’s a copy of April from my calendar.

I have three Xs. That’s 1/10 of the month. I had seven squiggly days (it was a busy month), but I still managed to write on two of those. That means, according to my calendar I wrote 23 days from a month in which I spent five days out of state.

I wrote a little more than 3/4ths of the time. In May, I missed three out of 31 days. I know some people, even on this blog, can say they do that well. I can promise you that before I started my calendar, I’d have been lucky to write more than half the time.

This year

I finished a 41k word novella and and rewrote a 95k word novel. I’ve completely plotted another novella. I have never accomplished so much in my writing career and never expected to. I just assumed I was slow. Turns out, I just wasn’t accountable.

What do you do to stay on track and be accountable for your writing?

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. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

The 5 Best Sites for Bloggers

fbsfbWhen you’re a writer, blogging inevitably comes across your path at some point. It’s always something we “should be doing,” and there are a million opinions about what to blog about. Do you blog about writing? Cooking? Do book reviews?

I’ve been blogging since 2007, and I’m going to point you to some of the best resources I’ve found.

Fabulous Blogging www.fabulousblogging.com

This blog has it all. What you should be writing, how to present it, how to get it out there, and how to make a blog. Can’t recommend this site highly enough; I spend days lost in the archives.

Kristen Lamb’s Blogwarriorwriters.wordpress.com

This site not only offers spot-on writing tips but has easily become the writer’s go-to for blogging advice.

Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generatorhubspot.com/blog-topic-generator

Give this site 3 nouns and it will spit out 7 titles to help you decide what to write. Pretty catchy, SEO empowered titles, as well.

Pixabaypixabay.com

At this point, we all know pictures are crucial to blogging. With the increased use of pinterest to allow others to share your content, you want a solid, professional image. You will find them, free, on this site.

Canvacanva.com

I use this site all the time. Speaking of images, don’t just grab an image, take it over to Canva.com and add your title, name, even your twitter handle or url. Canva can help you quickly make graphics for your site without paying a dime. (I made this graphic with Canva in less than five minutes.)

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. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

My Guilty Pleasure

I’ve always had guilty pleasures. Maybe I just have bad taste, but I like to think if I recognize the badness, then I have good taste, I just don’t employ it often. A guilty pleasure, per wikipedia is:

“something one enjoys and considers pleasurable despite feeling guilt for enjoying it. The “guilt” involved is sometimes simply fear of others discovering one’s lowbrow or otherwise embarrassing tastes, such as campy styles of entertainment.”

guiltyMy latest one is… real housewives. As in -of Orange County or -of Beverly Hills. It’s not the people (although, Heather Dubrow, my freaking idol), or the catfights, or the bad taste. Or the good taste. It’s all of it and none of that. It’s knowing that, really, it doesn’t matter how much you have or how easy your life appears, it’s only as happy as you choose to be.

That being said, my oldest daughter and I have spent many an evening, mouths agape, asking, “Did she really just say that? Go back.” Maybe it’s the catfights a little bit.

What are your guilty pleasures? Please make me feel better.

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. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

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