Thank you all for sticking with me.
Being a writer is the only thing I’ve ever truly wanted in life, but it’s also the scariest thing I’ve ever considered doing. Because writing is putting pieces of you out there in the world.
Sometimes, it’s easy.
School papers and reports to leaders at work don’t tap into the soul. They require only the tips of your hair that get cut off at your next haircut.
Other writing, the stuff that requires more of you than you knew you had to give, that is hard. Really hard.
Give yourself permission to be afraid. And then be brave.
Because bravery is being scared and doing the thing anyway.
Writing has been the thing that saved my life multiple times. I can lie to myself. I can hide from my feelings.
Until I write.
When I write, the real me pours out onto the page, and there’s no hiding from her. Writing shows me who I am. Sometimes that’s awesome. Most times, it’s terrifying. Because the person hiding inside me is impressive. I mean, she’s got ideas bursting on ideas, and they all sound AMAZING!
So here is where I admit I’ve been hiding. I took a well-needed break. Then we bought a new house and moved ridiculously fast. But after the dust settled, November was here. And I got scared.
Because what if I couldn’t cut it? What if I started these amazing projects and couldn’t keep them going? My writing projects are highly ambitious. What if I’m not good enough?
My writing doesn’t care about those doubts. My love for writing and story craft doesn’t care what I think or fear. My deepest self believes in me. I believe in all of you. I believe in us.
The new year is beginning. A new opportunity to chase dreams. What is your dream? What is it you want? Most importantly:
Who are you?
As the calendar turns, take five minutes. Sit down with a pencil and a blank piece of paper.
Pencil is important. Pencil tells your eyes, your brain, and your heart that this is not permanent. This is not perfect. This is a work in progress.
Now with your pencil and your blank paper, answer this question
Who am I?
Don’t think. Set a timer and just write.
When you’re done, read what you’ve written. What do you agree with? What do you like? What don’t you like? What will you change? How will you change it?
Then, the most important question to answer:
What does success look like?
I am so proud of the work that I have put into the Five Minute Free-Writes. I like to give things one hundred percent effort, and over the past month, I haven't felt I've been giving the free-writes everything.
So, I'm taking a month off. I'm not quitting on us and this journey together. I need to take a break from some of my responsibilities. Work this year is rough, and it's taking a toll on my writing.
I'll be back in October, refreshed and ready to keep moving towards our goals.
Thank you for understanding. Please feel free to email me or reach out on Twitter @KatieSpina
See you in October!
I finished my first draft! AND IT'S TERRIBLE!
I discovered something magical this time around in drafting a novel. It's something that I've read a dozen times from a dozen other writers. It's advice that I have GIVEN to writers over and over, and yet, I couldn't follow it.
Your first draft is going to be TERRIBLE.
Like, the story doesn't fully make sense. Scenes aren't complete. Characters switch from one thing to another.
This is why everyone says the key to writing is rewriting. First draft: tell the story to yourself. The next drafts: fix the story for others to read.
Today's free-write focuses on you, the Writer.
Why do you write? Why do you spend the time writing and rewriting and rewriting some more? Why is it worth it?
Sometimes, we need to check ourselves and answer these questions.
Life is busy. Super busy. I completely understand. These updates are supposed to happen Tuesday nights. Last Tuesday, I didn't want to do anything but watch old episodes of The Twilight Zone.
I've been so busy lately, that I allowed myself to do that. Then, last night, I was supposed to do this update, but I was exhausted. I fell asleep in my chair around 7:00 last night and when I woke up at 9:00, I realized I needed to just go to bed.
When you're trying to build a writing routine and you've got a life to work around, it can be very difficult. I have stopped beating myself up when I don't use the "found hour" to do writing.
Sometimes you need that hour to decompress from life.
That's where these Five Minute Free-Writes come in. I'm not expecting you to make a daily commitment that will make life harder and frustrate you to the point you give up.
I'm asking you to give yourself five minutes each week to focus on your craft. Five minutes during this super busy period to keep you going until you can get life to settle down. Five minutes away from the story that's making you slip into madness with its twists that don't work to focus on the craft you originally fell in love with.
Five minutes to focus on you the writer rather than the writing.
Let me Google that for you.
Access to the internet is almost everywhere in America these days. It’s been interesting watching the change over the 13 seasons of the show Supernatural. Sometimes they address the easy access to information; other times they use a convenient story mechanism to explain why they can’t access the internet.
Think about a problem you could give a character that is easily solved by Google. Now how do you make it more difficult? How can you make knowledge a weakness rather than the strength it normally is?
Hello, Writer. We meet again. You're in the middle of a project that started out as this glorious idea and has now fizzled into the most frustrating idea you've ever considered.
You hate it.
How do you write yourself out of this block?
Recognize this is a ROUGH DRAFT
This is the most important part. Too often we get stuck trying to get to perfect. That's what I keep doing with novel manuscripts. I get around 25,000 words into a project and decide there's something fundamentally wrong, and I MUST start over.
NOT THIS TIME! This time, I recognize a rough draft is meant to be awful. It's your first attempt. The first try at anything is never great.
Shake things up!
Here's where the writing bit comes in.
Word choice in writing dialogue tells the reader more about the character than just what they look like. Word choice tells education level, size of vocabulary, age, accent, and culture.
Create a character or use one from your work in progress.
Write a line of dialogue for them.
Now change the character in one or two ways:
Rewrite the line of dialogue with this new character.
How do they differ? What did you change?
Last week we celebrated America's independence. We celebrated the freedoms that make our country a place people want to come and make a life.
I was thinking about the song "I'm Free" by The Who in their rock opera TOMMY. The lyrics go:
And FREEDOM tastes of REALITY
I've always loved that song because in this moment, Tommy has found his voice. The message is that he has discovered freedom and he's waiting for others to follow him.
So what is freedom?
Think about your writing. How are your characters free to choose whatever they want to do if you're the one directing their story?
What is freedom in fiction?
If everything tastes like chicken, what does chicken taste like?
This isn’t an original thought. Lots of people say it, but it’s still a good question for a writer to ask.
When creating a world, it doesn’t have to be fantasy or sci-fi to be fictional. You could create a fictional version of Detroit that never experienced the post WWII white flight to the suburbs, and it’s still a fictional world.
Think about how you’d describe a mail carrier uniform if you’re using first-person narration. How do you describe something if your narrator voice doesn’t know the same things that you as the author know?
I take pride in being a Writing Fugleman for my fellow authors. Here is a tool to help you hone your craft.