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Archive for February 9th, 2009

Writing in a vacuum is overrated

Writers are a driven bunch.  When the Muse is MIA, we are either pounding our heads on our keyboards, or torturing what we’ve already written with the red pen of doom.  When the Muse does show up for work, we strap in before the genie goes back into her bottle.  It’s easy for us to become either gibbering fools or crazy hermits, often both at the same time.

We talk to ourselves because writing is a one-person show.  As chief cook and bottle washer, we have to maintain production, research and development, and both market research and product marketing.  Plus, little things like maintaining a healthy work environment, facility maintenance, and letting the family know we still love them seem to be fairly important.  Overwhelmed, we sometimes stop writing altogether.

We might need alone-time to actually write, but our fears have a tendency to grow when we lock ourselves in a vacuum.  If we are completely insular, we miss out on industry news, helpful tips for improving our craft, inspiration from other writers, classes, contests, and conferences.  Writing is hard.  We have to commune with other writers because they are the only people who really understand the psychosis, the drive to create and write.   We don’t need a twelve step program, but we do need a support group for when we are ready to throw it all out the window and say “Stop this crazy train!”     

Joining a local writing or critique group can be the ticket that allows us to stay on the train.  Live human beings, real people, and fellow writers.  Not only do the live human beings give us the support we need, they can also hold us accountable for our production, or give us valuable, immediate feedback on our writing. 

Conferences are another great way to expand your writing network.  Most have contests, classes, workshops, and editors and agents attending, as well as both published and pre-published writers.  Commune with the other writers at the conference, share, network; you never know when it might pay off.  The author you just met might like you enough to introduce you to their agent or editor.     

Live interactions take time, but everyone has a spare fifteen minutes somewhere in their day.  You can use that time to play a game of spider solitaire, or you can surf the web.  The internet has more resources than we could conceivably surf in three life times—some good, some bad, some indifferent—hundreds aimed at writers, the writing community, and the writing industry.  If all else fails, check out a favorite author’s website and blog; they have a ton of information and inspiration, and sometimes links to other helpful sites. 

Here are just a few just jump-starts; they are definitely not all that is out there.  I did not include any conference websites since attending one often requires travel time and other expenses. 

Most classes can be done online, or you can just order the lecture packets.  Other sites offer week-long live-action workshops.  Some sites offer give-aways or scholarships.  Podcasts are what they are. 

http://www.writersonlineclasses.com/ (classes and workshops)

http://www.writeruniv.com/ (classes and workshops)

http://pasic.net/workshops.html (classes and workshops)

http://www.free-expressions.com/site/default.htm (classes and workshops)

http://rosescoloredglasses.com/ (classes and workshops)

http://www.sff.net/Odyssey/podcasts.html (podcasts)

http://www.thewritingcast.com/blog/ (podcasts)

http://www.stormwolf.com/thesecrets/podcasts/index.html (podcasts)

 

http://www.americanwriters.com/ (podcasts)

http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/ (podcasts)

 

Some of the following sites have giveaways (classes, books, etc), author interviews, as well as excellent information about the writing life, the industry, tips, and other related subjects.

http://loveconquers.wordpress.com/ (features guest bloggers on writing and industry)

http://www.margielawson.com/  (she gives many classes.  Great author, smart lady.  This is her homepage)

http://fivescribes.blogspot.com/ (sponsored by Margie Lawson, this has author interviews and give-aways, guest bloggers)

http://www.ralan.com/ (industry news, contests, tips, etc)

http://anotherealm.com/prededitors/ (a way to see if your agent/editor/publisher is a good one…or a preying mantis)

www.writerunboxed.com (author interviews, blogs, mostly from published writers)

http://www.routinesforwriters.com/ (the name kinda says it all)

 

Mind-mapping , brainstorming, and creating a timeline can be made easy with software.  Timeclock software or downloadable egg-timers can help manage your computer writing, research, and play time.    

http://www.mindjet.com/

http://www.thebrain.com

http://www.ravensheadservices.com/

http://www.timeclockmts.com/

http://www.download.com/Cool-Timer/3000-2350_4-10062255.html?tag=mncol

http://www.download.com/Egg-Timer-Plus/3000-2350_4-10073665.html

 

You could spend days reading or listening to what I have linked, so please limit yourself to fifteen minutes to an hour at a whack.  Use these sites as rewards for writing 3 pages, 1000 words, or for “continuing education” purposes, not as a delaying tactic, or in lieu of writing.  They are intended to inspire, not contribute to delinquency. 

Feel free to add more links in the comments!
 

 

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