Celebrate The Small Things: SP Anthology

Celebrate blog hop

The small thing I’m celebrating today is that I got up the courage to volunteer to write a story for an anthology called No Award, a science fiction and fantasy anthology for supporters of Sad Puppies, which is an attempt to push for a more diverse set of authors getting recognized by the Hugo Awards.

I don’t normally volunteer to write stories for anthologies. I don’t normally know about anthologies I could possibly write stories for. But this time, since I’m now a member of an online writers group for conservative and/or libertarian writers, I found out about this one.

I even mentioned the idea I had for the anthology story. It will be set in the not-too-distant future and center around a scientific discovery— a gene that causes homosexual orientation. And the social fall-out as gay people discover they are biologically straight, and straight people discover they are biologically gay. A situation made hellish by an intrusive government which keeps DNA records on all citizens and which also requires that one-tenth of government jobs be filled by licensed and registered homosexuals.

Anyway, I mentioned a bit about my idea and a couple of group members told me to go for it. And since they are group members I respect, that’s really encouraging to me.

I know I have no guarantee that my short story will get published in the anthology. But I feel optimistic that I could come up with something well-written. And since I’m a gay woman I add diversity to the anthology— not that this ought to be a major consideration.

My life has been a history of writing attempts failed due to either writer’s block or writing avoidance. I think I may have a handle now on improving that, but it’s a little fragile at the moment. I’m going to be starting the story this morning, and I hope my writing day goes well.

If you are a writer, how is your writing life going? Any new projects you are feeling enthusiastic about? Or is your writing energy waning lately?

 

This is a post in the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop.

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Writing Avoidance: Should there be 12 Steps for that?

writeitIf you are a regular reader of this blog, you may be aware that I suffer from chronic writer’s block. But actually being blocked is not my biggest problem. That would be Writing Avoidance, or Writer’s Avoidance. In other words, not sitting down to write the kind of things I am NOT blocked about, such as poetry. Or avoiding doing practice writing sprints, or blog posts. For me, I don’t get blocked with these things.

I don’t know any stats, but I would imagine that writing avoidance is much commoner than true writer’s block, which is where you sit down to your writing project and can’t make the magic happen— either you can’t write a word, or you can only add a few weak and feeble sentences that don’t really advance anything.

Writing Avoidance, even if connected to writer’s block, is a bad habit. Perhaps even an addiction if it persists. So what do people do about addictions? Twelve Step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous are one thing that works for many.

I learned about the Twelve Steps when there was a book sale at the Saint Vincent de Paul thrift shop— you could fill a bag of books for $2. I saw some AA and Overeaters Anonymous books and took them. I decided they might help me with sticking to my low-carb/ketogenic diet, since I really am addicted to carby foods. And working the program does seem to help even though the only group meeting I can attend is one in a Facebook group.

Imagine the 12 Steps as revised for Writing Avoidance, along with my thoughts in italics:

Step One: We admitted we were powerless over writing avoidance—that our lives had become unmanageable. If we had power over our writing avoidance, we would have fixed it by now.

Step Two: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. God can help us when we can’t do things by ourselves.

Step Three: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. Put God in charge of the problem instead of relying on our own willpower.

Step Four: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. To find the roots of our not-writing and other avoidant behavior.

Step Five: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. Wrongs? Well, if you promise yourself you will write daily and you don’t, that’s not right. It’s a failure, at least. And if you promise to write something for others— say, a book review— and you don’t, you are letting someone down. And we need to admit this to another human being— as I am starting to do with this blog post.

Step Six: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. We have to stop clinging to the status quo in order to change.

Step Seven: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. Just because we can’t overcome our writing avoidance with the force of our will, doesn’t mean God won’t help if we humbly ask Him.

Step Eight: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. To my mind, this isn’t just about the people we’ve harmed through our writing problem, like the writers whose books we failed to review, or the family members who didn’t have our attention because we were fully occupied with our stalled writing career. It’s all the people we have harmed for whatever reason. Because we can’t expect help from God when we are not dealing with our treatment of other people.

Step Nine: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Anyone can SAY they are sorry, and many do who don’t mean it a bit. Making amends means making things right. It’s like if you wronged another writer by swiping his dictionary, you either give it back or buy him a new one. If you have disparaged or mocked another writer online, you might write something positive about that writer to make amends.

Step Ten: Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it. The 12 Steps are a way of life for those who are serious about it. And since the original AA was based on a specifically Christian program for overcoming alcoholism, living the 12 Steps has a lot in common with living the Christian life. And I suppose it has a good deal in common with living the life of a good Jew or a good Buddhist as well.

Step Eleven: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. I think if you want to rely on God, your Higher Power, to help you with your writing avoidance, you have to stay in contact with Him through prayer and meditation.

Step Twelve: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to avoidant writers, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. Wow! I think I’m doing Step Twelve right now! I think that if you see that God has helped you with a problem in your life— whether that problem is writing avoidance, alcoholism or drug addiction— you want to tell others, and to help them experience the same thing.

So: those are the Twelve Steps as adapted for avoidant writers. I think it might help me to go through the Twelve Steps for my writing problems. Sadly, there are no meetings of Avoidant Writers Anonymous where I can walk in and say “My name is Nissa A. and I’m an avoidant writer.” There is not much support out there for avoidant writers. But perhaps this blog post can be the start of something.

Has Writing Avoidance ever been a problem for you? Is it a problem right now? Should you really be writing just at this moment? What do you think about doing a Twelve Step program for avoidant writers?


 

If you enjoyed this post and you are on Twitter, would you consider Tweeting about it? Thanks a lot, if you do. Here are two click-to-Tweet links you can use.

Tweet: Should you be #writing right now? http://ctt.ec/tbL8f+ #shouldbewriting
Tweet: #ShouldBeWriting 12 Steps for writing avoidance. http://ctt.ec/m0dFD+ #writing

Link:

Seriously Write: Writer’s Avoidance, Part 1 by Jerusha Agen

IWSG: Chronic Writer’s Block, Nuclear Armageddon Level

writers_block

This is a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. Visit the site and join up!

My entire writing life it seems I have been plague by writer’s block. The times when I am NOT too blocked to get anything written are far rarer than the times I am.

Writer’s block is a real condition that has been the subject of scientific study. You can read the Wikipedia article about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Writer%27s_block    Unless they’ve replaced the text with more rainbow flags and intimidation by now.

My writer’s block is like this: I may be working on a novel project and somewhere about page 50, I wake up unable to write one more word on the project. Which makes me avoid even trying after a certain point. Which leads to a period of time when I avoid even starting up my word processor because I’m paralyzed by guilt from not-writing.

The 50-page mark was when it normally hit me 20 years ago. These days the most common thing is that I get blocked the second day on the project. On a project that goes on for a longer period of time, I tend to go back to the story beginning and change all my plans for the novel in question, which leads to a story with five different first chapters and no ending. I’ve tried outlining to prevent this, using several methods, but as a dedicated ‘pantser’ (like Stephen King) I just can’t work that way. A completed outline kills the project for me.

Sometimes I believe the severity of my problem is linked to my Asperger’s Syndrome. This condition has included with it something called ‘executive function deficit’ which is pretty much the same thing as AD/HD. Makes it very difficult to be organized in the complex project of writing a novel.  But then again, a number of writers of the past, including Herman Melville, have been alleged to have Asperger’s Syndrome and they got novels finished.

My writer’s block problem does not seem to affect the writing of short poetry, or at least not very much. A number of times I’ve resolved to write a new poem every day, and I am able to do this. I haven’t continued the poem-every-day thing forever-and-ever, but that may just be because sometimes my mind needs a break. And of course the fact that for a long time I thought writing poems was counterproductive, even shameful.

I’ve embraced my poet-self recently. And after a time of writing poems every morning, I also managed to complete a short story called ‘The Skin Shirt’. It will be made available in ebook form at some point in the future. I’ve also started a second story, which sort of has a ‘parable’ feel to it. I’m optimistic about finishing this one as well.

So, that’s how writer’s block has affected me. Have you ever experienced writer’s block? How have you dealt with it?


A request.

Could one or two of the blog readers who pass through here do me a little favor? I would like you to download my very short poetry ebook, ‘surly petunia’, and write a brief review. It doesn’t need to be a 5-star review full of praise. I’m thrilled with 3 and 4 star reviews, and even 2 stars are better than nothing. It doesn’t need to be a fancy review full of literary terms, just a few brief sentences telling what you liked, or didn’t like, about the book.  I could use reviews at Goodreads & Amazon.com, and perhaps one at Smashwords as well.

You can download the book from here:
Smashwords (free download): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/480237
Amazon.com (they charge 99 cents, not my idea): http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00NZ96EYE

 Thanks!

Writers in the Land of Not-Good-Enough

Kitten Therese being bathed. Not Happy.

Kitten Therese being bathed. Not Happy.

From unpublished writers to bestselling authors, all writers tend to spend some time in the land of Not-Good-Enough. Even Stephen King has insecurities, and they are not about his antichristianism.

How do you deal with the inner voices that tell you that you— and your writing— are No Darn Good? That tell you that you are a fraud or a dilettante, that you can never write to the level of the authors you admire?

I think we need to face up to our Not-Good-Enough feelings. First, write down a list of the negative self-talk that runs through your brain while in Not-Good-Enough land.

For me, there is the ‘you never finish anything’ that I got from my parents, at which time it had nothing to do with writing. Also there is the ‘you have Asperger’s Syndrome, you are not REALLY clever at all in spite of your IQ, writing for your kind is HOPELESS’.

Then, go through your list for things you can do something about. If you are worried about your spelling and grammar, start a program to learn these things. If you feel you are not well read, start a reading program of great literature.

Dealing with the ‘you-never-finish’ thing, I am putting more effort in the kind of writing that I do, in fact, finish: poetry. I’m trying to write a poem, or work on an already-written poem, every day. It has helped me— I’ve actually finished a short story—- something I haven’t done in ten years. (I have nuclear-Armageddon level chronic writer’s block.)

The thing to remember is that you are in charge of your writing life, not that part of your mind that keeps repeating the Not-Good-Enough stuff. You can be a writer— if you are willing to put in the effort to write and to build up your skills.