Tag Archives: Twitter

Wanted: Time to Write

Clocks

Today, you’ll find me over at Heather Cashman’s blog, Better Off Read, talking about time and where to find it.

…[T]ime remains a mystery. I can’t figure out how to tame it, so I try to tackle it — stretch it out or squeeze it in or steal a little of it here and there. When I started up my blog a few years ago, I knew time would be my biggest challenge, so I titled my blog “Writing Under Pressure,” as a reminder to myself of what I was up against, and as a battle cry.
Read more….

It’s funny how the writing world works (hello, alliteration). Just as soon as I sat down to put my thoughts on paper, Twitter went all a flutter with links to posts on other writers searching for time, too.

Do a quick search using “find time to write” on Twitter and…No, wait. Don’t. You should be writing. That’s the whole point of my guest post on Better Off Read. So, when you’re done writing for the day, jump back over here and pretend I’m your Twitter feed:

  • From @NataliaSylv: My results from last week’s #writing experiment: How Much Time Do We Really Need to Write? http://ow.ly/6gSDf #amwriting >> Where Natalia reveals what happens when you devote an entire day to writing. A whole day folks.
  • From @elizabethscraig: Tips for making time for your #writing: http://bit.ly/nS5adm >> Where Mary Carroll Moore guides you through an exercise in assessing your needs and making changes.
  • From @annerallen: Why the Rush to Publish? wp.me/p1cBdi-2l from Nina Badzin >> @NinaBadzin has written several posts on managing Twitter (while not letting it run your life). This post from Nina suggests that Twitter might not be problem after all (ouch).
  • From @LisaRomeo: Getting ready to kick a few you-know-whats next week when *I Should Be Writing* Boot Camp begins. bit.ly/nbeigJ #writing #writer >> Lisa Romeo offers an online class where she (and I quote) will “help you: create the time to write…develop and maintain regular writing routines, deal with writing obstacles….” Bingo.

Time is money, folks, or at least a lot like money. You spend what you earn. So, hop on over to Heather’s blog and tell us how you tackle time.

*photo credit: blue2likeyou on flickr.com

Sunday Discoveries

Found, in the freezer at our local grocery store:

Packer Country

Kemps Touchdown Sundae. Vanilla ice cream with a hint of fudge swirl and small treasures of chocolate footballs (complete with a caramel filling). It’s egg-free, nut-free, but not sugar-free, and it’s perfect for a rambunctious about-to-be-a-fourth-grader boy who’s trying to “beef up” for the school year.

Found, in my local library:

A Memoir after my own heart. Because reading food labels, on everything from ice cream to bread, is more about bypassing a trip to the ER than counting calories for me.

If you stand in the middle of the grocery aisle and study ingredients, or if the mention of a “pot luck dinner” makes you break out into a cold sweat, read this book. Sandra Beasley’s memoir touches on every aspect of food allergies, from the perspective of the allergic, those who care for someone with allergies, and even the research and science behind allergies.  I can’t say enough about how much I love, LOVE, this book. I have it on loan right now, but I want a copy for myself. I want to slip it onto my son’s nightstand in a few more years, when he’s too big for me to check his pockets for his Epi-Pen.

Found, in my schedule for fall:

Not enough time (27/365)Time. I was glad (ever-so-slightly) last Monday when my day job kicked in, and not just because my mornings and evenings became more predictable. As I considered my start and end times and my work schedule unfolded, my day planner revealed a secret: little pockets of time to myself each day. The impossibility of it all was matched with a dose of guilt, so I closed my calendar quick. Afraid to breathe. Maybe that sounds dramatic, but if you’re a mother and a writer, you know the value of any uninterrupted time (and the power in a second of guilt).

Free time is there, though. I’ve double checked.

Found, on Writer Unboxed:

Twitter Bird SketchTwo great posts by Nina Badzin on the Art and Science of Twitter, Part 1 and Part 2.

If you’re new to Twitter, and even if you’re not new, these posts are a must-read. Because when you suddenly discover a pocket of time, you don’t want to waste it on Social Networking. Nina Badzin explains how to make Twitter work for you, so that you can get back to work, doing what you love best.

What’s new in your kitchen, on your shelves, or in your reader?

A Writing Group is an Anchor…in a good way.

From Zany Holidays Blog

I’ve been hanging out with a great group of people lately.

Once every two weeks, I pull my car into a small parking lot behind an old convent, run up two long flights of stairs, and sit down at a table with other like-minded individuals.

We are all writers.

I paid for my seat at the table and, in doing so, committed to a block of time that throws a wrench into my weeknight schedule of dinner, books and bedtime for two small kids. But, when I received an email asking if I wanted to return for the next session of Roundtables, I looked past my Mother Writer guilt to four reasons why these sessions are vital to my writing career:

1. I read my work out loud during each meeting. We all do. The group is run in a very egalitarian style. I’m nervous every time I read. Still, I love this aspect of the session for the exact reason that Delia Lloyd mentions in her Huffington Post article, “5 Tips for Productively Editing Your Writing,” (which I found via Lisa Romeo Writes).

Reading out loud, Lloyd says, helps you discover your voice.

You not only hear the repetition and the over-writing. You can also hear whether or not you sound too stifled, too casual, too funny or too sharp.

Besides finding my voice, reading my work to others forces me out of my comfort zone. Margaret Atwood says, “You need a certain amount of nerve to be a writer.” I agree. And, each time I read, I put myself out there as a professional writer and, in the process, gain more courage to be that writer.

2. I get instant feedback. In the January issue of The Writer magazine, Robin Garland interviews a story consultant and agent, Lisa Cron, and asks what makes a good story.

“A [good] story,” Cron says, “must have the ability to engender a sense of urgency from page 1.”

Used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at Inkygirl.com

Sharing my latest chapter with a live group of writers gives me a pretty good idea – right away – whether or not my story will keep a reader engaged.

This in-the-moment critique was new to me, but I’m beginning to appreciate the quality of it. Though, I know I don’t need instant feedback to continue with my rewrite, I don’t want to move on to the next chapter until I know I’m in a good place with the current chapter, not this time around anyway.

3. My draft reads more consistent. Writing a novel is daunting, and I procrastinate when projects seem overwhelming. For the last two years, I’ve worked in spurts on this novel and then put it down. When I did get back to it – after too long a break – the tension was lost. The draft felt fractured, unstructured, and too loose.

In just a short time, I knew that the feedback I received from the other writers at the Roundtable was invaluable. Finishing another chapter rewrite by the next session became a concrete deadline I didn’t want to ignore. And, with shorter breaks between revisions, I had less problems remembering where I left off and where I was headed.

4. I benefit from more camaraderie and support. I could tackle this novel alone, huddled over my laptop in the cold basement of my house. But, I focus better and am more driven to finish when I’m surrounded by the warm bodies of other writers.

Yes, I’ve met so many great writers on Twitter, She Writes, and (now) Facebook, and I wouldn’t trade those connections for anything — many of them have become fast friends and staunch supporters. But, we all live miles and states apart. While I treasure the ethereal influence they have on my writing, I need the presence of writers in close proximity just the same.

Sitting at that table has a tangible affect on my writing. I am tethered to my work in a new way that fuels my determination to finish this novel. And, my place in that group completes  another piece of my puzzle in becoming a writer.

~

What has a writing group done for you lately?

*****

Garland, Robin. “The Love of a Good Story.” The Writer. January 2011: 34-35, 55. Print.


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How Do You Measure Success?

Today’s word of the day, from Wordsmith.org, reminds me of the strong community of writers and artists I’ve discovered (online and off):
esprit de corps: noun. A spirit of solidarity; a sense of pride, devotion, and honor among the members of a group.

It’s been just under a year and a half since I decided to take my writing seriously. I began my journey with a simple credo: one little step at a time. But, it didn’t take long to imagine time was my enemy. Back in August, I blogged about reigning in my panic that success must happen soon, or else…or else I’ll panic. Recently, the shared experiences of two writers and one artist led me back to that moment in August, and I heard again the quiet suggestion to relax and breathe.

The other day, I read Debbie Ridpath Ohi’s Writer’s Guide to Twitter. I’m new at tweeting – my stomach is still doing flip-flops over the whole idea – so I studied Debbie’s guide, her clear-cut do’s and don’t’s for Twittering. I zoomed in on her advice not to obsess about the number of people who follow me on Twitter.

Of course, I thought, I can’t obsess about followers; my account is brand spanking new!
(my Twitter handle is bbetty, in case you’re wondering, but I’m not obsessing [nervous laughter]).

Then I considered the number of times I check my WordPress stats in a day. Maybe I don’t need to tell you how often I check them. Maybe you’re a status-hound too.

Anyway, Debbie Ohi’s point struck home for me: it isn’t about the number of people who read my words, but about the quality of those readers. And, even if my blog stats seem low, I’ve met and connected with some great writers since I started Writing Under Pressure.

Later in the same day, I heard a quote from the documentary movie about Bob Dylan, “No Direction Home.” The man who spoke the proverb was a painter, though I can’t remember his name. I focused on the words, which were even more important for me than the person who said them. Talking about the early 1960’s, he said:

Back then, artistic success was not dollar-driven.

No one expected to make millions; they just wanted to create.

Any amount of pay for my writing would revive my wallet and lift my spirits, but I’m not hoping to match my meager retirement fund with monies earned from my stories. With the publishing industry in flux, it’s hard to know what to expect or hope for as an emerging writer. Still, while my eyes don’t reflect dollar signs, they do shine for that small “c” encased in a circle. Too often, I am print-driven. Anxious that my time as a writer is limited, I imagine my words in print are the only signs of success.

Finally, I read Linda Cassidy’s post, Wrapping Up November, where she writes about finding an early draft of her novel and recognizing all the progress she’s made since that draft. And, all three moments fell together in my repeat epiphany.

I haven’t published a portfolio’s worth of short stories. My novel is in the first trimester. But, I recognize that in the time I’ve spent honing my craft, to the best of my abilities, I have come a long way. Thank you, Linda, for that reminder.

Writing is a craft, like any other craft. Rushing through the learning process yields a product with little substance, or at least a funny shape. When I first learned to crochet, I made two frightening articles: a long purple scarf and an afghan. The scarf would have fit well in a Dr. Seuss story with its variegated purple colors and edges like waves (I couldn’t keep count of my stitches). The afghan was an even better example of rushing errors. Initially, my stitches were tight and taut and forced. Towards the end, I relaxed. And, so did the afghan. I finished the last row, wove in all the ends of yarn, and spread my mini-opus out onto the living room floor to reveal a perfectly shaped trapezoid.

Slow down. Artistic success doesn’t have to be dollar-driven or print-driven or stats-driven. Make note of progress as success, even if it is small.