The Writer’s Pursuit of Health – New Series Starting August 30th!

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Writing is not easy on us – either mentally, or physically.

Depending on the type of content we write, it can mess with our mood and put us in a strange sort of head space where our characters are more real than anything else – and that’s not always a good thing. The act of writing can also inadvertently dig things up from our past, things we didn’t realize still needed to be dealt with, if we even knew about it at all.

And those hours we spend staring at an artificially lit computer screen, hunched over a keyboard, pounding away until our fingers and wrists ache. And our heads ache. Because we weren’t made to stare at a computer screen only inches away from our face all. day. long.

But we do.

And we forget to eat. Or we get so busy with a story that we simply decide not to eat because it’s always “I just need to get this last thought onto paper.” And that thought grows and grows and grows… and suddenly it’s been five hours.

This isn’t even taking actual illness – chronic or acute – into consideration, because we writers think we’re immortal because of our words. Sadly, our bodies don’t work that way, either.

And so we need to counter the abuse we put our bodies and minds through.

That’s what “The Writer’s Pursuit of Health” is going to tackle, starting next week. Stay tuned!

Outlining, or The Illusion Of Productivity (No wait! I actually have a plan!)

It’s back to school shopping and sale time, which is a very tempting time for writers and for any people who love the feeling of illusory productivity that one can find browsing amongst those items.

I happen to fall into both those categories, though I usually manage to restrain myself fairly well in the back to school sales. That is, mainly to things I actually need – or want – and will eventually use.

set of ten brightly-coloured Sharpie highlighters

My bright and shiny new highlighters!

I picked up a pack of highlighters recently. Note: I don’t really use highlighters. I needed a couple (in different colours) to highlight details more obviously in a proof I was submitting with some paperwork earlier this year and I had to search my house to find any. I finally did, then finally located some that worked in that assortment (one of which was mine, the other two ones my mother used) and got my project done.

It was the first time I’d used a highlighter in probably at least six years, possibly longer. So clearly picking up a pack of highlighters, however pretty – and these are pretty shiny – was the most productive purchase I could have made, right?

(Well, I have needed highlighters this year, several times, weird as that is, and using the mostly-dead ones has really not been that fun. So there’s a smidgen of justification.)

The other justification is . . . I am embarking on an outlining project.

I am embarking on an outlining project. A big one. You may recall, I don’t outline. I’m not very good at it, and it tends not to work out for the best for me as I write even if I struggle through creating one.
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Writing for Comics

I started writing a comic about this time last year, and since then I’ve managed to not only finalize the script but actually start getting pages drawn and posted. And even though it’s been a year, I have learned a lot. Mostly by learning from my mistakes.

The first thing to realize with scripting is that, even though you’re still putting words on a page, is that the script isn’t the final product. In this case, the comic is. But this is also true for scripts for film or stage or games. Unlike writing short stories or novels, where the words and how they appear on the page are the final product, the script is just a stepping stone.  Continue reading

The Art of Guestbooking

How often do you fill out the guestbook when you stay somewhere away from home?

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Click me to read full entry!

Many people may shy away from filling out the guestbook simply because they aren’t sure what to write. If you clam up when it comes to words, at least jotting down where you came from and what brought you to your current location will be appreciated by the guestbook owner!

As writers (and generally goofy people) we have a lot of fun taking our guestbook entries one step further. For example, instead of saying “the goats were cute, but the bugs sucked” in this entry from our stay at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, we opened with, “We were much pleased with the use of goats in your meadow; the use of bugs, however, left something to be desired. (With the exception of the Lunar Moth package we received.)” Continue reading

Are You Going to Camp? (Camp NaNo, That Is!)

Have you wanted to try National Novel Writing Month, but honestly the idea of trying to write a novel in November just seems too overwhelming with all the holidays?

Or you’d like to try it, but the 50,000 word mark seems impossible to hit for someone who writes primarily short things?

Or do you just miss the word count goals, tracking, and overall productivity and encouragement from NaNo?

Then it might be time to give Camp NaNoWriMo a try.

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Favorite Writing Rules To Break – Flashbacks

Writing rules – and our favorite ones to break – has been a topic that repeatedly comes up at Ferret Business Meetings when we’re just chattering. (Yes, we have business meetings! Those are what keeps this blog on track!) One of the more common sayings in the writing community is that you have to know the writing rules before you break them, so you know how and when to break them properly.

But sometimes writing ‘rules’ are really writing pet peeves, and so much of it is dependent on genre. (Note: we are not talking about grammar rules here. Those are necessary, and while they can be bent, most of them cannot be completely broken. Learn them. Know them. Become one with them.)

In the last few years in the writing world, especially those who write/read fantasy, I’ve heard a lot of negative comments about flashbacks. It took me a bit by surprise. Continue reading

The Off-Balancing Act: Making Time for Art

ff-balancing act, creative balance, healthy boundaries, fictional ferrets, rabid rainbow ferret society, writing, writers, advice for writers

We created the lovely banner with the picture Lazy Limbs by Michael via Flickr’s Creative Commons with the CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license. The image was slightly resized, and our text added. No other changes made.

You might notice that for this series we posted out of our normal order. This would be because on May 7th I jumped on an airplane to leave the country for awhile and wouldn’t be back until very late the 25th. I believe it was sometime on May 5th that I panicked and finally realized amidst working my day job, packing, and cleaning house that there was absolutely no way to make this post happen before I left. Quick messages went to Serena and Eris and they kindly agreed to each post a week early, giving me the spot to wrap up this whole series… how appropriate!

I have the exact opposite problem of Serena (at least in some ways) when it comes to balancing art vs. life. (Click here for her post if you haven’t read it.) I find it extremely difficult to allow art any time in my life when there is laundry to do, errands to run, dinner to make, and a puppy to cuddle. In short, if there is literally anything I should do (or think I should do) that is not art… I am convinced that must come FIRST. Let me tell you how many times I have gotten every corner of my house in perfect order so that I had time to write…

I’m not quite sure why I’m this way, but it’s been me for as long as I can remember. Responsibilities come first, and I’m brilliant at coming up with an absurd number of responsibilities. I guess I feel like I’m ‘cheating’ at life when I take time away from all of the ‘should do’s’ to do anything creative. I have a hard time convincing myself that making art a ‘should do’ is okay. Encouraged even, when one wants to become a creative artist of some kind. It’s hard to be a poet when all one does is dishes…

On my personal blog I brought up this topic back in January. (You can read that post here if you’d like.) When I began this year, I wanted to devote time to trying to find a happy creative balance in my life. The first step in doing this was figuring out when I was spending time on creative things (reading, writing, blogging, other creative pursuits) and how much time I was giving to them. That’s what I’ve been tracking for the first half of this year. The numbers are dismal. No wonder I’m not getting anywhere fast!

But it’s been good for me to see what I’m accomplishing and what I’m not. I’m starting to notice a trend of when I do creative work most easily, how long of a single sitting still gets me productivity, and what things I am and am not giving time to. It’s hard to set new goals when you don’t have a firm grasp of where you already stand.

I’m going to keep up with tracking stats, so to speak, through the end of June. Beginning with July and the start of the second half of the year, I’m going to do my best to give myself new challenges to start altering the allowances I give creativity in my life. I don’t expect to ever achieve perfect balance. No one has that. But by being aware of the time I am spending on creativity out of the available time that I have, I can learn to be more productive in chasing my dreams.

All creative artists look for some sense of balance between their ‘real’ life and their ‘creative’ life (although each artist has a different sense of where they want that balance to lie). How are you supposed to achieve that personal sense of balance if you don’t even know how your time is being spent?

Do you know how your time is being spent on the creative pursuits in your life? Are you anywhere near the balance of life vs. creativity that you want to achieve? What are you doing to find your own balance?

The Off-Balancing Act: Words Tip the Scale

ff-balancing act, creative balance, healthy boundaries, fictional ferrets, rabid rainbow ferret society, writing, writers, advice for writers

We created the lovely banner with the picture Lazy Limbs by Michael via Flickr’s Creative Commons with the CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license. The image was slightly resized, and our text added. No other changes made.

I? Am terrible at balance. (No, really. I am incredibly bad at this in many areas of my life.)

As a writer who writes every day, you might assume that I have actually figured this balance thing out and have some tricks to share. (People certainly have before.) That . . . is unfortunately not the case. By a long shot.

In fact, writing may be just about the only thing I have to ‘balance’ on a regular basis that never falls by the wayside entirely. (Now balancing different projects and types of writing? . . .that’s another story.)

When I have serious things to handle and address in Real Life, I . . . often throw myself into writing all the more in spite – or to take refuge. I handle things that I absolutely have to . . . mostly. Sometimes not quite when I meant to.

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The Off-Balancing Act: Binge vs Balance

ff-balancing act, creative balance, healthy boundaries, fictional ferrets, rabid rainbow ferret society, writing, writers, advice for writers

We created the lovely banner with the picture Lazy Limbs by Michael via Flickr’s Creative Commons with the CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license. The image was slightly resized, and our text added. No other changes made.

Look, I literally just had this conversation about balance (or lack thereof) with my mother. (By the time you’re reading this, this conversation will have taken place around 10pm last night.) I was telling her about my artwork and this week’s page for Queen’s Rogues and the other stuff I’ve been working on for the comic when she asked me about my writing projects. I told her that I hadn’t written for about a week, because I’m terrible at balancing the various things (creative or otherwise) in my life…

Which reminded me that this post is due. Today. I had forgotten about it completely.

So now I’m sitting here, typing this directly up into the drafts at 10:08pm the night before it’s supposed to go live, and I have no idea what to say. Balance had never really been my forte, and it especially isn’t so when writing or other creative pursuits are involved.

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off-balancing act, creative balance, healthy boundaries, fictional ferrets, rabid rainbow ferret society, writing, writers, advice for writers

The Off-Balancing Act: All or Nothing

I think it’s somewhat appropriate that I’m writing this blog post from the backseat of my roommates’ car as we head out for a weeklong work trip. I could have written it this past weekend. I should have. Instead, I spent this weekend furiously finishing up a novel I’ve been working on since November 2014. I couldn’t do anything else until I typed “the end,” which I finally did Sunday afternoon.

This isn’t the first time other things have gotten pushed by the wayside when I work on writing. It probably isn’t even the hundredth.

When I’m writing, I’m writing, and I’m fairly terrible about doing anything else beyond what I absolutely have to. I tend to stay in rather than go out. I go longer between answering texts, I make even fewer calls than I normally do, and my email response time rapidly decreases. Basically, I become a writing hermit.

And then there are the times when I’m not writing, when I’m taking a break between projects or letting a draft cool off before I hop back into editing mode. This is when I take the time to bake bread and cookies, to read books, to write reviews, to critique stories for friends, to actually interact with people like a normal human being.

There isn’t any balance. There aren’t even baby steps. There’s just all or nothing.

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