Posted in Writing Related

I Can’t Finish Any Stories

This wasn’t the blog post I intended to write. But it’s something that has been plaguing me enough that it just came out. So, here it is:

I can’t finish any writing that I start.

Yup, it’s true. I have 8 novels and 4 short stories in various stages, but I can’t finish any of them.

So, I had to ask myself, why?

Me trying to finish a story
Me trying to finish a story

 

Because the truth is, I’ve finished stories before.

I have a story in an anthology, a flash fiction story on my blog, and I’ve completed several stories in a creative writing class I took in college a few years ago. Clearly, it is possible for me to finish a story. So, what has gone wrong that I can’t finish anything now?

I think the answer is that ugly, evil creature known as doubt. I don’t necessarily doubt that I can finish a story so much as I doubt that I can finish anything that’s worth reading. I doubt my ability to write. My writing starts off well, everything flows and I can pound out the words. Then, somewhere around a third of the way into a story, I begin to doubt. I doubt my plot, I doubt my characters, I doubt my words. I’m certain the story isn’t worth reading.

Doubt is a killer. It will cripple. Our minds are pretty incredible that way. If we believe we can do something, we have a much better shot at being able to do it. Conversely, if we doubt we can do something, it’s going to be a lot more difficult to accomplish. I am basically sabotaging myself by becoming so caught up in my doubts that I become blocked.

One of the good things to come from this problem is that I’ve paid close attention to my own writing process and played around with different techniques. I know more about myself and what works for my writing than I did before. I know that I need absolute silence in order to begin writing. Once I’m in the zone, people will be ignored. I can’t write to music because I find it distracts me from what my characters are saying and doing, but I do like to listen to inspirational music before I write to help get me in the correct frame of mind.

The most important thing I’ve learned about myself: I write best when I trust myself. I think this is probably a universal truth for writers. When I trust that the words will come and the characters will keep talking, not only do the words flow better but I also find that my subconscious will help tie all the plot points together, even if I can’t see consciously how they should all fit. (Yes, I do make a rough outline, but the characters never seem to stick to it!)

So, my goal is to keep writing and to trust that I can finish these stories without letting myself get mired in doubt. I also need to remember that first drafts are usually terrible and editing is what makes the story shine. I don’t have to have a perfect story in the first draft! I have so many characters that I love, and I want to tell all of their stories. I just have to trust that I can do it.

 

Has anyone had a problem like this and have any insights? I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts.

Posted in Writing Related

Liebster Award Nomination

The lovely K.M. Herkes nominated me for the Liebster Award, so I’m going to play along and pass on the fun! The Liebster Award is a great way to get small and under-read blogs some exposure. I will be answering the ten questions posed to me, and then I will leave ten new questions for those I nominate to answer. It’s a great way to get to know some new bloggers. Participation is entirely up to the blog; it took me hours to write this post, and I know not everyone will wish to do so. If I’ve nominated you and you want to participate, I can say it is a lot of fun 🙂

 

liebster-award

 

K.M. Herkes is the author of The Restoration Adventures books and the Rough Passages books. Her writing is a mix of sci-fi and fantasy, and I’m getting ready to read her book Controlled Descent because I’ve heard wonderful things about her writing. Herkes is also an active blogger with all kinds of fun stuff on her blog, such as character information, reviews, and writing advice. I highly recommend checking out her blog at dawnrigger.com.

 

Thank you, K.M., for the nomination!

 

Here are the ten questions K.M. asked and my answers:

 

  1. If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be and why? (It’s a useless question for a job interview, but a fun one for showcases like this.)

This is an easy peasy one for me. I’d be an apple tree. I had an apple tree growing up that I could frequently be found in. I loved to climb as high as I could (which wasn’t that high because the tree wasn’t very tall, but considering my fear of heights, this was impressive). The world always looked different to me from the tree branch, and I used to fancy that I had climbed into another world.

  1. What’s one of your cherished habits, rituals, or routines? (writing-related or otherwise) A thing you do regularly for personal satisfaction alone.

I’d have to say my one of my most cherished habits would be sitting in my chair cuddled up with my four dogs and reading. I only get to do this for a half hour to an hour every night, but it is definitely my most relaxing time of the day!

  1. What is it about your favorite color that puts it at the top of the list?

This is a difficult question. I’ve never put that much thought into my favorite color before. Honestly, I have three favorites (green, blue, and purple), but for the purpose of this question, I will stick with green because I can identify what puts it at the top of my list. My grandmother’s favorite color was green, and she and I were very close. One of the stories I remember hearing was that when I was a toddler, my grandmother held up two different colored stuffed rabbits and asked me to choose which one I wanted. When I chose green, she was delighted. I still have that rabbit. Also, green is the color of trees and grass, and I couldn’t live without either of those.

  1. Which six fictional or historical people would you bring together for a weekend house party in the big country manor you inherit from a long-lost relative?

The Morrigan would be at the top of the list because she’s my favorite figure from mythology. However, since she was a battle goddess, she might not be the best party guest . . . Manawyddan, Gwydion, and Harry Dresden because all are skilled magic workers. I think watching them try to outdo each other would be great entertainment, especially with Dresden’s personality. I would also have to invite Dagda because he has a club that kills when he strikes the person with one end, and with the other end, he can revive them. I would probably just sit with him for hours enjoying that show. Finally, my imaginary party wouldn’t be complete without Neutria the warrior spider (from the amazing Jen Ponce’s Devany Miller series). I love all things spider, and I’m pretty sure I was a spider in another life.

I’m not really sure I want to know what this guest list says about me. Moving on.

  1. Where would you go if you won an all expenses paid 4-week family vacation to anywhere in the world? Presume zero scheduling/school/medical conflicts.

Britain, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Yes, I want to see them all. No, I won’t pick just one.

  1. What would you do there once you arrived?

The first thing I would do would be to visit Stonehenge. Then I’d travel all over Britain, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales to see every castle and stone circle there!

  1. When did you first show your writing to someone else, and what happened?

The first time I remember showing my writing to someone was when I showed it to a boyfriend as a teenager, and he liked it so much that he encouraged me to continue writing.

  1. What bit of writing made your heart bleed to write but clawed its way out despite the pain. Blog, fiction, Facebook post…nominee’s choice.

I think all of it makes my heart bleed. Just kidding. I can’t recall writing anything that was so painful it made my heart bleed, at least not yet. I have a character that I love in the novel I’m writing, and I know this character has to die. I have a feeling this character’s death will upset me. I’ve already tried a couple of times to convince myself the character doesn’t need to die!

  1. Which blog post or fictional passage made you laugh most to write–which one did you had the most fun creating even if hardly anyone ever saw it

For me, these are two different questions. The fictional passage that made me laugh the most to write would be one involving one of my favorite characters named Alex. She’s goofy and has a lot of great one-liners. The story that I had the most fun creating is called Stolen Dreams and can be found on my blog. I wrote this flash fiction for a contest, and I enjoyed creating the character, Melaina. She’s been trapped in the world of dreams and decides it’s time to escape.

  1. Pickled vegetables: delicious or disgusting?

Disgusting. I like my vegetables fresh.

 

Here are the rules for the Liebster Award:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you (that’s me) and link back to my website (I want to read your answers!) 🙂 My link is smlowry.com.
  • Copy and paste the Liebster Award into your post.
  • Answer the ten questions.
  • Nominate ten bloggers and inform them you’ve nominated them through their blog or other social media.
  • List ten new questions for your nominees to answer.

 

My nominees (participation is entirely optional but a lot of fun!):

Lisa Shambrook https://thelastkrystallos.wordpress.com/

Finder’s Keepers http://traceylclark.com/

Marissa Ames http://marissaames.com

Dark Fairy Queen, Anna Meade http://www.yearningforwonderland.com

T.B. Markinson https://tbmarkinson.wordpress.com

Intisar Khanani http://booksbyintisar.com

T.D. Harvey https://tdharveyauthor.wordpress.com/category/tees-blog/

Enthralling Dimple https://enthrallingdimple.wordpress.com

Phoenix Grey https://phoenixgrey85.wordpress.com

Jenaca https://jenacidebybibliophile.wordpress.com

 

For those nominees that choose to participate, here are my questions:

  1. Which animal do you consider yourself similar to and why? (This can be real animals, extinct animals, or fictional animals.)
  2. Who is your all-time favorite fictional character?
  3. What is your favorite thing to do in your free time?
  4. What would your ideal job look like?
  5. If you could travel to any time in the past or future, what time would you choose and why?
  6. What was the last series you binge watched or binge read?
  7. Do you prefer pizza or hamburgers (or veggie burgers if you’re vegetarian/vegan)?
  8. What weather do you hate the most?
  9. What is your favorite thing about blogging/writing?
  10. What is your favorite fantasy/sci-fi/mythological creature?
Posted in Writing Related

A Look At What I’ve Been Up To

Happy 2016!!

I hope you all enjoyed your holidays! I haven’t been writing as much the last couple of months as I would have liked. I got busy trying my hand at some do-it-yourself beauty products and a real food diet. (I am having a blast making my own beauty products!) Needless to say, I’ve taken a bit of a break from writing and reviewing. However, now that the holidays are over, I’m getting back into the swing of things. I have several reviews coming up for some fantastic books!

As far as writing goes, I decided a few days ago to put myself on a schedule to write something everyday. The next day, one of my friends on Facebook posted about a book called, 5000 Words Per Hour by Chris Fox. She was talking about how much she’d written that day by doing five-minute sprints. I figured this was a book I had to check out.

I read through it the first night (it’s a fairly short book), and then tried my hand at a couple of five-minute sprints. I was floored by how many words I was able to write in five minutes. 187 and 178 words! I had already scheduled time the next morning before work to write, so I decided I’d do a couple of five-minute sprints. I didn’t make the word count that I had the night before, but it was still an impressive word count for me. I was averaging closer to 150 words for those sprints. What really struck me about putting the sprints in such short time spans was that I wrote the whole time and it didn’t seem long enough! This is incredible for me. Usually, I sit down to write and stare at the page, no words forthcoming, painstakingly force myself to write a paltry 200-300 words, then dive head first into Facebook to escape writing.

Which sucks. When it’s flowing, I love to write. But when it’s not, I have a hard time making myself sit in front of my laptop trying to force out words for half an hour.

The awesome thing about these five-minute sprints was that I never had to force out the words. I knew I only had to write continuously for five minutes, so I could totally do that. Then the timer would go off mid-sentence, and I’d reset it because I needed another five minutes to finish my thought on the scene. This kept happening until I ran out of time and had to rush to finish getting ready for work.

I doubt that everyday I use this method it will be so easy. However, I think I’m going to stick with the five-minute bursts for a while because it seems I can convince myself to write every morning because it’s only five minutes. There’s a lot more to the book, which I’ve not implemented yet, and I highly recommend checking it out if you’re a writer.

 

Here’s a little sneak peek at what I’ve been writing (bear in mind this is entirely unedited and subject to change).

 

Dance of the Unseelie

“So, it’s true, then?” The words were hissed to Morgan’s right.

Morgan didn’t look over. She knew who spoke. Instead, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath, allowing the warm breeze to lift her hair, thankful for the tears streaking her cheeks even if they were for the wrong reason. At least she looked the part of the grieving widow. In truth, she was a grieving widow. Her grief just wasn’t for her husband dying.

“Devil got your tongue?”

“No, Grandmother. As I’ve told you before, there is no devil.” She regretted the spiteful words as soon as they left her lips, but the old woman always brought out the worst in her. She wiped the wetness from her cheeks with the back of her hand. Swallowing her anger, she said, “Why are you here?”

Her grandmother cackled. “Oh, there most certainly is a devil. You ought to know that first hand.”

Red-hot heat flashed through Morgan’s body, her anger so powerful she became dizzy. No one knew what Ryan was like. No one would have believed it about him.

Before she could pull herself together, her grandmother continued. “First your mother, and now your husband. You should have been drowned at birth like I suggested. I knew what you would be. It was written in the stars. And in your father’s soul. Or lack thereof.”

Morgan lifted her head to gaze out over the sun-drenched gravestones. Arguing with the bitter woman would be useless.

It would also be a lie.

 

©2015 S.M. Lowry

 

Tell me, do you have any favorite books about writing?