Discovering the #WritingCommunity

The date was March 12. I’d been on Twitter for nearly 8 years and had only broken 100 followers maybe a month or two prior. Originally, my account had been for a political following during the 2011 Canadian Federal Election, but shortly after that had concluded, I began tweeting about writing.

I’ve been writing since I was a young girl and coming up with stories long before that, though talking about writing to others – and using a social media platform to do so – was a first for me. But slowly, I became more used to it and soon I was posting about all my little random thoughts I’d have while writing and about the writing process.

Though this was quite awesome in its own right, I never seemed to be able to connect to writers in the expansive way that I wanted too. Yes, I was using the popular hashtags #amwriting, #writerslife, and #writerproblems, but I was only getting a like or two and maybe a retweet on posts I was making.

With that knowledge, back to my story.

The date was March 12. I was scrolling through Twitter – it had been a while since I’d had the energy to go through it – and a tweet jumped out at me. There was a shoutout from the account, Camilla Writes, calling to all writers on Twitter with less than 2000 friends (followers). She wanted these people (and probably all writers in general) to comment, like, and/or retweet, following everyone do did so.

I was astounded by this notion and extremely excited, so I joined in as soon as I saw the post. Sure enough, within moments of commenting and liking the tweet, followers started streaming in. My Twitter account was finally getting noticed and I was finally finding writing friends.

But what made even more of an impact for me was a hashtag Camilla used. #WritingCommunity.

One click and suddenly my Twitter feed was full of writers. Writers asking questions, answering questions, putting out polls. Writers posting tweets just like mine, only these ones have hundreds of responses, retweets, and likes. I couldn’t believe my eyes, but I was so happy.

Since that day, I’ve over tripled my followership, and found many more new writers to connect with. I’ve been on Twitter daily, scrolling through my feed, answering other writers’ questions, commenting on posts with news on my latest work-in-progress, or just saying hi and introducing myself to others out there.

So for all those new writers out there looking for friends, leap over to Twitter. There’s a whole community out there just waiting to befriend you and help you with your daily writing struggles, needs, and triumphs.

#WritingCommunity. Look it up.

Until next time.

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Is There A Difference Between A “Writer” and “Author”

Writer: A person who writes books, stories, or articles as a job or regular occupation.

Author: A writer of a book, article, or report.

Looking at these two words based solely upon their definitions, you wouldn’t think twice about distinguishing a difference between them, and yet, many people consider these words to be very different after all.

Authors are published. Authors are respected. Author’s are to be taken seriously.

Writer’s are unpublished, looked down upon, and should just go out and get a “real job”.

Under these social constructs, I would be considered a writer and nothing more. I’ve never been published, and the pipe dream that I have about writing for a career is for the most part useless and just that, a dream. Nothing more.

But I would like to challenge the social norms and say that all writers and authors, whether published or unpublished, are one and the same. And I’m sure that there are many others in the writing community who will support my claim. Yes, there will be some differences between unpublished and published members of the writing community, but I believe it’s the differences that makes our community stronger, and more whole.

Many unpublished writers still have much to contribute to the writing community, through experiences, tips and tricks they’ve come across over their years perfecting their craft, or just being a supportive person willing to be another’s cheerleader. And these are only just some of the examples of ways unpublished writers/authors should garner respect from society. Unpublished writers come from a different viewpoint than published writers. That’s important. Diversity in the writing community is always welcome, and I know from all of the interactions between writers I see online through social media, this diversity is requested. People want to know others experiences with issues they’re facing. To answer these questions, you don’t have necessarily be a published author.

One day, I hope we all live in a world where a distinction doesn’t lie between being called a writer and an author, and one is looked upon in a lesser manner. Until then, everyone in the writing community, and anyone else for that matter, can do whatever is in their power to stop the negative stigma surrounding being an unpublished “writer”. Celebrate writers and authors alike, use the words interchangeably, spread the word that unpublished people are authors too.

And as per usual, keep writing, everyone!

Until next time.

How I Became A Writer

I’ve always loved to write. I’ve been coming up with stories since I was three or four years old. The first stories I can remember creating? I was probably seven or eight. Of course, those were part of Barbie games I would play with my sister in our basement, but it was a start. There were characters, plots, different settings, tons of dialogue… Really, exactly what I write now, only on a far less complex scale.

When I was in Grade 5, my teacher gave each of the students in the class a Writing Notebook. In this notebook, we’d do exercises for English class, but we’d also be given “Free Writing Time” on occasion. This writing time is the first documented short story I ever wrote down onto paper. But soon enough, the school year was over and the notebook went away into the depths of my closet, forgotten.

I didn’t really get into the written form of writing until I was thirteen or so. My Grade 8 English teacher’s brother owned a magazine company, and he was willing to possibly publish some of his brother’s students’ pieces of writing if they were good enough. Did I ever submit anything? No… I never thought anything I wrote was ever good enough. This was the real start of my writing career though – the pivotal turning point moment, if you shall.

All throughout high school, writing became my life. I still wasn’t really sure I wanted to make a career of it, but my love and passion for creative writing grew and grew. I joined the high school Writer’s Guild Club, where students just obsessed with writing as I was met in a group with one of the English teachers every Wednesday after school to share and critique each others’ pieces. I wrote every spare moment that I had – much to the chagrin of my mother, who was always pushing me to study more, or spend more time on my schoolwork. And then when I got to university, I discovered the wonderful thing that is NaNoWriMo.

And now I do this. Write blog posts about writing and all of my experiences with the craft, so that I can help people just like me become something better. I surround myself all day with books at my job (I work in a library), where I’m constantly inspired by the hundreds of authors around me who’ve done exactly what I want to eventually do. Something I’m sure all of you want to do someday too. But being at that job, and writing these posts for you all, gives real meaning to what it means to be a writer, and be in the writing industry. Just looking at all those names alone makes me feel that I can achieve my goal.

So do I finally consider myself a writer? Yes, I do. Have I made any money off of my writing? No, but that’s not what matters. What matters is that people around the world have read my work, provided comments, praise, and sometimes even criticism. What matters is that I’ve grown in my writing, taking old, drabby pieces of literature I once thought were absolutely amazing (and they actually weren’t), and refined them, turning them into pieces that I’m now proud to have my friends and family read, and anyone else really who asks.

I hope that this helps inspire you all – that’s the whole purpose of this entire website, really. Inspiration. For me, and for every other writer and future writer out there.

Keep writing everyone!

Until next time.

Failure Isn’t Always A Bad Thing

It occurred to me earlier this evening while I was out on a walk that I won’t complete my first NaNo-related project goal in nearly seven years. In a little less than an hour, midnight will strike, rolling in with it the month of May, and signalling the end of April’s edition of Camp NaNoWriMo. Now, April hasn’t been a typical, normal month for me – there’s been a lot of stuff I’ve had to deal with in the personal part of my life – but even in those few moments I’ve had to sit down at my keyboard and type away, I just have found that I haven’t been able to do it.

I know that this is writer’s block, and I know that there are techniques that I could talk about here which can help ease the pain writer’s block causes, but that’s not what I’m going to do tonight. Instead, I’m going to talk about failure, and how failure in your writing is actually okay.

It’s been a long time since I’ve failed at something in writing – usually I have no problem at all completing a deadline (even when writer’s block hits me hard). I’ve always managed to pull through and have a big word-filled day of writing that makes me hit my targeted word count. Even earlier tonight, when I first got home from my walk and opened up my laptop, a small part of me thought I’d just do it again and power through. But then it hit me, and I began to write this piece here.

Sometimes, it’s okay to fail. Failure reminds us that we’re human and we don’t always get the things done that we set out to complete.

The sun is still going to rise tomorrow morning. I will sit down at some point in time in the near future and hash out those words counts I was supposed to conquer this past month. All will right itself. Because sometimes, that’s just the way things go.

I hope that this helps out any other fellow writers (Camp NaNoers or just regular writers out there struggling) cope with their bout of failure, and realize that you’ll get it sorted out at some point.

As always, keep writing everyone, whenever you have a spare moment to do so.

Until next time.

Where My Characters Come From

One of the most difficult aspects of being a writer is developing real and believable characters. They are the story. Without them, your story will have a hard time getting off the ground and just really won’t have very much substance to it. You can have a great plot, but without great characters to lead the charge, a great plot will do you next to nothing in keeping the readers’ interest.

Having come up with dozens and dozens of characters over the past decade of my writing career, I’ve gone through many good characters… and bad ones too. Today, I’m going to try and enlighten you on some key factors I’ve used over the years to help create real and effective characters that your readers are going to believe.

1) A lot of writers do a brilliant job of physically describing their characters, but they forget to describe the other aspects of them to their reader. What’s their favourite colour? How do they react to a certain situation? What do they feel? To make a character believable, you need to know everything about them, down to the stuff that won’t even make it into your book.

2) Your characters have to have faults too. No one in the real world is perfect, so your characters shouldn’t be too. This goes the other way too – your characters can’t be all bad either. That won’t be believable either.

3) Try to not have your character be passive. It’s very easy to slip into that rhythm, but to create a compelling story, you need to have active characters with their own agency. Yes, it’s okay for a main character to start off as a passive character, but at some point in your story, they need to take charge and start to make their own decisions. Without this, readers will get bored rather quickly.

4) Conflict is another thing which is key to creating a believable character. Internal conflict (or conflict between the character and themselves) is important for a character to have. Without it, they won’t question themselves. External conflict between characters is also needed. People naturally fight, so your characters should fight too. No one gets along and agrees about everything.

So there are a couple of ideas that you can use when dreaming up your characters. I hope they help. In the next few days I’m going to try and get some more character suggestions out there in another entry – I’ve still got plenty of suggestions for you all.

As always, keep writing everyone! And for those of you who will be participating in CampNaNoWriMo in the month of April, good luck in your prepping month.

Until next time.

 

Automatic Writing: A Cure To Writer’s Block

As writer’s, one of the most difficult things we have to deal with is the deadly writer’s block. I’ve written many times about my personal frustrations with it, along with different tips and strategies to combat writer’s block, but today, I offer you another solution.

Automatic writing.

Traditionally used to get in contact with your spiritual side, automatic writing actually holds great value for writer’s. I’d never heard about it, until my Writer’s Craft high school teacher had us participate in a session of it at the beginning of class one day.

The process is extremely simple. Open a word document of some sort. Could be Microsoft Word, could be a simple text document – it doesn’t really matter so long as you’re about to type into it. Once your document is open and set up, turn off your computer screen. Yes, I do realize that most people own laptops and tablets instead of desktop computers, but most laptops offer a function where you can turn your screen off. And if you have a tablet (which I don’t so if I’m mistaken about this, please correct me) I’d recommend just placing something over top of the screen so you can’t see it at all.

From this point onward, you simply have to set a timer for the amount of time you want to write for, and then write.

The whole point about automatic writing is to just let the words flow. It doesn’t matter if you think you’ve made typos, or if you have no idea what to write. You just write. I’m serious… I’ve literally written “I have no idea what to write right now” and “I think I just made a spelling mistake” during different automatic writing sessions.

There’s something about just getting words onto a page that can really open up the mind from writer’s block. Because really, we only want to just start the process of getting back into the writing rhythm after a case of writer’s block. We all know that it’s never an easy fix. Automatic writing can help with that.

So there you have it – another tool to combat the terrible writer’s block. I hope it helps. It’s definitely gotten me out of a couple of writer’s block jams in the past.

Keep writing, everyone!

Until next time.

Gifts For A Writer

So, it’s that time of year. December… Christmas time… That means present shopping. You have a friend/family member who’s an author… or maybe they’ve yet to sell that best-seller of theirs, but still spend all of their free time typing furiously away on their laptops.

So how do you come up with good gifts for a writer? Well, I’ve decided to compile a list of things that I think the writer on your shopping list will love. And don’t worry, it’s not just notebooks (though we do love to get those sometimes!). So, without further ado, here’s some gift suggestions writers will love.

Typewriter key letter necklace orĀ cuff-links. Because what writer doesn’t want to have some fancy bling to remind them how awesome typewriters are?

Aqua Notes. These waterproof Post-Its notes are the bomb. We writers always need to jot things down at the worst possible moments (like when in the shower) and these are perfect for just that scenario.

Bananagrams. If you haven’t heard about this game, it’s awesome. You basically make words off of words. It’s Scrabble… but simplified. A writer’s dream.

Shakespearean Insults Mug. I think that this might actually be the most amazing Christmas present ever… If your special someone loves Shakespeare, this is perfect for them.

500 Writing Prompts book: Because we all have those days (or weeks) where the words just don’t want to come to us.

Scrivener: If the writer in your life doesn’t have this piece of software on their computer yet, they will love you forever when you get it for them. Scrivener takes a complicated mess of multiple documents and allows you to compile them all in one, easy to access spot. Plus so much more. If you want to learn more about it before purchasing, click here for a blog post I wrote detailing some of the things I love about Scrivener’s capabilities.

Small purse (or pocket) sized notebooks. We really can never have enough things to jot ideas down into… and not all of us like to use the memo-pad on our cell phones.

Stephen King’s On Writing. This is something every writer should have on their bookshelf. No question.

So there’s some ideas for the writer in your life. Hopefully there’s someone on this list that they don’t already have. If you have any other great gift ideas, feel free to share them in the comments section below.

Happy holidays, and keep writing!

Until next time.