Thursday, January 29, 2009
It’s a little like a wipe-out only uglier. Burnout is what you get from writing too much. WHAT? Can one ever write too much?
Sometimes I write so much I wonder what I have accomplished outside of the windowed walls. Is life going on around me and I’m unaware? Are the people still moving and is the noisy traffic still congesting the highways?
Well of course it is, I’m just not out there to see or hear the action taking place. Sometimes I think I need to get a life. I’ve been told by a few that I ‘have no life’, only because they don’t see my writing the same way that I do.
I see myself sitting here utilizing my valuable time by giving critiques and feedback to others, trying to help them along on their writing journey and in a day I log over 5,000 words easily.
So what is burnout? Burnout is writing too much but not writing for yourself. You realize that 5000 words a day is spent not on your writing but aiding others and while you find this very fulfilling, you realize also that your dream is slipping like jell-o on a hot day, right through your fingers.
What can be done about this writing burnout? Write for yourself. I offer this blog as a tool to help others so they can learn the skills it takes to be a writer, then someone says, “Who is helping me become a better writer?” I can’t write across the sky my blog, but you need to dig and dig to learn, you can’t expect everyone to just make it easy for you all of your life. (A hard lesson I learned at a very young age.)
I was warned of the burnout about a year ago and I go through phases of highs and lows where writing is fun then it stinks. Like standing on top of a mountains edge and the wind plows up to smack you in the face leaving a feeling of exhilaration. Then there’s the unconscious act of jumping off the mountain without a parachute, you wonder what the purpose in all of this is for.
I think there comes a time in a writers life that he/she/you/me need to focus on numero uno. Throw caution to the wind and take that leap of leaving it all behind to venture into your own writing and soar into the fantasy world. I’m sure everyone would get along without me, heck I’m just another person standing on the ladder.
When you feel the burnout stinging you in the eyes, rub them real hard, look at WHO your writing is fulfilling and if it isn’t you, then YOU need to re-focus!
That is what I intend to do. Focus on my writing and take a breathtaking leap into the world I love most.
Educate yourself, learn the ropes, dig until your nails come out dirty, THEN you can say, I’ve done all the learning I can. Oh and by the way, it isn’t all about “Writing” books. There are tons out there and all have something different to say. If you’re a writer, a hard working, honest to goodness writer, then you need to be writing!
So that is what Joni is going to do!
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Have you ever left out a comma in the wrong place,
Ever use and exclamation mark wrong!
Punctuation promises to bring our writing to a new level when used properly. So often I see people trying to use colons where semi-colons should be; quotation marks when no one is speaking, and periods where comma’s should be and vice-versa.
I try and tell them (the writer) to bring your cleanest work to the table and don’t hand me a piece where I need to line critique your work to bits. I am no grammar queen by any means, but I do try and bring my full knowledge into anything I’m going to post and have others look at for me.
Granted even the best of us make mistakes and sometimes it takes someone else's eyes to see something that we missed. I’m not talking about minor faux pas, I’m talking, “Where did you go to school at?” kind of work.
Grammar is easy for some of us, harder on others as many people live in different countries and English is their second or third language. I have to say this though, if you’re going to write for American magazines then you will need to hone the craft of the English grammar and punctuation.
Why let someone else do your work for you?
I think I’ll save all my line-by-line critiques for when I become an editor (read between the words here; when I start getting PAID to line crit.). But on the plus side, it has definitely been a learning experience. I have Writer’s Village University to thank for that.
Why am I telling all of you, my readers, this? Because I want you to tighten up your work! I want you to bring your best work forward. Do your homework on honing a skill, a craft, an art.
A semicolon is to join related independent clauses in a compound sentence.
Mary and Jody were on the team together; Jody was the better of the two players.
A colon may be used for many different things. Mainly listing items is a clue that you need a colon instead of a semicolon.
Mary and Jody were undecided which team to join: The Mavericks, The Beatles or the Birds.
Use question marks when ASKING a question. Exclamation marks when you want to add emphasis to a statement! A period when a statement ends.
I could go on and on with a grammar class here but for now, I’ll let you do your own homework and make use of the links to the left on grammar. They are there to help and assist you in becoming more educated in the field of writing.
So what are you waiting for?
Monday, January 26, 2009
In a Child’s Eye
In a child’s eye the world is not real,
it's a bouncing ball full of zeal;
an immense playground for roaming beast.
The world is a candle that lights a feast.
In a child’s eye the world is a game,
that spins as a globe with earth as its name.
The world is a puddle produced by rain.
It's also the clown devoid of pain.
In a child’s eye the world goes round;
full of life and wondrous sound.
In the blink of his eye it all disappears,
the child then realizes...he's created tears.
Friday, January 23, 2009
The Benefits of Prose to Color Your Work...
I’m always asked how people can make their writing have oomph. “Well,” I say, “take a poetry course!”
“But I don’t like poetry,” they say.
Well I’m here to tell you now that you don’t need to like poetry to write better you just need to put to use some of the elements of poetry to make your writing get up and dance. Yes, your writing will dance. It will do a pirouette across your blank screen. Your words will form across the sky and take flight in new directions.
Assonance, alliteration and rhythm; all of these elements digested in poetry will spew forth better writing. Rhythm in writing? Is there such a thing? Yes there is. Have you ever read a choppy book? No? Why not? Because the writer took the time to find a rhythm in his words. The editor/publisher picked up on the rhythm and decided that the book needed to be published.
Having yourself a good poetry critique group will have you becoming aware of your words. You will make every word count and you will also be finding the over used words unnecessary in writing. Being aware of those words that you use a little too much is essential.
So many times I critique a writer and they say they didn’t even SEE the word "AND" twenty times in a paragraph. By writing poetry you’ll know that the word AND is not needed all of the time to finish or begin a sentence to make it complete.
Poetry and prose isn’t all about rhyme. It is about eloquence. The way to make your writing more eloquent is by the feel and flow of the words slipping off your tongue. Some writers have said they never thought to read their work out loud. I say, “How could you NOT read it out loud?"
Do we always read silently? Come on now be honest with me. Don’t most of us at least move our lips or utter an almost silent whisper as we read? Do we all read in silence? If this is true, it’s time to speak up! Feel those words. Speak those words. Realize what you’ve written by SAYING the words.
When I read a poem I can’t help but utter the words, then by some crazy manifestation I’m reading the poem out loud, even if no one is there to hear me. Can you imagine reading Robert Frost’s poem ‘Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening’ in silence?
Well, I once again am going to tell you to speak up! Here the words, feel the rhythm, tap those keys, and make your writing dance!
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Fiction vs. Non-fiction ~ The healing tool
It is sometimes hard as a writer to clearly define the fiction from the non-fiction. I’m always finding some truth in my fiction or an insight that I relay from my experience in real life and I gladly hand it over to my fictional character.
In my non-fiction, I’m being open and honest about my (or another’s) real life experience. I want my reader to feel the pain or sorrow and reap the rewards of the hope and joy. They need to grasp the story and somewhat know that they’ve been there, done that also.
Isn’t that what we want from our readers when we write fiction? We want the reader to have the feeling that you are speaking right to them. They relate to what your character is going through, cling to your character like snow to the ground, melting their way into your heart.
Is fiction a stretch from non-fiction? In many ways, I have to say no. We see ourselves in each and every character of fiction or fantasy. We soar with the character through trials and tribulations whether it is a hobbit going on a journey to middle earth (Lord of the Rings) or a young girl flying through the air to save the world as in the Maximum Ride series.
We as readers WANT to relate. We read books because we can relate, and we keep reading them because through reading we are allowing parts of ourselves a healing. The same goes for non-fiction. We read to heal a part of ourselves that maybe we didn’t even know needed healing.
Rest assured we read to fulfill an inner need of release. Whether it is the Holy Bible, a tell-all tale biography, or a fictional piece of work that is far removed from our realities. The healing that takes place through reading is not something I’ve made up, it has been a tool used through centuries to get us through to the next day.
Think about it, how many times have you said to a friend or neighbor, “You know what I read today?” And went on to tell them about an article, a book or some truth that you discovered and wanted to share with them. This is what fiction and non-fiction has done for us as a human species. It is a healing tool that we use and share and will continue to use and share all the way into the next millennium.
There is a defining line between fact and fiction, but it all heals. As with gossip (the untruth that spreads like wildfire) is a harmful tool that eats away at our essence of trying to heal, grow and learn. Know the difference because quite frankly, there IS a difference.
Defining line? Fact =Truth, Fiction = Inner Truth Revealed, Gossip = Bold Faced Lies.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Does the word dangling participle or split infinitive scare you? They scare me because this means I missed something in my English class that I need to go back and review.
You’ve posted a rough draft; you’re going to get a blunt honest critique. “Hey this looks like a rough draft.”
Monday, January 19, 2009
Make every word count...
Here lately I’ve been reading a lot of work that is just too full of words. I mean I’m all for adverbs and adjectives, but when you write a sentence please writer’s, make every word count.
You might ask what I mean? Well okay.
Ex: She walked down the darkened path on her way home from school which she knew was against her mothers wishes.
Can you pick out the unnecessary words in that sentence? Can you restructure that sentence to pack a powerful punch for the reader?
Against her mother’s wishes, she walked the (no need for down) darkened path. One, two punch. I eliminated a bunch of words and the sentence comes off as more powerful.
By writing the longer sentence and in essence feeding your muse, I’m wondering if you are writing to the reader or to yourself? Are you writing to satisfy your eye? Consider why you are writing so many words in a sentence. Are you fulfilling a need of telling the story to its fullness? Are you trying to impress yourself? Well cut it out!
I mean it, literally! Stop writing for you and start writing for your reader.
Pick powerful verbs that can convey the message that you want to get across instead of using filler adjectives to carry your sentence.
Make sure you use action verbs that represent the powerful action in a sentence. A strong action word can bring the reader home to the point that you’re trying to make.
I am not a fan of adjectives and I try not to use many prepositions either. (I overuse, so, now, and then) UGH!
I’m getting better. I need to show you the writer that every word counts in a sentence. I need you to re-read your work before posting it at a writing workshop and definitely before you send it off for a publisher to take a peek at. You’ll be thankful that you did.
The rules of the game? Make every word have a purpose! If it has no purpose, omit it and see if the sentence still reads properly. If it reads properly and you can do this throughout a five-hundred word piece, then you can narrow down the word count to 250, meaning you can write another 250 words to make the 500 mark. Or whatever mark you’re reaching for. :-)
Now get writing and show me something worth reading. I don’t want any more excuses why your 500-word piece has over 100 adverbs, adjectives, and prepositions! Get to cutting and you’ll have a story worth publishing!
Check out the Sentence Structure links to the left. A GREAT tool in making the most out of your words.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
This is one of my first poems when I was much younger, my teen years. This poem still has the same power today.
The Boy Cried...
"Hey mister, got a quarter?"
the boy says with a grin.
"I need it to buy my dinner,
'cause my dads not home again."
"He goes to the bar everyday,"
his head lowers in shame.
"He comes home late and beats me,
'cause there's no one else to blame."
"Son," the man says, "Let me tell you a story,
I was once a boy like you;
except my Father opened His arms to me,
as He's asked me to do for you."
"You see," the man says, eyes full of hope,
"You're safe here by my side."
"Oh boy," the child says gleefully,
"I no longer have to run and hide?"
As the parents and family sit quietly,
At the grave site of their son.
"Oh dear God," the father stammers,
"What could we possibly have done?"
Friday, January 16, 2009
At least if you want to be a writer you need the computer. Unless of course if you live in the 18th century. In those days blog wasn’t even a word. Maybe it was but it was a piece of lint in your belly button.
“Ma, I got a blog in my belly-button.”
We’ve been spoiled by this technology and have come to depend on it like a pair of shoes. It is there when we most need it and has come to be a necessity in a writer’s life. The computer AND the shoes.
One might say, “Walk a mile in my shoes.”
I’ve been inundated with computer problems. Logging on and getting knocked off is becoming the norm and I have DSL service. I know we pay a great deal to have this ‘lightning speed’ internet service but what good is it when your computer won’t act the way it is supposed to?
I need my computer to write. I’m active in writing groups and I am thankful for MS Word during my crits because without MS Word I would lose a ton of crits by my ‘time out’ that my computer takes. I didn’t give it a time out, it just takes one when it feels like taking one.
I can use a pen and paper (how archaic is that?) for my writing, but to blog? Well to blog I need to get the lint out of my belly button, I mean my system, so it works for me. Just in case you were wondering why my blog has been showing the same thing over and over and there are no new posts.
I’m searching for a browser that likes formatting and this is a task in and of itself trying to find one that actually likes blogging. I’ve tried Netscape, Flock, Opera and some I can’t even pronounce. None agree with my system. It is like they are at war with one another and each need’s to be center of attention or the other won’t work properly.
So for now I’m using my handy dandy Internet Explorer, and that isn't the greatest either. It has no spell check system (that I’m aware of) and I can’t save passwords to the many sites that I’m active in so my days are filled with re-entering my name with each visit and this tedious task is costing me hours of blogging potential!
I’m practicing patience and the computer is trying my patience. Oh what a web we weave. (ha ha, no pun intended)
Please make use of the many writing links I have on the left to help you in your writing. I will surface back here as soon as I remedy the situation then we can write our hearts out, learn with the tools that we need, and soar to new heights in our careers.
Until then… Bear with me my friends and followers.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
I harken to see the drizzled light
that creeps upon the floor.
It sings a song of sorrow,
as I weep forever more.
I sleep above the dampened clouds
that rain in marked procession.
I long to see the welcome hue,
of life's own daunting lesson.
I ask the pain to seep amid
the floorboards weakened measure.
Leave to me the stardust stream
of light and all it's treasure.
Grant to me acceptance,
of a daunting bridled task.
Dwell within this virile vase,
a life beyond the mask.
Sunday, January 04, 2009
Slithering along the garden path,
Thursday, January 01, 2009
Write from the Heart
As promised the New Year is beginning with WRITING! Not just writing but getting all of you back to learning the craft. Thanks for sticking with me through the month of my journey. If you’re still following me, then that means you love writing! Thank you for your patience!
Now my first post of the New Year is about writing from the heart. Often I see writer’s who write words but never put any feeling behind it. They write in a ‘matter-of-fact’ tone and the result is choppy unfeeling writing.
Today is a good time to start your journal. When writing in your journal you write from the heart releasing all your emotions into the tiny little book of secrets. As you begin a story, you are going to begin with the same emotion. You will write from the heart!
I’ve been seeing a lot of choppy dialog too. When writing dialog, your character needs to speak from the heart as much as you need to learn how to write from the heart. By choppy dialogue I mean ‘stilted’, ‘unfeeling’, ‘emotionless’. It is as if robots are speaking to one another. Is this the way you and I talk to one another? I don’t think so. I think that we speak from emotion. Hence, we speak from the heart.
Write it down. Have you ever listened in on a conversation? Not eavesdropped just overheard a conversation? Well try and write with the emotion that the real folks were speaking and let emotion into your writing of dialog.
As you find your voice in writing dialog, you’ll discover your voice in writing from the heart. I don’t want to see brief quick sentences; I want sentences that flow! I want to see some emotion in everyone’s writing.
As we head into our New Year, lets try and get our writing to shine. Let’s work on perfecting and honing the craft we so dearly love and hold close to our heart. What I’m saying here folks, is to write from the heart!
Happy New Year! And may you have a wonderful writing experience that comes right from the center of your being…Write Right…From the heart!