Recharging Writing

I took a break from Shade my WIP. I had this other idea come to me, what I’m affectionately calling Code Name Clemmings. I wrote the first chapter, and then feeling too much anxiety over not knowing where the story was going, I paused and wrote an outline.

Before CNC I’d been focused mostly on editing and revising Shade and partly on a couple of short stories and if we’re being honest, doing some tourism training in San Francisco. I wasn’t getting as much writing done as I wanted, but sometimes that’s just the way life goes.

But here’s my point.

I’d been in editing mode so long, when I embarked on writing CNC for kicks and giggles and because my Pitch Wars mentor Marieke recommended I try something completely different after finishing revisions on Shade—when I finally sat down to write something new—it was like my brain had forgotten how to be creative.

I’d been focusing on editing for so long, which is very important, I’d let the flow of being creative run a little dry. Granted, I had written a couple of short stories in the meantime, so it wasn’t a complete creative drought, but I noticed something.

Editing, without spurts of creativity, can give more power to your internal editor than your internal creator.

Although I’m sure the same can be said, and should be said, of being creative and never doing enough editing. You might be in this mode if you get severe anxiety when it comes to editing. It’s a delicate balance as a writer.

So how does one maintain a good balance between the internal editor and creator? How does one embrace both the yin and yang of writing? Because when both are in balance, skill grows in both areas at an impressive rate.


I’ve been in editing and revision mode for a few years now. I feel like it’s something I know how to do well, and feedback from critique partners doesn’t sting like it once did. I’ve learned to uncover the root of the suggestions (if the CP is less experienced) and glean good advice. Often they’re right—at least about finding the weak spot. Their suggestion may not be on the mark, but they still helped me find weak spots, and that’s a very good thing.

Since I’ve been doing this for a few years, I’m very adept at editing and revising my work.

In order to get into this stage yourself, I recommend first of all, embracing the editing. I have an entire series on editing available for help, which is based on my experiences over the past few years. Read books on editing and making better story. And most importantly, take it to people who will be honest with you.

Start with softer critiquers if you need. These can be friends and family who help you catch easy to face things, like typos and grammatical errors. Then find those honest critiquers who tell it like it is. Sometimes you can find these people at writing conferences or workshops. With Google Docs and the like, doing this editing online has never been easier.

And edit other people’s stuff, even if you think you suck at editing. You’ll learn a ton about writing, either in seeing what good writers do really well, or seeing mistakes to be avoided.


Often this is the least hard part to do for most writers. It’s the most enjoyable part. I probably don’t need to tell you how to have fun creating, but you may feel like writer’s block is knocking at the door or maybe you’re not sure what to write or maybe you’re losing the passion—whatever it is, you need to recharge.

The solution: read.

Okay, that’s not really the solution I’m going to talk about, but it is a big part of the equation. Have you ever said anything like this phrase: I’d love to read, but I’m too busy using what little time I have writing.

Maybe liar is a bit harsh, but the truth is you do have time to read, you’re just using that time to do something else. Even if you can only get a chapter in a day, READ.

Back to the other part of the solution: write.

I know, I’m probably driving you crazy. But I’m serious. Write. Whatever your genre, pick something completely different, and write a short story about it.

I highly recommend flash fiction. You must be brief, you have little time to info dump, and you have to create empathy for characters quick. I’ve found this to be extremely helpful in streamlining my novel writing. It’s also very refreshing. You don’t have to spend the same amount of time as a novel (although you may later if you really like the idea, but save those for after the flash fiction). You’ve finished something, which has its own sense of accomplishment. And you’ve done something a little different, so when you go back to the regular genre, you’re rejuvenated.

I think of it as always having to eat Italian food for every meal. Italian is really good, but after a while, no matter how good it is there comes a point when you’re done with Italian and you’re desperate for anything else. So you have a little Greek or a little Thai and suddenly Italian has all its delicious flavor back.

It’s not a long commitment, like a whole other novel. Plus, with flash fiction, you can enter it into contests and get yourself more writing creds if you intend to eventually query your work.

Write flash fiction or short stories and you’ll find a renewed sense of energy in returning to your longer WIP. Plus it’s fun. And just so you know, flash fiction is—up to this point—just about this long.

Get recharged. Grow as a writer. And keep the balance.

What do you do to recharge your writing? Is your writing yin and yang out of balance? Have you written flash fiction or short stories before? Did you find the process invigorating? Anything you would add?

Row 80 Here I Come

This is not the first time I’ve done Row80, but I thought it was high time I stepped back into this game. I seem to get a lot more done with some goals in mind.

For those that have no experience with Row80, basically you state your goals for the 80 days you participate and check in bi-weekly to update the peeps on your progress (usually Sundays and Wednesdays). More details on their site.


If you were reading on the blog last year, some of these goals haven’t changed. I intend to recommit to making progress on them. As far as I know there isn’t any major contest to get in the way of them. 😉 Here they are in no particular order.

  1. Read at least 10 more Anton Chekhov short stories to add to my progress of 50 of 201.

  2. Finish reading both The Fire in Fiction and On Writing.

  3. Submit Trick or Tree to another writing contest. Finish Dog Shy and write at least one other short story, all to be submitted to contests.

  4. Write a flash fiction story.

  5. Do at least one thing every week that increases my fluency in Spanish and Japanese.

  6. Finish feedback edits on SHADE and get it queried.

I’m going to call these others bonus goals, which maybe I’ll add as real goals if I finish off one of the six.

  • Rework old contemporary YA story for future publication.
  • Finish my novelette I refer to as the bodyguard story.
  • Create a rough outline for SHADE’s sequel.

Okay, lots to do, I know. But I think they’re all manageable in 80 days. Of course if I hear back on any queries in the meantime, many of these goals might just go right out the window. Ah, life getting in the way of life. 😉

Are you doing Row80? Or do you have some summer goals you’re working on? Does setting goals help you move your writing along?

Getting Back to Business

Fridays are usually reserved for movies, but I feel like enough has been going on lately it’s time for an update. No big news as of yet, but lots of upcoming plans and projects to be had.


First of all, I’m officially querying out SHADE. Thanks to help from a lot of you good people out there, I finally got together a good query letter. Hopefully I’ll have good news to report soon. It feels good to be back in the querying game. I certainly feel a lot more prepared this time around.


I have a couple upcoming conferences, both Utah-based. The first is one I attended last year called Writing for Charity. Last year the big name attender was Brandon Sanderson, this year it’s Shannon Hale. But there are other authors you may have heard of as well. It’s not a huge conference, it’s a one-day event only. But you can get feedback from published authors on your stuff as well as attend forums. I found it super helpful last year, so I’m attending again this year. This one is at the end of April.

The other is LDS Storymakers, and this one does have a few agents attending. The big name author for this one is Anne Perry. There are a few agents attending. The one I’m hoping to catch the eye of is Hannah Bowman. I have a few workshops with her, so hopefully something might come of that. Plus they have a sort of writer’s bootcamp which I’m looking forward to taking SHADE through. Never hurts to have some extra polish. This one is longer, I think from Thursday to Saturday. This one is the first week in may or so.

I’ll definitely post notes from both.


I think I’m going to fill a lot of my query response waiting time with seeking out and entering contests. I plan to enter something in the big Writer’s Digest Contest, but I intend to do a little flash fiction and short story writing. I think building a little clout while you’re waiting is always a good thing, don’t you?


While I’ll occasionally edit SHADE as things progress, and certainly after novel boot camp. But I’m going to see what contests I can put Trick or Tree in and I’ve got a short story that needs finishing I’ve tentatively titled Dog Shy. I think it was inspired by my Ray Bradbury reading stint. Well, probably both short stories are.

I’ve also got something from a much older WIP—this piece I think I’ll enter in the Writer’s Digest contest. I was going to use a newer project I’m working on, but I don’t think it’ll be ready in time. My older WIP I already know the characters really well, so it will be easy to take a selection and use it as a short story of sorts (or I guess I should say easier, because I know their motivations). I’m taking that to writer’s group next week.

Continue reading

Row Check-In Nov. 28th

Since there’s still not much for picturesque scenes around town, I’m going to stick with my food motif. This delightful dish is a mountain of tempura. The BFF and I did yams, carrots, onions, and broccoli with a special homemade sauce. We weren’t able to climb this mountain all in one sitting (we did once before somehow), but if you broil them to heat them up, they make decent leftovers. This makes a nice Fall dish (since you can open the windows and air out the frying oil smell) but we tolerate it in the winter too. I mean, it’s tempura!

Now for the goals:

  • Write at least 3 short stories intended for publication.  I’ll probably try my hand at several more than three, but the hope is to find three gemstones among the rocks.
    On hiatus.
  • Read the helpful books to prepare me for the editing fest that will be late November early December on SHADE.
    I don’t know that I’ll finish up Story this week. Pitch Wars has been demanding all of my attention—particularly the query. More on that below.
  • Have read all 201 available Anton Chekhov’s short stories, sprinkled with Hemingway and Bradbury.
    I’ve read 50 of 201 Chekhov short stories. No new progress.
  • Polish SHADE to pure awesomeness.  No real progress to report. I’ve been working on the query steadily. I received a lot of great feedback from my writing group last night, and friends, so I’m sure I’ll have something awesome soon.
  • No Treat November. I’ve been doing pretty well. I resisted trying these delicious looking ginger snaps. *sigh* I still kind of want some… But the goal’s the thing, so for now I’ll have to wait. Anyone have success with the one day a week you don’t go crazy but you can be a little looser? By the way, I’m thinking of calling December Don’t Dessert December. 😉
  • The Holiday Book Read! I turned my books back in to the library yesterday. I’m going to spend the rest of this week prepping for Pitch Wars, then I’ll grab a couple new books from the library.

How about you? Do you have any favorite Fall/Winter foods? How are your goals coming? Anything putting your goals on hiatus that seemed to pop up out of nowhere? Let me know in the comments below.

Row80 Check-in Nov. 19th

Okay, people.

Some of you asked for it.

Some of you hoped for it.

Here it is.

It’s basic, but it’s 100% pure Babybel cheese wax. Bask in its redlicious glory!

Okay, I know, it’s not that exciting. The weather refuses to do anything but gray and gloomy. But it makes me smile and oddly enough gives me a craving for delicious gouda cheese.

If you really warm up the wax, you can create a lot more detailed figures. I did a wax pig for a friend once, but it was teeny weeny.

But we’re here for goals, by golly, and goals you’re going to get:

  • Write at least 3 short stories intended for publication.  I’ll probably try my hand at several more than three, but the hope is to find three gemstones among the rocks.
    On hiatus for now. I’ve got the 250 word contest I’m planning on finishing soon and another new contest called Pitch Wars. What? You haven’t heard of Pitch Wars? Well, if you have a finished novel, you should click on the link and get in on this. To state it simply, apply for a mentor, if they like you they’ll help you polish up your work to submit to an agent. Foot in the door? Maybe. Professional feedback? Yes, please!
  • Read the helpful books to prepare me for the editing fest that will be late November early December on Shade.
    So I know I’ve been saying On Writing would be next, but after Story I’m going to jump into Writing the Breakout Novel since Brian has been enjoying it so much and I think I’ll need its advice for Pitch Wars. And as always, I’m posting little nuggets of Robert McKee wisdom on Twitter. One of my favorite recent nuggets is: “In storytelling, logic is retroactive. You can set up what may seem absurd and make it rational.”
  • Have read all 201 available Anton Chekhov’s short stories, sprinkled with Hemingway and Bradbury.
    I’ve read 48 of 201 Chekhov short stories. I think when I hit 50 I’m going to switch to Hemingway, at least for a couple short stories. When you read Chekhov like I’m doing, so intensively, it feels a bit formulaic—at least the early ones do. I need a break.
  • Once December hits, tear Shade apart and polish it to pure awesomeness!  This goal has changed. Now that I’m doing two contests, Shade has come out early to play. I made it through seven chapters over the weekend in polishing, but I’m probably going to count it as four. I felt like toward the end I wasn’t as sharp. I may try to do the edit out of order thing, but I wanted to regain an overall sense of the story again. So now this goal will be called: Polish Shade to pure awesomeness!
  • No Treat November. Not bad, not great. I forgot to weigh in this morning to see if I’m making any headway. Hopefully Wednesday will mean progress. Although Thursday will probably undo all of it. Thanksgiving is a calorie-free zone, meaning calories go uncounted. I’m going to shovel down as much pumpkin pie, stuffing, and turkey as I can take. Mmmm… Thanksgiving…
  • The Holiday Book Read! I haven’t been able to get back to Abandon yet, but it’ll be this holiday’s book for me. Mini-review on Pretties still forthcoming. As usual, probably with spoilers, since I like to analyze the story and where I thought it wasn’t as strong as it could be.

Okay, there you have it. I’m still waiting for Daphne to decide what trio she, Brian, and I would be. I picked The Three Amigos. Brian picked Lord of the Rings. And you Daphne?

How about you fellow Row80ers and friends? I know some of you are doing contest, and some of you are NaNoing. Have any of your goals had to change suddenly? Are you going in a different direction than you thought? Let me know in the comments below.