Friday, October 28, 2011


Most of the time, my goal on this blog is to be positive, motivational, inspirational (both for myself, and for anyone who might be reading).

But sometimes, as writers, we hit a slump. A period of self-doubt mixed with frustration. Or, a period of non-productivity due to one thing: lack of time.

My little slump has been mostly from the latter, brought on by work--grading hundreds (literally!) of freshman essays over the past few weeks (hence, my lack of blog posts). Whether I like it or not, it's true: the grading takes time away from the writing. It's not that I have NO time to write--it's that, when I do, my brain is already fatigued from reading/editing other people's work. It just takes too much energy to create my own.

So, how do I get out of the "slump?" One way is that I remember my writing. Make it a priority again. Squeeze out the few precious moments I do have, to do...something. To write something. And when I do that, I remind myself what writing does for me--how it excites me, puts me in another world, lets me focus on that part of me that adores reading and writing. I also make a habit of reading (even for a few minutes a day) a really good novel. I study the craft, even when I'm not working on my own craft.

Finally, I look back. I take time to sift through my current project and read for awhile--remember what it was I had become so passionate about. It doesn't take long before I'm in there again--in that place, excited about the writing.

Slumps don't have to be a bad thing--in fact, sometimes, they're just necessary parts of the writing process. It can be healthy, to take a little break from writing and come back to it, "fresh." The trick is not letting the slump become a permanent hiatus...

What brings on your slump? And how do you get out of it? Any special tips or tricks? I'd love to hear from you in the comments...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I Miss It

It's times like these, mid-semester, where I miss my writing. When other priorities push writing away - things like grading essays and mid-terms, doing lesson plans, attending mandatory meetings. They squeeze out my writing time, but never the desire to write.

Sure, I could bite the bullet and just visit my material for a few minutes, here or there. But I'm usually too (mentally) tired by the time I get those extra minutes.

This post isn't a complaint about my job, not really. It's just a sad resignation that I don't have the kind of time I want, to write. To step back into a world I've created and spend leisurely time there -- more than a few sporadic moments.

But I guess it's a good thing, missing my writing time, my characters. It shows that there's a pull there, a longing to be in that place again. And, surely, that longing is enough to lure me back. Even if it is only for a few precious minutes...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Power of Words

I have to tell a cute story about a Creative Writing student. Today, we were talking about the new Edgar Allen Poe movie (*shudders*) and this student mentioned how much she LOVED Mr. Poe. Even though he's "scary."

She related the story of how she first read his work, a couple of years ago: "It was 'The Fall of the House of Usher,'" she said, "and I got to a certain part of the story and got SO scared, that I slammed the book shut!"

LOL! That image just tickled me. Because, what happens when we see a scary movie? We shut our eyes or put up or hands to filter the screen, or even mute the t.v. But when we're reading a book, we usually just skim the gory stuff if we're wimps (like me). So, it cracked me up, the idea of a student being so moved, so frightened by mere words on a page, that it resulted in a physical reaction, slamming a book shut.

Yep, words can be mighty powerful. ;-)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

400 posts? Really??

I didn't know I could be so verbose! lol

Thanks to those of you who've stuck with me through all 400 posts, and over the past two years. I'm so grateful that anyone reads this blog...

So as not to waste #400 with self-congratulation, I'll turn this into an actual post with actual thoughts about writing:

I watched a George Clooney interview the other day (on the Charlie Rose show). And he talked about the craft of being an actor, of making movies. He denounced the "fame" aspect of it (saying it was fleeting), and said that over the years as he's grown, he's learned something. I'm paraphrasing here, but essentially he's learned that the craft is bigger than the actor. And that a piece is a success when the actor loses his/her ego, and all elements come together (writing, directing, producing, acting) in order to serve the story.

That's so true of writing, isn't it? We're more successful when we stop being enamored with our own writer's voice - when we get out of our own way to serve the story, the characters.

I think that's why editing can be such a challenge. We've poured hours and hours into those words, and the thought of slicing them, erasing them with one click of a keyboard can be heartbreaking. But we have to ask ourselves one question -- does that act (of editing something out) ultimately serve the story/characters? If so, it's the right thing to do...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

LOVE this...

Apparently, elaborate paper sculptures have been mysteriously popping up all over Edinburgh's libraries -- here's the link.

"One day in March, staff at the Scottish Poetry Library came across a wonderful creation, left anonymously on a table in the library. Carved from paper, mounted on a book, with a tag reading: 'We know that a library is so much more than a building full of books… a book is so much more than pages full of words.… This is in support of libraries, books, words, ideas…' Nobody knows whether there are more to come and if so, where they might appear. "

How beautiful, that someone (or someoneS?) who loves books so much and wants to honor them, and honor libraries, would remain anonymous. These sculptures obviously took hours and hours to create, and would probably go for a lot of money. I just love stories like this...