Where Have I Been? (I’ve been doing a lot of cool things, okay?)

Hi friends.

I'm Still Alive

Well, hope that gif sufficiently assures you that I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth.  Man, it’s good to be back.  I miss blogging when I (accidentally) take breaks from it.  I love this little community of writers and creatives, and I love getting to write out my thoughts on something, and have feedback and start a conversation.

So.  I’m back!

But Beth!  Where have you been?

Well.  I sorta took an (unintentional) hiatus from my writing.  *Gasp.*  A bunch of things happened which caused this:

  1. Spring semester of college started!  Woohoo!
  2. I have been quite busy and also slightly unmotivated.
  3. I have been working on other “creative things.”

Probably #3 is the biggest reason I’ve been MIA for a while.

So, hi, I’m Beth, and I have been doing other things besides writing.

For example, did you know that I have an Etsy shop?  Yep.  It’s quite small, and I’ve only sold a few things so far, but… still.  It’s pretty cool.  I make fan art and bookmarks and that sort of thing.  (Etsy.com/shop/fancifulbybeth if you wanna take a look lol.)

Or how about, did you know that I’ve been teaching myself guitar?  I’ve been playing for about 6 months, and I’m at the point now where I can have a mini jam session with friends, and actually play songs on guitar for people to sing along to.  Such a cool feeling.

Oh, and I may have started a YouTube channel?  Hehehehe.  I’m not super consistent in posting on it, but there are some bookish/ poetry/ writerly videos up there.  Here’s one that I’m super proud of, if your eyeballs are interested in watching.

 

While I really enjoyed an experimental challenge of trying to post a video each day in the month of February, I soon came to realize that I simply didn’t have enough time to do that once I started college again.  (A bit like attempting NaNoWriMo and realizing just how much time it takes to actually write 1700 words a day.)

Finally, I’ve also been writing more poetry.  I may share some more of it with y’all at some point, if that’s something you’re interested in.

What’s the point of this blog post?  Well, as I’ve stepped away from writing and into other creative things, I have come to two conclusions:

  1. I love learning new things.  But I sometimes fail to have the commitment or dedication to them to really make them work.  For example, it was so incredibly fun to teach myself to video edit.  To prove to myself that I could make YouTube videos, and make good ones.  To experiment with different effects, to learn faster methods, to make great video.  But.  I’m not feeling like I want to continue the YouTube channel as my main form of “Art-Making.”  Which leads me to my second conclusion.
  2.  When I’m not writing, I really, really miss it.  Not-Writing feels wrong.  I am a story-teller.  I am a writer.  I need to be writing.  My stories are bouncing around in my head, waiting to be written.  They are asking for attention.  They deserve to be told.  So, while I may experiment with other forms of art – be it drawing or poetry or making videos – I will always come back to writing.  It’s one of the hardest things to do, sometimes, but it’s also one of the most rewarding.  There’s nothing that quite matches the feeling of fingers on keyboard, breathing life into a story that didn’t exist before you wrote it.

I’m ready to get back to writing.  I’ve enjoyed toying around with other creative outlets, and I may continue to do so.  But I’m ready to be a writer again.

10 Oh I'm ready

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3 Best Resources for New Writers

Welcome back, lovely writers!  Today, we’re going to cover the Three Best Resources for New Writers.  Like last week’s post, these resources are also recommended to the more experienced writer.  There are so many other resources and sites and blogs that are helpful (check out the Resources for Writers tab at the top of this site), but these two resources are the ones that made the most difference in my writing journey.  They’re also the ones that I most heartily recommend when I meet someone who is a new writer.

Enjoy.

1. Critique Circle (Website)

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This website, while it might not look the prettiest, is perhaps the most powerful tool to helping new writers hone their craft.  Warning: it will take time and energy to get fully reap the benefits of this site.  But if you put in the hours, you will learn so much.

Just a few of the cool features of this website:

  • Critiques.  You can give critiques on other people’s stories, and earn credits for doing so.  Then you can spend credits to post your own story (or a chapter of a novel), and other people will critique it.  Basically, they read through it and tell you how to make your story or your writing stronger.  Now, not every critique you receive will be The Greatest Advice Ever.  You will have some people just tell you where you left out a comma.  But there are writers on the site who know their craft, and they know it well.  And they are there to help you learn yours.  OH, AND YOU WILL ALSO LEARN SO MUCH from having to critique other people’s stories.
  • Forums.  There are forums for everything from Writing to Publishing to Poetry to Blogging.  And there are generally intelligent conversations, with a mix of Newbies and Oldies.  People are generally polite, helpful, and entertaining.
  • People.  I’ve made a handful of lovely writing buddies on this site.  There have even been a couple people who would critique my story, chapter after chapter, as I posted it.  It’s a site for making friends, finding blogs, finding a community.

While I may not be on there much anymore (I feel a bit as though I’ve outgrown it, but perhaps that’s arrogant of me), I still visit it every once in a while to check up on my old writing buddies.

One last note on Critique Circle: this was the website that got me from “I am writing a book?!  How?  What?  IS MY STORY EVEN GOOD?  What do I do from here?!” to “Okay, I know what changes I need to make to my writing.  I know how to write good dialogue.  I know how to write better characters.  I know what works and what doesn’t.  I know I am a writer.”  It’s the place where I grew the most as a writer, and I’ll always be thankful to the people who helped me to improve and inspired me to keep going.

2. Self Editing for Fiction Writers (Book)

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Disclaimer: this is the only writing-craft book I’ve ever read.  And it was absolutely, entirely, wonderful.  It covers everything from plotting to dialogue tags to point of view.  It’s interspersed with practical examples, and shows you how to incorporate the ideas they teach.

The writing in this lil book is so good, too.  It’s snappy and quick and full of witty jokes.  There’s not a boring page in it, and the concepts are easy-to-grasp and so, very, incredibly helpful.  I cannot recommend it enough.

Hmm, I need to go find my copy and read it again.

 

3. @InspiredToWrite on Instagram

inspired to write.png I’ve followed Amie (instagram.com/inspiredtowrite/) on Instagram for over a year, and her words have filled me with such hope and joy.  She talks about her writing in a way that is real, and raw, and honest.  She won’t talk to you about adjectives and adverbs – she’ll tell you about how to find the strength to write after a long day, or about the absolute magic that storytelling is.

I highly recommend you follow her if you have an instagram.  She writes little letters in the descriptions of her posts.  Go read them.  They will bring you strength and hope as a writer, which is something that is in high demand.

And she’ll post updates on her stories about the mundane, day-to-day struggles of being a writer, such as what happens when your laptop dies at the coffee shop or I just got another rejection, how do I deal with this?

Go give her a follow.  You won’t be sorry.

// I’d love to hear in comments what you’ve found to be the writerly resource!  I’m always looking for more writerly communities, books on craft, and just excellent lil things to make our writing job easier. //

 

 

 

 

Advice for the New Writer

Hello, lovely writers!  I know many of you are time-honored pros – those who have spent years honing their craft and working towards their goals.  But some of you may not be!  So, I’d love to do two quick blog posts that touch on Advice for New Writers.  This one will be General Advice, and the next one will be The Best Resources for New Writers.

LET ME REASSURE YOU, that “old” writers, or “experienced” writers may also find these posts helpful!  We always need to be reminded the basics of writing.

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Without further ado, here’s my 7 Pieces of Advice for New Writers (And Old Ones)

1. Write

Right, this may seem obvious.  But the most important thing for you to do as a new writer is to write.  Build the habit of writing (nearly) every day.  Teach yourself to squeeze writing in even on busy days.  Write lots.  And then write more.  And, keep writing as you do the other steps.  I won’t tell you that you have to write every day to be a “real writer” or anything like that.  But don’t get so caught up in becoming a writer that you forget to actually be writing.

2. Research

Do your research.  Read books on writing.  Follow writing blogs (like this one).  Listen to podcasts, watch YouTube videos, check out authors’ advice to writers.  Learn the “rules” of writing, and learn how to break them well.  There are so many resources available for free, right at your fingertips: either online, or at your local library.  Use them.

(And, if you’re not sure where to start, check out the Resources for Writers link at the top of this blog.  It’s full of great things you’ll probably love.)

Also, the next blog post I’m doing will be Best Resources for New Writers, so tune in then!

3. Read

Of course, a good sum of your time should be spent reading.  Read widely and vigorously.  Be observant as you read: what makes this story good?  What makes you love this character?  How does this author use semi-colons?  What makes for a good plot twist?  Critique the stories you read.  Learn to tear them apart.  It will make you a better writer.  When you can’t write, read.  Read and read and read.

4. Give and Take Critiques

This is extremely important.  Get your work critiqued, and give critiques to other authors.  I highly recommend the website CritiqueCircle.com as a great way to have your writing critiqued.  And the best part is that you have to critique other people’s writing as well, which is endlessly important.

You will grow so much as a writer as you have different writers giving you feedback on your work, and you will grow even more as you give feedback to other writers.

In addition, you’ll learn early on how to deal with constructive criticism, which is a skill every writer needs.

In addition to Critique Circle (or if it’s not a good option for you), I suggest checking out other writing groups.  There are a few others online (though CC is the best by far, IMO), and there are also many that meet in real life.  I was part of a teen writers’ group at my library for about a year when I was in high school, and it was always a lot of fun.  Or, if you’re an adult, you could try taking a creative writing class at your community college.  (I’ve taken one creative writing class at college so far, and it was a great experience.)

If you can’t find a writing group, ask a friend.  Ask your teacher.  Ask your family members.  Get feedback on your writing.  Learn to re-write and edit.  Get people who can critique your things, and ask them to destroy your writing.  Ask your readers and critiquers to not be gentle with you.  And then learn to take their thoughts and opinions well, without being hurt, and learn to sort through the suggestions you’re given and take what works best to make your story better.

5. Make Writer Friends

This is really important.  And with the internet, it’s increasingly easy.  Find blogs of writers, and follow them.  Comment on them.  Build a relationship.  Start your own writing blog if you want!  And when applicable, find people that will eventually be willing to Beta Read your story.  They’re invaluable.  Make friends on websites like Critique Circle, and watch each other’s novels grow.

While you’re at it, drop on over to the Guest Book here on this blog, and introduce yourself.  It’s a great way to meet people.  Alternatively, search up things like #amWriting or #YouKnowYou’reAWriterWhen on twitter, and you’ll find that there’s a beautiful Writerly Community on twitter as well.

6. Take a Deep Breath

I see a lot of advice for new writers that says something along the lines of “don’t rush!  It takes years before you can even dream of being published, so don’t even think about that until you’ve spent half a lifetime writing!”  And while I think that there is some truth to that, I also think that a lot of new (and especially young) writers will read this and either get discouraged, or just not listen because they feel like they’re not understood.

I know that when I was a new writer, I hated hearing this sort of advice that was tailored towards “teen writers” or “young writers.”  It frustrated me that “old writers” thought that I wasn’t a True Writer simply because I had only been writing for six months.

So.  I’m going to give you different advice.

Yes, it does take years, usually, from the time a writer types the first words of their novel to the time it comes out in print.  The process of writing, learning your craft, re-writing, editing, querying, editing again, more querying, working with your agent, and finally getting your book published simply takes time.

But don’t let that slow you down.  Don’t let that discourage you.  If you want to write, then write.  And if you want to edit your novel once it’s done, edit it!  And if you want to pour hours and hours and hours into learning the craft, writing new novels, editing them, getting them critiqued, querying them, finding an agent, and getting published, then do it.  No one is going to stop you.

The sooner you get started on this, the better.  If you start writing when you’re thirteen, then it just means you have a head start on the rest of us!  Celebrate that!  And enjoy the process.  Learning to be a good writer is great fun.  It’s exciting.  It’s hard work, many days, but it’s also so rewarding.  It’s an adventure to see your writing develop over time, and it’s so neat to see yourself grow as a writer.  Don’t let the long road to publication scare you into not pursuing your writing if you really want to be a writer.

And, at the same time, enjoy writing for writing’s sake.  If you only write because you want to get published, then writing may not be the job for you.  Write because you love it.  Because you have stories to tell.  And if you really want to get published, work for that.  But never write simply with the goal of making money or becoming famous.

7. KEEP WRITING

This is pretty self-explanatory.  All you need to do to call yourself a writer is to write.  But sometimes, as you get caught up in the blogging and editing and making friends and learning, you forget to actually write.  So hold on to your love of writing.  Hold on to the excitement of it, the thrill.  If you’ve found that you love to create stories, then that is a gift.  Use it.  I’ll be over here, cheering you on.

// What’s your advice for new/ young writers?  What do you wish you’d known when you started out writing?  Or, if you’re a new writer and you have questions, feel free to ask them in the comments!  And to all of you: happy writing! //

3 Things You Need for a Good Story

My dear friends,

I present to you today the most valuable piece of writing advice that you will ever receive.  (Probably.)

I would like to share a concept that I have used for years, whenever I critique stories (either my own, or others’).  This is the idea of the Golden Three, or, the three things you need for a good story.

And, they are, of course, Goal, Motivation, and Conflict.

If your character has these, your story will shine.

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Here’s the thing: a good story isn’t just one event happening after the other.  A good story is about something, or someone.  And I have found that a great way to break your story down into its simplest parts is to look at the structure of Goal, Motivation, and Conflict.

Your main character(s) should always have these three things:

1. The Goal:

What does your character want?  What are they working towards in the story?  This can evolve as the story progresses, but your MC should always be striving for something.

2. The Motivation:

Why does your character want that?  What is driving them?  What is motivating them?  What makes them want this?  Again, this can change throughout the story, but there should always be a motivation behind your character’s actions.

3. The Conflict:

What stands in the way of your character’s goals?  What is hindering them?  This might be a person, a circumstance, a government, or an internal barrier.  While this will also change as the story develops, it’s often helpful to have one overarching Conflict, as well as smaller Conflicts along the way.

Have your characters want things.  Give them dreams and reasons they dream those things.  Give them things that stand in their way.  And if you find yourself at a point in your story where your character doesn’t want something, then mix things up.  And if you find that there’s nothing too tricky standing in their way, have everything go horribly wrong for them so that the conflict in their path is enormous.

At least, that’s what works for me.  Those are the stories I enjoy reading, writing, and watching.

Also, a note, others have talked about this before – this wasn’t my original idea.  It’s just one that I discovered a long time ago and have loved since.  There’s even a book called GMC that is supposed to be excellent.  But I don’t think that this topic is discussed enough, so I thought I’d share it around.

Okay, hope you are all having a lovely day, and that your writing is going swimmingly.

 

The Setting of a Writer

// Setting: noun. the place or type of surroundings where something is positioned or where an event takes place. //

As writers, we sometimes discuss the setting in our writing: the forest where the lost traveler finds himself at night, the tavern where the princess in disguise strikes a deal for her father, the garden where the love interest finally confesses his burning passion.  But what about the setting of our writing: where it happens, what it looks like, how it feels, what we wear?

Today, I wrote for a short while at my local Panera Bread (excellent choice for writing, if you ask me).  Tonight as I scrolled my twitter feed (follow me, @3lizabeth_A) something caught my eye: an author I follow (Ally Carter) posted that SHE had been writing at HER Panera Bread today as well.  And.  Wow.  For a shining moment, I saw myself as an author.  Not just a writer, like, someone-who-writes-for-fun, but an Author, someone who publishes books.  I had been working on a novel at a Panera Bread, while, at the same time, one of my favorite authors had been working on her novel at another Panera Bread somewhere else in the world.  It was a magical feeling.

So.  On the topic of writing and setting and all that jazz.

I wrote my first novel, The Sound of Color, almost entirely in my bedroom.  Sixteen-year-old Beth was a little terrified of the fact that she was writing a novel, so she kept it a secret for a while – a private, behind-closed-doors thing, only shared with a select few.  I wrote it in an armchair from my grandparents, with slippers on my feet and silence in the room.  It was a late night love affair, requiring only a Lord of the Rings soundtrack and a wild imagination.

But THEN, the 2015 NaNoWriMo struck and everything changed.  A busy Senior in Highschool, if I was going to write 50,000 words in a month, I was going to have to get creative with where I wrote.  So I brought my laptop to school and wrote between classes.  I’d write during carrides and lunch breaks, letting my novel-writing bleed into all the other areas of my life.  It was so freeing to write anywhere and everywhere.

And then I moved off to college.  And to be honest, I’ve struggled to find a time and place that feels right for writing when I’m away from home.  But I am teaching myself to let writing bleed into my “adult life” as well.  I’m teaching myself to look for Writing Spots.

So now?  Now, writing happens at Panera Bread in the half hour before meeting a friend for lunch.  It happens late at night with candles lit because the power has gone out, and I’m hoping my laptop battery lasts until I finish the chapter.  It happens in a childhood bedroom while I wait for my best friend to get out of the shower after I’ve dyed her hair.  It happens at the table after dinner, dishwasher humming in the background, family members talking in the other room.  It happens in a quirky coffee shop on campus, or in a busy college library.

One of the things that I’ve learned about myself in the past year is that I tend to write better when I treat is as something professional, or official.

Power to you, writers, if you can write in sweats and sweaters, laying in bed, with the covers pulled up to your chin.  The writing you do is still valid and still hard work and still important.  But I’ve found that I write the best if I take five minutes to put on real shoes, do my hair, and pretend like I’m going to a meeting.  If I try to write when I’m in bed or in my room, it’s too easy to sneak over to YouTube or Facebook or Twitter.  But if I dress like I’m off to a meeting, and I take my laptop to a table or desk, then it feels like I’m there to get something done.  And so the writing gets done much easier.

So, I’m curious: what do you all wear to write?  Where do you write the best?  I’m fascinated by how different settings can effect my writing so much, and I’m curious if you all experience the same thing.  Let’s chat in the comments.

// ps, this post is partially inspired by my friend Vivian’s recent post about writing and sweaters and books.  she’s great, go check her out. //

Some Bad Poetry, Because I’ve Been Busy

Hello, lovely writers!  Happy New Year – I hope you’re all having a wonderful January, and staying warm!  (Or staying cool, if you live in a currently-summer location.)

It’s been the holidays, as you all know.  Which for me, meant road trips and presents and family time and not a lot of working on my novel. 

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But now, I’m home, I’m recovered from being under the weather, and I’m ready to write.

I’m planning on grabbing my laptop and my Starbucks giftcard, and spending tomorrow with my novel and a Venti Mocha Latte.  To be fair, it is okay to not write for a while.  But, at the same time, I really want to be writing.  Which is good.

I know I’m a writer because not-writing feels wrong.

Anyways, in my free time, I’ve discovered that I really quite like writing poetry.

Mind you, I don’t claim to be a poet.  I’m a novelist.  I don’t write good poetry.  But there’s actually a lot of freedom in allowing yourself to write bad poetry, and it’s a lot easier to finish a poem and feel satisfied than it is to finish, say, a novel.

So, thanks for sticking around when I’ve been MIA for a while, and I’ll see you soon with more writerly content.

And until then, here are some mediocre poems by someone who is not a poet.

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My Three Goals for Winter Break

Hello, lovely writers!  I just got home from college yesterday, and it’s so nice to not have HOMEWORK assignments or EXAMS or PAPERS.

Without further ado, I’d like to share with you my plans for my Winter Break.  That way, I have to actually stick to these plans, because I’ve told people about them!  Accountability, you know?

Okay, goals.

1. Edit every day.

I have a project that I really really want to work on.  It’s a YA Urban Fantasy featuring sassy characters, baby dragons, and a lovely platonic relationship.  It’s about two years old now, and it’s in the “slightly edited, but still needs a lot of work” phase.  So this Break, I’m planning to edit for 30 mins (or more) every day.

Because here’s something that NaNoWriMo taught me: writing projects work the best with consistent love.  So I’m pledging to write/edit 30 minutes every day that I am physically able to.  I want to finish this book.  I want this story to get out into the world.  I want to give it the time and love it deserves.  And I have the time to now, so I just have to make myself do it.

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2. Blog More

The end of the semester was a bit crazy, and I didn’t have the time or energy to put into this lovely new blog I have here.  But no longer!  I  have free time, and I’ll be working on a novel every day, so I will have lots to say (hopefully).  I love blogging, and I really do feel like it helps keep me accountable to write more regularly.  So stick around, follow this blog, and you’ll probably hear from me once or twice a week.  YAY!

3. Read ALL THE BOOKS!

Good writers are good readers.  I have a TBR pile that’s a mile long, and I’ve been slacking on my reading lately (again, exams don’t give much time to read).  Like this one famous writer dude said, writers need to read.

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// If I don’t see you all until the new year, I hope your holidays are full of joy and happiness. //