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)

cc.png

 

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)

self editing for fiction writers

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. //

 

 

 

 

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. //

Thoughts During NaNoWriMo

I wrote similar post to this two years ago, and it was a lot of fun.  (Find it here.)  So, even though I’m very very very behind on my word count, I thought it was time for another fun blog post.  Best of luck to my fellow Wrimos – I hope your writing is going amazing.

Without further ado, here are some Thoughts I Have During NaNoWriMo:

  • Time to make coffee!  And write!  WOOO!
  • I like this novel I’m writing.  I really, really, do.
  • You know, I should clear my browser history
  • Okay, hopefully my professor isn’t going to notice me writing in class instead of taking notes
  • Sleep? What’s that?
  • WHERE DID THIS CHARACTER COME FROM?
  • Just one more cup of coffee
  • I want to be a paid, published author. I want that as my job.
  • Why does every single professor assign us an enormous paper that’s due during November?  Don’t they know we’re all over here trying to write novels?
  • Wait.  This character is going to have to die, aren’t they?  Darn it.
  • Come on, Beth.  Get off twitter.  Go write.  Hehehe, that’s funny, I should re-tweet that.
  • Social Life?  Huh?
  • Wait… staring at a blank page doesn’t get my novel written?
  • I want there to be write-ins year round.  Write-Ins are EVERYTHING.
  • Also, word sprints are great.
  • THIS PERSON.  BEAT ME.  IN A WORD SPRINT.  BY THREE WORDS.
  • I’m not going to hit 50k this year, am I?  *sigh*
  • Just.  Keep.  Writing.
  • It’s okay, I can always finish this novel in December… hehehe.

Don’t forget to blare some Christmas music, drink some hot cocoa, and get to writing.  Your story matters, and it’s gonna be great!

Three Lovely Things

November is two-thirds over, and I am only halfway done with my NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words.  But despite that, it has been a month of many wonderful and special moments so far.  I’d like to share some of my favorites with you, if that’s alright.

1.  Monday // 11:24 pm // My Dorm

Sitting in my room, writing a story that I’m falling in love with.  I’ve just hit 25,000 words on my NaNoWriMo story (only 5 days behind schedule lol).  I’m checking out @NaNoWordSprints on twitter, seeing if they’re running sprints so that I can use some friendly competition to fuel my writing.  They ask us how we’re doing, and ask us to share a graph of our wordcount for the month.  (Here’s mine, by the way!)

my wordcount

So we all screenshot our graphs, and post them in a reply, and then there’s this glorious thread of graphs and writers and people cheering each other on.

2.  Nov 15 // All Day // My College Campus

November 15, 2017 was my best writing day.  Ever.  I wrote 4,200 words that day.  I got up in the morning and wrote.  Then one of my classes was cancelled so I wrote.  I brought my laptop to lunch and wrote at the dining hall.  I brought my laptop to the library and wrote all afternoon.

And as the day went by, I fell head-over-heels in love with writing again.  The feeling of a story seeping out of you through your fingertips and onto a page.  The thought of giving life to characters and plot ideas that you’ve hoarded in your head.  The thrill of a new character popping up unexpectedly and rocking your world in the best way possible.

3.  Days I Can’t Write // Days I Can

Let me be honest, folks.  I’m a full-time college student.  I’m taking 18 credits this semester (for my wonderful non-American readers, the ‘typical’ course load is 15 credits).  The end of the semester approaches, which means papers and tests and more papers are swarming me.

The days I spend 4 hours writing 1700 words for a British Literature paper?  I’m done writing for the day.  I have nothing left to give to my novel for that day.  And that’s okay.  But, NaNoWriMo has been reminding me of something essentially important: writers write.  Especially when I’m working on a big project, like a rough draft or a big edit, I need to put in the hours.  Many hours.  It’s okay to take days off, but they should be rare and they should be followed by many more days working.  And when I do that, writing may still be hard and difficult at times, but there are just as many times when it is pure magic.

October Hiatus? NaNoWriMo?

hiatus:

[hahy-ey-tuh s] 

nounplural hiatuses, hiatus.

1.  a break or interruption in the continuity of a work, series, action, etc.

(Thank you, dictionary.com for that fabulous definition.)
If you’re a person (like me) who follows any TV series, you know full well the definition of this word Hiatus.  For people who watch certain shows, it means a long wait between seasons that can be quite annoying. *Cough* Sherlock *cough*

Anyways, here’s a little blog post to say… this blog is going to have an October Hiatus.  I want to take some time off to focus on my actual book-writing projects (and on my homework) as well as on some other creative endeavors.

I hope to see you all on November 1st, where I’ll probably have a post up about how great the first day of NaNoWriMo is going and how excited I am for the month ahead.

Until then, keep your hearts in your story and your fingers on the keys.  Good luck.

P.S. NaNoWriMo starts in a month!  Are you lovely folks signing up?  If you’re looking for a buddy, my NaNo username is SharpieBeth, and I’d love you to friend me.  I’m always looking for more friends to sign up for that crazy adventure with me.

gandalf share in adveture

 

P.P.S If you’re super sad that I’m not filling your October with lots of posts about NaNoPrep, feel free to check out all my previous blog posts in the NaNoWriMo category right here.  You might find some inspiration.

Cheyenne, Wyoming

pizza 2

This is John Green, bestselling author of The Fault in our Stars (and other great books). He’s one of my favorite YouTubers, as he and his brother Hank make weekly videos about nerdy, silly, serious, relevant, and random things. They make you laugh, make you think, and make you want to make a difference in the world.

Oh, and John Green occasionally talks about book-writing. ANYwho, a few months ago he made a video called Cheyanne, Wyoming, in which he brings up something really interesting: the idea of mentally going away while writing.  Here’s the video if you want to watch it, otherwise, just skip down below!

 

I think there’s definitely some merit to this: to write, we have to live in our story a bit. I think this is why NaNoWriMo works so well for so many people: writing a novel in a month forces you to stay in your story for that time without getting out. It’s like signing up for a month in Cheyenne, Wyoming – and you tell your friends and family about it, so they hopefully understand that you’ll be mentally checked out for 30 days.

But what about when it’s not November?

For most of us, we have Day Jobs (or as my friend Amie calls them, ‘Muggle Jobs’) that take up our time.  Or we’re students, and class and homework are our day jobs.  We have family and friends and responsibilities.  We encounter things every day that make it hard for us to exist in Cheyenne.  How do we apply this to our busy lives?

Here’s something I’ve found: the longer I go without writing, the harder it is to jump back into my story. Or on the flip side, if I write every day, it’s so simple to climb into my story when I sit down to write.

That being said, the sentiment “WRITE EVERY DAY” tends to make me angry, because it implies that if you miss a day of writing, you can’t be a writer (which is NOT TRUE). But if we look at the heat behind it – that to stay mentally connected with your story, you have to visit it frequently – then I think we’ll learn a lot.

I traveled a lot this past summer.  I visited two different continents (Europe and Asia), three different states in the US (Virginia, New Hampshire, and Vermont) and flew over 23,000 MILES.  It seemed like I was gone more than I was home. But now I’m home, and settled, and ready for somewhere new.  I’m packing my bags for Cheyenne, Wyoming. Anyone wanna come?