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. //

 

 

 

 

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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Thank You, NaNoWriMo

Hello, writers!  As I’m sure you know, today is the first day of December.  Another NaNoWriMo is here and gone.

To wrap up this year’s November, I thought it would be appropriate to write an open letter to the entity that is NaNoWriMo.  (Okay, it’s more like a thank you note.  It’ll be fun, I promise.)

Dear NaNoWriMo,

Thank you for the yearly challenge to try something crazy.  Your dare is irresistible, and your community is so welcoming that I can never say no.

Thank you for helping me expand my mug and T-shirt collections.

Thank you for a third year running, and a “lifetime wordcount” (from three novembers) of over 95,000 words.

Thank you for connecting me to a couple writers in my area and many many writers online.  For building a community of support and friendly competition and cheering each other on.

Thank you for reminding me that I can fit writing in my busy everyday life.  And also for letting me have space to focus on homework when I needed to.

I may not have hit 50,000 words this year.  (That was so 2015.)  But I did make friends, and cheer people on, and introduce myself to a new story, and meet unexpected characters, and have a blast writing and planning and being a writer.

I’ll win again some other year, but for now, I have a novel to finish writing.  And another one I want to get back to editing.  I’ll see you next year.

 

// alright, lovely writers.  I’m off to take a nap for about four years.  I’m a bit exhausted from a million papers and 25,000 words.  I’ll see you next week. //

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