Tag Archives: Inspiration

You Don’t Know Until You Know

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Every writer has their own method of story planning. I’m a plotter and an outliner. The whole story tends to present itself to me once the idea pops into my mind. Within minutes I know how it begins, how it ends, character names, settings and challenges which will be faced.

Even though I can spend an entire day writing down the idea that seemed to come to me instantaneously, I don’t know at the time what else will pop up.

One of my favorite things about writing is the mystery of what will be. The idea is not the heart. Often writers have a vision of what’s going to happen throughout the tale but then a situation arises and the story takes a new direction. I love when these moments happen. It makes me feel as if I’m merely a vessel for something bigger. I’m the one typing the words but the story itself is whispering in my ear.

In the first middle grade novel I wrote, one of the characters rode a bike with a horn. I didn’t know the significance of the horn until almost the end of the book. When it came together it made perfect sense but it was not something I outlined, it just happened and it was perfect. I’d have to rank those occasions as one of my top ten favorite things about writing.

Below are the other nine. What is one of your favorite things that happen during the writing process or makes you love being a writer?

The Other Nine:

1. Becoming Inspired

2. Coming up with unique premises

3. Editing (Yes, I love to edit!)

4. Naming characters

5. Plotting and Outlining

6. Researching

7. Daydreaming about my stories

8. Conversations with other writers

9. Typing -The End

Finally, as promised (see previous blog post) I opened up my copy of the Writer’s First Aid by Kristi Holl to a random page and saw the word Simplify.

Kristi stresses the importance of simplifying your writing schedule. She suggests assigning specific times of the day to do things such as answer e-mails, check e-mails, and sorting through snail mail. I’ll add surfing the web and visiting social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and countless others. Set up one or two times a day where you allow yourself to do these things. Your writing time shouldn’t be interrupted. This tip will help keep you writing without becoming distracted.

Happy Writing, may your words flow freely!

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Filed under writer's life, writers, writing, Writing

JUST KEEP WRITING

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We all have days where we find ourselves sitting on the couch staring into space while internal conversations run amok.
For me, they go something like this, “What are you doing? You should be writing. The laptop is less than two feet away. Go pick it up!”
I promise the voices I will write in five minutes, right after I check Twitter, Facebook, my e-mail, look through the photos I took over the past month, take a quick nap, make dinner and then what the… it’s time for bed. I hate those days! Why does it sometimes take effort to do the one thing I love to do?
Is it laziness, tiredness, fogginess, stupidity or writer’s block? I think it may be a combination of all of them. But, there is always a little voice off in the distance trying so hard to be heard. It’s a small voice that chants over and over. It’s the voice of Dory (you know, the little blue fish that follows Nemo’s dad) except my Dory isn’t saying Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming. My Dory is singing Just keep writing, just keep writing, just keep writing. Tonight, I found myself sitting on the couch staring into space. I was telling myself I was going to write, but then I did what I often do and picked up my phone and started to check all the sites I spend too much time on when I heard my Dory.
I listened to her tonight, I put down my phone, got off the couch, went and picked up my laptop and began writing. I never feel as good as I do when I am stringing words together. I’m going to keep writing. I hope you do too.

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Filed under Uncategorized, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing

A Divergence Test For Writers (Inspired by the book Outliers)

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Happy New Year! I hope each and every one of you see success and productivity in 2013. May you write many words, imagine great stories and read tons of books.

Currently, I am reading the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s a story about success. I’m very interested in the facts Malcolm shares about the world’s most successful people. There are so many things that contribute to a person becoming successful and to be honest it’s simply fascinating. Yes, hard work is at the center (according to his findings it takes about 10,000 hours to achieve success) but so many other things come into play as well, such as birthdays, geographic locations, opportunities and sometimes being in the right place at the right time.

I stumbled upon a chapter in the book that made me think blog post. The section talks about geniuses and the studies done on groups, scholars thought or claimed to be the most intelligent. A test given to them is called the “Divergence test.”  My interest was piqued when Malcolm explained that this type of test requires you to use your imagination. Perfect for writers, right?

So, let’s do it together (the sample he gave) and see what different types of answers we can come up with. Below you will find two words. The book says write as many different uses you can think of for each item, but for this post I will say five. Don’t read my answers until you come up with yours, then let’s compare. Okay, Ready, Set, Go! Be sure to use your imagination, don’t just write the obvious.

1. Brick
2. Blanket

Look over your answers, can you use any of them for a story you are writing? What do you know, this just became a writing exercise.

Here is what I came up with for Brick.

1. Build a House (my obvious answer)
2. Protection (A brick can do some serious damage)
3. Book Ends (Why not?)
4. Use to jump over when running an obstacle course (Be sure to be careful if doing so)
5. If you have a window that won’t stay up on its own, a brick can be used to help prop it up.
6. To stand on if extra height is needed. (I know I said five but I couldn’t help myself)

7. A planter (Yes, I’ve seen it done on Pinterest)

 

Here is what I came up with for Blanket

1. To cover yourself for warmth (my obvious answer)
2. To use as a roof when making a fort (my children do this all of the time)
3. To cushion something if transporting (if you are traveling, you can wrap a blanket around something fragile)
4. To cover a window (think college students)
5. To spread out on the ground while picnicking or a beach while sunbathing
6. To cover a body (Some of us write crime novels right?)

Okay, how did we compare. Now look over my answers and your answers. Can you use them in your story? Perhaps the eccentric neighbor invites you in for a cup of coffee and you notice she uses painted bricks as book ends. You get the idea. I love being inspired, and this book and the test listed in the book did exactly that. I hope I have inspired you today and would love if you list your answers in the comment section. I’m super curious to know what you come up with.

Happy Writing!

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Filed under Inspirational, Uncategorized, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing

Perseverance

If you really want your writing to become something then you have no choice but to persevere. When I began writing, I thought, How hard can this be? Write a few stories, submit to some major publishing houses and instantly become discovered. Ten years later, I look back at my younger self and think, Wow are you naïve. Sure, a few things happened early on that made me think no sweat, but the prize I’m searching for has not yet been found.
I am proud of the recognitions I have received along the way but I still have hopes for more. The goal at this point in my life is to land an agent and see my manuscripts in print. Currently, I have possibilities which completely excite me but if for whatever reason they get denied, I plan on persevering.

For today’s a to z challenge I have decided to list a few of my favorite perseverance quotes. Which was one is your favorite? Do you have one you would like to share?

• “Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.” Walter Elliott

• “All great masters are chiefly distinguished by the power of adding a second, a third, and perhaps a fourth step in a continuous line. Many a man has taken the first step. With every additional step you enhance immensely the value of your first.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

• “Success seems to be connected with action. Successful men keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” Conrad Hilton

• “For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again.” [Proverbs 24:16] Bible

• “In order to get from what was to what will be, you must go through what is.” Anonymous

• “What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight – it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” General Dwight Eisenhower

• “Don’t let life discourage you; everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was.” Richard L. Evans

• “Perseverance is a positive, active characteristic. It is not idly, passively waiting and hoping for some good thing to happen. It gives us hope by helping us realize that the righteous suffer no failure except in giving up and no longer trying. We must never give up, regardless of temptations, frustrations, disappointments, or discouragements.” Joseph P. Wirthlin

• “Defeat is simply a signal to press onward.” Helen Keller

• You may not receive what you hope for today, but tomorrow may bring the reward you weren’t expecting. Keep writing for tomorrow because it will eventually come. Maribeth Graham (aka me)

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Filed under books, Inspirational, life, rejections, story writing, writer's life, writers, Writing

Nobody Said It Would Be Easy

I am disappointed in myself. When I stumbled upon the a to z blog writing challenge, I was thrilled. It was exactly what I needed for my blog. Immediately I jotted down each post title in my journal. There was nothing going to stop me from completing this challenge. I should have known some bad luck was lurking ready to strike. It was the day of the F challenge. I flipped open my laptop and immediately panicked when all I saw was black. I jiggled the cord of the charger, hoping it was the culprit. Nothing. I pressed my ear to the screen. The motor was running. Remembering this happened to me once before, I turned the laptop upside down and took out the battery and waited. I was sure when I put back the battery everything would be fine. Once again, nothing happened. Hysteria was setting in when I thought about all my documents. I wasn’t sure if I backed them all up. Luckily, I e-mailed myself my middle-grade and Ya novel, the two that mean the absolute world to me.

My husband thought maybe he could connect my laptop to his and get the screen to come up on his computer but I had no such luck. During this time, I came down with Bronchitis (I am convinced I was a hair away from pneumonia). I failed the challenge. There was nothing I could do. I couldn’t type every blog from my phone. It just wasn’t happening.

As of today, I am back up and running. I might not have completed every letter. I still might go back and blog the letters I did miss but for now I will continue from this point on.
I’m dusting myself off. I constantly feel like I am being tested. Like someone somewhere keeps throwing obstacles at me such as rejections, malfunctions, and responsibilities just to see if I will go back to writing. My reply is, throw it at me, no matter what comes my way, I will never stop writing. When I made the decision to write, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.

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Filed under random, story telling, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing

E.E. Cummings and My Father

This coming June will be four years that I have been living without my father. My father was such a wonderful man. He was everything I aspire to be. He treated all people the same. He was well respected, intelligent, wise, simple and extremely loving. During his illness, my family and I traveled to Philadelphia to support him while he underwent open heart surgery. The night before he went into surgery, I read him my favorite poem by E.E. Cummings I Carry Your Heart with Me. I will forever carry his heart. He was my biggest cheerleader when it came to writing. He was the first one to believe in me. I believe he is on the other side pulling as many strings as he can to help further my career.

I Carry Your Heart with Me by E.E. Cummings

I carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

Do you have a favorite poem? Who does it remind you of?

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Filed under emotions, life, writer's life, writers, Writing

I FAILED MY CHARACTERS

This past year has provided me with many ups and downs. I received five full requests, and thought for sure by year’s end I would be announcing that I finally landed myself an agent. When the first one came back rejected stating “I’m not connecting in the way I need to be,” I thought, Okay, that’s just one person’s opinion. But when they all came back rejected with identical words, I knew it was time to go back to the manuscript. I gathered all of their rejections and came to the conclusion (something I think I already knew but didn’t want to believe) that my characters were flat. I received some positive feedback such as “This is an extremely marketable idea” and “The plot is good and pace is nice” but it was the last rejection that clicked and made me realize there is no depth to my characters. The very kind agent added a few more words to her I’m not connecting in the way I need to. She specifically said it was the characters she wasn’t connecting with. I felt embarrassed because here I was writing blogs about creating characters and questions to ask them. I should have been following my own tips and advice. She did leave her door open and said she would be willing to look at a rewrite or any other queries I might have.
I have been given a gift. An insight to why exactly my manuscript has failed to get me an agent. The day following her rejection, I headed to the book store and bought myself two writing books. I am ready to breathe life into the characters that mean so much to me. In my mind these characters were very much alive which is why I think they were dead on paper. I failed to add background stories, I gave no inclinations of how they ended up in each other’s lives (despite the fact I knew). I failed them. I failed myself.
Today I see through different eyes. I am prepared for the challenge. A story is nothing if you don’t connect with the characters. Wish me luck!

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Filed under character, character building, editing, Writing