Friday Five: Distractions in the Writing Life

For the past week, I’ve struggled to stay up with my writing schedule. I’ve noticed that besides my decidedly strange mood, there have been distractions that have hindered my writing goals. Though I haven’t stopped, it is most definitely a struggle.

IMG_01641. This Little Black Beast – Her name is Pippa, and she is now about 9ish weeks old. She showed up on my doorstep early one morning and stayed. It was time for a kitten. She is so dark that taking pictures is problematic, not to mention she nearly always in motion.

2. Summer, Just Summer – The days are long and have become hot. There are millions of things to do and often the last thing I want is to be sitting at my computer, writing. Except that writing is what I want to do. This battle is a distraction.

3. The Call of the Water – I haven’t been in my kayak yet this year – life is busy. But I can hear the call of the water and seek it out when I can. I have a friend with a small cabin on a tiny lake and some of my favorite times are spent watching the sun go behind the trees at the lake. I can write but mostly prefer to sit and enjoy the water.

4. Ordinary Life – Life doesn’t stop because summer is here. There is always work, dishes and laundry. Oh, and then there is grocery shopping because, well, you still have to eat, even though it is a million degrees and the last thing you want to do is cook.

5. Changes at Home – My husband and I have recently purchased a piece of property adjacent to our current home.  For the past two weeks, we’ve talked of little else. Will the deal happen? Yes, it finally did. What will we do with the one building on the land? What color to paint? Where are we planting the willow trees? My husband has been excited about this, and that is distracting because he wants to talk about it. He has been exceptionally chatty. Though it is fun to see, I still have work to do.

These are my top 5 distractions of the summer. What are yours?

Writing Groups: Good or Bad

writer-605764_1280I belong to a writer’s group and have since, I think, about 2007. I haven’t always been an active member, but I knew I had a place to meet with writers. I knew I could get honest feedback from the other members and if my skin was thick enough, even encouragement.

When it comes to writing groups, they are often either good or bad. Bad groups are places where good writing and writers go to die. While this analogy may be a bit melodramatic, there is some truth in this.

Good writing groups provide feedback and encouragement along with comradely. Friendships build along with the gaining of experience. My writing group falls into this category. It’s why I keep going back.

Lessons abound all the time if one is open to them. When I began writing seriously, I had no idea of what my life would be like. I’ve since decided that it is the pressure. I love writing and the creative process but along with it comes pressure if you want to take your writing somewhere. The pressure to produce and submit work, the pressure to always do more and be better. And, if you are like me, pressure to learn and grow. Not to mention there is the pressure of deadlines.

The problem is I’ve done this to myself. I choose to have a blog and write novels. Well, I have one done with ideas for a couple more. I choose to write flash fiction, which is the pressure of a condensed story. I wouldn’t give any of these things up.

But, I find myself longing for something simpler, with much less pressure. I’ve had an idea for a writing group that only writes, no critiquing. A place where ideas are thrown into a hat pulled out with a generous time limit given, and everyone just puts pen to paper. The only reason for timed writings is so we know when to stop and share.

We would share our work with only positive comments given. This space would be a place of comfort and peace where ritual would be as important as the words. This dream group would be a place to let go of deadlines and works in progress. And friendships can grow without the sting of competition.

I am fortunate that I have a circle of friends who are going to help me realize this dream, at least for an evening. My friends aren’t writers but we tend to be an adventurous group, so this isn’t outside our normal. I am looking forward to this evening. So much so, I can barely contain my excitement. We will contribute words and ideas to a basket, and then we will write. I don’t know if this will go further, but for one evening, I will participate in both of the things I love, friendship and writing.

I often wonder if I have time in my schedule to create a writing group like this. My friends are kind enough to help me experiment with the idea of creating this group. Perhaps, this is a possibility.

Successful Blogging in a Crowded Field

blackboard-620314_1280Recently I read a blog post written by Jon Morrow of boostblogtraffic.com about why some bloggers are more successful than others. Mr. Morrow’s theory is that some bloggers are “dumb” or rather more successful bloggers approach their craft from a different, smarter way.

This idea is that bloggers who are successful are those who seek information all the time,  both in their niche and many others areas. They read widely on a variety of topics. The author of this particular blog post had a schedule of study. Between listening to audio books, reading nonfiction and fiction and paying attention to the world around him, he was able to approach his blogging smartly. Here is a link to the article.

I took this as a challenge. I realize that no matter how smart I am I can enhance my body of knowledge. Often, reading is the last thing on my list. I have also been known to avoid newspapers, especially local ones, because of much of the negativity that accompanies the local news. However, this keeps me unaware of what is happening in my world. I want to change this.

The last thing I read were some of Virginia Woolf’s short stories. I was able to finish these because they were short stories. Sometimes, I have the problem of beginning books or articles and never finishing them.

Here is my plan:

– To be more open to the information around me. That means reading newspapers and reading different types of blogs. I do realize that I need to be discerning but closing myself off won’t help me be more aware of the world around me.

-To read more. And my more I mean, both fiction and nonfiction, in my area of study and outside my immediate interests.

-To finish what I’ve begun whenever possible.

This challenge seems like a lot but, for me, it is part of being successful. And, since I enjoy reading it shouldn’t be too painful.

Challenge: What are you reading now?