Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Weekend Novelist

So, I have to confess....I am a weekend novelist. I try to touch my manuscript every day, but with a full-time career and a work schedule that has me arriving at work at 7 AM and leaving at 5 PM, there are many evenings when I get home too tired to do much more than curl up on the couch with a good book and the dog in my lap.

Finding time, energy, and motivation to write when you work full-time is difficult. My writing group spends time each session encouraging each other and offering ideas that will help keep us on track as we all strive to finish works in progress. 

A year or two ago I purchased the book, "The Weekend Novelist".  Along with many other writing books, it sat on a shelf in my office, collecting dust. Then a month or two ago in a frenzy of frustration I pulled it out and sat down to read it (again). 

I was hooked. Using weekends for writing, and following the schedule laid out in the book, it is possible to write an entire novel in one year (or less if you’re a super-achiever)! The book starts out with directions and activities (writing assignments) that get you plotting, then creating character sketches, writing the back story, and more. The rough draft doesn’t even start until weekend twenty-nine! 

Right now I am up to weekends 7-8 (a bit ahead of schedule, actually) and enjoying every moment. The other writers in my group are using the book, too (one writer is having fun with a different version of the book geared for mystery writers). Since we all have the same homework assignments we can share our frustrations and successes and cheer each other on! 

I definitely recommend this book for anyone else who gets stuck during the novel writing process.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Top Five Reasons to go on a Writing Retreat

My writing group recently returned from our third or fourth retreat. We go twice a year, once in the summer months and once in the winter. Every time we do this I return home rejuvenated and excited about my writing.....I strongly encourage everyone to find a way to go on a retreat at least once! Once you start, you'll be hooked!

 Why are retreats a great idea?

  • Sometimes we all just need a break from routine.  Whether our routine is sitting in the local Starbucks or writing at the kitchen table, getting away can spark new ideas. 
  •    On a retreat you do not have chores calling to you from every corner of the house. Yes, you might need to cook or load the dishwasher (if you choose to eat in) but you won’t be tempted to vacuum the house, do laundry, or clean the rain gutters. At least, I hope you won’t!
  •  Most of us don’t have unlimited hours to devote to writing. We have day jobs, household tasks, family members who need us, and dogs who need to be walked. Going on a retreat presents us with many open hours and compels us to fill them with writing. After all, isn’t that the purpose of the retreat?
  •   If you go with writing buddies (strongly encouraged) you have a built in support system. Whether you want to whine, write, or celebrate, you have partners who will do so with you. And if your buddies are also critique partners, all the better.
  •   And finally, the word “retreat” has quite a few meanings. As a noun it is a place of refuge, privacy, or seclusion. As a verb, it can mean to “treat again”. What better gift for a writer than to treat yourself to a private time for writing? 

View from the deck at our rental home....La Conner, Washington