Thursday, November 30, 2017

IWSG: Reflections on the Year


            This is my post for the December 6th IWSG Day. I am posting early because I will be taking a trip to London next week! The Insecure Writer’s Support Group was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh for writers to share their insecurities and encourage one another. We are given an optional question to answer each month, and here is the question for December 6:

As you look back on 2017, with all its successes and failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?

            I could discuss other areas where I have reached my goals, but this post is meant to specifically address writing. I would have to say that as far as writing goes, 2017 was not the best year for me. I nearly abandoned my blog and followers a couple times (sorry guys!), I did not participate in the IWSG Anthology contest this year, and I did not listen to my own recommendation to discipline myself and write every day. As for NaNoWriMo, I will probably fall somewhere between 3000 and 4000 words by the end of the day. I was not aiming for 50,000, nor was I working on a novel, but I did hope to get a little more written. I guess I had some distractions this month, including London planning, so I’m not entirely disappointed with the results. It will make it easier to beat next year! I had fun with the little projects I was working on with NaNo, so it was a good experience.

            If I could backtrack, I would probably not only say I want to be more disciplined in my writing, but I would also take the time to plan out writing sessions and stick to them. I’d put my words into action instead of just thinking about it all the time. I would have planned time for my blog posts and visits instead of handling my blog with the casual disregard I’ve had most of this year. There are probably many other moments when I could have been writing this year, and I will need to work on those things that I allow to divert my attention in the year to come.

            Congrats to the NaNo winners out there! You have accomplished a great feat!
Now it's time to finish packing!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

IWSG: The Write Time

            Time for another posting with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, where writers can share their insecurities and encourage one another. IWSG was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh and we share our posts the first Wednesday of the month.

            I keep meaning to do an update post, and the next thing you know another month has gone by. I find myself constantly caught up in other things or just downright tired. I have bits and pieces of writing that I have done over the past few months, but nothing substantial. I even started a mystery/crime short story for the IWSG anthology contest, but then I decided that I am completely terrible at writing mystery/crime and probably have to read more in that genre beyond Sherlock Holmes.

            The optional question for this month is: Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?
For my non-writer friends and those who are new to the online writing community, I was in your shoes two years ago asking “What is NaNo?” NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and it takes place in November. In order to “win” you must write 50,000 words of your novel. When I first heard about it I knew that I would eventually make an attempt at participating. Last year I was not ready, and I’m not ready this year either, but I did set up an account under a pen name. I have some other projects and preparations to work on this month, so attempting to win NaNo would not be an obtainable goal. I have decided to use this month to work on getting into a better writing habit, and the word count feature is nice to see how much I get written. I’m probably not going to work on one single novel. I have a few ideas for some short stories that I would like to work on and other bits and pieces I’d like to dive into. According to the forums on the site, I would be classified as a NaNo rebel since I'm working on multiple pieces, which is fine with me :)

For those who are in it to win it or at least making an effort to finish a novel, I commend you. Happy writing! 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

October IWSG


            Time for another posting with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, where writers can share their insecurities and encourage one another. IWSG was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh and we share our posts the first Wednesday of the month.

October’s question is: Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?

The story I was working on had a version of myself as the main character, and I had a hard time with it. That is the primary reason that I put that particular story on hold. It felt too open and vulnerable. I think backing away from myself and writing about characters that have different flaws and characteristics makes the writing more fun and inventive. I have written scenes that are similar to awkward encounters I’ve had, and those are usually on purpose. Also, my personal values and beliefs usually show up in at least one of my characters.

            I tried to get a photo to show my writer insecurity with IWSG logos, but neither my hair nor my cats were being very agreeable. I do have this picture of Sawyer with some writing inspiration that I took a while back. It is a reminder that creating "still life" is not my specialty.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

IWSG: Unplanned Absence

            Time for another posting with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, where writers can share their insecurities and encourage one another. IWSG was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh and we share our posts the first Wednesday of the month.

            I’m not sure how to start this post, but I guess I will just jump right in. First of all, I would like to apologize for going completely MIA from this blog and not posting for last month’s IWSG day. This summer has been entirely overwhelming and my computer and the internet were lowest on my priority list. I had every intention of posting for August IWSG, but ended up with only a 24-hour period between getting home from a Mexico mission trip on Monday and leaving for a youth conference on Tuesday, and I spent most of that time catching up on sleep and rearranging my luggage. I could go into more details of the ups and downs of the last two months, but I do not want to get too far off topic.

            So, this month’s question is a good one: Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? (For example, by trying a new genre you didn't think you'd be comfortable in?) Yes, and yes! Before the IWSG started its annual anthology contest, most of my writing was personal narratives, devotionals, and an occasional dabble with realistic fiction. Then, I decided to enter the past two years, and it was an enlightening experience. I am looking forward to finding out this year’s theme (today!). In 2015, I experienced first-hand what it is like to have a character take over the story. Before that, I thought it was a mythical experience and never conceived that it would happen to me; but it did, because a minor character redirected my plot line and became a major part of the story. For last year’s entry, I found out that I enjoy writing fantasy (at least in short story form). Honestly, I was afraid to touch it. Fantasy is one of my favorite genres to read and it has always seemed way too intimidating to attempt to write. And though I may not be writing some brilliant, epic fantasy, I did expand upon my short story a little bit since the contest. One day, if I would actually put some more effort into it, I could find a home for that story.

Happy Writing!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


          Time for another posting with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, where writers can share their insecurities and encourage one another. IWSG was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh and we share our posts the first Wednesday of the month.

            How kind of the IWSG to come and celebrate my birthday with me on this day after Independence Day. What’s that you say?...Oh, it’s the first Wednesday of July, I guess you’re not here for my birthday after all, but that’s alright. I’ll keep it short today for those, like myself, who may be still celebrating the holiday. Let's look at July’s question:

What is one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing?

            Only one valuable lesson? I feel as though I have learned many throughout this writing journey and I have much yet to learn. Something that seems to stick with me is that writing requires endurance. You cannot just sit down and write something great within a few minutes, unless you have immeasurable talent. It takes time and practice and editing. There will be moments of writer’s block, rejection, or lack of focus, but great writers keep striving for the finish. I am currently fighting a short attention span due to some other life issues outside of writing, but I know that when I choose to discipline my time better, I will be able to pick up that pen again. As I said last month, don’t quit!
I hope everyone had a safe and happy 4th!

Friday, June 30, 2017

5 Weird Things About Me

            I’ve said this before and I’m saying it again: Where does the time go?! I think this heat and humidity is really getting to me. I constantly feel lethargic and am unable to focus on anything for very long. I honestly don’t think Twitter has helped very much. It’s just another distracting feed like Facebook, so I have added it to my “distractions to avoid” list, which includes most of the internet. Speaking of the internet, my computer decided to do some avoiding for me and would only load email and a couple other websites no matter which browser I was using. After over a week of being unable to visit many sites and giving up on my computer time most days, I finally researched my problem on my phone (since Google results could not load on the computer). I had to do some high tech computer manipulation with the command prompt, but I got it working again, at least for now.

            Anyway, Barbara from Life & Faith in Caneyhead has challenged me to name 5 weird things about myself. So, no Flashback Friday today, and sorry Barbara for my delay. I sort of had a hard time narrowing down my list, because being introverted and geeky automatically adds a lot of weird quirks, but here are the things I have chosen to share today:

5 Weird Things About Me
  • When I was 5 years old, my dream job was to be a mom. I considered a couple other options in my teen years, but since then, being a stay-at-home mom has still been my dream.
  • I enjoy playing video games. I have logged the most hours with Legend of Zelda and Star Wars: The Old Republic.
  • I absolutely hate making phone calls! I sometimes have a hard time talking myself into calling my best friends, and if I am forced to call an insurance company or patient at work, I nearly have a panic attack.
  • I live in Oklahoma, but I don’t like biscuits and gravy or Dr. Pepper, which apparently makes me weird in this state. I guess it’s because I was not born here :)
  • I have an eclectic assortment of interests and I tend to have a hard time picking favorites. For example, if you ask me my favorite movie/book/song/pastime, I’ll ask you to name a genre, and then if I enjoy that genre, I’ll name at least three things that I like in that category in no particular order.

Since I’m joining in a little late, I won’t tag anyone else, but feel free to share your own oddities in a comment or let me know if you have already participated.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

IWSG: Don't Quit

            Time for another posting with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, where writers can share their insecurities and encourage one another. IWSG was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh and we share our posts the first Wednesday of the month. The IWSG poses a question for us to answer in our monthly posts. Here is the question for June:

Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

            This question is so relevant to my state of mind lately that it was hard to answer. In fact, I have been procrastinating this post. When I sat down to write it Sunday afternoon, I ended up joining Twitter. I have been avoiding Twitter like the plague, but I also knew that it may eventually be a useful tool to promote my writing. Since I was avoiding this post, Twitter all of a sudden had this unheard of appeal for me (that or I wanted some extra entries in a raffle contest). Look at me talking about Twitter like I understand it (I don’t!) and continuing to avoid the topic at hand. 
            I never officially threw in the towel with writing, but I certainly do procrastinate an awful lot. I go into cycles with my writing. First, I start building up momentum and the ideas are coming in faster than I can get them down on paper. Then, I am highly motivated and write constantly for one or two weeks straight. Then, I either hit a huge roadblock or I come to a conclusion with the story/post/section. After that I enter this state of “What do I do now?” or “How do I move forward from here?” and writing suddenly becomes this evil beast that glares at me through a white screen with a blinking cursor. That is when the procrastination begins, and suddenly, there is never enough time to write or my job is too overwhelming or I make other excuses. I never know how long this stage will last, but eventually, I will find my way back to the beginning of the cycle. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
            In case you haven’t guessed already, I have been stuck in the procrastinating stage for a while. In fact, a couple weeks ago, I actually found myself asking, “Is it really worth it?” I keep questioning my ability to “moonlight” as a writer because it truly is hard to find balance. What’s funny is that the thing that made me come back this time was something I wrote about before. I was looking through my old posts to find one to use for Flashback Friday and I came across this post from my blogging comeback in 2015. I had quit blogging (not writing entirely) and that was my first post after a 15-month absence. Reading something I wrote during a high point, helps me remember the joy and inspiration that writing brings. In that post, I wrote about learning and seeking out the things that bring encouragement in my life. My suggestion to myself and anyone else who may be going through a writing slump is to learn new things, find your inspiration again, and don’t give up!

P.S. For anyone interested, you can now find me on Twitter @ElizabethAOtten (don’t forget the middle initial). I still have no idea what I’m doing there, so forgive me if I don’t follow proper etiquette or don’t tweet enough or commit other noob failures.
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