Writing Homework


*I’m pretty sure I wrote this on Monday.  I was going to do a brain dump today, but I didn’t do enough research this week for it to work.  Next week!

Can I just say that this week is starting out pretty spectacularly in the writing department?  I got back to the manuscript last night after a week or so of NO TIME, and it was sitting there just waiting for me to execute all of the revisions I’d been thinking about while away.  My characters welcomed me back into their little world and everything was good.  They even forgave me for completely deleting one from their number, and gave me their blessing to bring her back in book two when she can better serve the story.  I’m just about finished with my first big revision session, at the end of which, I will hopefully finish up the last two chapters and send what I have to Reader Dave.  I think I’ve decided to stagger my manuscript sharing so that my EXCELLENT readers don’t get rushed and overwhelmed, and so that I don’t get overwhelmed by feedback.  Yay! 

So I talked to Reader Mike for awhile this weekend about my story, and I’m seeing some work to be done that I’m looking forward to doing – things like fleshing out my characters (right now I’ve got a few who are more like archetypes than round, dynamic people) and settings, making my POV more consistent, and varying my dialogue so that characters don’t all talk the same way.

There are some other cool things going on in my writing life including some new readers here at STILL GROWING and an opportunity to rewrite some stuff at my church website.

Over at Shrinking Violet Productions, I found a homework assignment that was meant for me.  Now that school is back in session and I’m a full-time adult again, the obstacles on my writing path are feeling a bit overwhelming.  Here’s the prompt for the homework:

“Make a list of the 5 obstacles you run into time and again when it comes to your writing… For the next five days, take an obstacle each day and brainstorm ways to work around that obstacle.”

 Here’s my list:

*Note: I wrote the list over the weekend, so it might seem to contradict the enthusiasm above.  🙂

  1. Time – – > I have NO time right now.  I feel like there are a million committments in my life that are pulling me in different directions, and I don’t want to give any of them up.  It’s crazy how just a couple of weeks ago I had all the time in the world, but now I’m overwhelmed.  Also, time is an issue for me because I want to finish the book now.  I pushed myself all summer, because I’m in a hurry.  I should really let myself off the hook, but I want to query agents.  I want to find an agent now, which is absolutely the wrong choice.  Patience has never been my strong suit, and yet it seems like the ever-present growth area God is pointing me towards.  🙂
  2. Fear of Failure – – >  I’m super hard on myself.  I hate letting people down.  I hate telling them ‘no’.  I hate feeling like I can’t do everything, and I HATE FAILING.  Every year, I tell my students a story about an epic fail of mine from elementary school, and what I learned from it, then we talk about the value of failure.  You’d think that I should be okay with failures if I expect my students to be okay with them… I’M NOT! 
  3. Internal Critic – – > Remember just a minute ago when I wrote that I’m super hard on myself?  I’m SUPER hard on myself.  I’m really reflective and honest with myself about my flaws both as a person and as a writer.  I often make things that are in no way morality based into ethical dilemmas.  I’m probably a bad person if I don’t take Annabelle for a walk, make my bed, write a blog post, do yoga, go for a run, wipe off the counter, etc… are the kinds of thoughts I have.  Of course they don’t manifest themselves with words.  They’re more like deep feelings of guilt.  I know those things don’t make me a bad person, but I’m constantly fighting against my legalist nature that wants to measure my value as a person by anything and everything.  When I’m writing, I’m the same way.  I feel a horrific sense of guilt if I don’t perfect my writing, and my reflective, honest internal critic likes to remind me when the story isn’t quite perfect.
  4. Risk – – >  This probably goes along with fear of failure, but I don’t like taking risks.  I LOVE having already taken a risk, and looking back on everything I learned from it, but the actual risk-taking itself scares me. 

Here’s a quote from Maureen Lang at Rachelle Gardner’s blog that sums up how I feel about the risk:

“It’s hard announcing to the world you’re writing a book, at least until you know you can actually do it. It’s like proclaiming the start of a diet, or giving up smoking. If you fail, everyone you told will see that failure.”

  1. Characterization and Details – – > I’m way too interested in plot.  I love my characters, but I don’t like describing them.  This may go along with internal critic too.  I had this wonderful teacher in high school who used to say that procrastinators are actually perfectionsists.  They wait until the last minute to write things because before anything is on the paper, there is a potential for perfection.  I think I hate detailed descriptions because I don’t want to ruin the characters. 

Okay, so those are my five obstacles, and I’m going to work on them.  I’ll give you some brainstorms on them and keep you updated with the book.  Right now, I’ve got so many people who have been huge blessings by reading for me and discussing.  I feel like I’ve been writing warm and fuzzy stuff like that a lot lately, but I’m SO filled right now.  There are a lot of times in life when I feel completely empty, but this is the opposite of that.  God is doing HUGE things all around me and I feel warm and fuzzy and filled and loved and encouraged.  So thanks to everyone.  You’re all awesome!

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One thought on “Writing Homework

  1. Katie, I love the quote that you posted about failure. That’s pretty much how I feel about everything. (because obviously I’m not writing a book) I have only told like 2 people that I’m going to try to run a half marathon because I don’t want to not do it. Then everyone will see that failure. I think your post made me realize that I do that with a lot of things… thanks for giving me something to think about! I love your positive thoughts! 🙂

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