The Avoidance Trap

Sisters_SelfieI just returned home after spending almost a week in upstate New York, seeing family. It was a strange sort of visit because 1) it was just me visiting, and 2) I visited just one household. I left my husband, kids, and dogs behind, rather than packing up the whole gang for our usual cross-country expedition; and although I got to see lots of different family members, I didn’t try to see everyone, the way I usually would.

I also didn’t try to keep up with work, write a daily word or page count, or even pop into social media (except the occasional Facebook “like” when my sister posted about what we were doing!) I was there to see people–to talk to them, hang out with them, be part of their lives for a while, and generally get to know them and find out what’s going on in their lives.

Workaholic, Much?

This type of visit might not sound that earth-shattering to some of you, but the truth is that I might be just a teensy bit of a workaholic. (I’m not admitting that I am a workaholic, mind you–just admitting that it’s a distinct possibility….) Setting aside work for almost a week–not just “work” work, but also child-wrangling, laundry, scheduling, emails, and all the other day-to-day minutia of modern life–was a new concept for me. It felt kinda weird.

And uncomfortable.

There’s something safe and familiar about staying busy, ya know? It gives me an easy exit if conversations get too intense (“I really have to spend some time working…”). It makes me feel valuable, maybe ever-so-slightly self-important (Look, mom, the world can’t really keep on ticking if I don’t check my emails and get back to my Important Clients and do my Important Work and other Important Stuff…) Staying busy makes it easier to stay a safe distance from worries because you can just straight to solutions, bypassing those pesky emotions altogether. (Yes, yes, stop talking about feelings, let’s FIX THINGS, okay? That makes me feel in control again….)

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Hurting Hands, Neck, or Shoulders? Ten Tips for Pain-Free Writing

It’s the best feeling: being in the flow, seeing the scene unfold in my mind as my hands hurry to record the vision. Words pour onto the page until…

WHAM

Pain jerks me out of the zone with all the subtlety of a midnight fire alarm. Hand cramps—wrist ache—stiff shoulders—cricked neck…do any of these sound familiar?

I used to think that writing was all about my brain coming up with ideas, sculpting words into prose. Lately, I’ve had to admit that my brain can’t do its creating thing very well without my body’s cooperation. And when my body hurts, it refuses to cooperate!

Fortunately, there are some easy adjustments you can make that will decrease the physical strain of writing—so you can get back to creating.

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Transmedia Storytelling Blog Series

Transmedia StorytellingThis May and June, we’re taking a look at this “new” buzzword in the writing industry, transmedia storytelling–what it is, how it works, and how you can use  transmedia storytelling techniques to reach more readers and provide readers with a deeper, richer story experience. Posts will share plenty of examples, as well as ideas for ways to incorporate a bit of transmedia storytelling into your next writing project. As each post goes live, I’ll share the link here to help you navigate the entire series.

Please check out the articles in this blog series, share your thoughts, and join the conversation on how writers can leverage “transmedia” techniques to broaden our audiences and give our readers an unforgettable story experience!

Contents: Transmedia Storytelling Blog Series

The Myth of Simple

I read recently that the brain tends to see everything as far more simple than it actually is.* It was remarkably refreshing to read that this is a problem common to humanity, since it’s one I struggle with all the time.

Take writing, for instance. I get an idea for a new book project, and as soon as I start brainstorming, ideas for characters, plot elements, and cool world concepts come flying fast and furious. I might even write a skeleton outline of the story structure in those magical first days when I know that the story is THE BEST IDEA I’VE EVER HAD and that WRITING IT WILL BE SIMPLE.

sabrinas stash

Simple? Ha. Once I actually put pen to page (or fingers to keyboard, as the case may be) I have to face reality: The characters and scenes I thought I’d envisioned so clearly are no more substantial than mist. It’s one thing to have the idea, but quite another thing to bring that idea to life on the page.

I’m sure you’ve experienced this, too. It’s easy to forget, somehow, that the beautiful language, witty dialogue, and sparkling characters we want to create are the result of a hundred rewrites. This is the reason that Anne Lamont instructed writers to “write shitty first drafts” in her classic guide for writers, Bird by Bird. There’s always a gap between that first story vision and the first words you write. This is also the reason we practice things like freewriting and participate in challenges like NaNoWriMo, which help us learn to silence that inner critic long enough to get something—anything—down on the page. Once those first words are written, it always seems to be easier to see how they can be improved.

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