20 Steps for Starting a New Writing Project

A Writer's Tools

 

1. Check Facebook.

2. Check Twitter.

3. Respond to at least 7, but not more than 56, tweets and/or Facebook statuses.

4. Check email.

5. Google pictures of your main character.

6. Get distracted by pictures of Richard Armitage.

7. Refresh Twitter.

8.  Search Pinterest for photos of your setting.

9. Pin 13 different recipes for pie.

10. Double-check the Fall TV Lineup.

11. Double-check your DVR.

12. Browse Spotify to create a writing soundtrack.

13. Dance wildly around the room to Queen and Silversun Pickups.

14. Pour a glass of water. Hydration is important.

15. Open Microsoft Word.

16. Check Facebook.

17. Decide your main character’s older brother has a tattoo.

18. Google cool tattoos.

19. Return to Word.

20. Stare blankly at the blinking cursor for an hour before heading to bed.

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Some Exciting News!

I just received word that Prick of the Spindle [http://www.prickofthespindle.com/] will be publishing one of my poems in the upcoming online issue!  😀

Prick of the Spindle is a bold, stunning literary journal that really pushes the boundaries on voice, form, and image. I am deeply honored to be included on the website.

I’ll let you know when the new issue drops!

 

*Side note: You know the poem I mentioned in my post “Fireworks Across the Ocean,” the one I completed after arriving in South Korea? Yeah, this poem is it. Something for you to look forward to!

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Bellingham Review!~

The latest issue of Bellingham Review, containing two poems by yours truly, is now available! 😀

Since I live, you know, on the other side of the world, I’m still waiting to receive my copies, but based on the listing of writers on the back cover, the issue will be utterly phenomenal. I cannot wait to read it!

You should probably go pick up a copy, too. Right now. 🙂

[For ordering info contact bellingham.review@wwu.edu]

Bellingham Review Issue 66 Cover

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Fireworks Across the Ocean

I am one of those rare creatures always desiring adventure: Fireworks and ribbons, a new project, something to get adrenaline pumping and my mind whirling through galaxies. Growing up, I hunted for treasure in books. Later I relied on school and the occasional amusement park for a fix; taken out of my comfort zone or given new information to digest, I quickly learned and thrived. Yes, I was that girl in the front seat of the roller coaster, hands in the air, waiting for the fall. I soaked in every moment.

A few months ago, I decided it was time to shake up my world. I had reached an impossible plateau both professionally and personally, and my writing idea pool had stagnated under general stress and frustration. I wasn’t satisfied with the direction I was heading in any area of my life. I needed drastic change, something to keep me moving forward.

I am now writing to you from South Korea.

In March I accepted a job teaching English at an all-girls’ high school in Yeosu, a beautiful city on the southern coast, known by many for the 2012 World Expo. I officially settled in to my town and school about a month ago. Friends, I love it here. 🙂

Whisked away from everything and everyone I’ve ever known, I’ve already noticed a big difference in my writing: I’m more focused, more willing to wander in my thoughts without inner critics shutting down metaphors or suggestions. My words are reinvigorated with heart and passion and everything I worried I’d misplaced in the past couple years.

Julie Delpy’s character in Before Sunset (one of the most gorgeous romantic dramas ever filmed, for the record, and one of my all-time personal favorites) explains this feeling well: When describing her time abroad in Warsaw, she says, “After a while, my brain seemed clearer. I was writing a lot more in my journal, ideas I never thought of before. … I had spent the last two weeks away from most of my habits. TV was in a language I didn’t understand, so, all I [was] doing was… walk[ing] around, thinking right. My brain felt like it was at rest, free from the consuming frenzy.”

…Hello, Korea. 🙂

Moving halfway around the world to jump start your creative juices or climb out of your rut is not, of course, for everyone. Admittedly, I’m a wee bit crazy. 😉 But I’ve learned that giving myself a shock, moving outside my daily routine, can dramatically impact my creative voice.

Prior to departure, a good friend asked me how I thought my work would change in Korea; I hemmed and hawed and scrambled for an answer.

Then, during my first week here, I looked at a poem I started back in late 2006/early 2007. After slaving over every word and sound for months and months, I had set it aside, saved it on my computer as a work in progress; though I returned to it occasionally over the years, I was never in a place to hear its true ending. Within days of arriving in Yeosu, I discovered what was real and missing from the lines. That poem is now saved under “Finished.”

I find inspiration in the unknown and the strange. The land changing beyond my bus window as we turn corners, drive around mountains and ragged coastline; dodging scraps of burning paper on Gwangalli Beach, watching teenagers shoot firecrackers over the Korea Strait in Busan; navigating different menus and street foods as I walk through market districts around Jeollanamdo Province: all of these things give me a thrill. And that thrill translates into more words on the page and a fresh dedication to discovering my language and ideas.

Don’t settle for what is. Try something new. Rejuvenate your creative life. Trust me, the adrenaline is very addicting. 🙂

 

Hwasun Temple, South Korea

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If I could build a house from books…

…I’d easily have a mansion. And I mean that in the literal, not the philosophical “books = knowledge = wealth” sense.

This is something I never thought I’d say: There might be such a thing as too many books.

When I was moving all over the place last year, I had to store my entire personal library in Rubbermaid containers. They were carted here and there, some stacked in family members’ basements, some tucked away in my apartment attic, some <cough> used as an end table beside my couch. Recently I had the opportunity to move all my book boxes to a single storage unit, and holymackerel! That unit is filled to the brim. Don’t ask how many containers are in there….

In case you were wondering, I still have at least 500 novels double-lining my bookcases and stacked around my apartment. And I may have also <coughcough> purchased another 10 books in the past two days. (It’s not my fault! There’s an adorable independent bookstore called Squirreled Away Books near the place I’m working this week, and I’ve spent each lunch hour exploring its treasures. Those books just jumped into my possession, I swear it.)

I have heard of the amazing new device called an e-reader, believe it or not. I own a Kindle, and I use it all the time. But for me, it just can’t quite compete with the feel of paper under my fingers, the smell of old ink and binding glue….

This week, I’m planning to weed out my collection, donating not-favorites and double-copies to the library, Books For Soldiers, or beloved family and friends. We’ll see how many book boxes I have left at the end…. [Still way too many, no doubt.]

How do you prefer your books, paper or e-reader? Any suggestions for the book-weeding process (or should I stand proud on my library-mountain)? Also, pray tell, do you know of any local meetings of Book Buyers Anonymous? 😉

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Merry Christmas!

I hope you all are having a very blessed and wonderful holiday season!

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What Happened With NaNoWriMo….

I blinked, and there went November.

I participated in NaNoWriMo (hence my lack of updates) …but did I reach my 50,000 word goal? Not so much. Apparently I feel the need to weigh every syllable before I type it, and then reweigh it as I finish each word and each sentence, and then judge that syllable for its accuracy and sound quality seven times before the end of the paragraph. Yes, I realize I was battling against NaNoWriMo’s entire premise. I truly tried to break a lifetime of OCD writing habits, but I was only so-so successful. Still, SW is coming together, and I have a large portion of the first draft sitting in a folder on my desktop. I’m sure I’ll return to it soon. And despite my overall NaNoWriMo failure, I did benefit from scheduling regular writing jams, a practice I plan to continue in 2013. By golly, SW will be written!

(I may post a small excerpt from SW in the near future….)

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