Monday, July 21, 2008

Writing Buddy Goals Week Four and The Winners Are...

Today was the big day that Jason announced all the winners for his flash fiction contest. I am so sad to say I did not win... not a place anyway. Philosophically speaking, I won in other ways. I met lots of new writer-bloggy friends, I tried something new, I came up with a new idea for my next novel, and I read over 40 positive comments for my contest entry (well, some were my replies...).

So the winners are...
1st Place--SARAH HINA, And Miles to Go Before She Sleeps (#27) Prize: $25 Amazon gift certificate, 8 x 10 print of the "Running Wind" photograph (inscribed by Jason Evans)

2nd Place--SEAN FERRELL, Reversal (#56) Prize: $20 Amazon gift certificate

3rd Place--JOSH VOGT, Time is a Road (#49) Prize: $15 Amazon gift certificate

4th Place--PAUL LIADIS, Ar'n Man (#39) Prize: $10 Amazon gift certificate

5th Place--JEFF B, You Can't Get There from Here (#61) Prize: $5 Amazon gift certificate

Honorable Mention--CHARLES GRAMLICH, Precious Cargo (#1)

Honorable Mention--SCOTT SIMPSON, Blurred Vision (#6)

Honorable Mention--POSOLXSTVO, Anywhere But Here (#19)

Honorable Mention--SCOTT ELLIS, Freebird (#32)

Honorable Mention--AERIN, Dreamland Eyes (#62)

READERS' CHOICE AWARD:Readers' Choice...
CHARLES GRAMLICH, Precious Cargo (#1) Prize: $15 Amazon gift certificate, 8 x 10 print of the "Running Wind" photograph (inscribed by Jason Evans)

1st Runner-Up--SARAH HINA, And Miles to Go Before She Sleeps (#27)

2nd Runner-Up--JOSH VOGT, Time is a Road (#49)

Congratulations everyone! This was an awesome adventure with lots of talented writers.

Last Week's Writing Buddy Goals...
Last week, one of my goals was to write an outline from page 85 to the end. I am happy to say all I have left is the second half of the last chapter to complete and I feel fan-tas-tic! I really do. Who knew an outline could be such a freeing experience? Not me! I am always, down with outlines, let your story come organically. Well, not that I tell others what their process should be, but I feel most of the time, that is the best process for me... up until a certain point, that is.

What I learned is, I can do that for the first draft up until about the second half of the middle. I can throw out all the foreshadowing and seeding and laying the ground work in an organic, free, no-outline, kind of way. But, then I hit a point in the story where all of that needs to be tied up in a neat little bow and resolved. It is at this point that an outline needs to be written. It was downright mandatory. And now that I've written one, I really do feel unclouded.

What was Learned During my Writing Buddy Discussion...
Today, my buddy and I conferred... (sorry, just had to use that word - don't know why...) and I would say the unifying theme for both of us was all about something I recently read in Eckhart Tolle's book, The Power of Now. (I actually posted more about this subject here.) We both discovered we are using the thinking brain while we both need to use what Tolle calls the unthinking brain.

Cathy and I were talking about, how right now, in our careers as writers, we don't feel we have any control over this process. We likened it to exercising. When you don't exercise for a while, you are rusty and out of shape and it takes a while to get "into" it. So ,we both are on a mission on how to be able to control slipping out of the thinking brain and into what I would like to call instead, the artist brain (you know - that trance-like state you get into during a really good writing session).

I would like to open a discussion here... How do you get into that trance-like state where the writing just flows and you are not intentionally thinking, or analyzing what you are writing? The words just pour out of you and you are more like a passenger on a ride. Have you been able to master going between these two states when you need to? How do you engage that artist brain and tell the thinking brain it is time to quiet down?

Goals for this Week...
  1. complete outline (I am on the last chapter)
  2. go through all my notes of things I had seeded and foreshadowed and make sure they are all resolved in my outline notes.
  3. WRITE
  4. WRITE
  5. WRITE
  6. (unrelated to writing) I am in the process of refinishing my daughter's old dresser. My dad and step mom just gave one of my daughters all this great furniture for her bedroom. But now her old dresser sticks out like a sore thumb. So far I have sanded it down to the natural wood. Next, I have to paint it black, then apply a thin coat of crackle, then white paint, then pink accents, then new knobs.

Those are my goals for this week. Wish me luck! And happy writing to all of you!


LEEZY said...


You know, I guess I never really 'thought' about it, but now that I do, I realize that: when I create illustrations that most people point out as their favorites — or write stories which people say "oh, this is a winner" — they are more often than not the work that took little-to-no thinking about. they also tend to take less time to work on and come to me just 'like that'. HAH! How about that!

I then realized the ones I struggle with are the ones I labor over intensely, thinking about every little line or mark or sentence that I create. More often than not, they never look right to me and seem awkward.

I too, have read The Power of Now and when I feel myself slipping into that abyss of losing control, I remind myself to breathe and focus solely on the rhythm of my breath. I close my eyes and if I have a moment, I might meditate as a way to help increase my focus.

Or, I play some fun high energy music and dance around the living room and switch my attention to 'feeling good in the present' rather than the problem that is weighing me down.

I have learned over these past few years to recognize my symptoms and am usually able to tune in to my unthinking brain. Relaxation certainly plays a key part in the process — being wound up with stress means I am clutching too tight to be able to breathe.

Sheri congrats on all your acheivements ESPECIALLY the part about finishing your outline - you must be feeling a real sense of accomplishment — go Sheri!!!

Can't wit to read your next installment.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the congratulations and the comment on my blog. Don't worry, it took me nine tries to get to fourth place! There will be other contests and other chances to win :)

Sarah Hina said...

I wish I knew the answer to getting into that trance-like state. I think my writing often reflects the richness of my life--if I'm finding inspiration all around me, it's much easier to find it on the page, too.

However, I write such short pieces lately. To attack a novel with such dedication and consistency requires the flexing of a completely different set of muscles. And mine have atrophied...for now. ;) But I'm glad you whipped yours into shape with that outline! That's a tactic I may have to try someday.

(And thank you for the congratulations! I can't wait to see what becomes of your story, Sheri--you were the biggest winner in finding your next writing journey. :) )

PJ Hoover said...

Great goals! I need to blog mine also for the week! Thanks for the reminder.
Writing flows best for me the more planning I do ahead of time. And you're right - it's such a great feeling.

Sheri said...

Leeza, these are great examples of when you are tapped into your "artist brain" and when you are tapped into your "thinking brain." The moments when the stories just come in no time flat - that is your artist brain. The times when you are struggling - that is your thinking brain.

And thanks for all your encouragement. You know you will be among the first to read my next 15 pages!

Sheri said...

Struggling, nine tries aye! You know what they say about perseverance... eventually you win! So, there you go. I am all about perseverance, so no worries here!

Thanks, Sarah, and I agree with you about inspiration... When I'm inspired I just transport right into that artist brain. There is no thought about it, I'm just there. When you wrote your novel (you have one published, right?) did you use an outline?

I can see that PJ. I can see how planning can help the writing time flow more easily. I think maybe it's because if you are properly planned, than your thinking brain can be quieted, to make room for your artist brain to take over. If you are trying to remember everything, all the details, then maybe that's where the conflict comes in...

I guess I'll soon put that theory to the test, as I will definitely finish up outlining the last chapter tomorrow and begin checking my notes to make sure I have left nothing unresolved and loose. Once that is all set and planned out, I guess I'll find out if I can just easily slip into that artist brain.

To be continued...

JR's Thumbprints said...

Writing IS like physical exercise, if you don't do it consistently, day after grueling day, it takes time to get back into the swing of things.

As for the "Clarity of Night" writing contest, only two of my picks made the cut. My wife says, "You can have a great story, but writing is subjective and editors have certain tastes." She is correct, and in my book, your story "GPS" made an impression on me.

Sheri said...

Thanks James! And your wife is right. Of course I wanted to place somewhere in the contest(as I'm sure you did too), but I know that writing is exactly what your wife says - subjective - and you have to weed your way through the many who won't care for your style or subject matter until you finally find that one (or two) who will. It's all par for the course.

Only three of my choices placed and as you know, you were one of them. And to tell you the truth, the few people who reached out to me saying I would be one of their picks felt great!

Sarah Hina said...

Ugh, no. It was never published. It got close a couple of times, but couldn't surpass the hump. Oh, well. There will be more novels in the future...

And yes, I may try outlining. I don't trust my random brain for such a huge endeavor anymore. ;)

Sheri said...

It makes no difference to me. To me you are an extraordinary writer with enormous talent. Maybe I then just assumed you have been published. But what about Plum Blossoms in Paris. Wasn't that you?

BernardL said...

I hope the outline does it for you.

Sheri said...

Thanks Bernard, me too! It does feel like it has put me on teh right path.

Posolxstvo I said...

First - thanks for stopping by my place and offering your congratulations. This was my third Clarity of Night contest, and I seem to have improved each time, so keep plugging away.

Second - I don't write novels, but have put together three or four full length screen plays. The hardest thing for me in terms of getting into the "zone", which is my term for what you're talking about, is ridding my mind of external distractions. Sometimes something like not feeling well prevents it. Sometimes it is something else that also is demanding my attention that I'm ignoring but that refuses to be ignored. What I have to do is go away - to the library, starbucks, anywhere where my friends, family, and co-workers aren't - and commit myself to several hours of time ignoring those other things. Sometimes it works - sometimes it's too much like sucking peanut butter through a straw.

As for outlines -- I try to keep a road map for my story written out at all times, but it is usually a plot summary as opposed to an outline, per se. It frequently needs to be revised as I go as I find myself wandering down dark alleys that weren't in my original plan.

That's all I got.

Sarah Hina said...

Yes, Plum Blossoms is mine, Sheri. But it was never published. I entered it into the Amazon contest, and they published an excerpt when I made it into the semi-finals. But it stopped there. :(

I'm actually cool with it, though. I think I'm a better writer now--but now I need another novel idea! And to persist with it once I have one.

Of course, blogging's death grip on me doesn't help. ;)

(And thank you for the wonderful compliment!!)

Sheri said...

Poso. thanks for stopping by too! I like the things you do when you are distracted. I, too, sometimes have to just get out, go for a walk, anything to get away from my distractions - which are mostly, laundry, dishes, vacuuming... cleaning in general. Don't like to do it, but know it has to get done.

Oh and dark alleys... yeah, been down a few of those myself and it is always nice to have a map just for those occasions, but also so cool when you find yourself down and wonderfully unexpected road.

Sarah, I thought Plum Blossoms was published. Sorry to bring up not so pleasant memories. :( The truth is I really do think you are immensely talented and you being published is just a matter of time.

Parabolist said...

Hey, I just wanted to stop in and thank you for your kind praise in the Clarity of Night contest! I'll be dropping by often ;)

Sarah Hina said...

Thanks, Sheri!

And right back at ya. ;)

Sheri said...

Hey Para thanks to you too and I hope you do drop by often!

The contest was a lot of fun and I think it's so great how it linked so many of us together.

Sarah, I've got to get you to come to one of the NJ SCBWI events.

“Personal limitation exists only in our ideas of who we are. Give up all notions of who you are and your limitations will vanish.”

- Anonymous