What does it take to get you writing? 5 things that get my tuchas in the chair when I don’t want to write

It didn’t even wait until Fall Back: I’ve been in the dragging, low-creativity state that usually hits me at this time of year for weeks already. It’s not really full-blown SAD, thank G-d, but it’s more a fog in which I feel low-energy and short on ideas. My mood’s okay, just kinda blah. I don’t feel like doing much except curl up with a book and eat chocolate and hang out with Mr. Klempner.

When this feeling first hit, the week after Sukkos, I had so many appointments (long delayed check-ups, for example) and errands I’d put off until after the holidays (new headbands, anyone?) that I didn’t have much time to sit down and write. But after a week or two, those things were taken care of, and I had time to sit at the computer.

Nothing doing. I felt limp. Sleepy. About as creative as a stone.

I’m still feeling that way this week, but today, I was shockingly productive. Why?

Because being a writer is about writing. And the number one way to write is to just stick your tush in the chair and do it.

5 Things That Get My Tuchas in the Chair When I Don’t Really Feel Like Writing: Continue reading

3 Tricks for magazine writers: How to write on a theme and still make your deadline

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Before you start to type, you might want to try one of these 3 things.

One of my writing jobs is penning teen and tween stories for Jewish magazines. Before getting this gig, I had to learn an important lesson: most kids’ magazines select one theme per issue, and they are only open to stories on those themes. That means you have to write what they want, when they want it–but you’ve got to still tap into your creativity to make your story fresh, fun, and readable.

NOTE:¬†Writing contests (although many are scams, there are plenty of legit ones) and classroom assignments frequently require that submissions/assignments include a specific topic or theme and have a deadline, as well. You don’t have to write for magazines to benefit from these 3 tips.

Sometimes, I get the heads-up on what story the editor wants on what theme a month in advance. But sometimes it’s a lot less. How do I come up with a story on short notice?¬† Continue reading

My deep dark secret: Withdrawl from deadlines!

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Beth Firestone and I just wrapped up our serial, “To the Edge of the Galaxy” in Aim! Magazine. It was a great experience…I learned a lot about writing by working with Beth, as she is a novelist (previously, I’d only published standalone pieces of 1400 words or less) and has spent much more time formally studying writing. She filled me in about creating a story arc, building character development and generally kept my writing coherent and funny. It was also great helping kick off a new magazine and developing a readership with them. We got fan mail! It was amazing knowing that kids out there were reading our work and LIKED it.
What is also great about writing a serial is that you have deadlines. If you don’t meet them, there are real life consequences: angry editors, paychecks that don’t come, readers who no longer trust you. I busily wrote several nights a week for about 6 months to keep “To the Edge of the Galaxy” on schedule with the printer. Now I have no one breathing down my neck about writing…and I’m not getting much done.

I have no shortage of ideas and writing projects to work on. In fact I have today’s ideas and also the ideas I put off writing for the last 6 months because I was occupied with the serial. I think there are a few reasons for my lack of productivity:
1) No deadlines;
2) There are SO MANY ideas, and no editor telling me which one which one is a priority;
and
3) The lure of blogging.
Yes, blogging is taking over my writing life! I write this blog as well as another semi-private one, and I find that it is addictive. I’ve had to cut down to two nights a week (mostly). I LOVE checking the “Stats” and finding people are actually reading what I write! I love that I can’t get a rejection letter. I can write what I want the way I want to without being judged by a senior editor or the marketing department!
But until you get THOUSANDS of page views weekly, blogging isn’t a remunerative profession. And in the end, there’s still no story (with illustrations!) in a glossy (inter)nationally-circulated magazine or an actual book on an actual shelf in an actual bookstore that people can actually buy (which is actually a delightful experience).
I think I’ll be shutting down Google Chrome now and switching to Microsoft Word…