Browsing Tag

writing inspiration

Writing Groups, Critique Groups, & Masterminds, Oh My!

Writing

A couple weeks ago, I attended a new writing group. Not just new-to-me, but brand spanking, first meeting kind of new. Granted, I know all of the folks involved and call them all friend, but this configuration, this purpose, was new.

I’m always a little apprehensive of getting involved with writing groups or critique groups, because I’m often the one giving a lot more than I’m getting, simply because I’ve been working in publishing for a decade. But my challenges aren’t what I wanted to write about.

It used to be that the only way you really connected with other writers was by going to writing conferences or taking writing classes. And if you wanted to put together a support or critique group, you had to find a few people local to you. And just finding those people didn’t mean you’d have a good, quality group. There were still other obstacles, such as skill levels, personalities, scheduling, etc. It was easier just to find one writer and mail pages to each other.

But obviously now, things are a lot easier. There’s still the struggle of skill levels, personalities, and scheduling, but getting together as writing groups is a lot easier, because there are many different ways to “get together.”

Great Technology

I currently run a group called The Writing Tribe on Facebook (feel free to join, if you’re a writer who’s serious about your career 🙂 ). They don’t know this, but one of the things I want to do in 2018 is start a monthly chat (probably by video), where we teach each other things and have focused discussions and learnings about different aspects of writing.

And that leads us to one really powerful aspect of technology: the ability to communicate in real time over great distances. We no longer have to rely on whomever is in our area for writing groups. We can pick and choose the people we really want to work with, having regular online meetings and chats.

Not only can we get the support and camaraderie, but we can do critiques electronically, as well. And, really, electronic critiques and edits are the standard now, versus paper critiques. I don’t really know anyone who does paper critiques anymore.

How do you organize your group?

First, decide how often to meet. Once a week? Once a month? In person? Online? Some mix of cyber and meatspace?

Next, figure out what you want to do with the group. Will you just get together to work in the same room, everyone writing together and then taking short breaks to chat, get coffee, etc? Is it a focused critique group, where each person turns in pages well before the meeting and everyone critiques those pages? Is it a mashup with a little of both?

Our new writing group has decided that we will meet monthly and critique 2 people each meeting, and then use the rest of the time to write. However you choose to do it in your group is fine, so long as everyone is getting something they need out of the group. There’s no right way to do this.

What I’m kicking around for TWT is to have monthly online meetings and then planning a weekend retreat where people come in from all over and we learn, work, and play together. (This is all still in the very early stages of brainstorming, so don’t hold me to it! 😉 )

The biggest benefit to writing groups, whether they’re work groups, support groups, critique groups, or masterminds, is that it keeps us writing. It’s more difficult to “do it later” when we have a critique deadline coming up. We get inspiration from others of our tribe, which keeps us at the keyboard. The biggest benefit of a writing group is simply being among other writers. The automatic outcome is that we write more, we write better, and we achieve our goals.

In the end, how the writing group is structured matters less than the idea that everyone involved is getting what they need out of it.

Are you involved in any writing groups? How does it work for you and your peers?

 

 

 

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Happy Freaking New Year! :)

Blog news, Writing

Happy 2018!

Are you ready for the new year? I am getting back on track after the tail end of 2017 laid me out a bit. I had to have surgery in November and, man, it hit me a lot harder than I was expecting. I was pretty much in bed for a month. But I’m doing much better and getting back on track. This year, I’m going to be focusing on a few different things, but only a few.

My Writing

I’ve been editing for almost ten years now and one of the things I’ve noticed is that my writing skill has declined with the lack of practice. So 2018 is going to be the year of getting back to the words.

I’m going to be cutting back drastically on editorial clients (but I will still take some, so if you’re looking, be sure to check out my editing page) and will be focusing almost exclusively on my writing.

What will you be working on, Venessa?

Thanks for asking! 🙂 Some folks know, but most don’t, that in addition to speculative fiction, I also write smut under a pen name. I call it “smut” affectionately; it’s mainly erotic romance. The publisher has decided to close its doors, so I will be spending the first quarter of 2018 self publishing a few things in that genre.

The second quarter of 2018, I will be working on my speculative fiction stuff. Here’s what’s what:

1. Soul Cavern – This is a supernatural thriller that I plan to serialize right here on this website! I’ll be releasing it weekly, in small chunks, but will also self-publish for those who don’t want to wait or who just want to support the author. 🙂

2. Hovel Rats 1 & 2 – I accidentally wrote most of the second book before realizing it was a second book. Then I had to write the first. Both of these are currently in the rough draft phase and about 75-80% complete. They’re set in a post-apocalyptic world where all the adults have gone crazy — regressed to almost animalistic tendencies. Kids have to learn to fend for themselves and figure out how to survive. At least, until they start going crazy too.

I’ll be finishing up the first one…well, first. I’ll also be looking for some beta readers for this, so keep an eye out here come the spring if you’re interested in reading. Ultimately, I think I’ll be submitting this one around to agents and hopefully going the traditional route.

3. Short stories – I really want to kick out a few short stories this year, as I haven’t written any in a long time. These will likely be horror, since that seems to be what most my shorts end up being. 😉

I’ve got a number of other things in various stages of done-ness, but I think that’s going to be more than enough to take up three months!

So that’s what’s on deck for the first half of the year! Think I’ve bitten off more than I can chew? That might be the case!

I definitely want to get back to writing regularly here again too, so expect more blog posts! I might even post about things I’m reading, since that’s going to be another habit I want to get back into. I haven’t read for pleasure regularly in ages and I really, really miss it.

Oh and I’ll be hanging out a lot at The Writing Tribe. If you haven’t joined yet, you should! We’re a small group of writers supporting each other. 🙂

How about you? What are your writing-related goals this year?

 

 

 

Unless attributed otherwise, all images are CC0 licensed.

Tool Time Tuesday: Writing Inspiration: Old Pics Archive

Tool Time Tuesday

Every other Tuesday, we talk about the different tools available for writers to make life easier (theoretically 😉 ). Today’s a special Writing Inspiration version!

Today’s Tool: Old Pics Archive

Platform: browser

Cost: Free!

What it does: Old Pics Archive is a website with collections of historical photos divided by topic or subject matter. For instance, you can find a gallery of photos from Woodstock, the musical event, or famous people, such as Brigitte Bardot or Sofia Loren. There are photos from everyday life in Nazi Germany, behind the scenes photos from movies, and cool aerial photos of cities and people.

You can also find vintage art and vintage commercial art, as well as photos of life in cities, such as Moscow, London, Damascus, and NYC.

I’ll sometimes go to this site and look through the “life in…” photos and find interesting looking people. Sometimes I’ll think up a story about the people or the situation in the photo. Sometimes I’ll use photos of these people to help in my character creation process. There are all sorts of ways for a writer to get inspiration from this site!

Here’s a freebie: Can you imagine what amazing things might happen in this library?

The Klementinum Library, Prague ~~ Courtesy: Old Pics Archive

Where to get it: The Internet! Just head to their website!

Do you have a writing tool that you absolutely can’t live without? Drop a line to me down below and tell me about it!

 

Stay awesome!

 

 

 

Unless attributed otherwise, all images are CC0 licensed.

Tool Time Tuesday – Writing Inspiration Version: Ancient Origins

Tool Time Tuesday

Every other Tuesday, we talk about the different tools available for writers to make life easier (theoretically 😉 ).

Today’s Tool: Ancient Origins

Platform: browser

Cost: $0

What it does:

I love websites that kick start my creativity, that inspire my muse, and spawn ideas. Writing inspiration is a big thing for me!

I ran across this website because someone retweeted an interesting article. And then I got lost down the rabbit hole!

Now, I don’t take everything on this site as gospel. The titles are a bit click-baity and the writing is definitely sensationalist in nature. However, the stories are interesting. I use it as a jumping-off point. I find cool history to delve into, fascinating stories of people and events, fun posts about weird tools and implements.
This isn’t just for historical writing though. If you’re writing fantasy, you can definitely get ideas for how to create your governing system, or events that you can model for your own civilizations. There are some nice articles about unexplained phenomena — these can be the basis of horror stories, fantasies, or mysteries. You can take an old mystery and either modernize it or set a detective story in that era. You could even have that mystery come to haunt us in modern times.

You can definitely find some great writing inspiration here 🙂

Check out some sample headlines from Ancient Origins:

She Met the Devil, Escaped a Dragon, and Survived Several Attempts on Her Life: The Remarkable Story of St. Margaret of Antioch
Tibet’s Valley of the Kings: What Hidden Treasures Lie Within This Imperial Tibetan Graveyard?
The Ancient Kingdom of Colchis: A Legendary Land of Plenty, Conflict, and the Golden Fleece
The Brutality and Delicacy of Samurai Armor: Superior Protection with a God-like Aesthetic

Can you find writing inspiration in those? I can see it without even having read the articles! (But I do want to read the articles 😉 )

Where to get it: Click the linky

Do you have a writing tool that you absolutely can’t live without? Drop a line to me down below and tell me about it!

 

Stay awesome!

 

 

 

Photos courtesy of Ancient Origins.