Category Archives: Insecure Writer’s Support Group

IWSG: Letting Others Be In Control

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(If you would like to join the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, take a look at it HERE.)

Hello, folks! I’ve been a terrible blogger for the entirety of my summer break. I think I’ve posted twice since finishing college. But my life has been a whirlwind of paperwork and packing. For those of you who don’t know, I accepted a job with the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Program. In just a few short weeks, I’ll be starting a new life in the quaint little town of Mikawa where I’ll be teaching elementary and junior high students. You can read more about what I’ll be doing and how I’ve been hindered HERE. That’s probably all the shameless advertising I’ll do for my GoFundMe now. Within the next few days, I hope to start blogging about Japan and travel and adulting yet again. But for now, I’m going to chat about a few things that are close to my heart.

I’ve been writing since I discovered you didn’t need a permit to be creative. It’s one of the greatest outlets for venting feelings and exploring your imagination. Let’s face it; sometimes our thoughts run a little too rampant, and it’s healthy to organize our dragons, giant robots, and werecat vampires in our little journals or laptops or restaurant napkins. Unfortunately, writing tends to be a solitary occupation. I’ve hosted some writing clubs before and most of the time, those meetings are 80% discussion and snacking and maybe only 20% writing. It’s hard to be productive without the right group.

And unfortunately, sometimes it’s hard to be productive by yourself. The world is full of distractions: Netflix, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, the fire works currently blowing up outside my window…(Guys…it’s day time. You can’t even SEE the fireworks.) I might find my quiet place one day, write 3,000 words, and be perfectly content, but I might also open up a Word document and spend the next three hours of my life researching how to hide a body. Why? Because I’m weak. Okay? Happy? The Internet is often stronger than I am. But it’s more than that. My muse can be flimsy and unmotivated. I’ll start a project excited about a new world of possibilities and later find myself buried in plot bunnies and doubt.

I started roleplaying in junior high, and I’m going to be honest and say, I don’t know why I started. I think I just stumbled upon a forum one day and decided, “I don’t want to be creative by myself anymore. I want to be creative with others.” And I don’t regret that moment at all. I’ve watched myself grow as a writer and a collaborator. Roleplaying forces you to work on a plot with someone else or many people. You have to build a world through your interactions and weave a plot around both of your wants and desires. Sometimes world building is easy because you borrow from a video game or TV, but other times you start from nothing more than an idea and watch it blossom as two writers negotiate the terms of the plot.

Roleplaying isn’t without its vices however. I’ve noticed that over the years I’ve gotten lazy. I roleplay simply to advance the plot, and I lose sight of important things like characterization and style. Sometimes I over-complicate things with horribly elaborate ideas and find myself buried in plot bunnies and doubt even with someone (or many people) to hold me accountable. It’s still possible to give up even when two people are working on a project. On top of it all, even if you have a lot of creative control, you only control your part of the world. Attempting to control a character that isn’t yours is considered: god-modding. Limited control is part of what makes roleplaying exciting, but as a writer, it’s also a pain. Don’t we want to control everything?

With a few close friends however, I’ve started playing around with an interesting idea that isn’t quite roleplaying, but it also isn’t a traditional collaboration. I can’t take credit for it at all, but they’ve given me permission to share it here. They’ve deemed it “Word Count RPing.” Its very essence is simplicity and collaboration. At the start of a WC RP, it has little to no planning. You start with an idea (usually vague), and you go from there. Each RPer is permitted around 200 to 300 words each time he/she posts. It’s still RPing because it’s back and forth between two (maybe more) writers. You share ideas, but both of you control the world. There is no “mine and yours.” It’s always ours. Without the leader and follower dynamic there’s a lot more creative freedom involved, and it’s still surprising because there is no definite plot for both of you to follow. If I want to surprise my partner, I can. If my partner wants to surprise me, he/she most certainly can!

I think writers often get too absorbed in their own little world. I’ve seen a lot of creative people who can only think about “MY” stuff. Collaboration is difficult because you’re thinking about how things have to work out to feed “MY” desires. You find yourself buried underneath…..plot bunnies and selfishness. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a selfish writer. Explore your ideas. Be proud of what you create, but don’t exclude other people and ideas especially if you’re working on a creative project whether that’s roleplaying or collaboration. Maybe if you let people control your characters, you’ll get to see how the world views them. Maybe you’ll find things you can improve, or maybe you’ll even learn something new about that little figment of your imagination. (NOTE: I do not recommend participating in a WC RP with writers you do not know very well. While it has its benefits, you may also become frustrated with a partner that isn’t familiar with your style and flow.)

Perhaps this is a bit of a radical change to suggest that god-modding can be healthy. Sharing a creative thought with another person or a group of people is kind of scary, isn’t it? But I love it. I work better with people urging me to create. Is it really so scary to work together with others?

Writing Insecurities: Highs and Lows

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(Wanna join? You can too! Just take a look at stuff HERE.)

Well, I did it. I’m going to graduate soon. I have about two months before I start a real, big girl job. I have to find a part time job until then, but I’m hoping having a diploma in my hand will make it a little easier. I have my fingers crossed, but my hopes aren’t too high. But I suppose if you’re checking my blog out, you don’t really care much about my minimum wage problems, eh?

I actually didn’t know what to write about for today. My mind hasn’t been on my blog. I was thinking about finals and finals and finals, but now that’s over. I’m going to an end of year party tonight. My parents arrive tomorrow. There’s a service for the seniors on Friday, and we graduate on Saturday. What am I supposed to do with all this free time? Write, hopefully. And…I should probably pack up too. But I despise packing.

It has been a long time since I’ve had time to write. School usually consumes my life. I spend hours upon hours reading and writing for my classes. Sometimes I’ll sketch out ideas for short stories or poems or novels in the margins of my notes, but it never really feels like it’s enough to say “I wrote something today.”

I’m extremely proud of myself for making it through the A to Z challenge without much trouble. But now that I’m done with school, I want to make a few resolutions. If I can’t find a part time job until my real job starts up, I’ll have all the time in the world. So here’s a lovely little list:

  • Find a comfortable writing community. I’ve been looking for online writing circles, and I’ve had my eye on a few; I haven’t worked up the courage to join however. I just know that I need more people to look at my work, so I can get more opinions. I’d also like to make friends and connect with other young writers. Giving critiques is something I absolutely love. I’ve tried to start a few different writing circles on forums, but they always fall flat because people want critiques for themselves, but they don’t want to give them to others. I’ll keep lurking for a while longer, but if anyone has recommendations, I’ll gladly take them.
  • Read and write every day. I have a good long reading list of authors to look at. I have a ton of unread books on my Kindle. I want to work reading and writing into my daily routine. I tend to be incredibly lazy during the summer. I’ve considered being super hipster and hanging out a coffee shop to get my work done.
  • Reread my old stories. I had some really good ideas, and now that I’m on a confidence high, maybe I can salvage some material. I don’t want to bury gold just because my self-esteem took a hit.

And that’s all. It’s not a crazy big list, but it’s a good start. I don’t want to overwhelm myself. I will say that I have a lot of good ideas. I might even start searching for places to get some of my poetry published simply because I think the work I did in my class was pretty good. But we’ll have to see. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

A Personal Writing Update

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March was a pretty good month for writing. That isn’t really saying much considering the fact that I spend very little time writing for pleasure. I wanted to take the time to actually brag about myself for once in my life. I rarely do that, and I always feel a little bit better after I look at my successes instead of my failures.

I started a creative writing group on my campus. We’ve had three meetings so far, and I know that means very little to me since I’m a senior, and this is my last semester, but I’m hoping this lasts for a little while. At least right now, it means that I have an hour out of my week where I can write. That’s an hour more than before! Who knows? Maybe one of the people at my meetings will decide to continue it?

I’ve consistently received good grades on my poetry in my class. Right now, I think what I need is different feedback. Instead of hearing from only my professor, I think I’d benefit from hearing from a number of different opinions rather than just one. When we do group discussion, my peers often have vastly different opinions and hearing a variety critiques is great. I may look into finding more readers…quite possibly starting with my mom. (Lame. I know. But my mom is actually a GREAT resource. So I’m going to use her.)

I’ve kept up with my blog. Now that doesn’t mean much, but I took up the A to Z challenge, and so far I’ve kept up with it. I tend to fall behind, but so far I’ve kept up everything. I’m going to give myself a pat on the back.

Now…in addition to my bragging, I’ve been digging through some older stuff (from…quite possibly elementary school to junior high–I never throw anything away). It was humbling to see all my older work, but it was also horrifying. I suppose as a little bit of a silly post, I wanted to post some of my original work from when I was…eight or so. Maybe how dreadful some of it is might encourage a few of my #IWSG readers? Nevertheless, I’ve been enjoying every bit of it. Typos and all. It makes me happy to know that I’ve always loved to write.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

From “The Return of Arther” – Intotra (2003)
Once upon a time in the land of Excalaber lived a brother and sister. They were both about 11 years old. They looked so alike that they could be twins except for the birth mark on the girls neck that was in the shape of a heart. The girls name was Cara and the boys name was Mark. One day they were sleeping in their house when they woke up with a start for they had heard a loud scream from a dragon. Dragons were usually peaceful unless you messed with them. 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

From “Revolution” (2008)
“Master Vaughn!” muttered Derek after he finally managed to gather the nerves to speak. He bowed quickly and stood at attention. “I apologize, sir. I didn’t hear you come in.”

“I’ve been here for quite some time now.” The Master arose from his chair and set his glass down on the table. “You seem quite enammered with my niece.” 

Derek couldn’t reply. He swallowed hard. Beads of sweat began to form on his forehead and his hands began to shake.

His master strode slowly up to the fireplace and took the picture off of the mantle. His smile softened as he gazed at the young girl sitting on a bench in a garden surrounded by blossoming flowers. “It really is a lovely picture, don’t you agree, Mr. Splendor?”

Derek nodded. “Y-yes, Sir.”

His master ventured a question further. “You wish to court her, do you not?”

The young man didn’t reply. His eyes widened and his breath quickened. Once again, the rebellious strands of hair fell over his right eye.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

From “Rain and Fire: A Romantic Tragedy Part 1: Lovesick Villain Fugue” (2008)
Claves: He sounded cute. Could I meet him some time?
Ocarina: No you cannot!
Claves: Why not?
Ocarina: He’s kind of…well…(looks down)
Falsetto: Spit it out!
Ocarina: He’s our mortal enemy
Falsetto: (angrily) You’re in love with the enemy
Jazz: You didn’t know?
Falsetto: And you did?
Jazz: Yes. Where do you think Ocarina’s been getting her information.
Claves: So there’s no romance.
Ocarina: Actually………..(looks down again)

 

“Write Every Day.”

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This is my monthly post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. You can join HERE if you’d like. It’s a good way to connect with struggling writers.

Write every day?

But I’m a student.

Time is not my friend. As a (wannabe) writer, it’s the thing that makes me the most insecure. I see posts all the time about how to get better at writing. As my theatre professor says, “Perfect practice makes perfect.” If I’m not practicing, I can’t possibly hope to improve. I was actually thinking about this last night. I’ve had a month to work on submissions for my school’s literary magazine. A full month. I drafted a piece here and edited a piece there, but in the end, I just had a lot of mediocre prose drafts that I maybe worked on for 4 hours in total. Maybe.

Where did all my time go?

I spend my life reading and writing for school. Right now, I should be working on my American literature thematic analysis paper for Hemingway’s “Big Two-Hearted River,” but I’m taking thirty minutes to write for myself instead, not to please an impossible-to-please professor. If it isn’t American literature, it’s my poetry class. I can communicate with everyone through my writing it seems, except for my professor. I’ve had to twist my writing style into something so mundane and despicable, that I’m beginning to hate it. And I’m hating my professor for what he’s done to my writing. He’s sucked out my voice and inserted his own.

One of his comments on one of my poems (which admittedly I didn’t like because I drafted it at 3AM) said, “You sounded like yourself rather than the angry presence of the poem. Don’t apply yourself to the text.” It’s a trivial comment, and he subtracted only one point from my overall score; however, this poem was about myself. I’m not an angry person. The poem wasn’t meant to be angry. I still don’t think it sounds angry. The voice is meant to be mine and people like me: lost, sad, confused, unwilling. I never read a poem like myself unless it’s supposed to be about myself, and it’s discouraging. I’ve gotten to the point where I never want to show people my stuff ever again. I just want to hide.

So if school isn’t making me MORE insecure and work isn’t sucking away my time, when do I get to write? Not breaks. I’m preparing a big presentation for a huge national convention and catching up on the homework I’m behind on. I have to start applying for summer jobs soon. And then I’ll be perpetually tired again. I’ll want to sleep or play video games or watch TV, something (anything) mindless to keep from thinking as much as I have to during the school year.

School has made me a better writer; I’m not going to lie about that. I’ve found my literary voice. I’ve discovered new writers. I’ve gotten to experiment with form. But at the same time, school has killed my muse. I’m obsessed with my grades. I’ve got a great GPA, and it probably won’t amount to much in the future, but I’m proud of my 3.96. But I wish I had more time for myself and my writing.

I barely find time to blog once a week let alone write every day. I had the time yesterday evening, but I was so tired, I sat in my bed, watched YouTube videos, and passed out for 8 uninterrupted hours of sleep. It was wonderful. I had a lot of plans for this year. I was going to hammer out a draft for my first novel, but right now, I’m struggling to hammer out three short papers and one poem a week.

Please tell me there’s a light at the end of this tunnel?