Easter's Lilly

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Writer’s Group: To Join or Not To Join? That Is The Question
I have many friends who are involved in writers’ groups that they love. I have not had a similar experience. I have heard that you learn so much from the feedback you get, and it makes you a better writer. Well, what am I doing wrong?

I started with a nationally known writers’ group. It was too far away for starters, and the members were of the elite. By elite I mean that they were not very welcoming to strangers, and I lived too far to get more involved with the group and their activities. I live in a small town, which I realize is part of the challenge. Next, I joined another group, but it was still far from home, and I found the content to be a bit dull. So, I stopped attending that one as well. Finally, I found a Christian group somewhere near by, but I don’t write “Christian” books, per say. They said that they are a group of Christians who write, so I thought, “Sounds great!” Before I actually found my way out there, they disbanded.

So, what is a lonely writer to do? Being educated, ambitious, and usually a pretty smart cookie, I decided to start my own. I can hear you all laughing as soon as I said that. Yes, I decided to get a group of people together and form a group. Well, I had a friend (notice the word “had”) who I used to have lunch with once a month. We will call her Angel. (Because she is really very sweet). Angel had a book idea, and she and I decided to start the group. We started it twice, because the first time it was a huge mess. We had two members who really wanted it to be an online thing, which no one else wanted, and one guy who spent every day with a pen in hand tearing our manuscripts apart. Group two consisted of Angel, her best friend, her best friend’s boyfriend, me and my good friend from college. I know, sounds like a great idea, right? So, this is what I learned about what NOT to do when forming your own writers’ group.

1)   Make sure you are a committed group of writers. Make sure everyone is there for the right reason, and they are motivated achievers. 
2)   Have the meetings in a neutral location. Make sure you don’t, for example, have it in a restaurant. What “could happen” is the members may be more interested in eating, and socializing, than actually talking about task at hand.
3)   Have some rules and stick to them. At first, I had rules and had everyone sign them, but I let it go after a while. There should be a rule about people who show up without reading the material, and a rule about not giving any feedback. Every member should participate or there should be consequences. Now, this is if you have a small group, mind you. In a large group, everyone can’t participate due to a time limit. Also, in a small group, attendance should be important.
4)   Finally, Genre may be something to consider. When I joined the national group, they all had one genre, and that is what made it fun for them. In our small group, the young people were writing young adult fantasy, while my friend and I were writing more adult novels. I think part of our problem was that we weren’t all interested in the material.

So, like I said, I think writers’ groups can be very beneficial for those who find the right fit. For me, I think the best idea is to write with simply my Mac and me. So far, we’ve been doing pretty well together.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Writing Mom

There should be a special award for the writing mom. As we strive to use our craft to take our readers on journeys far, far away, reality sometimes gets in the way. Often balancing the daily routine with getting something out of our heads and onto the blank page can be a bit of a conundrum.  If you are like me, you have perfected the act of carrying on a conversation with your children and typing without missing a beat. However, sometimes a little peace and quiet would be most helpful.

If you're a writing mom there is also a chance that you work outside of the home. Notice that I said "work outside of the home" and not simply "work." Being a stay at home mom is one of the most difficult yet rewarding job anyone can ever do. I loved my time as a "working inside the home" mom and wife, and if I am honest with myself, will admit to missing those times with great sincerity. So, what do you do if you have a job, kids, and other commitments, but the voices inside your brain are beating their angry fists on the inside of your head, begging to get out? It's time to make time. Here are a few suggestions for the writing mom.

  • Have a family meeting. Communicate with your family about what is going on with you. Communication is the key to any successful relationship. Explain that you are going to need some time alone. It doesn't have to be a lot of time, but mommy usually takes care of mommy last. Make sure they understand that this is just something that you need to do to be happy. And we all know that if mommy isn't happy, no one is happy.

  • Create a feasible routine. Find a time in the day where you will have time to yourself and write a little bit every day. Start with fifteen minutes if you have to, but don't just not write. Make sure that this time of day is when your children are either asleep, not at home, or know to leave you alone until you have completed your task.

  • Ask for a little help. If your children are old enough, ask them to help around the house a little so that you can get some work done. Reward them with ice cream, or some special mommy time, but let them do a little bit of the heavy lifting for you. Sit them down and explain how important it is for you to have a little bit of time each day to write, and you might be surprised at how accommodating they will be.
If any of you have any other tips or tidbits to share, please feel free to post in the comments. This works for me, but I will admit to getting off track from time to time. So, here's to you, writing moms out there. I can't wait to sit down and read some of the wonderful things that are waiting in the wings to be published.