Jot II: Revenge of the Jot

Josh Mosey | Writer

jot_poster2My writers group, The Weaklings, met this past week to discuss our upcoming writer’s mini-conference, Jot.

You may have seen some announcements go out on Facebook or maybe you noticed my re-blog of the event schedule. Or maybe you have no idea what I’m talking about. In any case, you are reading this now and soon will have no excuses for ignorance. Sorry about that. Excuses for ignorance can be great things indeed.

Here’s the deal with Jot. It is a free writer’s mini-conference, which makes it considerably less expensive than every other writer’s conference out there. Heck, it’s even cheaper than the pony rides at the grocery store. Jot is a one-night event, featuring five short sessions of guidance and encouragement for writers of all kinds. Our speakers represent the gamut of writing genres. Matthew Landrum is a poetry editor. Bob Evenhouse writes long-form fantasy fiction. Jessie Clemence just…

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Writer, Mind Your Goals

I have goal to be a published author. But I have trouble keeping on task. Why? Because of the expectations of today’s authors.

Let’s see.

– You need to have a social media presence by writing a blog, utilizing Twitter, Facebook and the like.
– It’s also helpful to be in a writers group and attend conferences.
– Also make sure you are a part of a Goodreads book club and post reviews.
– In the meantime write short stories and articles, comment and like blogs and follow websites.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Then after all of this is done, use the last thirty seconds of your writing time to squeeze out a sentence or so of your work in progress.

This sounds a bit embellished but that is what writers do, they exaggerate, right? I wish I was.

So, through all of these perceived expectations, how do novels ever get written?

Keep Going, Friend
Keep Going, Friend

One way. By constantly reminding ourselves of our goals.

On Monday I posted tips for reviving your blog. Most of these tips discussed time and how to use it. Writing time is not unlimited and cannot be cheapened. You are creating art and good art at that.

As you struggle on your path to authorship, be sure to place guideposts along the way. You could spend a year or more working on something that does not fit into your plans. Or you could get distracted and forget where you are going.

Make yearly, monthly, and weekly goals. Be sure to carve out enough time to make them possible. This will help you remember where you are going.

Cheers,

Bob

5 Ways To Revive Your Blog

A blog is many things to a writer: journal, mile marker, community, platform, and even a daily proof that you are in fact a writer. I’ve struggled to keep up with the expectations I had for my blog for several reasons. When I sit back and think of the main reason it is because I have not made it a priority.

Time has always been my main complaint because I have so little of it and I like to work on my novel when I find that small window of opportunity. But that complaint is just an excuse. So, I thought, what would I have to do to revive my blog? How can I stay connected to the community I value and share the things I have learned while still keeping that sacred time of novel writing safe? Here are five ideas.

Renovate
Renovate

1. With limited time to spend, spend limited time on it. What do I mean? Sometimes it takes an hour to put together a well thought out blog. For this week I am going to spend only twenty minutes a day on a blog.

2. Go out. I spend too much time on my own blog. Blogging is supposed to be about community. Visit other blogs comment and like, simple as that. It will generate traffic and generate ideas.

3. My blog is two years old and I was bored with it. Sort of like having the same haircut for a decade.  Give your blog a facelift. New theme, new widgets and there you go. A new you er, blog. That’s something to be excited about.

4. Rhythm. Writing is all about it. Work on a novel or article for an hour each month and you will loose the taste for it. The same with your blog. Write once a week, twice a week or whatever works. You will get into a groove and your readers will too.

5. Make a commitment. Like any relationship, goal, job or house, when you get off track or too busy to maintain it, it can fall apart. You have to give it proper time. If it is a priority and it matters, you have to buck up and recommit.

I hope this helps you reignite the blog you once loved. Keep it simple and realistic and you’ll be on you way.

Cheers,
Bob

Basic Writing Tips (Telling) Narration or (Showing) Dialogue?

We’ve all had it. That eureka moment. The brilliant idea that comes out of nowhere and we just have to get it down. We have seen the story on the blank page in our mind. It’s perfect. Now, to begin…

But how do you begin? How do you place that scene, reveal that secret, or show that one moment that you know your readers will love?

You could begin with narrative. This could encompass a room, a character, a reflection, your protagonist watching an event like a funeral, a board room discussion or parent teacher conference.

But the best question is this: How can you show this scene without simply telling your readers about it? By using dialogue. Beautiful prose is one thing but reading dialogue as the character discovers something sinister, exciting, or euphoric is quite another.

With dialogue your reader is there sifting through sand as the treasure is uncovered or feeling the tension in the conversation just before the shots ring out. Place your reader in the crowd through dialogue rather than telling the reader what the crowd is doing. The tension can be more tense and the thrill that much more thrilling.

Let’s look at these two examples.

The last vestiges of light ignited the mauve colored curtains soaking the room in a soft salmon glow. The rays of colored sun touched the dark mahogany casket, refracted off the gold and silver trimmings, and scattered across the room. In dark corners, where the stray sun beams did not reach, were clusters of family members conversing in whispers. No one party looked at the other and no one looked in the direction of the coffin other than to glare at the executor. He yawned, checked his phone, and wiggled his arm so the sleeve on his charcoal Armani suit rolled down revealing his diamond studded watch. He was obviously waiting for someone to arrive. And though no one said it to him, it was clear as each party followed his glances toward the door, everyone else was too.

What is wrong with this? Not a lot. It describes what is happening well: A funeral for a patriarch that bequeathed his fortune to some unrevealed party. However, it’s dull. How could I make this more interesting and move the story along?

How about use some dialogue instead.

“Did you hear that he spent eighty thousand dollars on a collar for that stupid bloodhound?”
“That’s absurd.” Tabitha said between sips of red wine.

“Is it? What about that desk chair?” Tabitha shrugged. “One hundred thousand dollars for a chair. A chair!”  Tabitha looked at the mahogany casket studded with gold and silver trimmings and shrugged again.

“Millie, what’s this you’re complaining about again? You aren’t even blood related.” Millicent inhaled so everyone in the room could hear.

“Charles, my husband is the first born. If there is any honor left in the Lucian family he should be given something. It’s tradition.”

“Millie my dear, I heard he spent it all. There’s nothing left.”

“Hogwash.” Millie hissed. “Then what’s the executor waiting for?”

“That’s not what I heard,” Tabitha whispered. She looked at the clusters of other family members that collected in dark corners of the room and then begged the others in her group closer. “I heard there’s another heir. She’s getting all of it.”

“She?” Millicent barked.

“Yes a girl. And I doubt even she knows about it.”

Each reader has their own taste. Each writer has their own voice and talent to share their tale. However, if your novel is filled with page after page of narrative, I’d encourage you to add some dialogue. This will suck the reader in and not let them wake from the vivid dream you are spinning until you are done.

Write 500 words today.

Cheers,

Bob

The Jot Conference returns on Friday, September 13th, 2013!

My writers group the Weaklings is launching another mini writers conference in Grand Rapids, MI. More information to follow. If you are a local author or wannabe writer, this event is not to miss!

Jot: The GR Writers Mini-Conference

megaphoneYou read it correctly. We’ll be having another JOT: GR Writers Mini-Conference on Friday, September 13th, 2013. We’re working on the outline for the evening now and will be posting updates here as we get things finalized. Here’s what is set in stone:

When: Friday, September 13th, 2013 at 7pm

Where: Baker Book House

What: We’ll be focusing on the same three key goals we focused on for the first JOT conference – Meet. Learn. Write.

Our first goal is to provide writers with an time to meet each other and strengthen the Grand Rapids literary scene through a fun community event.
Our second goal is to provide excellent content for writers to learn something about the craft or the industry.
Our third goal is provide busy writers with space and time to actually write and not just talk about it. We’re all busy, but by attending JOT you…

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Need Inspiration? Get Uncomfortable.

We all have our routines. I get up at 6am, you sleep in until noon. You like tea in the morning, I like coffee. You drive to work while listening to sports talk radio and I listen to some form of audio book, every day. Our routines are great. But they can also be deadly to our inner artist. Let me explain.

If you read my last post, you know that things have changed in my life. And by that I mean sleep is a luxury and my novelizing has to be crammed into awkward nooks and crannies of my day. My ideal writing time is from 5:00am until 7:00am. But as my son turns in for the evening around 2:00am things have had to change and it has been a breath of fresh air.

A Little Manet Inspiration

My wife has been going to bed around 9:00pm. I have been staying up until around 2:00am and when she gets up I go to bed. I thought I would be exhausted each night and not have the energy to do anything. I was so wrong.

As it turns out, I really enjoy writing at night, more than I ever thought I would. It is writing time and that is always relished, but also a moment of quiet and peace and reflection. I can even read. All is quiet and I have ideas and writing projects that have been given new life because of this shuffle of time.

Writing is a disciple. Once developed you can build momentum and you may end up with an article, blog post, or novel that needs some serious editing. However, changing the time you write, what you write or what you read can help shake loose the cobwebs of complacency and allow great things to happen. It can allow your artist to wake up, paint something fresh and new, or even awaken your spirit to be bold.

Do you find your writing project growing cold and stale? Write from 9pm to 3am in the morning. Get up early and go on a walk before beginning your writing time. Do something to freshen up your life a bit, it may help relax your writing muscles and prepare you for the serious work ahead.

Cheers,

Bob

A New Joy and A New Challenge

On July 30th 2013, my son was born. I cannot believe how amazing my wife was through the process (Once again! Seriously, you amaze me). Now my son is home, healthy, and destroying sleeping patterns but that is to be expected. Newborns do that to their parents.

As you might expect, having a child changes a lot of things. It also causes parents to reflect on the direction of their life, finances, and the future of their family. I began to think things like; where do I want to live in five years? Am I satisfied with my career? Am I satisfied with how I parent, treat my wife, and write? I hope I can never say I have done enough and continue to dig deeper.

Cute, isn't he?
Cute, isn’t he?

As this is a blog about writing, I wish to speak to that today. When my first daughter was born nearly four years ago I was blindsided by the joy of parenting. I barely wrote for recreation, but I did keep a journal for her every day for the first year of her life. I did not get back to writing for about ten months. For my second daughter I wrote in a journal as well, and got back to it after about six months. Now, for the third child, I want to make a change. I want to keep at it. No interruptions.

The reason for this declaration is not because my son is less important. It is not because I wish to put my own dreams in front of my children and my wife. The reason is that change will always come in life. Roadblocks, new joys, and redirections will come in various forms. That is something I cannot change. What I can strive for is to continue to write despite what life may bring.

How about you?

What excuse do you have in your pocket to pull out and show your novel or writing friends?

What is stopping you today? Got that in your mind? Good. Now, how can you get around it? How can you create space and time to do what you love? Let me know in the comments section below.

Write 500 words today.

Cheers,

Bob