#IWSG: Turn-Offs in Other People’s Writing

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Yay, it’s the first Wednesday of the month and you know what that means? It’s the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s (#IWSG) meeting day.

I did pretty well in the writing department over the month of December and early January. I in fact am feeling very motivated to write. That being said, I do feel disappointed about not having realized my bigger writing dream of 2020, which was to submit another piece for publication in an anthology. It’s probably due to fear of rejection. I mean, blogging is a relatively safe way of expressing one’s writing abilities, in that it doesn’t really come with rejection. I mean, if I start a blog and it’s a total failure, I just won’t attract any readers, but no-one is going to directly tell me.

For 2021, I once again aim to submit at least one piece for publication. I just can’t bear to say for another year that I’m a published author because of that one piece I had published in 2015. I can’t control editors’ selection criteria, but I’ll have to at least try one more time.

Now on to this month’s optional question. The question is what, as a writer, turns you away from other people’s books, makes you not finish a book or frustrates you about other people’s writing.

The first thing that came to mind, is not a style issue or a writing flaw, but factual errors in the story. For example, in Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern, one of the characters’ mother and sisters have sickle cell disease and the characters keep talking about how this character didn’t inherit “the gene” and how another disease is recessive, as if sickle cell disease is inherited via a dominant gene. Well, I am no geneticist, but I am pretty sure it’s recessive.

It isn’t that such an error stops me from finishing a book altogether if it’s an otherwise good story. I think I even gave the aforementioned book four stars on Goodreads and I definitely did finish it. It was the thing that kept me from giving it a five-star rating though.

In a similar way, I am usually slightly annoyed when authors invent things into their otherwise-realistic stories. For example, I didn’t like the fact that John Green invented a cancer drug for the purpose of the story in The Fault in Our Stars. I did feel better because he admitted it at least.

The one thing that does stop me from finishing a story, is an unrealistic portrayal of certain settings in a story that’s supposed to be realistic. For example, I stopped reading The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork as soon as I read that the character got daily therapy sessions. That’s not happening in any psych hospital. That is, it might’ve happened in the times of psychoanalysis in the 1950s, but currently there’s no money for that.

I think I really need to get more flexible in my approach to fiction. It is, after all, fiction.

#IWSG: Seasons of Writing

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Today is the first Wednesday of December and that means it’s the last #IWSG day of the year. It’s already late in the evening and I’m not too inspired to write on the topic of writing. I guess I wasn’t too inspired during the month of November at all. I mean, I didn’t have any blog challenges to participate in, so I didn’t write as much as I did in previous months. My private journal and Drafts, an app I use for my random pieces of fiction and poetry, also remained largely empty.

I find myself scrolling past the many writing and poetry Facebook groups I’m in an not even looking at them. It isn’t that I don’t want to write, but it’s probably that I feel my creative juices have more or less dried up and I don’t want to see others’ beautiful work when I’m not able to contribute any myself. Call me selfish for that.

November is a hard month for me. Perhaps the hardest of the year. November 2 marks the anniversary of my major mental health crisis (which happened in 2007). That, combined with some form of winter blues, often has me depressed during November. I often feel less inspired when I’m depressed.

This year, my November was okay writing-wise. In 2018 and 2019, I published significantly fewer blog posts in November than this year. Then again, I’m doing pretty well writing regularly this year overall.

I am not sure whether, with the exception of blog challenges such as the #AtoZChallenge in April, there are any months I consistently blog more or less than others. With respect to my fiction and poetry writing, this tends to go in spurts and then stands still for a long while. This is the case for all of my passions other than blogging.

#IWSG: Reasons for Writing

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It’s the first Wednesday of the month again and this means it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) to meet. I did pretty well in the writing department over the past month, although not as well as I’d hoped. I mean, I didn’t write a blog post for #Blogtober20, or at all for that matter, everyday. Particularly towards the end of the month, I was less and less motivated to write. Let’s hope for a good writing month for November then.

This month’s optional question is why you write what you write. Albert Camus is quoted as saying that the purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself. Such a fitting quote on the day after the fiasco that is U.S. election day. I don’t usually share my political views on here, but let me be very clear that I don’t support Trump. Now I must say that Biden is pretty far from my ideal president too, but at least he isn’t as much of an idiot as Trump. But I digress.

Flannery O’Conner, an author I’ve never heard of, is quoted as saying: “I write to discover what I know.” This resonates more with me than Camus’s reason. I mean, like I said, I don’t share my political views on here much. In case Camus means that the written word is everlasting, I doubt mine is. Though I’ve been able to conserve most of my writings from the early days of my online journal and before, I’m not sure they’ll last forever or even close to it. The Internet evolves faster than we know, after all. WordPress may not be here for the rest of my life, or even the rest of this decade. With its stupid decision to enforce the block editor, who knows how long it will be able to survive?

I can, in a way, relate to O’Conner’s idea of writing for discovery. Or self-discovery, in my case.

However, I don’t just write for myself. In fact, I cannot keep myself from writing with an audience in mind, even when I write in my own private diary. It’s been this way even years before I knew about the Internet. In a sense, I write to discover what I know, but also to share what I know. Maybe that’s a bit snobbish, but oh well.

#IWSG: I’m a Hobbyist Writer

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Welcome to another meeting day of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG). I wish I could share that I’ve been doing well in the writing department. Well, in some ways I have, but I still haven’t written the story I intended to write for Chicken Soup for the Soul. I’m not even sure I will, as somehow it seems so insignificant right now that we’re not in lockdown anymore and I can see my husband again. When I had the COVID scare a little over two weeks ago, I did want to write, but couldn’t find the motivation really.

That being said, in other ways I did pretty well writing-wise. I decided to join #Blogtober20 at the last moment. Of course, I couldn’t join earlier, as I didn’t know about the challenge until last week. So far, I’m doing well, writing a post each day. I’m not always sticking to the prompts, but that isn’t required.

On to the monthly optional question. The question is whether you consider yourself a working writer and, if so, what it means. Or if you consider yourself a hobbyist or aspiring writer, what that means to you.

I obviously am a hobbyist writer. I cannot even say that I’m an aspiring writer, because I haven’t submitted a piece in years. In fact, the only piece I ever submitted was the one accepted into the anthology on typed communication by autistics in 2015.

I did at one point list my blog as my place of employment on Facebook. Now I don’t, because I don’t want my family to read it. Not that they most likely will, and of course they can still find me if they truly want to.

Being a hobbyist writer doesn’t mean I don’t have goals. I mean, I participate in #Blogtober20 and the goal for that challenge is to write a blog post each day of the month. I also during the rest of the year have somewhat of a rule that I need to post at least twice each week. I don’t have set days to publish a post, but if I haven’t written anything for a few days, it tends to feel awkward.

Being a hobbyist writer also doesn’t mean I don’t care how my writing is doing. I got really excited when, last week, I got lots of comments on a few posts. I also feel disappointed when I get only one or two comments on a post. I love seeing my stats go well. I don’t use Google Analytics anymore, because I was struggling with it and didn’t want to pay the money for having it on my WordPress.com blog. However, my WordPress stats do mean something to me.

#IWSG: Choose One Author

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It’s the first Wednesday of the month again. Oh my, can you believe we’re already two-thirds through 2020? I can’t. In any case, the first Wednesday of the month is the #IWSG posting day.

I haven’t been doing as well as I’d hoped in the writing department over the month of August. Yes, I did post to this blog several times a week each week. I remember my husband at one point, when I was in the mental hospital and particularly lethargic, encouraged me to write one blog post each week. It’s been forever since I last struggled with that, but still, I want more.

I saw a few weeks ago that Chicken Soup for the Soul have a book coming out about tough times because of the COVID-19 lockdown. I thought of submitting a story about my husband’s and my forced lack of seeing each other for the first three months of quarantine. Still, I feel pretty insecure and fear rejection. I know, as a writer, rejection is part of the business and if you don’t try, you won’t succeed at all. I however struggle not to take rejection personally. I know that Chicken Soup just won’t notify you if you’ve been rejected, but still. The deadline is October 31, so I still have time.

Now on to the optional question. This month’s question is: if you could choose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why? This is a little hard, as I’m not a book writer, so really I’d have to go with someone to critique my blog. I would however still really like to at least write and hopefully (self-)publish my memoir. For this reason, I’m choosing foster care memoirist Cathy Glass. She wouldn’t really be my beta partner – more my writing mentor. Although I must say I’d love to beta read her memoirs too.

In addition to memoirs, she also writes thrillers under the name of Lisa Stone. I’d really love her to teach me how to write fiction.

How about you? Would you like an author to be your writing mentor or beta partner?

#IWSG: The Form Will Find Me?

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It’s the first Wednesday of the month and regular readers know what this means: it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) posting day.

Well, let me say I’m pretty insecure indeed. I did pretty well on the blogging front this past month, but I always dream bigger than I actually live. I mean, I remember saying about four years ago that, within the next five years, I’d like to write my memoir and yet there’s not a single word down on the page. That plus I haven’t a clue where to start. Stories or pieces of non-fiction would flow so easily when I was younger. I have one work in progress that could’ve turned into a young adult novel if I’d just had the willpower to finish it. Not saying it’d be published – it certainly wouldn’t, as it’s rather unoriginal -, but well.

I keep remembering that Stephen King quote in DIY MFA about how you need to write 2000 words a day. I know, the author said this isn’t true, but I do need to write.

Thankfully, I do write. I got a premium subscription to Day One, a journaling app for iOS. Though I haven’t written in my journals everyday, I do find that the words come more easily already after a week of having it. As a result, I did write on my blog everyday for the past week. I really could use some guidance on how to transform my blogging practice into something more powerful.

Now on to the optional prompt question. It’s a quote that says that, although you may write in a certain genre, you don’t have to have that predetermined. Rather, the form or genre will find you once you write. I indeed must say I agree with this to some extent. Though I often set out to write in a specific form, my words don’t usually come out in that form eventually. Even if I do choose a genre in advance, my words often flow more easily when I let them rather than plan what I’m writing in advance.

#IWSG: Mid-Year Reflections

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Wow, can you believe the first half of 2020 is already over with? They were quite eventful six months for most of us, I guess. Anyway, it’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) gathering.

This past month wasn’t too eventful in the writing department. I was at times really motivated, but most of the time, I was a bit uninspired.

To get some of my writing mojo back, I started working in the book DIY MFA, though its author claims writer’s block does not exist. The only reason we don’t write, according to her, is that we don’t want it badly enough.

I started writing a short piece of fiction right that same evening. It was based on a writing prompt I found in a collection for July on another blog. It’s still a bit random and not worthy of publication even on this blog. I might try to edit it someday or I might not.

I’ve also been journaling and writing stream-of-consciousness more lately. I like that and it helps me keep my writing muscles active. I don’t have a word goal. One thing I learned from DIY MFA is that there is no rule of thumb or best practice on how to become a writer. I mean, Stephen King claimed you need to write 2000 words a day and read at least 80 books a year. I don’t write as much and I certainly don’t read as much. Now I don’t intend on becoming a novelist. My one published piece of writing was written in the same way I write a blog post, kind of randomly.

Still, I hope to someday publish more. As such, I hope that the publishing world will become more diverse than it is now in the future. I mean, I’ve looked at mainstream places to submit my work and I always think my story is a bit out of the ordinary for them. I can’t be sure, of course, until I submit my work and see how it does.

#IWSG: Keep on Writing (Everyday)?

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It’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) meets again.

I’m not sure what to write about today. In May, I wrote only one less post than in April. It still feels as though I’m a lot less inspired and motivated to write. The writing prompts that helped me write posts, including fiction and poetry, didn’t really speak to me at all in May. Even if they did speak to me in a way, I couldn’t find the words to actually write.

I did resolve a few weeks ago to write everyday. I wasn’t requiring myself to write a blog post everyday, though subconsciously that’s what it felt like. As such, I felt weird when I had no idea what to write about at 9PM and was going to go to bed in half an hour. I skipped blogging only two days in May though. That’s something to be proud of!

Now on to the optional prompt for this month. This month, we’re encouraged to share some secrets people don’t know through our writing. I am going with one that is in a way pretty contradictory: people may not know from my blog that I can be really private.

I mean, I share so much on my blog that it’s almost too much information. I of course intended my blog for this very purpose, but still. I guess most people who read my blog, assume from it that I share a lot about my life in real life too. I don’t. My husband has gotten upset at times at my having posted something on my blog that I didn’t tell him.

Another, related, secret is that my self-esteem is pretty low. My husband at least used to think I had a lot of self-confidence, being that I think others find my life interesting enough that I want to blog about it. It’s not true though. I’m pretty shy and self-conscious in real life. And even where it comes to my writing, I often feel held back by my inner critic.

#IWSG: Keep on Writing!

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Today is the first Wednesday of May and this means it’s another Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) day. I didn’t really understand the optional question for this month, but I have enough to share without answering it.

You see, I finally did pretty well in the writing department! Firstly, I finally completed the #AtoZChallenge for the first time in four years. I loved it actually. Of course, occasionally it got a little boring and difficult at the same time, but overall it was quite a cool experience. I got to know a few bloggers I hadn’t known before or only four or five years ago when I did the #AtoZChallenge on my old blog. It’s so cool to see bloggers actually keep blogging year after year.

Secondly, I wrote a few poems. I actually had some more in my head that I haven’t written down yet and I may’ve forgotten. I find it pretty easy to come up with particularly syllabic poetry. Not wanting to brag, of course, since I honestly don’t want to claim my poems are any good. However, the words flow quite naturally.

Next time it’s open at dVerse, I might try my hand at a quadrille. I had no idea what one was and thought it had a lot of rules. Apparently not.

I also wrote my very first piece of flash fiction. Looking back, I should have explained a little more, as my piece left a lot to be filled in by the reader. That was on purpose, but it did make it a little weird maybe.

I look forward to keeping up the writing mojo in May. Of course, I know I’ll face writer’s block, lack of motivation or both someday, but I hope I’ll continue to be inspired and motivated for a long time to come.

#IWSG: Writing in Times of Corona

Today is April 1 and aside from the start of the #AtoZChallenge, it’s also the monthly Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) day. I skipped it last month, but today I want to join back in.

I did a lot of writing in the past month. What else is there to do? I mean, I could have spent my month reading, but I still usually read partly for the purpose of blogging about it. So I spent my month writing.

The world pretty much turned upside down in the month of March. Early on, I didn’t see a month full of writing on the horizon at all. Neither did I see COVID-19 coming. In the first week of March, the press at least here was still not taking COVID-19 too seriously. The first cases in the Netherlands were confirmed, but for the most part I still thought this was a far-off thing. A satirical site had a test online about when YOU would contract coronavirus. I had presumably contracted it two days before while trying to stockpile the last packages of fresh meat. I joked about it when having a meeting with my community psychiatric nurse and the facility’s behavior specialist on March 6. We even still shook hands then.

On March 16, schools and restaurants closed for three weeks. A week later, we went on “intelligent” lockdown. This means we are encouraged to stay home and gatherings are prohibited, but going outside isn’t strictly forbidden. My facility implemented a no-visitors policy on March 25.

Just yesterday, we were told that schools will remain closed until at least April 28. Restaurants are closed till June 1 I think.

So, while I’m in self-isolation, I do still try to occupy myself. It’s good that I like writing, huh? For the month of April, I have lots of things I want to write about. I’m participating in A to Z, of course, but I’ve already seen some other prompts that inspire me.

How are things in your part of the world?