#IWSG: Drawing the Line

IWSG

It’s the first Wednesday of the month and this means the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) is meeting. It doesn’t matter that it’s Blogtober and the 31-day writing challenge is running. It’s already past 8PM as I write this, so I probably won’t have time for a separate post for these challenges. Maybe I’ll catch up with the word prompts from the latter challenge tomorrow. Maybe not.

For those visiting from #Blogtober21 or the 31-day writing challenge anyway, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group gathers each first Wednesday of the month to discuss our writing insecurities, fears, successes and setbacks. There is also an optional question each month.

First, let me share that I did quite well in the writing department over the past month. I published 22 blog posts in September, one more than in August. I also think I did an okay job of broadening my writing horizons. I (re)discovered the diary app Diarium and did an okay job keeping a journal in there for part of the month. Not so much in October so far.

For October, my goal is just to write a blog post everyday in keeping with the challenges I’m participating in. I may or may not go with the 31-day writing challenge word prompts. I don’t really intend to write much in the way of fiction or poetry, but who knows where my muse will lead me?

Now on to this month’s optional question: where do you draw the line with respect to topics or language?

First, I have a clear line relating to language: I don’t swear in my writing. Even when one of my angry alters was writing on here and tried to drop an F-bomb, I censored it out. I do occasionally use bad language on social media. I don’t use profanity though and haven’t for a long time, even before I became a Christian. I in fact find unnecessary use of foul language (which is most use of foul language) quite offputting in my reading too.

With respect to topics, well, since I write mostly autobiographical musings on here, I draw the line where I invade other people’s privacy. For example, when I mention my husband, I make sure it’s in a lighthearted way. I won’t write about our arguments, about our intimate life, etc. I do need to say though that I had to learn to shut up about such topics the hard way. In fact, my husband still likes to jokingly remind me of a post I published on an old, now-private blog in 2008 in which I described my expectations should he and I become a couple officially. In particular, he likes to tease me about calling him a “kid”.

For clarity’s sake, I am not and never was one to describe violence, sex etc. in detail. Even when I still did describe my fights with my parents or my intimate life with my husband, I didn’t use explicit language. Similarly, when I write fiction or poetry, I must say, I generally keep my language quite non-explicit too. I do write about dark topics, but usually by trying to convey the emotions rather than going into detail about the actual facts.

#IWSG: Success As a Writer

IWSG

It’s the first Wednesday of the month once again and this means it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) to meet. I don’t really have much to share with respect to how well I did in the area of writing. I mean, I did okay, having written 21 blog posts over the month of August. I didn’t really broaden my writing horizons at all, but that’s okay. Other creative outlets (ie. polymer clay) have taken priority.

So, with no further ado, let’s get to this month’s question. This month, the optional question is how we define success as a writer.

As someone who has only had one short piece published so far, I can’t really define success by how well-accepted my works are in the area of publishing. At least not unless I want to consider myself a massive failure. This doesn’t mean I don’t define success by external standards though.

When I first started writing for an audience with my online diary in 2002, I hardly had that audience in mind at all. The service I used didn’t have a comment feature or stats, so there was no way of knowing who’d read my writings except if they’d E-mail me about them.

When I transferred to WordPress in 2007, I still didn’t care about or even pay attention to my stats. I was delighted when my blog posts got featured on a popular-in-my-niche blog, but that’s about it.

Then when I started what I refer to as “my old blog” on this blog in 2013, I did understand more about blogging and WordPress, so I did pay attention to how many comments I got. That’s usually how I defined success at the time. I also checked my stats more regularly, but still didn’t really know what they meant.

I still to this day usually define success by the engagement I get on my blog. Since starting this blog in 2018, it has been steadily improving.

I do try not to obsess over my stats though. I mean, back in the days of my old blog, I would hardly ever respond to people’s comments because those comments would distort my stats. I have learned since that it is not just morally expected but good for your engagement too to reply to each comment you receive.

Besides the number of comments I receive, I would like to add that it helps boost my sense of success as a writer to see that people are genuinely touched by or interested in my writings. I feel therefore that the content of comments also matters.

How do you define success as a writer?

#IWSG: My Go-To Writing Book(s)

IWSG

Hi all! It’s the first Wednesday of the month and you know what that means? It’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) to meet. I have been doing really well in the writing department over the past month. In July, I published 30 blog posts, including some creative writing. I didn’t write everyday, at least not intentionally, but on the days I did write, I more than made up for this.

I have truly felt my creative juices flowing over the past month, not just with respect to writing, but crafting too. Whether this is due to my new psychiatric medication or not, I do not know. I can only hope that it will last for a long time still to come.

Now on to this month’s optional question. This month, we’re asked to write about our favorite writing craft books. Those books that, each time we open them, we learn something new or are inspired to write or try a new technique.

Well, I am not a big fan of writing “manuals” so to speak. I tried the book Diy Mfa and didn’t get beyond the first chapter. I prefer to just write and not be told how I should be doing it.

That being said, I do have a ton of go-to writing craft books. They are, however, collections of writing prompts. When I’m uninspired, I love to open one of those and see where the muse leads me. Most of these, of course, deal with journaling, as that’s my primary method of writing. Examples of books I love include The Year of You by Hannah Braeme, the eBook collection Journaling with Lisa Shea and 412 Journaling Exercises and Prompts for Personal Growth by Meredith Lane.

One series of books dealing with creative writing I love though is the Adventures in Writing series by Melissa Donovan. One of the books in the series is a collection of writing prompts. Another offers 101 more general writing exercises. The last one, Ready, Set, Write is more of a traditional “manual”. I like that one. I really think this series would be my go-to book series for inspiration that moves me out of my comfort zone.

#IWSG: Quit Writing?

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Hi everyone. It’s the first Wednesday of the month and this means it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) to meet again. I’m more than happy to report that I didn’t get booted for my flaky post last month.

I’m feeling quite motivated to write as of late. It’s still mostly regular posts on this blog, but that’s okay. I know, I know, I resolve each month to expand my writing horizons by doing more poetry and fiction writing. I’m also resolving this time to set some time aside for a daily freewriting session in the app Day One. My yearly subscription payment is due at the end of the month and I haven’t made use of it in a while, so now’s the time to get back into things.

Now on to this month’s optional question: what would make you quit writing? Seriously? I guess my death or the loss of my hand function, though if I lost the ability to type, I could possibly still dictate my writings. That being said, I’ve always said that loss of hand and particularly finger function would majorly impair my quality of life, since it’d not just mean an inability to type, but an inability to read Braille as well.

I have had times when I’ve taken a break from blogging and occasionally even writing in general. The longest I’ve gone without blogging since I got an Internet connection has been six months in like 2012. Since I started this blog nearly three years ago, not a week has gone by that I didn’t write at least one blog post.

Even before I had a blog, I had a diary and wrote tons of short stories and attempts at young adult novels. I honestly don’t think that, even if I ever were to stop blogging, I’d really stop writing for myself.

What would make you quit writing?

Just Rambling

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I really should be posting my Insecure Writer’s Support group post today, but I’m not fussed. I didn’t write as much over the past month as I’d liked to and the optional question doesn’t appeal to me. For this reason, I’m just going to ramble. I will post the #IWSG link and image on this post, but I won’t really be sharing much writing-related news.

I mean, the optional question is how long you let drafts sit there before redrafting. The short answer is that I don’t really do drafts. I write my pieces in one go usually and publish them onto my blog right away. Of course, I do have freewrites and some works-in-progress that I haven’t published anywhere, but even my one published piece that I wrote back in 2014, I wrote in one sitting.

Okay, now that we have this out of the way, let me ramble about other stuff. Today, like most of the past month, has been mixed. I was okay for most of the morning and afternoon, but in the evening, I’ve really been struggling. My feelings that, if I drop my mask (figuratively speaking), everyone will run from me and no-one will want to care for me anymore, are intense. For those who might be visiting from the IWSG: I live in a care facility due to my multiple disabilities, including challenging behavior. Lately, I’m spiraling more and more out of control and this seems to create a vicious cycle of anger, shame, self-hatred and more anger.

Yesterday, I had an appointment with my psychiatric nurse practitioner. We decided there that I won’t go the diagnosis route for dissociative disorders, but that off the record at least we agree that I have dissociative identity disorder (DID). We won’t do a whole lot of system mapping. Not only have I done this already, but it seems counterproductive to the idea of needing to practice being present.

Speaking of which, I looked up the learning to be present exercise in the first chapter of Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation and had my staff write it down. The book is in English (at least, my edition is) and my native language is Dutch, so I translated the exercises and where appropriate, adapted them to suit my needs. After all, one of the exercises is naming three things you can see around you. As I am blind, this won’t work. I do find that other exercises do help me. One in particular is the butterfly hug.

Tomorrow, my GP will get back to me about my medication. I would’ve gotten topiramate prescribed to me for my PTSD symptoms, but found out last week that it’d block my birth control pill from working. My nurse practitioner would originally have prescribed the topiramate, but now I need to work something out about getting on a different contraceptive first. This will hopefully be sorted tomorrow or at least then I’ll know when I can come in to see my GP about it. I really hope this medication (the topiramate) will help, since I’m on quite an emotional rollercoaster.

#IWSG: Breaking a Record!

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Hi all! It’s the first Wednesday of the month and this means it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group to meet. At the moment, my thoughts aren’t with writing really. However, I wanted to share my contribution to the #IWSG anyway.

Last month, I was a real writing ninja. I, of course, participated in the #AtoZChallenge. That did get a bit boring as the challenge proceeded, but I managed to finish it after all. I’m so glad I did, because it gave me real new motivation for keeping up the blogging habit.

Not only did I write the 26 posts for the challenge, but I actually wrote more posts in the month of April than I had in any month before since being a blogger. I published 41 posts this month. Seriously, in all the more than eighteen years I’ve been blogging, I didn’t publish this many posts in one single month!

Blogging aside, I also wrote quite a few other pieces. I have been journaling almost daily for a few weeks now. Sometimes, I just wrote a couple of sentences, but sometimes I wrote more. I have particularly loved expressing my gratitude in my journal. I’ve also loved writing responses to Day One’s daily prompts. Some of them weren’t too inspiring, but some definitely were.

For the upcoming month, I hope to be able to write daily again, be it on my blog or elsewhere. I’d love to make use of the many journaling prompt collections I have. I transferred some from my computer to my iPhone, so that they will be more readily available to me.

Now on to this month’s optional question: has any of your readers ever responded to your writing in a way that you didn’t expect? Well, not really. I mean, I get the occasional critical comment. For example, when I still blogged on my old blog, there was a person who commented on each of my posts mentioning my alters. Their comments invariably stereotyped people with dissociative identity disorder and told me that I was faking having alters and needed treatment for a personality disorder. Well, yes, those comments weren’t what I’d hoped for. Then again if I put myself out there like this, no doubt someone’s going to use it as a way to try to offend me. That’s how the Internet works.

Other than that, the most surprising comments I’ve got were compliments on my creative writing. I know that most people want to build each other up even if they don’t fully mean it, but still, it’s quite cool to get a compliment on a poem or piece of flash fiction. Similarly, having had my piece accepted into an anthology back in 2015, wasn’t what I’d expected at all. That one was creative nonfiction, but I honestly had written it in the span of like an hour or so and had been rather impulsive submitting it. I was so elated to have the piece accepted for publication.

How about you? Do people ever respond to your writing in a way that you haven’t expected?

#IWSG: Taking Risks in My Writing?

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It’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) to meet. It is April, which means it’s time for the #AtoZChallenge too. For this reason, I am writing a lot. Not that I didn’t write much in March. I wrote 29 blog posts, which I’m rather content with.

I also have been loving looking at writing prompts again. Not that I’ve dared to actually write based on them yet, at least not on the fiction/poetry ones. Okay, maybe it’s not so much that I am too scared, as I could of course be writing just for myself. Then again, I usually write with an audience in mind, so maybe I’m still scared to write even just for me. However, I also find that I take on a lot with my blogging, maybe too much. Yesterday, I was up till 11PM blogging because I had to write something for the letter E in my #AtoZChallenge series. I really hope I’ll find both the time and courage soon to write something more outside of my comfort zone.

This brings me to this month’s optional question. It is whether you’re a risk taker where it comes to your writing. This could mean tackling subjects or genres that are outside of your comfort zone, but also it could mean talking about controversial topics.

The short answer to this question is, no, not really. I used to take risks with my writing several years ago, when I still often shared my views on disability rights and autistic advocacy. Now I hardly ever cover these topics in my writing anymore.

I originally started my current blog as a way to actually take a risk by writing from the heart. I also chose my domain name to reflect the fact that my alter personalities could write too. They hardly ever do anymore.

That being said, I do put myself out there with my writing. As a personal blog writer, I am very open about myself online. Maybe that’s taking a risk in itself.

Do you take risks when writing?

#IWSG: Favorite Genres to Read

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Welcome to another installment in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) meeting. This past month, I’d set my expectations pretty high and, as such, was disappointed. I participated in #Write28Days with the aim of writing each day. Not surprisingly, that didn’t work out. I wrote 23 posts over the month of February. I also didn’t really broaden my horizons with respect to writing. That is, most of my posts were securely within my comfort zone. I really hope to be doing better this month.

Now on to the March 3 question: Everyone has a favorite genre or genres to write. But what about your reading preferences? Do you read widely or only within the genre(s) you create stories for? What motivates your reading choice?

Let me begin by saying my writing comfort zone is pretty narrow. I mostly write personal essays, if that’s even what my blog posts can be called. I would really like to write a memoir at some point, but I’ve been telling myself and others that for many years and yet never got down to actually doing it.

When I do write creatively, it’s usually poetry or very short pieces of flash fiction. I used to write some short stories and even have a young adult novel that I started writing as a teen yet never finished and that’s incredibly unimaginative I think.

My reading preferences do partly match my writing preferences, in that my favorite genre to read is memoir. Next to that comes young adult fiction about real problems, like the aforementioned work in progress also is.

I also read books that I couldn’t possibly be writing myself. Oh wait, I can’t really write a book at all, but oh well. I mean, I’ve recently developed an interest in science fiction and the like. I also occasionally read romance novels.

I rarely if ever read traditionally published poetry. That being said, I do love to read poems published on other people’s blogs. Same for personal essays and flash fiction. I mean, I’ve read a few books that were basically anthologies of personal essays, but I prefer to check out blogs for those.

With respect to what motivates my reading choice, I’m a true mood reader. I read a pretty wide variety of books, but they have to suit my mood at that time. I usually choose books based on the blurb. I can’t see the covers, obviously and I rarely read reviews on Amazon or Apple Books. When I do read reviews, it’s on other people’s blogs.

What about you? What motivates your reading choice?

#IWSG: Bloggy Friendships

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Hi everyone again. It’s the first Wednesday of the month and this means it’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) to meet. I must say I did pretty well with respect to my writing over the month of January. I wrote a blog post almost everyday. Of course, at the beginning of the month, I planned to do even better. That’s usual for me. I hope with #Write28Days in February, it doesn’t go in the same direction.

For those visiting from the IWSG who don’t know what #Write28Days is, it’s a kind of restart of the original #Write31Days October challenge, in which you pick a topic and write about it for the entire month. Thankfully, randomness is a topic too and we aren’t currently required to even have a topic. The idea is just to write everyday. Hence, this post really counts for #Write28Days too. I may or may not write another one this evening.

In addition to writing pretty consistently over the past month, I also took some steps outside of my comfort zone. I wrote two pieces of flash fiction. Both were extremely short, under 100 words each. I’m not sure they count as actual pieces and not just exerpts. In that case, there is no broader story as of yet.

Now on to this month’s optional question. Today, the IWSG crowd talk friendships and relationships developed because of blogging. I don’t honestly think I have any though. That is, I consider carol anne from Therapy Bits and Emilia from My Inner MishMash my friends, but I can’t remember whether I first “met” them through blogging or through E-mail lists.

Maybe though, I can count my husband. After all, though we met via a message board, one of the reasons he contacted me to meet up was that he’d read my blog. This blog, I’ve since made private because of the spammy visitors.

Other than this, I don’t think I’ve developed any bloggy friendships. I also must admit I’m horrible with reciprocating visits. I just realized, in fact, that, in general, I’m not that good at keeping in touch with friends, be it through my blog, the rest of the Internet or in real life. I really need to improve on that.

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

IWSG

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.