Sunday, January 10, 2016

Book Reviews vs. Book Ratings

It was after my pledge to read twenty-four books (in 2016) that I realize I needed to restructure my reading and writing routine and that included book reviews.
Writers can only wish and hope that when a reader likes a particular book of ours that he/she will take the time to write a review. The issue with writing reviews is that it takes time. In fact, writing a well-written review can take an hour or two, hence, the reason for this blog post.
Years back when I began a career in writing a fellow author gave me a piece of worldly advice, you need to read and a lot. To date, I’ve read sixty books accompanied by sixty reviews (authormariacox on Goodreads). In addition to reading more, I became much more involved in writing clubs, serving as social media coordinator, committee member, newsletter editor and ultimately President. Ambitions goals are good, but in my case my enthusiasm led me down a path where there was little time to read and write; a big no-no for any writer. 
When I decided to draft an article on the subject of book reviews I did a bit of research. I wanted to know the stance of the writing community on book reviews versus book ratings. I was surprised to learn there was little on the subject. Really, what I wanted to do was to understand how writers ‘felt’ about reviews in general.
Moving on to the main reason for this post…I want to inform my followers and writer friends that I won’t write reviews in 2016, only book ratings. Why? Reviews are lengthy and take time. book ratings take about five seconds.
Note this isn’t an easy choice, but perhaps the best option given my new goals.
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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Writer Exhaustion

By its very nature, writing is deeply introspective work and when in the groove writers can easily spend eight to ten hours writing non-stop and when the writing gets good, even more. Sure, making time for writing is important, but being glued to the keyboard for days at a time with no social interaction can and will wreak havoc on our physical and emotional health. Conversely, lack of physical activity and isolation often contribute to depression, weight gain, and poor productivity.

So what's a writer to do?

While it is necessary for us writers to immerse ourselves in our work we do need to be self-aware and recognize unhealthy triggers. As long as writing has been a profession many well-established authors have held down outside jobs and managed to successfully juggle writing, work and family responsibilities. It is a very delicate balance, but it can be done.

Here are three top tips writers can adhere to for a healthier and happier life:

Breaks
Take breaks outside of your writing space. This will help you disengage from the writing world for a short while and allow you to recharge.

Move!
Exercise can help ward off lethargy and depression it can also help ward off weight often gained during periods of inactivity. So, walk your dog or run on a treadmill physical activity can make you feel better and increase productivity.

Fighting Fatigue
Insomnia or oversleeping affect many of us, and could very well be symptoms of anxiety, stress and/or imbalance. So do not discard interrupted sleep patterns as just simple nuisance, seek professional help as needed.

Bottom line, while the writing lifestyle requires reflection and solitude, writers need to make every effort to include friends and family into their lives. Get off your chair, pull away from the computer, and get face-to-face with people on a regular basis and have fun. Don't dismiss laughter, such fun interactions may even provide you with new writing ideas!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

My life as a pantser

In my early teens when I began writing, I didn’t even know there were different styles of writing. As a young woman, I was just thrilled with the idea of world building. I discovered I had the power to change a person’s fate with a few simple keystrokes and that fascinated me.
As the years went by and more responsibilities were piled onto my plate writing became secondary soon I’d stopped writing altogether. It wasn’t until just a few years back that I delved into world of fiction again employing the only method I’d ever known, the make-it-up-as-you-go-along method.
When I set out to create my first short story Captive I started with nothing but a blank Word document and the hero’s voice in my head. The plot and supporting characters would emerge during the course of that first draft.
As you might imagine my initial attempt at this short story didn’t go so well as plot lines were changed and/or added along the way. The second and third manuscript drafts were just slightly better. But, the more I wrote, and rewrote the more Captive began to resemble a cohesive storyline.
Most pantsers will tell you that allowing our imaginary friends to direct the course of a book is the most exciting aspect of the writing process. Pantsers might also tell you that this technique can be as equally frustrating.
Now, I’ve tried plotting and using character sheets before, but the process didn’t feel natural, so I reverted back to my pantser ways. However, once I began to adhere to stricter deadlines I realized I had to have a much more structured path to follow so I decided to give the plotting idea another spin.
I agree with those who say that plotting can be dull. Yes, planning and outlining is a departure from the spontaneity of ‘pantsing’, but bottom line, plotting makes me far more productive.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m an exploratory writer at heart, but with continued practice I hope to get much better at this plotter thing.