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The Expections of Writers (by writers)

Hello Readers!

I have read blog posts and tweets from other writers where they talk about the writing process- the good and the bad that comes out of writing their ideas. Phrases, lines, sentences, paragraphs- all that come along while trying to figure out what to say to the readers, being great and also not so great.

It’s a funny thing really. As readers, we do expect to read some decent content, don’t we? Why else would be bother opening up our Twitter app or our WordPress reader? Or even a newspaper?

Sometimes we read a post and we laugh because we read it and think ,“Hmm, I have never thought of it like that”. Sometimes we read and think ,“Now that’s interesting, I didn’t know that”. And sometimes we read and think, “That is so creative, what a genius way of putting it”. Of course these are only a few emotions we get out of reading, because as you know, there are a million different emotions in a text (read a novel for goodness sake, and we’ll talk about emotion, right?).

Hardly do I ever read a text and think it was a total waste of my time, or wonder why the writer ever bothered. But as writers, we don’t give ourselves the same credit.

We writers stress a lot about what we are saying in our work way more than we do when reading the work of others. Which makes sense, we care more about our work than how someone else’s turned out. However, we tend to forget we all sit down with our pen to paper and have the same stressors as the next writer, and the writer before us that just made that first book-deal, or reached 1000 followers on their blog.

As readers, we want to read something good. Yes, it is that generic. As writers, we just want to write something good. Again, it is that generic. But we forget that when we write. The word generic when it comes to our writing really makes us cringe because we think every word we write needs to be spectacular. But do we expect the writer of the book we are reading, or blog post we are browsing through, to have been this perfect? No way.

I’m not saying everything we come up with is great content. However, I think all ideas are relevant. I have (many times) started off writing with one topic and ended with a totally different one. Clearly, that doesn’t make for a great content piece, but everything I had said I totally think was meant for the world to read.

Usually when this happens, I break up the story into several different groups and keep the relevant parts for the post I am working on save the others for later. By doing this I end up with several different blog posts summaries that I dig deeper into later, and everything I have to say does make it online.

Since I do this often, generally I work on one project and an idea pops up that references one of the brainstorming-sessions I had before, and therefore that previous idea gets some loose ends tied-up. And sometimes I realize that the old and new project actually relate, and they get mashed together to form a more in-depth content than what I had originally pictured when I started.

Isn’t that just perfect, my fellow writers?

I have seen many quotes on Twitter and other networks from famous writers that talk about the writing process (and oh, it is definitely a process- a hard one).

One of my favorites is one written by Jessica Brody:

“Don’t be afraid to write crap. Crap makes great fertilizer.”.

Yes, it certainly does Jessica Brody. We all needed to hear it. We all experience a similar writing process, with the fails and the wins, but they are all important as we grow our stories into popular blogs and big-seller novels.

I write you this message today (also as a reminder to myself), on a day, like most, that I know you are struggling to say the right thing, to say that everything you have to say can be great with the right organization and context to support it. Yes, it really is that simple. You already know that as a reader since you read “crap” like this all the time, and keep coming back (wink).

I wrote this at 10pm on a day that I decided I needed to spit something out after not having written anything in about two weeks. You can do it too.

You have something to say, so say it, and write it so I can read it. I’ll air-clink my glass of wine with you afterwards.

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Online Bookstore Launch

Hello Readers!
I have finally launched my online bookstore that I have been dying for months to get done. I sell used books online right here from my website!

Has anyone ever found inspiration in a dream they have had?
I woke up one morning after a few months of being active on my blog and really getting serious about my writing career. I dreamt that along with my blog and freelance writing aspirations, an online bookstore would add even more excitement to my new realization that I was meant to be a writer after all.

If you have read some of my previous posts, especially the ones when I was still and undergrad, you know that I have struggled with my confidence as a writer for a long time. I spent most of my college career trying to find something sensible to do with my passion for writing and books, because being a writer, and making a career out of it, seemed like a real reach for the stars.

But here I am!

And it just keeps getting better and better.

My bookstore includes several different genres for your liking, and I am adding more and more books each day.

Here is the link: https://readforthesouls.com/shop/

If you visit my website (www.readforthesouls.com), it also pops up under the menu.

Furthermore, I am taking requests for books if you have something in mind but are having trouble finding it. All of the books are $5.00 plus shipping!

Happy reading everyone!

 

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Comfort Zones

I was recently asked, “When was the last time you left your comfort zone?”

The idea of a comfort zone always has confused me. It insinuates that at any regular time of the day, you find people to be comfortable and in a state of rest in what they are encountering at that moment. And that you need to leave this state in order to grow into whatever your hopes and dreams are.

The thing about a comfort zone is that I don’t really think they exist.

We live in an environment that is constantly stressful and that is constantly pushing us past our limits. The zone we live in at any given time is hardly ever comfortable.

When you think of a time that you feel comfortable in your state of mind, what do you think of? Are you comfortable right before you fall asleep? During a meal with good company? During a night alone with a significant other?

I doubt it.

In retrospect, sure, these moments are the finer things in life. When life is supposed to make sense and be content.

But this doesn’t make us comfortable.

We all live in stress. Stress to make more money, stress to be a better friend, daughter, mother. Stress to be healthier and happier. And we stress about a whole lot more when it comes to our success.

When I think of comfort zones, the first thing that comes to mind is exercise.

There are inspirational quotes online, on t-shirts, in books, and public figures who talk about pushing limits, going the extra mile and ultimately, leaving your comfort zone.

I see this notion as more being more than burning extra calories.

When I read an inspirational quote that tells me to push my limits in order to get out of my comfort zone, I laugh.

Dude, I don’t even have a comfort zone, and neither do you.

I think it is important to strive for more, of course, because face it, we can all be better people. But I don’t think we should get down on ourselves when we think we aren’t doing enough because someone came up with the idea that we are suffering because we won’t leave our comfort zones.

If one of you finds a comfort zone, please, don’t leave it- embrace it, because it probably won’t be long until life hits you in the face with the next uncomfortable that that comes along.

This zone we do live in, not a comfortable one but something else, however, isn’t bad.

Humans wouldn’t get anywhere in life if we always do the same thing, and if we think we are always perfect in everything we do.

We aren’t, clearly.

So, in other words, the failures and the insecurities we have about ourselves individually has lead to everything that has ever been created and achieved in the world.

Back to the question I was asked, although I don’t understand the idea of a comfort zone, the last time I felt like I made a step in the right direction of achieving something was last week.

I quit my job.

Whoo…that’s heavy.

Yes, I quit my job and am really pursuing my writing career. And I am so thrilled.

I am broke as hell, yes. Most of us are. But I have made a big step, some would say THE big step towards my dream career, and I am more than determined.

This really ties into my big spill about comfort zones, because it definitely wasn’t a comfortable decision to make. There was nothing easy about it, and there was nothing comfortable about not knowing what the future will bring.

But that’s the beauty in it.

That’s the beauty of the world we live in, we surprise ourselves all the time. And here I am, totally shocked, and totally 100% all in.

Now, this question probably wasn’t expected to have such a loaded answer. But hey, that’s our reality. We spend so much time worrying and wondering when things will be the way we want them, and that scares off a lot of us. I never thought I was going to get out of that job and finally do what I wanted, but here I am. I believe this is what the real expectation should be, not just pushing yourself a little longer to get things done, or staying on the treadmill a little longer just to burn those extra calories I was talking about earlier.

That being said, I challenge you to follow your dream and forget about that stupid quote you heard about your comfort zone. Make a point to be the person you want to be today, not the person you are hoping to be tomorrow.

Instead of asking you the question I was asked, I will reword it.

What will you do tomorrow that brings you closer to your dreams than you were today?

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Planning my Writing

I was recently asked if I am a writer who plans or pants? If I pick up my pencil with a plan for an end or if I start in the middle and end up somewhere I didn’t imagine at the beginning of my seating.

I am a pantser. Generally, I come in with a very tiny idea. It may be just the outcome of my character for that chapter, or a tiny bit of back-story that I want to include in my novel. The development comes during the act of writing. My story isn’t even a part of the way completed just by looking at the plans I have written out.

Almost every time I start to write I first have a blank sheet of paper in front of me and I write down everything I can think of that I might want to say in this portion of my story. I spend a lot of my free time thinking about what I am going to write in the next chapter or in my next short story, and I can usually come up with something small, like a sentence, a word or something bigger like the entire endpoint of the story.

That is the majority of the planning I do, which isn’t very much. I come up with most of what I want to say when I am at my laptop and spitting it out.

While developing this idea I am given, I tend to give a lot of back-story to lead to a complete climax. Even in short stories, I take a step back in time in order to make sense of the present and grow the momentum in that sense. It keeps me on track, I feel like, and it grows the story differently than a linear telling of it would.

The crisis, conflict and resolution of my story are developed by elements such as these. I like to establish momentum by adding little sub-stories, such as background knowledge of a character or some context about the setting of the story at that moment. Momentum and development of a story can be so diverse, but the structure can be pinpointed and defined. Adding emotional context and struggle to get to the climax of the story are just the tip of the iceberg to what a writer can do to tie up, and tie in, the conflict in the story.

My writing isn’t only my job, my passion, my forthcoming, my calling, but my journey. The story is a journey and the writing of it is also a journey. It is easy to forget that almost everything in life is a journey, and that generally our passions and our jobs take up most of our time. Just as life is, the story is ultimately the story of a life and lives that occur in a journey of conflict and confusion, then wisdom and resolution. My life is a journey and that reflects in my writing, as does it does with any writer.

By saying this, I am pointing out there is not much planning to life anyway, and definitely isn’t to such a journey. How can I plan a conflict and crisis, when these things are felt and stirred at the time of being? Same if I am writing it. Feelings aren’t usually planned but can be predicted. When I brainstorm before I write I can maybe outline such an event, but it comes out of me while I write sentence after sentence. Word after word.

Are you a planner or a pantser? Comment below!

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Book Obsession

Why do you like to read? How can you stay up so late and just read? How many books do you actually need? You’re going back to the bookstore? Didn’t you just go the other day? I hate reading, doesn’t it make you tired?

I have been asked these questions hundreds of times, just like any other book reader has. Getting lost in a story that causes you to lose track of time and forget about the world happening around you is purely fun. I often question why not everyone gets that.

My reading obsession started when I was 3 years old. If you had never met me at this time you would be convinced that I could actually read at this age. I would be around the house with a Dr. Suess book in hand and flip through the pages saying every word. But in fact I was not reading. Instead I had actually memorized every word as it had been read to me several times. I had all my cousins beat with these books because as they had been trying to learn to read and would struggle with every word, I could read it with no help.

Fast forward to my elementary and tween years, I read all Hank The Cowdog books AND The Hardy Boys. By the time I got to high school I had read all of the Series of Unfortunate Events books as well. I would often be walking from class or somewhere outside and be reading as I took every step. In High School, I spent a lot of time reading Ellen Hopkins books’, who is still my favorite author today. It was around my freshman year in college that I got my first Nook, and there was no stopping me after that.

So here I am. A college grad with a BA in Literature, and Graduate student studying Creative writing, and an over-joyed book blogger. Who knew you could make a career out of such a thing that Dr. Suess started us all out on? Empires have been built. Entertainment is no longer a luxury but an hourly occurance.

Barnes and Noble bookstores, half price books, the movie industry.

Authors, bloggers, students, poets.

Directors, agents, publicists, editors, publishers.

Movie theaters, television seasons, internet movies, online forums.

All are outcomes and relatives to the art of writing and the hobby of reading.

Words can’t be hated, we speak them everyday. Stories, although some really suck, are fascinating to say the least. When you are asked why you love reading, is it possible to have only one answer? As if there is a definition for a book-lover. Maybe you could ask the person instead, why do you think you don’t like reading? Because they actually do, in a way, when you think of all the things I just listed. Everyone likes movies, television and the media. There’s hardly a choice anymore not to like it. When a person says they hate books, they actually just hate the act of reading, so they think.

Being told you are obsessed with reading, now that’s totally true. Because I am. I made it my day job, how much more luxurious can that get? My favorite thing to do besides reading, writing about reading, re-arranging my bookshelf and doing absolutely nothing is go to a bookstore to get more books. I mean they are right, I am obsessed. And I am not sorry.

Tell me, are you obsessed? Are books the most fantastic thing in your life? Comment and say so.

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Read Like a Writer

I recently was asked what it means to read like a writer. This question enticed me to do some digging. Being a book-blogger, how I read a book and how I choose to write about it all depends on how the book speaks to its readers and how I can interpret that into a text for my readers.

When I read for leisure, even as a fellow writer, I drive into the story and see where it takes me. I spend little time dwelling on the structure of the text and more on the entertainment it provides me. The books I enjoy are ones that leave me turning pages because of character and plot development, and the sensibility the words bring to the story.

Reading like a writer requires the attention to the technique of the writing and if the message of the story is effective or not. I sometimes wonder if the technique and structure the writer has used would be the same way I would choose to tell my story. I think about a specific instance in the story and study it. I try to experience the story most a reader but as a writer by applying my story with the same technique and ask myself if it would lead my reader tot he most valuable outcome of the text I am forming.

I spend a lot of time looking for an error in the text when I read like a writer. To me reading what doesn’t work in a text helps to remove error in other texts. If I see something in a story that doesn’t make sense or doesn’t lead to a clear answer, I make a short list in my mind as a reference in my own writing.

Reading like a writer helps me when I write my story when I think about what the reader is going to receive from my story. Based on what I receive from a story I read helps me discover with my own story that my reader may receive something entirely different.

As a college graduate with a BA in English Literature, I know that reading like a reader, reading like a writer and reading like a scholar are three different types of reading. Analyzing a text in a literature classroom or as a stand-alone scholar is different than how a writer would read the same text. A scholar will spend a lot of the time examining the text next to the other texts of it’s time, history books and critic pieces to entirely examine the work and make a scholarly interpretation of it.

Writing my own book requires as much help and as much reading-experience I can possibly get. I could read 100 books a month and still not have learned everything there is to know how to write a book that is effective, clear and a pleasure to read.