After a few days of merely pecking at my keyboard, writing and rewriting the same scene or two I've figured out the problem and how to move forward. Sometimes, you really do just have to power through the bad writing days to get the story done. Even if you don't like what you're writing at the moment, when you continue to sit and write and show up, you're training your brain to work as a writer.
I know a lot of people are already on holiday/vacation mode and are having a hard time sitting down at the computer this week to write. My advice? Get a very small notebook -- like the kind you used for writing down your homework in elementary school - and carry it in your pocketbook or back pocket along with a mini-pen and try and at least jot down some ideas, phrases, scenes, character sketches so your work doesn't come to a grinding halt.
On another topic, I recently wrote a few Chabad.org stories that you may have missed but are worth checking out:
* Have kids at home next week? Did you know some Chabad Houses run "Winter Camps," complete with trips, crafts and more.
* Sometimes you hear about a person who has an amazing life story and who you'd like to spend time getting to know, Christina Hacker of rural Australia is one of those people.
Hope you are having a productive week!
I love deadlines, I really do. Stories that have no firm end date tend to just sit in my to-do file. I'll work on them here and there, but not with any firm regularity. Being a deadline writer is great when I am working on breaking news stories.
But, it is not particularly helpful right now as I have two stories that are just dragging. I know what you are thinking, I should just give myself a deadline. As a writer, I am my own writing boss. I should be able to assign my own deadline and stick to it, right?
Sadly this doesn't work! I need a deadline! (Yes, this is just another form of procrastination!)
I'd love to tell you that I've been superproductive the last few days and I've written thousands upon thousands of words. The reality is that while I have written several thousand words, they were not for my book. Well, some of them were, but those were few and far between.
You see I'm stuck. I know there are some things I still need to go back and research (and don't ask me why I don't reseach everything before I start writing my novels, because it's just the way it's always been) and what I learn during that research will add depth to the story. But instinctively I know that I made a wrong turn somewhere.
I'm going to keep plowing, or in this case, slogging ahead. I know that I will be able to sort out any issues in revisions. What I won't do is just stop cold turkey. As writers it is so easy to put down something that's not easy and walk away (and then sulk around for a few days because we know we should be writing, we need to be writing, but aren't.) That though is the difference between working writers and people who aren't fully committed. Working writers keep going. They force themselves forward even if the writing is poor, the story has holes and the dialogue is stilted. Why? Because you can always go back and revise (and revise again if needed) once there story is there. If there's nothing on the paper, well, then you've just got a lot of blank paper.
So I'm going to go and take a walk, clear my head, reread the scenes I wrote yesterday and keep going forward. Wish me luck!
I was at a Judaica store in Monsey, N.Y., yesterday and look what they had stacked up right in the front of the store! It was such a great surprise. Perhaps equally as exciting was the feedback I got from the manager when I said I was the author, and that Trouble Ahead was a sequel to The New Girl. He told me that The New Girl was a great seller for them! Thank you Bais Hasforim, your store is great!
Thanks also to Judaica World in Brooklyn, which included Trouble Ahead in their weekly Facebook round-up of new book releases!
And a special thanks to Z. Berman in Passaic, N.J., which was the first store to make Trouble Ahead to readers and is a great supporter of the series.
As some of you know, I started The New Girl while I was teaching fourth grade at a Jewish school in Los Angeles. As the school year went on, I incorporated the book into my classroom writing workshop assignments and more. Both The New Girl and Trouble Ahead make excellent books for teachers looking for a guided reading novel that is appropriate for Jewish day school and yeshiva students.
The books touch on important social issues and values, including friendship, bullying, the importance of helping others and being respectful.
Wondering if the books would be right for your classroom or how you might utiize them? Consider these questions that can be used with Trouble Ahead readers:
1. Look at the cover of the book, what do you think this story is about?
2. What are your impressions of Ruthie as you start the story?
3. Do you think Hili will be able to forgive Ruthie for what she did?
1. Did your impression of Ruthie change?
2. Have you ever been to visit someone who is elderly or someone in the hospital? What was that like?
3. Do you think you would have the courage to do what Ruthie did to save Mrs. Golding?
4. Write about a situation where you had to face your fears to do something you knew was right.
I am currently arranging school visits for the winter and spring semesters. If you are interested in having me come and speak with your students about being a writer, the writing process or conduct my "How to Build a Story" workshop, send me an email at email@example.com.
If you've been wondering more about the Achdus Club, how I came to write the books and what else I've written, check out this great story by Johanna Ginsberg from this week's New Jersey Jewish News.
It's hard to believe it's already December 1! Where has the year gone? Heck, where did November go? It was just a few weeks ago that NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, started and sadly it's already over. As you know, I signed up with the best of intentions, knowing that November was a particularly busy one for me. Between prepping for my book launch, the presidential elections, Thanksgiving travel and previously scheduled writing assignments, I knew that trying to write 50,000 words in a new novel would be problematic.
Indeed, I fell far short of my goal. I discovered that while I'm great at giving advice (don't get discouraged, just keep writing, don't worry about the plot), I'm not as good as taking it myself.
I made a few other discoveries along the way, as well.
1. No, there will never be "free" time to write. If it's not my priority, it won't be any one else's priority either.
2. My WIP (work in progress) does have some plot holes I need to figure out. I also need to do some research because that will have an impact on the way the story unfolds.
3. Whether I planned it or not (not, being the operative word), I find I'm challenging myself with each Achdus Club entry. This is a really good thing. As writers we need to keep pushing ourselves and our work. We need to continue to grow and strength our writing. We need to learn new storytelling techiques and new ways to express our characters thoughts and fears.
4. Rather than being intimidating, opening up a new blank writing document signals the start of something amazing. It's the promise of a fresh start, of unlimited possibilities and the chance to keep bettering myself. I love each new story beginning. It's only as I let my inner critic take over, figure after the first three thousand words or so that I really start to worry. By 10,000 words I'm questioning if there's even a story worth telling. Maybe the trick is to treat each part of the story as it's own beginning, middle and end. Perhaps if I work in individual "segments" (sort of like the three-act structure in screenwriting) it might be easier to quell my inner critic.
I maintain that NaNo is a great way for creative writers to get into the groove of writing daily and making it a priority. That alone is worth the price of admission, whether you've reached the 50,000 word milestone or not.
Will I participate again next year? Perhaps, but I know I've already learned the most important lesson -- just keep on writing.
Writer, Editor and Author of the Achdus Club novels for girls.