Plant A Treasure Chest-Part 1

When I was a girl, I was fascinated by treasure chests. I was fascinated by how ornate they were, and what might be inside of them. Writers have treasure chests too! And the best part is we can create them, as well as fill them! So, the question remains this:  How does a writer create a treasure chest? This goes to the idea I spoke about on the podcast:  a draft-drawer.  A draft drawer if you remember is a digital file/physical file you keep all your writing in. However, in creating a treasure chest, you single out one piece of your writing that you are drawn to, but perhaps have not had time truly get back to. Your treasure chest allows you to build up and around this particular work. This could be pictures, sketches, even books with baby names! But the treasure chest is for your project, giving it space to grow and be there when you get to it! Every time that you add to it, you are making the decision as to the importance of this project–you are taking your story seriously. Meaning, you are taking your talent seriously. A treasure chest holds more than glittering items–they hold your future. Plan accordingly!

Encouragement Pages-12/21/2020

There is a peace when you complete work, and even when you begin it! Writing is one of those practices where you have peace when  you get a something out of your head, and when you get something off of your writer’s to do list. Oh, that’s a thing! Be brave though! Be brave enough to put all your words down and stir them up! Start the work. Finish the work. The words are waiting  on you.

With Love & Ink,

JBHarris

Note:  Watch for the series and show on The Writers’ Block Podcast in January 2021 of the same title:  The Writer’s To Do List.

Encouragement Pages-12/18/2020

Take responsibility for what you write and what you don’t write.

The time you have not writing, the time you have writing, the time you spend actually writing are all under your control. They are all subject to your demands, to your time, and even your desire to write.

You are in control, so act like it. So write like it.

With Love & Ink,

JBHarris

Theme For 2021: How To Write A Book In A Year

Writing is journey and writing a book at joyous (and ambitious endeavor)! And for the year of 2020, we are going to walk through writing a book. For 12 months, I am going to make it practical, accessible to write a book. These 12 themes will go from the apprehension to start a book, constructing a draft and starting the task towards (gasp!) publishing! Here are the topics:

January 2021: The Apprehension

February: Starting The Process

March: Maintaining Focus

April: The Importance Of Research

May: Traditional Books Vs. Ebooks

June: The Power Of The Draft

July: The Power Of A Re-Write

August: What Does It Mean To Rewrite?

September: At Peace With The Final Draft

October: The Fear Of “Too Much”

November: The Smooth Out

December: Pushing To Publish

These topics will be done in the format you all are used to here–every Tuesday, buffeted by the Encouragement Pages you love! I even have a plan for June 2021 (Psst: WRITING CONTEST!)! I look forward to this, dear ones. And so should you. Let’s get it: let’s write these books. I already believe in you!

The Power Of Planning

Now after the pace of NaNoWriMo, I’m sure that planning is the last thing that you desire to do. Yet, as a writer, this is what we do–often. Even when we don’t think about it! Planning is the thing that we do in order to make writing easier, stronger and less stressful! Planning is not a nebulous thing though, it requires tools and investment. Yes, investment. Planning takes many forms as well! This can be in the form of outlining, free writing and even a file to store research info! What I want to remind you of is this:  talent is not enough. Talent, no matter how great, still requires discipline and a map. Planning, no matter how minute, will give you a map! This map is needed to create what you need to write as you so desire. It allows you to use wisdom with a most valued commodity–time. If you decide to continue a project, or even begin one, and to adhere to deadline, you need a plan. Time is not always on a writer’s side, so you need to make it bend to your will–by pen and plan.

Writing In Community-Why Retreats Are (Not) Needed–The Cons

Writing retreats, if not taking seriously, are vacations! You are basically wasting people’s time otherwise! If you don’t write at home, in your dedicated writing space, what makes writing in place where you have to pay to be at will be any different? Let me tell you why you should think twice before you into a writing workshop:

  1. Time. Writing is labor and time-intensive. It just is! If you can’t figure out how to write when you need to at home, why would you want to divert from your daily routine in order to write? These spaces are reserved for people whom want to write, and need the space to do so! Consider the value of your time, and everyone else’s before you attend.

2. Scheduling. Most writing retreats operate on and in certain time constraints. You have to be there at a certain time, to leave at a certain time, and while you’re there? The expectation is that you fully participate in your chosen or assigned workshop. If you aren’t there to learn or participate fully in your craft, why waste time and money?

3. Focus. One of the reason (even if it is the most basic) why you shouldn’t go on a writing retreat is it will require you to focus. It will require you be steadfast in the same resolve that got you there in the first place! You decided to invest in your talent by way of a retreat. One of those ways you pay it forward from that investment is focus. This 5-letter world will enable you to accomplish all you planned to do in this particular arena! Without it, nothing can be done! Be mindful that even though retreats can be restful (and should be!), you came there on and for a mission. Use your time wisely, and invest where you want to best reap maximum benefit.

If you desire to write, to be a writer, you are going to have to get comfortable writing! Whether alone, in groups, or if no one else will read it. Nothing can be read if you don’t write it first. If you won’t write at home, save you money, honey. A retreat is not what is needed–redirection is.

Doing The Groundwork: Why Workshops Are Necessary

To date, I have spoken at length about what it means to attend a writing retreat. I understand, though, not everyone is able to attend on of these. I mean it is a pandemic on top of everything else! But, there is a high chance, dear Oracle, budding/indie writer that you can attend a workshop! And here are some reasons why you should:

1. Cost. Depending on the length of the workshop, topic and genre, it may be entirely more affordable and feasible to attend a workshop than a retreat. If you can spend $100 on an hour workshop than $300 on a retreat–where you may sleep rather than write!–spend less money.

2. Location. It’s the pandemic! Not a lot of people are traveling for these types of artistic ventures. But, there may be a writers’ workshop that you can be apart of that meets locally or virtually! There as a writer’s workshop that I used to attend that was hosted by my girl Amanda Wells that met once a month! In her space, she offered snacks, gave a space to write and a place to just decompress to write! And it was free! Look for these types of supportive places in your city. Social media is a great place to look (Facebook, especially!).

3. Learning and Networking. Sometimes writing can feel as if you are atop a mountain with no way to get to the village below. Workshops foster writing in community! Workshops encourage writers to bounce ideas off one another, gather support and even become aware of those that write the same genre as you do!

Don’t dismiss the opportunity to build out your writing network! You would will never know whom you might need, whom might need you and what opportunities may be garnered because you were at the right place at the right time.

#HappyWriting!