Tag Archives: book recommendations

Practical Prompt 5-18-20

This month, we encourage you to identify three to five mentor texts that you can use to improve your writing. A mentor text is a book written in the same genre as your story, targets the same audience or explores comparable themes. It can also be set in the same time period as your work-in-progress or feature characters that face similar conflicts. Spend the next weeks reading through your mentor texts to study how other writers crafted dialogue, navigated between scenes or ramped up drama. As you read, make notes of the things you liked. Share with us the texts you chose and what you discovered. Then, be on the lookout for future posts here that dig deeper into how to get the most out your mentor texts.

 

Insomniacs Anonymous 5-11-20

During the COVID-19 pandemic, are you drawn to or turned off by books that take place during a pandemic? If you’re drawn to them, what are some you’ve been reading?

Take Care of Yourselves

Under normal circumstances, we would post a Write by Midnight Pep Talk today, but our priorities have shifted in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the coming weeks, we hope you will do everything to stay healthy, protect yourself and tend to your physical and mental well-being.

Reading a book  is a good distraction from endless negative reports about the state of the world. Many resources for audiobooks have become available for free in recent days, so take advantage of these great options. Then, share the titles you’re enjoying with the WriteOwls community so others can check them out, as well.

Writing about your feelings is a proven method for reducing stress and easing anxieties, so consider journaling during these uncertain times.

While the writing process is often a solitary task, it’s also important to stay connected with others while you’re putting good social distancing habits into practice. There are thousands of writers, editors, agents and publishers who are sharing their journeys on social media. So follow some of your favorites for a healthy dose of “we’re all in this together” and to hear how others are coping with staying at home.

Schedule a regular time to call your writer friends to keep your community in tact. Talking to them at a set time will help you stay motivated as you establish new routines for your daily life and your writing.

Leave a comment here or Tweet us @writeowls to keep in touch and let us know how you’re doing.

 

 

 

 

And the Book We Want to Share with You is …

If you’ve been keeping up with the daily Write by Midnight Bingo challenges, you might have a Bingo by now. So now it’s time to share the writing craft book we want you to have a chance to win.

Each of the WriteOwls have found this book to be full of practical and inspiring advice about writing for young readers. We’ve also had the pleasure of hearing the author speak at a writing conference hosted by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. We’ve LOVED The Magic Words and everything its author, Cheryl B. Klein, has done to encourage aspiring writers. So let us help you have a chance to read it, too.

To be eligible to be entered into a drawing for a chance to receive a copy of her book, here’s what you need to do:

1. Follow @WriteOwls on Twitter and subscribe to this blog for a daily shot of Write by Midnight tips and encouragement.

2. Tweet a picture of your card (showing the marked spaces for the challenges you’ve already completed) to @WriteOwls and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a chance to receive the book. Be sure to include #WriteByMidnight2020 with each tweet to be eligible. You can be entered up to 12 times if you complete the entire card.

3. All entries will be due by midnight EST on Saturday, Feb. 29. One winner will be drawn from all eligible entries and announced here and via Twitter on Monday, March 9.

We can’t wait to see how much you’ve accomplished!

An Internal War

Stacey Kite

Why do I write?

Recently I asked myself that question. Not because I’m uncertain about my quest to become a published author—I want it, I want it bad—but because I’ve had a terrible bout of writer’s block that has been driving me nuts. Every time I sit down at the computer to write, a voice in the back of my head yells, “D-O-P! D-O-P! It’s all dead-on-page!”

Replotting and outlining scenes in ever more excruciating detail hasn’t helped, neither has working on different scenes, regimented scheduling, taking time off, meditating, writing longhand, giving myself daily word count goals, speed writing or daydreaming my story while listening to music. It’s not that I don’t know what I want to happen in the scene, it’s that the words won’t flow.

Then a friend recommended Around the Writer’s Block: Using Brain Science to Solve Writer’s Resistance by Rosanne Bane. The book makes a point of how the limbic system of our brains—that part that processes emotions—steps in, temporarily wresting the driver’s wheel of our consciousness from the frontal cortex all the time. Though our conscious selves don’t realize there’s been a mental hijacking, we feel the effects—the aversion, the reluctance, the futility and the sudden, overwhelming compulsion to defrost the freezer. Those are the emotional handles the more primitive side of our consciousness uses to herd us all. Often, it is a fear response.

Since the first step in solving a problem is identifying it, I started asking myself what am I truly afraid of on a deep, emotional level, other than spiders. Success? Failure? Humiliating myself by sending out something that isn’t nearly as good as I think it is? (I call that my reality-talent-show phobia.) I have all those fears—okay, not the first one but definitely the other two—but that still didn’t feel like the complete issue.

Then I had a long talk with a writer friend of mine who was foolish enough to carpool with me on a three-and-a-half-hour trip. She had been the one to recommend Bane’s book in the first place and kindly played amateur psychoanalyst on the long drive. After a couple of hours of back and forth, she made a shrewd observation. Every time I become confident in my abilities in a given area, I switch to something different—even to the extreme of changing professions. I’ve been a lab tech, a Naval Officer, a Reactor Dynamics instructor, a Veterinarian, an Artist and more.

When I’m learning something new, I’m totally committed, whether it’s studying differential equations or plot structure. I will work my tail off for years, fully immersed, but when I finally feel comfortable with what I’m doing—once the challenge fades—my passion dries up. Proving to myself that I can do something is my real emotional reward, my emotional cheese, and as soon as I have that, the passionate part of me goes AWOL.

But I need that passion to write! The part of my mind that loves lists and facts and planning—the disciplined side that tackles problems by breaking them down into step-by-step procedures and thinks it’s in charge writes D-O-P prose. There is plot—my cerebral cortex is great at plot—but no flow or magic.

Those things come from the other side of my mind—whether I call that my creative side, my limbic system or my muse. It’s the part of me that slides into characters’ skins, sees through their eyes and breathes their air. It’s the part that can bring words to life. It’s also the side that felt writing a few good scenes was enough and toddled off to a hammock by the pool, leaving my cerebral cortex to flail on alone. My muse is like a mouse that won’t the run the maze because she’s already gotten the cheese.

My cortex isn’t giving in, though. I want to write good books—plural. Which means retraining myself on how to respond when my limbic system tries to shift me in the wrong direction. But how can I do that?

First, I’m going to follow the advice in Around the Writer’s Block step-by-step: saying “not now” to my limbic system when it tells me folding the laundry is suddenly urgent, eliminate distractions, give myself credit for effort instead of production, and schedule short writing intervals with small, achievable goals.

Second, since my limbic system’s cheese is a new challenge, I’m going to try to shift the challenge from writing well, to finishing the next chapter, and then the next, and then the ms itself. I’m going to visualize the published book in my hand, feel the weight of it and see the cover. I will entice my muse with a little cheese at the end of every writing session in the form of a new puzzle game.

And I will write on, no matter how the saboteur in the back of my brain attacks. Every time it bellows D-O-P, I will recognize it for the blatant manipulation tactic it is and keep going. It’s the only way I will ever get what I want.