National Novel Writing Month

Hello out there! I haven’t posted in over a month but I have a pretty good reason why….I’ve been doing prep work for National Novel Writing Month! It will be my second year participating and I’m pretty excited. When it comes to NaNoWriMo, I’m one of the crazy people who starts planning months before. Don’t judge me. ; )
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I’ve heard that NaNoWriMo – an international writing event that begins on November 1st-30th each year- is frowned upon in the writers circle. But I think its only a bad thing if you have unrealistic expectations about it. For example: Thinking that after you spend a month writing your novel, it will be ready to be published the next month. As for me, I know that what I write during this event will be complete garbage! But that’s part of the fun that comes with participating. The point of NaNoWriMo is to get your story on paper. . .and rather quickly. Writing it in a month will allow me to get my idea out and then I’ll have to clean up my mess later.

Its for busy people- It helps them to make time for writing.

Its for lonely people- Writing is a solitary art, but with NaNoWriMo, you have a community of people who love doing the same thing you do.

Its for anyone who wants to challenge themselves!

Plus, if you reach the goal of writing 50,000 words during November, you get a lot of cool prizes. Most prizes are discounts for writing software like, Scrivner (more about this wonderful item later!) or discounts on the critique website Scribophile. There are many other prizes winners can get, click here to see more.  —>http://nanowrimo.org/forums/special-offers-and-greetings-from-nano-sponsors

Well, I’m off to think of some last minute things to add to my NaNo outline. writer

Happy writing everyone!

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Look Inside for Writing Ideas

As a person who is constantly trying to immerse herself in the writing world, I keep hearing about how important it is to write every day. Well, this hasn’t been so easy for me because I usually suffer from writers block. If I feel blocked, I get frustrated easily and end up doing something else entirely. This is certainly not the best way to begin a writing career!

So in my desperate need of ideas, I’ve “cheated” a little bit. I’m guilty of going to one of those websites that generates an idea for you to write about. They look something like this-“Write about two strangers who are in a restaurant. The tone is mysterious and the activity they are doing is studying.” And I’ve even downloaded apps that give you ideas of what to write about. I’m not trying to bash these forms of inspiration. These may work for you. But they don’t do much for me.

Just this morning I got an email from a writing idea website I subscribed to. I opened it and was ready to be inspired! However, none of the ideas spoke to me. I find this happens to me very often. Prompts are fun to help get me started but they seldom lead to any meaningful and fulfilling writing projects. I’ve realized that the stories I write from prompts, aren’t really from my heart. And so, I have a hard time finishing most of them. I’ve become so use to turning to these cheats, that I’ve silenced the stories I already have inside.

So…I’ve been trying to use less prompts! A couple weeks ago, I was at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles for my sister’s graduation. While I was waiting in the lobby, the decorations were so beautiful and the artwork on the ceiling and fountain made me feel inspired. I took pictures of my favorite parts of the lobby and knew I had an idea brewing. A few days later, I sat down and wanted to write something new. I remembered the pictures of the 92 year old hotel I took and began writing a short story about a character who had to stay there. I finished writing it in a couple hours and actually, I’m pretty excited about it. And guess what? I didn’t use a generator or anything! Something about the hotel touched me and I had to write about it. I’ve found that to search within yourself for a story is exciting! It could be a memorable event from your past, a piece of a conversation you heard that has stuck with you or an experience or person that has touched your life. ideas

I think that writing prompts have their place in a writer’s life, but we shouldn’t rely on them too much. Instead, we need to look at ourselves. Prompts are an easy way to get an idea and they are certainly easier than searching within yourself for a story. But I really believe that to be great writers, we should listen to the stories that we already have inside of us. Whether you are a poet, novelist, short story writer or some other creative being, I think it’s so important to write what’s in your heart; what has touched you the most. Those ideas will make the best pieces of writing. So learn a lesson from me…don’t always resort to quick ways of inspiration, look inside yourself first.

Where do you get your writing inspiration? Have you ever tried one of those prompt generators?

My Writing Fantasy

Something I love doing is going to the beach. I haven’t gone in about two years, so a few days ago I decided to pack up my things and go. Every time I do, I have a fantasy of laying on the sand, with the ocean breeze blowing in my hair, the sun lightly kissing my skin, enjoying the hypnotic sound of the waves hitting the shore….
I would have my notebook, a few pencils (in case one of many of them happen to break in some freak accident) a few pens and my imagination. Then I’d take a sip of lemonade, take a look at the beautiful ocean and begin to immerse myself in my story world.
But the reality is whenever I write at the beach, something always distracts me. That horrid sound a seagull makes when it wants your bag of chips, the loud group of high schoolers next to you who decided they would bring their schools entire football team to the beach or simply the great atmosphere is enough to be distracting.

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This time when I went, I was able to read a chapter of a writing book I recently purchased but that was all I was able to do. This time it wasn’t a seagull or a loud group of people. It was the ocean itself. I ended up leaving my stuff on the shore to go and play in the water. Feeling the cool water on my skin felt wonderful and seeing the sparkling waves all around me was so relaxing. I ended up leaving the beach with a head full of sand, a face full of salt and an empty notebook. It wasn’t at all what I had planned when I decided to go to the beach to write but it was still a lot of fun.
In the meantime, the place where I feel the most comfortable and creative is in my room at my writing desk. Maybe sometime in the future I’ll be able to live out my beach writing fantasy 🙂

Is there a special place you would like to escape to write?

Do you like your writing time to be in a quiet place or do you mind a little chaos?

~Toria 🙂

Today wasn’t a good day

Today wasnt a good day for me. It was a day that was filled with mixed emotions, mostly sadness and frustration. These feelings had nothing to do with writing but with life. And the emotions I felt, sucked all of the creative energy right out of me.

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I planned to write a story today and was looking forward to it. But once the energy got left, all I could do was sit in front of the tv and watch movie after movie.

Then a thought came to me. Some writers write during all seasons of their lives. They write when they are sad, when things aren’t going right, if they feel depressed, stressed…Of course writers write when they are happy. Thats easy. But for me, I’ve never really been the type of writer who wrote during all seasons of life. If I feel any emotion but happiness, you wont find me writing.  Writing is the last thing that I want to do when I’m feeling down.

But today I challenged myself and wrote anyway, even though I wasnt feeling my best or the happiest. I stopped focusing on my emotions and sat myself in front of the computer and typed away. When I
did that, what sucked away my energy earlier faded and it was just me and my writing. I typed away, not letting my emotions win and it felt great!

I know that I NEED to write. I need to write even when I dont feel like it or if I’m feeling broken inside. And I think that during those times, some of the most powerful pieces can be written.
– Toria 🙂

Rejection. Are you ready for it?

Five. That number might not mean anything to you, but to me it represents so much. What exactly it represents has changed for me many times. First that number represents the number of times that my work has been rejected. Which means, it is the number of times I failed. The stories I worked so hard on and spent so much time crafting and laboring over… I did all of that just to receive emails that looked like this:

“Thank you for sending your story “Enter Title Here” and we thank you for your interest in our literary magazine… Due to the large number of submissions… we read through many and we are sorry to say that we are not able to use yours at this time….We wish you luck in all your writing projects.”
Of course they are much more professional than that. That was just off the top of my head!

Recently, I sent a manuscript to a litmag I really like and when I got my rejection email….that’s right, you guessed it. I cried. Who cares if i’m an adult…it really hurt me! I knew before I sent my work out that I was going to get rejected many, MANY times. But I didn’t realize it would feel so crappy. I thought I knew what I was signing up for when I decided I wanted to become a writer, but until it actually happens, you can never really be prepared for the sting that comes with getting your work rejected. Rejection. The word looks ugly and it tastes bitter. But its something all of us writers and artists will have to learn to deal with at some point.

I stopped sending my work out to litmags. Its only temporary until I can freshen up my work and let my wounds heal. Part of that healing process is not being hard on myself. From now on, every time my work gets rejected, I write the number down where I can see it.

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Five isn’t the number of times I failed. It is simply the number of times that I tried. I wanted something and I went for it! It also represents the number of times I allowed myself to share my work with someone else. Which is something that is hard because my writing is very personal to me. And even though an editor hasn’t published my work yet, that doesn’t mean that my work sucks or that my ideas are bad. (Well, maybe that’s what it means 😉 It also means I have another chance to try again. And I will continue to try until I get to where I want to be. Getting published is something that I really desire, so my only option is to continue doing what I love.

I recently read something about getting rejected. When it happens, immediately send that manuscript to another magazine. I thought that was so great and empowering! What a way to take control of your writing career! Just because a few say “no”, doesn’t mean that’s the end. There are plenty of other publishers out there and you just have to find the right one for your story. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway!

For those of you who have not submitted your writing yet, what’s stopping you? When do you think you’ll be ready to take that step?
~Toria~

Artists, Poets & Fiction Writers…Why you should submit your work to “Literal Latte”

Every month I pick a literary journal to focus on, in hopes of getting published in one someday. I’ve made a list of my favorites and will go back to it later when I have material that I feel the journal might like. Here is the literary journal I have my eye on for May.submissions

Literal Latte has been around since 1994 and was one of the first literary magazines to have an online presence. They accept poetry, fiction, essays, art and more. They look for great writing and mind stimulating stories. Why Literal Latte is a magazine you should consider submitting too:

  • Submissions are accepted year round
  • They accept writing in all styles and subjects
  • 98% of what they publish comes from the “slush pile”
  • Simultaneous submissions are welcome

So if you have a short story or essay you would like to submit that’s up to 6,000 words, short plays or poems that are up to 4,000 words, or any art such as cover art to paintings I invite you to do so! Click here to check out the submission page for more details. Writing They also have fiction and poetry contests throughout the year. The “Short Short Contest” ends on June 30th and their “Poetry Awards Contest” ends on July 15th. Cash prizes can be won in both contests. Feel free to click the above links to check out the contest pages. So…I encourage you to polish up your prose and get to submitting! Happy Writing!

Writing Without Boundaries

Her grey hair was pulled up into a tight bun. Her clothes were nice and neat and she wore thick black glasses that sat on the tip of her skinny nose. Her presence was that of a teacher you once feared or a deceased grandparent you respected. I watched her reading my story and knew exactly what she was going to say. When she was finished, she threw it at me. The pages slapped me in the face and some fluttered around my desk. In a very loud, intimidating voice she yelled,

“This isn’t good enough! No one is going to want to read that. That doesn’t even make sense!”

I’m talking about her. My inner editor. When she isn’t yelling at me for creating work that no one is interested in, she’s busy telling me how my ideas are stupid or that I might offend someone if I write a certain thing.

Well this weekend, I decided to shut my inner editor up. This weekend all I did was write. I wrote exactly what I wanted to write and didn’t care if it was publishable or not. I just wrote because I love writing. I allowed myself to get lost in the world I was creating and enjoyed spending an entire day playing with my characters.

At the beginning of the year my personal goal was to send out a certain amount of stories each month to literary magazines, hoping that I would be published in one of them. Since I had the mindset to produce work to send out, I got lost in the process and my writing suffered because of it. Writing felt like a job instead of a hobby. I dreaded editing my stories because I wasn’t in love with them, they weren’t special to me. They were shallow pieces I quickly put together in order to make the literary magazine deadlines. So this weekend, I decided it was time I wrote for myself again.

I’ve heard that when you write, you should do it with someone in mind, for a certain audience. The audience I often picture never likes what I have to say. What I write is never good enough. On Saturday, my only audience was me. Just me and my imagination, writing whatever the heck I wanted and getting lost tor2in it. And you know what? Its the most fun I’ve had with writing in a while! I’ve been writing for fun since I was 7 years old but I’ve been writing seriously for only a couple months. Its amazing how the desire for perfection overwhelmed me and chocked my creativity so much! I went back to that 7 year old me and just wrote for the fun of it. And have decided that is how I am always going to approach my writing. Write just because its fun. Write something because you would enjoy reading it. Write without boundaries.