Tag Archives: writing process

Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em: The Beauty of Side Projects

I have been in the midst of editing. Editing my work, articles for TUBE., and projects for friends and family. There’s a certain rigid mindset necessary for that kind of work. You have to be able to cut and comment with enough certainty to convince the other person (or yourself) that you are right, that your advice is worth taking. This can be exhausting, especially if you don’t allow yourself to exercise your creative side like I had been. Not to say that editing isn’t creative, but it lacks that spontaneous burst of energy and life that pure creation has.

This is where the beauty of side projects and unnecessary projects comes in. They’re just that, unnecessary. They are no-strings love affairs you can drop the moment the frenzied passion leaves you cold, only to be picked up when you feel the warmth of ideas twitching in your fingers. For me this manifested in a couple hours of manic creation, leaving me a yet-unfinished art piece and paint smeared halfway up my wrists.

Unfinished Diptych by Katta Hules.

Unfinished Diptych by Katta Hules.

Elizabeth Gilbert compares having a creative mind to owning a hyperactive border collie in her article ‘Fear is Boring, and Other Tips For Living A Creative Life.‘ “You have to give it something to do or it will find something to do, and you will not like the thing it finds to do.” I have found this to be true, especially lately as I am waiting for my beta readers to finish tearing open the plot holes in my novel. There’s a definite anxiety to knowing someone is probably (hopefully) reading my book today, and I have no idea what they’re thinking.

To combat this further, I took Visual Verse‘s challenge again this month and came up with a little piece called ‘She.‘ The challenge is one image, one hour, 50-500 words, any style or genre. It’s a great free-writing prompt. I’ve also started the preliminaries on the sequel to my novel. I may never finish the art piece I created in my manic moment and ‘She’ may never see the light of day past Visual Verse’s anthology, but it doesn’t matter because they were magnificent releases with lovely memories and have cleared the way for long term, more important love affairs.


This month’s Visual Verse prompt

So don’t be afraid to start something just because it doesn’t seem like long-term material, you never know where a great side project might take you. Have a fun side project story? Share it in the comments. I’d love to hear it!


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Manuscript Wishlist

The idea of querying an agent is a scary one. You’re putting yourself out there for the inevitable rejection with the burning hope for acceptance. Agents and publishers can seem like far off dwellers of ivory towers staring down their noses at you, but Manuscript Wishlist brings them closer to Earth.

Manuscript Wishlist is a portal linking writers with agents and editors. “Manuscript Wish List® and #MSWL are designed to answer one crucial question in the submissions process: ‘What do you wish you had in your inbox?’” According to the site’s about page. It has recently been revamped and now agents and editors can update their own pages by themselves every time the answer to this question changes, so writers can be up-to-date on their wishlists. The site is a great resource for finding agents in a relatable, easily searchable database that helps you see them as humans. I have been using it to compile a list of agents that I will query once I am done with the final edit of my novel. I have found it really easy to use and helpful.

So if you are looking for representation and are not sure where to start: check out Manuscript Wishlist!

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On My Shelf: Writer’s Market

The Writer’s Market series is something that should be a building block in any aspiring writer’s library. I own the 2016 Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market and I have found it amazingly helpful. It has a nice selection of articles on the craft and business of writing, and interviews with established writers. The most useful resource, however, are the extensive listings of agents, magazines, book publishers, as well as contests and awards. These listings make up the majority of the book. Though somewhat daunting, they are fairly easy to wade through due to the helpful symbol index indicating things like whether the market accepts unsolicited submissions or if has a specialized focus.

This book is a great resource, especially if you have just written a novel or short story and want to publish it. In fact, it is perfect for Wrimos who kindled their love of writing this past National Novel Writing Month. There is even a testimonial from Grant Faulkner, the executive director of NaNoWriMo, saying how useful this book is for those who have just hit the 50,000 mark on their word count.

Novel and Short Story Writer's Market 2016

If you don’t want to spring for the $25 but  are looking for more advice and writing articles, check out Writer’s Digest online. Writer’s Digest publishes the Writer’s Market series and their site is full of great free resources. I recommend signing up for their newsletter as it is really motivating to have writing articles come directly to your inbox.

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Back to Life

November has come to a close, taking with it the joys and stresses of National Novel Writing Month. Now those of us who took the plunge must venture back into reality and join humanity again, scary as that sounds.

So congratulations to Wrimos everywhere! Challenging yourself to write 50,000 words in 30 days is an insane commitment and giving it a shot is a great step towards creating something amazing, whether you hit your word count or not.

And for everyone who put words on paper during this challenge, it’s time to step back and close that document/notebook/extremely long email and let it and yourself rest for a while. I usually take the month of December off from writing, or at least my Nano project. I know this flies in face of the convention wisdom about writing everyday, but I find it gives me time to revitalize, enjoy the holidays, and frantically do all the present shopping I really should have started in November. Then, come January (or whenever the urge to write gets too overwhelming), I can come back to my craft with fresh eyes and new inspiration.

So Wrimos, whether you finished or not, take a break, but set a return day, because the world needs your novel.

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Carving Out Time

Probably one of the biggest problems I have with writing is time. Yes, that old lament. But when writing [or any other artistic endeavor] doesn’t pay, finding enough time to hone one’s craft is a daily struggle. I’m constantly being told to write everyday, and while that is absolutely what I need to be doing, it is a daunting proposition especially when in school or working 6 days a week.

I have, however, found a some ways to keep up the writing process, even if it is not daily:

  • Set a reasonable goal. When I was looking for a job just out of college, I aimed to write 300 words a day. And because I was home all day, I usually hit that goal. When I started working more, I discovered the Pomodoro Technique. It involves setting a timer for 25 minutes, forcing yourself to write [or draw, etc]. Then you take a 5 minute break and repeat as possible. Giving yourself a set timeframe can be very motivating and help jumpstart you out of a block. I tend to stretch the timeframe out a bit, setting the timer for 30 minutes and then, on my break, wandering off to have lunch or do a chore for a while before coming back. This helps me clear my mind a bit and chew through whatever problems I encountered during my writing session.
Neon Clock by Katta Hules.

Neon Clock by Katta Hules.

  • Take a day off. This works best if, like me, you’re a creature of habit and after a day off, are ready to get back on the writing wagon. I find skipping a day can help recharge my batteries if I’m blocked and help lower my stress level when I’m crazy busy. I try to keep my non-writing days down to one a week because that makes them more relaxing and it keeps me from falling out of my daily writing patterns.
  • Reserve a certain days for writing. These tend to be my days off, especially when I’m home alone and free from distracting presences. This is when I hit the Pomodoro hard and do housework in between to keep myself fresh and my back from committing mutiny. Guaranteeing yourself these days, if you can, is fantastic when you have a heavy workload and daily writing might be just too much. It means, although you might not touch the work you love everyday, you know that some progress will be made every week. Since these are usually my days off, I try to only work a half day so I can recharge by relaxing in the evening.

Keeping up your craft is important, even if you can’t do it every day. Just staying in the habit of writing will help you produce more and improve your skills. If you love it, it’s worth carving out the time to keep it up.

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