Wednesday, August 16, 2017

August 2017 Word War: Day Three

Hey, writers!

I love seeing you guys support each other during the word wars. It's my favorite part of these weeks!

Since I finished my first draft back in July, and I'm still in the midst of my six week break between drafts, I'm mostly working on "other writing stuff." Including putting together the blog schedule for the rest of 2017 (if you have requests for posts, leave them in the comments!) and all the other writing-related-but-not-actually-writing tasks that get shoved off my list.




What's a word war? 

A word war is when you and another writer (or in this case, lots of other writers!) compete to see who can write the most words in a designated period of time. Sometimes these are also referred to as "word sprints."

How does it work?

Write as much as you're able to today, and when you're done, leave a comment in this post about how the day went. You can share how many words you wrote, stumbling blocks, a favorite line you wrote, whatever you want!

You can also start mini word wars in the comments section of this blog, or on the Go Teen Writers Community Facebook group. (If you apply to join, leave me a comment on the blog so I can get you approved.)

The goal is to buckle down and focus on our manuscripts whenever we can, make good use of our writing time, and encourage each other as we write. Hopefully you'll be meeting new writers and deepening friendships as the war goes on!


How long does it last?

This word war began Monday and will end Friday night. It's a come-and-go, write-when-you-can style of war, so it's never too late to join, and you don't have to participate every day. 

How is your word war going? Share in the comments.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

August 2017 Word War: Day Two

Jill here. It's day TWO of our August word war.

How goes it?

As I mentioned last month, I'm doing things backwards right now. I'm in the middle of a major rewrite on King's War (Kinsman Chronicles, book three), and I'm cutting words. My editor would like me to cut at least 50,000 words from my 194,000-word story.

(☉_☉)

But I've been working very hard, chip-chip-chipping away at this beast. I've cut just over 15,000 words so far and I still have a ways to go. I'm also at the Oregon Christian Writers' Conference this week (early bird class by Michael Hauge and evening keynotes by Frank Peretti!), so I'm sneaking away each day to make sure I get in my WORD-CUT-WAR time.





What's a word war? 

A word war is when you and another writer (or in this case, lots of other writers!) compete to see who can write the most words in a designated period of time. Sometimes these are also referred to as "word sprints."

How does it work?

Write as much as you're able to today, and when you're done, leave a comment in this post about how the day went. You can share how many words you wrote, stumbling blocks, a favorite line you wrote, whatever you want!

You can also start mini word wars in the comments section of this blog, or on the Go Teen Writers Community Facebook group. (If you apply to join, leave me a comment on the blog so I can get you approved.)

The goal is to buckle down and focus on our manuscripts whenever we can, make good use of our writing time, and encourage each other as we write. Hopefully you'll be meeting new writers and deepening friendships as the war goes on!


How long does it last?

This word war began yesterday and will end Friday night. It's a come-and-go, write-when-you-can style of war, so it's never too late to join, and you don't have to participate every day. 

How is your word war going? Share in the comments.

Monday, August 14, 2017

August 2017 Word War: Day One

Jill here. Our last summer word war starts NOW!




What's a word war? 

A word war is when you and another writer (or in this case, lots of other writers!) compete to see who can write the most words in a designated period of time. Sometimes these are also referred to as "word sprints."

How does it work?

Write as much as you're able to today, and when you're done, leave a comment in this post about how the day went. You can share how many words you wrote, stumbling blocks, a favorite line you wrote, whatever you want!

You can also start mini word wars in the comments section of this blog, or on the Go Teen Writers Community Facebook group. (If you apply to join, leave me a comment on the blog so I can get you approved.)

The goal is to buckle down and focus on our manuscripts whenever we can, make good use of our writing time, and encourage each other as we write. Hopefully you'll be meeting new writers and deepening friendships as the war goes on!


How long does it last?

This word war begins today and will end Friday night. It's a come-and-go, write-when-you-can style of war, so it's never too late to join, and you don't have to participate every day. 

I'll be working hard with you today, though I'm still cutting words from my slightly-too-epic epic fantasy.

What are you working on?

Friday, August 11, 2017

How has your response to criticism evolved?

Hey all! Shannon here.

So, did you do it? Did you start the new school year?

We did. My kids started back this week and though the weather hasn't quite figured it out, FALL IS COMING.

That means next week's word war is the last showdown of the summer here at Go Teen Writers! Just like the previous two, it'll run Monday through Friday, and is meant to be a fun, come-and-go kind of event where we can encourage each other as we write. 

You should write with us! Inigo would.


As we near the end of our summer panels, I'm curious about your response to today's question. It's a topic every single one of us will address, again and again, throughout our career. 

How has your response to criticism evolved?


Shannon Dittemore
I have more perspective now than I did when I first started writing. It’s so easy to take everything personal and there are lots of mean people out there to make even the most confident writer gun-shy. But the truth is, we need a critical eye and if we can find it in beta readers and agents and editors who genuinely care about us and our careers, we’re blessed. Considerate critique will make us better and will prepare us to deal with the more mean-spirited reviewers out there.

And while I know those things to be true, it's still painful to hear negative things about my stories. These days, I'm able to filter through the feedback for the stuff that will make me better, but my stomach clenches every time I send my story out to be read--even by friends. In fact, even good feedback can mess me up. I get lost in turns of phrase and what someone DIDN'T say about my book. It just goes to show how screwed up it is to write for other people's approval. If you're able to continue writing after receiving criticism, you just might make it out there.


Stephanie Morrill
When I was a teen writer, I used to print out chapters of my book and give them to my friends “for their honest opinion.” But what I truly meant was, “Please read this and tell me that you think it’s great, and that I’m great, and that I’m totally going to be a famous author!” 

One time when I did this, a friend read the first few lines, rolled her eyes and called my book romantic garbage, only not in G-rated language. We then wrote angry notes back and forth to each other in which she told me that she didn’t think I had the talent to be an author. I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to convince that her my work was original and creative, which was stupid for a lot of reasons.

When I couldn’t convince her of my talent, I vowed that I would prove her wrong some day, and that I would never show anyone my work ever again.

This was my first tussle with criticism. It was a deep wound that took years to heal, but I’m very grateful for it now.

While I did eventually start showing people my writing, I was much smarter about who I chose and my own motivations. I wait until I have done several rounds of edits, and I wait until I truly want to know what someone else thinks of it. 

The other thing I’ll point out is that growing defensive when someone criticizes our writing is as normal as breathing. We all do it. I kept trying to tell my friend all the reasons she was wrong, and that was a waste of time. Glennon Doyle Melton says it this way in her fabulous article Three Rules for Surviving a Creative Life, “Art is a big girl. Bigger than we are. So for eight years, I have never spent my limited time or energy defending a piece of my writing. Even when my work is misunderstood, even when I’ve felt attacked, even when I wanted to fire back at somebody so bad that my fingers ached and I had to take deep breaths—I didn’t sit down and argue.”

I have a long way to go still, but I’m getting better at not trying to be my art’s lawyer or armed guard.

Jill Williamson
It probably hasn’t evolved enough. I don’t set out to look at reviews anymore. But people constantly tag me to come and read the reviews they wrote of my books, and my publisher will email me professional reviews from Publisher’s Weekly or Library Journal, so it’s impossible not to read those. I have learned to read criticism with a critical eye. I can tell right away if someone has an agenda, and those reviews I pretty much ignore. I scan for both positive and negative information and try and quickly discern what, if anything, I need to take from it. And I try and focus on the person behind the review. Life is all about relationships, so I try to comment or like those reviews in which people sought me out. And if someone tagged me and wrote a mean review, I ignore it. Everyone has the right to free speech, and people use that well. But there is no law that says we need to stand on a bow and let people pelt us with tomatoes. We can turn our backs and walk away with our heads held high. And we can also choose not to engage, because it does no good at all to argue with a reviewer or try and defend ourselves. The best we can do in those situations is to be silent.

Now it's your turn. Tell us, how do you respond to criticism? Has your response evolved throughout your journey?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Do You Believe In Your Writing?



Hello, Go Teen Writers! We're doing Q & A panels this summer. We answer a question, then pass it on to you. Please share your answer in the comments so we can all learn from each other.

Today we have a question that is sometimes hard to answer honestly aloud, but I think you'll see from the answers is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. We all struggle in the area of self-confidence.





Do you believe in your writing?


Jill Williamson
Sometimes. 

This goes back to that question about being a confident or an anxious writer. It’s all about how we view ourselves. It's about our identity and how we define that identity. Where we find our worth. I have some deep wounds from my childhood that formed lies that have made me insecure about a lot of things. Oddly enough, I’m also extremely hardworking and stubborn. So while I might doubt myself on a daily (hourly?) basis, I continually dive headfirst into the fire anyway. That’s who I am. I need to be creating. It gives me joy. I think it goes back to my tendency to daydream. For me, my fantasy is safe. Nothing can hurt me there. This makes it sometimes difficult to live in the real world, since the real world doesn’t work like a fantasy world. People don't behave the way I want them to in the real world. Still, while I believe in myself, and I believe I “can” do anything I set my mind to, I know that my identity is not defined by this. So, yes, I believe that I am a good writer. I have worked hard to learn how. That is truth. And whether or not I sell millions of copies has no bearing on that truth. Whether or not I ever sold a novel would have had no bearing on that. My writing is good because I have put in the time to practice and learn. That is a fact. And I cannot judge my skill by other people's opinions of what I create. I can only judge each book by whether or not I have done my best.



Shannon Dittemore
Yes! All the time. Except when I don’t. We all go through ups and downs emotionally, professionally. But I’ve never put out anything I didn’t believe in wholeheartedly. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t make an adjustment if given the opportunity after the fact, or rewrite portions of former stories, but I believe that writing is a journey and I don’t want to begrudge the stops along the way.




Stephanie Morrill

Some of it, yes. Sometimes people say, “I’m reading this book of yours!” and my brain instantly goes to all the things I know are wrong with that book. And nothing brings out my insecurities like sending a few chapters to my agent or editor. 

For the most part, though, I believe in what I have written. I think it helps that I don’t ask my writing to do a whole lot. By which I mean, I don’t ask my novels to change lives or inspire girls or make a difference. Of course I love it when I hear that they have, but I don’t put that expectation on my novels. I just want to tell a good story.


Now it's your turn. Do you believe in your writing?