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Danielle Donaldson blogs here. What I'm reading now. What I'm writing now. My various thoughts about romance novels, publishing and writing at large and the sexy stuff that comes to mind! 

Filtering by Tag: writing groups

Writing 25,493 Words in One Week

Danielle Donaldson

Last week, I set the intention of writing 3500 words a day while also living my normal life and completing all my other responsibilities. I ended up writing 25,493 words in one week while also going to the gym, two grocery store runs, multiple child activities including library story time, a hike, two soccer practices and a game, attending a wedding shower of a dear friend, cooking every meal at home, completing all weekly household chores, helping with homework and solo-parenting a good chunk of the time.

There were a few reasons that I wanted to do this:

1) 3500 words is enough to be really uncomfortable for me. Sitting down during my youngest kid’s nap time and writing 1000 words was pretty doable for me and because of that, I was getting complacent and honestly, a little bit bored with it. I wasn’t driven. I wasn’t trying.

2) I really, really wanted to go on a writer’s retreat. I kept day dreaming about the possibility of holing up in a cozy cabin and writing and writing as much as I could without interruption or listening to my kids play Roblox in the other room. I was feeling like I couldn’t write unless I was alone and that wasn’t conducive to living my life.

3) I haven’t felt like a “self” in a while. Being a stay-at-home parent means that all of my day revolves around other people. People that I love dearly, of course, but when I’m supplying most of their daily needs (eating, sleeping, bathing, butt wiping, homework help, cleaning up, etc), it’s incredibly easy to lose myself in the shuffle.

This is what I learned when I pushed myself this week:

1) Do not skip a day.

Tuesday was a busy day because I had to shuffle my two kids between multiple activities and do a grocery run. I only wrote 606 words that day. In an effort to not fall behind any more than I already had, on Wednesday, I wrote 6734 words to catch up. That’s a lot of words and the next day, my brain was mush. I pushed through but anything over 5000 words in a day and I’m gonna need to lay down for a nap.

2) Accountability and a Healthy Sense of Competition.

I belong to a Facebook group where we push and encourage each other to write every day so I was logging my word count every day in a personal spreadsheet and at the end of the week, I got to share my total word count. I wanted something to be impressive.

Also, I commented a lot on my other online writing groups everyday on what I wanted to accomplish and where I was. I blew up my own Twitter feed with updates. It might have been annoying to others, but it was the one thing that really kept me going. It’s amazing how quickly my competitive spirit kicks in if I alert other people of what I’m trying to accomplish.

3) I am capable of hard stuff.

I always felt like it would be unfair to take time and energy away from my kids to spend time on something that really only fed my own spirit. Just like my kids are having screen time while I write this post. THE GUILT! THE GUILT IS SO STRONG! But, my kids were totally fine. Every one still got to school on time, and to bed on time and ate food every day and were cleaned and showered. Somehow, the world kept on spinning while I also accomplished something that I am proud of.

4) That being said, I would definitely accomplish more if I lived on an island.

If this is what I can do while life is also happening all around me, I know that I could accomplish so much more while holed up in a room with snacks and good natural lighting. I love my family but little kids have a lot of little needs and wants and it’s really difficult to get into the flow while also being begged for some cheese or breaking up another fight about Legos.

5) Break it up.

The day went a lot more smoothly when I broke up the daily goal into smaller chunks. When I got 1000 words done early in the day and only needed 2500 later during nap time or after kiddo bed time, it was a lot easier. When I was staring down the mountain of the entire 3500 amount at 9 o’clock at night, it made me want to curl up in a ball and go right to sleep.

Overall

I did it! Sometimes it was like I was pulling the words out of the sticky mud on my mind, but sometimes they flew from my brain straight through my fingers and onto the page. Either day, I got them down.

From here on out, I think I need a more manageable daily goal, but not something that will make be feel too comfortable. For the next week, I’m going to shoot for 2000 words per day and adjust from there.

Freedom in Fiction

Danielle Donaldson

Now some of us love to read about a good Damsel in Distress, a helpless (or close-to-helpless) woman that needs the strong arms of a beefy hero to sweep him away from the imminent danger in her life. Personally, I can’t stand that because I can’t relate. I struggle and stumble through my life at times but I’m nowhere near a DiD. I can run my life, even with its occasional hiccups, pretty well on my own. I don’t need a man or love interest, instead I prefer one. I’m a big believer that no single lover or partner can “complete” your life. They can only enhance the experience along the way.

I like my female characters to be free. Free to feel the way that they feel. Free to be authentically themselves whether they are vampire hunters, bakers with a failing bakery business or frazzled single mothers looking for something to spice up their lives. Freedom is important to me in the characters I read because I want them to choose the hero in the end. I certainly don’t want them to have no say in the matter, no consent. I like my female characters to be like birds, free to roam at anytime but choosing to stay because they want to.

These characters don’t necessarily have to be BAFC (Badass Female Characters) that wield weapons or take down dictatorships or Skynet. They don’t have to save the world. They could just as easily be businesswomen, witches, teachers, stay-at-home mothers or bank tellers. Autonomy comes in many shapes and sizes. It’s like the leggings of character attributes.

As a writer, I try my best to write characters that feel real. I write people that I could see myself running into on the street or I see certain qualities in them that I also possess. I write characters that I wish I could be just like I read characters I wish I could be.

What is a quality that you look for in your favorite characters? Freedom or autonomy? Authenticity? Physical or emotional fortitude? Sassy mouth and a penchant for french fries? Tell us in the comments!

 

 

Originally posted at WritingWenches.com/blog 

Dealing with Dingbats and Dingleberries

Danielle Donaldson

Dingbats flutter around your head, shouting things that are not helpful.

Dingleberries hang onto you despite your attempts to get them to shake off.

There are plenty of Dingbats and Dingleberries in the world. Some people call them trolls or negative critics. Unfortunately, if you are a person in the creative arts, they seem to always know better than you and like to tell you, sometimes rudely and loudly, how to do your job.

Imagine your work manager, hovering over you, giving you feedback on every letter than you write in every email that you write but also that manager follows you home and reminds you that you brake a little too hard at the stop signs and that you shouldn’t wear green anymore because it clashes with your skin tone. Now, imagine that you have a horde of those people yelling at you through the internet or in real life.

That’s what it is like to be an artist sometimes. Sometimes, feedback is constructive and leads to you being a better artist that produces better art. But, sometimes those dingbats and dingleberries yell a little too loudly and there’s nothing you can do about your voice or how the words are being read.

So, artists everywhere, I encourage you to find a way to silence the negative, nosy nobodies in your life and listen closely to those that truly invest the time in energy into improving you or your work. As humans, we need to remember that it is easy enough to be a dingbat or dingleberry, most of these people only need a satisfactory internet connection and a very basic understanding of a keyboard. It is much more difficult to be a good critic.

Cross-posted from The Writing Wenches Blog

The Importance of Community

Danielle Donaldson

Human beings are not solitary creatures. Much to my cynic's heart's displeasure, we must interact with other people or we likely go crazy (yes, we even have to interact with mothers-in-law). 

The importance of a writing community or a reading community or a knitter's community is important because it gives you peers to interact with, learn from and support.  A great kind of community gives you support when you need it but also stretches you past your boundaries every once in a while. 

 I believe that I belong to many tribes and each has its purpose and strengths. I have a tribe of poets that challenge me to write frequently, submit frequently and most importantly, get better. They expose me to new themes, new styles and new writers. Without the support of my poet tribe, I never would have had the guts to submit my work, therefore, I never would've gotten published. I never would've gone on to read my work aloud to a room full of strangers. I have a romance/erotica writers tribe that largely exists only on the internet. They send each other funny/sexy/goofy messages. We oogle over beautiful people together. We brainstorm and bounce ideas off each other. Those writers make me feel special and talented and loved.

Here's why I believe you need to find your tribe.

  • Find support: Everyone needs a cheerleader. Someone to give you the confidence to keep on trucking and someone to pour you some wine at the end of the night and remind you that tomorrow is a new start. 
  • Give support: You know one way to feel better about your contribution in the world? Tell someone that they are doing a good job. Mean it. Say it often. You'll feel better and so will they. 
  • Push yourself: I'll admit that I'm a competitive person. I mean, Monopoly is basically banned in our house unless my husband feels like losing an eye. So, when I see other people doing well for themselves, I want a piece of that success pie too. Seeing other people forge a path can give you the confidence to forge one for yourself. 
  • Learn something: Someone else might have made the mistake before you. Be smart and learn from their consequences so you don't have to face them yourself. Learn about your craft, your audience. Find your weak spots and try to build on them from the foundation of other people's experiences. 
  • Teach something: Best way to learn something is to teach it. Try your best. Share your successes and your failures. Someone might learn from you and that's a beautiful feeling.

How did you find your tribe? Let me know in the comments below! :)