Monday, December 31, 2012

Will Power--Thanks to Shakespeare!

From Kate's Writing Crate...

          As a writer, it's difficult not to be inspired by William Shakespeare. He wrote prolifically. He wrote beautifully. He wrote without the aid of a dictionary, a thesaurus, spellchecker, or Google. And he wrote by hand with a quill and inkwell.

          I once tried to write with my great great aunt's pen with a slightly bent nib and an inkwell. It was frustrating. The ink would run out mid thought. It dripped and smeared, too. I gave up after one page. But Shakespeare had no other choice so he got on with it. He was driven and dedicated.

          This leaves me--and everyone else who wants to be a writer--with no excuses not to write. I have plenty of modern pens and paper, a computer, and every reference book and web site I need, including, which I take for granted.

          I am constantly reminded of this by a sign I received for Christmas that now hangs in my Writer's Crate. It makes me laugh--and it keeps me writing.

         It's a picture of Shakespeare with WILL POWER written underneath.

          So if you are not writing, what is the obstacle?

          No time? You can find pockets of time. Cheryl wrote her book, Pregnant Women Don't Eat Cabbage, on a series of Saturday afternoons when her husband took charge of their children for an hour or two. A woman in Japan has written two books on her smart phone while on trains going to and from work.

          No writing space? The Writer's Desk, by Jill Krementz, shows authors writing in all sorts of places: Toni Morrison on a couch; Walker Percy and Cathleen Schine each in their own beds; Rita Dove and Saul Bellow standing at tall writing desks; Ann Petry at her dining room table; and Veronica Chambers sitting on her kitchen counter. A majority of the authors are sitting at their desks, some with their feet up, most with their feet on the floor. With few exceptions, the 55 writers photographed have very cluttered or sparse spaces so your level of neatness/organization is no excuse either.

          Face it, writing all comes down to determination and dedication. You need to sit, stand, or lie down in your writing space and write.

          Now list five writing goals for 2013--then make them happen!

          My 2013 goals:

                    write every day;

                    write 52 posts for this blog;

                    continue to edit or co-write articles for trade and/or national magazines;

                    take another writing class;

                    and finish my novel.

          Cheryl and I each have started novels, but we want to finish them. We decided to test out two writing books to help us reach that goal. Starting January 1, Cheryl and I will follow 90 Days to Your Novel: A Day-by-Day Plan Outlining & Writing Your Book by Sarah Domet. I was also intrigued by The 90-Day Novel by Alan Watt so I will be following it as well until I find which one really inspires me.

          Wish us well!

What are your 2013 writing goals?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

My Writing Resolutions for 2013--With a Newtown Twist

From Cheryl's Writing Crate

As I write this, seven of my eight children are snuggled in their warm, cozy beds—sound asleep—probably dreaming about the wonderful Christmas we just celebrated earlier in the week.  It wasn’t the festive decorations lovingly placed throughout our home, or the heavenly feast we dined on of roasted turkey and brown sugar baked ham, and although they received most of the gifts they hoped to find under the tree, that isn’t what made our Christmas so special this year.  Nope—this year, more than ever, we all truly appreciated just being together as a family.

The tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14th rocked our entire nation.  It is still unthinkable that 20 innocent first graders and 6 of their inspired teachers could be killed in a matter of minutes by a gunman who couldn’t possibly have been in his right mind to carry out such a heinous act.  Sadly, however, it did happen and now those families who lost their loved ones as well as families throughout the country are trying to pick up the pieces and figure out a way to carry on in the New Year ahead.

As horrific and sad as this event makes us, for me, the best way I have found to cope with such a devastating loss is to honor the victims by spreading kindness and positive thoughts in their memories.
Nothing can bring these precious lives back, but focusing our energies on something that denotes love and compassion could certainly bring about some type of positive feeling from such a terrible event.  That is why I have been striving to practice as many random acts of kindness, in every aspect of my life, each and every day since the tragedy. 

Examples of this are being mindful of the person standing in line behind me at the grocery store.  I make the effort to let someone go ahead of me now, regardless of how much they have in their basket.  Making eye contact with strangers is also something I look forward to doing when I’m out and about in the community.  Sometimes just sharing your smile can really lift another’s spirits.  If I see litter on the sidewalk, I bend right down and remove it (as do my kids!).  I’ve reached out to friends I haven’t spoken to in a long time due to my busy schedule.  What good is being so busy if I don’t make time for my friends? 

Not only am I honoring the victims with small acts of kindness, but I’m also honoring them with my writing.  No, I’m not paying tribute to them with the written word, but I’m making it a priority to follow thru on the many writing goals I have set for myself in years past and now, for the New Year ahead.

When I am bogged down with life due to  running a household of ten people and two crazy but loveable dogs, I am pledging not to give up on my writing goals just because I’m tired or have too many distractions in my life.  Instead, I am inspired to sit down in the sanctity of my “Writer’s Crate” and fuel my biggest passion—sharing my creative thoughts through words, no matter what obstacles might be in my path in 2013.
Instead of crafting a list of writing resolutions, I am choosing to dedicate the amazing New Year ahead to those brave, loving souls who lost their lives on December 14th in the Newtown shooting tragedy. Thinking of those sweet, adorable children and their beautiful teachers whenever I am feeling uninspired or unable to sit down and write because I am too busy will surely be the motivation I need to be still, write, and let the words flow until my pages are full.   I can already sense that my muse is very inspired by this and that 2013 is

 going to be filled with my most satisfying written pieces yet.
Do you have any New Year’s writing resolutions for 2013?  We’d love to have you share them with us.

Wishing all our Writer’s Crate readers the most creative year ahead!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Reads for Writers: Bill Bryson Provides a Masterclass

From Kate's Writing Crate...

          As a reader, I always love finding books that appeal to me. As a writer, I am twice as pleased when the authors also provide Masterclasses for me within their books.
          Masterclasses take place when performance artists or musicians work one-on-one with students. Writers don't generally have this option, but I have found some books to be Masterclasses for characters, dialogue, backstories, plots, settings, voices and/or creativity.

          Most of us just want to be home for the holidays--whether that means our own homes or the homes of loved ones.
           After all the festivities are over, this is the perfect time of year to read At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson. You will appreciate your homes as you never have before.

          From the front cover flap: Bill Bryson and his family live in a Victorian parsonage in...England...[where] he began to consider how very little he knew about the ordinary things of life as found in that comfortable home. To remedy this, he formed the idea of journeying about his house from room to room to "write a history of the world without leaving home."

         Do not read the word history and think dry and dusty facts. This book is filled with entertaining, fun, and funny facts, but sad, poignant, and even disgusting ones, too. Sadly, humans took a long time to realize the importance of good hygiene.

           People who changed the course of history--and improved our homes--with inventions and discoveries were sometimes honored and rewarded and sometimes cheated and forgotten yet our homes would not be the same without all of them. And you will be surprised how often synchronicity played a part in the history of homes.

          From page 4, "Sitting at the kitchen table one afternoon, playing idly with the salt and pepper shakers, it occurred to me that I has absolutely no idea why, out of all the spices in the world, we have such an abiding attachment to these two. Why not pepper and cardamom, say, or salt and cinnamon?"

          Such a simple observation and questions about ordinary things led to this fascinating book.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

50 Holiday Gift Ideas For Writers

From Cheryl's Writing Crate

Happy Holidays from The Writer's Crate.  I'm writing this article 5 days before Christmas, and in our family of 8 kids, 2 feisty dogs, 1 traveling spouse, and 1 slightly busy mom (oh, that would be me!) I need to come clean right away and share that I did not have the time to complete the holiday gift giving post I had so wanted to share.

I did, however, go to one of my favorite writer's websites, Suess's Pieces and found a wonderful gift guide for writers which contains 50 wonderful ideas that I hope you'll find as interesting as I did.

With permission from Emily Seuss, I am thrilled to share her fun and eclectic selection of gifts for writers.

Clothing & Jewelry




Scrivener Writing Software

Buy Scrivener 2 for Mac OS X (Regular Licence)

Writerly Stuff from ModCloth


ap stylebook online

Other Cool Stuff




Do you have a favorite gift idea for fellow writers?  We'd love to hear about it.

Wishing all of our readers a very Happy and Creative Holiday Season!