Tuesday, August 16, 2016

5 things this summer has taught me about writing and life

omg, i made this thing, so that's something i've never done before...

YOU GUYSSS!!! I'M HOME! *does a dorky little dance and flails*

If you've read my last few blog posts or know me well, you'll know that I've been away for most of the summer in Oregon.  I've written a novel and survived torment at the hands of my own indecision. With a lot of angst and some overdue prayers, I decided that it wasn't yet time for me to leave home for good.  Despite the fact that Oregon potentially held a lot more opportunities than the tiny town in Arizona where I've spent the last six years of my life, I realized that there were still opportunities here that I hadn't explored to the fullest.  But I've already written about that, so I won't bore you to death with the narrative of my indecisive life.

What I really wanted to write about were the things that I've learned this summer, both about writing and life.  I guess when you look at it, they're pretty much the same thing, aren't they? They sort of morph into each other until they are disseperate and indistinct. So without further ado, I present my list of five things I've learned this summer.

1) Worry about character, plot will follow: 

 I think that this applies to both writing and life.  When I'm writing I get stressed about what's going to happen next.  Will the plot work?  Will my story end the way I want it to?  Why won't my characters behave the way I want them to?  My life is no different.  Will everything be okay?  What if I make a mistake?  What if ten years from now I'm living in my mom's basement and I still haven't done anything with my life? What if this stupid pie crust doesn't turn out and there's nothing to eat when the guests come over? *cue internal screaming for an indeterminate length of time*

Sometimes I worry too much about how things are going to turn out in the long term that I hide in my room and watch Netflix instead of taking care of the problem. Instead, I should take things one moment at a time, and do my best and what I think is right with each moment as it comes.  What happens next happens and I've got to deal with it in the same way.  I need to do the same with my writing.  I need to form the plot around the characters and worry more about whether they're realistic than if the plot is fascinating or full of catches.

No one cares about a really amazing plot of the characters are bland.  The riveting tale of your life and success isn't going to matter and might not even happen if you don't take things one step at a time and do your best to be a decent person.  Chances are, if you write a story that works out exactly as you planned, your readers will see every plot twist and be bored. The same goes for life.  Wouldn't it be boring if you knew exactly what was going to happen next?

2) Enjoy the process:

I don't believe in chance, but I do think that if we look at a little bit of data, we can tell that I am probably never going to be a famous New York Best Selling Author or a winner of the Newbery Medal.  (Although, I am very open to a miracle if anyone is wondering.  Let me know if you know how to contact Miracle Max.)

As such is the case, I realize that I'm going to have to have a better reason for writing than becoming famous.  Okay, I've always liked writing, so that isn't much of a problem for me, but I've had a lot more challenges and run in and insecurities with my writing than I've had before.  I need something more than impossible looking goals for motivation.  I need see my writing career as an ongoing learning process where there's always more to learn and the challenges just mean greater victories.  I think it's almost impossible to be successful at writing, or anything else for that matter if you aren't positive about it and realize that the process is just as important, if not more important, than the result.

About Erin:

3) Don't take yourself so seriously, but dream big:

I think fear is the enemy of success.  Self doubt is a product of that fear, and procrastination is a product of that self doubt and a sub-product of that fear.  My fear is only as big as I let it grow, and sometimes, I think that sometimes the size of my fear might have something to do with the size of my ego.  Why am I scared to look like a fool? Because I'm worried about what others think of me, about how cool I look. Well, no one ever got anywhere by looking cool all the time.

I think one of my favorite examples of this was a tumblr post I saw comparing two of Lin Manuel Miranda's performances of  "Alexander Hamilton." The first time time he sang it, people chuckled, years later, they were cheering wildly.  He took his big dreams seriously, but he didn't take himself so seriously that he couldn't risk having people laugh at him. See for yourself:
This is a true testament to the evolution of writing. In fact, seeing people laugh at Hamilton back in 2009, makes me laugh at them in 2016 now that it's a Grammy winning, Pulitzer winning, and world movement today. WutUP! #riseup:
seriously tho, I just wanted to sneak Hamilton into this post

4) There's no place like home:

Seriously, though, being on your own is over rated.  I'm 95% I'm an oversized hobbit.  There's nothing like going on an adventure and then coming home to your own room and the people you love most in the world.  No matter where you are in life, there is nothing more important than your close knit community of family and friends.  Who knows, someday I might make millions, or become a world famous writer, or become a successful professor, none of that is going to matter as much as the people I love most and being able to spend time with them.  People are important. Need I say more? #waxingeloquentlikeaLaconian

also, homemade pie and ice cream...

5) Pay attention:

There are two rules of writing that everyone always insists are the most important.  1) Read, read, read. And 2) Write, write, write.  I've done both, and I still find an important element missing in my writing.  A flatness, a blandness.  My writing seems false to me.  And that is one of the worst things writing can be.  I wasn't one hundred percent sure what was missing until I read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.  She talked about how she would pay attention to everything and take notes about it, and then I realized what was missing from my life.  I don't listen enough.

I think it's a common downfall for writers.  We are writers, we're expected to have something to say.  What I haven't realized is this.  In order to have something to say, we need more than just what we read and gather from that.  We have to experience life.  Pay attention to the way the old lady at the cafe drinks her tea, and the way your friend reacts to your stance on abortion, and why do they do those things?  For once, I realize, I need to be silent, and listen.  And if I must talk, let it be to ask questions.  Why? How? Tell me... And then when you write, tell the truth.  This has been one of my greatest writing struggles.  I'm not going to lie, I'm self centered, and I don't think outside the box as much as I would like to think I do.  I'm still learning to realize that there is more for me to learn than I could ever tackle in one-hundred life times. Guess that means I'd better get started. So I'm adding one more rule to the list.  Number 3) Listen.
* * * * *
*drops mic and walks away fabulously with my hair blowing in the wind* In all honesty tho, I didn't realize that I was going to talk that much... *ahemitrunsinthefamilyahem* *I think I'm going to sign out now...*
Do you agree or disagree with my ideas? (It's totally okay to disagree BTWs if you're wondering) What amazing things have you recently learned about writing and life?  Did you miss me? Also, did you get that reference?



  1. I GOT THAT REFERENCE!!! and I missed you! It's nice to have you back although we were chatting whilst you were away :D

    1. YAY!!! #sherlockftw Aww, me too! I've missed my friends from the blogosphere while I've been absent. <3

  2. Hamilton. <3

    I think I slightly disagree with the first point, just because if I don't worry about plot, I won't HAVE a plot. But usually characters come to me first because I like to focus on their inner journey throughout the story. That way we are the same. :D

    I love how you said to "enjoy the process." Sometimes I think I forget to do that, and it's really important.

    // katie grace
    a writer's faith

    1. YASSS!!! I love meeting other Hamilton fans.

      I totally get your point. I guess it's just a lesson for pantsers. It's how I figure out my plots. If you're a plotter, then by all means, plot away! I've always admired plotters. You're so disciplined!

      Thank you! Yeah, it's something that I struggle with as well. We learn as we go, eh?

      Thank you for your lovely comment, Katie!

  3. Hello!

    (Couldn't find your email, so sorry to have to post this as a comment)

    Martin here from martinsvirtualblog.blogspot.com just here to inform you that you've been tagged for the Bloggers Olympic Tag. You can find my answers on my site. Here are the questions:

    If you could compete in an event, what would it be?
    Favourite event to watch?
    Olympian you most admire?
    What sports do you currently play?
    Summer or winter Olympics?
    Ever been to the Olympics in person?
    A sport that should be in the Olympics?
    What do you think would be going through your head right before you were about to compete in the Olympics?


    1. Thanks so much for tagging me, Martin! I'll definitely go check that out. I love doing tags. (-:

  4. My dad always says "respect the process", which usually makes me roll my eyes because it's not a particularly FUN truth... but I strongly believe that it is truth, nontheless. :) You're learning so much!! Way to go, you :)

    1. Yes!!! That is a great piece of advice for writers. Thanks! I'm always excited to learn more about my craft. (-:

  5. Hamilton inspires me so much, great tips. I need to write now!

    1. GIRL!!! Same tho! If I ever need to get inspiration or pumped for something, I just run "Alexander Hamilton" or "Wait For It" through my head, and it does the job. XD


Please share your thoughts with me! I LOVE to connect with my readers, and I promise I don't bite.

xoxo Lizzy

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