Good Cliques Never Die!

I’ve always heard authors say it took years to complete a novel and assumed they were lazy. I mean, I wrote 31 books in ten years and I wrote them quickly!

Well, call me Judy because I was super judgy.

I have written half of The Dirty Book Club about nine times in the past four years. It’s an ambitious project that spans generations, includes secret rituals, funny conversations about dirty books, and great characters in their early 30s with lives that need some serious fixing. And it’s HARD!

My latest start-over was this January. Among other things I changed it from a novel with multiple points of view to a novel with one main voice. Now, seven months later I am on page 175 of a very crappy first draft. Some days are fun. Most suck. But I truly believe in this more than anything I’ve ever done. But those damn voices in my head!! They won’t stop yammering.

Lisi, you’re writing for grown-ups now. Lisi, your friends are going to read this. Lisi, your kids’ teachers are going to read it.

Oprah might. Your parents will for sure. So will the neighbors. And what about those opinionated book club members? You better not mess this up!!

Massie Block

This morning I wondered why I never went through this anxiety with the Clique. Sure, there were uninspired days and major burnout, but for the most part writing that series was pure joy. It’s not that I didn’t care about what you thought. It’s just that, well, I didn’t let myself care. I wrote what I wanted to write. Critics be damned! I let myself show up on those pages like some freak at a cheerleader’s party intent on dominating the dance floor.

The Clique

It’s been twelve years since the first Clique came out. You’re older now. Old enough to read The Dirty Book Club, that’s for sure. So I have named you my muses. The girls I’ve felt safe with since 2003. The ones who accepted me for the flawed and fabulous person that I am. I will think of you as I struggle to complete this first draft. Because you always understood me and you always supported me–way more than Oprah!

Long live My Clique!!!

TTYW,

Lisi

A BLAH-G IS BORN!

You know when you hit the fridge over an over again hoping something new will magically appear, and it doesn’t? Those wilted spinach leaves and that hairy-lipped carton of orange juice are still the only things in there! Well, that’s what trying to find words feels like today: a maddening cycle of hope and futility.

My brainwaves have short-circuited. Reduced to a blinking cursor; an anxious heartbeat flipping the bird at my lack of creativity.

Flip… flip… flip… 

As a professional writer it’s a terrifying place to be. All I’m good for are words and ideas. What am I supposed to do when I run out??

And yet, I am at my favorite sushi restaurant typing away. When I sat down I had NOTHING to write. Still, I forced myself to do it. And behold–A blah-g is born!

Okay, so technically, this is not about anything. But it’s also about everything–everything that being a writer is. Which is showing up and writing anyway, especially when the fridge is empty.

When you do, something filling always appears.

sushi

TTYW,

Lisi

Intention Deficit Disorder

intention

A few years ago, I was having one of my many panic attacks while trying to finish one of my many books before one of my many deadlines. Not one to wallow in my own suffering, I looked for help and found Candice. I’m sure I’ve written about her before. She is a life coach and really helped me look at my stresses in a new way so I could manage them. One of my biggest issues was Life vs. Work. As a writer, you really need to enter what I call The Cone Of Silence and stay there for many straight hours.

There are no texts inside the cone. No phone calls. No e-mails. No paying bills. No online shopping. No visits from friends. No doing dishes. No haircuts. No waxes. No mani’s or pedi’s. No reading. No listening to music with lyrics. No helping old people or ducklings cross the road.

It’s a cone.

A silent one.

And there’s only room for me.

So when do all those other things get done? Not on the weekends. The weekends are for my kids. Not at night. That’s when I decompress. Candace’s suggestion? Create one non-writing day every week–preferably the same day–and make it about your to-do list.

I made mine Wednesdays. And I’m so in love with it I want to marry it. This is the day I do all the other stuff that life’s vomiting in my face, and it’s worked incredibly well.

Another thing I recently discovered is Intent.com

The website was created by Mallika Chopra (yes, daughter of Deepak, but she is so much more). She wrote a book called Living With Intent that has brought so much meaning to my life. For those of you who are inundated with exams and not quite ready for a summer reading list, I suggest you join the website and get the app. It’s a game-changer.

Taking a moment to think about what you want each day really helps you get it. It’s so simple and so effective. And it doesn’t have to be spiritual or deep in any way. Look for mine, you’ll see. It can be about anything–no one judges. In fact, everyone supports.

You can also:

* Share your intents with other community members.
* Receive encouraging comments on your intents.
* Show your support for other people’s intents.
* Adopt other people’s intents that you can relate to.
* Sync your account with Twitter and Facebook so that your intents are automatically shared with your Twitter and Facebook friends.
* Reaffirm you intents every day so you stay on top of your goals.
* Track the intents that you completed or accomplished.
* Add inspirational or informational photos and videos to your intent.

Let me know when you’re on so I can follow you.

I intend to TTYW,

Lisi

WRITE ON

writing.poster

I’m receiving a number of comments and messages from readers looking for help becoming writers. Some of them lead me to believe you haven’t been keeping up with the Writing Process section here on the blah-g. Check this out first in case any of your questions have already been answered in depth: Blah Blah Blah Writing Process

And a few of you have asked me for some tips and tricks. Tips and tricks for writing, huh? I wish, sisters. I’ve said this before, but there aren’t any tricks. You have to write every day. It’s that simple. Read books in the genre you are writing so you can see how other people do it. Stephen King says if you don’t have time to read, then you don’t have the time–or tools–to write. So do it. Read and write as much as possible. Keep a notebook with you and write down amazing details you stumble on during the day. It’s these details that will bring your writing to life. And read about writing. Books on the actual craft are very helpful and inspiring. Be sure to check out my Tumblr I devote entirely to writerly things (okay, okay, there are some pups and Internet memes thrown in there, too) that I update every Tuesday and Thursday. It’s full of great writing tips for character development, story structure, inspirational words, and anything else you need to spark your creativity while honing your craft.

Writerly Words

Most of all don’t try to sound like anyone else. It’s your voice we want to hear because no one sees the world like you do. Neil Gaiman has my back on this one, albeit his version is a little more harsh:

Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that — but you are the only you.

― Neil Gaiman

Which reminds me, developing a thick skin is step 1 in becoming a writer. Harper Lee agrees:

I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide. — Harper Lee

Now hit it.

 

TTYW,

Lisi

 

Grit or Get Off The Pot

im/possible

“Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by a**holes.” – William Gibson.

Have you ever shared your life’s grand plan with someone and in an instant your dreams were dashed with negativity? We all encounter discouraging naysayers on our path, but it’s particularly difficult to stay focused in reaching our goals when those closest to us can’t or won’t be our support system along the way. Danielle is experiencing this right now and commented about it on my Facebook page. Here’s her story: I’ve wanted to become a writer for quite some time. The only problem is my family doesn’t support me in my decision. They say things that really make me feel like I won’t be able to make it. I get tons of support at school with my teachers and I’m grateful for that, but my family makes jokes at my expense that make me feel self conscious for wanting to write. It’s gotten so bad that I don’t think I’ll be able to become a writer anymore. Any advice?  People who try to talk you down from a dream are usually working from a place of fear. It isn’t necessarily their fault. They might be repeating discouraging words said to them long ago, or they might be too scared in their own life to follow their passion. It’s crucial that you keep this in mind. Remind yourself it’s their insecurity and like a virus, you will catch it if you don’t build up your immunity. Here’s how:

Shut them down.

Tell them to keep their negativity to themselves. If they keep this up you will never dedicate a novel to them. Ne-ver! You could also try giving them a taste of it. Crush their goals and dreams just for fun. See how they like it. Infect them with their own negativity. Then (wait for it…) write a short story about it. Everything you experience—better or worse—is material. At the very least take notes on their behavior. The sound of their voices when they judge. Their facial expressions. The sound of their laughter. Show them, with your writing, how antagonistic they are.

Become Boobs. Now Find Your Bra.

Like a pair of boobs you need support. So go find a few bras. By this I mean people who support you. Share your writing with the teachers who believe in you. Join or start a writing club. Become an online member of a writing community. Read about writers. Read about writing. Surround yourself with other people who share the vision. That’s the bug you want to catch.
goals

Don’t dream it. Do it. 

Right now writing is your dream, but you should make it your reality. Decide upon smaller tasks instead of focusing solely on the final work. Write them down, tack them up on a wall near your desk. Look at those reminder notes every morning and put at least one of them into effect. Maybe that means writing a short story, putting a book of poems together, completing specific writing exercises each week, studying two books on the craft per month. Your family will see you working at achieving your goal and hopefully will respect your vision more and more. Or they won’t. (See: Shut Them Down.) The most important thing a writer can have—more important that talent, skill, education—is GRIT! Stick with it. Thicken that skin. Shut out the noise. Cliche? Yes. But oh so true.

butler quote Now go kick some ass. TTYW, Lisi