The Hardest Part #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop #Writing

What’s the Hardest Part of Writing?

I guess most people would talk about “writer’s block” but I’ve already spoken about that phenomenon and it’s not the hard part of writing at all. To me, that’s just part of the process of writing. 

For me, the hardest part of writing has nothing to do with writing. 

It’s like anything else –  I’m sure there are highs and lows to being a doctor or teacher or a painter or whatever profession we may be talking about, but if you love what you do, you’ll accept those parts of the process that feel heavier at times than the parts that are light and somewhat easier. So, writer’s block is just a heavier part of the process.  Struggling to finish a chapter or connect the dots between characters, just part of the job.

The hardest part of writing is what happens AFTER you finish your masterpiece. And this goes for all types of art – whatever it may be – whether a piece of writing, or something you’ve sculpted, painted, music or even mastering your acting skills – all of it, unless you’re planning on keeping it to yourself and just sharing it with family, has to become a business. The hardest part for me was NOT being aware of what to do AFTER I’d written my manuscript. I had no idea where to start, what to do – and so I did what many people do and started submitting my unsolicited work randomly to publishing houses hoping someone would read my “brilliant” writing and just have to publish it. 

That didn’t happen. 

After being thoroughly disappointed by continuous rejection letters, or worse, no response at all, I shelved my manuscript for a couple of years.  Of course, then naturally I started to believe it was a horrible piece of writing and a stupid idea. No matter how strong of a person you are – and no matter how many times people tell you NOT to pay attention to criticism, we’re all only human.  It grates on you.  Multiple rejection letters and terrible pieces of advice from strangers who clearly had NOT read my book – did a number on my confidence.  It was not a great time for me as a writer.  Self-confidence is a thing as an artist. 

So, my advice to anyone writing their first novel or script or poetry – START to think of your creativity today as a business.  I know it’s sometimes hard to find the time to write, but if you’re committed to your work, please also take the time –even if it’s just a few minutes a week to researching the “Business” end of your industry.  It took me so long to figure it out and even NOW I’m still learning some of the tricks to the trade. 

Here is some basic information to start you thinking about your creativity (whatever it is) as a business:

  1. Join LinkedIn (yes, even if you’re a writer, or actor or sculpture or whatever). I was never a big fan, but now it’s become the best place to connect with like-minded individuals.  Here’s why it’s great:  People in all types of businesses post their successes and failures and ideas and suggestions and it’s just another avenue to learn. Here’s my link if you want to add me:   https://www.linkedin.com/in/carmensbusiness/
  • Join BlogHops.  I never knew what this was until Author Raimey Gallant saw one of my blog posts and invited me to join!  This #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop is a great resource on so many levels!  But there are many “Blog Hops” and if you don’t know what they are – because I surely didn’t – then do a quick google search and get on board. It’s an easy way to connect with the community and share your thoughts and ideas as well as learn so much about the writing world as well!  (BlogHops can be for other topics as well…)
  • This piece of advice is mostly for my script and actor friends, but I bet it also applies to really anything at all:  know who the entertainment lawyers are for your industry. And if you can pay a retainer, or sign with a lawyer on a percentage basis, know that pitching your script is something a lawyer can help you do. Yes, everything is about money, so it might be harder if you can’t afford to hire a lawyer. But I learned THIS YEAR that studios, including places like Netflix and Amazon studios will be more likely to hear a pitch from a lawyer than someone who is sending out their ideas “unsolicited”. My book has been pitched to a production company for a possible deal with Netflix – NOTHING HAS COME OF IT YET and in this town that really means NOTHING. But, it would have never even gotten to this point – a legit hearing – if I hadn’t had a contact from a “legit” source.
  • Go to places that support writers (or whatever your craft may be).  Seek out organizations that have other ways to network and grow. For example, here in Los Angeles there is a great organization called Writer’s Blok.  It was much cheaper when I first joined back in the day and I can’t lie, I think the monthly costs are a little high nowadays – but if you join their mailing lists, they do have some free sessions and free events once in a while. The point is this is another great way to network.  I prefer NOT to write with other people – but I can’t lie, when I found this group and decided to try it, I took my manuscript off the shelf and finally found a way to get it published!  It was a great place to figure out what was next. Wherever you are on the globe, there might be a place in your neighborhood that has this type of organization.  I found this by going on MeetUp and just searching for “writers” within my neighborhood.  Best thing I ever did for my book!  And my confidence!

There is so much more I could list. But I just wanted to get the idea in your head that the hardest part of writing isn’t always about the writing.  It’s about realizing that in order to get your creativity SEEN, READ, HEARD – that you’re also going to have to wrap your head around it being a business!

There are so many people who write about self-publishing and/or how to get an agent and such – so I wanted to offer some other, less talked about ideas.

My hope is that this has you at least thinking about the business end of things… I hope this was helpful. 

‘til next time,

Carmen

Take Care of YOU Simple Habits for the Writer, Creative, Everyone! #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

*Below is not a transcript of video.

A few years ago, I had to go to the doctor’s office because I was experiencing so much wrist pain I had to get it checked out.  At that time, I learned everything I needed to know about carpal tunnel syndrome and because it sidelined me for quite a while, I decided to start making some changes quickly to avoid ever going down that road again. I developed some really easy habits that I do every day that I wanted to share with everyone who writes, stares at a computer all day or is on the phone regularly.   

A lot of writers, and creative people in general, tend to overwork themselves especially when they’re in that zone or experiencing that ever elusive “light bulb” moment.  We’ll write for hours without stopping — we’re also prone to over-due it when we’re experiencing some sort of block – we’ll keep grinding and pushing, not realizing the possible physical toll we may be putting on ourselves, not to mention the mental one, by hunching over our laptops and staring at the computer screen for hours.  

I believe that keeping ourselves physically healthy is just as important as keeping our mental and emotional state in check.  As artists, sometimes we faulter on all of these in the hopes of creating that next masterpiece.  But I’d like to offer the idea that if you can implement some really simple habits now, it may help prevent you from unnecessary injury and pain later.  If you start now, it will also become a seamless part of your everyday way of working and will not impose on your creativity, but actually may help it! 

So, what am I talking about?  Well, please watch the video for a visual explanation.  But simply, start learning to take 1-minute breaks throughout your day to do some small stretches with your fingers, your wrists, neck and shoulders to give yourself a break from sitting in a static position.  Staying in the same position for long periods of time can lead to cramping, stiffness and in some cases, possible carpal tunnel syndrome.  Give yourself 30 seconds to a  minute break every hour at least, to reassess your body and stretch for just a bit. 

I use the alarm on my phone for just this purpose. I set it up to chime in one hour increments and the “ring” I use is a very subtle soothing chime. The type of “ring” you use IS important – I learned this the hard way – because sometimes you really are in that creative zone and you don’t want something to jar you out completely.  But a soft notification is just a reminder to finish the thought and do your quick stretches to take care of your fingers, shoulders, neck and overall posture. 

Please note: I’m not a doctor – so understand these ideas are what work for me and I’m sharing them with you in hopes that it will help you.  I also think it’s important to state that I don’t think these tiny stretches throughout your day should take the place of what we all should be doing to have good and healthy lives – eat right, work-out/be active, mediate, walk and make sure you hydrate with water regularly.  But adding these small moments throughout your day will definitely help with taking care of the physical part of you, the writer, the artist, the worker, so you can continue creating all those beautiful stories the world needs to hear. 

I hope this has been helpful. I’m curious what other people do to prevent from getting stiff or cramping while writing.  I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

This post is also part of a great group of writers called #AuthorToolboxBlogHop  – please click on this hashtag or the pic to find other great sources of tips and tricks that other great writers use to keep on creating… 

As always, thanks for stopping by! 

Tell Your Story: How To – The First Part

Tell Your Story: How to – The First Part 20190331_152508

One of the questions that I keep being asked when I share that I just published my first book is… people’s excitement or wish that they could also write their story.

I want to talk a little bit about how I went about writing my story in the hopes that maybe it might motivate other people.  Or let you realize that it’s actually something that can happen and that it’s not that hard.

[Please continue to enjoy the lightly transcribed post below or listen to the podcast here]:  

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Don’t get me wrong, publishing a book is a difficult process and the landscape is changing so much — so the business end of it is a little bit difficult.  But writing your story is the first part.  And everyone has a story to tell!  How you go about sharing that story is kind of what I’m here to talk about.

A few years back I was overwhelmed with the success I had noticed in my life.  And I took a moment and decided to write a letter to all those that helped basically raised me after my mom passed away.

If you know any part of my story, I’ve never known who my father is, so there were a lot of people involved in helping me get through.  That’s what “CANELA” is all about actually.

So I started writing these letters basically to say thank you and in the first letter that I wrote which was to “Jackson”, which is in the book, I explained a very specific period or moment where I realized he had “saved” me.

And I decided to post that one letter on a previous website I had — and the comments,  and the reaction —  was just overwhelming and incredible.  And people started saying,  “…you should write a book…”.

So I took the 12 other letters that I was starting to write – the ideas that I had — and because I wasn’t actually in touch with everyone readily, I just kept writing the letters and I put it aside.

Then I put them in chronological order when I was done.  And then I wove a thread through the entire “chapters” –  through the entire story –  trying to kind of combine them together.

I asked myself:  who would I be sharing this story with if I wanted to tell someone who all these people were?

And then it became a manuscript.

And that’s how the creative process – for me – started and ended.

I then had a manuscript that I needed someone to also read and help me fill in the blanks of the things that I was missing —  because I was so “in it” at the time.  When you’re writing, when you’re creating sometimes you don’t see what other people can see…

So once I was done with the first part of it: which was just getting that story down and getting that thread through it all – I had a friend of mine, read it.  And that helped me to construct other little pieces that needed to be put into the book, into the manuscript at that time.

The purpose of this post is to share with you that there is no right or wrong way to share your story or to tell your story.  And there’s no reason for you not to start trying – even if you just sit down today and write one paragraph of what you think you might want to write about,  that would be the beginning of the process.

Or write a letter to someone telling a certain part of a funny story about what happened to you when you were eleven or last week —  it doesn’t matter —  there is no rule how you choose to start writing,  except that you have to start writing.  Or maybe for you it’s painting, or maybe for you it’s recording something or sculpting something?

I wanted to write this post to kind of take away this idea that it is so hard 20190331_152402and so difficult and that there was something different about how writers go about writing and how other people go about creating.

It is all about sitting down and deciding for yourself that your story should be told!

And so I hope you’ll share with me how you go about that or if you’re going to go about it —  because I would love to learn more about how people go about sharing their story – how you go about the process of writing, or creating in any form, that you choose to do it.  It inspires me!

As always, thanks for stopping by —  have a sweet day.

I’ll be back again real soon!

Carmen

NICKEL & DIMED

Okay. So, I’m spilling the beans – sort of speak – to those of you who’ve been wondering where I’ve been, well, here it goes: I’ve been rehearsing for a play I’m in this summer! First show is July 18th, with the official run opening on July 20th — so scared! So excited! Being back on stage is OFF THE HOOK brilliant. If you’re in town (Los Angeles/Hollywood area), I hope you’ll stop on by and catch the show. And if you’re not in town, I hope you’ll support us anyways. Send us some love, prayers, and yes, if you can spare a few bucks, please send any amount to the awesome production company Bright Eyes Productions. It’s a not-for-profit organization and the money is all going to a great cause and a wonderful organization — here’s the link to DONATE:  BrightEyesDonatationLink — The play, NICKEL & DIMED by Joan Holden, based on the book by the same name,  is about the working class and how people…   …you know what? Come see the play! I hope you will!  Peace, love and all that good stuff. Hope to see you this summer. If you have any questions, email me (click here)! 

https://www.facebook.com/events/139112226287684/

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Previews
Thursday, July 18, 8 pm
Friday, July 19, 8 pm

Runs
Sat, Jul 20 – Sun, Aug 25
Fri, Sat 8 pm
Sunday 3 pm
Show Calendar

BUY TICKETS
$25 General Admission

Special Show Info
Running time: 120 minutes.
There will be an intermission.

Hudson Mainstage Theatre
6539 Santa Monica Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90038
Valet Parking
Area Map

Special Theatre Info
Wheelchair Access
The theatre has concessions.

Reservations
(323) 960-5770

www.plays411.net/nickelanddimed