It’s Normal to Feel Like a Loser

by Michelle Griep

So you’re writing a novel, la-de-dah. Typing away like a rock star. Day after day after day.

After day.

And then, out of nowhere, whap! A horrific thought slaps you upside the head, yanking you out of the story and paralyzing you so that your daily word count takes a serious nosedive. Suddenly you wonder if you’re an author, that maybe all the things you write are just slobbery bits of drivel bubbling out of you. Panic sets in. Perhaps you’re not a for-real writer. Maybe you’re an impostor. A poser. An orangutan mimicking kissy noises in front of a mirror. Or worse — maybe the zombie apocalypse really did happen and you’re nothing but a body operating on rote memory because shoot, if you read what you’ve written, those words certainly look like a person with no brain wrote them.

Or maybe you’re just a loser.

Never fear, little writer. I’m here to tell you that you’re not a loser. You’re normal. Every writer hits this point at some time in every single manuscript they write — and sometimes more than once. Hating your writing and feeling like pond scum is par for the course. Why?

Because creation is the process of making something out of nothing, and that something takes blood, sweat, and tears to mold into a beautiful masterpiece.

Think about this . . . Babies don’t pop out of their mothers all smiley faced and swaddled in fluffy rubber ducky blankies. They come out screaming and howling, all mucked up with oobie-goobies and require a good cleaning and lots of love. You don’t think that mom had second doubts during the heat of labor? She’d have packed up and gone home at that point if she could.

That’s how it works for your story, too. Don’t pack it up. Press on through the birth pains. Push out that ugly story so that it can be cleaned off and wrapped up into a beautiful book cover.

The only way out is through, folks, no matter how you feel. Take your hand off your forehead (yes, I see that big “L” you’re making with your forefinger and thumb) and get those fingers on your keyboard instead.


Author Michelle Griep

ABOUT THE AUTHOR ~ MICHELLE GRIEP

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. Follow her adventures and find out about upcoming new releases at her blog, Writer Off the Leash, or stop by her website. You can also find her at the usual haunts of FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.

Like what you read? There’s more. WRITER OFF THE LEASH: GROWING IN THE WRITING CRAFT is a kick in the pants for anyone who wants to write but is stymied by fear, doubt, or simply doesn’t know how to take their writing to the next level.

Title Photo Copyright: sifotography / 123RF Stock Photo

Pitching Pointers

by Michelle Griep @MichelleGriep

It’s that time of year to start registering for writers conferences. That means there will be a whole lot of angst-filled author wannabes out there, biting their fingernails down to stubs . . . which makes it super hard to type anything.

Not that it’s scary to go to a conference, mind you. The real terror sets in when it’s story-pitching time. Sitting across from a god-like agent or editor who can crush you faster than the bat of an eyelash—or fast-track you to stardom. I’m not going to lie. It is a bit daunting. 


But never fear, little writers. I’m here for you, and today we’re going to talk a bit about your pitch, your one-line, your grabber . . . whatever you want to label it. Here’s the deal: you need to be able to tell your story in one sentence, and that sentence needs a few elements to reel in that editor.

3 Pitch Perfect Pointers

1. Snarky
Not as in sarcastic, but as in ironic. The best pitches are those that incorporate the opposites attract theory because whammo! Imminent conflict instantly grabs a person’s attention. See if you can find the irony/snark in the following:

A 17th century tale of adventure on the Caribbean Sea where a roguish yet charming pirate captain teams up with a young blacksmith in a gallant attempt to rescue the Governor of England’s daughter to reclaim his ship.

The irony here is a pirate is going to save a proper lady, and yes, it’s Pirates of the Caribbean.

2. Succinct
Every word counts in a pitch, so make the most of them. Yeah, you’ll sweat buckets of blood while working this out, but in the end, it’s worth it because you’ll be able to state the soul of your story in one sentence while other wannabes will babble themselves into oblivion. Example:

A young man and woman from different social classes fall in love aboard an ill-fated voyage at sea.

There you have Titanic in 18 words.

3. Cinematic

Paint a picture in the listener’s mind so they can visualize your novel, and I guarantee you, you’ll make an impression. Keep it simple and use common words that everyone’s had experience with. Example:

A cop comes to L.A. to visit his estranged wife when her office building is taken over by terrorists.

Can’t you just see the tough-guy cop taking on the masked, heavily armed bad guys? Shoot, I can even see the wife hiding underneath a mahogany desk, and I’ve never even watched Die Hard.

If you incorporate these three tips next time you write a pitch, you’ll be a step ahead of the rest of the writerly bunch. Sure, you’ll still have nails gnawed down to the quick, but even so, you just might land yourself a contract.

TWEETABLES

Pitching Pointers by Michelle Griep (Click to Tweet)

You need to be able to tell your story in one sentence~ Michelle Griep (Click to Tweet)

3 Pitch Perfect Pointers by Michelle Griep (Click to Tweet)

Author Michelle Griep

ABOUT THE AUTHOR ~ MICHELLE GRIEP

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. Follow her adventures and find out about upcoming new releases at her blog, Writer Off the Leash, or stop by her website. You can also find her at the usual haunts of FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.

Like what you read? There’s more. WRITER OFF THE LEASH: GROWING IN THE WRITING CRAFT is a kick in the pants for anyone who wants to write but is stymied by fear, doubt, or simply doesn’t know how to take their writing to the next level.


Mid-Winter Kick in the Writerly Pants

by Michelle Griep

The days are grey. It’s Siberia cold outside. And all I really want to do is sit around in my yoga pants and eat boxes of Girl Scout Cookies. Hey, don’t judge me. You know you’ve been there.

What I really should be doing, though, is kicking butt on my manuscript if I’m hoping to get it finished by summer. Somewhere along the way, though, I lost my motivation. I think it might be outside, on the far corner of the porch, underneath the frozen pile of Christmas lights I haven’t yet put away. What to do? Make a list, of course . . .

5 Ways to Gain Momentum When You’re in a Writerly Slump

1. Read

Dive into a well-written book. Reading great writing inspires your own great writing. Then pull off a dud of a book from the shelf. A real wing-dinger of a gag-inducing I-can’t-believe-this-ever-got-published kind of book. You can usually find these on the bottom of a rack at Goodwill. Read it. This will fan the flames of your sweet-mercy-I-can-write-better-than-that reflex, and you’ll be off and running in no time.

2. Meditate

Don’t worry. I’m not advocating some wackadoodle contortionist pose while mumbling gibberish. Just take a few moments to think about where you’re story is headed and allow yourself to get excited about it. That helicopter crash you’ve got planned? Yeah! Ka-blooey, baby! Or the upcoming boy-wins-girl scene? Warmth and fuzziness. Spend some time with your characters in your mind, because if you’re expecting your readers to hang out with them, then you should too.

3. Research

Sometimes all it takes is a new idea to spur your story into a full-out gallop. Where will you find that new idea? Google it. Search the ol’ web for something related to your plot or era. You may come across something cool to include.

4. Exercise

I know. I see you, darting your eyes everywhere except at this paragraph. You were really hoping I’d skip over this, hmm? Trust me. I hate this one as much as you do, but doggone if hiking my body outside for a walk, even when it’s cold, doesn’t give me a whole new perspective.

5. Write

Get out of the chair and write!

Go to a library, a coffee shop, or the writerly nook where you know you’re most likely to be able to crank out something. Turn off the internet. No emails. No tweets. No Trivia Crack or Candy Crush. Then write. Yep. That simple. Keep your heinie in the chair for at least two hours. I don’t care if you have to stare at a blank screen for the first hour and fifty-five minutes **lifts two jedi-fingers in the air and swirls them around all Obi-wan style** you will accomplish some kind of word count.
So there you have it, Sparky. Step away from the Girl Scout Cookies and get cracking. Don’t make me come over there.

TWEETABLES

Mid-Winter Kick in the Writerly Pants by Michelle Griep (Click to Tweet)


5 Ways to Gain Momentum When You’re in a Writerly Slump~ Michelle Griep (Click to Tweet)

Somewhere along the way I lost my motivation~ Michelle Griep (Click to Tweet)



Author Michelle Griep

ABOUT THE AUTHOR ~ MICHELLE GRIEP

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. Follow her adventures and find out about upcoming new releases at her blog, Writer Off the Leash, or stop by her website. You can also find her at the usual haunts of FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.

Like what you read? There’s more. WRITER OFF THE LEASH: GROWING IN THE WRITING CRAFT is a kick in the pants for anyone who wants to write but is stymied by fear, doubt, or simply doesn’t know how to take their writing to the next level.


The Half-Way Blues

by Michelle Griep

I like jazz when it has a tune to it. Something I can whistle along with. A melody I can listen to even when the music isn’t playing because it’s captured inside my head.

The jazz I don’t like is the crazy zig-jiggidy sort. The kind that’s unpredictable. Saxophones wailing like banshees getting an enema. Bass’s that thump up, down, and sideways on a semi-scale. The kind of jazz where the notes don’t mean anything, and they certainly don’t stay within the boundaries of something I can hum along to. It’s just noise.

But doggone if that same effect doesn’t happen to my writing sometimes, usually around the half-way mark of a manuscript. The beginning was a big honeymoon love fest. Creating new characters. Setting the plot into action. The end is where all the flash-bang fireworks explode across the novelly sky. These things have a rhythm, a quick-paced rat-a-tat-tat.

Then there’s the middle. That’s where things get squiggy. Usually this is when panic sets in and you consider flipping burgers at McDonalds instead of finishing the manuscript. That’s followed by self-loathing. 

And then it really gets ugly.

What to do? How to push past the roadblock of my-writing-sucks-with-a-side-of-sucky-sauce? Have I got a handy dandy list for you . . .

The 3 R’s to Regain Your Writerly Self-Esteem

Respiration

Air is good. No, really. Take some deep breaths. See what you’re doing? Your doing what every human being does, and that’s exactly what you need to realize. Not the breathing part per se. You are doing something just like every other author out there on the planet: dealing with doubt. You are not alone in this. You are normal. And guess what? This, too, shall pass . . . kind of like a kidney stone.

Review

Take a moment to remember all of your accomplishments up to this point. Chances are there are quite a few. Clearly you are not a loser, so quit lying to yourself. Even if you’re not an award-winning author-o-maniac, if you’ve simply written half a manuscript, hey, that’s more than most people accomplish. Read what other writers or readers have said about your writing. Soak in the encouragement that’s been offered to you in the past.

Refill

Drafting a story drains the ever-loving creative juices right out you. Sweet mercy! If only it burned calories half as fast. It’s important to keep the inspirational embers glowing red-hot. Now is the time to buy that mp3 on Amazon you’ve been wanting, pick up one of your favorite author’s books, or cough up the cash for tickets to that theater production that’s in town. Sometimes to keep your creativity from going bankrupt you’ve got to borrow some from others.

Remember, the only way out of these doldrums is through, and the only way through is to write, even if–especially if–you think your words are steaming piles of literary manure. Sure, some of them might be, but odds are they’re not all. 



Author Michelle Griep

ABOUT THE AUTHOR ~ MICHELLE GRIEP

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. Follow her adventures and find out about upcoming new releases at her blog, Writer Off the Leash, or stop by her website. You can also find her at the usual haunts of FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.

Like what you read? There’s more. WRITER OFF THE LEASH: GROWING IN THE WRITING CRAFT is a kick in the pants for anyone who wants to write but is stymied by fear, doubt, or simply doesn’t know how to take their writing to the next level.