#IWSG January ’23

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

January Question

The awesome co-hosts for the January 4 posting of the IWSG are Jemima Pett,Debs Carey,Kim Lajevardi,Sarah Foster,Natalie Aguirre, and T. Powell Coltrin!

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Remember, the question is optional!

January 4 question – Do you have a word of the year? Is there one word that sums up what you need to work on or change in the coming year? What is your word for 2023?

In 2022 my word was MAGIC. You can read my post about it here.

In 2020 my word was MORE. I wanted more of the essential things in my life and not what other people thought I should have. I wanted more and was tired of apologizing for wanting it. As a teacher, the idea has been cultivated that I am not supposed to want to be paid what I am worth. I was supposed to take the ideals of the mission and just take what I can get. I was done with this thinking. I adopted an abundance mentality, not scarcity.

2019 was CONNECT and I grew my audiences and relationships with other writers.

2023 is the year of depth for me.

For 2023 my word came easily: DEEPEN

My plan is to deepen the experiences and learning I engage in during 2023.

I love to be the resource person and to take a large amount of content and curate it for other people. It is part of why I love to teach. But last year, I found myself feeling like I was just checking off too many things on a list. I wasn’t savoring or learning, just racking up numbers. Part of that was stress and things that only I could do. 2022 was a year of extremes: bliss and trauma.

I do not want to feel that way anymore. I want to savor my life, not just check off days. I want the reading and writing I am doing to be wild and deep. I want to delve into a topic for days and not go wide. I want to push past what I think I want to say until I think I have nothing else to say and see what lies beyond that.

I plan to reread books that I have loved in the past and learn something new from them. The first for January is The Alchemist. This book came to me when I needed it the first time and I read it quickly. I plan to examine it more closely this read and write in response to passages and ideas.

There are other ideas I am exploring around this concept and what it means for me. I am not sure how it fits yet but there is a sharing vs not concept that keeps circling in my head. It is like a crow that won’t land so I am trying to be patient.

What small change will you make today to get yourself closer to the life you want?

Do you already have a word chosen for 2023?

I would love to see it in the comments!

Thank you for joining me on this creative journey. I am excited to see where it leads!

Happy Wintering!

Tammy

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#IWSG December

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

December Question

December 7 question – It’s holiday time! Are the holidays a time to catch up or fall behind on writer goals?

The awesome co-hosts for the December 7 posting of the IWSG are Joylene Nowell Butler, Chemist Ken, Natalie Aguirre, Nancy Gideon, and Cathrina Constantine!

At this time in my life, the holidays do not disrupt my writing practice. There is no “catching up” for me- it is just the regular practice that is my daily life. If I am busier I always have my notebook with me and can write just about anywhere. I also make notes on my phone. My personal schedule has changed dramatically the last 6 months so that is more of an adjustment than the holidays.

This time of year calls to me to be tempted to sign up for writing classes that fill my inbox with discounted offers. I have to be careful of this practice. Several winters ago I signed up for so many classes from writers I respected but the overwhelm of learning almost broke my writing practice. It taught me to rely on what I know to be true. I need to read well and write in response to that reading. I also need to reread and spend time revising. I need to go back to exercises that I know work for me and my writing.

This year I am reluctant to post as much publically as I have in the past. I must admit this is partially because I have so many emails in my inbox from people I haven’t heard from in a long time. I have been unsubscribing to multiple newsletters and email lists that I do not read or do not find inspiring. The problem is, I feel like I have to do this every week. The ones I am fueled by and use as writing inspiration I keep of course! I am trying to discern my time more gracefully for my goals.

One of those goals is for me to choose a new word for the year. I believe I have settled on the word but will post about that closer to the new year. I want to be sure this is the word I want to carry through 12 months.

#IWSG November

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

November Question

November 2’s optional question – November is National Novel Writing Month. Have you ever participated? If not, why not?

The awesome co-hosts for the November 2 posting of the IWSG are Diedre Knight, Douglas Thomas Greening, Nick Wilford, and Diane Burton!

I love NANOWRIMO! It stands for National Novel Writing Month and the goal is to write a 50,000 word project by the end of the month. A better way to think about it is 1700 wordsa day.

There is such a community feeling that is special when November rolls around. The great thing is that there are many people that are offering different perspectives on the challenge. Nancy Stohlman hosts a Flash NANO. She is one of the queens of flash fiction so this makes sense. Caroline Donahue is also hosting a new challenge this year based on her own experience and publishing prompts.

The first few years I did NANO I completed novels. Now that short fiction is more part of my life I have no desire to write a novel. Partly, this is because I know I can do it because I have done it before. I modify the challenge for myself most years and write a short story each day. I have been playing with the idea to write a collection with a common thread through them for the month.

I do another writing challenge in May, and often in September, where I write a flash piece every day. I write poems daily in April and October often as well. I love a good 30 day challenge.

This year I am rewriting my novel length piece from scratch but I am not limiting my writing to just that project.

I do want to get more involved with the events through NANO this year. Through my region I found some other writers who live in the same town so hopefully there can be some writer connections there.

#IWSG October

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

October Question

The awesome co-hosts for the October 5 posting of the IWSG are Tonja Drecker, Victoria Marie Lees, Mary Aalgaard, and Sandra Cox!

This month’s question:
What do you consider the best characteristics of your favorite genre?

My favorite genre is magical realism. The definitions for this genre are not concrete and opinions vary. I define it as stories that have elements of magic, but are not fantasy or sci fi.

I am fascinated by magic in all forms. I chose MAGIC as my word for the year. All the threads of my writing life (my community, my newsletter, the blog) have an element of magic within them. There is magic in reading itself. There are sentences and ways ideas are expressed that feel sparkly and magical to me.

Magical realism is special to me because it can be a surprise. I love the idea of reading a story and then finding something impossible is happening but it is written well so it doesn’t throw you out of the story.

It is also fun. Sometimes it can lean to the absurd or downright weird and that is fun to read and then use for your own writing!

This genre reminds us there is magic in the every day as long as we are looking for it. As writers, we enhance it. As readers, we enjoy it.

#IWSG SEPTEMBER

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

September Question

The awesome co-hosts for the September 7 posting of the IWSG are Kim Lajevardi, Cathrina Constantine, Natalie Aguirre, Olga Godim, Michelle Wallace, and Louise – Fundy Blue!

This month’s question:
What genre would be the worst one for you to tackle and why?

The genre that would be the worst for me to tackle is romance. It just has never been my preferred genre to read or write. Could I? Yes, I could. I have played with it for flash pieces and when it has been assigned to me for NYCMidnight contests. It was effective as an exercise but I didn’t enjoy writing it.

Even when I do not intend the story to move to the dark side, it typically meanders there. There is a layer of hope in my stories but there is also a lot of death and grief. Romance is not death friendly. There is always a happy ending! It doesn’t even count as romance if there is no happily ever after.

This is why there are so many genres! There are people to write them and people to read them. It is part of what makes reading and writing so fun!

Which genres do you prefer?

Which genres do you shy away from?

I would love to hear your answers.

#IWSG AUGUST

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

August Question

The awesome co-hosts for the August 3 posting of the IWSG are Tara Tyler,Lisa Buie Collard,Loni Townsend, and Lee Lowery!

August 3 question – When you set out to write a story, do you try to be more original or do you try to give readers what they want?

I do not write for a specific audience, I try to let the story emerge how it wants to. In earlier iterations of my writing life I had a beta reader I kept in mind but it didn’t change how I wrote the story. It only crossed my mind whether she would like it or not.

Many of my stories start from a prompt or emerge from my daily freewriting. When I respond to prompts I try to write to the prompt like no one else would. I try to not write to the obvious response to me. I am always striving to describe objects and situations in a way I have never heard before. This method brings a surreal or dreamlike essence to many pieces which I love. I love to read those texts as well.

When I share a story I do hope there is an aspect that a reader can resonate with so they enjoy the experience.

While conducting a session on Flash Fiction this week the idea was expressed that once writing is “out there”, whether that be published in print or online, it is no longer the author’s story. It becomes a new experience for the reader based on their perspective and background. We shared personal times of being in a workshopping situation where a reader saw our stories from a different angle we never expected or saw until the critiquer mentioned it.

Trying to anticipate whether a reader will enjoy or resonate with a piece is almost impossible to predict. In writing groups I have often heard the expression that if a reader didn’t like your writing, then they were not your reader.

We all have preferences and tastes. Isn’t it wonderful we all have so much writing to chose from to find our favorite flavors!?

#IWSG JULY

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

July Question

The awesome co-hosts for the July 6 posting of the IWSG are J Lenni Dorner,Janet Alcorn,PJ Colando,Jenni Enzor, and Diane Burton!

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience, or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Remember, the question is optional!

July 6 question – If you could live in any book world, which one would you choose?

It is probably the obvious answer and one that many will say, but Harry Potter is the world I would choose. Magic, trains, and creatures! There is a magic that was created by J. K. Rowling. Wands and the costumes. Even the great hall and the food is something I would want to indulge in.

I have always been that person that would have loved to have gone to boarding school. I am sure I have it romanticized, but the idea of focusing on learning, reading, and writing is enticing. I think this is why the MFA has appealed to me over the last decade. I believe I would have thrived in that environment.

I loved undergrad and the feeling of being on a campus. My grad school was online so did not capture the same types of feelings.

I am living in a college town again so maybe I can get myself into some classes and recreate that feeling again.

How would you answer the question?

#IWSG JUNE

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

June Question

June 1 question – When the going gets tough writing the story, how do you keep yourself writing to the end? If have not started the writing yet, why do you think that is and what do you think could help you find your groove and start?

I show up to the page everyday and mostly at the same time. When ideas hit me I have learned to write them down before they flip away like hummingbirds! I just keep writing if I get stuck. Sometimes what I think is the end, is not. I use a lot of freewriting to break through my own limiting ideas of a story as well and do not censor what comes out of the pen.

It seems a simple answer, but it is the true one for me!

A quote I have been thinking about is, “Write one true sentence. And then another.” I believe it is Hemingway.

Other things that keep me writing and not running out of ideas are podcasts, conversations with other writers about process, reading [esp. poetry], and walking.

I enjoy talking about process with other writers but do not discuss writing ideas or plot points while I am writing.

Just write.

#IWSG APRIL

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

April 6 Question

April 6 question – Have any of your books been made into audio books? If so, what is the main challenge in producing an audiobook?
The awesome co-hosts for the April 6 posting of the IWSG are Joylene Nowell Butler, Jemima Pett, Patricia Josephine, Louise – Fundy Blue, and Kim Lajevardi!

Not yet! But this question made me think about how I use audio in my writing.

For a short time I played with a podcast. I had been asked by several people to start one and wanted to experiment and see what that iteration of my writing life sounded like. It wasn’t something I promoted heavily because it was play. It didn’t light me up like writing does.

One of the revision techniques I have been remembering to use more frequently is to read my pieces out loud to myself. I can catch a lot that way just by hearing the music of the language. It also helps me fix awkward sentences. I have also been using a Read Aloud Google extension to just be able to listen and not look at the text.

Listening to writing podcast inspires me and lights me up. I have a whole list that I rotate through!

Talking to other writers about writing process makes me happy and fueled as well.

What role does audio play in your writing life?

#IWSG March

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

March 2 Question

March 2 question – Have you ever been conflicted about writing a story or adding a scene to a story? How did you decide to write it or not?


The awesome co-hosts for the March 2 posting of the IWSG are Janet Alcorn, Pat Garcia, Natalie Aguirre, and Shannon Lawrence!

The conflict I have had about writing a story deals with the sensitivity of the topic and if I am ready to write about it or not. If there is something I do not want to write directly about I come at it from a different angle, like telling it through a metaphor or a fairy tale.

It took me almost 15 years to write a story that dealt with a miscarriage I had endured. I did decide to publish the story, but that felt like a big risk. It felt like my truth that needed to be released which influenced the decision.

Most of the time the conflicted scenes are buried in a notebook somewhere disguised as fiction. There is always the writer’s choice to choose whether to share the story or not.

If it is too painful to write, I figure it isn’t time yet to do so. I am sure the time will come.

I never have a shortage of ideas so if it isn’t quite time then the painful story gets tabled. I do a lot of freewriting so I have found that hard topics come out when they need to if I let go.

A scene can be added to a piece, but it has to relate back to the heart of story and move the story forward.

#happyreading #happywriting