Coffee Dates: Houses

Good Morning, Creatives!

Okay, all ya’ll are about to laugh at me. And not because I said all ya’ll. I’m allowed to say that because technically I was born in Texas and thus have the right to say ya’ll. And there are more than five of you, so it’s definitely all ya’ll.

I know these things.

Anyway, this week’s question is going to make you laugh at me. It’s silly and ridiculous and totally inconsequential, a question with no merit and no deep meaning.

I’m really excited.

Since we were talking about personality tests last week—specifically the Myers-Briggs test—this week, I wanted to ask about a different personality test. Specifically, Hogwarts houses.

My Process

I am pure Ravenclaw. I love books, I think too much, and I am not a biggest fan of having one ‘right way’ to do things.

Okay, ‘not a big fan’ is an understatement.

If there was one right answer to every question, no one would actually need to think.

My Struggles Within That

I have struggled deeply with this one. (Not really.) I wanted to be a Hufflepuff. I was so, so sure I was a Hufflepuff. My whole existence is a Hufflepuff kind of existence. They just seem like such warm-hearted, gentle, brilliant kind of people. The kind of brilliant that doesn’t quite make sense to most people.

But no. Knowledge is power. So I am a Ravenclaw.

Your Thoughts

Are there any Harry Potter fans out there? What is your house? Any other Ravenclaws around? Tell me in the comments!

Coffee Dates: Myers Briggs

Good Morning, Creatives!

Does anyone else need caffeine this morning? I do. Maybe not a straight cup of coffee or espresso, but I would not say no to a few cups of black tea with a little cream and honey. Just to get my brain moving in the right direction.

But! The weekend is near, O people of the pen, so take heart! We’re going to make it through!

Now, before I ask this week’s question, I want to clarify that I do not think any sort of test can put people in a box. We are created as beautiful, infinite beings with endless potential and ability to change. Our minds and our choices are our own, and what we decide to do with them shapes our brains.

However, sometimes the tests are fun. Personally, they make me laugh, and sometimes it really is fun to read through the descriptions and snicker over how close they came.

So, that said, today’s question is all about personality types! According to the Myers Briggs test, what is yours?

My Process

I am an INFJ, which stands for Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Judgement. I have never been one to search too deeply into ‘societies definition’ of what that means, but for me, it means that I spend a great deal of time alone, I am incredibly empathetic and can almost always tell when someone is having an off-day—sometimes just by glancing across the room—and it takes me a very long time to connect with and trust someone.

I also have an enormous amount of patience for a long task, thus my writing career.

My Struggles Within That

I hate public events! Parties are the worst. Especially if I don’t have one person I can latch onto and dig into the deep parts of life with, instead of struggling through small talk. I hate talking about myself in job interviews and meet-and-greets, and I hate pitching my novels! But I do it. Because I am an adult, and I do things I don’t necessarily like to do.

Your Thoughts

What is your personality type? More than that, what do those four letters mean to you? Are you outgoing and the life of the party, but struggle to maintain lasting friendships? Do you write, but scream sometimes because you need human interaction? Do you, like me, HATE pitching your novel? Tell me about it in the comments!

Coffee Dates: Night Owl or Early Bird

Good Morning, Creatives!

Can we just have a round of applause for those of us who made it through this week? Like, seriously, congratulations! It’s the weekend! We get to rest and write and read books!

Hopefully. Sometimes weekends get booked solid and life gets in the way. But we do our best.

That’s one of the reasons that I love writing in the morning so much. I’ve found over the years that I do my best writing between five and eight in the morning when the world is quiet and the sun is still rising.

Which leads to today’s question! Are you a night owl or an early bird?

My Process

I am definitely an early writer. I like to get up while it’s still gray and misty outside, switch on my fairy lights, and sit down with my kitty to read my bible before the sun rises. Then I go straight to the computer, and most mornings I can fly through 500-1000 words before I even get up for breakfast. Such a good feeling!

My Struggles Within That

Early mornings don’t always happen! Sometimes I really am too tired to move, and that snooze button on my alarm starts looking very nice. Other days, I can’t sleep in to save my life. 5:30 rolls around, and ding, my brain is awake and ready to go, no matter how I happen to feel about it. Sometimes—especially on vacation—it really would be nice to sleep in a bit!

Your Thoughts

What about you? Are you a morning writer, typing with the sunrise and enjoying an early cup of tea to welcome the new dawn? Or do you haunt the deepest watches of the night and compose your words by starlight and moonlight? Tell me about it in the comments!

A Writer’s Life: Rejection

I’m going to confess something.

My portfolio of rejection letters is still in the double digits. Under twenty, I think. Maybe even under fifteen.

Probably under fifteen.

Small potatoes, right? Of course, that’s not including the number of queries I’ve had go out that were simply . . . ignored. I actually had a mini celebration the first time my query letters started getting replies. They were rejections, but the agent/publisher at least took me seriously enough to say no instead of ignoring my existence completely.

A step forward, right?

Rejection

Unfortunately, it’s a step forward into learning to be okay with ‘no’. And, when my book has been the better part of my life in the last seven years, ‘no’ is hard to swallow.

Nothing stings like a rejection letter when what you’ve offered is your heart and soul.

Our books are important to us. We’ve put endless hours of work into them, slaved over ‘perfect’ sentences, and revised our query letter until it makes us want to scream with exasperation. We want a ‘yes, absolutely!’, not another ‘no’.

Unfortunately, ‘yes’ isn’t always an option. And no matter how many rejections we get, they always sting.

How To Make It Happen

Rejection is always a discouraging thing, and too often, it deflates whatever day it happens to arrive on. Writing after that feels particularly impossible, and it’s easy to waste the whole day—or week—in feeling dejected.

But rejections are also a necessary part of writing, and because they are so necessary, we have to learn how to deal with them in a way that’s not going to leave us drowning in discouragement. Part of it, of course, is developing a thick skin for criticism. The rest is having the right perspective about rejection and developing tools to keep yourself moving and encouraged.

I do it with two truths, three tricks, and one long breath.

Truth #1

It’s not us against them. Agents are not out to ruin your day. Publishers are not against you as a person. They are simply looking for the right books to move their own business and career forward. If something isn’t right for them, they’re going to pass on it—either because they themselves aren’t excited about it or because they don’t think they can sell it. They don’t hate you. They don’t hate your writing. This a business and they are making business-minded decisions.

As the author, you also need to need to view it as a business rather than a personal project. When you do, it will take a bit of the sting out.

Truth #2

The wrong agent/publisher is so, so much worse than no agent or publisher. You do not want someone working on selling your book who doesn’t love it or have a vision for it. If they don’t care, they won’t convince anyone else to care either.

Writer, not everyone loves the same books. Agents are readers too, and they have likes and dislikes. They don’t want to be working on a project that they aren’t passionate about, and you don’t want them working without passion.

If they so no, let it be, and be glad they didn’t agree reluctantly just to boost their numbers.

Three Tricks

  1. Celebrate the failures. This one sounds silly, but look at where you are. You’re querying! Hopefully, that means you have a polished manuscript and a competent knowledge of your own story. Every failure is only a step to success, so be thankful for the rejections. You’re that much closer to an acceptance.
  2. Don’t set all your hopes on one person. Yes, that one agent sounded perfect for what you wanted, or that one publisher would be exactly what you wanted. But there are so many agents and so many publishers. If you put all your hopes into that one person, you’re going to be crushed when they don’t see how perfect it would be and reject it.
  3. Try again. You only fail when you stop trying. Keep a few queries out all the time so that you always have a few hopes left. Rejections are less final and less fatal when you still have a few others to hope for.

One Long Breath

Writer, let it sting. Count to five, close your eyes, and let it hurt. A hope died, and it was painful. You are allowed to mourn for it, allowed to be sad, allowed to take a moment.

Then take one long deep breath and let it go.

Move on. There are other publishers, other agents, other magazines. You have more opportunities ahead of you, and you will find your niche. Dwelling on the rejections will end with discouragement, disillusionment, and dumped manuscripts. You have a place. Adjust where necessary, listen to feedback, and continue on.

Focus on that one long deep breath, and continue with your dream.

Good luck, dearest writer! May your tea be hot and your dreams wild.

What are some of the ways that you deal with rejection in your writing journey? Tell me about it in the comments, and stay tuned for next week, when we will be discussing waiting and how best to embrace it in your writing journey.

Coffee Dates: Favorites

Good Morning, Creatives!

How was the week? Anyone make it all the way through? I hope so, because I have such a fun question for you all this week, and it would be a shame to waste it on empty space because all of my friends got flattened by adult responsibilities.

So, here’s to hoping that didn’t happen.

This week’s question is about favorites! Writers have so many different caps they have to wear, but I personally would be lying if I didn’t have one or two that I favored above the rest.

My Process

Everyone has their own favorite part of the writing process! I personally love description and building new worlds out of pen and paper. I put on music, usually something from Two Steps From Hell, and give myself as much time as I need to explore the new surroundings and see everything I need to see before I try to put anything on paper. It’s an adventure every time, and it’s a huge part of what I love about writing. We writers get to visit such extraordinary places!

My Struggles Within That

I am a chronic overwriter! My editor is always despairing over it. I have to limit myself to only a few especially beautiful settings within a single book, when I would much rather explore every single room in the castles, every single dungeon, and every single deep wooded hollow I come across.

I’m learning to keep to the settings that really matter to the story, but sometimes I definitely run away with myself.

Your Thoughts

What is your favorite part of being a writer? Do you love your characters? Suspense? Stunning plot twists? Descriptions and intrigue? Tell me about it in the comments!

Coffee Dates: Frustrations

Good Morning, Creatives!

Tomorrow’s the weekend! Anyone have any plans? Writing, adventuring, or just sleeping? (I’m mostly planning on sleeping, if at all possible.)

Since I need sleep (and I always do) this week’s question is about frustration. Which part of your writing journey frustrates you the most? What gets you really heated and annoyed with it for interrupting your story’s flow?

My Process

Writing can be so, so frustrating, and it’s never more frustrating for me than when I know I have limited time, I know I have a pile of work to get finished, and all I can do is stare at a blank screen or pound out wooden words that I can’t enjoy or savor at all.

I’m sure I’m not the only one in this, right?

If I’m honest, these moments crop up because my body and my brain need REST, and I am not very good at resting. I like to have my to-do list, finish my to-do list, and get a bit extra done for luck. Anyone with me in this?

My Struggles Within That

I cannot convince my poor tired brain to cooperate without taking proper care of it. Which irritates me. It makes sense, of course, and I know it makes sense, but I would rather it didn’t make sense and I was able to force out a few thousand words whenever I felt like it.

Because I am impatient.

So, instead, when I start staring blankly at a screen, I am learning to take a pause, take a minute, and just rest. Read a good book, lie back and close my eyes, or just stare out the window for a while.

Someday, I’ll convince myself to do this on a regular basis.

Your Thoughts

What is one of your biggest frustrations while you’re writing? What steps have you taken/would you like to take to counter that frustration? Tell me about it in the comments!

A Writer’s Life: Joy

Writer, what makes you joyful? Like, singing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs joyful? So joyful that you just want to put on some crazy music and dance in your kitchen?

Do you know?

I actually had to think pretty hard to figure out what it was that made me that joyful. Spending quality time with people I love, flowers, music, moments when I am working on something I know is part of my soul and my purpose, fixing a plot hole, discovering a character; all of these are things that spark that kind of joy for me. And that kind of joy feeds my creativity and gives me the energy to do what I love with my whole heart.

So what about the moments when joy is hard to find and nothing seems to be going right?

Joy

Embracing joy is a necessary part of life. Without it, daily chores, schedules, and meetings become a drudge and nothing is life-giving anymore.

But it has taken me a long time to understand the rather nebulous idea of ‘joy’.

Because we’re supposed to have joy in every circumstance and season of our life, right? But for me, it’s always been hard to feel joyful when I am sucked down with too much work, broke, and struggling to find a job to add more onto my workload just so I can pay bills. It was hard to be joyful in the midst of a nasty breakup. It was hard to be joyful in the midst of a creative desert and a toxic workplace.

Joy sparks creativity. Without it, you may find your ideas withering to ash and your brilliant brain switching from explorer to autopilot.

If joy is so important, especially to creativity, how are we supposed to write when joy seems unattainable?

How To Make It Happen

Unfortunately, if joy is connected to circumstances and is, in fact, that fuzzy happy feeling curled just beneath your heart, it’s going to come and go, and more often than not, it’s going to go.

A little discouraging, right?

Unless you step back and realize that joy is not always going to be a feeling. Sometimes, yes, joy is a feeling and a very nice one. But sometimes—the bad times—joy is and will always be a choice. A choice to see the good where the bad is trying to blot it out. A choice to love what you do when you only have an hour or two a day—or week—to do it. A choice to focus on what is good in your life and to walk through the bad without drowning in it.

And yes, I realize that it’s very hard to do. I am still learning myself, and there are days that I crash and burn.

But somehow, I have always managed to pick myself up again. I do it with two truths, three tricks, and one spark of gratitude.

Truth #1

When life is rough, schedules are overloaded, and you are overwhelmed, joy becomes more of a choice than a feeling. And sometimes, that choice means smiling with gritted teeth and snapping a list of all the things you are thankful for instead of everything wrong in your life.

It’s not pretty. It’s not flowers and roses. Sometimes it’s crying on the bathroom floor until you’re ready to breathe again, smiling, and find five things to be grateful for amidst the mess—even if those five things are toilet paper, food in your fridge, that you have space to cry, books, and a story that you still love despite the way it’s driving you crazy.

Truth #2

You can’t find joy when you’re living on autopilot. I am the worst at this. When things are rough, I hit autopilot hard, and the goals I have consist solely of getting through the day and moving on to tomorrow.

And sometimes, that’s just life.

In the midst of a breakup, a bad situation at work, or a period of grief, sometimes autopilot is the best we can do, and—for a time—it’s the best thing for us.

But it’s hard to find joy on autopilot, and it’s even harder to be creative and embrace your stories there. Eventually, you’ve got to flick off the autopilot and start living again.

Three Tricks

  1. Find what you love. Find something that soothes your soul when everything else is going haywire. When I was struggling in a job environment that zapped my joy and energy and left me crying on the drive home, I did yoga. Obsessively. That hour before I went to work became the time when I chose joy and filled myself up for the day ahead. It centered me, reminded me that I had a life outside of this job and that I had some control over myself. Getting up that much earlier was hard, of course, but it helped me choose joy instead of discouragement.
  2. Appreciate what you have. Practice gratitude. Yes, there are hard things, and yes, your time is limited for what you love, but there will always be things to be grateful for. Make a list. Have a journal with pages of pages that begin with simply, ‘tell me something good.’ Choose gratitude instead of complaining.
  3. Get out of the rut. If a job is toxic, start looking for something else. If a relationship is destroying you, seek counseling and considering ending it. If things just need to be the way they are right now, then switch up your other routines a bit. Go for a walk after dinner. Meet a friend for lunch. Get up a little early to write or do yoga. 

One Spark Of Gratitude

Writer, you are alive. You have the world ahead of you, your life at your feet, and you are not alone.

So be thankful. Make lists, come up with something to be thankful for every time you have a cup of coffee or start your car, or just tell someone in your life how much their support and love mean to you.

Find something. Something that you love, something that is beautiful and meaningful about today. Something that you can be thankful for and find joy in. Embrace it. Pause for just a minute to enjoy it.

Then pause again, in the midst of your rushed writing session. Take a minute to appreciate that you, you, get to write this story. You have the opportunity to expand your imagination and put it to good use. You are a writer.

Be thankful for that.

Good luck, dearest writer! May your tea be hot and your dreams wild.

What is joyful in your life right now? What are you struggling to find joy in? Tell me about it in the comments, and stay tuned for next week, when we will be discussing discouragement and how it affects a writer’s ability to actually write.