Jill Weatherholt

Writing Stories of Love, Faith and Happy Endings While Enjoying the Journey


Don’t Edit ~ Just Write!

Don’t Edit ~ Just Write will be my mantra during the thirty days in November called, NaNoWriMo. I know the only reason I met my first NaNoWriMo challenge in 2010 was that I didn’t try to edit as I wrote. I knew if I did, I wouldn’t reach my 1667 word count each day and when that happens, I would be trying to play catch-up and the white flag would be waved.

For myself, when I edit as I write, I begin to question my abilities, which is equivalent to turning off the faucet and stopping the story flow. My mind fills with self-doubt: “This story will never get published.”  Then criticism, “This story line is going nowhere fast.” When these thoughts fill my mind, creativity comes to a screeching halt, as well as my motivation. Losing motivation during NaNoWriMo is like driving with your parking brake on, you might move, but not at a pace to reach your destination on time.

With that said, I have a difficult time leaving a trail of red squiggles underneath typos and other errors that Word is dying to bring to my attention. Simple typos I can fix during NaNoWriMo, but if I find a problem that requires major work, I might not know how to fix it and this will eat up time, so I need to ignore it for now. In order to meet this 50,000 word challenge, I must allow my creative brain to overpower my critical brain, at least for the month of November.


Out With The Outline

When I was young my sister and I were having a slumber party in her bedroom. She told me there was a candy bar at the bottom of my sleeping bag. I crawled in head first already tasting the milk chocolate and she zipped it shut. I was trapped. I couldn’t breathe ~ completely restrained. Funny, how this incident came to mind while trying to prepare my first outline for NaNoWriMo.

Thanks to the wonderful commenters on my previous post and their words of wisdom, I realized an outline didn’t have to mirror my nightmarish high school outlines. It’s my outline, I could do whatever I want and what I wanted was to toss is out the window. This time suck had seized all of my NaNoWriMo excitement and left me spent. So, I tossed it and a funny thing happened, the next day my story began to play out in my mind.

Then the epiphany, an outline should spark my creativity, not stifle it. Trying to developing the perfect outline had made me so stressed, I couldn’t think. This is when I began to look at outlining in a different light. I could use my favorite colored post-its and my florescent index cards and have some fun. After all, isn’t NaNoWriMo supposed to be fun? Now, days before the start of NaNoWriMo, I can breathe again and enjoy watching my story play out in beautiful colors.


I Just Want to Write

I’ve spent the past week outlining my NaNoWriMo story and in complete misery. I’ve never spent so much time staring at a blank piece of paper or watching a cursor blink in my entire writing journey. The ideas are slow and I question why I’ve attempted something that is against my nature.

Despite the agony, I realize the reason I enjoy writing posts for my blog. I don’t have to define the internal and external goals of characters or make sure that each scene advances the plot point ~ I can just write. Ideas fill my head when I’m not trying create a road map for my words.

Outlining has made me question my ability and question why I’m participating in NaNoWriMo. One month ago I was looking forward to November with excitement, now I feel dread. My attempts to get the ticking clock out of my head have failed. I’m unable to stay focused and continually pop out of my chair to get more tea or clean something.

However, I will continue to press on until the start of NaNoWriMo and try to believe the outline will be worth the agony. I’m hopeful these prepaid struggles will make reaching my daily word count a little easier. If not, I’ll go back to my panster ways and enjoy writing again.


Time’s a Wastin

I recently read this quote, “The time you enjoy wasting, is not wasted.” My initial reaction was it written by some slacker who probably spends hours surfing the internet and trolling through Facebook. Then I read the quote again and the word “enjoy” struck a chord.

Most of our lives are overscheduled, rushed and running on autopilot. By the end of the day, we crawl into bed and the activities of the day are a blur. Did we enjoy the day or at least enjoy a few moments of the day? Have we lived the day in the moment or are we just trying to make it to Friday?

These questions crossed my mind when I read the quote. On the other hand, I was able to let out a sigh of relief. All of the time I thought I was “wasting” consumed with blogs on writing and author’s websites hasn’t been wasted because I enjoy that time, plus I believe it’s making me a better writer.  I can now enjoy my addiction without the guilt.

Are you doing something you enjoy that you thought was wasting time?


A Writer’s Obsession

I’m obsessed with buying books on writing. This picture only shows 1/4 of my “To Be Studied” stack of books on the craft. The books are purchased with all good intentions of being read from cover to cover, but time restraints limit my reading to searching the index for areas I need improvement and reading that chapter.

“The number of writing books you own is out of control, it’s kind of OCDish,” said recently, by Derek, my partner for the past 15 years. His remarks on Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell were, “This is the Holy Grail, read it once and then read it again, read it once a year.” In reality, the number of books in my TBR bookshelves out numbers my writing books, but who was I to bring that to his attention.

I have a plan for 2013, but I’m not calling it a resolution because resolutions have a tendency to fall by the wayside by mid-February, if not earlier. As much as I love to read fiction when I have downtime, I plan to alternate. Only after I’ve studied an entire craft book, will I reward myself by reading a book on my target genre. Afterward, I will once again immerse myself in another book on writing.

Is this a good plan? I’m curious as to the amount of time other writers spend on learning the craft, aside from writing, which I believe is one of the best ways to improve


Confessions of a Panster

I’m happiest when I sit down with my laptop, turn on my iPod and write.  I love not knowing beforehand what I’ll write or what kind of trouble my characters might get themselves into. Often I’ll listen to the words in a song and go from there.  In the writing world, this is referred to as a panster.  Before I was bit by the writing bug, if someone were to ask me what a panster was, I would probably respond with, “A person who sews or hems pants, like a seamstress.”

Of course, this type of debauching behavior is completely opposite from my punctilious and obsessive list making personality.  I like order.  I like things done a certain way some might call me a perfectionist.  One would think I would embrace outlining with open arms, but so far, I don’t get warm and fuzzy when I think of outlining a story.

I associate my previous attempts to outline with high school algebra tests from many years past.  I thought I knew the material, but when the test was placed in front of me, I froze.  This is what happens when I sit down to attempt an outline.  My mind drifts into summer vacation mode and suddenly writing isn’t fun.

Unfortunately, exhibiting panster behavior during my last participation in NaNoWriMo didn’t work out in my best interest.  The first week was great.  My iPod was jamming and I was excited. I was developing my characters as I went along making them do whatever I wanted them to do.  Then it happened.  By the middle of week two, I hit a monstrous roadblock.  This is not a good thing when you’re under pressure to write 1666 words a day just to keep your head above water.

All of a sudden, I felt like Hansel and Gretel.  I was lost in the woods and I had no idea where to go.  As a result, I wandered.  I filled the pages with useless dialogue and weak scenes that didn’t advance my plot.  I worked my way through the roadblock and completed the challenge, but not without a few migraine headaches and a great deal of wasted time.

This year, with NaNoWriMo just around the corner, I have decided to try a different approach.  I plan to embrace my anal-retentive tendencies and outline my story.  I realize I’m starting a little late to have a thorough outline.  Many participants have been outlining for months, but that’s ok because NaNoWriMo isn’t about following the rules of writing.  It’s about getting the words on the page.


A Writer’s First Rejection

This week I received my first rejection.  The envelope was thick so my first thought was, it’s a contract!  For a moment, my heart was racing as I pictured my story in the magazine.  I tore open the envelope and realized the reason it was thick.  The envelope contained my story.  I was unaware it would be returned by the magazine, obviously I’m still a rookie.

Along with my story was a brief cover letter.  When I say brief, I’m talking two sentences.  There was no explanation as to why the story wasn’t accepted for publication only that it had been declined.

This might be hard to believe, but I was happy. I’ve heard of famous authors with drawers stuffed with rejection letters, so I felt I had been initiated as a writer.  I knew the story was good because it had been published in another magazine it just wasn’t a fit for this magazine.

For me, rejection will always be part of a writer’s life and thick skin is a must.  In time, I’ll learn not to take rejection or critical comments personally.  Not everyone is going to like my writing and the negative comments will only make me grow as a writer.

So what did I do after putting my first rejection letter into my desk drawer?  I got on my laptop and started a new story to submit to the same magazine.  It might take one year or five years but I will be published in that magazine because I won’t stop submitting until I am.


A Writer’s Quandary

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of blogs on the pros and cons of blogging. To be honest, I’ve become totally confused by arguments for and against blogging.  When I had my first short story published, one of the questions I was asked by the editor was “Do you have an internet presence, a website or a blog?”  I immediately felt the dreaded platform pressure.

As I find myself spending more time writing my posts than I am my WIP, studying my books on writing and reading for pleasure, I realize I need to cut back on my posts, perhaps to twice a week.  But the truth is I’ve really enjoyed writing a daily post almost to the point where I feel addicted to posting.  I know that people may not be reading it, but for now, I’m writing it for myself.  Having a blog is making me write everyday which is a good thing, but to what expense?

Some say, for new writers, writing and pursuing self-publishing is a better return on your investment than blogging.  What do you do if you want to do it all?  I’ve discovered I can’t do it all.  I have a full-time job and a life.  Some days I feel I’m putting the cart before the horse by having a blog, but not a published book.

Does anyone else feel befuddled on this issue?


Writing on Purpose

I try to live my life on purpose. I get up each day and make the decision to be happy.  Of course some days are easier than others since life’s not perfect and it certainly isn’t always easy. I’ve learned not to wait on my circumstances to be happy because my circumstances are always changing. Making a deliberate choice to be happy is something I must do before my feet hit the floor in the morning.

Recently, I began examining my writing life.  I felt like I was starting to drift.  I was questioning whether or not I live that part of my life the same way I do all other areas.  Am I writing with an intended or desired result or goal?

I discovered I was doing more in the area of preparing to write.  I was buying just the right pens, notebooks and journals.  I was designating time to write but ended up spending most of that time on websites reading about author’s road to publication or writing tips.  I ended up frustrated and angry at myself because I wasn’t writing.

For me, living a life on purpose reflects my beliefs, my values and a passion.  I know what I believe and my values are strong.  My passion is writing, so why wasn’t I doing it? As a result of this examination, my blog was born and now I’m writing again and it feels really good.