Jill Weatherholt

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


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No Detour

Photo courtesy of freeditigalphotos.net

Photo courtesy of freeditigalphotos.net

It’s a hard thing to leave any deeply routine life, even if you hate it.” ~ John Steinbeck

I thrive on routine, give me a sequence of actions to follow regularly and I’ll do it without fail. While some may refer to their daily routine as mundane, I love it. It’s when my routine is disrupted I become cranky and irritable. Last year, my job required me to work 12-hour days for a 10-day stretch. The overtime and the work were great, but I was miserable. My routine turned upside down.

I never deviate from my schedule, unless forced. I’m up at the same time every day, even on the weekend. Breakfast is always the same. During the week, I leave for work at the exact same time. Traffic doesn’t disrupt my routine because I leave early in the morning which ensures I’m at my desk at the same time every day. I’m a creature of habit.

I believe my routine helps me manage my energy more effectively, but there are arguments against having a routine. Some say they make your life boring or keep us from seeing new opportunity. Another article I read said routine promotes laziness. One that struck a chord was routine can limit creativity. It made me question if my obsessiveness for routine is having an impact on my writing.

When I thought about my writing, I realized, I have no routine. I do write every day, however not at a set time. I’m not sitting at a desk at a certain time forcing my creativity to come alive. I write when I can and where I can. I don’t worry that it’s not part of my routine because stories always fill my mind, I let them set the schedule.

Do you like routine or do you fly by the seat of your pants?


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Dear Diary

IMG_0647 (2)“The habit of writing for my eye is good practice. It loosens the ligaments.” ~ Virginia Woolf

My first diary was a small pink book with a picture of Cinderella on the front. It came with a tiny key for privacy. Although I didn’t have any deep dark secrets at the age of 11, I kept it hidden under my bed. As I got older, I exchanged my pink diary for a journal.

Despite being inconsistent with writing in my journals, I’ve always had one. Actually, I have more than one journal. Like my paper book collection, I hoard journals. I have journals in all different sizes and colors all over my house.

When I read old journal entries, I travel back in time. I relive the good and not so good times. I read about people who are no longer in my life, but hold a permanent place in the pages of my journals. I find comfort in reading the experiences that made me the person I am today.

Recently I decided to start an ideas journal. For years, I’ve scribbled story ideas, titles, settings and character names on post-it notes or scrap pieces of paper. These ideas were tucked away in drawers or buried at the bottom of my purse. When I stumbled across a crinkled piece of paper, I would think, that was good, why haven’t I developed that idea.

Now all of my story ideas are organized in one place. I’ve also been using it to record ideas for blog posts. After reading fellow blogger, Luanne’s post on Freewriting, I’ve decided to use my idea journal to give freewriting a try. I love the idea of writing about anything for a set period of time as a prewriting technique. If I enjoy it, I might start a designated journal for freewriting. That will give me an excuse to go shopping for a new journal.

Do you journal or free write?


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Shhh, don’t tell anyone…

It is wise not to seek a secret, and honest not to reveal one.   ~ William Penn

“Can you keep a secret?” Growing up, this was a common question asked on my elementary school playground. Whether it was who likes whom or who got into trouble, whispers often filled the air during recess. I’ve always been good at keeping a secret. My old co-workers in Virginia called me the “vault” because when I was told something in confidence, it never went any further.

We hold onto secrets to keep other people happy. We want to keep the peace or stay safe, set in their vision of the world, and in their vision of us. It’s not until we gain the trust of someone that we’ll begin to reveal things that might make us look bad or bring pain to others. Despite the reasons, carrying around hidden secrets can take a toll on a person’s happiness.

I love giving my characters a secret. My main character often has a dark and painful secret, something they desperately want to keep hidden. It’s a painful wound, which never healed. This secret, if revealed, would turn my character’s world upside down.

Of course, the secret doesn’t have to be dark. It can be something positive. The main reason I add secrets to my story is to create conflict. In order to create the greatest source of conflict, the secret must stay a secret until I’m ready to reveal it as part of the climax scene. This can create an extra twist of meaning to the ultimate clash between my protagonist and antagonist.

Secrets are an easy and effective tool to hook readers and keep them turning the page. Often it isn’t what a character knows that hooks the reader, it’s what they don’t know.

Do your characters have deep and dark secrets?


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Loafing Off

Image courtesy of www.morguefile.com

Image courtesy of http://www.morguefile.com

“Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.”  ~ Mark Twain

Today is Fight Procrastination Day. Although it’s not an official holiday, it is a day that should be recognized. The word “procrastination” comes from the Latin word procrastinat, meaning, “deferred till the morning.” I’m often guilty of deferring long past morning.

While working at my day job, I never procrastinate. Each morning I respond to new e-mails, return phone messages and tackle my list of tasks one by one. At home, bills are paid as soon as they’re received, junk mail is discarded upon receipt, income tax returns are filed by the end of January and laundry is folded as soon as it’s taken out of the dryer.

Unfortunately, when it came to my writing, I was the polar opposite. If I had a block of time designated for writing, I would check my personal e-mails, peruse author websites or read blogs I follow. I could never get started. I was squandering valuable free time and then I felt guilty.

Here are some ways that helped me break my cycle of procrastination:

1.  Changed my environment. With a writing pad and pen, I stepped away from my computer. Whether I went to another room in the house or outside on the patio, writing with pen and paper, I became more productive.

2.  Stopped thinking and started doing. A bit of planning was helping me to achieve what I wanted to achieve, but a lot of planning and thinking was paralyzing me. I had to accept the fact that there is no perfect plan when it comes to writing so I just had to write.

3.  Created a detailed timeline with specific deadlines. I broke my goals down into monthly, weekly and daily task lists. Instead of just setting a goal to write a novel, which can be an overwhelming thought, I broke down my goal with a detailed timelime for my word count.

I’m not saying I never procrastinate, everyone is guilty of it from time to time. While working on this post, I got up to run the vacuum upstairs and then got my fall decorations out of the attic. I allowed myself to become distracted from the task at hand. However, when I admitted I was simply procrastinating, I sat down and completed this post.

What’s your favorite way to procrastinate?