Ashley Franklin

Intentional Joy

I was hanging out on Clubhouse a few weeks ago with a group of writers, and this question was brought up:

“How has the pandemic affected your writing?”

[Needless to say, there aren’t many of us who HAVEN’T been affected by the pandemic. Some of us have suffered great personal losses, and many of us have struggled to maintain our mental health.]

As far as writing goes, I think it’s likely the same as anyone else who has had to work from home. It hasn’t been the easiest to establish clear and effective boundaries when it comes to friendships, work, and more. Yet, we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do. What’s the alternative?

What’s amazing is that there are some who have really found a focus and thrived over the past year. I have friends who have loved the transition to working from home. They wish it had always been an option. I also have friends who feel like they are drowning on a daily basis.

Me? I’m all over the place. I’ve worked online as an adjunct for about a decade. No change there. My boys are doing virtual school. My routine of writing could have come to a screeching halt (my pre-pandemic writing happened while they were at school), but it didn’t. At the same time, I still get the nagging feeling that I should be doing more.

How did I keep my writing life from coming to a screeching halt due to the pandemic?

-I stopped waiting for the perfect circumstances to write.

-I did writing tasks in bursts. Example: 30 minutes? I’ll search for wordiness or revise with voice in mind.

-I started 30 minutes of solitary creative time as a family. Example: “Hey, kids! Everyone use your imagination to make something, but you have to do it quietly & in your own section of the room.”

-I was intentional about keeping the joy of writing. I kept in mind that the words would come. Stressing about the how’s and when’s didn’t make them come any faster.

I must be intentional in choosing joy (at least once a day). No matter how my day is going, if I can choose joy just once, it has been a day worth living and not merely existing. It is now a day full of possibilities. When those days add up, it’s much easier for me to be creative.

How will you be intentional with your joy? Think about what this choice will help you to accomplish.

Writing has always brought me joy. I refuse to lose that.

Posted in Life, Parenting, Writing, Writing LifeTagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Leave a Comment on Intentional Joy

Butt in Chair (BIC) & Why it Vexes Me So

“STOP TELLING ME TO SIT DOWN!” is what I internally rage scream whenever I see this bit of writerly advice. Don’t get me wrong. I get it. Of course you need to get your butt in gear in order to actually write.

But, follow me with this, what if with the way my life is set up, those butt-in-chair moments are few and far between? Does that mean I’m not a serious writer? Does that make me a writer of a lesser caliber?

The way my anxiety is set up, I find BIC unnerving. If the words aren’t manifesting on the page (or in my brain for that matter), I may freewrite, doodle, wrestle with other works in progress, or let my mind wander for a bit. If nothing of great magnitude is happening, you best believe my butt is getting up.

Actually sitting my butt in a chair to get some writing done is a luxury I have maybe a handful of times a month. For this reason, I value it immensely. However, it’s just not something that I can regularly do. And before you roll your eyes at me, I do know that I’m being SUPER literal. You do have to put the time in. There’s no getting around that. However, I feel like BIC makes making time to write seem a lot easier than what it is.

My writing time is more WIM—writing in the moment. This consists of making voice notes on my phone, drafting in Google Docs on whichever device is closest, scribbling on scraps of paper, and later assembling everything when I have time (usually when my kids have FINALLY fallen asleep).

At the end of the day, no matter how it gets done, all I hope is that whatever time I have put into writing has made me feel one step closer to achieving my writing goals.

That’s all we can do—do what works best for us. What works best for you?

Posted in WritingTagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment on Butt in Chair (BIC) & Why it Vexes Me So

Writing Rules and You

I know you’ve seen them. We all have. Everybody and their uncle (momma, cousin, auntie, sister-in-law twice removed) has a list of rules they uphold to be true of any writer.

 

I’ve come to give you my professional opinion: It’s a load of crap.

Now, just wait a minute and hear me out. Like most things in the writing business, those writing rules are completely subjective. To clarify, I’m not talking about craft rules specific to genres. You need those. Even if you plan on writing the next best thing and want to shake things up a bit, you should probably know the rules you wish to break.

Those lists of writing rules are great if you take them with a grain of salt and acknowledge not everything works for everybody. On the other hand, they do become problematic when you take them as law and they make you feel like less of a writer.

I encourage you to create your own list of rules and tweak them as you discover what does and doesn’t work for you. After all, writing is a process. Treat it as one.

I’m including my personal list of writing rules that work for me. Feel free to share your own.

My Writing Rules (for me!)

  1. Don’t write every day. Give the ideas and words time to simmer in my mind.
  2. Remember Rule #1 and don’t beat myself up if I don’t write for a spell. (Life happens! Just keep thinking.)
  3. Only revise as I write if I leave TrackChanges on.
  4. Save different versions of manuscripts by date.
  5. Stop acting like I don’t need an outline. I always eventually do, even if it’s a reverse outline.
  6. If writing seems like a chore, see if there’s something in the manuscript that’s keeping me from wanting to dive back in.
  7. At least read a writing blog or article if I’m wasting time on social media.
  8. Grammarly. Use it.
Posted in WritingTagged , , , , , 1 Comment on Writing Rules and You

Acknowledging the “What-ifs”

I love a great line, and I’ll never forget this gem from my mother-in-law. Despite my (at the time) toddler being mid-meltdown, she offered him this advice: “Don’t let the devil ruin your day!”

I cannot explain to you how hard I laughed at the time.

whatifs

The same goes for the what-ifs. The what-ifs? That’s what I call those pesky questions that nag us when we are in a writing slump, the doubts that have us believing that we’re imposters and aren’t good writers, the negative thoughts that tell us our WIP is hot garbage, etc. (And yes, this is what they look like in my head.)

What if my critique partners hate my book?

What if my revisions are making my manuscript worse?

What if I never get an agent?

What if I don’t get any interest while on submission?

What if nobody buys my book?

Don’t let the what-ifs ruin your day. And definitely, don’t let them ruin your dreams.

Do me a favor. The next time you’re being plagued by the what-ifs, go ahead and respond with a “Whatever!” Then, go ahead and keep pushing towards your writing goals.

Keep writing. I know I will.

Posted in WritingTagged , , , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment on Acknowledging the “What-ifs”