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Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

  1. A Pep Talk for Writers Who Think They Suck

    June 19, 2016 by Diane

    hand opening red curtain on white.

    “I suck at writing!”

    How many times have you told yourself that behind the writer’s curtain? Or publicly, on Twitter, in a forum, or to your best friend as you gobbled down a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia?

    I’m here to say, “You don’t suck.”

    The fact that you’re writing means you’re putting in effort. Nothing sucky about that.

    Now, you might be a beginning writer. Nothing sucky about that either. You’re learning. Genius rarely happens when you pop out of the womb.

    I took golf lessons in college. I love watching a golf game on television. There’s something meditative about all that green, the sports announcer whispering about club choices, the placid ponds that dot the grounds. But out there on the course with my own club, I spent a lot of time in the bunkers, and hollering, “Four!” as my ball sailed into another student’s thigh.

    I could moan, “I suck at golf!” But I refuse to accept that label. I haven’t yet mastered the swing. If I wanted to, I could invest years practicing my swing, but frankly, that doesn’t appeal to me. I’d rather watch golf than play it.

    So, are you saying you suck at writing because you don’t want to expend the energy? Do you want an easy out? Do you want to throw in the pen?

    If so, claim it. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that you don’t want to put in the work. Be honest. “I’d rather read, than write!”

    But if you want to study the craft and improve, if you want to write every day, you’ll discover that some days your writing vibrates with energy, and other days when it’s just “meh.” Some days you’ll read your work and say, “hey, that’s pretty good,” and other days when you want to rip it in half and grind it under your heel. Your writing will surprise you and embarrass you, inspire you and depress you, move you and bore you.

    That’s how it goes. Up and down. Sometimes sideways.

    Now, If you’re an old hand at writing and you play the “I suck” card, well, my friend, you’re not playing with a full deck. I implore you to set aside your work for a day and go out and play. Then come back and read it again.

    I guarantee—you’ll find something in those pages that shines. One sentence. Grab it, and use it to start a freewrite. Put the new pages away for a day, come back and read what you wrote. Find another shining sentence, use that as the start of a brand new freewrite, and keep going until you hook into something strong.

    Let’s say you just started blogging, and after a post or two, you’ve run out of ideas. The words you write sizzle out after three paragraphs. Do you suck? No! You’re learning how to blog. Maybe you don’t have a solid idea of what to blog about yet. You need time to experiment, discover your topic, discover your voice. You will. Keep at it.

    Let’s say you labored over a short story, or a book, and sent it off, and it was rejected. Do you suck? No! That particular journal or publisher wasn’t right for your work. Or you had too many typos, or cliches, or a passive voice. Or the story didn’t grab the editor. All of these things are fixable!

    Research journals or publishers to find a better fit. Submit again. And again and again and again. Have a good editor go over it with a red pen. Rewrite, if need be. Don’t use the “I suck!” excuse to avoid the work. Yeah, it can feel draining, and frustrating, having to rewrite and resubmit after you’ve invested oodles of time in the darn thing. So take a break. Recharge. Then get back to it.

    Takeaway this week:

    To learn more about submitting to literary journals, and what an editor wants, read this.

  2. I Want to Thank The Liebster Committee for This Swell Blogging Award

    April 17, 2016 by Diane

    The Liebster Award

    I am proud to announce that I have been nominated for The Liebster Award, which is like a mini-Pulitzer Prize for mini-blogs. At least that’s what the person who nominated me claims, and who am I to say otherwise? The award is given to bloggers who have less than 1000 followers. Since I have 38, I qualify. In fact, I’m over-qualified.

    The wonder-blogger who nominated me is Laura, an introvert (my kind of gal!) who blogs about donkeys and Easter eggs and chocolate and, mostly, homesteading on a 43-acre farm (very cool), over at Calderon Acres.

    As I told Laura, my spellcheck wants to turn Liebster into Lobster, which would be an exceptional award to display on the mantlepiece, if I had a mantlepiece, which I don’t. But I could display it on the heater. The downside: it would emanate a fishy smell and drive away any visiting guests, of which I have none. I live in a breadbox. The only person who fits inside is me, as long as I don’t gain five pounds.

    Now, to accept the Lobster, er, Liebster Award (for which I am truly thrilled to accept!), I need to answer eleven questions. You mean I can’t just blog and be done with it! Au contraire. I must answer eleven questions. Not ten, Not twelve. Eleven. So, here they are:


    1. How did you arrive at the name for your blog?

    I wrote the piece Squirrels in the Doohickey, along with a couple of other short works, showed them to a writer friend and mumbled something about how I was thinking of starting a blog and maybe these could be some of the posts. She said, “Go for it! Your friends and family will probably be your only readers, but it’s good writing practice.” And she was right. In both cases. It was she who suggested I call my blog Squirrels in the Doohickey.

    2. If all forms of the name had already been taken, what was your second choice?

    The likelihood that someone else had snapped up Squirrels in the Doohickey, or Squirrels Mucking Up the Doohickey, or any combination thereof, was zero, so I didn’t have a plan B.

    3. What or who inspired you to start blogging?

    My inner self. The one who wrote every morning for thirty minutes about squirrelly things. “Hey, ‘ya think maybe somebody might want to read this stuff?”

    4. Describe yourself in three words.

    Obviously obliviously petite. Meaning: I’m obviously slight of build, which always surprises me.

    5. What is your biggest fear?

    Anxiety. If it wasn’t for anxiety, the stuff that makes me anxious would just be stuff.

    6. What is your own personal favorite of your own blog posts, and why?

    Same Baggage, Different Location. It describes what a lot of us carry. At least that’s what I believe, and I’m sticking to it.

    7. Where did you spend most of your life, and where are you now?

    In my desk chair, typing. Now? In Peet’s Coffee and Tea, typing.

    8. What is a “big” blog that you enjoy and why?

    Oh, gosh. Big? You mean bigger than mine? Wow, that’s a whole world of blogs. Sadly, I don’t have a lot of time to read blogs. Or magazines. I only have time to read books. Which makes no sense and I’m digressing because my mind is overwhelmed with the multitudes of big blogs to choose from but…oh, wait…

    I love how she lets her mind roam free. She makes anxiety funny, but also shares the dark side of depression. Which is how it is with anxiety and depression. Sometimes you can find the humor in the darkness, and other times you can’t even find the light switch.

    9. What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?

    “Don’t believe everything you think.” I don’t know who said it. Probably some therapist. It’s good to remember when we have self-deprecating, or fearful, or negative, or judgmental, or dysfunctional thoughts.

    Here’s another good one, from Viktor E. Frankl: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” 

    10. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your fresh-out-of-school self?

    Thou shalt not should upon thyself. Do what you are inspired to do, when you are inspired to do so. Don’t let a silly to-do list get in your way.

    11. I am all about bloggers helping other bloggers. Help us help you. If someone wanted to show your blog some love, what would be your preferred method — a Facebook share? Sharing on Twitter? Subscribing to your blog? Commenting on your blog? Submitting your posts to Stumbleupon? Or something else? Let’s all read their answers and try to make that happen.

    Oh, Facebook please! I’m not on it, so I rely on you to spread the love. And by all means, subscribe!

    Whew, I answered all eleven questions! Now do I get the award?


    Wait, there’s more!

    To accept the award, I must also share eleven random facts about myself.



    Random facts?

    I can’t even think of one.

    Okay, one: I tap dance. Or I did. For years. And I taught tap dance to adults. Three, to be exact. One of them was a tall man who wore scrubs and only spoke Chinese. The other two were Stanford employees looking for a fun way to exercise. None of them became tap dance aficionados.

    And while I’m on the subject…my first dance teacher was an elderly bowlegged woman with a dowager hump who taught me a tap dance that Bill “Bojangles” taught her when she was young. “Don’t ever forget it,” she said, stabbing my chest with her crooked finger. After all, she was passing this dance on for prosperity.

    I regret to admit that I forgot every shuffle ball-change.

    Do I get the Liebster now?


    Bring on the nominees.

    I must also nominate five to eleven other mini-blogs who are deserving of the Liebster, and create a new list of questions for the nominees to answer.

    Five to eleven mini-blogs?

    A list of questions?

    This is making my head spin.

    If I do come up with five mini-blogs, or eleven, what if I leave someone out? I won’t be able to sleep! And how will I know if they have less than 1000 followers? What if they have more, and I nominate them and insult them in the process?

    Confession time.

    I’m embarrassed to admit, I unsubscribed to most of the blogs I was reading because I was reading blogs instead of rewriting my novel. And the bloggers for half the blogs I subscribed to stopped blogging, which doesn’t bode well for the other blogs I subscribe to. So I’m doing all of you bloggers a favor and not subscribing—even though I’d love to subscribe—so your blog will live on through infinity.

    But while I was reading blogs, here are five I enjoyed: Straight talk from the sisters about blood, sweat and ink. Two gals, and a wealth of tips on writing. I urge you to check ‘em out! She’s a buckaroo who bakes beans and writes, and hosts a weekly flash fiction contest on her blog. Join in!

    Lemon Shark Reef This “introvert with hulk tendencies” plays with flash fiction. Plus, she has “more books than dust motes” in her house. A fellow book-a-holic! He’s a humor blogger with a flair for poetry. Evidently we share 50% of our DNA with bananas. In case you didn’t know.

    and of course, Yep, him. My guest blogger last week. If you haven’t read his post, please do. It’ll make you chuckle.

    All ye nominees, should you choose to accept this award (you’re under no obligation to do so; I’m happy to mention you either way), please visit this page to find out the rules for winning, and the list of questions. Hey, why should I reinvent the wheel?

    Seriously though, I want to thank Laura over at Calderon Acres for nominating me. I’m not sure if I can claim the award, since I didn’t fully participate, but I’m touched by her gesture.

  3. How to Turn Your Squirrelly Moments into My Blog Posts

    March 28, 2016 by Diane

    For the past three years, I’ve been posting once a week (give or take), blathering on about the squirrelly things that happen to me. It occurred to me that you, the reader, might have squirrelly moments of your own, and might need an outside perspective to help you make sense of them.

    And who better to offer that perspective than me, an expert in all things nutty?

    So I’ve decided to start an advice column. I’m calling it: Dear Digby. You tell me what plagues you, and I’ll respond in my usual tongue-in-cheek (but heartfelt) manner. In exchange for this free advice, you’ll be providing me with something to blog about, because at some point the well is going to dry up, and then what will you read?

    So here’s the plan…

    I want you to mosey on up to the “contact” page, that one on the top bar that nobody except spammers visit, and I want you to write to me about one squirrelly moment. I want you to write to me about the time your kid brother hid your makeup case, or your mother made bean muck for dinner, or your boss snored during your presentation. I want to hear about something nutty that happened to you that made you shake your head in disbelief, or turn red with embarrassment, or laugh with disgust, or order a scotch, neat.

    Just a paragraph.

    Three lines, maybe.

    I’m not asking for 500 words and up like I’ve been churning out week after week after week. Just three little lines.

    After all, you haven’t had to do anything for the past three years except read my ramblings. While I, on the other hand, have done the lion’s share of the work: the writing, the rewriting, the endless tweaking.

    I’ve done the lion’s share even for readers who aren’t showing up. Okay, technically they’re not really readers, at least not readers of this blog. But the point is, those non-readers who are unaware of my blog aren’t even investing a few brain cells to take notice, so I’m doing all the work for those unappreciative non-readers…millions of them.

    Now be honest: would you take a job, do everyone’s work while they sat around drinking cappuccinos at sidewalk cafes, and feel the world is a just and verdant place?

    I think not.

    So, based on this faulty line of reasoning, I’m sure you’ll agree: it’s time for you, the reader, to put a little more effort into this blog than just snickering behind your hand.

    If you feel so compelled (God knows why), tell me what drives you nutty. I’ll offer words of wisdom.

    Who, me?

    Well, sort of. There are several sub-personalities who rent space in my brain. There’s the Goofy One; the Compassionate One; the Wise One; the Anxious One; the Serious One.

    Oh, and the Lazy One.

    One of those entities will give you advice. And I’ll post the whole shebang on this site for everyone’s education.

    Sound like a deal?

    I hope so! This will be fun.

    Need an example? Okay. Let’s say you write,

    Dear Digby,

    I work eight, ten hours a day standing over a hot stove in an even hotter kitchen, cooking for fifty rowdy college men in a dorm, and when I get home I’m beat. All I want to do is stretch out on the bed and sleep. But my landlady chooses that moment to practice the piano. Christmas carols. Badly. For two hours. I want to drive an icepick through my eyeball. What can I do?


    Don’t worry about punctation or grammar. The Persnickety One will correct any outright goofs. If you write,

    Dear Diggy,

    My coworker scolded me like she was my muther, and my mother doesn’t even talk to me that way. Now I’m simmering. Shuld I say something?

    -Still Simmering

    My inner editor will neaten it up so it reads,

    Dear Magnificent One,

    How can I be as amazing as you?

    -In Awe

    Got it? Good.

    Let’s get started. Click on the “contact” page, and start typing. I’ll be waiting!

    Disclaimer: If you’re reading this blog post, you’re under no obligation to write anything. I’m thrilled that you’re reading! Keep it up. And if you’re not reading this blog post, how would you know?

    P.S. If I post your question and my answer, it will be tweeted. By millions. Or at least by two. People.

    P.S.S. If I don’t post your question, it’s because the Lazy One answered. Meaning: not at all.

    P.S.S.S. The Lazy One is too lazy to read your question, so no worries.

    PSSSST. If no one takes me up on this offer, I shall be forced to continue blogging  about my own nonsense, happily assuming that it is somehow benefitting my precious readers and those millions of non-readers.