Unexpected Consequences by Erin Farwell

IMG_3021_1When my first book came out (I am working on the sequel) several experienced authors advised me to start a blog. Over and over I heard how it would help readers find my book and get to know my writing style, which would increase sales and establish myself as an author. Despite these truths I resisted, occasionally writing a guest blog but not starting one of my own. I found myself intimidated by the demands of a blog, the pressure to be witty, intelligent, entertaining, and informative on a scheduled and frequent basis.

Fortunately I found a blogging home with this group of talented writers who consistently impress and amaze me. I’ve been with Writing Wranglers https://writingwranglersandwarriors.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/5a56d-6a0133f3fc5805970b019104234e97970c-pi.jpgand Warriors for about ten months and am enjoying this group and the blogging experience. The twice-a-month commitment is manageable and I find the shared responsibility for the content has allowed me greater freedom in my topic choices. I am not concerned about what I think I “should” write, instead blogging about interests me at any given deadline.

Another activity I have strenuously resisted is writing short stories. I rarely read them and have not been interested in working within this restrictive structure. No, short story writing is not for me.

Until this fall, when Mystery and Horror, LLC put out a call for short, traditional mystery stories set at Halloween. No, I said, I don’t write short stories. A week or so later, I thought, “I don’t write short stories but if I did I would set it…” Within the month I finished The Carver my first short story as a professional writer and was thrilled when it was accepted for the “All Hallows Evil” anthology. I have recently submitted a second short story to a different group for consideration for their anthology and am mulling over some new calls for submissions by Mystery and Horror, LLC.

https://writingwranglersandwarriors.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/b74ab-6a00d8341c03bb53ef019b024e1124970c-pi.jpgDespite my reluctance to blog and write short stories, I now find I enjoy the brevity and resulting challenges of these formats. More important, they have had an unexpected consequence: I have become a better writer.

The requirement of writing within a word count range has forced me to examine my writing style and I learned that I have a habit of “chattiness” that can’t survive in a blog or short story environment. Each word must have value and meaning or it is deleted. Every sentence is tied to the plot or theme or it is unnecessary. Descriptions are tight and focused, helping the reader “see” the character or place with no frills or embellishments.

While this sparse writing technique is not appropriate for my writing style with my novels, I find myself choosing my words with more care, especially in tense or dramatic scenes. I now notice what I call “word clutter” and find my novel is better when I eliminate it. My writing was always good, at least I think it was, but now it is cleaner, stronger. Others may not notice but I do and see is as a mark of my growth as a writer.

The sense of “necessity” to blog started me down a path I continue to travel. It led me to the experiment of drafting short stories and the insights that allowed for improvement in all of my writing endeavors. I look forward to discovering where else it will take me.

Where has blogging taken you?

You can learn more about me at:

http://www.erinfarwell.com

https://www.facebook.com/erin.farwell.5

https://www.amazon.com/author/erinfarwell

http://www.goodreads.com/Erin50

http://www.pinterest.com/erinfarwell/

Farwell-Shadowlands-Final Cover.inddAHE New Cover

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Anthology, Authors, blogging, challenges, Expanding Horizons, improve your craft, novels, short stories, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Unexpected Consequences by Erin Farwell

  1. sstamm625 says:

    Great post, Erin! I have struggled with blogging, too. Though I did start my own blog, I haven’t posted as often as many writers/sites recommend, and in the last few months, while I got my new website up and going, I didn’t really blog at all. I’ve finally started that up again. Part of what has held me back has been that pressure you mention to be witty, interesting, clever, etc., and thinking I had to write about certain things. Plus, I’m not a fast writer. If I blogged every day or even once a week, I’d have almost no time to dedicate to my novel writing (at least that’s how I’ve felt). I’m grateful to have found this group too, and I’m inspired by the variety and range of the group’s posts. My ideas about blogging have also become freer, and I’m finding myself scribbling down lists of blog post ideas–for this blog and for my own. All in all, I think blogging is both improving my writing and helping me find (or free up) my own voice.

    Like

    • erinfarwell says:

      Thanks Steph – I still am not blogging on my own site as much as I should, but am working on that. I’m so thrilled you’ve joined this group. Thanks for your support.

      Like

  2. I echo Stephanie’s comments, Erin — this is a great post, filled with wisdom, insight, and encouragement. Time constraints and added projects prevent me from blogging often, even on my own blog, and I like the idea of adding my voice and face to others’ blogs when appropriate, as I did recently at “Circles of Faith.” I have yet to develop much of a following, and that sometimes plagues my psyche, but, as we all know being writers, perseverance is the key. Good for you for expanding your endeavors and trying new things, like short stories, and CONGRATULATIONS!

    Like

    • erinfarwell says:

      Thanks, Gayle – your words mean so much to me. It is only recently that I realized how much blogging, etc. has improved my writing and wanted to share that. Don’t worry about followers. I do, more than I should, but then I remember that this is something I can’t control and continue to walk my path, trusting that those who are meant to find me will do so. Thanks for your kind words.

      Like

  3. Congratulations on getting your short stories published. I’m just the opposite. I wrote one novel, but now, I don’t think I could write another, but I write short stories and poems, and I hope to eventually get back to the memoir I started last year about my experiences caring for my late husband.

    Like

  4. erinfarwell says:

    Thanks Abbie – we all have our loves but it’s when we go outside of them and challenge ourselves that we grow. That’s what I did with the short stories and you with your novel. 🙂 thanks for the support.

    Like

  5. Doris says:

    I always enjoy your post Erin, but this one struck a cord for me. I love writing shorts, but struggle with novels. (Yes I have written one, but re-writes are taking a long time). The schedule of writing for a blog and the haiku has done a lot for my overall writing. I love fiction, but find that I seem to do better with non-fiction as noted by my posts. It is amazing where our discipline to write something leads us.

    Thank you for this great post. It has given me a lot to think about when I head to the library for my ‘research’ day. Doris

    Like

    • erinfarwell says:

      Thanks Doris. It’s clear that we all have the things we love to write. I’m just learning that in writing as in other things, that which I resist the most is what moves me forward the best. I need to keep this in mind. 🙂 Thanks again for your kind words.

      Like

  6. Great post Erin. I had a new website built last year and have yet to blog on it because I can’t figure out how to do it! Previously I had a blog on WordPress and it was easy because I built it myself and learned a lot. I am not brainy or witty and it’s hard occasionally to come up with something that is. My first ever blog was about our living in Mexico (for my family mostly) and I enjoyed it and it was pretty much a running commentary on the life, customs and people of Mexico through my eyes. When I started the WordPress blog I was writing Inzared but what I got the most numbers out of was the page of book reviews I did. Unfortunately I ran out of time to do the book reviews and keep up my writing so I ended that. My last post here on WW&W was way too long. I realized it when it came to my inbox. My new resolution is to keep them simpler. If songs count as a short story then I’ve written a lot of them, but not an “actual” short story. I need to try that. I am currently reading “Twelve Red Herrings” by Jeffrey Archer; a collection of short stories. It’s great and I’m trying to gain insight as to how to structure one. Keep up the good work! We all need help!

    Like

    • erinfarwell says:

      Thanks for your kind words. From what I can tell we’ve all come to blogging from different places and for different reasons but the whole is wonderful. I would love to read some of your songs some day. Are they performed? And just an FYI, I had no idea how to structure a short story when I wrote the Carver. Just before I went to submit it I realized that it was a bunch of talking and the “who” was obvious. Kept the beginning and restructured the rest at the last minute. Fortunately one of the WWw, maybe Frank, had posted the general structure of a short story and it saved me. 🙂 Now it’s easier but the word count constraint keeps me on my toes. 🙂 Thanks again for your support.

      Like

    • Wranglers says:

      Linda, I enjoyed your last blog, as always. You do a great job. Cher’ley

      Like

  7. Reblogged this on L.LEANDER BOOKS and commented:
    Great blog post for writers to take note of. How do you blog?

    Like

  8. Wranglers says:

    Erin, I started out as a short story writer and found that I enjoy novels more, but you are right, they teach you to write tight. Like Abbie and Doris, I enjoy poetry too. I don’t blog on any of my personal blogs like I should, but I think because of the group responsibility of WW&W (this) blog, I read, comment on, share and write more posts on here, and that’s a good thing, at least I’m writing. I’m like Stephanie in that if I did a blog every day, I’d get nothing else done, it takes me a long time to write one blog. Fun post and congratulations on your short stories. I am taking entries for the anthology “Boys Will Be Boys”, even if you don’t have a son, you may have a story about your Dad, grandfather or someone. 🙂 Great Blog, you definitely got people talking. Cher’ley

    Like

  9. erinfarwell says:

    🙂 Like you, I prefer novels but you’re exactly right about writing “tight.” I hadn’t thought of it in those words but it is a great description. I need to blog more than I do on my website but I prefer this one to that so here I stay. 🙂 I don’t have a son but I do have some ideas from my dad, brother, etc. Let me think on this…. Thank you for your continued generosity and support.

    Like

    • Wranglers says:

      Hi Polly, Glad to have you reading our blog. I thought about trying to write a short story for Sinc, but I just haven’t had the time. Maybe next year. I’m trying to take notes this year of a few anthologies I’d like to write a story for. Congrats on your acceptance. Cher’ley

      Like

    • Wranglers says:

      Erin, that would be great if you get a chance to write a story or two, but if you don’t have time, maybe for the next one. I know you’ve got so much going on right now. I hope it all gets finished before long and I hope it will be worth the wait. Cher’ley

      Like

  10. Polly Iyer says:

    Erin, I’m doing exactly the same thing. I never wanted a blog, still don’t. But when Blood Red Pencil asked me to post a once-a-month blog post, I said yes. Once a month is perfect for me, and I still obsess over the post. Also, I am not a short story writer, but I did enter the NC/SC SinC chapter anthology, and my first ever short story was accepted. I learned a lot with the challenge too. I entered another short story in another anthology, but I’m not sure whether this one will make the cut. Still, it was worth the effort. I consider myself a long story writer, i.e. novelist, but I liked branching out and trying something new. Good for you for doing the same.

    Like

    • erinfarwell says:

      Like you I consider myself a long story writer but I am finding the value of mixing things up. I just submitted to the guppy anthology. We’ll see what happens. Thanks for commenting.

      Like

  11. Many bloggers ARE chatty — and that’s all they are. They don’t have anything to say. I actually enjoy the serious blogs with thought-provoking topics. They don’t have to be long, but they have to say something worth reading.

    Like

  12. I’ve found blogging to be a great way to exercise the brain, a sort of keeping the pencil sharp and ready. Love your thoughts on this subject. I once had the same opinion. The only problem is, I’m often lost in the technology!

    Like

  13. Kathy Waller says:

    You’ve pointed out something interesting about the writing life–how one thing can lead to another. I didn’t know what a blog was, so I took an online class through Story Circle Network, and when it was over, there I was with–a blog. So I decided I’d better put something on it, and I started posting, and that’s how I got into blogging. I break all the rules–I don’t post on a regular schedule, and I’m always changing the header and the colors, and I write about whatever comes to mind. So I’m not sure it will be a help in my career as a writer. But the posts are good practice. Like you, I didn’t think I could write short stories, but when a critique partner suggested we put out an anthology, I discovered I could write them and that I enjoy working on the shorter form. It’s a matter of keeping oneself open to new possibilities, isn’t it?

    Like

  14. Nancy Jardine says:

    I don’t know what blogging has done for me, apart from allowing me to enjoy the short writing involved, and to meet loads of lovely people. I think the interaction with others is the best thing of all, but after 2 plus years of blogging I’m still not managing to get to grips with the time I spend on blogs/ other social media compared to what I need to find for my new writing. I believe time will sort that out for me…soon.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s