Tag Archives: writing


FORGIVE Written In Old Metal Typeset

Forgiveness is something we all grapple with everyday. And, for the most part, we immediately relate to applying this when dealing with others.

But what about ourselves?

Are we able to apply forgiveness as easily when we gaze in the mirror?

How do we feel about the person looking back at us?

Are we content with what we see? Or do we feel regret or frustration over something that perhaps may not be as big as we perceive it to be. Things may become closer, distorted, the longer we focus and get blown out of proportion. You know, the side view mirror aspect of life.

Hate when that happens. Don’t you?

Periodically, I like to take an assessment of my goals and achievements. They say it’s a healthy thing to do. So I ponder over what I’ve accomplished and what adjustments may need to be made. I must say it’s not always easy. It’s not always glitter and glee. Not always does it take me to my happy place where I prefer to be.


Because I start to compare myself to others.

And that is one slippery slope my friends. Because everyone is different. Everyone works at a different pace. Everyone has different habits. What works for one person may not always work for another.

The other day I ran across an interesting article that really resonated with me.

“Writing Begins With Forgiveness: Why One of the Most Common Pieces of Writing Advice Is Wrong,” written by author Daniel José Older. Until this post, I had never heard of Mr. Older, but he brought out some interesting points that I’d like to share with you.

He starts out with the mantra: Write every single day.

“It’s one of the most common pieces of writing advice and it’s wildly off base. I get it: The idea is to stay on your grind no matter what, don’t get discouraged, don’t slow down even when the muse isn’t cooperating and non-writing life tugs at your sleeve. In this convoluted, simplified version of the truly complex nature of creativity, missing a day is tantamount to giving up, the gateway drug to joining the masses of non-writing slouches.



Wait just a minute! *shakes head* What did he just say? Has this not been drummed into us since…well, I don’t know. Forever maybe?

I realize I may be approaching a dangerous precipice on this subject, but I thought his words were enlightening.

“Here’s what stops more people from writing than anything else: shame. That creeping, nagging sense of ‘should be,’ ‘should have been,’ and ‘if only I had…’ Shame lives in the body, it clenches our muscles when we sit at the keyboard, takes up valuable mental space with useless, repetitive conversations. Shame, and the resulting paralysis, are what happen when the whole world drills into you that you should be writing every day and you’re not.”


How did he know that?

I haven’t been writing every day. It’s impossible for me to write every day. It’s just not possible. And…don’t tell anyone this, but…I feel…guilty. Yes, I feel like a scumbag, despicable. Well, maybe not despicable. But I haven’t felt worthy of calling myself a writer.

Then Mr. Older adds, “Every writer has their rhythm. It seems basic, but clearly it must be said: There is no one way. Finding our path through the complex landscape of craft, process, and different versions of success is a deeply personal, often painful journey. It is a very real example of making the road by walking. Mentors and fellow travelers can point you towards new possibilities, challenge you and expand your imagination, but no one can tell you how to manage your writing process. I’ve been writing steadily since 2009 and I’m still figuring mine out. I probably will be for the rest of my life. It’s a growing, organic, frustrating, inspiring, messy adventure, and it’s all mine.”

Okay. Does this mean that I might be…normal?

“We read a lot about different writers’ eccentric processes – but what about those crucial moments before we put pen to paper? For me, writing always begins with self-forgiveness. I don’t sit down and rush headlong into the blank page. I make coffee. I put on a song I like. I drink the coffee, listen to the song. I don’t write. Beginning with forgiveness revolutionizes the writing process, returns it being to a journey of creativity rather than an exercise in self-flagellation. I forgive myself for not sitting down to write sooner, for taking yesterday off, for living my life. That shame? I release it. My body unclenches; a new lightness takes over once that burden has floated off. There is room, now, for story, idea, life.”

So, after reading the article, I took another look in the mirror. And guess what? I am now able to forgive myself. I can now forgive myself for not writing every single day. I can now forgive myself for not fitting into a certain mold.

Yes, having the intent of writing every day is a wonderful goal. And one that gives us great purpose.

Yet, I want to thank you Daniel José Older, whoever you are!

I think this may enable us to forgive ourselves for being unique!

I feel better already.

How about you?

So what do you think? Are you able to write every day? If so, please share with us what is it that has helped you to attain success? If not, how has this made you feel? Do you feel guilty? Or have you accepted your personal limitations and established new goals? What affect do you think your writing schedule has had on your productivity?

If you wish to read Mr. Older’s article in it’s entirety, please click here or on the link above.

Cheers everyone! I hope that life is treating you well. And as always, thank you so much for all your support and wonderful comments!


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“It’s Not How You Start, It’s How You Finish!”

This is what I try to tell myself everyday as I work on my manuscript. Don’t worry Karen about that piece of crap you’re writing. What really matters is how it comes across at the finish.

It isn’t really a piece of crap. Well, maybe it is. Perhaps it may not be. No, it’s a piece of crap. Oh, I’m sure it isn’t. But then again, what if it is?

Since I feel so overwhelmed by this whole process, I thought I’d try to draw some inspiration from NASCAR driver Danica Patrick and the Daytona 500.


Oh, what do I get myself into?

I wrote a story a couple of years ago and sent it to an editor for an opinion. Ha! That was the brainless idea of the century. Okay, maybe a decade. But, what was I thinking? I crashed and burned. I got creamed. My little heart was smashed into pieces. Thankfully he did it with humor. But in the end, I was bleeding. It was a painful experience, really. I was a horrible mess. I thought I’d never see daylight again as I licked my wounds under the duvet with a box of Kleenex.

I had made every mistake in the book a new writer makes. Only I didn’t know it. The editor never told me. I felt like an idiot and for months I was devastated. I lost my confidence. And it took away something else from me—the willingness to just let it rip, to let creativity flow and allow myself to make mistakes. I then became my own worst enemy.

Yet, as time went on, I regained a measure of confidence. I started writing again. But this time, I was more prepared. I equipped myself by reading a number of craft books. Then off I went with vivacious verbosity, laying the foundation for another story.

I was halfway through when I took a craft class from Bob Mayer. During the class I had an Aha moment. In one of his lessons, Bob asked the question, “Do you finish what you start?”

It caught me off guard. I was not prepared to answer his question. Why?

Because when it came time to asking myself that important question, had I really finished what I had started? No, I had not.

After my defeat, I put my focus on another project. I had run away from the challenge–the challenge to finish what I had started. After all, my failure was only a first draft. Yes, I had sent a first draft to an editor.

Now I ask you, who does that sort of thing?

Me. 🙂

So, after finishing Bob Mayer’s class, I jumped right into Wana and Kristen Lamb’s Blogging for Brand class. I was now going to create my own platform. Yet, I didn’t even have a book to launch. But I was determined to make this work and gain experience.

During this time, I met a friend of Kristen Lamb who lives in England, Donna Newton. In fact, she was the first guest on my blog. After getting to know one another, she asked me to send over the bullet points from my first manuscript. After she read them, we had our first Skype session. And she was excited.

“There’s a story here Karen. But…”

What? You thought there wouldn’t be a but?

But she liked the story!

Yes, but…“you’re not showing it and I’m not going to let you get away with it! In order to do this, it needs a lot of revision.”

Then she asked me, “Will you be up to the task? Or do you want to throw the manuscript into the drawer?”

The drawer? What is the drawer really? Is this a code word for crap?

Well, I had to ask myself, what would Danica Patrick do?

It was only last year that Danica was forced to start in the back of the field after crashing during her qualifying race and was caught up again in a crash on lap three of the Daytona 500.


But did she give up?

No. She forged ahead. And since she made her debut in the same race last year, Danica Patrick will now lead the field to the green flag for this year’s 500 after qualifying at Daytona International Speedway. Danica posted the fastest speed at last Saturday’s two qualifying practices and she’s the first woman to win a pole position in Sprint Cup Series history.

People may say what they want, but this woman driver has earned her way to first position.

Now I’m not saying that this is my quest. It has never been my dream to be the fastest car in front of the pack. But if I can duplicate Danica’s persistent drive and attitude, I may just have a chance to write a pretty good story.

So I have to keep reminding myself, the race isn’t over yet. I’m in it for the long run and “it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish!”

So what do you think? Do I have what it takes to make it over the finish line? Or should I shoot myself now and get it over with? To what extent have you had to revise an MS, past or present? What sage advice was given to help pull you through the process?

Thank you so much for dropping by and for all your wonderful comments!


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R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Just a Little Bit…

You all remember this picture, right?


When life hands you lemons, make lemonade?

Well, after last week’s post on West Nile and having received some very kind and healing words from you all—thank you very much by the way—it made me think.

Uh-oh, I know that might sound dangerous!

I began to think about just how much everyone seems to be dealing with these days.

When we engage in conversation or a relationship via the internet, we tend to put our best foot forward. It, the internet, becomes a comfortable screen that we may hide behind. After all, no one can see us. What we say represents who we are. So we hope.

But what we don’t know, and cannot know because of this unique realm of invisibility is—how is the other person who we are conversing with? They may sound chipper and happy, perhaps even supportive. Yet, what things in their life have they experienced or are currently experiencing and how are they coping?

First of all, think about what you’ve all accomplished over a relatively short time.

There are a great number of you who are experiencing pretty amazing things in your life. Some have already published books and are on the road to success. Meanwhile, you’re Writing, Blogging, Tweeting and well, let’s just say that you’ve become very social. 🙂

Congratulations to you all!

And then there are the rest of us that are right behind you. This is such an exciting time!

However, some of you are pulling double or triple duty. You’re working, parenting, writing and publishing. You’re involved in the many extra-curricular activities that revolve around your children or aged parents. You’re also cooking, cleaning, washing, shopping and again, writing.

You all need an award!

But then there are the other things. You know, the things that we may keep to ourselves not wanting to share the burden with anyone else. Yes, the personal stuff. After all, we must keep up appearances, mustn’t we?

Let’s face it. Life happens. Yes life and the many things that happen out of our normal routine. Yet, how do we get through it? Ah, that’s the piece of the puzzle that seems to be different for each and every one of us. And because of that difference, that’s when we need to apply that little word from above—Respect. If we apply a little respect to the other person, it gives them dignity and makes it pretty hard for us to judge one another.

I want you to know that y’all are awesome about this! After last week I just want to give you guys a big hug!

Think about it. Had I not blogged about my experience with a life threatening virus, would you all have known about it? Probably not. Yet there are so many of you who have also dealt with serious issues such as the death of a loved one, a severe health issue, a divorce, a family crisis, a financial crises, the loss of a home, the loss of a job, burn-out, depression and the list goes on.

What, you thought that I was the only one who’s had problems?

So what can we do?

Show one another Respect. You know, what Aretha sang about. And no, I will not be singing to ya! Okay, maybe just a little bit.

Here’s a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T:

Relevant- Each an every one of us is important. Each of us plays a key role in another’s life besides our own.

Esteem- Admire and appreciate one another. We need to give ourselves value and overall worth.

Sense- If you get a feeling from someone that something is wrong, be supportive. Look for ways in which you can give added strength.

Prize- We are each exceptional, desirable individuals. There is no competition here. We all have something special to offer.

Enjoyment- Every one of us possess the ability to entertain and give others a sense of immense joy and happiness.

Cherish- Cultivate long-lasting affection and care to family and friends.

Tribute- Acknowledge others with generous gratitude and appreciation.

With much gratitude and affection I want to thank you all for your support!

So what do you think? Have you been overwhelmed lately? Has life thrown you a curve? Are you suffering from burn-out? What have you found helpful to replenish your energy and focus? What time do you make for the more important things in your life? What has helped you to feel grateful and full of appreciation?

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Guest Post by Donna Newton

I can’t tell you how excited I am to acquaint you with the person who has graciously accepted my invitation to guest post today. Some of you may already know her, but for most, she has patiently waited in the wings for this introduction. (Chomping at the bit is more like it! lol)

Donna comes to us from forty-five minutes north of London in a little picturesque village in Sussex, England where she lives with her husband and two children and counts her laptop as part of her loyal group of friends. (Big yawn. Donna, you’ve got to get out more.)

She has been published in numerous magazines and has had a varied, yet somewhat adventurous career and now co-writes T.V. pilots and is involved in the L.A. scene. She says she decided to write her first novel about three years ago and that’s when she first came into contact with Kristen Lamb who took her under her wing. (More like a guinea pig is how Donna puts it.)

Donna is a graduate of Warrior Writer’s Boot Camp and is here today to give us all some important advice that not only helped her, but will also help us to improve our writing skills.

Take it away Donna!


Learning To Write The WWBC Way

Hi everyone.

It all started when I met Kristen Lamb.

She stumbled upon the first chapter of my novel which I posted on a blogger site and proceeded to hunt me down. She pointed out where I was going wrong and had offered to help me. Naturally, I jumped at the chance.

We stripped back my story to its very core, and I wrote a background for my antagonist – something I had never done before.

Kristen’s reply after I nervously emailed it across to her was, “Crap, do it again.”

And again I did. Several times in fact. Until finally, everything clicked into place and I had created a psychopathic alter-ego.

I’m very good friends with Kristen now. She has the most amazing way of making you pay for her kindness (See gun in picture! lol). I’ve since written two teleplays and currently adapting one into a novel, plotted my second book, and lead WWBC Team Delta. I apply the Warrior Writer method to every story I plot and wouldn’t consider doing it any other way.

So, without further ado, here is the way to write – Warrior Writer style.


Your Story

First and foremost – you must have an idea of what your book is about. Knowing the genre is extremely helpful, and what your protagonist wants and who’s trying to stop he/she from getting it will also make things a lot easier for you.

Log Line

Once you know the basis of your story, you can write that log line. Now, don’t be scared.

They are easier to write if you follow this simple rule:

An ADJECTIVE NOUN (protagonist) must ACTIVE VERB the ANTAGONIST before SOME REALLY HORRIBLE THING HAPPENS (stopping the protagonist from reaching her goal).

You can read more about log lines here at my website.


A background is a little like a biography. Imagine you were writing your own life story. You’d start from the moment you were born and take the reader up to the current day. Well, a background is the same thing. Write all about your character from the moment they were born, right up to the moment you are about to start your story.

This is a fantastic way to get to know your character, and give you time to flesh them out. Once done, you will have no trouble writing them, or writing dialogue for them.

Backgrounds – Who To Start With

Antagonist – Why? Because they are the biggest problem. Without them in our story, we have NO story.

Protagonist – Yep, you’ve guessed it. Now do the same for your protagonist. Oh, and don’t make them too perfect. Flaws are good! Flaws make us human.

Love Interest and Supporting Cast – Mentors, Minions, Allies and Love Interests all fit under this section. Note: These are characters that aid your main characters. I’m not talking about the guy who shows up in one scene and delivers the post.

Your Story

You need to ‘bullet point’ your story from beginning to end. Walk yourself through your story step by step. It’s better to hit your dead ends now so you can re-plot, rather than get 40k words in and realise you have to axe 10,000 of them.

Start with:

Normal World
Inciting Incident
Turning Point Act I into Act II
Turning Point Act II into Act III
Darkest Moment

Get to this point and voila! You have a story to write.

I know most of you may read this and think “Huh? What a waste of time.” I’ve met people like this and guess what? They are still at the same stage they were a year ago or more. My team mate Piper Bayard and I are living proof—this method works. Agents have requested fulls on both our manuscripts.

It’s like building a house. Do the prep-work: dig footings, add cement, lay bricks, and your building will stand for decades to come.

It was a pleasure being here and I wish you all the best with your writing!

Thank you,
Donna Newton


No, thank you Donna Newton!

What a wonderful introduction to Warrior Writers. And what great suggestions that will not only enhance the way we plot, but will also improve our writing ability.

So tell me, what do you think? If you’re like me, it seems there’s no end to what we can learn. Who of us would deny Kristen Lamb’s strong leadership abilities? Her previous students give powerful testimony of her remarkable teaching methods. So are we reaching out and taking advantage of those who have offered to help? If we do, we will all be successful!

Be sure to hit the follow buton for future posts! Thank you so much for your thoughts and salutations.

Karen McFarland

A big shout out to Kristen Lamb and all my new classmates in my #WANA1011 class and all others that may grace my presence by visiting this post. Take care and make it a great day!

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