Jot That Down–The Playlist

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/andylrogers/playlist/53fBLFJnGPBipfz5aTN7U9

To celebrate the release of Jot That Down I created this playlist. It includes songs about books, writing, and one of my favorite places in the world–the library.

Which songs would you add? Which ones would you delete?

Enjoy!

–  Andy, for the Jot team

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Speakers for the Jot Writers’ Conference Announced!

Author and Illustrator, Laurie Keller

Laurie Keller

Laurie Keller is a children’s book author and illustrator of numerous books including The Scrambled States of America, Arnie the Doughnut and Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners which was Amazon.com’s #1 Editors’ Pick on their Best Books of 2007 List. Her book We Are Growingwon the prestigious Theodor Seuss Geisel award in 2017.

We Are Growing-Laurie KellerWhen Laurie isn’t busy making books or traveling, she enjoys spending time outdoors at her Michigan home, hiking in the woods, playing banjo, cross-country skiing or splashing in Lake Michigan. You can find out more about Laurie at her website, www.lauriekeller.com.

 

 

Author and Editor, Paul Kent Muckley

Paul (Kent) Muckley

Paul Kent Muckley served as a non-fiction editor with Barbour Publishing, Inc., in Uhrichsville, Ohio, for sixteen years before taking an editorial position with Discovery House Publishers in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 2014. He also writes under the pseudonym Paul Kent, with a goal of making the Bible more interesting and accessible to readers of all ages and backgrounds. He has written eight books and contributed to approximately a dozen more.

 

Poet, Emily Van Houten

Emily Van Houten, poet, poetry

Emily Van Houten is a poet and freelance copywriter currently living in Grand Rapids, Michigan after completing her Masters in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature at the University of Durham, England. She writes for Sabotage Reviews and has poems in The Makeshift ReviewTransect Magazine, and Off the Page. If she’s not writing, Emily is traveling by plane, train, or automobile (or bike) to whatever new city calls.

 

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The next Jot Writers’ Conference will be held on Friday, September 15th, 2017 at Baker Book House in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The event is free and no RSVP is required. You can learn more about who we are and why we do what we do on this website.

See you at Jot!

Resistance and the Writer’s Battle of Self-Doubt

I’d never encountered writer’s block, or Resistance as Steven Pressfield calls it, like this before. I’ve always put Neil Gaiman’s philosophy to practice – that people won’t be able to tell if you wrote when inspired or not, you just need to get the words out.

But I have to admit I am here. Resistance is winning big time. I delete more words than I put down and no matter how I push against this Wall I can’t seem to move it. My creativity is suffocating.

Have you ever been there – where you just could not stomach the march forward that your book required? Have you ever thought your message had zero impact and no one would notice whether you wrote or not?

The comforting part about these questions is that every writer has been there. From Euripides to Chaucer to JK Rowling to you, every single person that aspired to write has encountered this feeling before.

If the above statement is true, how did they get past the Wall of Resistance?

Brick wall

Courtesy David Playford Freeimages.com

 

Last week was the dark battle.

Philosophical questions about my worth surfaced.

These questions were enemies I thought I defeated long ago. Turns out they are always there and I was unequipped to face them this time.

Then a thought occurred to me as I sat down to put words on the page again, something I am sure I read but have forgotten the attribution.

Writing is about writing not about who I am or what I’ve done or not done. It’s about putting another word down. All of it is momentum. And momentum can be slow and grueling. It can take an hour to string four sentences together.

I tricked myself into believing that writing would be inspiring every time I put myself in my chair and when I wasn’t enjoying myself and the progress was deleting the bad and not adding the good, I came away discouraged. When that happens too many times doubts can surface, ugly doubts.

There is a saying in our house. When my young children are crying in the middle of the night or won’t go to bed I repeat it to myself or say aloud to my wife  – parents win every time. No matter how long the crying or the number of questions or mess in the room parents win by persisting, by rising above.

If you are here, at the edge of giving up like me, remember that writing is work.

It’s taking punches as much as giving them.

Sometimes you have to wait for your opponent to tire before striking back.

This blog post is my first attempt at a left hook.

What’s yours?

Writer, Need Inspiration? Here Are Three Ways To Get It

If you’ve been writing for a while, you’ve been there – the dark forest of writing.

There are no words here, no progress, only suffocating doubt and self-loathing. Every writer has experienced this before and just when we think this feeling will never surface it’s ugly face again, there it is.

Getting stuck is easy.

Stopping halfway through a book is normal.

But how do you get unstuck?

Are there elements that a writer can incorporate into their life so that these valleys are few and not as dark and deep?

 

coffee cup

Yes. Here are three ways to get inspired again. These will also reinforce the writer that is on the mountaintop of inspiration.

FIND A SCENIUS

Austin Kleon is a connector. He repackages ideas and makes them accessible. One of his ideas is described in his book Show Your Work!. It is the idea of Scenius.

He claims that the lone genius myth is just that, falsehood. Writers, artists, and anyone that has achieved any level of success did that inside a community that fostered the pursuit.

Find a group of people that love writing and hang out with them. Online, in a bookstore, or come to the Jot Conference. This has been pivotal in the lives of each of the founders of this conference.

IF IT’S NOT WORKING DO DIFFERENTLY

Ever stop to examine your process? Ever come to the same worn out and unproductive conclusions after writing in the same place, with the same utensils, at the same time? 

Sounds like it’s time for you to make a change. 

Get up early or stay up late. Go for a walk and sit on a mossy log and write using physical instruments – paper and pen.

I was in the dark depths of writing for a while, then I began rising early and suddenly, even though I knew I was done as a writer, the passion for words flooded back.

Often we need a break from monotony. A newness, a freshness to reinvigorate us on the writing road. Doing differently is a shock to the creative system.

CREATE MARGIN

We’re all busy. It’s the response to the question – how are you doing? Busy we say. Everyone has too much to do. Too many obligations. Too many service projects. Too many organizations to which we are committed. There is little time for joy, thrill, and novelty. Our weeks are planned out and we are sleeping five hours a night.

Most of the activities listed above are not bad things – save maybe the five hours of sleep a night – but we all need space. Our bodies need down time to rest and our brains and creativity wells need the same.

During a difficult season at my job where satisfaction was at an all time low I decided to incorporate a walk into my lunch. I grabbed a pen and notebook and began walking in the woods. I’d sit down on a bench, stare into the dark green forest or bare trees and snow covered earth and let the ideas come. I’d write them down if I thought they were worth keeping and sharing.

Don’t believe a walk is beneficial? C.S. Lewis loved walks. As did T.S. Eliot. It’s the white space where our brains rest and ideas can surface.

Today, if you need a little writing pick me up, I challenge you to find your own Scenius, do differently, or create some margin by saying no to one obligation this week.

This post first appeared on Part-Time Novel.com

Do you have tips for getting inspired? Share below.

Announcing a Reading with Susie Finkbeiner

Attendees of the Jot Conference will recognize Susie Finkbeiner. She’s worked the registration table and faithfully attended the conference for years. But in addition to being a wonderful helper and friend of Jot, Susie is a published author.

Her most recent book, A Cup of Dust, is a novel set in the midst of the dust bowl.

Ten-year-old Pearl Spence is a daydreamer, playing make-believe to escape life in Oklahoma’s Dust Bowl in 1935. The Spences have their share of misfortune, but as the sheriff’s family, they’ve got more than most in this dry, desolate place. They’re who the town turns to when there’s a crisis or a need―and during these desperate times, there are plenty of both, even if half the town stands empty as people have packed up and moved on.

Pearl is proud of her loving, strong family, though she often wearies of tracking down her mentally impaired older sister or wrestling with her grandmother’s unshakable belief in a God who Pearl just isn’t sure she likes.

Then a mysterious man bent on revenge tramps into her town of Red River. Eddie is dangerous and he seems fixated on Pearl. When he reveals why he’s really there and shares a shocking secret involving the whole town, dust won’t be the only thing darkening Pearl’s world.

Susie will be reading a chapter from A Cup of Dust at the Jot Conference on Friday, September 9th at Baker Book House, 2768 East Paris Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546. Please join us!

3 Questions with novelist S.D. Grimm

Sarah GrimmS. D. GRIMM’S first love in writing is young adult speculative fiction. She is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Agency and her debut novel, Scarlet Moon, is slated to be published in October 2016. (Pre-order a copy here!) When she’s not writing or editing, Sarah enjoys reading (of course!), making clay dragons for her Grimmlies store on Etsy, practicing kickboxing and Brazilian jiu jitsu, training dogs, and doing anything outdoorsy with the family. Her office is anywhere she can curl up with her laptop and at least one large-sized dog.

Sarah is a flash fiction editor for Splickety Magazine. She’ll be speaking on Flash Fiction writing at the upcoming Jot Writers’ Conference (9.9.16).

What is Flash Fiction? Give us a working definition that most people more or less agree on.

Flash fiction is, in its simplest form, a whole story in 1,000 words or less.

Who are your favorite flash writers and why? Who should we be reading?

Okay, this is really hard, and I’m going to be very biased because I work for Splickety Publishing Group and love all three of our magazines. We have had some really talented flash fiction writers as well as some talented featured authors who have tried their hand at writing flash fiction. It’s not as easy as it sounds. But if you’re interested in flash fiction, I highly recommend checking out Splickety Magazine, Splickety Love, or Havok. (if you want to include our website, feel free www.splickety.com)

Give us a teaser of your Jot Conference talk. What can attendees expect?

Dabbling in flash fiction has a lot of hidden benefits for writers. I’ll be discussing how to write flash fiction that sells as well as how writing flash fiction is just plain good for your writing career.

3 Questions with novelist Aric Davis

Aric DavisARIC DAVIS is the author of seven books: From Ashes Rise: A Novel of Michigan, Nickel Plated, A Good and Useful Hurt, The Black Death: A Dead Man Novella, Rough Men, Breaking Point, The Fort and Tunnel Vision. He is married with one daughter and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he worked for sixteen years as a body piercer; he now writes full time. A punk rock aficionado, Davis does anything he can to increase awareness of a good band. He likes weather cold enough to need a sweatshirt but not a coat, and friends who wear their hearts on their sleeves. In addition to reading and writing, he also enjoys roller coasters, hockey, and a good cigar. All of Aric’s books are available on Amazon.com.

Aric will be interviewed as part of the next Jot Writers’ Conference (9.9.16). I (Andy) asked him a couple of questions recently about writing fiction and alternative publishing options. Take a look.

What are two important skills every fiction writer must possess? What are the things that seem universal among great fiction writers?

The first skill that I believe every writer should possess is the ability to take a beating. When I was trying to get published I wrote six manuscripts and suffered over 400 rejections, but if I would have stopped I’d have never seen my work in print.

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