The amazing writer and human, Ellen Booraem, spent nineteen years as a small-town journalist before quitting her day job to write four award-winning fantasies for readers ten and older (The Unnameables, Small Persons with Wings, Texting the Underworld and River Magic.
In this bonus podcast, we talked about Ellen’s writing tips to deal with writing blocks, the big leaps she took to start a fiction career at 52, and the incredibly cool WORD festival (the annual Blue Hill Maine literary arts festival) that’s coming up this October (which you should all check out).
We also touch on how working at a newspaper made us visual writers and trained us for fiction.
Ellen volunteers as a writing coach for students in her local middle school and is a founding organizer for Word, the annual Blue Hill (Maine) literary arts festival. Having ventured from her early time as Alton Hall Blackington’s next door neighbor in coastal Massachusetts, she now lives in coastal Maine with her partner, painter Robert Shillady.
Publisher’s Weekly called Ellen’s latest novel, “A dense emotional core, resonant voice, and themes of grief, shifting friendships, and family enliven Booraem’s contemporary fantasy, reminding readers that ‘hope is everywhere.’”
To find out more about Ellen and her books, check out Ellen’s website:
Since I no longer want to be a writer, I am procrastinating and I remembered something I used to procrastinate with. I was a haiku that made haikus out of your blog in some random fashion.
The haiku it gave me is this:
story but our stories deserve characters who have seizures or depression
This is quite funny because my first novel, TIPS, obviously has seizures in it. It is also quite unnerving because the WIP I no longer want to write (well, I no longer want to write anything because I am in a mood) has a character who has a form of depression.
It’s like the evil haiku gods are forcing me to to be a writer.
TO THE HAIKU GENERATOR
Leave me alone! I yell. I am not tough enough for the endless meanness.
Yep. I wrote that one. But not this one, which I just used another haiku generator to create.
VIRUS – A HAIKU
Distressing fountain A live, anxious virus flies betrayed by the shoes
That did not help my anxiety today, but it may have explained a lot about the current pandemic.
I’m not a person who procrastinates although a lot of my writing friends and writing students do. I started wondering about that.
Why Don’t I Procrastinate?
Then I realized I don’t procrastinate because I’m really lucky and every day I remember just how lucky I am to get to be in a world of words, a world where I get to create story and help other people create stories.
I’m lucky because I chose my dream. My dream is to create things, words, images, story, art, anything, everything. I want to communicate. I want to hear other people and be heard.
So, when I wake up in the morning, I don’t think, “Ugh. This is horrible and I don’t want to work.”
I think the opposite. My brain goes, “Yes! I get to write today. I get to help other writers today. How freaking awesome is that? Holy poop, I’m lucky. Please let me stay lucky.”
Tangent: Since I am from New England, I always expect my luck to vanish. But I also grew up Portuguese so I expect spilling wine on the table with make luck and happiness return for the entire house.
Why Don’t We go After Our dreams?
Here’s the thing, sometimes (gasp) writers are afraid to go after their dreams, think they don’t deserve to go after their dreams or even – writing isn’t actually their dream.
Inner Critic Problems
When we are afraid to go after our dreams or make the time for them, it’s often because we don’t think we deserve that dream. We hear our inner critic telling us stories that we believe even though they are horrifyingly wrong. The critic tells us our writing is a waste of time or that we’re selfish to write or not worthy or not what a writer is supposed to be like.
Fear of Change
Sometimes, we are afraid to go after our dream because we are afraid of success. Success means that your life will change. It means that you won’t be the person who wants to write. You will be the person who writes. And change? Change can be scary.
It’s the Wrong Dream
Sometimes, we procrastinate about writing because writing might not actually be what we want to do. It’s what we believe we want. It’s what we were told we were good at maybe? But it’s not actually what we want to be doing.
Find your motivation, find your dream
There’s a thing called a motivation-question list. And those questions can really help us discern what it is we want from life.
ask yourself three key questions:
What is my most amazing goal possible? My dream.
If I get that dream goal, then what will my prize be?
What happens if I don’t try for that dream goal?
Where I Get Stuck
So, for me? I get stuck at number 1 a lot. My dream goal would be to help people become their best selves and kinder to one another via communication somehow.
If I get that dream goal, then I would have the knowledge that I made a positive difference in the world.
If I don’t try, then nothing happens. Everyone is just the same. It’s not an end-of-the-world outcome, but it’s not a positive outcome.
Too Many Dreams?
Somethings I get hung up because I have a lot of dreams. There’s also this one, which is much more specific.
I would like to be Anthony Bourdain but female and with an easier internal mental health life.
I would get to explore the world and collect people’s stories and share and celebrate them with others, learning and growing all together.
I will be here in Bar Harbor Maine and lonely.
What are yours? What do you want? What Is Your Motivation?
The first step is determining your dream, why you have it, what you’re motivated by?
Here are a couple of resources to help you get motivated.
The Write. Submit. Support. format is designed to embrace all aspects of the literary life. This six-month course will offer structure and support not only to our writing lives but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors. We will discuss passes that come in, submissions requests, feedback we aren’t sure about, where we are feeling directed to go in our writing lives, and more. Learn more here!
“Carrie’s feedback is specific, insightful and extremely helpful. She is truly invested in helping each of us move forward to make our manuscripts the best they can be.”
“Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching.”
It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed!
Order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?
Get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps).
A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you.
So, when I started the first draft for the FOURTH (yes, fourth) book in the NEED series, I continued the life-long tradition of Carrie Jones Procrastination.
So, you might wonder what does a writer do to procrastinate?
Well, we do everything. All my writer friends know this.
noun of evil?
During the Need series, I procrastinated by attacking the giant fur balls that my dogs Scotty and Tala left on the floor every day. Seriously, the fur was so big that it blew in the wind like tumbleweed.
Imagine that this was me (only I don’t wear khakis and I don’t have a guy butt) and the tumbleweed is white dog fur and you see my life.
Tala’s Ghost Explains: It was not a thyroid issue. I am a dog. I shed. It’s pretty!
And in my procrastinating frenzy I became fascinated with David Hasselhoff. Seriously. Look at him….. I still need to write him into a book – procrastinating again. Yes, I know he has his OWN book, but still….
I think he has the look of an evil pixie. He would have fit right into the series. What do you think?
Well, writer friends and friends-friends, what do YOU do to procrastinate?
My top five ways to procrastinate are:
1. Pick up dog fur.
2. Check Facebook.
3. Think about Tweeting.
4. Staring out window.
5. Wondering if David Hasselhoff is human. I know he can’t be a vampire because he’s wearing a cross. But he COULD be a shifter or a pixie. He could!
Anyway, that was then during the Time of the Need Series, but I’m now in this weird other part of my writing life and I have a slightly different style of life and procrastination.
My current top five ways to procrastinate are:
Picking up dog fur
Thinking about things like God, existence, purpose
Refreshing email on my phone.
Thinking about Tweeting
Scrolling through Facebook AND Instagram AND Twitter AND various newsfeed.
You will notice the Hasselhoff has dropped off the list.
And before I give procrastination a completely bad rap, let me say that there are good things about it.
Good things about procrastination:
In the space where my mind isn’t actively working on a project, my brain sees other things in the world and ideas spark.
My house is cleaner
I see my emails sooner? Yeah… that one is a stretch.
But despite these good things, a lot of us don’t want to procrastinate quite so much, right?
So here are some ways to stop procrastinating:
Make a deadline for yourself about whatever you are procrastinating about.
Cut your project up into something manageable. Acknowledge your awesome when you hit smaller goals.
Think about how awesome you will feel when you get that goal done.
Don’t be afraid of failing. A lot of times we procrastinate about something because we think we won’t be able to do it well.
Yep, it’s the part of the blog where I talk about my books and projects because I am a writer for a living, which means I need people to review and buy my books or at least spread the word about them.
I’m super good at public image and marketing for nonprofits but I have a much harder time with marketing myself.
So, please buy one of my books. 🙂 The links about them are all up there in the header on top of the page. There are young adult series, middle grade fantasy series, stand-alones for young adults and even picture book biographies.