Signs of Writers Burnout

Do you think, “There is not a single damn good thing in the entire writing community? Or is it single good damn thing? Ugh! Whatever.”

Earlier this week, I talked about writing burnout and we did a monster podcast about it yesterday and we quickly spoke about the symptoms.

I just wanted to devote a bit more time to that here because if I look at the #writingcommunity on Twitter, it seems like either:

  1. Every writer is burnout
  2. Every writer hates writing.

That’s not a cool way to live.

And I know! I know! Sometimes it seems more cool to whine or hate on things, but you know what’s really cool?

  1. Enjoying your damn life.
  2. Enjoying writing if it’s your hobby, outlet, or job.

Herbert Freudenberger wrote Burnout: The High Cost of High Achievement. Back then he defined it as “the extinction of motivation or incentive, especially where one’s devotion to a cause or relationship fails to produce the desired results.”

So here are some questions to ask yourself if you are burnt out.

  • Are you super cynical about writing?
  • Are you super critical of your own writing?
  • Of everyone else’s?
  • Are you spending more time hating than even being apathetic? God forbid, loving?
  • Are you so totally apathetic about writing?
  • Is it really hard to start writing? Not in a writing block way, but in a consistent and longterm way?
  • Are you cranky with everyone?
  • Are you so worn out that you can’t even imagine lifting up your fingers, curling them over the keyboard and typing?
  • When you look at the blank page do you look away?
  • Can you not concentrate?
  • When good things happen in your writing world are you like, “Yeah. Whatever. Cool. Fine. Sure. NYT bestseller list. Okay. Whatevs.”
  • Do you think, “There is not a single damn good thing in the entire writing community? Or is it single good damn thing? Ugh! Whatever.”
  • Are you sleeping a lot all of a sudden?
  • Are you sleeping never all of a sudden?
  • Instead of writing are you drinking or eating or getting high? Um, in a way that’s different than before?

A key risk of job burnout is when you really identify with your work, when you get your identity from it and that? Well, that’s pretty hard for writers not to do.

We’re writing because we want to communicate. We’re writing because we want to change the world. We’re writing because we want to tell our stories.

It’s hard not to identify with your work when you are exposing your soul on the page, right?

Yesterday on the podcast we talked a bit about what you can do to deal with burnout. The thing is that burnout? It doesn’t have to last forever.

There’s an old article in Psychology Today that has great ideas about overcoming burnout. I hope you’ll check it out! And take care of yourself. You’ve got to love yourself through it and you’re worthy of love, okay?

What if it’s more than burnout?

Then you need to really take care of yourself. This world needs you and your stories in it.

Untreated burnout can lead to serious depression. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 is a place you can call (in the U.S.) for help from a trained counselor.

If the danger is immediate you can call 911. 

The Places We Hide by Carrie Jones
The Places We Hide by Carrie Jones

Are You Burning Out?

For writers, that feeling of lack of achievement and incompetence is pretty easy to get. It’s a subjective business and other writers’ successes are often right in your face, right?

Ah. Burnout.

As a traditionally published novelist, I have always had a weird instability in my income and that got only worse during the COVID-19 pandemic when a bunch of factors happened:

  1. I didn’t have any traditionally published books coming out that year.
  2. Our main outside source of income (renting our houses) couldn’t happen because COVID.
  3. We became the only and primary residence of a super cool eleven-year-old with some deep anxiety, oppositional defiance disorder, and autism. And because of risk factors she was being remotely schooled for the pandemic and still is.

This meant I had to pivot and pivot hard. Suddenly, I was really the major and only wage owner. I created a couple of classes (You can check them out) on Patreon, self-published a book and a novella of my heart. And began editing and writing coaching a lot.

And when I say ‘a lot,’ I mean I work from 6 or 7 a.m. until 5 or 7 p.m. on other people’s amazing and beautiful and fun stories.

I love it.

But by dinner, I’m tired of being in front of my computer and I long to be outside. I’m an outside person.

And the schedule hasn’t given me as much time as I’m used to writing my own stories.

And I’m super lucky and I know myself pretty well and there’s a few things I have to do in order to not feel burnt out and those things are:

  1. Be outside and exercise.
  2. Write my own stories or paint something.
  3. Sing loudly.
  4. Dance around the kitchen like a total goofball.
  5. Help other people.
  6. Hug on dogs and cats and dream about manatees. I have a thing for manatees.

A long time ago, in the cold hills of Vermont, amazing author and human Rita Williams Garcia warned me about burnout. “It’s going to happen to you,” she said. “It happens to all of us.”

I gasped, horrified. “Not me!”

“Even you.” She smiled.

Back in 2016, the Harvard Business Review had an article by Monique Valcour about beating burnout.

In the summary of her article, she wrote:

Three symptoms characterize burnout: exhaustion; cynicism, or distancing oneself from work; and inefficacy, or feelings of incompetence and lack of achievement. Research has linked burnout to many health problems, including hypertension, sleep disturbances, depression, and substance abuse. Moreover, it can ruin relationships and jeopardize career prospects.

For writers, that feeling of lack of achievement and incompetence is pretty easy to get. It’s a subjective business and other writers’ successes are often right in your face, right? There’s a whole thing called Imposter Syndrome that even super famous and accomplished authors get.

She also writes:

… you can also take steps toward recovery and prevention on your own: Prioritize your health, shift your perspective to determine which aspects of your situation are fixed and which can be changed, reduce exposure to the most stressful activities and relationships, and seek out helpful interpersonal connections.

Bethany Hegedus, my friend and writer and founder of the Writing Barn sent out a newsletter this week where she bravely talked about how she felt burnt out with her self-care, creating checklists almost (or maybe really) of how to take care of herself. Did she exercise? Did she meditate? Did she hydrate?

The self-care list can go on and on, can’t it? It sure can for those of us who are lucky enough to have the time, financial stability and privilege to even have those moments.

Basically, you can burn out trying not to burn out. I know! Totally unfair, right?

Bethany turns to tiny moments of deep rest where she’s hanging out with her husband, resting in his arms, or when she’s reading (sometimes).

In Valcour’s article, she pulls out four things you can do to combat burnout.

  • Prioritize self-care.
  • Shift your perspective.
  • Reduce exposure to job stressors.
  • Seek out connections

Easier said than done, right? Tomorrow on the podcast, we’re going to talk about those three things

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

MAYBE TAKE A COURSE, CHILL ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BUY ART OR A BOOK, OR LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST?

JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN INTERACT MORE.

HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

https://carriejonesbooks.blog/dogs-are-smarter-than-people-the-podcast/Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. 


Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Thanks so much for being one of the 259,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcast is about urban legends. And our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about the B Story and goat voyeurs.

If you like what you read, please heart it below or share it, it means the world to this writer. x0- Carrie

Become an Explorer in Your Life. Just Say Yes!

When you say yes to a possibility you get to grow, you get to move beyond the labels that define you

There’s a great improv maxim, just say yes, which is really about when you’re on stage with another improv player, you don’t want to say no to all their ideas because then your scene sucks and nothing happens.

If you keep saying no, nothing happens.

It’s pretty basic, right?

Writing and life are like that, too.

I’ve done some absolutely weird things in my life–things that you would never imagine me doing because they aren’t very ‘me’ things. I’ve been a volunteer firefighter, done stats for a college football team, dressed up like a lobster and danced for a mile, spoken to hundreds of people, been a gymnastics coach, rock climbed, been a church secretary, poetry editor, regular newspaper editor, swam with sharks.

I can’t tell you how many times people laughed at me when I was a sports reporter and they said, “You? You’re a sports reporter?”

Apparently, I don’t present as a sports reporter.

Anyway, I did all those things because when you say yes to a possibility you get to grow, you get to move beyond the labels that define you. You get to say something other than no.

The best things that I’ve said yes to are the things that scare me just a little or the things that make other people laugh when I suggest that I might do it.

“Ha! You’re going to be an emergency dispatcher. Yeah. Right.”

“Ha! You’re going rock climber? Whatever. You’ll die.”

“What? You’re going to run? You always twist your ankles. Ten miles. Ha! No. You’ll die.”

And it’s the same thing with our stories, too. Not only am I a big advocate for living the biggest, weirdest life you can, but I’m a big advocate for writing all the different kinds of stories you want to write. Try new genres. Try short works. Try long works. Try it all.

A year or so ago, I went into a bookstore and the woman who has worked there said, “You used to be so scared, so timid. I like seeing you not so scared anymore. You’d hide behind the stacks.”

Here’s the secret: I still get scared, but I have too much living to do to let that fear hold me back.

Say yes.

Say yes to things that make you a tiny bit afraid.

Say yes to things people don’t expect you to do or be or care about.

Say yes to making new friends and exploring new places.

Say yes to pushing yourself a little or a lot beyond your expectations.

Don’t let anyone else define you. Only you get to define you, okay?

So define yourself as someone who explores, who lives, who says yes.

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On one of my Patreon sites I read and print chapters of unpublished YA novels. THE LAST GODS and SAINT and now ALMOST DEAD. This is a monthly membership site (Hear the book chapters – $1/month, read them $3-month, plus goodies!). Sometimes I send people art! Art is fun.

On this, my second site, WRITE BETTER NOW, you can do a one-time purchase of a writing class or get two of my books in eBook form or just support our podcast or the dogs. It’s all part of the WRITING CLASS OF AWESOME.

It’s a super fun place to hang out, learn, read, and see my weirdness in its true form.

And I’m starting up a brand new, adult paranormal set at a Maine campground. You can read the first chapter here.

almost dead book by carrie jones
almost dead book by carrie jones

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

MAYBE TAKE A COURSE, CHILL ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BUY ART OR A BOOK, OR LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST?

JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN INTERACT MORE.

HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

https://carriejonesbooks.blog/dogs-are-smarter-than-people-the-podcast/Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. 


Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Thanks so much for being one of the 259,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcast is about urban legends. And our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about the B Story and goat voyeurs.

HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

https://carriejonesbooks.blog/dogs-are-smarter-than-people-the-podcast/Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. 


Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Thanks so much for being one of the 259,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcast is about urban legends. And our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about the B Story and goat voyeurs.

Claw Your Way Out

Success doesn’t ride on the coattails of forgetfulness or excuses. It rides on doing and getting things done!

You ever have one of those days where you wake up, claw your way out of bed to start your day and after five minutes the only thing you really want to do is go right back to bed?

As I write this I have been awake for approximately one hour and fifty minutes and returning to the sleeping realm still seems to be the only thing my brain can concentrate on.

But, I have work to do, work outside of and away from the house and my beloved wife, Carrie, is counting on me completing my Thursday assignment of authoring a blog post.

I never want to let Carrie down, so regardless of what my brain is telling me I have sat down in front of my computer and started to type. Why would I torment myself this way, you may ask.

The answer is simple.

We all have responsibilities, usually to many people who are counting on us to get one or more things accomplished and usually within a certain frame of time.

The only way to get anything done is, simply put, just start doing it!

If you never start, it will never get completed.

Not only do you need to start, you need to persevere, come back to it if you have to take a break, but never stop doing it or it will always go unfinished.

That includes writing.

Maybe you don’t feel like writing on a given day, maybe you are experiencing writer’s block or maybe you have a long ago forgotten unfinished work.

Whatever it is, you need to sit down and just start!

Just put words on paper or screen and let them flow forth from you. They don’t have to be perfect, nothing is the first time around, but pretty soon you will have a much increased word count.

As you write you may even have an epiphany, a new idea or path for your story to take. Some of the best ideas come from just letting whatever thoughts and words ooze out of your noggin.

After you have logged a few paragraphs or pages, you can go back, reread your beautiful work, do a little editing (because you were just going with the flow the first time around) and most times you will find that there is something within that dribble that you can really use. It may require a little tightening up, a little changing around, but it’s there, a story, or at least the bones of one.

As you complete this sequence, hopefully you will find yourself getting into the process more, your body feeling more awake and excited about the drudgery that you had no interest in even beginning a short while ago.

Now, I realize that we have all read or heard this advice before. I am simply reminding you of it.

Sometimes we need reminders about the tiniest and most simplistic of ways to fool ourselves into doing something we don’t want to. We all forget and we all make excuses, but success doesn’t ride on the coattails of forgetfulness or excuses. It rides on doing and getting things done!

YOU can do it, just start, go grab your dreams and don’t forget to love your way through it!

Shaun

Shaun clawing his way into a hat.

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

MAYBE TAKE A COURSE, CHILL ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BUY ART OR A BOOK, OR LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST?

JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN INTERACT MORE.

HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

https://carriejonesbooks.blog/dogs-are-smarter-than-people-the-podcast/Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. 


Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Thanks so much for being one of the 259,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcast is about urban legends. And our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about the B Story and goat voyeurs.

If you like what you read, please heart it below or share it, it means the world to this writer. x0- Carrie

Don’t Say “Epileptics Everywhere.”

“We need to ask ourselves: Are we merely depicting the world as they know it – or are we replicating a particular conventional sense of reality, reinforcing it, contributing to the stability of a word-view we ourselves have been fed.”

During the Super Bowl a person I know posted something about Weeknd’s halftime show and in the comments someone said this,

Epilepetics everywhere are not having a good time atm. Jesus, I can’t even have my head in the same direction as the TV.

Random Facebook Person

And I got a bit tweaked. I don’t know the person who posted that comment. I don’t know if she has epilepsy, but I do and her generalization?

It perpetuated a stereotype about epilepsy. And it also defined everyone who has epilepsy as “epileptics” as if that’s the one defining trait of us all.

Here’s the thing: Not everyone has the same kind of seizure.

They aren’t all big, dramatic, tv seizures.

Sometimes they can be petit mal seizures, lasting less than five seconds. It’s like blanking out but a bit more complicated.

Sometimes they can be a much longer seizure that involves both sides of the brain.

Sometimes they can be a person just having a strange sensation or smell.

Sometimes they can involve a repetitive motion.

But the thing is that not every person with epilepsy has the same kind of seizure and not every person with epilepsy has the same trigger or cause for the seizure.

There’s some more about seizure types here.

But, remember, according to this person on Facebook, “Epilepetics everywhere are not having a good time atm.”

Let me tell you, I have epilepsy and I like the Weeknd and I had a good time with that performance. Was I the only person with epilepsy who did? I don’t think so.

Because remember, just like how all people from one gender, one sexuality, one race, one religion, one job, one state aren’t the same? Well, neither are all people who have epilepsy or autism or ADHD or anxiety or depression or anything, damn it.

Yes. I swore. I swear when I get all self-righteous.

But let’s get to a tiny bit of facts so you can believe me.

According to the Epilepsy Foundation,

For about 3% of people with epilepsy, exposure to flashing lights at certain intensities or to certain visual patterns can trigger seizures.

That’s right. Three percent.

Whether this poster had epilepsy or not, it’s still important for her to realize that her experience doesn’t equal everyone’s experience. It’d also be great for programs with flashing lights at certain intensities to give that three percent some warning, too.

Generalizations are difficult to avoid but as writers and as human beings who want to build a better and kinder world, it’s important to think outside our own experiences and generalizations sometimes.


In a 2005 speech in Nashua, N.H., author M.T. Anderson asked the audience, “We need to ask ourselves: Are we merely depicting the world as they know it – or are we replicating a particular conventional sense of reality, reinforcing it, contributing to the stability of a word-view we ourselves have been fed.”

He was not talking about stereotypes in the sense of disabilities or issues of race, class, gender or sexual orientation, but his question applies to every author who writes a narrative that includes someone with a disability.

We have to ask:

Am I reinforcing stereotypes?  

Am I “contributing to the stability” of stereotypes that I learned as a child?

I’ve discussed in the past how disability stereotypes can be avoided when we’re writing our characters. And I’ll keep discussing it in the future.

In his study, Colin Barnes wrote,

“Disabling stereotypes which medicalize, patronize, criminalize and dehumanize disabled people abound in books, films, on television, and in the press. They form the bedrock on which the attitudes towards, assumptions about and expectations of disabled people encounter daily, and contribute significantly to their systematic exclusion from mainstream community life.” (5)

Barnes

One reason children with epilepsy need good books about their disorder is because society needs those books, too. Social media proves that over and over again.

Society needs those books to combat discrimination and to enlighten its members.

Epilepsy Foundation-convened group on photosensitive seizures, published in 2005. (Harding, G., Wilkins, A., Erba, G., Barkley, G.L., & Fisher, R. (2005). Photic- and Pattern-induced Seizures: Expert Consensus of the Epilepsy Foundation of America Working Group. Epilepsia, 46(9), 1423-25. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2005.31305.x.)

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

MAYBE TAKE A COURSE, CHILL ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BUY ART OR A BOOK, OR LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST?

JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN INTERACT MORE.

HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

https://carriejonesbooks.blog/dogs-are-smarter-than-people-the-podcast/Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. 


Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Thanks so much for being one of the 259,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcast is about urban legends. And our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about the B Story and goat voyeurs.

Shaun Takes Over the Blog: Hunt and Peck Method

I believe that the stories that come from the heart are always the best ones!

            I don’t know what the productivity rate of the average author is, but in this house, it is high. Real high!

Not from me of course. You can’t possibly be productive when, no matter how much you type, you absolutely refuse to give up the two-finger hunt-and-peck method. Well, I actually use three fingers because I use my right thumb to hit the space bar as I use both of my middle fingers to find the appropriate letters. Carrie says that I am a pretty fast hunter and pecker, but when I watch her type, I am convinced that my method is the inferior one.

            Hardly any of that has anything to do with my point though, so please forgive me.

My point is that Carrie is always working on more than one book (of her own making) at any given moment. I am usually tasked with helping her edit her works at some point in time. My reading skills are far superior to my typing skills, and I love helping her out because then we can talk further about other aspects of her books and I get to read them before they are actually printed.

At this very moment, I have chapters from three different books of hers on my desk awaiting my attention as soon as I am done hunting and pecking this out. One of the books has been submitted to her agent and she is doing recommended edits on that, the second one will be self-published and she has not decided which route to go with the third.

            Part of my point is this; it doesn’t matter how much you produce or how many times you read your own manuscript (No matter what kind of superior editor you think you are.) you will always miss some of your own mistakes. It really pays to hire someone to edit your work for you! Of course, you must edit it yourself first, but I would always advise an author to employ an editor, even if it is someone who you are paying with home-cooked meals or similar wages.

            This is especially true if you decide to self-publish your work.

Carrie and I have been purchasing a lot of self-published books lately. She loves to support other authors, and while some are very well edited and formatted, some are definitely disappointing. You work very hard on making your masterpiece come together, shouldn’t you see it through to the very end and produce a book to be proud of for more than just the amazing words that are on the paper? So, this is where I make my shameless plug for Carrie. Not only does she offer editing for other authors (I never touch a paying customer’s work, I promise!), but she can format your self-published book and help you to be a better author. You can find information about all of the professional she offers at carriejonesbooks.blog. Or at the links below.

            Now that I have done my professional and husbandly duties (which I truly love doing), let me say that everyone has a story to tell and those of you that take the time to try and capture it in some medium deserve mad respect!

Let me also say that if you are writing because you want to make bags full of money, I can very much appreciate that, however, you may want to first concentrate on telling your story in the most heartfelt way possible. I believe that the stories that come from the heart are always the best ones!

Follow your heart and have a most incredible week, people!

Shaun



LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

MAYBE TAKE A COURSE, CHILL ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BUY ART OR A BOOK, OR LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST?

JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN INTERACT MORE.

HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

https://carriejonesbooks.blog/dogs-are-smarter-than-people-the-podcast/Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. 


Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Thanks so much for being one of the 259,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcast is about urban legends. And our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about the B Story and goat voyeurs.

Transform Your Character and Make Your Story Rock

Stories help shape how we think and make decisions, provide order via narrative structures that are familiar. There is comfort in that familiarity.

You hear a lot that emotion matters in your novel and that you want to make the reader feel things. There’s even scientific proof that people do this. Paul J. Zak wrote  How Stories Change the Brain and said that character-driven stories with emotional content caused oxytocin synthesis. He backed it up with science.

According to Pamela B. Rutledge in Psychology Today,

“Stories are authentic human experiences. Stories leap-frog the technology and bring us to the core of the experience, as any good storyteller (transmedia or otherwise) knows. There are several psychological reasons why stories are so powerful.”

According to her those reasons are:

  • Stories “connect us to a larger self and universal truths.”
  • Stories connect us and sometimes they are collaborative. “Through stories, we share passions, sadness, hardships, and joys. We share meaning and purpose.
  • Stories are the common ground that allows people to communicate, overcoming our defenses and our differences. Stories allow us to understand ourselves better and to find our commonality with others.”

She also says that stories help shape how we think and make decisions, provide order via narrative structures that are familiar. There is comfort in that familiarity. We know the story will be resolved and that makes us feel safe. And she believes that our brains are wired for them because they engage parts of our brain and spark our own imaginations.

So, we know that stories are meant to move us, but as writers how do we do that?

For a story to be good it needs to create emotion in the reader.

To do that, stories almost always have:

  1. Character (who your story is about. It can be about a condom as long as that condom is a character.
  2. A Big Want. Something that your character wants more than anything else, something that compels your character to action in order to get that big want.
  3. Conflict. Something that keeps the character from getting that want right away (or possibly ever).

That’s super simplistic, right? But those three elements are essential to story. Readers want to cheer on characters and sob with them. They want to feel the character’s transformation as they/he/she meets obstacles as they try to achieve those damn goals.

The best stories (especially in the YA genre) involve a change in the character, a metamorphosis, a transformation.

Who the character is at the beginning of the story often shouldn’t be who they are at the end of the story. There are two main different levels of transformation.

  1. The outside world changes. They have a car or a house now. The villain is gone and they are safe. This is the easy transformation.
  • Their personality changes. They are no longer reactive, but proactive, not a wall flower but an exhibitionist. They are brave now. They are a coward now. This is true for Bilbo Baggins or Harry Potter or Anakin Skywalker. They realize that they were wrong about something (a big lie that ruins their personality/life) and then they transform because of the truth. Sometimes that transformation is negative (Anakin, we’re looking at you!) and sometimes it’s positive.

There are other possibilities for smaller transformation. The character might grow but not change like Nick Carraway in the Great Gatsby. This is called a growth arc usually. They have grown and learned some shit, but they are still their essential selves.

And there are also the no-transformation arc. Sherlock Holmes, Indiana Jones, every sitcom character experience life, but they don’t really transform because of the experience.

RESOURCES

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/positively-media/201101/the-psychological-power-storytelling

(Paul J. Zak. “How Stories Change the Brain.” Greater Good. 27 July 2016).


LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

MAYBE TAKE A COURSE, CHILL ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BUY ART OR A BOOK, OR LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST?

JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN INTERACT MORE.

HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

https://carriejonesbooks.blog/dogs-are-smarter-than-people-the-podcast/Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. 


Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Thanks so much for being one of the 259,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcast is about urban legends. And our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about the B Story and goat voyeurs.

almost dead book by carrie jones
almost dead book by carrie jones

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On one of my Patreon sites I read and print chapters of unpublished YA novels. THE LAST GODS and SAINT and now ALMOST DEAD. This is a monthly membership site (Hear the book chapters – $1/month, read them $3-month, plus goodies!). Sometimes I send people art! Art is fun.

On this, my second site, WRITE BETTER NOW, you can do a one-time purchase of a writing class or get two of my books in eBook form or just support our podcast or the dogs. It’s all part of the WRITING CLASS OF AWESOME.

It’s a super fun place to hang out, learn, read, and see my weirdness in its true form.

And I’m starting up a brand new, adult paranormal set at a Maine campground. You can read the first chapter here.

Having a Manly Christmas, Martial Law and Characterization

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Having a Manly Christmas, Martial Law and Characterization
/

CHARACTER VS CHARACTERIZATION

Robert McPhee has a bit in his book, STORY, where he talks about character and characterization and one of my favorite aspects of that discussion is just this simple quote, which will hopefully be of some use to you:

TRUE CHARACTER is revealed in the choices a human being makes under the pressure—the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character’s essential nature.

We show who our character is by putting her/him/them under that pressure. Are they brave or wimpy? Empathetic or narcissistic? Cruel or kind?

We see them through their choices. And we see who they are the most when the risk is large.

Inserting choices into the emotional arc and plot really pushes it to another level and that’s something that you can really do with stories. You can show someone’s character—who they really are.

Characterization is just a bunch of traits all tied together. It’s like a demographic. You know I’m a white woman with a MFA in Maine who writes. But my psychographic is a bit different, right? I’m someone who gives money to certain causes, who stops when I see an accident, who cries every time she sees a dog video but chooses to watch it rather than look away. That’s my character.

Our written characters are like that, too. Put them under pressure, give them choices, let us see who they are from that very first chapter so that we can see them change.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Show who your characters are by their choices and actions.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Don’t trust words. Trust smells and movements. Also, trust the person who gives you bacon.


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

https://carriejonesbooks.blog/dogs-are-smarter-than-people-the-podcast/Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. 


Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Thanks so much for being one of the 259,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcast is about urban legends. And our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about the B Story and goat voyeurs.

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

MAYBE TAKE A COURSE, CHILL ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BUY ART OR A BOOK, OR LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST?

JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN INTERACT MORE.

HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

https://carriejonesbooks.blog/dogs-are-smarter-than-people-the-podcast/Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. 


Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Thanks so much for being one of the 259,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcast is about urban legends. And our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about the B Story and goat voyeurs.

Carrie Jones Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

Don’t Be So Wordy, Punk, plus Stabbings and Vampires

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Don't Be So Wordy, Punk, plus Stabbings and Vampires
/

A lot of us humans and writers spend a lot of time trying to impress people by being extra wordy.

And it seems like we’re all trying to avoid the word “because.”

This is extremely cruel to the word “because,” which probably gets hurt feelings, but it’s also super cruel to your readers and/or listeners who deserve clarity.

They need to understand what you’re putting down.

So, when it comes to “because,” we do not need to say:

  • The reason is because (that’s redundant).
  • Due to the fact that
  • On the grounds that
  • On account of


If you sound like a lawyer in a bad tv procedural?

You’re trying too hard.

HERE IS CONTRARY ADVICE….

“BECAUSE” OR “SINCE” CAN SOMETIMES FORCE YOU TO BE WORDY.

With the words ‘because’ and ‘since,’ you can almost always use either one. They are interchangeable BFFs.

Here are some examples.

  • Because I hate you, I decided to date.
  • Since I hate you, I decided to date.

They both mean “because” here because they are synonyms.

But sometimes “since” means “from the time’ instead of ‘because.’

Since we went to Disney, I’ve been crushing on Pluto.

That means “ever since the time they went to Disney” not “because.”

But you might not know that, right?

So, instead you might want to be wordy.

You don’t want to be ambiguous and have people wondering if you mean “because” or “ever since the time they went to Disney.”

The whole point in writing and talking is for people to understand you, so don’t be a schmuck. Be clear.


WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Don’t be wordy and know what your words mean and what they’re conveying to the reader.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Listen more than you speak. Look for clues in your environment and people’s actions so you can really understand them.

RANDOM THOUGHT

To hear about punks, stabbings and vampires, you have to listen to the podcast file. Sorry! We only put the advice part in the notes.


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

https://carriejonesbooks.blog/dogs-are-smarter-than-people-the-podcast/Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. 


Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Thanks so much for being one of the 259,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcast is about urban legends. And our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about the B Story and goat voyeurs.

almost dead book by carrie jones
almost dead book by carrie jones

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On one of my Patreon sites I read and print chapters of unpublished YA novels. THE LAST GODS and SAINT and now ALMOST DEAD. This is a monthly membership site (Hear the book chapters – $1/month, read them $3-month, plus goodies!). Sometimes I send people art! Art is fun.

On this, my second site, WRITE BETTER NOW, you can do a one-time purchase of a writing class or get two of my books in eBook form or just support our podcast or the dogs. It’s all part of the WRITING CLASS OF AWESOME.

It’s a super fun place to hang out, learn, read, and see my weirdness in its true form.

And I’m starting up a brand new, adult paranormal set at a Maine campground. You can read the first chapter here.

How To Become a Successful Writer The Key Writing Advice to Keep In Your Brain

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
How To Become a Successful Writer The Key Writing Advice to Keep In Your Brain
/

If you are the kind of writer who wants clicks and readers, this is the podcast for you. Yes! A helpful podcast from us weirdos. I know, right?

Here’s the first one.

Get Rid of The Crap

Seriously. Get rid of the words, the repetition, the flowery language that exists JUST to be flowery but has nothing to do with your message, your character or your plot.

Don’t have people nod and say yes at the same time. One is enough.

Don’t have people think to themselves. We know they are thinking to themselves.

Unnecessary words are blah. Nobody wants to be blah. Nobody wants to read blah either except maybe that one fourth grade teacher and maybe your honors freshman English teacher, the one who yelled about James Joyce a lot.

Let Your Title Be a Promise and a Gift.

That’s right. Give your readers something. Your title is a promise and a gift.

Think to yourself: Why would anyone care about reading this?

For this podcast, the answer to that would be that people care because they want the tools to be a better writer. Figure out why you’re writing what you’re writing and give that to the reader.

This goes for books too. Even if your answer is just – I want to provide readers an escape. It works.

Actually Write Your Story

Don’t just talk about writing. Write.

Don’t stare at the blank page. Write.

You can always revise. Revision is good. But you can’t revise a blank document or a page full of nothing.

I once had a reporter who was THE BEST guy. He was my best friend. I loved him with all my heart, but he would have writer’s block all the way up to deadline. I’m a chill human. I hate being demanding, but I would have to go into his office every deadline and implore him to write.

“My lede isn’t perfect,” he’d say.

“Done matters. Perfect doesn’t matter.”

I would write ten stories to his one story, over and over again. And the thing was? People liked my stories better. That quest for perfection makes us crazy. But it also keeps us from getting things done.

Don’t Try To Be Someone Else

You should write like you. Not like Anne Lamont or the million other lovelies out there. Not like T-Nehisi Cotes who is brilliant.

You have a unique experience and voice. Use that in your stories. Be brave. Be absolutely who you are. Don’t be shy about it, shout your voice into the world.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Write. Be yourself. Don’t write extra words just to be extra or fill up your word count. And your title is a promise to your reader/listener. Don’t break the promise.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Focus on your wants. Don’t add fluff. Don’t be fluff.


LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

MAYBE TAKE A COURSE, CHILL ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BUY ART OR A BOOK, OR LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST?

JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN INTERACT MORE.

HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

https://carriejonesbooks.blog/dogs-are-smarter-than-people-the-podcast/Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. 


Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Thanks so much for being one of the 259,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcast is about urban legends. And our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about the B Story and goat voyeurs.

HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

https://carriejonesbooks.blog/dogs-are-smarter-than-people-the-podcast/Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. 


Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Thanks so much for being one of the 259,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcast is about urban legends. And our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about the B Story and goat voyeurs.