The Fun of Co-Writing

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By Katie Corbett

 

Typically thought of as a solitary activity, writing is fun when someone else is brought into the mix. I started working on a story with one of my friends this past week, and have found the process to be energizing and enjoyable.

With file sharing, software, and technological advancements, it has never been easier to collaborate on a project. With a little forethought, planning, and communication, it can be a fun activity for all involved.

I’ve learned a lot throughout this project. My co-writer lives in New Zealand, and our story is set there. She’s teaching me all kinds of really cool things like the way schools are set up, alternative words for fast food (takeaway), and incorporating New Zealand-style mannerisms and speaking.

Is there an activity that you think is solitary, but could lend itself well to collaboration? Find someone with similar interests and ask them if they would like to join you. You might be surprised at all of the fun you will have.

 

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Benefits of Review

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By Katie Corbett


There is value in going back and reviewing things you have made earlier in your life. I have had a novel in the works since 2009. Yesterday, I took some time between doing a load of dishes and preparing for Thanksgiving to read over that very first draft ever. Needless to say, my writing has improved a lot since then. But I did learn several valuable lessons from that experience.

 

I learned that reading my old writing could be enjoyable. I compared it to looking at baby pictures: sort of cute, slightly embarrassing, and I’m definitely grateful no one else will read that book.

 

It was fun to see how much my writing has improved since then. I have gotten much better at dialogue, more readily able to show instead of tell, and my plot points have gotten tighter.

 

Even though that first draft is basically garbage, I know that my novel wouldn’t be what it is today without that writing. I needed to write to figure out who my characters are, what kinds of things they would do, and how they would interact with each other. That first draft definitely helped me flesh out a lot of those points.

 

Have you taken the time to go back and look at previous work? What insights did you gain from the experience? Can you think of ways in which that previous work has impacted you now? I would love to know, so feel free to leave me a comment.

 

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All About Journaling

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By Katie Corbett

 

when I am struggling to work through challenging emotions or flush out broad ideas, I find it helpful to do some journaling. I turn to many places for prompts and questions to get the thoughts flowing.

 

Books exist that have questions and journal prompts. A quick Google search will turn up many of these.

 

I like to reflect on and write about questions people have asked me. One time, I wrote a poem comprised of questions people have asked me about being blind. It was interesting to compile my thoughts and to see this list written out on paper.

 

another area I explore for journaling purposes is my own mind. Many of us have questions that float around in the back of our minds and we don’t always take time to answer them. Thinking about these questions, and writing my answers and thoughts down, has helped me process these bigger questions.

 

What is your outlet for challenging emotions and thought-provoking questions? Do you journal? Do you do anything else that helps you get the thoughts out of your head? I would love to know, so feel free to leave a comment.

 

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Where I Find Inspiration

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By Katie Corbett

These days, finding inspiration, particularly for my blog, has been a bit challenging. I normally write about career books, and this trend is not going away, but these days I needed to find another way to update my blog in a more stress-free manner. This caused me to look for inspiration in other places.

 

One place is through my experiences. There have been some weeks that I have used my experiences in order to generate ideas for blog posts. It has been particularly interesting to reflect on my experiences and think about how they shape my writing, my life, and my overall attitude toward things.

 

Another place I look for inspiration is through other people. I have reflected on the relationships in my life, and even used snippets of dialogue I have heard to get inspired. It has been really cool to think about how the people in my life impact me, and how I affect them.

A third place I go for inspiration is apps and prompts. I have an app on my phone called Brainsparker that generates a prompt or idea at scheduled times each day. I also like to look at books, inspirational quotes, and song lyrics to find inspiration for my writing.

 

What inspires you? Where do you go for inspiration when you feel like the well is running dry? I would love to know. Feel free to leave me a comment.

 

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Reflections on my Writing, Part 3

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By Katie Corbett

 

Here is the third and final part of my essay about writing. Enjoy!

 

I feel my writing has become varied and diverse, and I discover more new surprises about it the more I write. Writing every day has been a wonderful challenge for me, and I hope I can continue the practice. I may skip a day or two here and there, but when I do, I don’t feel complete again until I have written something new. Topics and ideas abound, and it is my hope that I’m able to explore as many as possible. Even if I never get published again, I know I will continue to write. Writing releases me, teaches me about who I am as a person, and helps me reflect on how those around me impact my life.

 

So, sit down, pull out your notebook or laptop, and reflect on your writing. Here are some questions to get you started.

 

  • Why do you write what you write?
  • How has your writing process changed over time?
  • Are there some aspects of your writing life you’d like to change or improve?
  • What do you struggle with as a writer?
  • What has been your biggest personal accomplishment in your writing so far?

 

These are just a few of the questions you could ask yourself. Take a few minutes to explore who you are as a writer. You never know what you’ll find out, and chances are, you’ll be glad you took the time to get to know yourself, and you’ll discover gifts and secrets within your writing you never knew existed.

 

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Reflections on my Writing, Part 2

Katie Corbett headshot

By Katie Corbett

 

Here’s the next part of the essay on writing. Enjoy!

 

Finding inspiration used to be one of the biggest road-blocks for me. I used to just write whenever the mood struck, but that wasn’t nearly enough to justify writing every day. Fortunately, I discovered “Naming the World,” by Bret Anthony Johnston. The book is packed with writing prompts and exercises on every topic pertaining to writing, from starting stories, to character development, to point-of-view and tone. Without the prompts to spark my muse, I’d still be sitting at my keyboard, waiting for her to show up.

 

As for word-count, I try to write at least 500 words per day. The guideline gives me something to push for, yet it is attained easily enough to not be an arduous rule. This is necessary as I am still adjusting to having the full-time job I started in January, which doesn’t leave me much time to write.

 

As with anything, maintaining balance is most challenging. I love to write, but I love to read as well—fiction and nonfiction alike. I have also decided I want to research getting an MFA in fiction, so research—not to mention applying to prospective programs—cuts into my available time. I try to write a short piece or poem each night, because I can usually spare an hour or two in the evenings for my personal pursuits, and sometimes I’ll have gained ideas or inspiration throughout the day. Then, I might read a bit of nonfiction—mostly pertaining to the craft of writing. While I’m lying in bed at night, I’ll break out a novel or collection of short stories and read a chapter or story—or two. I also read fiction while on the bus traveling to and from work, which, in addition to making my commute more interesting, buys me a little more time to write each day.

 

The one area which still lacks a time-slot in my schedule right now is seeking potential places to publish my work. I have the resources—I’ve gotten a few books that list literary magazines and publishing houses—but I haven’t put much effort into setting a time to do market research. Part of that might be a confidence issue. I keep wondering why anyone would want to read my writing. All writers have this problem, though, so once I get back into a critique group—and into a network of supportive fellow writers who know the struggles and set-backs writers face—I think it might be easier to have faith in my pieces as potentially-publishable works.

 

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Reflections on my Writing, Part 1

Katie Corbett headshot

By Katie Corbett

 

This month, I’m posting pieces of an essay I wrote back in 2013. In these pieces, I reflect on my writing process. Many of the ideas in these posts are still true today. Enjoy!

 

I’m proud to say I’ve been writing every day for over a month—a practice I used to say I didn’t have time for in the past. This practice has forced me to write in more than one genre, switching between genres without more than a day between each switch. I used to focus on one genre at a time—either the novel I was working on, or a class in poetry at my high school, or personal essay when I took the “Creative Nonfiction” course at the university I attended. I never thought I would be able to switch from one genre to another so quickly, only dependent on what I felt like writing that day. I feared at first that the uncertainty of what style I would write in each day would bother me, but I found that I express myself differently depending on the genre in which I am writing. I feel that commenting on these different methods of expression, as well as on my writing process itself, will help me to get to know myself better, and in turn, will help me continue to grow as a writer.

 

My fiction is the place where I explore things that are as far from reality as possible. Fantasy is my escape, and almost all my characters pop in and out of mirrors, change into wolves during the full moon, or haunt people after death. I’ve tried to write “normal” fiction, but unless there’s some element of the weird in it, I just don’t feel passion for the story. My fiction is very character-driven, so without passion, the story doesn’t really go anywhere. I rarely write about scene; describing things is a chore for me. I don’t know if this is because it is difficult to describe things as a totally blind writer, or if I really just don’t care all that much about what things look like—I just want to tell the story. I can tell I’m growing as a fiction writer because when I reread stories I’ve written in the past, I’m able to find areas on which to expand and sentences to improve. I used to hate revision; whatever I had written, I had written, and I usually didn’t change anything. I’m glad to see this growth in myself, as most of writing involves editing and revision. It’s a necessary part of the craft.

 

Poetry is the genre in which I feel the most free to express my emotions about the happenings in my life, whether it’s a romance ending, a fight with a friend, or how I respond to situations in life as a blind person. Most of my poems are non-rhyming and non-stylistic, which gives me the freedom to just say what I want and not worry about form. I really enjoy automatic writing—just writing whatever comes to mind—and revising and organizing the pieces later. I don’t use much imagery or simile in my poems; I just write what is. My poems aren’t cryptic, and if a reader knows me at all—or has a general idea of what I’m going through personally—it isn’t hard to figure out what my poems are about, or what events might have triggered the poetry. I’m not used to being so autobiographic and emotional in my writing, but reflecting on my emotions through poetry—the rhythm and musicality of it—helps me release the feelings in a constructive, reflective way.

 

My personal essays and creative nonfiction pieces are mostly about people. I write about how they have affected my life, and how I think differently because of having met them. My favorite pieces to write while I was in journalism school were personality profiles. From there, I started thinking not only about what people did—which is generally the focus of the personality profile—but about how these doings impacted the lives of others. It was easiest to do this by thinking about the people who affected my own life, from the toughest professor I had in college, to the scholarship mentor at a convention. The idea resonated with me, so I just continued to consider people in that context. I’ve tried to write about stand-alone issues, but I have a hard time separating myself from my essays—that is, writing about the issue without getting too emotional and going on a long, tangential rant—so I have decided to stick with personal experiences and encounters with people until I feel ready to tackle the issues and ideas themselves.

 

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