"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Art of Chaos

People often ask me how I overcome writer's block. The answer is simple: I make an art of my chaos.

Some days I'm overwhelmed with numerous story ideas. Lines or scenes just pop into my head and I jot them down as quickly as I can get pen and paper. I also keep a record of many dreams. My husband is constantly telling me I have the most detailed dreams he's ever heard.

I keep all of these thoughts in a filing system. In short, I have an idea file to pool from on the days I experience a block and the imagination falls stagnant. Usually, a lack of time rather than a lack of ideas becomes my problem.

Invariably, people then want to know how to make an idea file. It's actually quite simple. First, decide where you are going to keep all those wonderful ideas organized. I like to write most of my ideas with pen and paper, so I keep mine in a filing cabinet. If you prefer to type all of yours on the computer, just create a folder on the desktop labeled "Idea File".

Second, label your dividers in the filing cabinet (or create individual folders inside your "Idea File" Icon) with the different type ideas you want to create. Example: I actually started with a "Fiction" drawer, "Nonfiction" drawer and a "Poetry" drawer. I have since added "Biographical" which includes interviews and such for articles and books I work on. I also have a drawer for "Photography".

Next, decide how you want each of those sections divided. I like to write in a variety of styles so in my fiction drawer I have further divisions of "Fantasy", "Murdery/Mystery", "Romance", "Western" and so on. I have done this for each drawer. Every section contains snipets of lines or scenes I've written, photos that inspire me or even interesting facts I've printed from the internet.

Now you have a stash of creativity and thought provoking catalyst to aide you on those days of writer's block. We all have them, but instead of stopping us cold, we can refer back to our files when we need a new or fresh idea. You'll always have a direction and interest since you created the system in the first place. Thus, you can effectively make art out of your own chaos.

Writing: I have not had time to accomplish much writing this week. Four Halloween parties down and it's only Thursday!

Reading: I am reading Imitation in Death by J.D. Robb. I picked it up at the city library book sale. So far, it's pretty good. It reminds me of the movie Copycat with Sigourney Weaver.
Goal: Make a "To Do List" for next month. November is National Novel Writing month. I should at least dust off the books I finished writing and muster up enough courage to submit them!:-)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Help Seeing the Obvious

This sign is on the side of the road in front of an old house. I love it because it reminds me how often we fail to see the obvious things in our daily lives. We become distracted by goals, frustrating encounters with others or even a lack of sleep. We miss the obvious.

Fictitious Example: Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went camping together. They pitched their tent under the stars, cooked a meal over the campfire, visited and finally went to sleep. In the middle of the night Holmes awakened and exclaimed, "Watson, look up and tell me what you deduce." Watson opened his eyes, and said "I see billions and billions of stars. It's likely some of these stars have planetary systems. Furthermore, I deduce there is probably oxygen on some of these planets, and it's possible life has developed on a few of them. Is that what you see?" Holmes replied: "No, you idiot. Somebody stole our tent!"

This humorous story is an example of how we can often miss the obvious. Like Dr. Watson, we bring our own agendas, biases and background to every situation.

Lately, I've been editing for a few friends and noticed that in their work as well as my own, we become so busy developing our concept, solving problems or searching for the perfect wording that it's easy to forget the "obvious" elements of those problems and concepts.

When I find myself doing this, I like to step away from the project or situation. Sometimes, getting away is all it takes to regain perspective, but sometimes it continues to feel as if I'm just blathering along like Dr. Watson. My question for you is: "What do you do when you find yourself missing the obvious?"

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Because I Was Playing

My friends and family, reading, writing, editing, photography and teaching all claim a piece of my day. Sometimes at night, after the kids are sleeping I find myself wondering where the time went and ask "Why didn't I get more done today?" The answer is almost always "Because I was playing."

The Lord has blessed me with two beautiful daughters and a loving husband that works while I get to stay home with them. My children have retaught me how to be a kid. My days are filled with play-doh, painting, reading and imagining. They inspire me to write - something I loved as a child.

This morning I was lucky enough to chat with a couple of old friends. Later, I was able to read a little. It's difficult to get much writing done during the day with two toddlers running around (I usually do this at night), but they love to read. Sometimes we read together and sometimes they each want their own book. Is there anything cuter than two girls curled up next to you on the couch, each studying their own books as if they could understand every word?

I was able to finish editing some work for a friend today and even started another book before my youngest woke up from her nap.
This is my first Ann Lawrence book; given to me by a friend with rave reviews. She felt it was the perfect time of year to read this one. I'm sure she'll call later wanting to know what I thought of it and why I'm not finished. Of course it's "because I was playing!"

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Young Adult Novel Contest

Serendipity Literary Agency, in collaboration with Sourcebooks and Gotham Writers' Workshop, is hosting its second annual Young Adult Novel Discovery Competition.
If you've written a novel for young adults - or have an idea for one you would like to write - submit an enticing title along with the first 250 words from the opening.
The Grand Prize Winner will have the opportunity to submit an entire manuscript to YA literary agent Regina Brooks and receive a free, 10-week writing course courtesy of Gotham Writers' Workshop.
Submissions will be accepted November 1, 2010 through November 30, 2010. Other prizes also available. For more information: http://www.writingclasses.com/ContestPages/YAPitch.php

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


My name is Sylvia Ney. I fell in love with reading and writing as a small child. I wrote for my high school newspaper for three years, becoming editor my senior year. I also wrote and edited the community newsletter my senior year. I had a poem published in a national anthology before I graduated in 1996.

I wrote for my college newspaper for four years becoming Editor my senior year.

When I graduated in 2000, I became a fifth grade teacher for two years and then taught high school English and journalism classes for five years. Most of my writing during this time consisted of curriculum, lesson plans, grant and scholarship programs.

In the last few years I realized I was spending all my time teaching and helping others to follow their dream of being published. I was no longer following my own wish to do so. With the encouragement of friends and family, I started writing again.

I love to read and write in a variety of genres. This blog will be a reflection of my dedication to those endeavors.

I recently submitted a nonfiction piece to a religious anthology. I am now working on a submission for a Chicken Soup for the Soul book.