Summer Guest Post Series: Joyce Barton

Out of the Closet, Into the Fire:
How I Burned My Old Darlings and Got Back to Writing Fiction

Joyce Barton (Guest Blog Post)
fire pile_1_031918

I was coming off of a year of transcription and research for a nonfiction project and feeling ready to get back into fiction, but I was stuck. It had been so long since I’d used that muscle, could I even write fiction anymore?
Write something new? What about my orphans, my piles and files of decades-old material—leave no story behind, I’d promised my characters, and myself.
Here’s how I burned through my indecision (aka resistance) by feeding some old friends to the fire.
State Your Mission
I’m a writer, right? I write things down. So it seemed natural to define, in writing, what I wanted and why, when this would happen, how I’d get there, and commit to it—a good old-fashioned Mission Statement. Here’s my ‘Mission Bonfire’:
Mission: Go through old files of stories and decide which will become new writing projects and which will be let go.
Reason/Why Am I Doing This? To move forward, to get unstuck.
Deadline: Thursday, March 15, 2018
-Take old stories out of closets and drawers and place them in one pile.
-Sort the pile into a ‘fix’ pile and a ‘fire’ pile. Sort quickly, with an eye for ‘project’, not nostalgia.
-Delete all e-files (on Word, Scrivener, Drop Box) that correspond to fire pile.
-Have a ritual for the fire pile (include champagne toast)
-Give special attention to the ‘fix’ pile for making the cut. Place each in a new project file, store out in the open where I can acknowledge them, access them.
Trust the Process
‘Sort quickly, with an eye for ‘project’, not nostalgia’? Not only did I get nostalgic, I drove myself to a stomach ache on Day One! But I stuck with it, and after two weeks of sorting my ‘fix’ and ‘fire’ piles, some happy ‘finds’: I met the writer I once was (raw, ‘under-fictionalized’) and the writer I’ve become (more control, intent; a better storyteller). I saw how storing my work played into my worries about ‘lack’ (‘I might need this someday’). By addressing each piece and letting go of those I no longer needed, I let go of lack, too—and began to have faith in the abundance of ideas.
Release the ‘Fire’ Pile
Bonfire Day? I forgot that though I love a good fire, I’m afraid of getting burned. So I tore most my pile into bits (also gratifying) and recycled it; the remaining I ceremoniously (and gingerly) dropped into our rusty fire pit, sprinkled with a bit of sage, then read aloud three writerly quotes, including:
“No, the thing is, we all love storytelling, and as a writer you get to tell stories all the time.” 
–Joyce Carol Oates
Pop the champagne! Back to telling stories, all the time.

Rebirth the ‘Fix’ Pile

fire pile_7_031018
I now have four stories out to market and 22 in various stages of rewrite; enough to keep me in the flow of fiction writing. I’m officially ‘unstuck’.

What’s in your closet? Maybe enough darlings to rekindle your writing.

Joyce Barton is swapping out long-form nonfiction for short-form (flash fiction, essay) this summer. Her work has appeared in The Legendary, Every Day Fiction, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and other publications. Her latest flash, Weeds, will be published this summer in Rum Punch Press.


Summer Guest Post Series 2018

My summer guest post series is so successful, I'm continuing this summer.
My first guest post is from Andrea Hunter.

5 Reasons Why
Every Writer Should be on Instagram

You don't need me to tell you that social media is a powerful tool. It's evident in the fact that we can upload and share a photo, video, article, message, or opinion - on an ever-growing variety of social platforms - in a matter of seconds. That's pretty impressive in its own right. But the real power comes into play when you consider that the content you just posted has the potential to be seen by literally millions of people around the world.


It's mind-boggling when you stop and think about how connected we are.
I won't tell you that social media is the new word of mouth. (It is.)
I won't even tell you that almost one-third of the global population is using some form of social media for personal or professional use. (They are. 2.46 billion, in fact.)

Facebook leads the charge with over 2 billion users globally, Youtube comes in at a relatively close second. And my favorite, Instagram, falls solidly in the middle with over 800 million users worldwide.

Now, this is something I will tell you - if you are a writer and you're not already on Instagram - you need to get on it.

 Free stock photo of hand, iphone, smartphone, internet
Here's why:

1. Introverts Unite!
Writers can be notoriously solitary creatures. We sit alone for hours on end, staring at a screen, typing strings of brilliant ideas together until they take the form of a story. But if you're like me, thoughts like "who would want to read this, anyway?" and "this story stinks," fight to take up residence in my innermost being.  Well, I'm happy to report that there exists a community of like-minded writers on Instagram that will not only help squash those negative thoughts, but they will lift you up with positivity, constructive feedback, and the encouragement one needs to just keep writing.

2. If you build it, they will come.
Take a look around Instagram. Check out authors you admire, or hashtags like #writerscommunity, #writersofinstagram, and #writerslife - there are literally thousands of writers posting great content. Some feature their own writing, or quotes from other authors books. Some share photos of their writing spaces, dogs, cats, favorite book covers...the list goes on and on. While I do not advocate copying another account's style, look around and get some ideas - then come up with your own aesthetic. The key: be true to you. If you apply this to the content you post, your following WILL grow. (More good news: selfies are completely optional!)

3. Credibility.
One of the things agents and publishers look for in writers is a strong social media presence. Why? Because a genuine following equals potential readers and a built-in fan base. Simple as that.

4. Be in the know.
Writers aren't the only ones to watch for on Instagram. Literary agents and publishers account for a growing number of users on the platform as well. Learn what is being published, what genres they're looking for, and make potentially valuable connections.

5. Confidence.
It takes time and effort to build a robust platform, so don't get distracted or disappointed by vanity metrics. A bazillion followers does not always equate to a successful feed. Instead, focus on the relationships you are creating and the connections you are making. Not only will you feel more confident about building a genuine following, but you'll also experience the added benefit of getting to know writers and fans of your own writing from around the world.

The bottom line: social media is a great way to share the vision for your writing. And the Instagram community is a great place to share, connect, inspire, and cheer our fellow writers on!

Andrea Hunter is a writer and creative strategist from Saint Charles, Illinois. She is passionate about helping authors and small businesses create, focus, and share their brand stories via social media, website content, and printed material. Connect with Andrea on Instagram @andrea.hunter3