Writing Questions

In celebration of the recent release of her new book The Productive Writer, Sage Cohen has done a guest post over at Ask Wendy- The Query Queen‘s blog. In it, Sage poses 18 guiding questions, to be used to post-mortem the year 2010. I love questions! Below are Sage’s questions (in bold), and my answer to them (in green):

  • What was most fun, exhilarating or rewarding in your writing life this year?

Discovering the world of Kukai.

  • What obstacles did you face and overcome?

Initially not believing my haiku was “good enough”.

  • What relationships did you build, repair or retire, and how has this contributed to your writing life?

I learned to let writing relationships/ endeavors  go when they no longer worked for me, and to allow new ones to take their place.

  • What did you let go of (habits, relationships, attitudes, clutter) that was no longer serving you?

Ah, see above.

  • What did you read that taught you something about your craft, your platform or how to take your writing and publishing forward?

I believe the best practice is to read what you like to write. This not only inspires me, but teaches me in a practical, hands-on way.

  • What did you earn or what opportunity did you land that felt prosperous?

I earned my place alongside other haiku poets.

  • How has your confidence and/or craft improved?

Although I enjoy writing competitions, and especially placing well in them, what has benefited most has been my belief that writing (and life!) is NOT all about competition. Each of us has something unique and valuable  to contribute.

  • What have you learned about social media that is serving your writing life?

That social media can connect us to like-minded people people from all over the globe. We no longer need to write in isolation.

  • What strategies worked best for being effective with your time?

Getting rid of my Blackberry, and becoming more engaged in real-life.

  • How did you nurture and sustain your well being–in mind, body, spirit?

Whoever said that variety was the spice of life could have been speaking for me. I think balance in all things is the key.

  • Who has praised your writing or teaching or facilitating? What did they say and how did it give you a new sense of appreciation for yourself and your work?

I am fortunate to have discovered new online writing communities this year that give me a continual sense of validation. It’s far more fun to write in community than isolation, and every bit of feedback helps.

  • What did you learn about your writing rhythms: time of day to write, managing procrastination, how and when to revise, making use of slim margins of time, etc.?

I write when I feel like it, and don’t worry too much about the rest.

  • Who did you help, and who helped you?

Members of my online poetry/ haiku communities helped me with feedback and encouragement, and I’d like to think I helped them too.

  • What did you learn about yourself from rejection, and how has it helped your writing, your confidence or your submissions approach develop?

When I first began submitting writings 3 years ago, I was testing the market, and sent off submissions scattershot. Consequently, I received many rejections in the process. Now I focus only on the journals/ publications/ contests that interest me the most, and my rate of acceptance has shot up.

  • What did you do that terrified you–but you did it any way? And how did that benefit your life and your writing?

I feel trepidation every time I join a new writing community, but I do it anyway.

  • How were you patient?

I’m learning not to be so judgemental about my writing, and to instead focus on enjoying the process.

  • When and how were you successful at juggling the competing demands of family, writing, work, and everything else in your full life?

The hardest part has been learning when to walk away from the computer, and focus on non-writing commitments. Writing can be addictive!

  • Who did you forgive? Who forgave you?

No one, really. My mother always taught me to live and let live, and that advice has served me well.


2 thoughts on “Writing Questions

  1. So great to read your answers, Cara! I’m wondering how you balance your participation with your various writing communities with your writing. Do you have set limits for how much time you spend on each? How does each benefit/inform the other?

    • That’s a great question, Sage. I’ve developed a hierarchy of priorities. I like to think of writing to weekly prompts and month long challenges as kind of like my dessert, which I don’t get unless I eat my dinner (so to speak). In December, my real-life obligations were all consuming, and I had to cut down my “fun” writing to a bare minimum. I do find that varying my diet of writing (to stay with the food analogy) helps hone my writing skills in general. And every month, I assess where I’ve been, and re-prioritize my writing goals for the coming month. My writing life, like much else in my life, is a continual work in process!

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