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A Life Less Ordinary

IWSG Writing Update August 2017 – Life Distracts

Every first Wednesday of the month, the IWSG (Insecure Writer’s Support Group) encourages writers to share their fears, thoughts, progress, struggles, excitement, encouragement or anything really about their writing. A different question is posed each month, as a writing prompt for IWSG members. Answering it is optional. For August, that question is “What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?”

This amazing, supportive group of writers was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Today, the inspiring and accomplished co-hosts are Christine Rains, Dolarah @ Book Lover, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Yvonne Ventresca, and LG Keltner. Feel free to swing by their sites and see what they are up to. Don’t be shy.

Scheduled posts or repeat events/meetings/projects, whether they are weekly or monthly, are a sure way to be reminded about how fast time flies. That always happens to me when the first Wednesday of the month rolls around. Again! I am happy to reflect on my (non-)writing in July, but I am sad to see another month disappear.

My pet peeve when writing/editing is using the same words too often. Whenever possible, I find synonyms for verbs and nouns already utilized. Not sure what to do about “I”, “and”, and “to”. 😊 When it comes to reading, I have a big pet peeve called typos or spelling mistakes. Especially in best sellers. I seem to notice them without effort. They might as well be printed in red. They stand out, I think, because, as a non-native English speaker, I read quite literally, instead of diagonally, making sure I don’t miss a beat. A result from our English classes in high school, where we needed to discuss articles and books in-depth, maybe? The irony of this is that I do not write without (spelling) flaws either, but can’t detect them all myself, in turn annoying others.

Every first Wednesday of the month, I am a bit apprehensive about my IWSG post. While I am a member of the IWSG, which is one of the most helpful, genuine and caring Facebook groups I have joined, I do feel a bit out of place. Most other members are of the “real writer” type. They are published authors, practice their craft every day, have lots of experience and know what they are doing. Some make a full-time living of it, most are talented and have a writing background and all of them are very devoted to their projects. They are committed writers. It is what they do and what they want to keep doing. It is their passion.

I have written enjoyably my whole life and, yes, I have a decent portfolio of published articles, but I can’t call myself anything but a freelance writer. I am also a perpetual nomad, an ex-sailor, an RVer, a house and pet sitter, a photographer, a blogger, a business partner, wife of a small business owner who also works from home (very intense), an animal lover and an adventure seeker. Because of our lifestyle, desires, travels and commitments, my writing, unfortunately, often has to take a step back. I realize this happens to other writers too – they all have lives, families, emergencies, health issues and other commitments, of course – but, they still manage to make their books a priority, where I can’t. Sometimes for weeks at a time. I am still working on a memoir, on my own terms. I never totally abandon the project, but it is put aside more often than I prefer, waiting for a better time and place; always on my mind.

Currently pet sitting Lola in Northern California again for three weeks

That being said, July started out pretty well, with us settled in a cute, comfortable home in Oakland, California, where we could somewhat stick to a schedule for three weeks. I worked on my memoir every morning. And then, we dealt with the next “disturbance”, our new development Zesty the Westy, for ten days. The three-day train ride and the 2000-mile road trip back drained all the time and energy out of me, too tired to write down even one word. But, we are very happy with this new addition to our lives.

Mark’s new office, or mine?

As for my dilemma of the last month(s) about how to approach the writing process for my memoir, I have decided (but not implemented yet) to just free write from memory right now. All the material I previously wrote while living aboard our sailboat Irie for eight years appears to be more of a hindrance than a benefit while working on my first draft. The well-crafted stories and chunks of text – memories, thoughts, experiences – would suit better as stand-alone articles, chapters for another book and/or reference material for this one. I need to focus on the book and storyline I have in my head, the one that feels right, and write without interruptions and comparisons. Or, at least, try. Until I change my mind again…

What are your pet peeves as a writer? As a reader?


  1. I feel like a complete fraud as a member of the IWSG considering all of the “real” writers that are members. When I think of real writers, I think of you. Freelance writing and getting all of those articles published is huge! Maybe you can escape to Westy to write – sort of your own writing retreat 🙂

    • Great idea, Ellen. It has crossed my mind to go hide in there. The table is big enough to use as a desk and, when house sitting, we can plug into the electricity (like a boat on a dock :-)).

      You have given me way too much credit all along, Ellen, but I do appreciate it. These months, I’m not even creating articles anymore due to lack of time. You being a published writer, especially for an IWSG anthology can hardly be called a fraud! And, your monthly IWSG posts are always wonderful pieces of fiction. You are doing fantastic!!

  2. I think we all tend to fixate on our own imperfections while reading other people’s works–not because we’re intentionally mean, but because that’s where our focus is. Period.

    Should I tell you how much writing I’ve done in the last month? LOL. Lots of brainstorming. Actual writing (other than journaling), maybe 6,000 words. If I’m lucky. Between 3 different projects. BUT, that doesn’t mean those projects aren’t going forward. What it does mean is that I’m living life more fully at the moment to draw on for future writerly wisdom. See that there? No experience is wasted, even if we’re not currently pressing pen to paper. Or keys to keyboard. So here’s the deal: no guilt. Do what you can, when you can, and let the writing flow when the right season is upon you. Chances are if you’re not pursuing the same kind of writing career as these other people, you probably wouldn’t be happy with the lifestyle associated therewith.

    • Wise words, Crystal! About reading other writers’ posts and about the life we choose for ourselves. I do need to get rid of that guilt feeling, though, whether it is about writing my book or other projects I have in mind, but keep pushing off. We have chosen this lifestyle to be able to breathe more than the average adult and to not have a 9-5 day job, yet, I can, for the life of me, not sit down for an hour during any workday to, say, read a book. That’s the guilt feel as well. Workday = need to be productive!

      And, you are right, the “real” writing life would not be for me. Hence, I don’t feel like a “real” writer, but more like a fraud, as Ellen commented. She is living one of those “outside=of-the-box” lifestyles as well and can totally relate to this. 🙂

      Moving forward. No guilt! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and progress!!

  3. You are a real writer for sure but these requirements are making me very thoughtful…. What do I have to say? Get ahead without quitting! And thank you so much for this posting!

    • You are welcome, Lana. Thanks for swinging by. Quitting has never been part of any game, challenge or decision for me, so I guess that counts for something! 🙂 I do think we all put too much pressure on ourselves to be efficient and productive, and should take it easier at times. Wise words, probably, that I have a hard time putting into effect myself.

  4. Liesbet, this was an excellent post. You have such an authentic, personable writer’s voice.

    I can totally identify with both the frustration around typos in published works (they make me crazy) and, especially, with never quite getting around to writing on the timelines I’d like. I’m always “clearing the decks,” waiting for the perfect time when I have nothing else to do. I’ve been realizing that’s just fear doing the talking, so now I need to figure out how to deal with that. Whatever your issue is, you’ll resolve it, Liesbet. Your memoir is too important to you to let it drop.

    I’ve really enjoyed your answers to this month’s question and to last month’s, Liesbet. Thanks to your posts, I think I’m going to join the Insecure Writer’s Support Group – at the end of the month so I don’t have to try to answer this month’s question!

    • Great Karen! You should join the IWSG. It is such a supportive and helpful group of people. A bit like the Profound Journey tribe, but then about writing. The questions are optional and mostly used as a prompt for people who need inspiration to post something about their writing every first Wednesday of the month. Some people don’t answer them at all. I do have something to say every month – I always have a lot to say 🙂 – but, as you have noticed recently, also feel the need to answer questions posed to me, directly or indirectly!

      About those typos… I am not really one to speak. I”m not sure why it bothers me so much, as I make plenty mistakes myself, especially homophones. Seeing the obvious ones like “knew” and “new” or “then” and “than” annoys me, but then I mess up as well on less obvious ones (to me anyway), happily blaming my not perfect understanding/use of the English language. 🙂

  5. Of course you’re a real writer!!

    I wonder if lots of other people in the group feel the same way. You might all be thinking everyone else is brilliant, while they are in turn thinking the same thing about you. 🙂 It certainly seems that way looking at the comments above.

    • You might be right, Josy. It’s probably a bit like looking at what your friends post on Facebook and envying them, while the opposite might happen as well, when you are doing something fun or extraordinary. Human behavior… 🙂

  6. I think most of us question whether we are real writers at some point. And most of us will never reach Stephen King level so maybe we need to just lower the bar a bit of what a “real writer” is. Do you write as regularly as possible? Do you feel you have to write? Then yes you are a writer.

    • Yes and yes to both questions, Jennifer. Maybe I need to distinguish between writer and author? 🙂 I believe every writer has doubts – hence the insecure writer’s group – and I think many writers are perfectionists as well. We do make it hard on ourselves, don’t we? Lowering the bar about the “real writer” idea will help, just like slowing down with every other facet in life will.

  7. What’s great about this group is that everyone belongs, and everyone has their own writing journey.

    I thought the Westy was going to be a West Highland White Terrier, so I was looking for dog photos. LOL! Enjoy Zesty!

    • That’s right, Yvonne. It is what makes the group so great and diverse.

      Many dog photos on other posts! 🙂 I kind of used that title on purpose, because our mission about the Westy had been quite secretive.

  8. Liesbet, I can only imagine writing a memoir would be daunting. However I think and agree based on experience, of trying to rehash written content, that writing “fresh” is an easier process. As you say, you can always include diary excerpts into the body of work. Life often “gets in theway” of creative time consuming endeavors, for sure. It is why I have not painted in years. Haha.

    Perhaps when you are settled into your new beauty! and are somewhat stationary for a while somewhere peaceful, the crearivity will flow. For myself, it is only when we really stop that the creativity flows…. our brains need the space. The concept of zen I guess.


    • So true, Peta. Our brains do need some quiet time to focus on what is hidden in its depths. You are doing and seeing so many amazing things that I hope you do get to sit and reflect about them in the form of paintings. Are you sketching at all when out and about, or when back at home? At least you do have all those wonderful photographs. And, maybe your mind is sharper than mine as well to remember the scenes. It is such a double-edged sword, isn’t it? We want all these intriguing experiences, but when going on adventures, we have no time to write (or paint) about them.

  9. I’ve been working on my repetitive words as well. What a challenge. 🙂

    Anna from elements of emaginette

    • Haha. Yeah… it has to become a habit. It was one thing I was used to doing when Dutch was my main language, so these changes come easy to me. But, we all have our own favorite words we unconsciously keep repeating throughout our work. These ones are harder to detect. I have a friend who once pointed out that I used the word “though” a lot in my blogs and I have since paid more attention to it. We sometimes need friends to help with these little intruders. 🙂

  10. Great post…and I’m loving following your travel life (as an RVer since 2007, now a snowbird instead of a full-timer).

    Pet peeve for me in reading is NOT ENOUGH TIME. It used to be NOT ENOUGH BOOKS in the pre-ebook era. I love to read but when I’m writing (I had 3 WIPs going, published #1, hope to publish #2 this month and #3 by October then start on #4 which needs to be done in 6 weeks. Argh!)

    • Now that is a busy writing schedule. Wow! Congratulations on publishing number 1 already. Your mind must be overflowing with inspiration. Amazing that you manage to turn all that into sequels so quickly. And I complain that I have no time to read! (I don’t.) If there is anything that I would want more of right now, and every day, it is time! To write and definitely, to read.

  11. You are a real writer. And even after all these years, I still get that fraud feeling too.

    • Huh. That is interesting. Maybe it is just something typical to the writing profession? Or, maybe it is because we work from home with flexible hours and not from an office, like what is generally seen as “a job”?

  12. Great post! I also feel out of place when it comes to the wealth of talented writers in the IWSG. These people are not only talented, but motivated, determined. I have a ton to learn from them, and you.

    • This is so funny, Ryan, and just proves the point of another commenter to this post. I find you very determined, accomplished, and passionate about writing. You are doing it: the work, the focus, the completion, the submitting, the joining contests and pitches… Wow. I look up at you and you think you can learn from me. How wonderful. 🙂

  13. You are definitely a writer. I haven’t published any fiction yet, and I’m calling myself a writer. 🙂

  14. I’m like you, Liesbet! Had great intentions for writing in July but I think you read my SaD post and saw all the surprises that seem to get in the way! I guess that’s what keep life interesting and gives us a lot to write about!

    • True! And, real life matters. 🙂 I noticed a bit of absence in the field of writing in that SaD post, Terri, but did not want to mention, question, or point that out in the comments. I hope you reach your writing goal this summer. It is a tough and exciting period of the year to be sitting behind a computer.

  15. Oh the question of what is a real writer. I can appreciate how easy it is to compare oneself to others who have published many books. I belong to some Facebook travel blogger groups and am pretty quiet there so I get it. Your new strategy sounds like a good one. I think there is a lot to be said for going with what your gut says. Best wishes and most of all I hope the process brings you joy.

    • Thank you, Sue! Why do we keep comparing ourselves to others, right? Luckily, I have as many days where I don’t care about my “position” in this world. 🙂 I do still enjoy the writing process, whenever it gets priority!

  16. You definitely are a ‘real writer’. I love reading your work!

  17. I remember once confiding to a writer friend that I did not think I was a “real” writer. She frowned at me, and said in a firm tone of voice: “A writer writes.” Wise words. Since then I have used that definition of a a writer and have called myself a writer.

    I do think this kind of self doubt is typical for writers. Many writers who have described the writing process talk about the self-critical voice in the head that impedes their writing and their confidence in embracing a writer identity. It is a self destructive kind of self criticism, which is to be distinguished from the necessary and helpful type of critique that we draw upon when editing and revising our work.


    • Wise words, Jude. I agree and I do see the difference between the two forms of criticism. I wonder why writers have this self-doubt. It might have to do with all of us being perfectionists and because of the need to produce a product that appeals to a big audience. And, there is nobody to help us create that product. It has to be good and how do we know it is or it will be? It’s like having a conversation with someone and getting a blank stare in return… Did they not get it? Do they not agree? Did I say something wrong? Am I weird? Or, are they just processing what I said? 🙂

  18. Your lady friend who said that living is the important part and collating experience for the future seemed to have a good balance, Liesbet. We can’t all be Hemingway or Steinbeck.
    Bad grammar and hastily written with spelling mistakes/typos are not my favourite things to read. And predictive text has a lot to answer for 🙂 🙂

    • A happy life is all about balance, isn’t it, Jo? Between living, walking, travel, animals, writing, scones and … blogging. 🙂

  19. Changing your mind is a writer’s prerogative. It seems your creativity for the memoir is opening up. Good plan to write out your memories in free writing, collect it all later when you can elaborate on it and find a theme for the pattern of the book. Hope you’re enjoying the new camper. 🙂

    • Yeah… finding that theme – or better, restricting to one theme – will be a toughy.

      For now, we are fixing a few problems with the camper and giving it a good cleaning. I’m looking forward to organizing and packing it in a few days, before we move to our next house sit in New Mexico next week… No rest for the weary. 🙂

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