Wednesday, November 30, 2011

For Love of Writing

There's some wonderful things about being stuck with your writing.  It could be an opportunity to try your hand and writing other things.  There's not just one genre or one story out there after all and as much as you may love that genre or that story sometimes I'm learning they just need to sit and stew until you find out what's wrong with them.  That sometimes means writing other genres, trying other things or reading, reading, reading every writing book you can get your hands on.

Most of all when you're stuck just don't stop writing.  Write anything else, free write what you're stuck on, anything but stopping.  When you stop it dies, that's the problem... let your love of writing shine through and guide your words even when what you want to work on is stuck.  Just always go back to what you're working on or you'll eventually start tons of projects and never finish them.  With writing finishing the project is almost more important than starting them.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Writing Sick

It's never fun when you're not feeling well and often the last thing you want to do is work of any sort, even if it IS usually very enjoyable work.  I've always been told that you have to go do things like that anyway, even when you're sick because that's what adults do.  Now despite my own personal feelings in regards to how we treat sick people (for instance I really don't think food people should be allowed in to work while they're sick and I've read an article recently that echoed that thought.  Yet so many people do it anyway!).

Anyway!  I thought it an interesting experiment to write a little while I wasn't feeling good.  It is a peculiar thing, particularly with a laptop because you can stretch out on the bed even though you're feeling awful and pull up a document to type in.  That doesn't seem so bad right?  Now I wouldn't suggest doing it with something you're seriously working on unless you've got pretty good mental clarity despite the ill feeling, but it's an interesting idea to write and really experience your sickness.  Who knows, you might realize that it's really handy later when you're feeling better but one of your characters is sick.

I've spoken before about writing life and drawing from it, so here's another opportunity.  The same thing can be done when you're feeling down or when you're doubting yourself. Writing the physiological and psychological effects of such things while you're feeling them can give you a really good resource to draw from later when something similar happens to your characters.  Try and take everything as an opportunity and write a really in depth journal of how you're feeling, especially when you're feeling awful.  The more detailed the better.  After all, what better way to help the reader really feel like they're there than to write about it from an extremely knowledgeable place?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Chapter update - NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo isn't happening for me this year.  Why?  Well frankly I got into some stuff at work that I really wish hadn't have happened but it did and it had to be dealt with.  Combine that with writer's block already and I wasn't exactly moving very quickly.  To be honest I wasn't even really trying and there's something disappointing in that.  I had time if I pushed myself but I lacked motivation and desire.

Do you ever feel that way with your writing?  Sometimes the things in life can be used, sometimes those same things can be used but they have to be worked through first.  I've been very proactive in saying that you should keep writing during anything else.  If you've got the desire to write then WRITE, but I understand that sometimes things happen that sap your motivation or pull your desire to write away.

For this story?  Well I had that happen before the work thing, but the work thing did need to be resolved.  Hopefully that will happen sooner than later.  The bigger problem is my frustration and lack of desire to write.  What's with that?  I realized that while I get a great deal of joy out of creating and reading the final desire I'm not a terribly good writer.  I don't mean the words I chose or the phrases that I pick, more the actual ability to sit down and find the discipline to write.  Fortunately I think there's still hope for me as that means I have the potential to be a good writer but I'm not quite there yet.  So what to do first?  Well first I think I should put myself on a schecule I actually think I could motivate myself to follow.

It's kind of like a diet that you don't really feel like doing but you know you should, you've got to start with realistic goals, small ones, so that you can see your progress faster than you think you will.  So my first small goal is to find an two hours a week to write.  I can find the time to go and memorize my scripts, I can find the time to fiddle with games or my computer or anything else, surely I can find two measly hours to write every week.  It won't be as fast as I like or as fast as I know I'm capable of BUT it will be steady and it will help with my discipline as a writer.

If you're having similar problems I hope you'll consider going on this "writer's diet" with me, lol!  When it's over hopefully we'll all come out as well toned and fit writers!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fiction vs Non-fiction

Lately I've been having a great deal of trouble working on my novel.  I think my last chapter messed a bunch of stuff up and didn't come out right at all and it's really thrown me for a loop.  That being said I've proportionately been playing in the kitchen more and making up more recipies.

My husband and I aren't rich by any means and it's both forced and allowed us to become incredibly creative when preparing foods.  We make them last for as long as we can and we turn leftovers into some really interesting and tasty new dishes with very little extra effort.  It's gotten me thinking, why not write a cook-book?

It's not like I haven't thought about it before.  When my husband and I were first going out we cooked together a lot then too.  So recently I started writing down the recipes we've been creating.  I've always been a reader of fiction.  When I started to create my own world I started reading non-fiction as a way to legitimize and otherwise ground my creation but I'd never really had an interest in writing non-fiction.

Oddly enough, despite my skepticism I'm finding a peculiar joy in jotting down my recipes as I create them (or more commonly asking my husband to write down whatever I call out).  I've made some really interesting dishes and as my recipe cards grow thicker I am considering more and more seriously about putting a cook-book together... now the only question I have for myself is how the heck is a fiction writer who cooks going to market something like a cookbook?

I certainly don't feel qualified!

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Use of Memory

Today I had reason to really go through my memory and remember as much as I could as accurately as possible about conversations from the last three weeks or so... holy cow!  I didn't realize how hard it would be and while I was writing it I realized something else.  Since we only have our own experiences to draw on we as writers need to cultivate one very, very important thing.

Our memories!

What's going to happen if you go through somehting that you really, REALLY could use when writing a novel say four or more years down the road?  What if you can't remember that specific anymore or the thing that really tweaked you out.  What if you can't even remember the event but if you could it would help you out of the bind that your writing's in?  I can't believe how important memory is when you're a writer, and worse I can't believe I didn't realize it until right this moment.  I always knew that it had to be good of course.  I need to remember character names and little tidbits of information and the like but that's what my notebook is for... well duh! 

There was my head slapping moment!  that's why so many authors do write journals.  Yeah sure, a lot of it's going to be dull because let's face it, 90% of our lives are probably very routine.  But if you've gotten into that routine of writing down your day imagine what happens when something incredible comes around!  Now, not only do you have some really interesting insights into something you might not have otherwise, you'll also have a record for it so you can compare notes at different times in your life, utilize it for different characters or even use it as a whole new jumping off point for another novel!

I know I'm seriously considering actually starting a daily journal.  I've started it before and never quite managed to get in there EVERY day, but if you work on your memory then you can fill it in a heck of a lot faster than I sometimes do.  So working on your memory to remember vividly everything you did that day and then keeping a journal to help out your long term memory's specifics seem like a REALLY good idea to me!  Hopefully you'll realize the same thing as me but it won't have to be with your own D'oh! Moment!

PS.  Sorry this post's so much later than normal, I wasn't able to get on to write it until now!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Adrift in a Sea of Words

Lately I have been stretching for ideas.  I've felt uncreative and unable to write anything.  A friend on the WD board that I suggested last post suggested that if that's my problem I stop working on my novel for awhile and start doing some free writes.

Free writes are interesting things, I've mentioned them before in my blog but never really in depth.  Generally you want to find somewhere quiet or with a bit of music if that helps, and you want to just write.  No censoring, no going back to edit, nothing that would hinder the process of writing.  You literally write everything that comes into your head during this write.  Set an alarm so you're not constantly looking at the clock and keep writing.

One of the first free writes that I ever did in my life started like this:  "I have no idea what to type so I'm going to just type whatever I'm thinking."  It was a peculiar way to start writing in my opinion but oddly enough it worked, I kept writing and writing and eventually I started thinking of random scenes that popped into my head, I started thinking about new characters and about where my novel was going.  In the end I actually found it very useful.

So now to this time around when I'm feeling drained and uncreative.  I know the things I usually do in order to de-stress and get some creativity back but this time I keep letting myself feel overwhelmed, often with things that have nothing to do with writing, but more often by the novels that used to help me relax and let my brain work for me instead of against me.  I'm intimidated by the wonderful words I read by other authors and find my own words just not quite good enough.  I think I will be trying some free writes and set myself adrift so that I can just write for awhile.  Since that's what I've been so hesitant to do it seems the perfect way to get over that fear this time around.

Enjoy being adrift on that Sea, there's moments of brilliance there and it can gently lure you into relaxation to allow your brain to think of something brilliant.  If you need some starter ideas you can check out my earlier blog post with those here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Writer's Block - Some interesting Ideas

I was reading some articles (though I forget which one so if you recognize what i'm saying let me know and I'll source this info!)  about writer's block.  The most interesting thing that I found was that they suggested that the creative process must sometimes be left alone.  Weird huh?  You can force yourself to keep writing if you want, but they say often inspiration comes from your brain having rested and you doing something else.

The examples that they gave was doing things that took concentration but that didn't really take alot of thought.  Then you don't think about for awhile and suddenly... BAM... there's your new idea that's not the same old paths.  I don't know how well that works (I tried it yesterday as a hot shower and pampering yourself a bit was one of their suggestions) I found when I came back to my story I was just as stumped.  I've slipped over into trying to restructure this story and edit it instead of writing it and I'm not sure how to switch back to writing it.

I find that I'm not satisfied with anything that I write in regards to it, though I'll go through phases.  I was in a drama mood when I started writing it, but now I'm definitely not and that's what the story is.  So how do I get back into what the story is?  I'm not sure I can precisely.  I just have to push myself and keep writing it anyway and then edit it later.  Or maybe I should switch to a new story idea.  Overall I'm not feeling terribly creative.  I'll have to find some nice thoughtless but concentration intensive things to do... something that worked better than just the shower.  I did think about it, but my mind wandered off my story pretty quickly.  Good luck!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Writer's Resources - Some Great Ones!

Hello Again internet world!  And welcome back to my tri-weekly blog post!  Happy monday!

Okay, now that that's over with I want to share with you all some resources that I have found really valuable for one reason or another with my writing.

First and foremost are two of the books I've read most recently in regards to writing.  One is The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell.  It's an awesome resource, especially if you're having a lot of trouble.

The second book I would highly recommend as a general overview with some truly wonderful insights into writing novels (though novels of all kind, it is general as I say) is The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing  From The Editors of Writer's Digest.  It's a collection of tips and observations from authors, editors and agents from Writer's Digest and is definitely worth a look.

If you're feeling really low or alone with what you're writing I would also recommend the Writer's Digest Forums.  The people there are truly spectacular with some wonderful advice on your writing.  I suspect you'll find some people of like mind on the board, no matter what you write.  Some forums are busier than others of course, but you can usually find someone to chat with about your novel or just about random stuff.  Or best of all the frustrations of completing your first/second/third novel.

Rachel Gardner's Blog is great to read, and she has some wonderful emails that her blog sends out if you are like me and forget to check.  She's a literary agent so she's got some really interesting insights into the process that as writers we might not always think of.

And Finally, Holly Lisle is a great resource for information, encouragement and for general interest.  You can check out her blog or look through her website.  I'd highly recommend taking a look at her stuff, especially if you're self publishing.  The stuff she writes has been very useful for me!

Hope some of these things help and I hope your writing's going well!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Writer's Block

I suspect this will become a multiple post thing.  I'm working now, more or less everyday and I really have no excuse (even then) to not be writing.  I could be, I have the time.  Today I even stayed up super late and I'm only kind of tired.  So why aren't I writing?

Well the first thing I want to blame is writer's block, but I know that's only half the story at best.  What I know it comes down to every time is that I just don't want to work on it!  I love the story, I'm really fond of a bunch of the characters but I feel so uninspired.  Over and over again I read that you have to work through that and write anyway.  The most I've managed to do is to stay consistent with writing a blog post (even when like today, I feel uninspired to do even that much).

The more I read the more I come to learn that I'm not alone in this.  Procrastination seems to be one of the Writer's biggest obstacles to cross.  So how do you motivate yourself?  Well I can't tell you that really because I'm not you, just like you're not me.  We can share every trick and tip we ever come up with in our entire lives with each other and never find something that works just for us.  I think it comes down to desire more than anything else.

Do I want this?

Why do I want this?

 Do I want this badly enough to fight with every breath to achieve it?

If you answered yes to number one and three, then what's stopping you?  Find the thing that works for you and go do it!  If you answered no then you're probably not really into writing anyway and you'll move on when you find something that really does make your spirit sing.  Now if you're like me you might have said "well, yes, but..."  I think there can't be any buts to the answers to the above questions.  If you really want to write and be published then you've got to WANT it.  You've got to know WHY you want it, and you've got to want it so badly that you're never going to take NO as the final answer until you've exhausted every last avenue.  And if you do that and still get No's all over the place you've got to believe that the next project (that you started while waiting for acceptance or rejection) will be the one that gets accepted.

I've always wanted to devote myself to a craft, but I've always had trouble getting motivated.  Well this is my devotion and I must find time to do it as faithfully as I write this blog.  Even when I don't have a clue what I'm going to write before I write it.  Even when I finish and feel that it's not my best.  Even if it's only an hour a day or 100 words a session.  The amount really doesn't matter in some ways, at least not at this point.  What really, really matters is that I make the decision that this is what I want to do with life, that THIS is how I'm going to live.  And when I've decided that?  Then I go out and do it because I cannot accept any other way.

If you're struggling like I'm struggling know that you're not alone.  But also know that the only person who is responsible for your success or failure in the end is you.  "Forget Regrets, life is yours to live." - Rent.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Setting - How real is too real?

I was reading an interesting chapter from another writer recently and the thing that I noticed most distinctly was that there were a LOT of details in the setting.  Now I've read over and over again that writing details into your setting makes your writing more "real" and "believable".  That's great!  I want to make lots of details and put them all in right?  I would question that.

There's some truth to it of course, what book have you read that has no little details that betray the character's knowledge of an area or gives you a better understanding of a character through how they observe things.  But if you want to make a setting very real please, PLEASE don't feel the need to put in so many details (especially in a paragraph or a line) that the reader will feel overwhelmed.  I don't really care about details that aren't important or don't reveal something about the character.  I as the reader want to have an idea of the room or place that a person's in, I want to know about the character and I want to know about the situation.  To keep my belief in the story I also want the author to be consistent in the details they DO put in, but I don't want to hear about the minute changes in the colour green on a bush that happens to be in a clearing but isn't terribly important.

So how do you add details without being overwhelming?  Ask yourself this, "What does this detail reveal about _____"  Now you can add in scene or character or situation there (those are the main three that I can see) but if you put in a detail and it really has nothing to do with anything but your own amusement that's probably fine if you do it once in awhile.  Please don't do it in every sentence in a paragraph... let alone all throughout your story.  I ask this and point this out as both a reader and a writer...

That being said, I hope you're all enjoying procrastinating in NaNoWriMo!  I have predictably gotten a job in my desperate attempts to stress myself out to the max before I push through and write.  (Not too serious, but it does seem to be a pattern)  I should be stressed enough by week 3 to finish the novel... hopefully I will push through and continue tomorrow instead.  Happy writing!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Story Starters - Get that Pen Moving!

I've always thought that it's difficult to come up with ideas for free writes.  So as a way to help all of you who do read my blog who write I thought I'd challenge myself to come up with a few story starter ideas to help get those pencils moving.  So following are five story starter ideas, you can write a paragraph, go with the story, or write for a time instead of a length.  Totally up to you, if you want to share your writing in the comment section awesome, I'm always glad to hear from my loyal readers!  (and if anyone new wants to post I'd be glad to hear from you too!)

1.  It was late.  The sky wasn't dark though.  Little dots pricked it like holes in a skirt, light shining through and making the clearing as bright as day...

2.  "Aaaaaaah!"  She screamed with every last iota of her strength.  The sound was so intense that there would be nothing left when she was finished.  There was no way she would ever eat that broccoli...

3.  Hungry, hungry, gunna get a bite to eat, hungry, hungry...  The thoughts swirled around in his head as he strode down the street to the beat of them.  It was about time...

4.  He yawned, but he didn't bother covering his mouth.  "Careful."  She smirked at him.  "If you don't cover your mouth a fly'll go in."  He opened his mouth wider and aimed it at her, yawning again.  She...

5.  There was this bush.  It was round and puffy.  Yes, a bush can be puffy!  It had flowers speckled over it and peeking through the greenery.  They were a peculiar shade of...

So there you go, five story starters to get your brain working.  You can change them, use them, whatever you'd like with them and I reserve the right to do the same at a later date!  Lol!  Enjoy :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Dialogue - How's yours?

I have always hated dialogue.  Not reading it, but writing it.  Why?  Who knows, maybe I hated it because I never really spoke much in my own life.  Maybe I hated it for some random other reason.  Honestly it was probably just because it was something I was never very good at.

Now you may laugh at me for this, but the thing that's really helped me to improve my dialogue?  Improve acting.

Yup, you've got it.  I role play.  That's all role playing is and no, that's NOT in a sexual way.  Make a story with a friend (in person is best), give the background, both of you think of characters and start talking with someone.  Speak not as yourself but as your character and remember the situation you're in as your character.  If you're like me and you either are or you think you are terrible with dialogue I've found this to be a very fun and useful way to improve your dialogue.  It helps your brain think differently too.  And it's a break from writing when it might be frustrating you a little bit.

I've no idea if it'll work for you, but hey, it's certainly helped me!  And dialogue, especially authentic dialogue, is a very important part of any novel.  As much fun as exposition is it's not exactly something you want for your entire novel.

Happy Novel Month!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

NaNoWriMo -aka- Hell Month. Sorta.

You've got everything set up, your desk is perfect, your computer's primed and the clock reads 11.59pm.  The breath held in your chest as you wait is starting to make your ribs ache but your eyes don't leave the clock.  Just as you think you might actually pass out from lack of air it clicks over, DING!  Midnight.  November 1st.  National Novel Writer(or writing I suppose) Month has officially begun.


Sound familiar?  I did NaNoWriMo for the very first time a few years ago.  I was going to university full time, with a full course load and I was doing a work study position (aka, I was working) as well.  I heard about NaNoWriMo and happened to be taking a novel writing course.  What better way to get inspired than to push myself and complete 50,000 words in one month?  It didn't seem so unrealistic, there's 30 days in a month right?  So that's what... say about 1667 words a day if I write every day.  Phshaw!  That's more than doable... so I told everyone that I was doing NaNoWriMo.  I was going to complete my novel in one month!

Week 1 passed.

Week 2 passed.

What happened?

Nothing.  I'd reached the beginning of week 3 and had squat, zip, ziltch, nada, zero... two weeks left and I had to do what!?  I started thinking maybe it would be okay if I didn't do it.  I mean I had other years, there was so much to do, I could be forgiven right?

Wrong.  Apparently I severely dislike telling people I'm going to do something and not doing it.  That I happened to like a professor of mine at the time and I'd kind of mentioned it to him sometime the week before?  Well... I couldn't look bad NOW...

Full time classes, work, and a novel that I already had writer's block for.

I began to write.

And write.

And write.

I didn't sleep, barely ate, was up in my room constantly because not only had I told people I was going to write for NaNoWriMo, see I had forgotten about the 50,000 word goal.  Most novels?  They're around 100,000 words if you're wondering and that's kinda short.  (Word count post here if you're interested in specifics).  And I, being the bright and stupidly brilliant kinda person we can all sometimes be, had told people not only was I going to write 50,000 words, I was going to finish my novel.  Yeah.  The one I had two chapters for...

That one.

Final word count?  104,877 words in my first draft.  In two weeks.

It was totally worth it.

Moral of the story?  Set goals for your self.  Set ridiculous goals for yourself.  Hold your breath, face the obstacle course you've mounted for yourself and despair.  Then take up your pen, stare down the blank page and charge ahead.

You might just surprise yourself with what you can do.