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Posts tagged “Writing process

The Only Thing That Can Make You A Writer …

Really, in the end, the only thing that can make you a writer is the person that you are, the intensity of your feeling, the honesty of your vision, the unsentimental acknowledgment of the endless interest of the life around and within you. Virtually nobody can help you deliberately — many people will help you unintentionally.

Santha Rama Rau

*Originally posted October, 2012


You Must Be Prepared …

“You must be prepared to work always without applause.”

~Ernest Hemingway

English: Hemingway posing for a dust jacket ph...

English: Hemingway posing for a dust jacket photo by Lloyd Arnold for the first edition of “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, at the Sun Valley Lodge, Idaho, late 1939. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


You’re Not Working Hard Enough.

Via Warriorforum.com

Like many writers, I have spent the last few years trying to ‘do it all.’ Whether I’m drafting another blog post, tinkering with Twitter, shouting out to writers on Triberr, checking my Facebook profile, posting on my Facebook author page, pinning on Pinterest, reading the dozens of emails I receive daily, or finishing my novel revisions, everyday is filled to the rim. In my mind, the most important of these is my novel. It’s the reason for everything else. Yet everything else seems to overwhelm it most of the time.

read all day long, in one form or another. In order to write well, you must read. A lot. Preferably in your genre, although reading in general is the point. I try to stay current with the latest books, all the advice on book marketing, social media reach, blog hits, and on and on. It’s endless.

via pinterest.com

Yesterday I read an article that stated people aren’t reading less in the digital age, instead people are actually reading more. Wanting more. More to download. More, more, more. Readers want books NOW. How are they reading them all? Who knows.

What it means for writers is what concerns me. Many authors are now attempting to hammer out three….four, five books a year to stay in the game.

WHAT?!

The industry standard has forever been…one book per year.

ONE. Maybe.

But with the introduction, and popularity, of ereaders the standard is changing. Rapidly.

For me, and many others, that’s an issue. Besides the fact that I write at turtle speed, and revise at snail, I’ve worked myself to near exhaustion trying to do everything, and be everywhere. How are we supposed to do it all? We can’t. And we shouldn’t try to either.

Balance is the key.

I’ve talked about balance a lot in prior posts, but I didn’t know how to attain it. I’ve had to force myself to step back, and breathe. Step back and realize that NO ONE can do it all, and do it well. Not going to happen. Not for long anyway. I still believe that through all the chatter and advice, all the constant information flying everywhere, that our main goal as writers should be creating good content.

We can market until we are blue in the face and crawling. Put our names out everywhere and brand until everyone knows it. But none of that will matter if our books suck. Writing is hard enough without trying to master social media.

W. Somerset Maugham
Via zazzle.com

I know we as writers are a helpful and supportive group. We want to help each other succeed. We want to feel like someone else gets it, and we aren’t wandering around alone searching for answers in the dark. So we read everything, follow a hundred blogs, and basically overwhelm ourselves with information. Not the best mindset to have when we are trying to write an 80,000 word novel.

Slow down. Really.

I don’t have this thing figured out either, but it occurs to me that a few things are obvious.

**Write your books and write them well. No good book—no reason for social media.

**Write your blog posts, tweet your shout outs, engage. But put a time limit on it.

**Back to writing.

Remember the reason why you are doing all of this. Is it to write stories? To get lost in those worlds? Yeah? Go get lost then, and create the best worlds you can.

The other stuff at the end of the day is secondary. Important, yes, but still secondary.

So tell me, what part of this industry have you found the most difficult?

**first posted in May 2012 before I landed the book contract, so let’s add that once thrown into the mix, things got busier. The difference? Now, I feel like everything else finally matters. 😉


If You Don’t Have The Drive …

A writer never finds the time to write. A writer makes it. If you don’t have the drive, the discipline, and the desire, then you can have all the talent in the world, and you aren’t going to finish a book.

~ Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


It’s Always Too Early …

“It’s always too early to quit.”

Norman Vincent Peale

Norman Vincent Peale, Christian preacher and a...

Norman Vincent Peale, Christian preacher and author of The Power of Positive Thinking (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The Publishing Roller Coaster

A few days ago I received an email. A request for my manuscript in full to be sent to a publishing house I queried. And then I received another one.

YES!

Am I thrilled? Absolutely.

Do I feel terrified and on the verge of throwing up? Definitely.

I remember the feeling of accomplishment I felt when I completed TIED. Edits, beta readers, and all. It was as if a weight lifted off my shoulders. For about an hour. Maybe.

A few weeks later, I queried my first publisher with shaking hands, and terror replaced accomplishment. Still, I sent it anyway. I had to. All of us writers have to. This whole process is well…part of the process. I think we need to go through it. It makes us a little stronger.

Now, after sending off my baby that I’ve loved and coddled for two years, I have a different sense of accomplishment. One that is mixed with the discomfort of judgement. The word all writers hate. But you know what? It’s a great feeling. It is. Because whether or not they decide to take my book on, they believed enough — and saw enough — to give it further than a glance. And although this could be the only elation I feel in a long run of disappointments — I plan to appreciate it for what it is — THE BEST FEELING I’ve had since I jumped on this roller coaster ride of writing.

I love what I do. And I’m thankful to be doing it. Even more thankful, too, that my betas also love my stories and I’ve been given a small pat on the back by yet another interested party. That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day. Wish me luck. 😉


Make Your World Breathe

 

Just breathe

Just breathe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

There is no such thing as too much description.  Okay, maybe later on when you’re a few drafts in some details will need to be scaled down. But in the beginning when you are just writing, just write. Tell your story and every little detail that you see in your mind. First drafts need to be loaded with details. There will be too many but come draft two and three you can pick  and choose what’s important enough to stay and what needs to go. And through those changes your story will start to become alive.

 

Every character in your story needs a voice and I don’t only mean the ones who can talk. I mean EVERY character. The buildings, the car, the woods, the town. The world you’ve created needs to breathe. It needs life. Life in writing is created through details. The edge in someones voice, the creak of a clock tower, the feel of a touch, the sweetness of a flower. The ripped, faded jeans. The wickedly flirtatious smile. The racing blood. The charred forest. The reader needs to see it, taste it, feel it, hear it and know it. They want to walk in the world you create, to feel what the characters feel.

 

I think we all can get caught up in writing dialogue. It is no doubt, extremely important but at the end of the day, if all you have is dialogue, where’s the setting? Why does the reader care if he can’t see your characters sitting on the hillside, or fighting in the alley? The only way to create your world is to give it a personality of its own. Give it an identity and make it come alive in the minds of all who read it.

 

WRITE ON, WRITERS!

 


A Week In Links

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato...

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato Patrimoniale) lie open, one on top of the other. Only a few lines of the underlying book’s text are legible because of the narrow depth of field (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I invest a ludicrous amount of time reading. Whether I read novels, blogs, craft books or research material, I always try to find useful or inspiring bits of information each week. And then I save them. Here are some of the best links:

From The Creative Penn, Joanna Penn talks about How To Work On More Than One Book At A Time

Author Michelle Davidson Argyle has a great post up on her blog, The Innocent Flower. You can find it here: When You Can’t Hack It As An Author

Joel Friedlander has great tips on his blog, The Book Designer. Here’s his post: How To Find Out What Readers Want

WRITE ON.


All Writers Are Vain.

“All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon which one can neither resist nor understand.”

~George Orwell

George Orwell

George Orwell (Photo credit: jovike)

 


A Week In Links

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato...

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato Patrimoniale) lie open, one on top of the other. Only a few lines of the underlying book’s text are legible because of the narrow depth of field (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I invest a ludicrous amount of time reading. Whether I read novels, blogs, craft books or research material, I always try to find useful or inspiring bits of information each week. And then I save them.

Here are this week’s links on writing and social media.

Author Kristen Lamb’s Blog, Can Facebook Hold Your Fan Page Hostage?

Author Chuck Wendig, 25 Ways To Fight Your Story’s Mushy Middle

Author Lindsay Buroker, What Does It Take to Become a Full Time Indie Author?

Author Anne R. Allen, Slow Blog Manifesto…and 8 Reasons Why Slow Blogging Will Help Your Career


To Outline Or…Not

English: Hot-swap states with transitions appl...

Image via Wikipedia

You had two roads to take, the gut instinct or the outline. You chose to write from your gut, let the story pour from your imagination onto the page. You didn’t think about where it was going because you knew it would get there. You’re 80,000 words in. Done. All feels great. Now what?

Now, Editing. You begin to go through your work chapter by chapter, detail by detail and you realize the transitions aren’t what they should be, could be, need to be or what you thought they were. Here is the biggest issue writing without an outline — headaches. You’ve got a great story but it doesn’t roll off your tongue quite right. It doesn’t work quite the way it sounded in your head.

Now for the rewrite. The biggest pain in the ass ever. It even trumps editing. And that is saying a lot. You rewrite from the beginning, move a paragraph here, a chapter there and think, okay, I can do this, it’s not so bad. Until it is bad. Until you have 30 chapters staring back at you asking to be properly read and all your thoughts become a jumbled, dizzying mess.

Now, let me start from the beginning. I’m not methodical. I’m a jumper. I get hit with an idea and I’m off. It’s my way, my style, my inspiration. But let me say that my style completely bit me in the ass. No outline is a bad idea.

I had notes. Pages and pages of notes, handwritten. I had documents–so many I couldn’t keep track of them all. In the beginning, I thought they were enough. In the end, they weren’t. Not even close. I had too many ideas. Ideas that I couldn’t reign in. Ideas that I couldn’t mold in the way I needed to—wanted to. I paid for those amateur mistakes in the end. Through rewrites, a staggering number of drafts, cuts, edits, and revisions. Close to two years worth.

Now my notes are in an abstract outline form, still free-flowing, but an outline nonetheless. Word to the wise: Get your idea, work it through and outline it. Even if that outline is as simple as a few sentences per chapter–a few ideas. Even if you only have a kernel of an idea of what the beginning, middle, and end of the story should be. In the end you will gain a ridiculous amount of time, a better story and with any luck, your sanity.


Sometimes You Need To Scrap It. That’s Okay.

I scratched my cornea two days ago. Forgive any typos as I’m writing this with one eye.

As I am rounding out the last of my revisions and running to the final edits stretch of my novel, I’ve hit a speed bump. I have to cut three chapters. Ghaack! It’s about…7700 words. NOT that I’m a word counter. You can read why if you’d like here: Word Count Goals And The Pathway To Hell

But that’s another subject… When you’re a pantster, like I am, and when you write as slow as a turtle, like I do, you may find that what worked a few drafts ago simply doesn’t work in the final draft. That’s okay. Sometimes scenes no longer fit.

Yes, it creates headaches. But I am a firm believer that cutting makes your work stronger. It makes you look deeper, think harder, and search farther outside the box, which in fantasy, is very important. (Yeah, I write fantasy.)

As I’ve said before, if something doesn’t feel write, it’s because it isn’t. Follow your instincts, listen to your gut, and cut the scene (or at least rewrite it).


A Week in Links

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato...

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato Patrimoniale) lie open, one on top of the other. Only a few lines of the underlying book's text are legible because of the narrow depth of field (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I invest a ludicrous amount of time reading. Whether I read novels, blogs, craft books or research material, I always try to find useful or inspiring bits of information each week. And then I save them. Here are this weeks links:

Joanna Penn has a great post up on her blog, The Creative Penn. Tips For Writers: On the Importance of Persistence. You can find the link here: The Creative Penn

Anne R Allen has an interesting post on her blog. 12 Myths about being a Writer. You can find it here: Anne R. Allen’s Blog

Lastly, Steven Lewis has this post up on his blog, Taleist, Do you have the storyteller’s intelligence? Here’s the link: Taleist

WRITE ON, WRITERS.


Quote of the Day

“Occasionally, there arises a writing situation where you see an alternative to what you are doing, a mad, wild gamble of a way for handling something, which may leave you looking stupid, ridiculous or brilliant—you just don’t know which. You can play it safe there, too, and proceed along the route you’d mapped out for yourself. Or you can trust your personal demon who delivered that crazy idea in the first place.
Trust your demon.”
― Roger Zelazny

Roger Zelazny

Image via Wikipedia


So…You’re a Writer??

Writer Wordart

Writer Wordart (Photo credit: secretagent007)

“So, you’re a writer?” An old friend of mine asked me this question recently. My immediate and unthinking response was, “Unpublished.” I said it like it was some sort of apology. To whom I was apologizing, I will never know. Maybe myself.

What on earth possess’ writers to say that?

Scrutiny.

There is no need to justify the reason we write. Yet, somehow we feel compelled to do so.

So we explain, or try to explain, what we are writing, what our plans are. Or we simply don’t discuss it all. We keep it to ourselves, hidden from our family and our peers. It’s much easier that way–if we fail, no one will ever know.

I’ve seen the sideways glance, the cinched eyebrows, looks of confusion, the blank stare. Get enough of those looks and it will either drive you to push harder, and PROVE THEM WRONG–or it will drive you to shut your mouth.

First, don’t push harder to prove someone wrong. If people aren’t supportive, it’s their issue, not yours. Push harder because YOU are working toward your goals. Second, writers don’t shut their mouths. The inner workings of our minds are constantly talking, constantly creating, and constantly thinking. Don’t hide what makes you different–bask in it.

If we don’t see ourselves as writers–no one will. We have to take ourselves seriously if we expect anyone else to. And part of that is working on our craft. Everyday. The other part– acknowledging not only to yourself, but to everyone else, that yes, you are a writer.

You chose this path. It’s time to walk it.


Inspiration of the day:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

~Albert Einstein


When writing takes hold…

This has been the most productive writing week I’ve had in months. Literally.  Harnessing a writing streak however, can be an impossible task, so when it strikes, run with it.  Here are some repercussions of what I call ‘writers hold.’

1. You have consumed more coffee or hot tea than your body weight.

2. Pajamas become proper work attire.

3. Your laptop has attached itself to your hand.

4. You wake up at three in the morning because your unconscious mind just unlocked the key to Chapter Ten!

5. You realize the dishes haven’t been done in days and you haven’t left the house in over 24 hours.

6. You start talking to yourself. Out loud.

7. You are in pain from the neck down.

8. You have amassed over one hundred unchecked emails and you don’t care.

9. Your blog posts become increasingly random and more sporadic.

10. You have no idea that your boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, child, roommate is talking to you.

11. You don’t know todays date.

12. And you are thankful as hell for all of these things because they spell…PRODUCTIVITY.


My Music Mondays

Here on the blog I am dedicating monday as Music Day. I will post my current playlist or songs that I feel are particularly good this week (or just the songs I’m writing/listening to). Although I love new music and try to stay current, I also love the old stuff and will be posting that as well. Thanks for listening.

PHANTOGRAM: Don’t Move

WASHED OUT: Before

FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE: Only If For A Night

FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE: Shake It Out


QUOTE

“The long-lived books of tomorrow are concealed somewhere amongst the so-far unpublished mss of today.”

Philip Unwin


Finding my way

Today I’m going to go down a slightly different post path. As the weariness of blogs by writers becomes more and more apparent, I feel the need to talk about what I’m doing as a possible means of clearing the clutter from my brain.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my WIP. That’s a good thing because a few weeks ago all I wanted to do was leave it stuffed in a drawer. I still haven’t brought myself to edit anymore or even continue working on the sequel…but I’m feeling better about moving in that direction.

This morning I drug out my old playlist for memory triggers. One of the problems with leaving a WIP for a while is coming back to it later. Finding the same inspiration you left weeks or months before isn’t a guarantee. Listening to playlists is a sure-fire way back in for me. Granted, that doesn’t mean I’ve started writing yet. Only that I’m walking the path again.

The truth is, novels take so much emotional strength to create–and sometimes I simply run out of it. Staying in a particular mind-set for weeks on end–well, let’s just say consumption isn’t always a good thing.

So after riding that dreaded bike of mine for 10 miles this morning, my brain flooded. Without a prod or push, it flowed freely. That hasn’t happened in a long while. So here it flows, onto this page. And again, I’m being guided by that voice in my head. The one that for over a year refused to shut up. It woke up. Or maybe I did. Either way, I’m closer.

Listening to:

Angus & Julia Stone: Down The Way–The Devil’s Tears

Broken Bells: Broken Bells–The High Road, The Ghost Inside

Silversun Pickups: Swoon–The Royal We, Draining, Catch and Release

A Silent Film: The City That Sleeps–You Will Leave a Mark

Blue Foundation: Life of a Ghost–Stained, Enemy, Talk to Me, Watch You Sleeping, Hero Across the Sky.

Placebo: Running Up That Hill

The Fray: How to Save a Life–Look After You

Washed Out: Life of Leisure–Feel It All Around, New Theory

Temper Trap: Conditions–Sweet Disposition

Just to name a few triggers that helped to unlock the vice this morning.


The burning Knee

Having been a classical dancer for most of my life, injuries are second nature to me. I’m pretty good with grinning and bearing it. The best example would be spraining my ankle on stage during a performance in front of a few hundred people. I kept dancing that piece and the two pieces that followed. It’s part of the trade. Similar I would say to cutting or burning myself during a dinner rush, while working the line, on a wait. You just keep going.

Being a dancer and a chef taught me a few very valuable lessons. The most important one–Don’t Quit. I am utilizing these lessons in my writing — or trying to.

Let’s face it, writing is hard–very hard at times. And not only because the craft must be mastered, but also because of the emotion needed to create characters, worlds, dialogue and conflict. It’s a struggle.

Not at all unsimilar to struggling with say….an old knee injury. My recurrent knee injury is from many years past (the ankle is good now). I was 15 when my orthopedic doctor suggested, no , he flat-out told me, to quit dancing because of my knee. Ha! Not likely. I do remember making a sort of hyena snorting sound. I didn’t quit. It wasn’t in me to quit. After physical therapy and a few weeks on crutches (because PT was so painful I couldn’t walk out of the office on my own) I was back to my vices.

Later, running became my new source of self-inflicted pain. Due to this marvelous decision on my part, I am back in PT with the same old injury. Riding the stationary bike for miles and miles in burning pain. Yes, I’ve been here before. Me and the bike are old enemies  friends.

Eleven miles today at  18 mph and the knee is feeling better. Honestly. Strange how something you hate can actually make you feel better at times. Like the taste of Nyquil. Gotta choke it down but in the morning, you can at least say you slept. Granted, it could be because Nyquil is like 80% alcohol–but that’s another post.

Point here–I have one–is that moving forward or not giving up is a necessary part of life. I hate that damn bike, but I’m gonna keep riding it because it helps me. I hate editing. I reallyyy do, and I hate the place I am in right now with my writing. The stuck place. Can’t move forward–can’t move backward. But I know if I keep peddling, keep pointing my toes, keep my hands away from the flames and KEEP moving straight with my writing–I will be okay.

So DON’T QUIT! My advice to myself, my advice to you. None of what we are doing here is easy. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile. It just means—well, it means some of us take the long way around instead of plowing through the middle.


My photoshop nightmare

There is a reason I’m a writer and there is a reason I am NOT technical. So when my love meets my utter head banging confusion, I get a little….mad.

I have been messing around with this photo manipulation program for longer than I care to admit here on the blog. If you haven’t checked out one of these programs before–peruse one for a few and see what I mean. There are more tools than sense–95% of which I have no clue how to use.

When you don’t know how to use one of these programs, you have two options (well three really).

1. You Tube. Yes, I have watched the tutorials and thought aha! that’s easy, what am I complaining about!? Mmm Hmm. It’s easy to minimize the tutorial, push pause and replay a few hundred times while you go back and forth between pages. What isn’t easy is applying these techniques. I will follow tooth to nail and while the ‘expert’ shows off his newly pasted and cut lovely cover–I look up to see mine utterly destroyed. Hence, I have about 10 ‘working’ covers right now.

2. Find the User Manual. Yeah… If you can decipher one of these, I have some furniture that needs assembling.

3. And lastly, my option of choice, wing it. Just try every tool, every layer, every filter and background ……. and pray.

I’m currently using Gimp not Photoshop…not like it makes much difference in the grand scheme. Once you are beyond help, it no longer matters which program you use. I believe at the this point, my first cover may look like a toddler assembled it. Or worse….it could like this:


Shh…listen.

I came outside to write today. It’s quiet during the day–only the slight rustle of oak trees. I still feel Fall in the air–the heat doesn’t hide its approach. The different angle of the sun’s rays always gives it away. The wind has picked up slightly and leaves are beginning to rain down.

I love the coming of every season. I think it’s the change–a sense of rebirth.

I’m looking for a different angle as well and hope at times like these, that a change of scenery, and of season, will provide it. Sometimes we only need to listen to find our place again. My writing has been such a struggle of emotions over the last couple of years. So as I let myself sit here and absorb the sounds of nature, this is what I see:

Blue Days

Fall's approach

Squeak

Oaks

Purple Fountain

If I step outside for even a few minutes, my whole perspective changes. And that’s a really good thing.

Word Count Goals And The Pathway To Hell.

I’m gonna get some back lash for this one. That’s ok, I’d like to know how you all do it, if you do.

Word count goals. They are everywhere. Literally. Daily I watch as TweetDeck flashes updates of a new word count goal that has been met or missed by another writer.

Who can write this way? Apparently–LOTS of people. I am not one of them. I’d sooner stab myself in the hand than lay down a number count I had to adhere to.

The writing routine is varied, I know, and what works for one writer will surely not work for all. Some can force the words out and tada! 1,000 words today. Yay me! I can’t force myself to do anything. I would feel like The Little Engine That Could. He’s out there dying of heat exhaustion, thirsting to death, but COME ON LITTLE ENGINE! KEEP GOING! Umm….? Give the train some damn water already.

If I forced myself to write 1,000 words a day (or any), it would probably read like I was trying to decipher the lost language of Danu Talis with a rock by moonlight.

Now don’t get me wrong, if you write this way, I am in awe of you. YOU have an advantage. It’s called speed. And speed in this fast-changing industry is a huge ally. So what are your secrets? How do you write this way if you do? If you don’t, what your reasons?

Personally, I’d rather take longer with my ms than willingly walk through the gateways of rewriting hell (been there, isn’t fun) covered in burns and soot trying to unearth a story through all the madness I created with my rock.