Tag Archive | advice

How to Survive and Succeed at NaNoWriMo

So you’re going to try your hand at the NaNoWriMo challenge this year. 50,000 words in 30 days (or less). It may seem a daunting task, but with some planning and practice and a few handy tricks you’ll likely succeed and come out of the month of November with your goal complete.

First, let’s look at the math of the challenge. I know, we’re all writers, who wants to look at math, but bear with me for a couple of minutes and I’ll show you what you ‘should’ aim for every day. Read More…

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The Best Laid Plans…

You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men, right?

Well, I had planned my next blog post to explore ‘scoundrel lit’ and heroes and the like, but due to limited time today and tomorrow, I have to postpone that writing adventure until later in the week.

“So, what are you going to thrill us with today?”

I thought I’d write a brief post about–

“Wait, did you say ‘brief’? Ha ha ha…that’s funny. You…brief?”

I could always edit ‘you’ out and make it more brief.

“You could, but I have fans. They’d miss me. They might rebel…”

Moving on. Read More…

Do you do Quickies?

“Uh oh, quick, say something funny or the people who clicked on this thinking they were going to get something saucy might get pissed and go away…”

Oh, the pressure, the pressure…

“Seriously, say something!”

Okay, I’ll get right to the point today since I don’t have much time. Are you able to take advantage of those short, quiet times in between your daily demands to.. Read More…

Just Stop!

That’s right, take a moment and just STOP!

Stop writing. Stop cleaning the house. Stop watching TV. Stop reading this blog–after you’ve reached the end! Stop whatever you’re doing, find a quiet, peaceful place and just….

Stop.

Let your brain quiet. Let your breathing slow. Let the tension in your neck, your shoulders, your arms out. That’s right, just let it out…even for just a few minutes. Forget about the bills. Forget about the time. Forget about deadlines. Just stop for a minute and just…  Read More…

Noise

Okay…let’s try this again…

“How many times have you deleted this blog post and started over?”

Three times.

“How many times have you changed the title?”

Twice.

“What do you mean by ‘noise’?”

I was going to write about how sometimes the noise of the outside world can overwhelm the inner voice–

“Me!?”

Not exactly. The writer’s voice–not the critic’s voice. Sometimes when I read too many ‘5 tips to better writing’, ‘3 ways to improve your dialogue’, ‘7 steps to a stronger story’…it all starts swimming around in my head and all that noise drowns out my writer’s voice.

“What?! How dare you call all those pearls of wisdom ‘noise’!”

I don’t mean it badly! And in fact, in most cases, I find the advice to be rather helpful…all I’m saying is occasionally, if I spend TOO much time reading books on writing, editing, plotting, dialogue or reading blogs about writing, writer interviews, agent interviews, etc it all just gets to be too much. I end up worrying about whether I’m writing ‘right’ instead of just writing.

“C’mon….do you seriously think you write ‘right’?”

No. I write the way I write. I hope it’s more ‘right’ than ‘wrong’ and as I continue to grow as a writer I hope I will continue to be more ‘right’ than ‘wrong’ but–

“Ah ha! But the only way you’ll get better is to follow the advice of others. Others who do it better than you!”

Maybe….or maybe I’ll improve my writing by simply writing more. Practicing my craft. Trying new techniques I pick up just from reading a wide variety of books and authors both in and outside of my genre. You know the old saying, practice makes perfect.

“But I’ve heard that ‘perfect’ practice makes perfect. If all you do is practice something the wrong way, all you’ll achieve is the wrong results.”

Hmmm. There might be some truth in that, but I’d like to believe that with patience and perseverance and a passion for writing I’ll only continue to grow and improve as a writer.

“I see. So basically this blog post about ‘noise’ is really more akin to ‘The Three Ps to Better Writing” isn’t it?”

No…I didn’t…

“Hypocrite!”

(Big sigh)

“It’s okay….please continue….I know you want to get to ‘the point is’ part of this post now…”

Fine.  The point is….while advice from other writers, editors, agents, publishers–

“And you!”

Yes, and me, might be incredibly helpful, I think the bottom line is we all have to occasionally step back from all the books and blogs etc. and find our own way forward. Our own style. Copying another’s writing technique, tips or tricks may be the greatest form of flattery, but I think eventually uniqueness is what attracts the readers.

“Oh my god! Are you trying to be intellectual?!” 

Take time to block out the noise and find yourself, chase your dreams and set them free.

If you do that, you will find an audience.

Good luck with your own writing and have a great weekend!

Burning up the Keyboard

Often times when I start a new project, book, short story….(blog post!)….I find the beginning the hardest part. I’ll stare at the darn blank page, the blinking cursor and my brain which just moments ago was crackling with ideas suddenly flat-lines.

 
“Hello? Brain? What’s going on up there?”
“Huh?”
“Wow. You amaze me with your witty repartee.”
“What now?”
“Do you need some caffeine?”
“Oh, that would be lovely.”
“Amazing. That was a complete sentence.”
“It was? How did that happen?”
“Who knows…”
Who knows indeed. Who knows where ideas come from? It seems more often than not the ideas come when I’m least looking for them.
Like in the shower.
I don’t know if it’s because the hot water is gently massaging my scalp and my brain suddenly gets all comfy and decides, “Oh, what the hell, I’ll let the ideas loose so they can run around and stretch their legs…” but whenever I get stuck on writing, a good solution for me is to take a shower.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a water-proof laptop.
(Note to computer makers: Create a water-proof laptop and I’d bet it would be a big hit….at least with the creative types who like to be clean).
Other times when I’m stuck creatively, I quit looking at the blank screen, I quit staring at the blinking cursor and I close my eyes. I put my fingers on the keyboard (making sure my fingers are in the correct location–rather important unless you can read gibberish) and I start typing whatever comes to mind as quickly as I can. Usually a bit of gunk comes flying out at first, (think: the stuff you pull out of a plugged-up drain) but after a while, the words, like the water, starts to flow. Blood starts pumping through my fingers, they loosen up, and soon enough I’m burning up my keyboard. I’m in the zone. Ideas are fighting and clawing and scratching their way out of my brain…It can get a bit messy…

 
I wrote the first draft of the fantasy novel I’m currently working on in that fashion. Fast!
Now, of course, I have to slow down a bit while I’m editing (plus, I have to give my keyboard a chance to cool off), but at least I have something I can work with–the story isn’t lodged inside my head anymore.
….And that’s another blog post for another day, because I need to get back to editing.
Good luck to each of you on your own endeavors and have a great day!