Letting Your Writing Sit

I wanted to call this post “Take A Break From Your Writing” but sometimes people just read headers, and I’d be remiss, Dear Reader, if that’s all someone took away from this post. Everyone gets overwhelmed and burnt out at some point, and taking a break isn’t necessarily bad, but I don’t think I’d really ever suggest a true break from writing.

This post is actually about taking a break from a piece of writing. I find the longer between writing a first draft and returning to edit it, the more clarity I have. Over time, your own writing can become almost foreign to you. I have much less a problem crossing through and suggesting changes to others than I do with my own work, and when I put enough time between writing and editing, my own work begins to feel like someone else’s. Sometimes I discover the bad: “Who wrote this? It’s garbage!” but (less frequently) sometimes it’s good: “Wow, that dialogue was convincing!” I become less attached to specific words or phrases, or even scenes and characters, so I can make changes, even big sweeping strikethroughs and plot disruptions, divorced from my original love for whatever my past self’s fevered brain thought was good.

There is probably a break point where you become too detached, your style evolves too far from where you started, or your passion for the topic has been snuffed out, but I’m not sure where that is, or if I could even council others on where it might be for them. Stephen King suggests a minimum of a six week break for the first draft of a novel. Close the file and don’t open again for a month and a half. That’s probably a pretty solid time to clear your mind and heart of what you created and long enough to complete some other writing task (because, remember Dear Reader, don’t take a break from all writing, just this writing). I put a solid month between NaNoWriMo and editing the latest part of Vacancy and that felt like a good amount of time. Another couple weeks would not have hurt, and perhaps would have helped had Vacancy been longer or I had worked on it for more than a single month. (King also suggests no project should take you more than three months/a season. Good thing I live in Florida where it’s summer 90% of the year.)

What actually did help was finishing up Blogmas, which I considered a writing project, if not traditional fiction. Filling the time between vomiting thousands of words and heading back in to edit those words with vomiting other words that held a totally different meaning (non-fiction) with totally different parameters (no word length, just a daily requirement and a very loose topic) felt like a reset. I let go of Vacancy and didn’t have pangs of missing it, desire to edit it, or conversely dread for having to edit it later (probably the more likely feeling for NaNo-ers), that was all replaced with another project. Blogmas also gave me a little boost of confidence because I completed it and felt particularly successful doing so.

So I came back to Vacancy with a new excitement because I already felt so victorious over Blogmas, and a fresh set of eyes that weren’t already fed up with Moonlit Shores Manor or too in love with some trash sentence that I couldn’t bare to drop in the bin just yet. Editing now is easier than it would have been a month ago and, more importantly, more pleasurable. I normally really enjoy editing, but this go around has been particularly fun. And I owe it all to letting my writing sit.

Advertisements

Reminder: Vacancy is coming back on January 1st!

This may only be exciting for me, but I’m very proud to announce that my serial fiction is coming back starting Monday, January 1, 2018!

VacancyCoverPhoto

Vacancy is a supernatural, fantasy fiction serial I began posting to the blog way back in 2016, then used as my project for NaNoWriMo 2017 and am planning to begin posting again every Monday starting January 1st.

The story follows Lorelei Fischer as she happens upon a mysterious inn, Moonlit Shores Manor, while escaping a life she wishes to leave behind. Can she secure a job at the bizarre bed and breakfast amidst its cooky inhabitants and, if so, will she even want to stay?

If you’d like to catch up or begin reading, there are currently four posts:

Vacancy – 1.01
Vacancy – 1.02
Vacancy – 1.03
Vacancy – 1.04

And many more to come, weekly, on the blog!

So Close, But Still So Far

There are just nine more days of NaNo, including today. NINE. That doesn’t seem like enough for 20,000 more words, but it really needs to be because ya girl is BEHIND.

On the plus side, this is the farthest I’ve ever come. I’m still excited about what I’m writing, I’m confident it can be edited into something really fun, and I’m so happy to be creating regularly again. Also, I’m creating content for this site which I’m pumped about. Of the cons, though, I feel overwhelmed and terrified of failure. I’ve been reminding others that it’s not really failure to not make it to 50k, and that’s true, but it’s a jagged pill to swallow nonetheless (thanks Alanis – you guys been listening to the new PopRocks channel on Sirius? #notspon).

So I’ve been pumping myself up for this last push, but the end comes during one of the most busy times of the year: American Thanksgiving. And it got me thinking; this is fucking dumb.

This is one of the worst times to be trying to write a novel, to be isolating yourself from your family and adding a bunch of extra stress on yourself. What the hell were they thinking? Well, I know the answer: they weren’t. I don’t care that they say it was “to more fully take advantage of the miserable weather,” they really picked November because it starts with an N-O and that’s more marketable. They were creating a website after all.

But we do it anyway, and we’re all probably better for it in the end. In fact, I’m hoping it’s a nice place to escape to if all hell breaks loose at the giving of the thanks gathering. I guess it’s an all-in thing: if I can do this, I can do anything. Right?

One of my bigger regrets is not posting enough during November here, but I do have at least four drafts, so get ready for some nonsense in December. That’s just to say that’s why I’m posting this now, to fill the void, which is really not a good reason to post a blog, but on the other hand, I DO WHAT I WANT.

Also, I’m headed to DC for Thanksgiving, so I hope I come back with some solid post ideas that aren’t just me flipping off the White House because I do want to keep my job. Wish me good luck!

 

Day 7

It’s been seven days of NaNo. This is exhausting, but I’m able to actually keep up the pace. How? I’ve got a lot of support behind me this time. People alongside me, working their butts off and being inspiring, people supporting me and letting me bounce ideas off of them. It’s making writing feel like more of a community event than it’s ever been.

But the truth is, writing is one of the most singular things you can do. Sure you can brainstorm, share, workshop, but in the end it’s your words. You choose what to cut and keep, what ideas get carried out, what you want to give to the reader. And that’s scary.

I’m becoming increasingly worried I’m producing lower and lower quality stuff. I know, in some ways, that’s the point, and I’m hoping to come to a break point where I finally clear out all the nonsense and start mining gold. Does that seem reasonable? Does that ever happen to anybody?

I hit 11,678 words a moment ago, and I’m both elated and disappointed. I wanted to be further along, but I’m so much further than I thought I could be. I’m worried I made a mistake working on Vacancy which is already a mish mosh of things, a million tiny stories to be tacked together. I didn’t do enough prep, I need to straighten these characters out a bit more, but on the other hand I love actually bringing them to life. I had them in my head for so long, I’m happy to evict them. I guess I just need to accept that these pieces are going to need a LOT of rewriting.

If nothing else, I’ve reminded myself that I love writing. Even though this makes me groan, and tired, and cranky, I’m ultimately much happier for it all. I’m discouraged to have produced crap, but I’m hoping it’s like working out. Yeah, I can only life five pounds and run for about three seconds, but after practicing and pushing myself, I’ll get better. that’s the secret right???

5 Tips to Keep You Going for NaNoWriMo

Seeing as I’m about 1000 words short of where I should be at this point, I figured what better time for me, the learned, prolific author, to craft a blog post of tips to help you, the struggling writing novice, reach your NaNo goals?

Here are my top five tips on how to keep the momentum going through National Novel Writing Month. You are so very welcome.

 

1. Get Snacks

When you’re in writing mode, or even when you’re not but supposed to be, hunger is a distraction you do not need, especially since walking to and from the fridge is a great procrastination tactic. Before sitting down with your laptop, notebook, chalk and slate, whatever, gather a plethora of writerly snicky-snacks to get you through. And when I say writerly, I mean foods inspired by some of the most prolific authors. Shakespeare was notably remembered for loving poutine and, in fact, credited the gravy, cheese-curdy dish for getting him through Hamlet which, coincidentally, he completed during a NaNo event (it was just called The Word Plague back then, and fell in March). Charles Dickinson, along with being paid by the word, credited his prose fertility to Gushers Sour Triple Berry Shock fruit snacks. Tweet at your favorite author, I’m sure they’ll take time out of their own writing schedule to tell you their favorite, inspiring treat.

 

2. Do Sprints

No, I don’t mean the thing where you set a timer for, say, 15 minutes and do nothing but write nonstop. I mean actual sprints–you’re going to need them after downing Jane Austen’s favorite Taco Bell order anyway. So strap on some running shoes and take off. But how will this help my writing? I can hear your unlearned little brains grinding away at the question. Simple: you will hate running so goddamned much, that if you give yourself two choices–run or write–you’re gonna write a fuckton. Also, running gives you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy, and happy people just don’t kill their husbands because he kept interrupting them.

giphy

 

3. Get in Touch with Your Muse

Or, at least try to. There are only nine of them and they’re notoriously difficult to get a hold of. Mine is Thalia, and she’s shockingly busy for someone mythological. I send her a text and three days later my inspiration comes in the form of:

sorry, thought i already texted back! LOL! how bout adding in a love triangle to spice things up? LOL IDK  🏺🎭💙

She’s also always asking me to sacrifice a goat to her for better ideas, and I’m like, bitch, who do you think you are, the devil?

 

4. Get in Touch with the Devil

Summoning an imp or even a full-fledged demon is easier than you think, it just takes a handful of candles, a bit of human blood (doesn’t have to be yours), and the all-encompassing desire to trade in your soul for a temporary, earth-while gift that is very likely to backfire on you in some poetic way (which, as a writer, you’ll be too appreciative of to be upset about). Imps are quicker and more reliable than demons to show, even when you get the ritual a little wrong (Latin is hard to pronounce), but their suggestions can be a bit cliche. On the plus side, you can often trick them into trading something else rather than your soul for ideas. I don’t even miss my Nintendo 64. Demons, however, are smarter, so they have amazing suggestions, but can’t be tricked as easily. So here’s a bonus #sataniclifehack for this list: sign away your soul to multiple demons, as many as possible. When you die, they’ll be too busy squabbling over who gets you that you’re bound to be able to slip away into another dimension. Science.

 

5. Get Someone Else To Do It For You

If all else fails, pull a Tom Clancy or James Patterson and just get somebody else to write your NaNo novel for you. This shit’s hard work, just churning out word after word, unsure where the plot’s going, how your characters are growing, if the theme is coming through at all, so you may as well leave the grunt work in someone else’s hands and hire a ghostwriter. Then you can sit back and wait til December. Or January. Or whenever. It’s fine guys, it’s all fiiiiine.

 

Good luck on finishing up your first full week of NaNoWriMo, guys! Remember, you should have at least 8,335 words by midnight tomorrow. So what you’re only halfway there, strap on your sports bra, pick up an E.A. Poe Chai Latte, call up Beelzebub, and get to it!

NaNoWriMo

You’ve probably heard of it, but in case not, November is National Novel Writing Month. The basic idea is to write a novel, or 50,000 words, in 30 days. It averages out to 1667 words a day which is very doable. In fact, it seems almost too easy. And that’s how it gets you.

I have very mixed feelings about the concept, for myself specifically, and a bit on the whole. Sometimes I think it turns writing into almost joke. Is the craft for everyone? Well, yes, of course. Should it be accessible and practiced by all? Definitely! But writing quality, heartfelt work takes much more than 30 days and an ironwill. The site says as much, admitting the month of November is actually a word vomit, which I appreciate, but I do wonder how many people utilize the month to spew and then just wrap that up and call it a novel and throw it on Amazon. When junk is touted as a NaNoWriMo Novel™, I think it gives the whole practice a bad name.

On the other hand, fuck what anyone else thinks–this is an awesome opportunity to join a community and get some shit done!

I’m also probably a super salty lady when it comes to NaNo because I’ve been doing it on and off for 8 grueling years and have not won once. SAD. But I intend to do better this year, and by better I also mean different. Instead of a novel, I’ll be continuing Vacancy.

VacancyBookCoverCrop
Hell yeah I cropped this image to look like a book cover. Go me.

The serial has a special place in my heart because it’s an idea that had been rolling around in my head for a very long time in a couple different iterations. As I said in my reintroductory post, I just took on too much with it. The anxiety of getting something completed, of not really editing, of jumping in with little direction, it was all too much. But if I can shit out 50,000 words, I’ll set myself up with roughly 20 posts which I can edit prior to posting, of course, and posting weekly starting in January will bring me almost halfway through the year, so I’ll really have some content by the end of this thing provided I can stick to it.

But can I stick to it??? Yeah, that’s what this is for. Alongside getting a good friend to flounder with me in the writing process and utilizing Husband’s creative capacity to its max (it was his idea to use Vacancy as the piece I should work on which was genius), this is my callout post. This is to keep me to my word. Whether you’ve read any of Vacancy or not, or if you ever plan to, you can be my buddy on NaNo and we can write together! Golly gee, won’t that be fun?

If anything, I’ve proven to myself I can write enough wordage to get the numbers through these blogs the last few weeks, so I know it can be done, but will it be done? Only time will tell. Here’s to avoiding failure! 50k here I come.