Category Archives: Writing is hard

Take a Chance and Be Brave

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So I did something brave this weekend, something that was so nerve-wracking to me that it actually made me a little sick to my stomach.
I shared two of my WIP’s with someone, my mentor in my writer’s group actually.  The only other person I have shared my projects with is my friend Stephanie.  We’ve known each other for years and know just about everything about each other, so I have nothing to hide from her.  It still made me sick to give her my partial manuscripts.  So, imagine the nerves I had when sending the two files to a published author who also happens to be an editor at a publishing company. 
It all started because I was lamenting on Twitter about not knowing how teenage boys interact.  My mentor happens to have two teenage sons so the conversation went from there.
I’ve been really stuck the past month or so (maybe longer) for a number of reasons.  Some of which I’m just now figuring out, some I still don’t know.  So, my mentor offered to read my current project and after talking about it a little bit, the other project as well.  The two stories have quite a few things in common.  I started the first one and really liked some of the aspects of it, but didn’t know where it was going.  When I started the second one, I had a fully fleshed out idea that was plotted (at least loosely) for a four book series.  I ended up incorporating some of the characters from the first into the second. 
But now, I can’t seem to make progress on the first of the series I have plotted out.  I sit and stare at the screen with no idea, or no desire, to further the story.  I don’t know if I’m just stuck in a part of the story that I don’t like or if I don’t like the entire story anymore.
I don’t think that’s true though.
When I think about the story in the abstract, I’m still excited about it.  I like the IDEA of it, I’m just struggling with getting it out on paper, or the screen as the case may be.  I end up with these huge blocks of time in which I could do nothing but write, but I don’t.  I find anything to do instead, or nothing to do and just ignore my computer.
I’ve come up with all kinds of excuses.  After looking at a computer all day at work I don’t want to when I get home (yet I spend the evening messing around on my iPad).  I hate to ignore my husband (true, but he understands and doesn’t mind).  I don’t have time (flat out lie – sure I have a full time job, but I know people with a lot more going on than me who find the time to write).
So, what does all of this have to do with being brave?  By sharing my projects with someone else, I have to accept what is wrong with them (in the form of feedback) and acknowledge that I need to get moving on making progress.
Part of our monthly writer’s group meeting is to celebrate who met their goals for the month.  I have yet to meet my word count goal I’ve set for myself on a monthly basis.  That changes this month.  That’s another part of being brave, putting my goals out there and keeping track of my progress in a public way so others can see how well I’m doing (or how much I’m missing the goals, as the case may be).  
Here are the goals for the January meeting on the 12th:
        – 15,000 words (I didn’t specify a project, just word count on something, not including blogs)
        – Complete four Thursday’s Children blogs
        – Post on the GRRWG blog on Dec. 15
Now I just need to buckle down and get to work.  And not make myself crazy waiting for feedback from my mentor.
Here’s hoping these little acts of bravery get my back on the right track…

Writing is not for the Faint of Heart

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You know that saying, “faint heart never won fair maiden?” Well, faint heart never wrote a book as far as I’m concerned.

Lately my writing has not been going well. I can’t seem to find the motivation to write, and when I do sit down to write, the words won’t flow. I am forever hearing authors say they write because they can’t NOT write. It’s always in the back of their minds, their fingers itch to get to the keyboard, and they ignore everything else in the world to do this one thing.

What if I’m not like that?

Does that mean I’m not a writer?

Or that I shouldn’t want to be a writer?

I know I want to be a writer, for a number of reasons. I want to give young adult readers more options of well written, thought provoking books. I was (and still am) a huge reader and I want to encourage kids to read. It seems to be lost on so many these days.

I also want to be a writer because I have these stories in my mind that won’t go away. I figure the best way to exorcise them is to get them down on paper. Or on a simulated piece of paper on my computer screen. I’ve had some of these ideas for years, characters and scenes that cycle endlessly. I either need to write them down or talk to a professional because I’m hearing voices. Probably both.

I enjoy writing, I really do. Even though there are many times I can’t make myself sit down in front of the computer, I do like to write. I blame my laziness on a lot of things. I have a full time job. I sit in front of a computer for nine hours a day, why in the world do I want to do that when I get home? I feel guilty abandoning my husband in the evenings when it’s the only time we see other. I could list a million more, but they are all just excuses.

I want to be a writer, in part, because I want the lifestyle. I know being a writer is not easy, I know it’s stressful and you have to do things you don’t want to do and there are deadlines and all of that. But, I still want the lifestyle, the relative freedom to work from a different place every day if I want to and to work in yoga pants if I feel like it. Trust me, I would feel like it.

But at the same time, I’m completely terrified to have any one read anything I’ve written. That’s a problem, a huge one, I get that. See, I like to think that if I can get something to the publishing stage, it will have been read, reviewed, and edited by enough people that the terrible first draft will be hidden and no one will know how bad at this I actually I am. But, before it gets to that stage, a bunch of people have to read it and tell me everything that is wrong with it and what I should do differently. One of my biggest fears is looking stupid in front of other people, and that’s basically what I’m going to be doing. I’m going to ask other people to tell me everything I did wrong in this manuscript. It’s terrifying, and at the moment it’s crippling. So far, I’ve had exactly two people read a sample of my writing and both times I thought I was going to be sick from the nerves.

What I’m most afraid of is someone telling me I shouldn’t even dream of doing this because I’m that bad at it. That would be devastating. This has been a huge dream of mine for a long time.

I know I need to just get that first draft down on paper. That’s the first hurdle. I have a plot, I have a fairly detailed outline, and I know exactly what is supposed to happen at each stage in the book. But the words just won’t come.
My goal over this long holiday weekend is to make significant progress on my first draft. I need to just sit down and write whatever comes to mind, the revisions come later. Just breathe…and write.

Think Before You Write

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So, I’ve put my writing on hold.  Sort of.  Not really on hold, but I’m taking a few steps back.  I just finished reading Outlining Your Novel:  Map Your Way to Success  by K.M. Weiland.  And I have to say, before reading her book; I was a no-outline kind of person.  Sure I jotted down ideas, came up with a basic synopsis for my book, and knew what the ending as going to be.  I even put a fair amount of thought into the characters and the back story.  But then I started writing and I got through the prologue and about half of the first chapter only to realize I didn’t really know where I was going.  I know the overall story, but I don’t know the all the steps to get there.
I kind of picture it in my head like this; there is really big staircase in front of me, one of those ones that curves around and has landings on every floor.  In my story, I know the landings, but I don’t know the individual steps I have to climb on to get to the landings. 
So, after reading the book (which went quickly – it’s about 175 pages), I’ve decide to go back to the outlining stage.  I’m going start at the beginning of her book and going chapter by chapter and following her advice on creating a detailed outline.  I’m not sure I want to call it an outline because that brings to mind all sorts of scary Roman numerals and parentheses, but you get the gist.  It may be a little time consuming, which is one of the reasons I have avoided an in depth outline in the past.  But I think it will be worth it in the long run.  I think it will help with the actual writing and I think it will help in the crafting of the story; it will be that much better for it.
We’ll see after I get through the exercise if I feel the same way, but I’m thinking I will.  In fact, I think I will be completely pro-outline.  I’ll let you know how it goes.