1. When I get the urge to clean, it’s usually when I should be writing. It’s okay to ignore that rare urge in favor of actually writing. There are small things I can do through the day to keep up or catch up. My favorite tip? Muffin eggs.
2. Even though I have a job that gives me a lot of downtime, I shouldn’t count on that to be my writing time. I still need to set aside time for myself with no distractions, including the incredibly adorable lap warmers that are my cats.
3. Just write. This is obvious, but the reminder is always good. Don’t listen to the nagging during writing time and just get things done.
4. Having a plan for what I’m working on helps. I generally know what will be happening when I sit down to write but it really helps to put into words what I want to get out of the scene. This can be done as I sit down or it can be done the day before.
5. It’s also okay that I don’t always have a plan. Sometimes my best ideas come when I’m just writing. There are times when I just need to see what the characters do in a situation.
6. It is okay to be bad. I have scenes that are just dialog, and no description. I introduce things awkwardly and bring up elements that weren’t mentioned earlier because I forgot. Instead of worrying, I just write a note to myself asking questions or pointing out important ideas or telling myself to put some clue in. I never make notes about how bad things are.
NaNoWriMo begins tomorrow. I’m giving myself time to that sleep and then wake up although I’m pretty nervous and excited. This month (October), I had intended to do absolutely nothing except maybe edit. It didn’t work out that way. I actually ended up writing three crappy stories, and I hit across one story I’d like to delve into more deeply.
Let me just say that finishing anything, even if very rough, feels amazing. One of the greatest fears I have is that I won’t be able to finish because I’m not a real writer. I’ll just let the story fizzle out and become frustrated when I can’t connect the beginning and the end.
I went to the first meet up last week, and it made me realize that this is exactly what NaNo is about for me. This fear usually sits in the back of my head where I ignore it because, duh, we all feel this way when we commit ourselves to a story. But NaNo puts the pressure on. It forces that fear out of hiding and puts it front and center where I have to face it.
So far suggestions have been to tell people that a novel is being written so that people in your life will help hold you accountable, but I don’t think that’ll work for me. This is a battle with myself. Luckily, I have left over confidence from my intended month of rest all because I managed to finish a couple of really questionable stories. That’s the power of just doing. I’ve see that it can be done, and now I just have to do it with a larger story over a longer period of time. That’s all.
So on this day before NaNo, and I just want to wish everyone a happy month. Even if you don’t hit your goal, or even if your story is crap, just keep going. The reward is really worth it.
Yesterday, a good friend of mine made a post about her decision to self-publish. It’s beautiful, a funny and honest look at one writer’s thought processes.
As I read it, I thought, “YES.” (In caps like that too.) I’m sitting here with my cat in my arms and cackling silently to myself because I don’t want to disturb the cat, so I probably do look a lot like a villain, making plots and twisting writer’s thoughts.
Here’s the thing, my master plan. This has been my dream for the longest time. It’s even why I went to school to become a teacher before I realized that being a teacher wasn’t really for me.
What I most want is for writers to see their own worth.
Writing is not an exclusive club. If you write, you’re a writer. It is honestly that simple. It gets more complicated when we talk about good or bad writing, but that’s not what this post is about.
This post is just about you, my writing friends. Your voice is unique. There is no one else who can tell a story like you can. In fact, inside you there are probably stories that will only occur to you and no one else. If you don’t write it, no one else will.
Artists everywhere are prone to angst. We all know this. We remind ourselves of this as we work on projects, when we feel down, like we’re not quite good enough. But among the arts, I believe the writer is the most troubled.
Everyone speaks in words and everyone tells stories. Because of that, writing stories is looked down on as one of the most pedestrian of trades. This seems to create an inherent need for us to prove ourselves to the world at large. I think this is where the rules and the comparisons come in. Writers absolutely feel a need to be able to point to something that proves their worth or they think they’re just some kid pretending.
It’s understandable, but I think, over time, we’ve taken it too far. Now people are starting to believe they’re not real writers unless they’re published or they make money from it. Strange terms like “aspiring” make their way into conversations because writers no longer want to confess they’re writers because they fear the scoffing.
Well, stop it. If you are a writer, you will know you’re a writer. If you’re a writer, you’ll want to write even when you’re told you shouldn’t. You’ll write, even when you feel horrible about your writing. You’ll write because you want to be better, because there’s a story inside you begging to be told. You’ll know you’re a writer because you’ll feel it.
You can deny it all you want, but there’s no escape. If this sounds like a curse, I don’t mean it to, but it probably is. You’ll write one story, and you’ll love it. But shortly there after you’ll think, “I can do better.” And you will. Because you’re a writer, it’s what you do, and when you’re doing what you’re meant to, you can’t help yourself. Whatever path you take, take solace in the fact that you’ve found something that means so much to you it makes your heart race and it makes you flinch. This is one awesome and terrifying ride, but I’d rather be doing this than just about anything else.
I have a clear vision of what I want to do and what I mean to do with my stories. My idea is different from almost anything I’ve seen or read– at least book-wise. I think the only thing that comes close are the various anime and manga stories called A.D. Police which is connected to Bubblegum Crisis. Even that’s not exactly what I’m doing here, but it’s pretty close.
This is why I chose to self-publish– because the idea behind this “series” of stories crossing-over, yet standing on their own, is sort of a strange one. There are a lot of complex character relationships and these relationships spread out into other stories. There are events which are out of order. Some events you may learn the outcome of before you read about the actual event. My hope is that I can make an engaging story that stands on its own and hints at more in other stories.
It’s a crazy idea, and I need my beta readers and my poor unpaid editor to tell me what they honestly think. But what happens when the suggestions received make me question my vision? How do I deal with the edits and suggestions without becoming a prima donna? (“You just don’t understand my vision!”)
1. Respect the opinion. If someone is nice enough to share their thoughts, I listen. I’m terrified to hear it, but another view is always helpful.
2. These are just suggestions. The final decision is always mine, and I own that decision. If the experiment goes down in flames, then I’ll stand off to the side with a shrug of my shoulders and be thankful it wasn’t the house. (If it wasn’t the house, that is. Oh crap, it was the house?)
3. I’m not perfect. This is something I’ve come to accept in recent years. In school, I’ll admit I was used to being one of the best, but the bar was set pretty low. All you had to do was show up, be the weird quiet girl, and everyone pretty much assumed you were smart. But now I’m having to actually work, and it’s really difficult. Plus, I’m lazy.
I feel like I should add a final thought here. Something wise and insightful about how you have to trust yourself and your vision and also trust the people whose opinions you’re asking for. Also, if you do set the house on fire, own it.
Amy Rose Davis has this wonderful post on confidence. I love that she looks within her family to try to understand the issue. Because when it comes down to it, I do think it is partially a personality thing. Like my niece. The girl has the most shining personality that just draws people to her. She’s beautiful, but I always make a point of telling her that her beauty is so much deeper than her skin. She never judges people or talks bad about them. She also seems to have an innate sense that she is awesome without ever having to say it.
That’s not to say she won’t have bad days. But her natural state seems set on, “Yeah, baby!”
Confidence is a strange and slippery thing. It’s important and at the same time it can be dangerous. Too much and it’s a turn off, too little and you get run over by anyone willing to take advantage of you. Overall, I think confidence is necessary in anything you do. If you aren’t feeling confident about something, then it’s a good idea to figure out why. Is it just you or is it what you’re doing?
I started out this post by saying that I’m awesome. Today, I really believe that. I wish I could explain how that comes to be. It’s sort of always been that way with me and also not always been that way. I suffered through a strong lack of self-esteem for a large part of my life, and yet I still can write this post.
At some point, my gut just takes over, like it has a mind of its own. When I hit on something I feel is the right path for me, I know it, and I hold on and don’t let go even when the doubts hit and I start to wonder what the hell I’m doing. That’s happened to me already with this first book. Sometimes I’m scared to look at it, but I’ve also said that I read through it and found it to be exactly what it needed to be. So I just continue pushing forward, doing what comes next, letting my gut lead me.
So here’s my secret: I really have no clue what I’m doing. I have no credentials, no writing degrees or business degrees, no real business experience (unless you count working on the sales floor which I kinda do), no publishing experience, no attempts at publishing. What have I got? I started a blog and shared stories and got a small readership and some great friends. So what makes me think I can do this?
I don’t know, but I know I can. I believe in the story more strongly than I believe in myself. Maybe that’s the secret? Focusing on the specific aspect of something rather than looking at the entire picture? So instead of seeing me + the book + my efforts + my marketing + whatever else goes here, I only see The Book and soon, The Books/Stories, and I latch onto those and decide to believe in them no matter what anyone can tell me. So far, I haven’t really been put to the test. No one has come along and said, “UR DOIN’ IT WRONG.” I’m waiting for that so I can go, “Maybe, but I’m doing it my way, and my way feels right.”