Posts Tagged With: Writer

Do You Have What it Takes to Succeed?

When I was a kid, I heard a lot of negative advice about becoming a writer. I heard all about how my chances of being a NYT best-selling author were like a million-to-one. I heard about how many manuscripts were rejected compared to how many published. I heard how writing was a nice hobby but I better have a back up.

Super awesome encouragement. Right?

Now, I’m sure the advice was (mostly) well-intentioned. Folks didn’t want me pinning all my hopes on what seemed to them to be a pie-in-the-sky dream (what is pie-in-the-sky anyway and what does it taste like? Clouds? Mmm…cloud pie. Fluffy. Like marshmallow cream).

All I can say is: good thing telling me no often results in making me stick even tighter to my guns.

Of course, I haven’t published a novel yet. I took a looooooong hiatus from writing starting in college and lasting until a few years ago. Since then, I’ve been poking along. It’s not going as fast as I’d like but it is going.

These days, I generally ignore any unhelpful, negative advice. I believe I will get there (there being a published author, maybe even an NYT best-selling author) if I keep working…even if takes me until I’m eighty (and I really, really, really, really, really hope it doesn’t take that long).

But sometimes the negativity still filters in and I get a little down about my prospects. That’s when articles like the one below really perk me up:

Persistence Prevails When All Else Fails—Being an Outlaster

Monday we talked about The DIP, so it seemed like a good idea to talk about being an OUTLASTER. I had years of honing this skill. Some of you may not know, but I dropped out of high school twice. 

***Note: I am the reason for the current Texas truancy laws 😀 .

Returning to high school and graduating at 19 was seriously humbling. My GPA was so low, my classes (very literally) were one step above Special Ed. When I took my SAT, the scores were so bad, I thought they might check me for a pulse.

Really glad they gave me some points for spelling my name correctly, LOL.

After a year and a half of junior college I won an Air Force scholarship to TCU to become a doctor. Six months in, the school didn’t close when we had a bad ice storm and I slipped and fractured my back…losing my scholarship.

Go read the rest on Kristen Lamb’s blog. –>

Categories: Tuesday Toss-Up | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Why the Advice You Hate the Most is Right

May I confess something to you?

No? Well, I’m going to anyway.

Because it’s my blog.

And, also, I don’t have anything else to write about today.

I’m a pantser by nature. I hate schedules. I frequently have no idea what I’m going to fix for dinner before lunch and usually have no idea what my weekend plans are going to be until it’s actually the weekend. I fly by the seat of my pants.

And it works.

Sort of.

There’s a lot to be said for spontaneity. But it often is the enemy of actually getting stuff done. Sure, we might spontaneously decide to do the laundry backlog, start exercising, finish a novel…someday. But something that needs our attention right now is bound to come up, most especially when we’ve spontaneously started a project.

And some things, when left up to spontaneity, get pushed to the bottom of the list almost every time.

Like laundry–who needs to wash socks when you can wear flip-flops?

And novels. Especially novels.

Life’s distractions breed like tribbles the moment you start a novel (the way goodies multiply when you start a fitness plan). And they only pick up steam as you go along.

The solution, of course, is to make time. Set goals and tell people about them. Come up with at least a rudimentary schedule and stick to it. Come up with a system for accountability.

I know this. How well I know this. I’ve had success with this before in both NaNo and ROW80.

And yet, I struggle nonetheless.

Call it a defect of character, a lack of priorities, a distractible mind, or project ADD. Call it fear: fear of failure, fear of success, fear of dust bunnies. Call it procrastination (which itself is probably the nasty afterbirth of fear).

Whatever you call the thing, the end result is the same.

The novel left up to chance to write will not get written.

This is why NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, for those who haven’t had the pleasure of being introduced) is so great. You join NaNo, set a goal for 50,000 words for by the end of November, tell the world about it, avail yourself of the NaNo community and write like hell for a month.

This last November, I decided to make NaNoWriMo my spring-board for finishing my work-in-progress. I’d plotted and written part of a previous version of this novel, only to discover the story had mortal wounds. Once I recovered from that unpleasant discovery, I took the opportunity to plot a better story using most of the characters, premise and concept of the previous story. I’d mostly finished when NaNo rolled around.

Perfect timing. A chance to get a solid start (50K words should be half or more of the novel) and form good writing habits. Forcing myself to plan for daily word counts. A deadline hanging over my head. Community support. The thrill of victory should I complete the challenge. What could be better?

And it worked. I won NaNo and formed a habit for writing daily. In fact, daily writing became easier and much more pleasant. I looked forward to the blank page instead of dreading it.

Once I finished NaNo, I imagined I wouldn’t actually have to worry about setting word count goals. I’d have so much momentum built up from NaNo, I’d just keep writing…

Spontaneously.

Go ahead. Laugh now. I’ve earned it.

It didn’t take long for the lack of specific daily goals, deadlines and a system of accountability to show its rotten fruit. My productivity dropped off and I began dragging my feet when it came time to write. Distractions popped up with greater number and increased power. And much of the writing I did do felt off, forced and more than crappy-first-draft crappy.

I hate when they (the ones who talk about goal setting, scheduling, yada yada yada) are right. But I can’t deny they are.

So here I am, back on the wagon, however reluctantly. I’m shooting for 1K words daily and at least 4K words a week (allowing for days off so I don’t go NaNo nuts…those of you who’ve been there know what I’m talking about). I aim to have the first draft complete by February 28.

There and, now that I’ve told you all, I really can’t weasel out of it.

Crap.

But I’ll thank myself when my novel is done. Finally.

I’m finding a few things helpful as I go along.

I use Scrivener (an all-in-one writing software program for writers) and I love having the Project Goals feature visible as I write so I can see my progress.

I have the WriteChain app (an awesome, simple app that allows you to choose your word count and writing day goals and gives you a link for each day you meet your goal) on my phone and I absolutely, positively refuse to break the chain. I’ve got 80 links so far, which includes NaNaWriMo and I stretched the coast days during the holidays.

diyMFA has excellent advice on setting and testing goals for writing (which could apply to any goal). I’m collecting data now for my own iteration process.

And Derek Hawkins has a great suggestion on his blog for keeping yourself motivated (*hint* it can involve chocolate).

How do you keep yourself on track with a big writing (or other) project? What tools and tricks work for you?

Categories: Tuesday Toss-Up | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Grab Your Tac Bac, Machete and…Cat?

The following post is in honor of Piper Bayard’s début novel, Firelands. If you’ve read Piper’s and Holmes’ blog, you know that any book she writes is gonna be thrilling, funny, a little scary and, well, awesome. If you haven’t read their blog, go read it. Right now. And then go get the book…or Felinius Maximus will hunt you down.

You’ve been warned.

Angry Cat

At my command, unleash hell!

Fast forward to tomorrow morning…

You wake up expecting the day to be like every other one. You’ll drag your butt out of bed, pry your eyelids open and stumble into the kitchen to throw some scalding coffee (or tea, matcha, whatever) down your gullet  along with leftovers  donuts a nourishing breakfast. Continue reading

Categories: Parallel Tuesdays | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

What’s the Hardest Part of Writing?

Literary cat by SuziJane (Suzi Duke) on Flickr

“It was a dark and stormy night….” Yeah, that’s the stuff. This is gonna be a best-seller for sure.

Recently, I’ve come across a few discussions that touch on, in one way or another, the hardest part of writing.

So what is the hardest part of writing?

Well now, that varies from writer to writer.

For me, the hardest part of writing is the actual writing. Allow me to explain… Continue reading

Categories: Tuesday Toss-Up | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Doing the Write Thing for a Good Cause

Fundraising Anthology for a Fellow Writer

Group Hug - IRecently, we talked about how much goodness we can do for one another when the chips are down. When something as big as Hurricane Sandy strikes and people respond with generosity and kindness, the whole world hears about it.

But when a storm strikes in the life of just one person or family and others pour out their love, we don’t always get to hear about unless it’s someone close to us. Or unless you factor in the power of social media. Continue reading

Categories: Tuesday Toss-Up | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Are You Stuck in the Squishy Middle?

How to Get Over the Halfway Mark Hump in NaNoWriMo
(or any big writing project)

Middles.

Sometimes they’re a cause for celebration. As in: “Yeehaw! We’re halfway through!” Or: “Whew! Thank goodness that’s half over already.”

Other times, they just suck. As in: “Oh man, I’ve come all this way and I still have so far to go.” *cue self-pity montage music*

I suppose it probably depends on whether you’re glass-half-full kinda folk or if you’re stuck in that middle.

We’re heading towards the halfway mark of NaNoWriMo. Some of you may just be picking up steam after a long, slow start. For others, the creative high of the first half of NaNo may be wearing off, leaving them stuck in that mushy, soggy, squishy middle.

Me, I’m aiming for denial. Continue reading

Categories: Tuesday Toss-Up | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

How to be a NaNoWriMo Rebel

NaNoWriMo is in the air. Can you smell it?

Sure, right now that’s the smell of excitement, stockpiles of chocolate and coffee, and possibly disinfectant, as writers furiously clean their houses one last time before NaNo sets in.

Later on, it’ll be the smell of madness and unwashed people. Continue reading

Categories: Tuesday Toss-Up | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

How Do You Disappear?

What if someone was after you? What if he would do anything to find you.

And, if he found you….

Stacy Green, author of Into the Dark (coming in November) tells us about stalkers…: Continue reading

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

How Sympathetic Can a Zombie Be?

Zombies Were People Too

Flesh and Bone, Rot and Ruin Book 3, by Jonathan Mayberry

The 3rd Rot & Ruin Book

I recently read Jonathan Maberry‘s Rot and Ruin series, the story of four friends who’ve grown up in a zombie devastated world. As they try to find their place in this world, they have to choose between safety, an illusion crafted from stagnation and denial for many of the survivors, and freedom in a land where everything wants to kill them.

While the novels deliver all the shambling, flesh-hungry zombie terror you’d expect, it also packs a huge emotional punch. Good horror makes you care about the characters but Jonathan Maberry makes you care about the monster too. Continue reading

Categories: Killer Thursdays | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

How Much Should Be Left to the Imagination in Fiction?

Some time ago, I came across this TED video with J.J. Abrams talking about what drives his creativity.

He talks about the Mystery Box, the idea that what we don’t need to know every detail about a story to enjoy it. In fact it’s what’s left to the imagination that really makes the story. The monster we don’t see. The conversation we see but can’t overhear. The closed door. Continue reading

Categories: Tuesday Toss-Up | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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