Tag Archives: the mind of a writer

Bad Idea

Guess what I did on my days off?

Nothing all that productive (other than planting the grapevine my roommate bought to replace the one the neighbor destroyed).

Nope.

Mostly I read. I’m telling you, that Kindle app on my phone is the death of productivity. Of course, it was also much cooler downstairs than it was up in my room. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Now, reading in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. After all, when you’re not writing or re-writing you should be reading.

But…

But for some reason I started thinking about one of the stories in my “Novels I’m Ignoring” folder so I opened it up and re-read it.  It’s Hedge House and was my 2015 NaNoWriMo novel.

And you know what? It’s not too bad for a first draft. If you overlook all the typos (I fixed a bunch) and the notes that I left for myself, it’s really pretty good plot and character wise.

It’s not finished, though. I haven’t had the big final fight and wrapped up stuff, and I’m not even sure I’m to that point with it yet. I do know that I shouldn’t have read it because now I want to get back to work on it, but there’s so much else I should be focusing on.

Maybe it would be all right to start a spiral bound notebook for it of things to check on, threads I don’t want to let drop, etc… That’s not really working on it, is it?

Anyhow, lesson learned:

Don’t re-read old WiPs unless you intend to go back to work on them right that minute.

And I still have no idea what I’m doing for Camp in two weeks, but having re-read Hedge House I now have one more option to try to sort through.

I still have two weeks to decide, right?

Meanwhile, someone keep me from re-reading any more old WiPs or I’ll never be able to decide.

 

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Reasons, Excuses, and Other Dodges

So I was laying in bed this morning trying to make myself get up and get my day started and thinking that it was too hot to move. (For those don’t know me, I hate the heat and it was already about 80F and the fan wasn’t helping much.)

And then I was thinking about how much the heat drains me and how I don’t feel like doing much of anything, including writing, and then I wondered if that was a reason or an excuse.

I decided that it was an excuse and that excuses were a good topic for a blog post.

(Hey, it’s better than my original thought of comparing writing a novel to gardening – I’m saving that gem for another day.)

So then I started thinking about a form I have somewhere about excuses and believe it or not I found it on my computer.

It’s from my days as a Municipal Liaison for NaNoWriMo and it’s called “Resistance vs. Life Happens: How to Tell the Difference.”  I don’t know who created it (and the URL given at the bottom apparently doesn’t work anymore) but it was passed freely so I’m going to try to share it in the blog post.

And then I’m going to use it.

Of course, first I’m going to have to set up scheduled writing times because it’s based on “Broken Writing Dates” and forces you to look at why you stood yourself up.  Then it asks you to identify themes and form a plan of correction and start the process all over.

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Resistance vs. Life Happens: How to Tell the Difference

Fill in the following information over the course of several weeks to a few months depending on the frequency of how often you miss your scheduled writing time. (Make additional copies as necessary.) Identify any themes that become obvious. Address those specifically and aggressively. Are you allowing any distraction to come between you and your work or are there specific problems that can be easily remedied? For example, turning the phone off, finding childcare etc. If you find that every time is a different reason, then you will need to be more proactive in protecting your writing time and space by asking for and receiving help from family and friends. Answer the questions at the end and develop an action plan.

Broken Writing Date

Date scheduled:
Time scheduled:
Location:
Did instead:
Other people present:
What else was going on at the time?
Thoughts that were going through my head at the time:
Emotions felt immediately before scheduled writing time:
Emotions felt immediately after missing scheduled writing time:
Identification of themes:  ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Action plan to address missed appointments:

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

 

Action-oriented replacement thoughts to deal with emotional aspects if present:

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

 

After implementation of the action plan, have you missed fewer writing appointments?

_____ YES _____ NO

If not, have the themes changed?

_____ YES _____ NO

If so, what is your new action plan?

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

 

Based on questions developed for a critique group at A Ream of Writers (http://areamofwriters.freeforums.org/index.php). These questions were inspired by Chapter 14 in Kelly L. Stone’s book Time to Write © 2008.

 

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If anyone knows the originator of the above, please let me know so I can ask permission to post it here.  I know it was made available to MLs to share with their regions, so I’m hoping it’s all right to share here.

 

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De-Stressed

Well, somewhat.

I had an appointment with a cardiologist yesterday and he cleared me – no stress test needed.  Happy happy happy day!

The countdown has begun – only 16 more shifts at my current job. Just having made up my mind to not go with the new company has relieved most of my stress. Now if my doctor would just get back to me with when I can pick up my physical form…

And with the stress starting to fade away my energy has started to come back.

Yesterday I planted some tree lily bulbs, Dutch iris bulbs, and some other kind of bulbs that my mother thinks are some kind of lily. I also planted some chocolate mint and regular mint.

This gives me hope that my will to write will come back soon too, so I can do something about these plot bunnies that are nibbling away at my mind.

Meanwhile, I still have other stuff to plant, and some columbine to pry out from between the bricks in the retaining wall and transplant to my garden.

And lots of other craft stuff to keep me occupied.  (Not to mention the Kindle app on my phone.)

And I only have three weeks to decide what I’m doing for Camp. I should work on Onyx Sun or the Elven Bard novel.  But doing one thousand words for 31 different plot bunnies sounds like fun too.  And then there’s the werewolf thing that’s preying on the edges of my mind. It has some characters (without names) and a scene or two, but no real plot. Of course, I have 3 weeks to flesh it out. But I should work on Onyx Sun or the Elven Bard novel…

I hate being undecided.

Or, rather, I hate being decided on too many things – I want to write them all! Right now!

Sadly, I have to go to work.

Sixteen more shifts.

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Grapevine

This is probably going to be a non writing related blog post.  At least mostly.

I came home from work Friday night and was letting the dogs out and noticed that the majority of the grapevine on the back porch was gone. I asked my roommate what had happened to it and she said that our neighbor had cut down the dead part. I asked if she was aware that he had cut down living vines – vines with flowers that would turn into grapes. She said she hadn’t really looked at it.

Well, I got a better look at the damage Saturday morning and all I want to do is cry. It’s gone. All of it. What I saw still hanging on the rails the night before is just a handful of vines not attached to anything.

The neighbor came out while I had Riley out and said it will grow back. I finally got up enough nerve to go down to ground level (instead of looking from the porch) and it’s worse than I thought. There’s nothing there. Nothing. I can’t even see where the vine was. I don’t think there’s anything left to grow back.

I am heartbroken.

Heartsick.

And even if does grow back, it’s not going to be the same.  That lovely ancient twisted and gnarled trunk is gone forever. (This house was built in 1905. I don’t know when the vine was planted, but the original owner made wine from its grapes.)

I feel like I lost a friend.

So, yeah, it wasn’t a good weekend.

I have been invaded by a couple new plot bunnies though.  *sigh* I can’t keep up! I am doing pretty good at writing them on index cards but I think I’m going to need to get another flex binder (I’m pretty sure I don’t have one on my avalanche prone office supply shelves) and use it to keep outlines in.  I think this project may have outgrown any hopes of fitting in a traveler’s notebook.

Anyhow, one of the plot bunnies is a shifter story.  I have characters (with no name of course) but not much plot yet.

The other grew out of the grapevine butchering and is something that’s going to make me change some stuff in another novel (semi-finished – it needs to be expanded and edited) and create a whole new… not really a series but…

What do you call a bunch of loosely related books set in the same universe?

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Evolution of a Novel #1

So, on Friday I mentioned that I’d started outlining my project for November.  It’s a science fiction novel that’s been kicking around in my head for a lot of years (long before I’d even heard of NaNoWriMo).

It still doesn’t have a name but for now we’ll call it The Desert Planet. (The Word doc name is my usual ever-(not)-helpful “NaNoWriMo 2017 Outline.”)

Anyhow, I thought it might be fun to explore where the idea came from and trace it from that one bit of inspiration through to the final project.

This novel started as a single scene that hit me as I walked out of an air conditioned building in downtown Pittsburgh and into a wall of city heat.

And that’s all the scene was – the main character walking out of an air conditioned building and into a wall of heat.

Then a second character came up to him. Said second character was supposed to be his guide on a rescue mission.

And for a long time that’s where the whole thing sat.

Throughout the years a couple more scenes got added inside my head, but nothing major was happening, just two characters traveling through the desert.

Then last Wednesday, years after the initial idea, it suddenly had a prologue, some background, and a plot twist. (What brought it to the forefront after all that time? Unseasonably hot weather that hit me when I stepped out of my much cooler house.)

So, I started outlining.

So far I have the prologue outlined, and the first two scenes.

Scene two used to be scene one, until I decided that there was too much telling (it was MMC1 reflecting on the mission briefing he’d just left) so I made the briefing scene one so I could show it instead.

Scene two is MMC1 meeting his guide for the mission – one of the planet’s natives.

It still doesn’t have a title, and none of the main characters have a name. One minor character does, but the main characters are MMC1, MMC2, and FMC. I also need names for the planet, the city, the natives, their tribes, and the enemy.

But, hey! I have over five months to name everything, right?

 

 

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Rounding Up Plot Bunnies

I’m still not making much progress toward my writing goals but in a moment of insanity I decided that it would be “fun” to make a list of all the books that I have started or planned.

Off the top of my head I listed 50.

Then I came home from work and poked around a few file folders (with helpful names like “fantasy starts” and “story ideas”) and I’m pretty sure I’m up to over a hundred now, and that’s not counting the “plot bunny bag” beside my computer hutch.

A friend told me I’d better create an immortality potion so I could live long enough to finish them. I told her I’d just make detailed notes and outlines on all of them and leave them to her in my will so she could finish them.

Seriously, though.  What do you do when you have more stories to write than years to write them? (Well, aside from “write faster” which was my friend’s other advice.) If I could write a book a month – consistently – it would still take me over 8 years to clear my backlog of ideas.

Anyhow, listing my projects and potential projects actually sort of ties in with my writing goals for this month, as one of them is to set up a bullet journal for my writing, and part of that is to have a list of all projects so I can track progress on them.

As to how I’m going to track progress, that’s a good question.  Once I get some free time (ha!) I think I’m going to poke through the files section in the bullet journal writers group on Face Book to look for ideas. I might even dive down the Pinterest rabbit hole.

I will find a way to get my writing organized. I will!

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Plot Twist

There’s a meme on Face Book that says something along the lines of “When life throws you a curve ball, yell ‘Plot Twist!’ and move on.”

Well, yesterday I got a plot twist.

I’m not entirely sure how it will play out yet. I’ll know more by the end of the month if not before, but for now let’s just say that my stress levels have about tripled.

So, anyhow…

I’ve been thrown off balance and am trying to regain my equilibrium. I’m sure I will and I’m sure it won’t take too long, but in the meantime I find myself in that weird author place where you’re not only caught up in an emotional whirlwind but you’re also outside it, observing the physical sensations.

And as another side effect, there’s also a line kicking around my head that wants (or maybe needs) to be worked into a novel. (Unfortunately, probably not any of the ones that I already have started.)

(Of course not. *sigh*)

Anyhow, I’ve written it down for future use.

In other news, I haven’t made much progress on any of my writing goals.

That’s not to say I haven’t been working on anything. Onyx Sun still needs more scenes added and I’ve started working on one to explain the relationship between Taliya and Soraine, which falls somewhere between friends and rivals, or maybe spans both. Soraine only has a couple brief appearances in the novel so far, but since she’s going to be getting her own book someday I thought maybe I should expand her a bit.  And this is a fun bit of writing because it showcases her rather wicked sense of humor. It’s also going to tie in nicely with a couple other scenes, which makes me super happy.

(By the way, I really need to use different paper for different things. I left to run errands on Wednesday and grabbed my shopping list from my keyboard shelf. When I headed into the store and opened it I discovered I’d grabbed my note about how the scene introducing Soraine ties into other scenes. Useful, but not what I really needed at that point in time.)

So, anyhow, life – and writing – go on.

Just not always in the expected directions.

 

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Why I Write

A conversation with a writer friend prompted me to ask myself why I write.

Is it for the money?

Oh, hell no!  I have two books out and I doubt I’ve made $10 total – I know it hasn’t been $20. (A large part of the reason for low sales is that I don’t do nearly enough promotion. I have good reviews, though, so there’s that.)

For the fame?

See above. If no one’s reading (because I’m not promoting) then fame is pretty much non-existent. And as an introvert (to the point of being a hermit) I’m not sure I want fame. I sure don’t want to have to do public appearances anywhere.  And my handwriting really sucks so I’m not sure a book signing would be a good thing, either.

So, then, why?

Why do I push myself to write and edit (and eventually publish, honest!) all of the books that I’m working on?

Because…

Because for as much as I hate it at times, I love it.

I love creating/meeting/getting to know characters and telling their stories. (For as long as I can remember I’ve always had stories in my head. I remember as a child thinking in third person, as if my life was a book.)

I love creating worlds and exploring them.

And I both love (and am terrified by) the thought of others reading the stories that I share. I love the idea that, perhaps, at least for a while, I can take others away from their day to day existence and give them an escape, another place to live for a while.

And I write because sometimes I need another place to live for a while.

And, who knows? Maybe someday I’ll be able to make it my day job.

But before I can do that I need to get more books published. I have a ton started and some almost finished, but with my current focus on Onyx Sun and the Academy of the Accord series they’ve all been on the back burner.

I see some authors who seem to have a new release every month or two and I wonder how they do it. (Granted, when The Academy of the Accord is finally released it will be at a rate of one book a month, but there will have been years of writing and editing behind the series. Hopefully not twelve or thirteen years, but still…)

Still, I wonder how they do it.

Then I realize that I do it all myself (except for covers). I write, edit, send to beta readers, revise, edit, format, publish…

And I do it while working full time. (Sometimes I am so jealous of those who can write full time, without needing to work around a day job, but since I am my own (and only) source of income…)

I also tend not to write short novels. (Science fiction and fantasy novels tend to be toward the top of the chart for average word count, due to the world building necessary.)  Longer novels… take longer.

Do I wish I could stay home and just write? (And make a living from my novels?)

Of course I do! (I’m a hermit at heart, remember?)

Is it likely to happen?

Um… no.

But I’m not going to quit writing. I never even considered quitting.

I can’t.

I love it too much.

And that’s what it’s all about.

It’s not about money or fame or recognition.

It’s about doing what I love.

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Brain Dump

So far my plans for the month aren’t going too well. I’ve written approximately 400 words in one of the short stories I’m planning to submit to an anthology and that’s been about it.

Why? I have no idea, other than the fact that the evil day job has been draining and by the time I get home I’m too brain dead to do more than poke at a jigsaw puzzle on JigZone.

Remember my plan to use 750words.com for writing instead of brain dumping my day? Yeah. That (obviously) hasn’t happened.  I tried. I poked at one of the short stories in 750words and… couldn’t focus.

Maybe because I haven’t been using it for writing lately and I need to get back into the habit of doing that, so that my muse or subconscious or whatever you want to call it knows that when I log in it’s time for some creative writing.

Or maybe I’m going about it the wrong way.

Sometimes, brain dumping is necessary.  It can help clear the way for writing by getting other concerns out of your head.

The trick, I think, is to do the brain dump, and then write once the day has been cleared from the mind. I’ve been failing at the second part of that.

I was thinking the other day about how odd it is that I seem to get less written now, when I’m less than five minutes from work, than I did when I had an hour long commute each way.  But maybe it’s not so odd.  That commute gave me time to clear my head on the way home, and time to psych myself up on the way there, so I was able to be productive when I was home.  Instead, I now have to use my time at home to get myself mentally prepped for my day job, and to de-stress from it afterward.

I don’t want to go back to that commute just to test the theory, though, so I’m going to have to find a way to balance brain dumping and writing.

 

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Time Sinks

You know what they are. They’re those black holes that you fall into and before you know it you’ve lost hours of your day.

A few of mine:

Pinterest. I’m pretty good at avoiding this one, but when I fall… I look at someone’s board, then go the board of someone that they pinned an image from, and from there I find other boards and other people and… Yeah. Half a day and forty boards later I come up for air, bleary eyed, wondering what year it is.

Jigzone.  I’ll admit it. (I may have already admitted it here.)  I am a jigsaw junkie. I have been known to skip meals while engrossed in a jigsaw puzzle. I have been known to ignore chocolate cake with peanut butter icing while engrossed in a jigsaw puzzle. I have foregone sleep while engrossed in a jigsaw puzzle.  I’m only semi successful at avoiding jigzone.

YouTube. *sigh* Let’s not go there.  No, I mean, really, let’s not go there. I’m currently addicted to all things Pentatonix.  And to Superfruit videos. And the comments on them. And the Moody Blues. And then I look up old songs that I used to like or wonder if they’re on YouTube.  And then I start looking at horse videos and videos of Boxers (dogs, not fighters).  I’m um… really not good at avoiding YouTube. I tell myself that I’ll use it as a reward, that I’ll watch one (just one!) video and then get back to work. And, yeah, one video becomes two hours and…

Yeah. FaceBook pales in comparison to those.

Then there are online games. I’m pretty good at avoiding them, mostly because I haven’t even thought about them recently. (Until now.  Thank you, me. Now I have to go find Alchemy and BookWorm and Hangaroo, and…)

No. Just no.  I am not going to go there, I’m just not.

 

 

 

 

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