Why it is not so hot to find out you’re a plotter 6,000 words from “The End”

Scrivener (software)

Scrivener (software) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Oh dear, TTWI has just gone and done it again. I was six thousand words give or take some dialogue away from writing those two little words  “the end”. When my inner editor thought it would be a great idea, no, the best idea ever to have a look at the structure. Maybe even do some cork-boarding on Scrivener.

 

This was not a good idea, in fact in the history of bright ideas I’ve had recently this is in the bottom two.

 

I’ve just cut my darling to shreds, so we’ve gone from 73,456 words to 32,245 words in my still unfinished novel. It gets worse. I have to do some research and some plotting as well. The story in its original form wasn’t working, happy coincidences abounded and I hate these in other work. Person A just happens to be in the right place at the right time to intersect with Person B y’know the sort of stuff. My geography was all over the place and even worse people’s names were changing? How did I manage that?

 

So the current state of play is that I have a still unfinished novel…..

 

The upside to this is that the novel is one I’m happy with and I guess being happy and content with the 32,000 words I’ve got is better than having a steaming pile of finished.

 

There’s some real work to do. As easy as it would be to throw the net-book in a drawer and cry myself to sleep, it’s not happening. I always knew this was gonna be hard. Probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done and that’s okay.

 

40,000 to go….

 

I’m doing it. I am not giving up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The balance between real-life and writing.

Blah! Party logo

Blah! Party logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been less than perfect in my day job this week and simultaneously stifled and unable to write in any downtime. Not that there’s been a lot of that….. I’ve clocked up sixty hours this week. – I am not going to throw a pity party about it, that was yesterdays post!

So how do you manage the demands on your time when you are struggling to finish your novel and trying to hold down an intense job that pays the mortgage?

It’s tough and it’s not a subject that gets covered in a positive way by a lot of the advice blogs you read. I think the usual general gist of it is to –  suck it up…. It’s just the journey of being a writer – Blah, Blah.

I’ve seen strategies and spreadsheets. Advice that tells you to get up half an hour earlier. To try harder because you are obviously not utilising your time properly.

Helpful eh?

I think you need to show balance and when you find yourself short on time, focus on the things that count. Sometimes there is stuff more important than writing or building a platform or engaging in social media or anything like that.

How long have you had this dream for? If you are anything like me, it is decades now. Is it going anywhere? – Nope, it’s here to stay. So don’t sweat it and don’t give the inner demons a chance to wheedle their way in. Because once they start they won’t stop and if you let them get a horn in the door of your mind they’re likely to convince you to quit…. AGAIN.

So cut YOURSELF some slack, you are not procrastinating, hey it would be lovely to have the time to procrastinate.

There are probably people in your life and they deserve your love and undivided attention, too. That Novel is not gonna let you warm your feet on them on a cold winters night and they deserve better. They know it’s important to you, they put up with being a writers widow/er so give them some valuable time.

You will come back to the writing, tomorrow or the next day because you gave yourself some room to let it settle. You placed things in the right order of importance. You cut yourself some slack.

It’s only when we force it that the inner demons get into their stride or we end up thinking about what has to give… Something always has too eventually. So stop beating yourself up about it and go hug a husband or spouse or family member or even a little person.

Comments, as always, welcome.

Why Don’t You Get Me?

Bit by Richard Tuttle

A piece of me, I always knew I was Red.     Bit by Richard Tuttle (Photo credit: cliff1066™)

Sometimes, you write a post and it’s all “Hooray” lot’s of likes and comments straight out of the publishing gate. Other times, you write a post (these are the ones you are immensely proud of that you feel a bit like a parent sending your little one to their first day of school) and it’s that tumbleweed rolling down the hill!

So what gives?

Why don’t you get it? Why do I suddenly feel alone in the schoolyard clutching my satchel wondering if you don’t like me and if you’ll never like me?

The writing is the easy bit, the putting it out is  the hard bit. It all get’s mixed up and coalesces into something awful and grimy and messy.

I have a theory that all writers secretly believe their special. Special and different. I know that in my heart,  apart from all the bullshit about grammar, publishing and all that guff, I secretly feel that way too.

I think I fear finding out that I’m deluded and my secret and different specialness is just a dream that keeps me sane.

Here’s hoping I never wake up.

Foetal Writer – My list of baby steps.

fashion faux pas

This is my writing. (Photo credit: Judy **) But I’m working on it 🙂

It’s not all joy and expansive prose when you’re new at this writing schnizzle. Sometimes it just plain sucks. I’ve made a list of all the things I’m good at and all the things I’m struggling with. These are the things where I need to engage the force and shut up and just get on with it!

Good At:-

1. Procrastination. I’m sure that draw needs re-organising, the cat needs feeding and if really in a rut, I may even talk to the husband.

2. Using the words:- Turned, saw, look, looked, began, begin/s, started, while (and whilst, I like to mix things up y’know?), was, had, told, knew and heard.  – I opened Scrivener to see how many words I had in my search list and trust me, – this wasn’t all of them.

3. Editing, because I can’t get past Chapter twenty-two.

4. Fear of finishing (hmm linked to number three above) and the ensuing fear of failure to sell any books because I’ll have to talk to lots of people and be nice and let’s face it the reason I write is because I’m a bit of a depressed loner.

Baby Steps:-

1. Dialogue tags:- I forget the rules and no-one should use that many descriptions of the word said, often with an adverb. I counted seven in one particular piece of dialogue, they sounded like bad thespians rather than characters, she whispered quietly – err DOH!

2. Getting in and out of rooms. My characters seem to get stuck by some invisible force sometimes in doorways or in front of doors. It’s really difficult getting them in and out of blasted rooms.

3. Action:- Now this is the sticky bit. If an arrow pierces a shield the reader knows that it didn’t pierce the person in the next sentence because it’s in the shield. I do this a lot. I’ve taken to watching u-tube action sequences and listening to swordplay. I’m also learning a lot about archery so that I get it right. Especially, because you just know if you don’t know this stuff, someone is going to nicely point out you got it wrong, wrong, wrong….

4. Moving the story on, there’s a lot I need readers to know and whilst I am desperately trying to show not tell, I sometimes do a little too much back story… Mystery is my friend, readers are surprised not, Oh I knew that was going to happen five chapters ago. If they’re still there….

So these are my failures and my top faux pas. What did/do you struggle with?

Comments, as always, welcome.

Sit at your desk writing and all you’ve got is a book about a desk.

A game of squash

A game of squash, if this was a photo of me, I’d be on the floor, sweating and purple (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A double yellow squash ball.

A double yellow squash ball. These are slow balls and we play with the blue……(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been killing myself, learning something new over the past few weeks. I have learned how to run around a squash court. I’ve learned that puce is the colour I turn just before I get to full purple and I’ve learned that a desk job and sedentary lifestyle is to blame for a complete inability to move with real pace and grace.

The day after the first match, my legs felt like someone had driven a steam roller over them and as I had fallen over trying to hit a couple of shots, I also had the bruises to show exactly which part of this frame, hit which part of the court when I went down. My legs now resemble a rainbow of yellow greens.

Laying in bed, nursing both bruises and dented pride, I got to thinking about how good I felt after the exercise and how competitive my nature truly is. I knew I was never going to win as my lovely husband used to play Squash for a county up North. Out on that court, I just didn’t care. For every four points in a row he got, I won one back and it was hard-earned, it was hard-won and I rejoiced inside.

My husbands not the type to let me win either and whilst the sensitive are thinking, “how mean!” He knows damn well, I’d hate it any other way.

So a sense of competition and running around doing something to stimulate oxygen to my brain has had an unexpected impact that I think was missing before.

I used to think the hard part was sitting down and writing and continuing to write until it’s finished. That is what everyone tells you isn’t it? A thousand blogs telling you to sit down and write until those digits bleed, until your sick of the sounds of the keys and the cold coffee your nursing.

I don’t think that’s a productive way to produce quality work. I think to write about what you know, if all you do is sit at a desk, well, that’s all you know. The pain and frustration of trying your very best and still sounding stilted, contrived and wondering why you’re not as creative as other people just sucks as a strategy.

You need to get out and smell the roses, do something that you enjoy and like doing. Meet some new people in real life. Do something that stimulates your emotions and your creativity is not going to be far behind.

Make the minutes you spend writing count, by filling the rest of your time with things that matter. I’m not giving you a license to procrastinate but sitting at a desk torturing yourself doesn’t help you achieve your goals. Living life in a full and authentic way is the best and most rewarding road to writing well..

The absolute best thing about doing this from a writing perspective, is a speech impediment I noticed that one of the receptionists had and an incident with a small child and their parent at a roller-disco they host in the sports hall. I’d never have the exact quirks or nuances of those situations – if I hadn’t been going to do something I enjoyed.

Live well, write well. In my eyes – they are intrinsically linked.

Comments, as always, – welcome.

Three Reasons to Write

English: Celsius Fahrenheit convert scale Deut...

English: Celsius Fahrenheit convert scale Deutsch: Celsius Fahrenheit Umwanlungs-Skala (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was 78 Fahrenheit on this same day last year and the man on the radio, whilst I was driving to a client meeting, also informed me that the first day of spring was yesterday. Really? Have you seen the three inches of snow outside? Driving home through a blizzard I started thinking about the things that I could do over the weekend that didn’t involve leaving the house.

Yes, I am aware of the writing aspect (what a perfect opportunity to procrastinate). The Novel and I, are not speaking at the moment. It’s just a tiff, not a major falling out and after I’ve sulked for a bit, I am sure we’ll kiss and make up over Chapter 20.

However, I came up with a plan and to force myself back into my manuscript, I have come up with three things I’d rather write than do…

1. Clean out the Oven.  – It’s dirty and sometimes smoky, (yes, it really is that bad) but there’s nothing that could force me in there with the horrible cleaning stuff that I always think I’m going to suffocate after inhaling accidentally.

2. Skirting boards. – They haunt me from behind the sofa (couch),” I’m dirty” They say, ” I’m dusty”, and “just imagine how well you will sleep once you’ve moved all the furniture into the center of the room and then back again”. I’m not falling for it. Someone fetch me my outline, i feel a plot twist coming on.

3. The finances – Sifting through receipts working out all the stupid things I’ve bought that I can’t afford and the guilt that goes with it. Is that my notebook? Bring it here.

So whats enough to get you writing again?

Badly Messed? or Freshly Pressed?

WordPress

WordPress (Photo credit: Adriano Gasparri)

When I started this Blog, I remember first reading the Freshly Pressed posts with a sense of awe and wonder. It was like someone had taken the very best writing on any given subject, all fresh, shiny, different, wonderful and so original and FUNNY and smashed it into a smorgasboard of loveliness.

Today, I read Freshly Pressed  (as I usually do when I log into WordPress) and found myself drifting….. Two paragraphs down, in four out of the top six posts, and I’ve  found my attention stuttering and my eyes wandering away like nomads. It’s been the same for the last week or so.

So is it the length?

The average length of a post on FP is a minimum of a 1000 words now. Most are 1500. Were they this long before, I don’t remember there being so many words, all blurring into each other?

Now before the hatemail starts arriving in the comments section below, I am not saying the posts are badly written. They’re not! They are extremely well-written, perfect grammar, spelling and punctuation in every one. They are also just a touch self-conscious. A little too worthy perhaps to fully hold my attention.

I hate to say it…. But they bore me. Whereas I used to read every single post up there and cry, laugh and wonder… Now it’s more MEH? than amazing.

So is it the format that’s not working for me? I notice there is poetry and fiction featured quite heavily now. Part of me, wants to say “Yes, finally some representation for all us creative types!” The other part is running screaming from the laptop. Why? Because “FP” used to represent the best writing from a bunch of plucky amateurs who were giving fresh thought and ideas on ordinary and not so ordinary daily life or writing about issues that they felt affected them. Now it’s all poetry, worthy literaryness or long university style essays on topics. I know literaryness is not a real word (which is probably why I’ll never be freshly pressed)….

And before I would have said that it bothered me, now, getting Freshly Pressed…. Meh!

So is it just me? What do you think about FP?