19 October 2015

Write Anything

I'm sure a lot of writers have a specific process for working on a story. Maybe they outline before they start writing, or start at the beginning and go straight through to the end. Outlines have never really been my thing, so I've always been more of a pantser than a planner. But I think I take the pantser thing to a whole other level. Because not only do I pretty much never outline, but I don't write things in order, either.

I can honestly say the only thing I've ever worked on 100% in order from the first chapter to the last was the second draft of Uneven Lines, and that was a half edit/half rewrite. So really I've never written anything from start to finish. Why? I usually work on whichever part is inspiring me the most. Especially with a first draft, there will usually be one or two scenes that I'll keep thinking about over and over again until I actually write them down. Once they're finished, they're usually replaced by something new. It can be any part of the story, so most of the time I write out of order, but with a general idea of how things will eventually tie together.

Sometimes this strategy works, and other times it doesn't. Maybe that's why when I'm not feeling particularly inspired by anything, I don't work on anything. And not writing just seems to lead to even less inspiration, so it becomes a vicious cycle. So what do you do when you rely on that inspiration and it just isn't happening?

There are a few options. You could force yourself to work on a specific part. Maybe something you think will be easy, or just the next part of the story. Or you can just wait it out and hope for any spark of inspiration. I try to pay extra close attention to that voice of inspiration. There usually isn't a day that goes by where I'm not thinking about some aspect of my story, whether it's my main project, one of its sequels, or even just some random bit of background info on a character. I'm trying to get into the mindset of just going with the flow. No matter what part I'm thinking of, start writing.

Lately, for instance, a few scenes from Book 3 have been on my mind. When I was trying to fall asleep last night, some actual words started to pop into my head (and they weren't terrible!). So why fight it? Just because I really should be working on the first book instead? At this point I'd be thrilled to write anything, especially if it's within the universe of the story I should be working on. It would still be better than nothing.

So instead of just thinking about these other ideas, or just jotting down a note here or there, why not write a whole scene? Maybe even a whole chapter? Sure, it may be a distraction from focusing on the first book, but if I'm not actually working on it, why not take advantage of the inspiration? I've let it slip away way too many times to just not write anything. I think it would be better to write something unnecessary than to not write anything at all.

Do you write things in order? What do you do when a different project is distracting you from your main one?

12 October 2015

Where We Want to Be

Everybody has goals, whether they're writing related or not. Some may be easier to achieve than others. When it comes to writing goals, you probably have big ones--like become a bestselling author, or writing x many books--and some smaller, more short term ones--like get to a certain word count or finish the next chapter. Even the smallest goal can be daunting if it isn't coming easily to you. So how do we know we're on the right path? How do we get where we want to be?

If you're constantly changing your goals or adding new ones, you may never be 100% done, which is a good thing. If we were completely done with our writing, well, we wouldn't be writers anymore. As long as you have new goals or ideas, you'll never really stop. But at the same time, you do actually want to achieve your goals. We all want to finish the book we're working on and get it published, then maybe we'll write a sequel or start a whole new idea. The possibilities for new goals are endless, but the first step is to finish the goals you've already made.

Figuring out how to achieve these goals can be tricky. I know for me, just trying to edit my novel is difficult right now. For some it may be getting the first draft done, others figuring out how to get published. We each have our own separate goals to work on, and they can be as diverse as the story ideas themselves. It helps to focus on one goal at a time. Yes, you may have those big, long term goals, but those are hard and take time to achieve. If you focus on one small goal at a time, you may find it a bit easier.

Or you can have different stages of goals. For instance, my main goal is to get the third draft of my novel done. It's not a huge goal, but it isn't small, either. My first smaller goal is to finish editing the first chapter. Once that's done, the next goal will be the second chapter, then the third, and so on. Some of these goals will take more time than others, depending on how much editing actually needs to be done. But for me, I think going chapter by chapter will most likely be the best way to go.

Getting to where we want to be can be a long, difficult process. It helps to have that big picture goal in mind, but to not focus too much on it. Focus on the smaller goals that are right in front of you. If you take things one step at a time, the journey may not seem so long.

07 October 2015

Where are the Ideas?

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Click the link to learn more and sign up!

I'm not entirely sure I have any new insecurities to share. A whole lot of the same old ones I've been talking about for months and months, but nothing new. So I guess that's good? I pretty much took September off blogging (only wrote 4 posts) so I'm trying to get back into the swing of things. Blogging was always the thing that came the easiest even when every other aspect of writing seemed impossible, so when I was struggling to even come up with one blog post, I wasn't sure what to do. 

I guess the blogging thing is part of a bigger insecurity, which I know I've already talked about a million times, but it constantly bothers me. I never seem to get ideas anymore. I used to get them all the time. Now, I'm not asking for a new novel idea every day, but maybe a poem here and there. Maybe less writer's block with the blog posts. I feel like my editing ideas for my novel have even slowed down. That may have something to do with the fact that I'm not actually editing, but still, where are the ideas?

I miss the excitement of getting a new idea and planning it out. The last time I felt that was when I came up with the third book idea for my series, and that was in March. And I still haven't really written any of it (let's not even talk about books 1 and 2). I just feel creatively drained. I know there are things I could do to fix it. I should be reading more. I should be trying to actually edit Book 1 or at least looking at it every day to figure things out. But I'm still avoiding it. 

So maybe I should make small goals for myself. Read for a half hour every day. Just look at part of my novel, whatever part is at the front of my mind, and maybe I'll be able to rewrite. Stop watching so much TV and just listen to some music for inspiration. Maybe if I try to feed that creativity, the ideas will start flowing again. 

How do you get ideas? What do you do to jump start your creativity? 

05 October 2015

Jordan Takes Over: Own It

**The first Monday of every month, I let my muse take over the blog. I apologize in advance.**

Can you believe it's been two months since I last posted? I know, you missed me terribly. We'll have grief counseling later on today. Ok, not really. But anyway, September apparently was the anti-blogging month around here so I just went with it and took a nap.

Today, however, I have a great topic to talk about. Brace yourselves. It's all about accepting your story for what it is and not trying to change it for the wrong reasons. Which I guess could be said about a lot of things in life, but I don't have all day and what do I look like to you, some kind of life coach? Please. 

Where was I? Oh, right. STORIES. So for whatever reason, you wrote a story. It can be any kind of story. And you can have whatever kind of reasons for writing it. Maybe it's something you worked really hard to come up with, or maybe it's just some random idea that popped into your head and you have no idea why. Whatever the story and whatever the reason, once you have that story, it's important to stay true to it.

I'm not saying that you won't change things once it's written, because you will. LOTS. Some things have to change. Scenes can be cut, rearranged, or just rewritten. You can add new things in, change characters around. There are a million things. But at its core, the story you're trying to write shouldn't really change.

What I'm trying to say is that whatever kind of story you're writing, own it. If it's a trashy romance, make it trashy. If it's an elaborate fantasy, make it elaborate. And if it's controversial, own that, too. Don't try watering it down just because you feel you have to (I'm not talking about anyone in particular here or anything. Nope nope nope.). Yes, it may be hard and most of the world will be against you, but there are people out there who will jump all over that sort of thing. If your story speaks to you, then there will be other people out there who will get it, too. So let your story be what it needs to be.

If you're trying to change your story not because you really feel it needs to be changed, but because you're trying to please everyone, then you're just a big sellout. Whether you chose this story or it chose you, there's a reason you're writing it, so stick with it. It's your story, so own it.


28 September 2015

Until Next Week...

I'll keep this super short because I'm still not feeling well and still have zero blog post ideas. Most of my cold from last week is gone but I still keep having a really bad cough at night. And it makes sleeping difficult so it's still making me pretty miserable throughout the day even when I don't feel sick. But anyway, I'm planning on taking the rest of the week off blogging, and hopefully can come back next week with some new ideas. In the meantime, I'll probably be job hunting. My money is running out and my freelance work is not cutting it. So hopefully within a month or so I'll have a full time job again. I have no idea what that will mean for my blogging but we'll see what happens when I get to that point. I'm hoping if I can get a job with a more structured schedule than my last one (which was crazy hours and different every week) I can create more of a routine for myself with writing and everything else I'd like to do. 

Ok, I've rambled enough. I'll be back next week!

21 September 2015

The Productivity Curse

I'll keep this short because I'm kinda feeling like crap. My fiance has had a cold for about a week and I think I finally got it. It's mostly just a cough but since it's the first day of the cold AND just so happens to also be the first day of a certain time of the month (TMI, sorry!), I just kinda want to crawl under the covers.

This sort of thing seems to happen to me all the time. I was all set to be super productive today. I was going to exercise and clean my apartment and get lots of writing done. Now I'm thinking I'll probably just watch TV all day and eat whatever the hell I want instead of trying to diet. I even made a huge to-do list for today but I doubt much of it is going to get done (luckily the first thing on the list is to write a blog post, so maybe I can feel at least a little productive).

Seriously though, every time I make a plan to be super productive, something happens to throw me off. I'll get sick or the cat will get sick or there will just be too much noise. There's always something. Which I guess is just a lesson in life. There is usually something trying to throw you off your game. Sometimes it's easy to fight through it and ignore it. But when it's something like a cold and one of my goals is to exercise every day, it's not so easy. I could probably find a way to sit here and get some writing done even if I don't feel well. But I can't push myself to do something if it isn't physically possible.

I guess I'll just have to take this week one day at a time. Hopefully I'll be feeling better tomorrow and be able to get into the routine I wanted. If not, I'll just be in bed chugging cough syrup and aspirin.

14 September 2015

Blog Breaks are OK

I didn't blog at all last week. I didn't plan it, but it just happened. Didn't write any posts, didn't read any posts, didn't even tweet all that much. Sometimes a break is just necessary, even if you don't plan it or even see it coming. I'm just trying to get it into my head that taking a blogging break is not the end of the world.

I think a lot of bloggers worry that if they take a break, everyone will forget about them, which is pretty silly. You'd have to take a pretty long break for people to actually unfollow your blog. You may have to actually give up blogging altogether. Chances are you'll still have some followers who will hold out until you actually say you're not blogging anymore. So that fear is pretty much just paranoia. If you take a week or even a month off, no one is really going to care. Once you get back into it, they'll still show up and read.

Part of my problem is that pretty much the only time I'm actually writing something is when I'm blogging. So if I stop blogging, then I'm not writing at all. I would feel better if I took a blogging break in order to get some work done on my novel. But that's not likely to happen. Also, earlier in the year I tried very hard to blog three times a week, and I kept up with it pretty well. But at a certain point I started to feel burnt out. I had no ideas left and didn't really want to blog anymore.

So last week when I just didn't feel like it, I said, screw it, I won't. I usually like to say when I'm taking a break but I didn't even want to do that. I'm trying to figure out the best way to get back into blogging and actually enjoy it. Well, I do find that blogging is a lot easier when I'm being productive with other writing and have something to talk about. So maybe if I was working on other things the blog ideas would come more naturally.

I'm also not holding myself to the three posts a week requirement. I'd like to still do it, but if I can't, then that's ok. I'm still going to blog every Monday but then Wednesdays and Fridays will happen if I actually have something to write about. I do have a few ideas for some fun, non-writing related posts which would be great for Fridays, too. And I may or may not be planning another blogfest for later in the year (shhhhhh!!!).

But in the meantime, if I take a day off here or there, I'm not going to feel bad about it.

When do you usually take blog breaks? How long are they?