Boredom is Surprisingly Useful…

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There’s no denying it. We are dorks 😉

I went on vacation last week to the Sierras. It was a long week of everything and nothing. I ate good food, took hikes, smelled wildflowers, and watched a hottie fisherman (my husband) catch huge rainbow trout. We played games, watched squirrels, and spent a few hours in a local sports bar to watch the world cup final. We then mourned for Argentina.

I can’t stand boredom–those hours of feeling like I could be more useful elsewhere–but it sure did work out well for me. When removed from computers, new home organization, and social obligations (all of which I missed quite sorely) I accomplished a surprising amount on the writing front: Continue reading

Big-Picture Work for the Detail Oriented

DSC00642I’ve avoided it for a long time. A long long long time. But this week I finally knuckled down, put in the hours, and tracked the timeline of my entire book.

The novel’s grunt-work really didn’t deserve such epic procrastination, but somehow I kept pushing the novel forward instead of stopping and figuring it all out. No damage done, thankfully, but now that I’m on the other side of the process, I wonder what all the fuss was all about.

For those of you who feel like 85,000 words is difficult to keep track of, find hope here Continue reading

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The people I work with are seriously really cool—if you’re working on a story that involves mythology, listen and be inspired by the weird imaginations of the Norse!

More mythology is coming soon 🙂 Visit StoryForge to see articles (A new article on Book Clubs: Picking Your Own Adventure) and videos like this!

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Recently I’ve been following my own advice on how to research for your novel with textbooks, interviews, and documentaries. All of you NaNoWriMo lovelies should probably check it out, since you’re scurrying to prep all of your material! Right now, I’m reading The Odyssey for the first time since freshman year of high school and (no surprise) it’s a lot better than I remembered.

What are you researching? How’s it coming?

Writing Update #2

Over the past month, I finished editing the first 38k of my story, and still my goals stretch before me:

  1. Write 15k for Sep (500 words per day)
  2. Write 15k for Oct (500 wpd)
  3. Write 10k for Nov (350 wpd)

At the end of November, I’ll finish the first draft with about 80k! I can’t wait to type ‘finis’ at the end and know that I’ve finally accomplished my goal, because then I get to edit the whole thing over and over again. I don’t know why the thought of so much work makes me happy, but it really does. 

How’s your writing coming? Any NaNo inspiration getting you pumped for November?

How to Overcome Self Doubt: Writing Tip of the Day

Have you ever looked in the mirror so long that you started loathing your own reflection? You notice each flaw. Your nose isn’t shaped the way you’d like. Your skin tone is less than perfect. Those pimples just keep popping up again, no matter what you do. 

I do this all the time with my writing. I examine it so closely that it seems deformed. The sentences are awkward and stunted. Word choice is less than ideal. I’m not even sure if it makes sense anymore. 

How do you fix this loathsome level of self-doubt? Here are my tactics for regaining confidence:

  • Pick up some light fiction to free your imagination from typo hunting and word gathering. Stop over analyzing and relax. Remember why you enjoy writing in the first place!
  • Set your story aside for a little while and engage in someone else’s imaginative vision. They can help rejuvenate your own muse. A day or even a week away from your story can help give fresh perspective.
  • Come back ready to be entertained. When you read through your work again, come with the mindset that you brought to the light fiction. Remember those horrible sentences that you loathed a little while ago? Now you can either appreciate them more, or understand how to improve them. 
  • Resist the desire to edit immediately. Sure, make a few notes in the margins, but don’t rip it up right off the bat. Give your muse time to breathe and engage in the story. Your story. That fascinating product of your own imagination. 

If you stare in the mirror and just focus on your nose, of course it’s going to look funny! But look around. Shocker: everyone else has noses. If you just stared and analyzed theirs, they would look funny too. 

There are times to analyze, but if you get stuck on that side of the pendulum, you’ll find yourself doubting your own muse. Back away from your story and enjoy it once in a while. It’ll give you the perspective and encouragement you need to move forward. 

Do these tactics work for you? How do you overcome self doubt?

Listen up, Writers!

Even though you’ve probably read articles, blog posts, and even books on the art of writing, I’d like to add one more tip. Every writer needs this skill to set his or her writerly dreams into action. It floods the imagination with fresh inspiration, and opens new worlds for exploration. And what is it? 

The ability to listen. 

For a solid sub-point I should add, asking good questions.

People are very willing to talk about themselves, their lives, their experiences, their grandchildren—you get the point. They’re also excited to talk about their work or studies. Listen to your movies-obsessed friend long enough, and you can get the highlight reel from her film undergrad. You’re bound to hear lots of stories, whether they originate from a classroom of restless freshmen, or from the lore of Hollywood glamour. 

Any good journalist knows this right off the bat. But novelists are a different breed. Less outgoing, more introspective. So to those of you who are waiting for inspiration to strike: get out of your house, away from your desk, and talk to people. The post office lady. The random couple that you see at Starbucks every week. The list goes on and on.

Always remember to listen. 

Success!

Since I’ve been more active with my writing recently, I’ve gotten through chapter 2 (finally!). That chapter often bewilders me, because of one complex scene: Two characters meet another character for the first time, thinking that the party of the third part may or may not be insane. They dialogue, each bringing their own emotions into play as they discuss the safety of another character, who may or may not be in jeopardy.

So confusing.

However—

I feel like I’ve finally kicked it in the butt! I pared it down and followed the flow of thought. A lot of tweaking to go, but it’s manageable 🙂

Any scenes causing you trouble? Why?