Developing A New Rhythm For A New Year

Howdy howdy!  As I’ve rambled about before, I’ve been having a bit of a tough time getting back into a writing and reading rhythm this year, but things seem to be looking up (finally).  I’m reading with zeal again (thanks to a random desire to finally read the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series).  I’m also revising my screenplay, which has both smooth patches and a couple of big issues that are giving me problems, but it counts as work!  I’m still wary about getting back into my novels without feedback, but I’ll get there soon.  For now, I’m still learning, changing, transforming.  As is my rhythm.

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They said I could be anything… I chose Sailor Saturn.

Last year, I had a nice rhythm that let me get a lot done, but I neglected certain areas of my life in order to get so much done.  It eventually drained me.  Combine that with the whole lack of feedback feeding my “I suck, what was I thinking?” mindset, and it’s a recipe for depression.  I’m hoping to avoid that by adding a few things to my schedule.  Of course that will require adjusting other areas, so it’s all just trial and error right now.

First and foremost, I plan on taking reading more seriously this year.  I haven’t read much since leaving Stonecoast, because I got wrapped up in the idea that productivity equals new words on the page.  Even revision felt like a way to avoid being productive (even though I know it’s an extremely important part of the process).  So, I want to devote at least an hour three days a week to reading.  It might cut into my writing time on days when writing is hard, but that’s okay.  You can’t write well without reading.  I’m going to keep that in mind this year.  If you see me slacking, feel free to crack the whip.

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Heise gets it.

Secondly, I want to take a few minutes just once a week to write a note or something by hand.  I recently bought some postcards to help me stick to this goal.  I’m hoping for a twofold result from this practice: a) it’ll be a way to let people know I’m thinking of them even though I’m not very good at keeping in touch, and b) it’ll help keep me writing even when I’m struggling.  I’ve heard a lot of people who were having problems writing in their usual method have more success getting over a hurdle if they switch writing methods (go from typing to handwriting then back again).  Maybe jotting something down every now and then will help keep things fresh in my head.

Lastly, I want to make time for socializing.  Whether I go to a reading with a friend or Skype with some of my Stonecoasters or make time to IM/text someone, I need to keep in touch with people.  I like being a recluse, and I’ve been getting worse and worse about it again, but it worries people, so I’m going to make an effort to really interact with someone at least once a week.

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Maybe not this close, but I should be closer to people.

 

So, what does all of this mean?  It means that sometimes you have to tweak your rhythm, especially when it’s no longer working.  Bear with me, and don’t freak out if I suddenly pester you for no reason.  I’m just trying something new.  How’s your rhythm?  Is it working or could it use a little change?

Until next time!

More Revision? Ugh…

Hey all!  I know I would usually do a food review today, but I haven’t really been anywhere.  I could gush about Dad’s cooking for a while if you wanted, but I don’t know if you want me to, so I won’t.  I do plan on going somewhere this week, so hopefully I’ll have something delicious for you next Wednesday.  Anyway, what shall we talk about today?  How about another discussion about revision?  Namely, my revision process (which is being quite evil this go around).

So, I don’t recall if I’ve shared this, but I’ve recently started revising G&G (see a description here).  My problem is that I’ve never really revised anything on this large of a scale.  I only ever wrote short stories before.  Needless to say, my usual approach to revision failed me miserably.  Normally, I do a read-through then another read-through/dive right into revising.  I did my read-through (of course I hated it again), then I hit a wall.

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Kind of like that.

I tried to work my way through it, but when I hit the third day of staring at the screen with my eye twitching, I decided something had to give.  I went and I added an extra step (a read-through with notes), which I finished Monday.  It actually went pretty well.  I feel much better about going in and skinning my baby alive then fattening her up and making her all pretty again.

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Maybe?

Part of me wonders if maybe I was simply suffering from some random bout of angst or something.  I normally don’t have any major attachment to my writing (don’t judge me), but maybe after nursing this thing for two or more years, I was feeling a little clingy.  However, when you write yourself a note that says “Is it necessary or was it simply to meet word count?,” it becomes a lot easier to take a knife to that section.  Ah well.  At least I feel much more confident about getting into the big changes now.

I guess what I’m trying to say is be open to tweaking your routine.  A lot of people call me OCD because I like to do things certain ways, but at the same time, if something isn’t working, I’m willing to change it.  Writers need to be flexible when it comes to these things.  After all, we all know the definition of insanity.

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If you say so…

Anyway, enough about me!  Let’s hear about you.  What’s your revision process?  Do you just jump right in?  Maybe you make notecards or charts or something.  Do you print your manuscript and lay it out everywhere?  What kind of revision magic do you work?

Until next week!

A Day in the Life

Hello all!  So, I was chatting with the beautiful Danielle Rose, trying to come up with a topic for this week’s post.  She suggested I talk about my routine a little more, even going as far as telling you about my usual day.  In other words, blame her for this.

Graduation selfie with the culprit
Graduation selfie with the culprit

Honestly, today (Tuesday, March 17, 2015) was really hard writing-wise, so I suppose it’s as good a day as any to use.  My daily routine always starts with the hour and a half+ long process of getting out of bed and into a presentable state.  I won’t bore you with the details.  Anyway, I’m usually up and active by 1:30 or so.

At this point, I usually putz around on Facebook and check my personal email and all that fun stuff, or I work on a crossword puzzle.  Today I did all of the above.  I also started playing that stupid trivia game that’s so popular right now.  Trivia Crack?  Whatever.  It’s basically multiple choice Trivial Pursuit.  So, that also took up some time before breakfast.

lesion-clipart-39056-clipart-illustration-of-a-stack-of-five-square-waffles-garnished-with-whipped-cream-maple-syrup-and-berries_450Again, I eat food instead of modeling it.  Breakfast is usually about an hour, and it’s TV time #1 of my day.  Afterwards (around 3:00, 3:30), it’s supposed to be time to work.  Some days go better than others.  Today was not one of those days.

I stared at the page for a few minutes, then said screw it, and gave myself until 4:30 to work on the crossword (that was less than half an hour).  Then I stared at WordPress for a while.  Sometimes, if I write the blog post first, it gets me in my writing rhythm.  That didn’t work.  So, I read through the last chapter I had written, all the way to the point where I had stopped.  Again, this is a technique to get the writing juices flowing.

creativejuices1It kind of worked.  I got down a couple of hundred words, then remembered that I hadn’t posted on my social media author profiles.  I gave myself ten minutes to find something and get it shared, then back to writing.  I got another hundred words down, then took another five minutes break.

Normally, I’m done with my words around 6:00.  Today, dinner rolled around (7:30ish) and I still wasn’t done.  I took the hour break and instead of hanging around for the usual couple of hours of TV, I went back to work.

That was when I hit my stride.  Granted, I ended the day with only 905 words on the novel (it’s over my 900 words goal, so it counts) around 9:30, but I did it.  Then, I came here to write this post (another ~500 words)!

The point is, it took me for-freakin’-ever, but I didn’t give up.  I set my goals and I met them.  You can do it too!  Even with unplanned for distractions last week (babysitting), I managed to meet my goals.  It helps to have people who support you and help you out.  It also helps that I have nothing else to do.  However, look at all the breaks I took!  Maybe writing can be done when you’re avoiding your responsibilities (we all do it, it’s okay).  Take a break, write some words, have fun!

Schedules vs. Spontaneity

Hello all!  Today, I want to talk about having a schedule vs. being spontaneous when writing.  I chose this topic because I hear a lot of people complain about not having time to write or not being able to find the words when they do have the time.  I’ve also found that, more often than not, these people don’t have a writing schedule.  Some people can make the whole spontaneous writing lifestyle work, many can’t.  That’s okay!

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Personally, I have a schedule that has some spontaneity built into it.  I write five days a week.  Never on Sunday.  That extra day off, I decide based on 1) whether I have anything to do during that week that will require a day off, or 2) how I feel any given day.  I tend to try to save that day for later in the week, even Saturday if I feel like it.  That’s where the spontaneity fits into my writing schedule.

Now, I’m lucky in a lot of ways because I don’t have a full schedule in the first place, so my life can revolve around my writing.  Many aren’t so lucky.  However, while they’re complaining about not having time to write, they’re surfing Facebook or watching Netflix or any other number of entertainment tasks.  Yes, entertainment is important.  You need time to relax, which is why taking days off is important, but if you can binge watch your favorite show on Netflix, then you can schedule some writing time!

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 For a long time, I was a spontaneous writer.  I used every excuse in the book to avoid writing, including that the Muse is a fickle bitch (an excuse I hear repeatedly).  I admit, even after two years on a schedule, I still have days where it’s hard to get started.  In the beginning, I spent more days free writing than actually working on specific projects, but even that kind of writing was productive.  From that, I can now say I have four ideas for future novels.  And now that I’m on a schedule, when I sit down to write, it’s much easier to actually do the writing (even on difficult days).  Writing, like anything else, becomes a habit if you do it enough.  You just have to train your brain into thinking “oh, hey, this is when we write.”  Yes, you will have crappy days, but craptastic words can be edited into something magnificent, zero words can’t!

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I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you’re having a hard time finding time to write, take a good look at your daily schedule.  Yeah, you might have to DVR that episode of Bones and watch it on your day off, but BOOM!  There’s an hour for writing.  Going to play that video game for fifteen minutes?  Wait until your day off and surprise!  (If you’re anything like I used to be when gaming, fifteen minutes = three hours) You have three hours to write!  Yes, it’s hard.  Especially nowadays, when instant gratification is so easy to achieve.  But if you can stand to put off the entertainment for even a little while, you can make your own writing schedule.  It seriously helps.  Go on.  Try it.