Adjusted Goals

Hello, hello! Welcome to July! How is everyone doing? Can you believe it’s already July? This year has flown by despite (or maybe because of) everything going on. Anyway, I stayed up late with Dad while he had some stuff on the smoker last night (a couple of briskets, pulled pork, and a “prime” rib… it’s okay to be jealous), so we got a late start today, which means I’m too lazy to come up with something decent to blog about. So, since it’s actually the first of the month and I haven’t done a goals post in a while, I’m just going to give you a quick update on new goals and how my old ones are going.

37b7d7ae6fb943a6e35a03fee242a9c4

Here are my goals from January and how I’ve been doing with that/what’s changed.

1. From January: Finish revising DS1.
Status: Complete. I finished in April instead of March because I got lazy, but I finished nonetheless and I love this book.
Updated Goal: Write a first draft of DS2. I waffled about starting this book until I see how DS1 does, but ultimately decided that it’s better to have a draft started and have no one want it than to procrastinate and have nothing if someone gets interested and wants to know where I’m at with book two. I’m aiming to have the first draft done by September 15th at the latest.

2. From January: Read 30 books.
Status: I have read 20 books so far this year. Six were from my “to re-read” pile, nine have been books I’ve reviewed (no idea how that happened), and the other five were new to me, but not necessarily new.
Updated Goal: My official goal is still 30 books. I still have six months of books to review. I also want to re-read at least two more books. And I’ll squeeze in at least two new to me books. Hopefully I’ll be able to get to more in the latter two categories, but I won’t push it.

1a6b2cf3ca1ebdfc5f8d98948e95616e
Amazon, but yeah.

3. From January: Keep submitting.
Status: I haven’t missed a week yet.
Updated Goal: The goal is relatively the same, submit two short pieces to magazines or anthologies every week. I normally do this on Mondays, but I’ve decided it doesn’t matter which day as long as it gets done every week.

4. January Goal: Query 100 agents.
Status: In progress. I’ve queried 16 agents thus far and received a couple of form rejections as well as a couple of really encouraging personal rejections.
Updated Goal: I’m still going to query 100 agents unless I find one. I send out five queries a week and I will participate in appropriate Twitter pitch sessions. If I can’t find an agent, there are also a few publishers I will try querying before I give up and move to a new project or debate self-publishing.

32gfxt
Accurate.

5. January Goal: Crochet.
Status: In limbo. I haven’t crocheted in a couple of months.
Updated Goal: I want to finish the shawl I’m working on and a hat by the end of the year. I’m just weird and can’t find the motivation for it. But I will get back to it soon.

Those are my revised goals for now. What are some of your goals? How have they changed since earlier in the year? As always, feel free to leave a comment here or on my social media pages!

The Things I Do For Procrastination

Hello, hello! Welcome to June. Can you believe it’s already this far into the year? I’m still stuck back in March somewhere. I’ll be honest: motivation for productive things is hard right now. I know I should be writing something, but I’m also nervous because the only thing I’m drawn to is DS2. I’m currently searching for an agent for DS1 and I don’t want what happened with G&G and its sequel to happen this time. I don’t want to get deep into DS2 only to end up with a bunch of rejections for DS1, get disgusted with everything, and trunk them both. That’s too depressing. But I’m also not excited about any of my other ideas at the moment, so I’ll probably cave and start DS2 tomorrow. I’m just procrastinating and I know it. Just like I procrastinated before writing this post. And since I have nothing else to talk about, I thought I would explain what a day of procrastination looks like for me.

96892-hello-june

When I get up, it’s a long drawn out process during which I usually have time to play my three mindless games on Facebook for a bit. During that time Dad makes breakfast. We watch an hour of TV while we eat, then we go out back and feed the fish (we have a pond). Afterwards, Dad usually goes out to work in his shop. That’s when the procrastination truly begins.

Today (as in the day I’m writing this, not the day you’re reading it), I came inside and did the crossword puzzle. I checked my email. Got something from Panera Bread about contactless delivery, which they’ve emailed me about before but never delivered to our address, so I checked again figuring it would be the same as usual. To my surprise, they now deliver to us! So, I spent twenty minutes perusing their grocery menu and normal menu even though I know what they have. I was that bored and desperate to avoid working. Sue me. Then, I decided to read a chapter of the book I’m currently reading to review on the 24th.

81zwMvDP5VL
It’s something so far.

I followed that up with slowly wandering around the living room and kitchen, then staring out the back door for a few minutes. I usually tell myself it’s because I need to give my eyes a break from the computer screen, but really it’s because I don’t know what to write and hope a change of scenery will help. It never does. And before I returned to my room, I went into the dining room to stare at the crochet stuff I haven’t touched in almost a month. It was a mess. The shawl was all scrunched up and the hook was dangling from the last stitch I made. Instead of waiting for Dad to come inside and help me straighten everything out (which would have taken all of five seconds), I spent fifteen minutes getting the hook into position and shoving everything around as best I could with my back scratcher so that it’s ready for me when I want to work on it again, but won’t fall off the table in the mean time.

work-gif

When I noticed it was almost six, I decided to get serious and write this post. This isn’t an unusual day for me. Granted, when I’m in the middle of writing a book or short story, I force myself to get serious closer to 4:30, maybe 5:00. But that’s only because I write more words and sprinkle in random breaks to stare out the back door or check my email or scroll through social media for five minutes.

What about you? What’s a normal day of procrastination like for you? As always, feel free to share your thoughts or comments here or on my social media pages!

The Agent Hunt Begins

Hello, hello! How is everyone’s May going? Are you still staying at home? Is your area opening back up? North Texas is opening new stuff every week or so, but Dallas county alone is still gaining around 250 new cases every day. Needless to say, Dad and I are staying home for the foreseeable future. What does that mean for my productivity? Nothing. I’ve been pretty lazy the last couple of weeks. I know what I should be doing, but I can’t find the motivation. At least I couldn’t find it until I got an email on Monday informing my that the next PitDark is on the 21st. That means I have about a week to get my shit together and get ready to start my agent hunt. What does that entail? Panic. And some other stuff I’ll ramble about right now.

PitDark-May-October
Borrowed the image from the site listed on it. Click here for the link.

First, if you’re not familiar with Twitter pitch sessions (and you haven’t clicked the link under the picture), you’re probably wondering what PitDark is. It’s a chance for writers of horror/dark fantasy/murder mysteries/anything on the darker side to pitch completed manuscripts to participating agents and publishers. Anything from middle grade to adult is welcome. Basically, you post a Tweet-length pitch with all of the appropriate hashtags (see the website above for that info) up to once an hour per manuscript from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Eastern time) on May 21st and if an agent or publisher hits the little heart button, it’s an invitation to query them if you want to.

Luckily, I’ve finished my revisions of DS1 and also completed a round of edits for consistency and grammar and typos. I’ve just been trying to convince myself to prepare everything I’ll need in order to query agents. What does that include? Most importantly, a query letter that contains a blurb about the book to hook the agent (basically like what you find on the back of books to let you know what they’re about), a brief summary of my publication history, anything unique about me that informs my writing of this particular book, and a brief introduction reminding them if we’ve met or why we might work well together just to show I’ve done my research. Sometimes, that letter and the first few pages (or chapters) of the book are all you need. But some agents also require a synopsis. There’s the standard 1-2 page synopsis that introduces everything, but doesn’t necessarily spoil the ending. Most of the time, that’s enough. However, there’s also the 3-5 page synopsis that gives away everything. Some agents ask for that or both types of synopses. In other words, I have to write all of these things PLUS a Tweet-length pitch if I want to participate in PitDark and be ready to submit to someone if they like my pitch.

tenor (10)

And that’s not all. I also need to research agents. This I can do as I go along or after PitDark is over in the event that I don’t get a bite. The list of participating agents on the PitDark website is a good place for me to start. I can look at their preferences and see if we might be a good fit, then query them if they’re accepting unsolicited queries. I can also look at other agents within the bigger agencies to see if I can find a better fit. Some agencies have the policy that a no from one agent is a no from them all. Other agencies allow you to query multiple agents (one at a time of course). So, it’s good to find agents who are looking for work similar to your own instead of randomly querying everyone. I have a list of 101 agents from when I queried for G&G, but most of them wouldn’t be interested in DS1. However, I can use my list as another starting point because I listed the agencies they were with as well, so I can look at other agents in each agency. Otherwise, there’s always Google and checking to see who reps authors of similar works and a million other sources it would take too long to list.

SoulfulAmusingGalapagoshawk-size_restricted

Anyway, my next few days will consist of writing a query letter and two synopses. If you notice my Twitter feed spammed with hourly pitches on the 21st, now you’ll know why. I’m not crazy, I’m just searching for an agent. As always, feel free to post your thoughts or comments or advice or good vibes or whatever here or on my social media pages!

Self-Imposed Deadlines: Do They Work?

Hello, hello!  How did your first week of 2020 go?  Were you as productive as you wanted to be?  My week has been pretty good.  I made a revision schedule for DS1 and came up with two deadlines (the ideal one versus the actual one).  I’ll share them with you along with my thoughts on self-imposed deadlines in a moment, but first I wanted to say that I’m ahead of schedule and (so far) sticking to the goals necessary to complete the revisions ahead of my ideal schedule.  I’m not crocheting as much as I want, but I’ll eventually find a balance.  Anyway, the year has been good and productive thus far!  Huzzah!

giphy (20).gif
Go me! I’m not above celebrating myself.

So, like I said, I made a revision schedule for DS1. If I revise a 1,000-word chunk four days a week, I will be able to finish the second draft of this novel (draft one was 66,100ish words) by April 30th. That’s my actual goal.  It’s realistic and easily doable even if I fall a little behind.  Why only four days a week?  Because Sunday is shower day, which is an all day thing; Tuesday (or sometimes Monday) is blog writing day, which I usually don’t feel like do anything productive afterwards; and one day a week for doctor’s appointments, errands, crocheting, or just me time.  I think that’s a reasonable schedule at this point.  However, if I continue with the same basic schedule, just with revising 1,500-word chunks, my finish date becomes March 20th (my ideal deadline).  So far, I’m keeping up with the latter date, plus I already had about 2,000 words revised that held up well under scrutiny, so I’m ahead of the March 20th deadline by about a day.

I realize that these are self-imposed deadlines, which a lot of people think are useless.  There aren’t any real consequences if I miss them, so are they really that helpful?  For me, the answer is yes and no.  Let’s tackle the no first.  The efficacy of self-imposed deadlines really depends on my mood.  If I’m feeling depressed and unmotivated and all of that, a self-imposed deadline means absolutely nothing to me.  All it does is make me feel worse because I let myself down.  You give me a deadline for a paying job or if I’m taking a class or something and I’ll get everything done a day early come Hell or high water.  But a self-imposed deadline doesn’t offer me the same kind of motivation.

1w4ip5
Accurate.

If that’s the case, then how are self-imposed deadlines helpful to me?  Because they remind me that I have my own pace.  That I know my own abilities.  In a couple of weeks, when I’m looking at my revisions and upset that I’m not closer to the end, I will be able to look at my deadlines and remind myself that I’m on track according to my own abilities.  I’m not capable of writing 5,000 words in one sitting.  I can’t fully revise 6,500 words in one day.  Other people can.  I’m not them.  And having those self-imposed deadlines reminds me that I have a plan, that I made this plan for a reason and it’s catered to my own abilities.  It helps me from getting too discouraged.

giphy (21)
I think.

What are your thoughts on self-imposed deadlines?  Are they helpful to you?  Do you stick with them?  As usual, feel free to share your thoughts and comments here or on my social media pages!

Revised Goals

Howdy, howdy!  It’s mid-March, and as many of you know, I’ve been sick most of the year thus far.  I don’t want to jinx it, so I won’t say that I’m definitely better, but I think I’m on the right track.  Anyway, I thought I would take this week’s post easy and revise my goals for the year since everything is screwed up.  I’ll try to post something writerly or personal or worth reading next week.  Suggestions for topics or questions are always welcome.  For now, let’s get to it.

je1gx
This has been me for a while now.

So, yeah. Goals: revised.

1. Finish revising LR1.  I was hoping to get this done by early April, but that’s not happening.  All I’ve managed to do with this story is figure out I forgot to swap some scenes around as I was going through it.  So, I’m hoping I can get it done by late June or early July.  At least I’ll know where to start when I can dig back into this one!

2. Begin revising DS1.  I was hoping to get this novel polished up by the end of the year, but with all the work it needs, that’s a tall order.  I’ll be happy if I can get through a second draft and end up with something vaguely readable by the end of the year.  There’s always next year if I need more time.

97ec07f5643ba6f922e3d8b550580a2d
That’s also the secret to finishing second drafts!

3. Submit short stories/flash pieces (at least 2 subs a week).  I admit that I fell a few weeks behind on this while I was sick, but I did take a day to send a bunch out in order to catch up.  Now, I’m back to doing it regularly, so this is one goal that gets to stay the same.

4. Write 5 short stories/flash pieces.  I highly doubt I’ll get the story I wanted to get done by the end of March finished.  However, I still believe that five new short pieces is a reasonable goal.  It’s less than one per month.  Maybe I’ll also add some poetry, but I can decide that later.

5. Shop LR around to agents.  Still hoping to meet this goal.  If I can get it revised by July, I don’t see why this isn’t something I could accomplish.  It’s not like I’m saying I want to get it published or anything.  That’s more of a five year plan goal.

just-keep-reading

6. Read 25 books.  This was originally 30 books, but I’ve lost a lot of time and don’t know if I can make it up.  I’m a slow reader.  But I’ve still got a long list of to-be-read books!

I should also throw it out there that I need to socialize more and write to people and take care of my health.  Hopefully, I can do all that plus get to everything on my list.  What about you?  Do you have any goals you need to rework this year?  Feel free to comment here or on my social media pages!

Writer’s Block AKA Stubborn Procrastination

Hello, hello!  I hope everyone has a wonderful Valentine’s Day or Singles Awareness Day or Excuse for Chocolate Day or whatever you want to call Thursday.  I have no plans, but I do have chocolate.  Huzzah!  Anyway, that’s tomorrow.  Today is about confessions of a writerly nature.  Namely, I haven’t done anything productive since January 20th (the day before the sickness of doom took over).  Yeah, I can blame the illness for about two weeks worth of laziness, but what about the last week and a half?  I had no excuse for vegging out.  So, I thought I would talk a little about what some people call writer’s block and my plan to deal with it.

sad
This is true.

First off, I want to say that I don’t particularly like the term “writer’s block.”  It sounds like something that just happens, something you have no control over.  For some people, that might be true.  Other people might enjoy having the excuse, being able to say that their lack of writing time is out of their control.  Not me.  I fully acknowledge that when I’m not writing, I’m usually procrastinating.  It’s rare for me to run out of words, at least on fictional things.  Motivation is my biggest issue.  And sometimes, I admit that the procrastination bug digs deep and stubbornly refuses to let go.  It’s what’s happening right now.  My motivation is low due to an influx of rejections I’ve been expecting (because of my year-end submissions that are just now being looked at).  It’s hard to want to write and revise when you keep getting told “it’s not for us, but good luck elsewhere.”  So, when the opportunity to procrastinate presented itself, I didn’t bother fighting it.

However, it’s about time for me to get over myself and get back to writing regularly.  Before the sickness decided to knock out all my will to work, I was actually struggling back into a decent rhythm.  How?  I joined a sprint group and one of the leaders happens to write around the same time I do during the week (early evening).  So, I have the support of checking in after each sprint and being held accountable.  Even if the leaders aren’t doing sprints, I can still create my own sprints and see if anyone wants to join me.  It’s a super helpful group for me and I plan to get back into it this week.

0_HOTUgc93dQRZWAwh_
I feel this on a deep level.

Aside from the sprint group, I need to find other forms of motivation as well, otherwise I know I’ll eventually fall back into the procrastination pit.  The problem is that I don’t respond well to self-appointed rewards.  Mostly because I usually forgo the rewards.  I promise myself anime or manga and by the time I get everything done, I’m either too lazy to find something to watch/read or it’s time for dinner and TV with Dad.  I guess all I can do is keep trying different things until I find something that works for me.

What about you?  How do you battle writer’s block or the procrastination bug?  Feel free to share your thoughts and comments here or on my social media pages!

Writing Stints: I Should Get Back to Those

Howdy, howdy!  How is everyone’s year going so far?  I’ve been fairly productive in getting ready to dive back into revisions in a serious manner.  I read through the revisions thus far, made sure I knew where I was going with things, and reviewed the plot to come.  But I admit that it’s a daunting task to sit down and seriously work on the story.  That’s why I’ve been looking into different variations of writing stints/time management methods.  I thought I would ramble on about a few of my options today, since I have nothing else to write about.

43b3968a-a0a1-4864-bfb7-2db3687f60a0
This is not wrong.

For a while, a friend and I did a couple of hour long stints a day (or when we were both writing at the same time).  In other words, we’d check in with each other with our goals for our stints that day, write (or revise or blog or whatever we needed to do) for an hour, take a short break to check in and rest, then repeat the last two steps until we met our goals or were exhausted.  That method worked for me.  It helped me concentrate and reporting in with said friend helped hold me accountable.  Unfortunately, life gets in the way of these things and makes it impossible for us to do this at the moment.  And, honestly, I don’t know if I could keep up that kind of momentum on my own.  An hour is a long time.  That’s why I’ve been looking at other options.

One of the most popular options for time management seems to be the Pomodoro Technique.  Yes, it means tomato.  Supposedly, the guy who started it used a tomato shaped timer.  In this one, you select a task and work for 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break, and repeat 4 times, after which you take a 15 minute break then start all over again until you’re done.  It sounds useful and there are tons of apps to use that will help with my accountability issues.  I might try this.

pomodoro
Apparently this is a thing.

Some of my other friends have recently started doing a 15 minute stint followed by two half hour stints and another 15 minute stint to finish up.  They take short breaks between each stint to check in with each other as well.  It’s a method they found on Twitter through Leigh Bardugo.  Our writing schedules just don’t mesh, so I haven’t been able to join them, but it seems like a helpful style.  Maybe live tweeting progress during breaks could even work for me.  Or at least posting progress on my private Facebook page.  I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to publicly announce how slow I am.

race-you-home_o_488951
Because cunning is better than speed.

Anyway, this is all to say that I need to start doing stints again.  I’ll probably try my old way on my own for a while.  If that fails, I’ll try the Pomodoro Technique.  What about you?  Do you have any time management tips?  What do you do to get yourself on track?  Feel free to share your thoughts, methods, or comments here or on my social media pages!

December Goals

Howdy, howdy!  It’s December again (didn’t we just do this?).  Happy holidays and all that jazz!  I don’t really have anything to talk about this week and I’ve been super slacking on the writing front (and at life in general), so I thought I would take a minute to make my goals for the month known.  This way, you can heckle me until I succeed.  I know these posts are pretty boring, so I try not to do them a lot.  Apologies in advance.  But here are my goals in no particular order!

hello-december
Cute pictures are fun.

December Goals:

1. Submit stuff 10 times (2 every Monday).  I’ve consistently submitted two stories a week all year long.  Granted, it wasn’t always on Mondays, but it got done even when I really didn’t feel like it.  I’m super proud of that.  Now, I just have to keep it up the rest of this month and do it all over again next year.

2. Revise more of LR.  Revising has been beyond slow and I have no one and nothing to blame but myself.  I love the story and I’m excited about it, but I can’t get into a good rhythm with the revisions.  I get into it a few days then can’t bring myself to open the files for a while.  It’s weird.

3. Read 2 books.  Actually, I need to finish two books (at least) this month.  I started them both last month.  When I got the okay on The Razor, I stopped in the middle of European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman.  There was just no way for me to finish both last month.  And I decided to start this month’s review book before I finish European Travel.  I somehow clumped too many long books together and it’s thrown my whole reading schedule off, but I’m past my goal for the year, so it’s okay.

ecde7721063e2c7fb6e48956f2daf116
The lazy voices in my head often enable me by telling the productive ones to shut up.

4. Make time for people.  It’s just really hard to talk to people when I like being a recluse so much.  Luckily, around the holidays, I randomly text people to wish them well and usually end up chatting with a few of them.  It’s the only time of year I’m not a completely shitty friend!

5. Decide on a couple of days to go through my files and tidy everything up.  I seriously need to do this.  I used to know exactly where every song, picture, and file was on my computer.  Now, I can’t find half the stuff I go looking for.  It’s a mess.

6. Start ripping old CDs to my computer.  A few months ago, I got a new radio because my 60 disc player stopped working.  Do you know how hard it is to find a new 60+ disc player that is it’s own stereo, not a component to a make-your-own stereo system?  Impossible.  In other words, I have a bunch of CDs that I need to transfer to my computer so I can play my old favorites and annoy the crap out of Dad.

hqdefault
Okay, I have that one on my computer, but this made my smile.

7. Attack the slush pile.  I’ve been sporadic with my first reader duties over at Pseudopod.  I need to buckle down and help get through this period’s submissions.  It’s always a fun experience.

Those are my goals.  What about you?  Do you have any stuff you want to focus on this month?  Feel free to share your thoughts or comments here or on my social media pages!

Guest Post: Joseph Carro On Writer’s Block

Howdy, howdy!  Welcome to another guest post.  This time, we have my friend and fellow Stonecoast alum, Joseph Carro.  He’s got some super helpful tips for working around writer’s block, which I struggle with a lot.  So, read on!

106
Joe and I at the Harraseeket Inn.  Pretty sure that was January ’15.

On Writer’s Block

By Joseph Carro

Writing can be an extremely frustrating and hopelessly solitary artistic endeavor, and as writers we know and understand this when we choose it as our lifestyle. Yet it doesn’t make it any easier when we’re holed up in the basement, writing the next big thing on our minds. Whether you’re trying to write a blog post, a poem, a screenplay, or a novel – Writer’s Block afflicts us all. I know that personally, real life usually gets in the way and saps my creative juices with its constant demands, but to keep writing I have acquired several techniques which I use in order to get my brain jumpstarted again. My hope is to share a couple of my own techniques with you. I know that many of you have your own techniques, but as a writer – I usually appreciate any new ways in which I can defeat this annoying affliction. Feel free to chime in with your own methods below in the comments section.


WALK OR DRIVE: Walking, to me, is a lost pastime. And I’m not the only one to think so. If you’re stuck on a certain spot in your manuscript or post or what have you, get OUT of that space for a little while. If you don’t like walking, then just sit outside or maybe take a drive. Anything to get yourself out of your stagnant state. Maybe you’ll see or experience something that will ignite that spark. You just have to step outside your comfort zone for a bit. Fresh air does wonders for the mind and the thought process needed for writing.

giphy (8)

READ SOMETHING: As Stephen King once said; “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” Writing is a skill in which you absorb technique and inspiration from reading other writers. To do so, you need to actually read. Sometimes, reading someone else’s work is the perfect way to jumpstart your own. In my case, I will sometimes put aside my writing for one day and try to finish the book I was already reading or start another one. By the time I’m through a few chapters, I’m usually chomping at the bit to get back into my writing project. Obviously, it’s “dangerous” to put aside the writing to do something else (because you can get too much into the habit of doing that), but in moderation I think it works. Just really pay attention to what the authors are doing; their prose, the construction of the novel or short story or poem or whatever, and the way in which the strongest parts of it make you feel as a reader. Try to infuse your writing with some of that magic, without trying to ape their style. Be you.

094

LISTEN TO MUSIC: This one is very divisive within the writing community. In one camp, you have people who absolutely cannot listen to music while writing. Or, they at least must listen to very quiet, ambient music rather than anything heady with lyrics. That’s okay, this technique may not be for you either. However – when I’m trying to write a certain scene or a certain tone to my short story or screenplay, I sometimes pick an appropriate piece of music. For a tone, I will generally choose a playlist I’ve created on Spotify or find a playlist on YouTube – for example, if I’m looking for a melancholy tone I will choose a playlist that’s labeled as “sad songs” or “bittersweet songs”. Generally, the mood conveyed through these songs, and the emotions they bring out enhance my writing. It’s all about knowing your tolerance for this kind of distraction while you’re trying to write. This also works if you just need to listen to a song or two BEFORE you write, rather than listening to entire tracks during your actual writing. Just make sure to fire up another song here and there to renew your creative juices and emotions, because sometimes sitting in a chair and writing prose does not automatically generate emotions until you really get into the meat of the story. Writing is both a technical skill and an art, and art comes from emotion. Sometimes, we wade too far into the technical aspects and lose the emotional momentum.

where_words_fail_music_speaks_art_print-r5a683fbc46c54ffe83e696870a409b8e_zv9_8byvr_307

USE WRITING EXERCISES AND PROMPTS: This method is actually my favorite, and thanks to the internet, there are countless online sources for finding writing ideas. These aren’t necessarily meant to replace the project you’re working on, but are more for trying to write something in general when you’re stuck. However, if you need some distance from your novel, it’s okay to take a brief respite and write something else. A few of my favorite sources for writing prompts are from books I’ve found or have been given. My wife gifted me a sort of “activity book” called 400 Writing Prompts by Piccadilly Inc and that one has given me quite a few ideas. A couple of other books I’ve found to be pretty useful are The Writer’s Book of Matches: 1,001 Prompts To Ignite Your Fiction from Writer’s Digest Books, What If?: Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter, and The Pocket Muse: Ideas & Inspirations for Writing by Monica Wood. There are also lots of online sources out there as I mentioned above, and some of my favorites are Writer’s Digest, Poets & Writers, tumblr, and even reddit. Various bloggers like myself also dedicate entire sections of their blog to writing prompts. My own blog, Away With Words, has just such a section that you can find HERE. I try to do at least one weekly prompt, but sometimes I do more.

13055369_10154016166591291_2581038575776862019_n


These are just some tools for trying to get back into the swing of things, and my hope is that by using these techniques and resources, you can dig yourself out of whatever funk you’re in and get back to writing. Remember – try not to be too hard on yourself. Writing is hard work, it’s thirsty work, and your brain can quickly become parched when it’s dealing with the same tedious task over and over. Give it some variety and keep yourself from getting mired. Good luck!

406072_10150922800201931_1610089937_n

My name is Joseph Carro, and I am a Maine-based freelance writer and editor trying to make it in the big world of letters and semi-colons. I work currently as a barista to (barely) pay the bills, and in the meantime, I’m working on a YA novel, currently untitled, as well as various other works like screenplays, comic scripts, short stories, and flash fiction. Heck, you may as well toss in some comic books with that, too.

I live in Portland, here in Maine – with my beautiful wife and our five-pound chihuahua, Brewtus.

Above photo courtesy of Helen Peppe.

The Revision Struggles Begin…

Hello, hello!  It finally happened.  On Saturday, I wrote THE END on the shitty first draft of novel attempt number three!  Yay!!!  I celebrated by doing nothing productive whatsoever on Sunday.  Monday, I slowly dipped my toe into the revision pool by revising a micro fiction piece before sending it and another piece out into slush land.  Which brings us to today (because I’m writing this on Tuesday).  Now, the real revision struggle begins.  Sure, I have a short story that needs to be doubled in length and smoothed out.  That’s my immediate focus.  But then, I have to decide which novel attempt to revise, two or three.  And that’s what I plan on rambling about today.

Make Good Choices
I try.

Option 1: revise novel attempt two (LR from here on out).  In my head, I know this would be the smart choice.  For one thing, it would give me a break from the one I just finished, which is always encouraged so that when it comes time to trim the fat away, you won’t be blindly attached to it.  I’ve had more than enough time away from LR to be able to make the hard cuts.  I’m still super excited about LR, so that’s a plus.  And I really do miss being around those characters.

The downside of revising LR first: while I love it, I’m not really sure it has much potential in the way of attracting agents.  Are dragons even “in” anymore?  Or are they passé?  I know I shouldn’t worry about stuff like that, and I should work on whatever my heart tells me to, but it’s something I think about.  I’ll have to do some research on the trends right now/where the trends seem to be headed.  Plus, I’m concerned that if I get caught up in LR’s world, I’ll lose steam in the other one.

Toothless
Don’t worry, Toothless.  You’ll always be cool.

Option 2: revise novel attempt three (DS from here on out).  Some of the advantages include that the plot is fresh in my mind and I still remember what all my little revision notes mean.  From that perspective, it makes sense to dive right back into DS.  It’s also a genre that’s always in high demand, but with a supernatural twist.  So, I feel like it has a better chance of catching an agent’s eye.  Plus, I’m completely in love with these characters and their stories.

The problem with starting with DS is that I wouldn’t have much time away from it, so I would probably still be super attached to all the fluff that needs to be chopped out.  I have trouble decluttering my room because of sentimental values, decluttering a story isn’t any easier.  It would also mean more time away from LR, which has been randomly popping into my head the last couple of months.  Plus, I’m not entirely sure if the supernatural elements will be attractive in this particular genre or if it’ll be confusing and off-putting.

Too-many-options
I’m being indecisive and procrastinating all at once.

I guess I’ll read through both of them and see which one pulls me toward it more.  Until then, I have a short story to focus on.  What about you?  How do you decide which projects to revise and when?  What’s your method of making these kinds of choices?  As always, please feel free to leave your comments or thoughts here or on my social media pages!