Monthly Archives: November 2014

I’m all done!! And with two days to spare!!

Wow. I wrote a novel. A whole freakin novel. WHhhAaaa?? How is that even possible?

To be honest, I haven’t the slightest idea. I had no idea what was going on most of the time. The only thing that I did was that I kept consistent with writing every day.

You might say, “well that’s not good that you’ve basically been unconscious the whole time you’ve been writing this thing.” Someone quoted Anne Lamott to me a little while ago, saying that this was completely normal. I think she said something to the effect that, writing a novel was a bit like driving at night while it’s super foggy, and you can only see a few feet in front of you.

I think this is such a beautiful description of writing. The best thing that you can do when you’re writing is to focus on the moment that you are writing about, and write your little heart out. Things will become clearer once you continue writing, and you can always return to things that don’t make sense. Hence the mercy of editing.

I’d also like to share another bit of advice that I gleaned from the November/December issue of Writer’s Digest that I picked up before November began. The issue focuses a great deal on NaNoWriMo, and includes an article with a bit of writing inspiration for every day of the novel writing month. I want to highlight an article that Michael James Ploof wrote that’s listed for today and tomorrow’s advice. His insight into noveling is:

Entice your muse with whatever will make the process enjoyable. Think of yourself as a conduit for your story.

In February 2014 I finished the fourth book of my Amazon bestselling series Whill of Agora. I’d been tossing around another story idea and was eager to start the project.

I wanted to try to write the book in 30 days. My plan was 2,000 words a day minimum, and February was a great month to attempt such a feat, as it can reach -20 degrees here in northern New York. I outlined my ideas (most of which never made it in–my work tends to take on a life of its own and not conform to my plans) and made myself comfortable at the kitchen table with my laptop and Bob Marley playlist.

That first week I drank 21 coffees and wrote over 26,000 words, averaging 3,800 a day. The following week I wrote another 24,000 words, averaging 3,400 a day. By now the plot was getting thick, as were my character worksheet folders. I was writing 6-10 hours a day, getting up early so I could do most of my writing while my daughter was in school. (If I work too much while family is around I feel like I’m neglecting them, even though I write full-time.) When I started to lose steam, it would keep me going to log onto the Kindle author boards’ ‘2,000 words a day club’ to find (and offer) motivation.

I finished the book in 18 days at 70,000 words–not a heavyweight, but a good size for my genre. I self-published The Windwalker Archive, Book 1, Talon, on May 7, 2014. As I write this it is No. 4 in Amazon’s Children’s Coming of Age Fantasy Books Kindle store.

My advice: Lure your muse out with some chocolate and pinot noir, grab a hold of her, and tie her to your desk until you are done. Show up every day with your goal in mind and do not leave until you’ve surpassed it. Don’t try to create the story-listen, and let it be told through you. When you take the responsibility of creating the story out of the equation, it becomes quite easy. You are simply a conduit.”

Immediately after reading this, I looked up the definition of “conduit” on Google, and it reads, “a channel for conveying water or other fluid” (because ok, yes, for that moment, I completely forgot what that word meant. And yes, I did graduate as an English major and therefore I should know every word, but that’s besides the point. I’m going to come to the point now before I lose you guys).

If we let our writing flow through us like water, the story will come together. We shouldn’t try to take charge of the characters, but should simply let the story write itself. We are merely the typists.

And now if I may, I would like to make the briefest (briefest? Most brief??) analogy to loving others, as a fellow follower of Christ. If we are truly Christ-loving and consciously live in the spirit, then love too will flow like water through us to others. The concept is really that simple, even though it can be hard at times. Just like writing!

Anyway, I’m going to leave the briefest (again, briefest or most brief?? Who knows, who knows) analogy right there. And that’s not just because that’s the biggest point I can make (that’s some of the idea), but also because I am so tired, I just can no longer form a coherent thought (that’s the biggest reason). I was up late last night due to Black Friday shopping and some more unconscious writing, so yeah, there’s that.

Oh, and just to prove that I am officially a novelist, here’s a picture of my official certificate to show that I really officially did it! Officially!!

NaNoWriMo '14 Winner Certificate

Oh yeah, it’s real! It’s real weird, but it’s real!

So yeah! I still can’t believe I actually did it, and I’m in such a state of shock right now, I might just go and eat an apple with peanut butter. And then maybe I’ll also eat some leftover apple crumble. Who knows! The world is my oyster, and my, do I love pearls!

…ok, that was just plain weird. Aaaaand I’m out!

NaNoWriMo: Less than two weeks, and I’m almost there!!

Alright. It seems like it’s been a little while since I’ve posted on this blog (a week, to be exact), so I decided that I should give a little update on what I’ve been up to. And I think it is crucial that you get to hear into every aspect of my life, so I hope not to disappoint.

Let’s see… like I’ve just mentioned (in the title, actually, to be extremely precise), I have much less than two weeks, and I’m almost there on my NaNo!! Actually, maybe it’s more like a week and a little, but potato tomato.

Anyways, I have about a week left, and I’m almost at 40k! I can’t believe I’ve made it this far already! And it’s all thanks to lots of tea, candles, and writing on the toilet (don’t think about that too much- when you’re cramped for time and need to go somewhere else to write, you’ll do almost anything). And I guess I got a little help from my good friend, Jesus (more like, a lot of help, actually).

I know I haven’t mentioned much about my story, and I’m sure a lot of you are curious, so I thought I would tell you a little bit about it. The story is based off of a cartoon horse named Shaggy that I created when I was in fifth grade or so. I drew several different comics and wrote several stories about his silly and completely clumsy antics. It’s about Shaggy’s best friend, Dude, who has gone missing, and it’s the job of Shaggy and his friends Penny and cat to find him. It takes them all throughout the land where they meet all sorts of quirky characters like Ollie the Ocular Octopus, and gull the seagull. But there’s something more to the story than meets the eye, so I guess you’ll have to read it and find out! (I’m still figuring it out for myself actually).

So, that’s all I’m gonna tell ya folks! I must be off to the world of storyland where nothing makes sense and where cats fall asleep on your keyboard. Oh, like this one:

You see that? That's what exhaustion looks like.

You see that? That’s what exhaustion looks like.

And also, this one:

I know, my darling, I know. She does seem a little close to the delete button. So close, yet sooo far away.

I know, my darling, I know. She does seem a little close to the delete button. So close, yet sooo far away.

With that, I’m off to the story-telling world. Oh and don’t think I’ve forgotten about the book reviews! I’m currently working on one for The Giver, so you should get excited. Right now. Right here right now. Get excited.

Book Reviews! I’m gonna try them out!!!

So I decided that I’m going to try this out. Like I just said. Since I’ve been reading like some sort of madwoman-bookworm combo, I figured it would be smart to write what I thought about some of the books I’ve been reading!

“And what books have you been reading, young miss?” you may ask. Well, I’ll tell you, since you’ve asked so politely. Lately, I’ve made the goal of reading throughout the entire list of all of the Newberry Medal Award Winners from allllll the years, and so far, I think I’ve read about seven or eight of them? Or ten? Or twelve? I’ll have to double check on that.

My mom is actually the one who recommended that I try this out, and I thought, “What a great idea!!!!” (with that exact amount of exclamation points, too). So, I’m gonna try this out.

And if you like, you could recommend some books for me to read and review. And hey, maybe I’ll make some sort of profession out of this! It would be pretty cool, pretty cool.

So if you would be so daring, you can leave your comments below, or even on Facebook. I’ll be waiting. With baited breath.

Another Piece of Writing Wisdom from Another Published Author: Malinda Lo

Before I begin writing tonight, I decided once again, to post something on here. You might think that I’m avoiding writing as I was last night- you might be partially right about that. But what I wanted to say has something to do with the struggles that we writers have to deal with on a regular basis, and something I’ve been struggling with as well: the idea of writer’s inspiration. Malinda Lo, author of a few young adult novels has some very good insight on it:

“Dear Fellow Writer,

There are many myths about writing (writers are tortured artists; writers are drunks; writers are drunk, tortured artists). But in my opinion, one of the most insidious of those myths is the idea that you must be inspired to write. I’ve heard writers say things like, “I just wasn’t inspired to write today,” and “I’m waiting for that burst of inspiration, you know?”

I’ll let you in on a little secret. If you wait for inspiration to strike before you sit down to write, you’ll probably never finish a damn thing. Inspiration is like that hot girl or guy you met at a party one time—and when you talked to him or her, it seemed like you totally clicked. There was eye contact; there was flirting; maybe there was even a bit of casual brushing of your hand over theirs, right? I know. I’ve been there. At the end of the night they asked for your number and said, “I’ll definitely call you. We should hang out.”

But then they never did, and you were left waiting for a call that never came, feeling increasingly like a fool.

That’s what inspiration is. It’s seductive and thrilling, but you can’t depend on it to call you. It doesn’t work that way. The good thing is, inspiration is irrelevant to whether or not you finish your book. The only thing that determines that is your own sense of discipline.

Here’s what happens when I sit down to write. First, I turn off my access to the internet by engaging Freedom. (The internet is the number-one killer of writer productivity!) Second, I open Scrivener. (Substitute whatever word-processing program works for you.) Third, I force myself to sit there with my work-in-progress until Freedom says I’m done. (I always set it for at least one hour, and often three.) I don’t allow myself to get up to make endless cups of tea (one will do). I just sit there. That’s all.

How often am I filled with inspiration before I start writing? Pretty much never. Instead, I usually stare at my work-in-progress with a vague sense of doom. I often think to myself: What the hell am I doing in this scene? I don’t understand how to get my characters from Point A to Point B! I really want to check Twitter!

The trick is this: As long as I sit there with my work-in-progress, at some point I will write something, because there’s nothing else to do.

Whatever I write may not be any good, but that doesn’t matter. When you’re writing a first draft—which most of you are doing this month—the most important thing is to keep moving forward. Your first try will be riddled with mistakes, but that’s what revision is for. Right now, you only have to put those ugly, wrong words on the page so you can fix them later.

So, inspiration isn’t what gets your book written. Discipline is. However, inspiration does sometimes pop by for an unexpected visit. Picture this:

You’re sitting there with the internet off. You’re writing some horrible words, thinking this is surely the most miserable dreck ever typed into Scrivener. Suddenly, something you wrote will seem to leap out at you, as if the words themselves came to life and shouted at you to pay attention. You’ll look at that sentence you wrote and think, Oh. Wow. Is that what this scene is about? And then things will accelerate. It’ll feel like you’ve miraculously tapped into what’s meaningful about this novel you’re writing, as if you’ve been able to glimpse where you’re going and why you’re going there.

It’ll be as if that person you gave your number to—the one who never called—finally did.

Inspiration is fickle like that. It shows up when you least expect it, all sexy and exhilarating and reminding you why you put your butt in that chair and turned off Twitter (and the rest of the internet) and forced yourself to trudge through the valley of no-good, very-bad first drafts.

Enjoy that inspiration while it’s there. Enjoy it thoroughly because it is rare and precious.

Just don’t expect it to show up every day. The only thing that needs to show up every day is yourself—and your determination to see this through to the end. You can do it.

Malinda

Malinda Lo is the author of several young adult novels, including AdaptationInheritanceAsh, and Huntress. She is a co-founder of Diversity in YA.”

While I sometimes do get those rare bouts of writer’s inspiration, they only usually occur at around 3 am or so, which is the hour that normal people would already be asleep. It’s helpful to know though, that even published authors don’t always get that writer’s inspiration, and that they too, sometimes don’t know what the heck is going on in their stories.

The most important thing is to be consistent, as she says, and just write. For me, NaNoWriMo has helped me by forcing me to develop a certain routine in my writing, though I may sometimes choose to write at different times in the day. Instead of waiting for inspiration to strike, I simply get a snack and hot beverage, sit at the table, light a candle and listen to some good instrumental music. Sounds cliche, but it’s been working for me.

And even though I stumble around in my plot half of the time, and sometimes end up walking around the room, or banging some songs out on the piano, I eventually manage to return to the chair, sit down, and start writing. I catch up to where my characters are in the story, and I continue to write that crappy first draft that, if you’ve read or heard of Anne Lamott, you’ll know just what i’m talking about.

So, excuse me, but I’m going to get back to my story that is complete crap, because I promised myself that I would after I wrote this post. So long!

NaNoWriMo- One week in, and it’s no novelty. Really.

It’s been a week since I’ve started this whole thing, and so far, I have made the word count and more. Problem is, I’m writing this here blog post instead of getting my word count in for today. That’s right, I really shouldn’t be doing this right now, and should instead be writing to update my count. (At just that moment, I had a picture of the count censored. You should check it out on youtube. I would link it right here, but technically, I shouldn’t even be on the Internet, so yeah. I’m also really lazy. So look it up. Right now. Right here right now).

So instead of continuing my story, which actually stinks right now, I’m choosing to write this post to send out to that black hole that is the Internet.

Though, to be fair, I guess I could say that the story is still in its early formative years, and is still vomiting all over the carpet, but I’m too lazy to clean it up. I’m so lazy, I don’t even feel like changing that metaphor to something less disgusting, so deal with it. Read it and weep.

Ok, I suppose I should return to the story that is falling apart at the seams. Too bad I don’t sew on a regular basis, or I would patch that bad boy up. Now I know it’s time to do this thing because the puns are just getting more and more terrific!!!

Ok, for real though, it’s back to the draft that has so many holes in it, a horrible draft is coming through…. now that one was really bad. Sorry- nope, not sorry.

Now I’m just stalling. I really don’t wanna write, but I gotta do it. I gotta. Here. I. Go. Woooo. So fun. Ok. I’m going.

Goodbye.

See ya. Later. Gator.

K, for real, byes.

Byes.

bye.

Now that word looks weird, like you know how you can say a word so much it can sound weird in your mouth?

That’s how this novel feels.

Novel. Novel. Novel. This novel is no novelty.

Ok, bye for real. It’s been real, novel.

Also, does this blog post count as my word count? There’s 360 words right there!

Now I really gotta go. Bye for real.