Writing Rituals!

Thanks to MK England for tagging me in the writing rituals video! I didn’t answer any of the questions, but I did what inspired me! Which was to poke fun at my own rituals and how they can fail me sometimes. See, rituals are intended to get you into the proper headspace for getting work done, so you have to re-evaluate if it isn’t working for you!

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Meeting Other Writers… IN THE WILD

I was at a coffee shop last weekend with Twister (Twin Sister). Coffee, coffee cake cupcake, more coffee, and basically more coffee.

We were discussing things about writing:

  • jump start productivity
  • start a project you haven’t worked on in a long time (sometimes years)
  • decide how to move forward with a nebulous plot
  • discover what themes you are inadvertently addressing and that you want to address

While we were mid-discussion, a group of people pulled together a few tables beside us. A few people gathered over time, and it ended up being a table with about 7 people.

Because I’m a secret ninja spy with terrible eavesdropping skills, I maintained a super level of coolness with Twister whilst occasionally turning my ear to their table.

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They discussed Divergent books and movie adaptations, character development, the risks and rewards of second person POV, and past experiences they had with critiques. And one of them was drawing something for her book, and it was GORGEOUSLY FANTASTIC. I wanted to snag a picture of that picture, but I felt leaning over and snapping a photo was probably a step too far.

Yes, I was probably listening more than I should have.

(To be fair, they were literally one foot away.)

((To be additionally fair, it wasn’t so much “intentional eavesdropping” as it was “overhearing words someone is speaking one foot away in the natural lulls of conversation”))

Anyway.

Basically, what I had stumbled onto was OTHER WRITERS. Out in the real, proper world! IN THE WILD. Wild Writers, as it were.

Putting aside the narration in my head (a la: here we are in the natural habitat of the elusive Writing Group–the coffee shop. If we’re quiet, we might just see them in their natural social habits), I spent a good chunk of my outing working up the nerve to say HI.

Not just because I wanted to try to encourage Twister to see if she could join, and not just because I wanted to confirm to them that I’m a pseudo lunatic writer who semi-stalked them through their group meeting. But because I wanted to be brave and say hello.

Writers can be an introverted breed.

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So more than anything, I wanted to take a measured brave step toward How To Human.

Just like blogging, writing, public speaking, traveling, taxes, and cooking, it takes practice.

And the conclusion was good, too! I met another writer whose name is Becca. I learned that they were a writer’s group from a (relatively) local library. I got a dash of contact details.

I thought I would be nervous or afraid to speak to them. Granted, as Twister so very helpfully pointed out IN THE MIDDLE OF OUR INTRODUCTIONS, I successfully completed my transformation to a red, red tomato.

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BUT! I found, at the end, that I wished I had spoken up earlier, as opposed to getting last minute details before leaving. Not that they would have appreciated me muscling in on their group, but it would have been nice to do a general info-trade. Like what genres or story forms we write, how long we’d been writing, everyone’s real name and such.

So at the end of it all, I wasn’t regretful of my nerves or fear, I only regretted that I hadn’t been brave sooner.

Which, I think, is something most of us can say about bravery and regret.

When You Go Crazy (Pitch Wars #8)

So what happens when you’ve been working crazily on a manuscript for nearly two months straight with a consistent low level coffee buzz surging through your veins?

Weird things. VERY WEIRD THINGS.

1. You start narrating your life, adding dialogue tags after people talk.

“Hey, what’s up?”

“Not much… she said, completely ignoring his new haircut.”

“You noticed my haircut? It’s nice, right?”

“Didn’t you hear the dialogue tag? I’m ignoring you. she said with a fiercely expressionless face.”

“But you’re smiling.”

“NO I’M NOT. OBEY THE DIALOGUE TAGS, she whispered.”

2. Your sister wakes you up to say goodnight (because you crashed at 8pm on a Saturday like a BOSS OF PRODUCTIVITY).

Sister hugs me whilst I am on the dangly edge of dreamy-land.

“Night,” she says.

I vaguely return the hug and say, “Go and build a hut in the frigid waters of the north.”

Sister says nothing. Shrugs. Goes to sleep.

Not by the frigid waters of the north. IN the frigid waters of the north. Confusion? Yes.

3. You’re brain doesn’t function at optimum capacity. But it’s on high alert at the same time. Sort of?

*hears strange sound from car*

*gets off at nearest exit*

*intends on pulling into a gas station, but there are no gas stations*

*continues driving, thinking yeah, i’ll just drive parallel to the freeway at a slower speed*

*drives for five miles down strange farm-road*

*glances out the window*

*sees Venus, Saturn, and Mars*

*realizes that Venus, Saturn, and Mars are in the Eastern sky*

CRAP I’M GOING SOUTH. CRAAAAP.

*turns on GPS which tells me to continue for 8 miles before finding a turn-around*

CRAPITY CRAP CRAP

*clock displays I should be at work right now*

CRAAP CRAAP CRAAAAAAAAAAAP.

*glares at street, heading north for 15 miles until I get back on the freeway a half hour later and only TEN MILES CLOSER TO WORK THAN WHEN I STARTED*

*walks into work 25 minutes late*

I need coffee, guys. Cofffeeeee.

Taking a Breath and Break

I’m within a week of finishing my hard copy revisions to my manuscript. However, it’s also a holiday weekend (yay, no work on Monday [but because I’m a contractor I won’t get paid for it]). I also have a two-day headache still bumbling around my brain.

I’M SO CLOSE to finishing this round of revisions!!

I want nothing more than to power through and knock it out of the park with a boxer’s final punch. Yet the mixed metaphor is representative of my brain right now: jumbled, cross-wired, and confused.

With that in-around-and-on my mind, I realized today that I haven’t done any revision in the past four days. Friday appeared with a SURPRISE you’re on a break! note. No flowers, though. Just the note. Friday’s flowers are the weekend. So thank you, Friday. Very generous.

At first, I chastised myself for letting my work slide. Then I reminded myself: You can’t work at 100% capacity all the time. You need a break every now and then. You need a deep breath, a moment of silence.

That’s why we have vacations and weekends and off-hours and lunch breaks and coffee breaks and I could go for some coffee right now…

 

So remember to give yourself permission to take a break when you need it, or else you’ll burn-out, and you’ll end up spending your time in a smoldering heap of crossed wires and metaphors.

First Draft DONE!!

Good News!

I just finished my first draft of The Nameless Queen. I gave myself a deadline of last night, and I sort of met it. Sorta = 1:00 AM. Not within the 24-hour clock of my Wednesday deadline, but within my waking-hour clock! I call that a 95% success!

Woo hoo! Whoop whoop!

After some formatting changes, I sent along the first draft to friends T-Alpha and Airy-air (as they requested/demanded). Then I sent an announcement text and the finished first draft to those lonely souls who were reading it as I wrote it (I’m lookin’ at you, Mom and Eldest Sister).

Then I drank some sparkling cider from the bottle and ate some German chocolate (Ritter Sport, anyone?). Then, at around 2 AM, I went to sleep.

If you’re curious, this is what happens when you drink sparkling cider after brushing your teeth.

Bad News

I had to wake up for work at 5:30 AM. Granted, I slept in until 5:50, but I’m not too keen on my prospects for the rest of the day. A ten-hour round of sitting-in-office-chair-at-work working, scattered with a few calls to finally get Ninja Car into the shop tomorrow for repairs, and finally a stop by the store to get the coffee creamer that I specifically went to purchase on Tuesday, bought 100 dollars of groceries AND THEN FORGOT TO BUY CREAMER.

Fun fact about me: I don’t go shopping when I run out of food, I go shopping when I run out of coffee/creamer. I don’t want to say I have a caffeine problem… but… nah. I’m not even going to defend it. I love me some coffee.

This is all I want from my mornings. That, and no ice on my car.

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Worse News

Since I forgot to by creamer, I have no coffee to get me through the workday. Rising levels of anxiety are causing me to BAHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Anyway, some spiced chai tea and sugar should at least give me something to sip at whilst I work diligently. On the radio this morning, however, the radio man was all too pleased to announce: “It’s negative four degrees!”

I’m pretty sure it’s 10th degree treason to sound that happy when reporting a below zero temperature on top of a negative 20 wind chill.

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Bright and Shining Awesome News

Despite the cold weather and the sleepiness, the first draft is done!!!

It bears repeating with more enthusiasm:

THE FIRST DRAFT IS DONE! Squeals of joy commence.

Slow-motion emotion. My brain right now.

I’m too excited to question all of the potentially senseless decisions I made in the last chapter. I won’t even think about all the half-finished sentences hiding amidst the indelicate prose of the beastly first draft.

EXCITEMENT. ACCOMPLISHMENT. DONE.

Happy Valentines Day, Coffee

Dearest Coffee,

You warm up my mornings, you brighten my day, you’re there when I need you most, and you never have a cross word to say. You give me the energy to face my day, you comfort me when I’m a lackluster heap of laziness, and you make me feel like I can tackle any obstacle.

Your taste on my lips makes me smile, and you give me warm fuzzy feelings.

Best love,

Your Faithful Consumer

100 followers = 100 WRITING TIPS!

As of February 6, I officially have 100 followers here on WordPress. That’s not counting people who benefit from the blog through Facebook/Twitter. Too me, that means that there are a hundred people who read something I wrote (writing advice, complaining about Ninja Car, or extolling the value of language). Not only that, but those hundred people thought that they might like to hear something else I had to say.

Well, as a reaction to my surprising level of excitement, I’ve decided to toss out 100 writing tips. Take a deep breath! And, go! (There’s also a video version of this list, complete with props and a nerf gun!)

  1. Drink coffee.
  2. Make your coffee more exciting.
  3. Drink water so you don’t dehydrate on all that caffeine.
  4. Plan a reward for when you reach a goal.
  5. Know you’re apostrophes.
  6. Try outlining at least once.
  7. Be as organized as you can be!
  8. Try NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)!
  9. Write at least a little every single day.
  10. Give yourself permission to suck.
  11. Be OK with a sucky first draft.
  12. Don’t forget to read!
  13. If you have good advice, share it.
  14. Don’t be superstitious.
  15. Have a healthy ego.
  16. Know how to be self-critical.
  17. Know who to go to for encouragement.
  18. Encourage other writers!
  19. Seek out beta readers.
  20. Do your research!
  21. Do more research.
  22. Keep researching.
  23. Don’t let research keep you from writing.
  24. Figure out what your crutches are.
  25. Color code your revisions/edits.
  26. Try out different word processing programs.
  27. Find a good writing area.
  28. Try out a variety of writing areas.
  29. Expose yourself to new places.
  30. Don’t write in bed late at night under the covers with the heater on.
  31. Don’t fall asleep.
  32. Don’t end a chapter in a spot where you’d feel comfortable ending.
  33. Read your writing out loud.
  34. Don’t depend on spell-checkers.
  35. Get something from what you’re writing: emotional catharsis, learning from research, scratching an itch.
  36. Keep track of important small details.
  37. Don’t forget about characters.
  38. Back up your work!
  39. Archive your work.
  40. Expose yourself to visual stimuli!
  41. Draw maps, pictures, flowcharts, and doodles.
  42. Talk to other writers.
  43. Try different forms of writing (dictation, handwriting, typing).
  44. Try different styles of writing (poetry, stories, memoir).
  45. Read critically.
  46. Find what inspires you.
  47. Observe the people around you.
  48. Observe the world around you.
  49. Track your word count.
  50. If you can’t find the time to do what you love, make the time.
  51. Listen to music.
  52. Write in the company of natural light.
  53. Be fearless, but thoughtful.
  54. Be determined to improve.
  55. Know how to format dialogue.
  56. Don’t forget about other things like… other human beings and food and stuff.
  57. Be comfortable while you write.
  58. Don’t be afraid if your writing makes you uncomfortable.
  59. Read the types of books you want to write.
  60. Know what the cliches are.
  61. Know how to appropriately subvert cliches.
  62. Feel what you’re writing (emotionally).
  63. Feel what you’re writing (physically: print it off to get a different view on it).
  64. Talk it out when you’re stuck.
  65. Rant from tabletops!
  66. Jump in without any idea.
  67. If you get stuck preparing, then you’ll never make it off the first page.
  68. Don’t fall into the cyclonic pit of editing when you should be write write WRITING.
  69. If you burn out, it’s okay to take a break.
  70. Keep your life balanced.
  71. Let yourself fall down the rabbit hole, but make sure you know how to climb back out.
  72. Take a look at paragraph length and chapter length.
  73. Find a balance of exposition and narrative.
  74. Find a balance of summary and scene.
  75. Know the limitations of different POVs.
  76. Avoid taking the easy solutions
  77. Surprise yourself.
  78. Keep your audience in mind.
  79. Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.
  80. Be empathetic.
  81. Explore new and different psychologies.
  82. Never resist the flow of new ideas.
  83. Don’t be afraid to multi-task.
  84. Find people who will encourage you to do what you love.
  85. Love what you do.
  86. Ask yourself: who is the last person I expect to see come through that door?
  87. Know your own repetitive styles and tricks, styles and tricks.
  88. Always learn.
  89. Keep trying to invent.
  90. If you start to stagnate, it’s your responsibility to get yourself unstuck.
  91. Incorporate your other interests into your writing.
  92. Experience things passionately.
  93. Take a break before delving into revision.
  94. Write a list of questions that you don’t have the answer to.
  95. As you write, find the answer to those questions.
  96. Revise multiple times.
  97. Proofreading is not revision.
  98. Writing is hard work, and it can be a huge pain.
  99. Writing should always be fun.
  100. If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong. Or it’s a Thursday. Or it’s a Sunday. Or you’re revising.

And, breathe again!

There’s no reason this list can’t grow! If you have any of your favorite writing tips, leave them in comments!