Don’t Seek Inspiration

Right now I’m in a fiction writing workshop in school and I wrote the first draft of my short story in about a day.  Now, that is not trying to brag or anything because it was actually something I wasn’t very proud of and will probably never share with anyone outside of that class.  I didn’t have a great idea for it and I didn’t have a lot of passion for that particular story, but I kind of consider it a practice story.  It’s not a story that will necessarily be published, but it helps me to learn the process.

One of the major things that I have always complained about is lack of inspiration.  There are a lot of areas in my life where inspiration is what I’m seeking and I have recently come to the realization that seeking inspiration is actually the wrong way to go about things.  Just. Write.  That whole “Just Do It” campaign is really true.  And it is proved by this past Monday night.  Every Monday I meet a couple of friends to hang out and (supposedly) write.  And I rarely write anything.  Why?  Because there are people there to distract me, mostly.  But the main reason they are able to distract me is because I don’t feel “inspired”.  This past Monday they were late.  I spent an hour and a half in the coffee shop by myself before they got there.  I did not feel “inspired” when I first went in there.  But I opened my notebook and I started writing.  I wrote two pages.  (And my handwriting is tiny so it’s more like 3 typed pages.)

Is all of that stuff that will actually end up in the final novel?  I don’t know.  I have to get to the end of it and start revising to find that out, but I was writing.  Writing breeds more writing.  I started writing and I got distracted a few times (primarily because I forgot my ear buds) but the more words I wrote the more words crowded into my head.  When they actually came in I was actually a little bit disappointed.  Not because I was unhappy to see them, I was actually very happy because they are two of my favorite people in the world, but because it interrupted my flow.

My biggest problem with writing (right now) is discipline.  I need to discipline myself to actually write every day.  Even if it’s only a few minutes before I’m totally out of ideas.  But I need to be better about that.  I know that I won’t do particularly well with a specific schedule, meaning I will write from x time to y time and I will clean my house at z time, because I will fall off track a little bit and I’ll get really angry with myself and I’ll be really discouraged.  (I do at least know that about myself.)  But I can make goals.  So, my goal is to write something, at least one sentence, on my novel every day.

As I said before, I am in school.  I also have a full-time job and I own my home so I am fully responsible for the cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking, and such and I’m also working on getting healthier so I have to have time to exercise.  However, despite all of the things that are already on my schedule I absolutely have time to write a sentence.  This sentence took me less than a minute to write.  Even with all the backspacing I did.  And even though my hand writing is slightly slower than my typing, it will still take me MAYBE one minute to write a sentence in my novel.  Maybe.  I can spare one minute.  Especially when I spend most of my time at home watching Criminal Minds on Netflix.  Even if I write my sentence while I’m cooking or on the toilet!  How long to we spend on the toilet every day?  I can totally fit in a sentence there.  Probably not when I’m at work, because people would give me weird looks, but certainly at home.

So, there it is.  Don’t seek inspiration, create discipline.  That is my goal and that is what I will probably have to continue to strive for for a long time.  But it is worth it.

Showing Love for Writing

I.  Love.  Writing.  It doesn’t really show on a blog basis, but I really do write pretty much every single day.  Not always my novel . . .  But that is a story for another time.  😀  I journal basically every day because I love writing.  And the days I don’t journal, I do write fiction.  Again, not always my novel, but I do write and that is part of the battle with getting a novel written, right?

 

So, instead of getting down on myself for not writing more often or always being mad at myself for not meeting my writing goals or something like that, I’m going to try a new tactic for getting my novel written.  And this idea just came to me today, so I haven’t been doing it for the past two weeks or anything.  Anyway, the plan is to get back to loving writing and focusing on that instead of focusing on writing goals (word counts, pages, etc.).

 

I’m not going to totally do away with writing goals, because I think that without goals you have no motivation, but I’m going to focus more on how fresh and creative I feel when I write rather than “Did I hit my word count?”  I still want to write a first draft every month (I haven’t finished my NaNo2014 Novel yet, but I’m still working on it!) and to that end I do still have a goal of writing at least two hours every day and roughly 10,000 words per week.  But I’m going to focus more on the love of writing.  I think I have gotten far too caught up in being mad at myself for not being finished and in what MIGHT happen after I finish (i.e. getting published).

 

So, to kick off my new focus, I love writing because it means I can release all the emotions pent up inside me.  If I have a bad day, I can write a murder scene or a fight scene or even just a guy throwing a tantrum.  Then I purge those emotions and essentially have the tantrum without looking like a two year old.  (And I hope you all know I would never actually kill anyone, but I do write murder mysteries so the scene is convenient)  If I’m having a great day but can’t seem to find anyone to share it with, I can give my characters an awesome scene.  These people are like friends to me and I love being able to see them happy.  If I’m feeling lonely I can write about it, or I can just spend time with my characters.  Again, they are like real people to me.  That may sound kind of crazy, but they are and I’m less lonely when I’m spending time with them.

 

I love writing because the movement is familiar.  I’ve been forming letters for as long as I can remember and the very act is soothing.  Even if I’m not writing words.  Sometimes when I’m anxious, I literally sign my name over and over again simply because it is a familiar movement.

 

I think I’m making myself sound a little more crazy than I meant to.  Hopefully some of this actually does make sense to some people out there.  Writing is my love and my passion and I think I may have lost focus of that a bit.  I’m going to try to refocus and get back to that passion.

Starting Fresh

If you read my posts from November, you know that I didn’t finish my novel for NaNoWriMo, I only got halfway through.  You also know that my plan was to finish the second half in December.  Well, that didn’t happen either.  It probably would have if Christmas was the only thing in the way, because I really don’t go to a lot of parties.  The big problem was that I bought a house (YAY!) which meant I had to move (BOO!).  Signing papers over and over and moving took up ALL MY TIME!!!!!!!!!  I’m still not fully unpacked.  To be fair, though, I was never fully unpacked in my parents’ house and we lived there just over 3 years.

Anyway, the problem now is actually FINISHING THE DAMN BOOK!!!!!  And I’m seriously sick of having little bits of novels scattered around various notebooks.  So, with the craziness of December and school starting in January I essentially took time off from the novel for most of January.

But now we are at the end of the January and it is time to continue.  I have not spent the entire month away from the book so I am still aware of what has happened.  The challenge is really figuring out how to “start fresh” on the project I have so much written on and not feel anxiety about the inconsistencies I’m creating.  I’ve been thinking about this for most of the month because picking up where I left off has never really been an issue for me.  It’s the inconsistencies in the first draft that happen.  And no matter how many times I read or hear that you are supposed to have a shitty first draft I get anxious trying to figure out “where it’s going” while I’m writing and thinking about all the things that don’t match the most recent turn.

So, I have come up with a few strategies that will, hopefully, help me to actually get it written.

1) Just Do It — as much as I’ve heard it, it still rings true that sometimes you have to just write.

2) Don’t Look Back — I am going to flip through and make sure I have all the current characters names on my master list, then I will not look more than a page back at a time until I reach the end.  That should keep me from wanting to edit too much.

3) Stop Writing, Stop Thinking — when the timer goes off (or when I stop writing for whatever reason) I will not think about the novel until I am ready to write again.  If I think about it I’ll plan and if I plan I’ll over plan.

4) Word Count — I have a box on my daily planner pages where I will track my word count every day.

I don’t know exactly how well these will work.  Maybe not at all.  Maybe they’ll need a little adjusting.  Maybe I’ll even come up with some new things to try to keep me on track.

I also have a goal for the year to write 12 first drafts of novels.  That is ambitious.  I am fully aware that I probably will not reach that goal.  But my thought is, if you reach for Pluto, surely you’ll hit the moon, right?  So I’m reaching for Pluto.  Who knows, maybe I’ll actually get there.  That would clear up a few of the bits and pieces.

Did She or Didn’t She – NaNo Results for WishfulWriterTwo

I DID!!!!!  And I didn’t.

 

Let me explain.  I honestly don’t remember if I mentioned my personal goal for NaNo this year or not (and I’m too lazy to go back and look).  I did NOT hit 50,000 words.  However, I DID get further than I have ever gotten with NaNo before, so I do consider it a success.  And I learned a lot about time management over the last month.  To be honest, I know why I didn’t hit it this year.  I am in school and I’m buying a house and I’m working 40 hours a week.  All of those things add up to not a lot of time to write.  However, I know that other people have just as much going on and still it 50,000 words.

 

BUT, and this is a big but, I am not going to put away what I’ve written because today is December 1st.  I’m actually going to keep writing.  I only got halfway there, but even though I’m still in school, still working 40 hours a week, and still buying a house (and will start moving in halfway through the month if everything goes well) I’m going to keep writing.  I’m going to keep writing and I’m going to finish the 50,000 words.  And then I’m going to edit it.

 

I’m already thinking about this thing I’m doing for the new year.  It’s 12 lists of 12 things for the year.  You can choose whatever list you want to do and you can fill it in ahead of time and check them off or fill them in as you go, but one of my lists is to query 12 publishers/agents.  In order to do that, I have to actually get the first draft of my book to go from “only the writer could love this” to “hey, this won’t make my friends’ eyes bleed anymore” to “this is vaguely fit for human consumption”.  I figure that last one is what most editors get anyway and they’ll help me get to “I am not embarrassed to claim this” at least before they send it out to the world.

 

Maybe I will get no where.  Maybe I’ll get a long list of rejections.  But I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos lately about planning and organizing and journaling (I was mainly getting ideas for the planner I’m setting up and the journal vlogs were linked and I was sucked into the YouTube vortex of doom) and one of the vloggers said something that really struck me.  She said that when all you do is sit and get sucked into the YouTube vortex of doom watching vlogs you are a voyeur.  You are watching other people live their lives instead of living your own.  And that is so true!  And it just struck me that she is completely right about that and if I am a wishful writer, I have to actually get published.

 

Yes, I am working towards a degree in English and I want to move on to get my Master’s.  I’ve always considered going into publishing and I honestly can’t see myself working my current job for the rest of my life.  It just isn’t what I want to do.  But I don’t NEED a degree in order to publish fiction.  All I NEED is a completed draft and persistence!

 

So, there you have it.  I’ll let you know when the draft is actually finished and how I feel about it.  But I’m moving towards being finished with it before the end of the year.

Half Time Recap

Kara Howell

KEEP WRITING! Take that 20 minute locker room break, eat an actual meal, let your eyes rest, dare to venture out into the sunlight since you began your writing adventures with NaNo!

I am super excited for my compadre who has been dedicated to this triathlon for writers and I can’t wait to see her results! How are your writings going?

I had to admit – I am not participating as much as I wish had been, but it at least didn’t completely sneak out from under me this year. I am very aware of my writing and lack there of this month, but we all press on as writers year round. But major props to all your NaNo-ists, and best of luck.

Back up all your work on an external or cloud! We all know how that feels the moment you typed out 10,000 words only to have everything freeze and no auto-save – yikes.

For those few exclusive few who choose to read our humble little blog, EXTRA kudos to you and we send you all the best writing vibes and anit-writer’s block formula extra strength to ward off minor blocks, major blocks, and keeps you energized throughout the night. For a daytime prescription, leave a comment below and tell us about your writing adventures so far in NaNo!

The Inciting Incident

In working through NaNoWriMo I have now come to a wall.  I feel like all those people following Forrest Gump while he was running around the country when he stops running and says “I’m kinda tired.  i think I’ll go home now.”  They all stand there staring at him and say “What are we supposed to do?”  My book is Forrest Gump and the Inciting Incident, which is the only thing I knew when I started writing, is the stopping point.  Now I’m sitting here saying, “What am I supposed to do?”

 

Of course, I do actually know the answer.  I am supposed to keep writing.  I’m supposed to write and write and write even if nothing of consequence is coming out.  But when you don’t know where you’re going any more, or at the very least you have nothing to chase after, it’s very difficult to even move.

 

However, we are only half way through week 2.  There is still plenty of time for me to churn out the number of words I need to finish.  And the fact is that if I keep writing, eventually something will happen.  Eventually my characters, the people in my head, will tire of sitting around doing nothing and will decide to do something and drag me along again.  That is just fine.  I’d rather not work too much anyway, so if they would just do stuff that would be really helpful.

 

So, off I go. Instead of procrastinating, like I’m doing right now, I’m going to hunker down and actually write something that might, eventually, be worth reading.

NaNoWriMo Week 1

Week 1 started out AWESOME.  I was averaging around 1900 words per day and feeling very good about myself.  There were words flowing, back story being revealed and even plot-like stuffs happening.

 

Unfortunately I was tired one day and essentially took the day off.  Yeah, I can’t do that again.  I did continue to write after those first few days.  It’s not like I just let it go and haven’t written anything in several days.  But I didn’t write nearly enough.  The word dump has stalled.

 

Time to get it going again.

 

Today is the end of Week 1.  Tomorrow starts Week 2 and a Fresh Start.  (Not that I’m starting over on the story or, God forbid, starting a NEW story, just that I’m recommitting.)

 

And my Municipal Liaison for NaNoWriMo gave me a good mantra to use this coming week borrowed from the greatest of cartoon philosophers.

 

“Just keep swimming.  Just keep swimming.  Just keep swimming.”