26 October 2015

The Listing Hop

To celebrate eight years of blogging, Bish Denham is hosting a blog hop! All we have to do is make a list. Well, I love making lists, so I hopped right on board with this one. Happy blogiversary, Bish!!

Ok, while I really do love making lists (writing this blog post is on the top of today's to-do list!), it took me forever to come up with something for the hop. I just wanted it to actually be interesting and possibly writing related. Last week I talked about how I was thinking about some scenes from Book 3 and how if those particular scenes were inspiring me the most, it was ok to work on them, even if Book 3 isn't my main focus. Since it's almost November, for a split second I thought, "hey, why don't I try to write Book 3 for NaNoWriMo?" and then immediately realized what a horrible idea that was. So, here they are:

Reasons Why I Should Not Try to Write Book 3 for NaNoWriMo

  • I haven't outlined Book 3 yet (I know, I don't outline, but for the sequels I'm trying to get ahead and be organized about it)
  • I haven't written Book 2 yet 
  • What I really should be working on is the third draft of Book 1 (yeah, yeah...)
  • There are probably a few things I need to figure out for Book 1 that will be important in Book 3
  • Ok, probably Book 2, too
  • I have zero understanding of how the music industry works and since that's the subplot of Book 3, I should probably do a lot of research first
  • I still haven't come up with a name for Jordan's band (!)
  • Most of my characters don't have last names yet: Eric (ERIC! He's been around forever and I haven't given him a last name! Shame!), Adam, Ben, ok, pretty much everyone...
  • I still need to change Joe's first name. Can't commit to a new one. (It may be Max. Maybe. Possibly.) 
  • Ben's wife needs a name, too. (Karen? I don't know...)
  • I still have not come up with an accurate way to describe Adam's hair 
  • I've got way too many characters who feel like popping in for just one scene and I need to figure out what else to do with them (I'm looking at you, Ethan, Paul, Emma, Anthony, Allison, Abby, Ben)
  • Utilizing said characters will make this the longest novel ever
  • Actually, I probably need to write Emma's side book first, too
  • At this point the plot is comprised of just a whole lot of sex scenes and I need to tone it down (they can't ALL be so important that I can't skip over them but try telling that to my brain right now)
  • There's just no way I'll have time to write a whole novel in a month
  • I've never ever won NaNo and I don't think it will happen this time, either
  • I'm crazy, but not that crazy

All right, I'm done. I didn't think I actually had that many reasons. So yeah, not happening. Hope everyone tackling NaNo does not have a list like this!!

21 October 2015

A Commitment on Top of a Commitment (on Top of Another Commitment...)

This post has ZERO to do with writing. Except for the fact that I'm writing it. That still counts, right?

I've been engaged for almost two years. Whenever you tell someone you're engaged, the immediate response is, "SO WHEN'S THE WEDDING?" which I actually find super annoying. I have no idea when I'm getting married. So why do I have to feel so awkward telling people that? Why does it even matter? I can't exactly tell people "well, I don't have any money for a wedding but I don't really just want to run to the courthouse for a marriage license either." On the other hand, I'm kind of getting sick of not being married, too. So where's the compromise?

I think I've always known that I wouldn't want a big wedding, and not just because I can't afford it. I'm a very introverted person and I hate being the center of attention. And being a bride is pretty much the epitome of being the center of attention. I really don't have that many friends and there's a lot of drama with my family, so I feel like having a big wedding would be more hassle than it's worth.

So I've been trying to figure out forever what kind of wedding I want. It hit me when my fiance and I were talking about going back to Las Vegas. We went last year and he had been once before and we both love it there. We've been wanting to go back for a while and we've often joked about getting married there (because that's what you do, right?). But then I started to take the idea seriously. It felt like a good compromise--having an actual wedding ceremony but not having it be a huge deal. I'd say we're 90% on board with the idea but we haven't actually said "this is what we're going to do."

Well, it may be time for a commitment. I figured if we did get married in Vegas I would want a short dress and I found one online that I really liked. It was relatively cheap but I figured I would hold off until we made a decision. Well, I just looked at the dress again and right now it's on sale for $99.99. Holy crap. If I want this dress, I should definitely buy it now. But it's not just the dress. I have to commit to the whole thing.

If I buy this particular dress, it means the Vegas wedding is definitely happening. I do love the dress but I can't picture actually wearing it anywhere else. If I wait, the price could go back up or even worse, they may run out and I'll have to find something new. On top of that, I really really really want to lose a lot of weight before I get married. So I have to figure out what size to order. If I get a size that's too small for me right now then I absolutely HAVE to lose weight in order to fit into it. But if I get a size that does fit me now that means I can't lose any weight at all (which I would hate).

So committing to a dress is way more than committing to a dress. I have to commit to actually cracking down and losing weight. And I have to put my foot down and say this is the kind of wedding I want and I don't care what anyone else thinks. Oddly enough, I think the actual commitment of marriage is probably the easiest part for me to commit to. It's everything else that's complicated.

19 October 2015

Write Anything

I'm sure a lot of writers have a specific process for working on a story. Maybe they outline before they start writing, or start at the beginning and go straight through to the end. Outlines have never really been my thing, so I've always been more of a pantser than a planner. But I think I take the pantser thing to a whole other level. Because not only do I pretty much never outline, but I don't write things in order, either.

I can honestly say the only thing I've ever worked on 100% in order from the first chapter to the last was the second draft of Uneven Lines, and that was a half edit/half rewrite. So really I've never written anything from start to finish. Why? I usually work on whichever part is inspiring me the most. Especially with a first draft, there will usually be one or two scenes that I'll keep thinking about over and over again until I actually write them down. Once they're finished, they're usually replaced by something new. It can be any part of the story, so most of the time I write out of order, but with a general idea of how things will eventually tie together.

Sometimes this strategy works, and other times it doesn't. Maybe that's why when I'm not feeling particularly inspired by anything, I don't work on anything. And not writing just seems to lead to even less inspiration, so it becomes a vicious cycle. So what do you do when you rely on that inspiration and it just isn't happening?

There are a few options. You could force yourself to work on a specific part. Maybe something you think will be easy, or just the next part of the story. Or you can just wait it out and hope for any spark of inspiration. I try to pay extra close attention to that voice of inspiration. There usually isn't a day that goes by where I'm not thinking about some aspect of my story, whether it's my main project, one of its sequels, or even just some random bit of background info on a character. I'm trying to get into the mindset of just going with the flow. No matter what part I'm thinking of, start writing.

Lately, for instance, a few scenes from Book 3 have been on my mind. When I was trying to fall asleep last night, some actual words started to pop into my head (and they weren't terrible!). So why fight it? Just because I really should be working on the first book instead? At this point I'd be thrilled to write anything, especially if it's within the universe of the story I should be working on. It would still be better than nothing.

So instead of just thinking about these other ideas, or just jotting down a note here or there, why not write a whole scene? Maybe even a whole chapter? Sure, it may be a distraction from focusing on the first book, but if I'm not actually working on it, why not take advantage of the inspiration? I've let it slip away way too many times to just not write anything. I think it would be better to write something unnecessary than to not write anything at all.

Do you write things in order? What do you do when a different project is distracting you from your main one?

12 October 2015

Where We Want to Be

Everybody has goals, whether they're writing related or not. Some may be easier to achieve than others. When it comes to writing goals, you probably have big ones--like become a bestselling author, or writing x many books--and some smaller, more short term ones--like get to a certain word count or finish the next chapter. Even the smallest goal can be daunting if it isn't coming easily to you. So how do we know we're on the right path? How do we get where we want to be?

If you're constantly changing your goals or adding new ones, you may never be 100% done, which is a good thing. If we were completely done with our writing, well, we wouldn't be writers anymore. As long as you have new goals or ideas, you'll never really stop. But at the same time, you do actually want to achieve your goals. We all want to finish the book we're working on and get it published, then maybe we'll write a sequel or start a whole new idea. The possibilities for new goals are endless, but the first step is to finish the goals you've already made.

Figuring out how to achieve these goals can be tricky. I know for me, just trying to edit my novel is difficult right now. For some it may be getting the first draft done, others figuring out how to get published. We each have our own separate goals to work on, and they can be as diverse as the story ideas themselves. It helps to focus on one goal at a time. Yes, you may have those big, long term goals, but those are hard and take time to achieve. If you focus on one small goal at a time, you may find it a bit easier.

Or you can have different stages of goals. For instance, my main goal is to get the third draft of my novel done. It's not a huge goal, but it isn't small, either. My first smaller goal is to finish editing the first chapter. Once that's done, the next goal will be the second chapter, then the third, and so on. Some of these goals will take more time than others, depending on how much editing actually needs to be done. But for me, I think going chapter by chapter will most likely be the best way to go.

Getting to where we want to be can be a long, difficult process. It helps to have that big picture goal in mind, but to not focus too much on it. Focus on the smaller goals that are right in front of you. If you take things one step at a time, the journey may not seem so long.

07 October 2015

Where are the Ideas?

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Click the link to learn more and sign up!

I'm not entirely sure I have any new insecurities to share. A whole lot of the same old ones I've been talking about for months and months, but nothing new. So I guess that's good? I pretty much took September off blogging (only wrote 4 posts) so I'm trying to get back into the swing of things. Blogging was always the thing that came the easiest even when every other aspect of writing seemed impossible, so when I was struggling to even come up with one blog post, I wasn't sure what to do. 

I guess the blogging thing is part of a bigger insecurity, which I know I've already talked about a million times, but it constantly bothers me. I never seem to get ideas anymore. I used to get them all the time. Now, I'm not asking for a new novel idea every day, but maybe a poem here and there. Maybe less writer's block with the blog posts. I feel like my editing ideas for my novel have even slowed down. That may have something to do with the fact that I'm not actually editing, but still, where are the ideas?

I miss the excitement of getting a new idea and planning it out. The last time I felt that was when I came up with the third book idea for my series, and that was in March. And I still haven't really written any of it (let's not even talk about books 1 and 2). I just feel creatively drained. I know there are things I could do to fix it. I should be reading more. I should be trying to actually edit Book 1 or at least looking at it every day to figure things out. But I'm still avoiding it. 

So maybe I should make small goals for myself. Read for a half hour every day. Just look at part of my novel, whatever part is at the front of my mind, and maybe I'll be able to rewrite. Stop watching so much TV and just listen to some music for inspiration. Maybe if I try to feed that creativity, the ideas will start flowing again. 

How do you get ideas? What do you do to jump start your creativity? 

05 October 2015

Jordan Takes Over: Own It

**The first Monday of every month, I let my muse take over the blog. I apologize in advance.**

Can you believe it's been two months since I last posted? I know, you missed me terribly. We'll have grief counseling later on today. Ok, not really. But anyway, September apparently was the anti-blogging month around here so I just went with it and took a nap.

Today, however, I have a great topic to talk about. Brace yourselves. It's all about accepting your story for what it is and not trying to change it for the wrong reasons. Which I guess could be said about a lot of things in life, but I don't have all day and what do I look like to you, some kind of life coach? Please. 

Where was I? Oh, right. STORIES. So for whatever reason, you wrote a story. It can be any kind of story. And you can have whatever kind of reasons for writing it. Maybe it's something you worked really hard to come up with, or maybe it's just some random idea that popped into your head and you have no idea why. Whatever the story and whatever the reason, once you have that story, it's important to stay true to it.

I'm not saying that you won't change things once it's written, because you will. LOTS. Some things have to change. Scenes can be cut, rearranged, or just rewritten. You can add new things in, change characters around. There are a million things. But at its core, the story you're trying to write shouldn't really change.

What I'm trying to say is that whatever kind of story you're writing, own it. If it's a trashy romance, make it trashy. If it's an elaborate fantasy, make it elaborate. And if it's controversial, own that, too. Don't try watering it down just because you feel you have to (I'm not talking about anyone in particular here or anything. Nope nope nope.). Yes, it may be hard and most of the world will be against you, but there are people out there who will jump all over that sort of thing. If your story speaks to you, then there will be other people out there who will get it, too. So let your story be what it needs to be.

If you're trying to change your story not because you really feel it needs to be changed, but because you're trying to please everyone, then you're just a big sellout. Whether you chose this story or it chose you, there's a reason you're writing it, so stick with it. It's your story, so own it.