Shari Creates

Posts Tagged ‘Writing

It’s almost November, and time to launch into a new novel writing adventure! This year, I plan on attending some of the regional events found on the NaNo forums, and look forward to meeting other writers.


750 Words

Posted on: March 8, 2010

I have been struggling with the story in progress for several weeks now.  In the end, the struggle seems to come down to two things for me; first, that I was too worried about figuring out what happens next, and second, that I was letting people and things upset me to the point that I could not spend time alone in silence without crying.  I should know by now that any form of plotting is bad for my initial process. In fact, plotting has killed several story ideas for me in the past.  Apparently, if I have anything more than a vague idea what happens, I lose interest and motivation in writing the story down.

As to the second point, I am in the bad habit of withdrawing from my communities when I start to get depressed.  When someone hurts my feelings, or I get frustrated with work, or I get bad news, I withdraw further.  That makes things like losing my boss to cancer or being frustrated with my writing much harder to deal with, which makes me more depressed and withdrawn.  What to do?  Well, I have been making an effort to be more involved on some of the forums I am a member of, and to comment more on blogs I like to read, and to make sure I go out with a friend on the weekends.  Plus, some of the depression is inevitably linked to it being winter, and now that I have started some seeds and am planning the new garden shape and what goes where, I have less time to sulk.  (It’s not all sulking, and I am not trying to trivialize the things that have been making me sad, but sulking is how I think of the time I spend brooding about what’s been happening.)

Ha! I have hit full on crazed rambling tonight, for sure.  The point of this post initially was to mention a site that I just joined called 750 Words.  The goal is to write 750 words each and every day, based on a book I think I read a long time ago called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It may have been one of the sequels that I read…  Anyway – the point! She encourages you to write “morning pages” every day, defined at 750 Words as: “Morning pages are three pages of writing done every day, typically encouraged to be in “long hand”, typically done in the morning, that can be about anything and everything that comes into your head. It’s about getting it all out of your head, and is not supposed to be edited or censored in any way. The idea is that if you can get in the habit of writing three pages a day, that it will help clear your mind and get the ideas flowing for the rest of the day.”  The appeal of that to someone like me is clear – maybe I will spend less time dwelling and sulking and over-analyzing  all of the crap in my head if I give it an outlet.  So far, I have successfully completed three days.  There are all kinds of nifty analysis tools there, and all journal entries are private by default.  We will  see if the unstructured, puking-every-crazy-thought onto paper method helps me. And having a goal of 750 words means that I have something to act as a limit – after I finish the thought, if I’m over 750, I quit and move on with my day.  Or write a somewhat incoherent blog post, because I have not found my filter yet… I may end up writing fiction there instead of garbage dumping.  I do know that I like the simple interface, and think it will be useful no matter how I end up structuring the daily goal.

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I am still writing every day, but most days it lacks the joy and excitement of NaNo. I think part of that is because I am trying to bring the story to its end, and no longer just adding whatever fairy tale disaster appeals to me at the keyboard. Not that there is not fairy tale involvement in wrapping the story up… and a sort of robot. Damn it. These are the times I really, really, really wish I was a plotter, and had all of this preplanned. The weather turning colder always makes me more pessimistic too, which is not the frame of mind I want to be in to end a romance novel.
Two of the things that work for many writers to get back into story mind every day are a soundtrack and a collage. The music I have listened to has been almost completely random (except for two Taylor Swift songs – White Horse and Love Story – which are fundamentally contradictory) so I don’t have a soundtrack, and while I think collage is great in theory, I want to make a pretty picture too much to let the girls in the basement run with scissors. I did one collage, and HATED it (for the train wreck) and I kept collecting pictures for this one, but none of them are… essential, and I never put them all together as one image. All of which means that the only way I have to get into my story is to dive in and sink or swim.
Oh, and the quotes that inspire me. Sometimes, I need a motto for the day, which I occasionally post over on Facebook. Here are some of them:

Anne Lamott – “Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something—anything—down on paper.”

Barbara Kingsolver – “Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.”

Cynthia Heimel – “When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap.”

E.B. White – “Genius is more often found in a cracked pot than in a whole one.”

Edward Albee – “The act of writing is an act of optimism.  You would not take the trouble to do it if you felt it didn’t matter.”

Franklin Delano Roosevelt – “There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.”

John Jakes – “Be yourself.  Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish.”

Joss Whedon – “Writing is enjoyable and ephemeral. And it is hard work.”

Joyce Carol Oates – “The first draft may be stumbling and exhausting, but the next draft or drafts will be soaring and exhilarating.  Only have faith, the first sentence can’t be written until the last sentence has been written.  Only then do you kjnow where you’ve been going and where you’ve been.  The novel is the affliction for which only the novel is the cure.”

Lani Diane Rich – “Give the reader your flawed self – she will love you for it, because she is flawed too.”

I have more, but that is enough for now.

The act of writing is an act of optimism. You would not take the trouble to do it if you felt it didn’t matter.

It’s official, I won at NaNoWriMo!  My official word count is 50,023, for a total word count on the current novel of 59,862.  It’s even a linear story for a change 😉  Now, I just have to finish writing it, so I’ve joined NaNoFiMo, which has a general goal of adding 30,000 words.  I intent to write until I can type “The End” and mean it, wherever that falls, but there are plenty of plot holes and things that need resolved yet in my story – for instance, the first scene is a group of bridesmaids trying on dresses, and I still have not written the wedding.  So, plenty yet to do, especially since the wedding is not the central storyline…

And I am just so proud of myself for finally figuring out how to upload images to wordpress, instead of having to post them by email (shut up, I am a book nerd who likes computers, I never said I was a technical wizard…) Now, I am going to go customize the crap out of the NaNoFiMo spreadsheet.  Because I am that kind of nerd, too.

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1. My Family.
We are an eccentric collection, by and large. I have step family, half siblings, adopted siblings… and it all just is family to me. And, as a bonus, the vast majority of my family understands that I am really, really slow at processing the pictures I take, and they love me anyway.
2. My Friends.
My friends absolutely rock. I could not be the person I am, nor pursue the dreams I do, without my friends.
“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” – Anais Nin
3. Facebook (and the Internet in General).
Yeah, I know it’s trendy, but I don’t really care – I have found some old friends on here and have really enjoyed catching up with them, as well as being able to keep up with my family. We saw pictures of my newest nephew about two hours after he was born, and that was pretty cool. And a special thank you to everyone who reads my blog, too. I found a new painter last night, and just love his work – check out “Friends” by Leonid Afremov in the thumbnails below (someday, I will learn how to make changes to where the pictures are in the posts…)
4. NaNoWriMo.
Oh, sure, my mom likes to wish it had been scheduled in a different month because of Thanksgiving, but overall people have been extremely supportive, and I am having a great time writing this month. I am grateful for my muse, and everyone who has helped inspire me, and especially for Amy, who reads the mess of words that I have written each week and still looks forward to more 🙂 I have even surprised myself with my ability to make things up without conscious planning. Since I am at 36,467 words, I am even hopeful of making my 50,000 word goal. I may even end up with a whole story!
5. Books.
Anyone who has met me is aware that I am a book nut. I built a custom bookcase when we moved to the new house, and may have to build another one soon. Plus, loving books has led me to some awesome people and communities – Smart Bitches, Trashy Books; Jennifer Crusie and the Cherries; Lani Diane Rich / Lucy March, Samantha Graves / CJ Berry, their podcast, and the Wiffers; Joshilyn Jackson; Alesia Holliday / Alyssa Day and so many more.
6. My Basement.
Okay, I talk a lot about my very amazing bathroom, but really, my whole suite is amazing. I have about 600 square feet of open space that I have customized the heck out of. I have a huge walk in closet filled with shelves, where the photo boxes and art supplies dominate the space. My bathroom, with its jet tub and two headed walk in shower, is one of my favorite retreats. The rest is a L shaped open area, with my bedroom, library, desk, and entertainment enter. It is great!
7. My Kitten.
We have three cats, and they are all great, but Cleopatra holds a special place in my heart. She is a purry happy fluffball, even when she is misbehaving.
8. Square Foot Gardening.
I had an absolutely amazing garden this year, despite setbacks, moving, remodeling, and plant weirdness. I learned a lot from my big garden, and will be doing an even better one next year.
9. Cameras.
Sure, I am frustrated with my Canon Rebel XT currently, and seriously considering a move back to Nikon, but I have taken some great pictures this year. Someday, I may even manage to catch up on my processing. I still adore having a pocket camera, and the Olympus FE-280 is everything I had hoped it would be when I bought it.
10. My Cell Phone.
I have an LG Incite, and I love that I can write wherever inspiration strikes, look at my database of books and movies while I am shopping,send text messages take pictures, record video, and surf online whenever I want. I even occasionally use it as a phone.
11. Hope.
This has really been a big year, and a lot of things are looking up. i still get discouraged sometimes, but overall I am much happier and more hopeful for the future than I have been in years.

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Sometimes, when I am curious as to how my story is going, I like to use a tool called Wordle. I paste the entire text in, and see what comes back. So, this is tonight’s result. Boy, am i glad this is a first draft – I am not overly impressed by the results right now. Still, it is a neat tool, and I bet will be very helpful during revision, to help me find words that I overuse.

wishing 11 15 09

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I remembered that I was going to blog about NaNoWriMo, which is probably my favorite time of year. At least, right now it is, when my daily word count output is on target, and I’m making good progress on my novel (yes, the two can be contradictory), and I’m still excited about my story. See, every November a bunch of people sign up on the website (I’m shari13 there) and everyone tries to reach 50,000 words of a novel written in thirty days. Or whatever your personal goal is. And then, I track my progress in a spreadsheet, so I can see at a glance how I’m doing. At least, that’s the theory… This year, I am tracking in two different spreadsheets, because I have yet to decide which one I like the format better on. And I’m tweaking each one, because I always think of statistics I want the answers to that I don’t have available at my fingertips… Anyone who has never met me would think this would mean that I’m organized, mathematical, and a plotter. I am a pantser (as in, ‘fly by the seat of my”) with plotter envy. I really, really wish I could do all my research ahead of time, plan out my scenes, do outlines and beats. I would settle for things like, knowing ahead of time what I’m going to name my main characters, and having any clue what genre the book will be… But really, I should be writing 🙂

NaNoWriMo Word Count: 5084/50000

nano 09 blk participant 120x240

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