I Haven’t Even Started

I admit it. I haven’t started editing yet. Today, I went to the file to get my hard copy of my work in progress, only to find that both copies were of previous drafts. I don’t have a current draft printed out. Come on, girl. Get with it. Times a wasting.

Truthfully, I thought one of those hard copies was my current draft, or close to it. Neither one of them even have the same opening scene. I believe there are also progressively more murders from one draft to the next.

Yes. It is a mystery novel. Why do you ask? No. I’m not planning to murder anyone in real life. No. I haven’t gotten those fearful looks before because I was plotting my novel in public. Hmmm. Maybe that isn’t such a bad idea. It could allow for some interesting plot bunnies. Maybe I could even put some of them in my next novel.

Nah. I don’t want the FBI sitting outside of my house, intercepting my calls and internet. It’s not that I have anything to hide. Wait a minute. Maybe it is. We all have something to hide.

So, I still need to start my revision for the month. First, however, I need to print out a copy of the current draft. Then I have to read it through once. Only after all that can I start revising.

Phew! The thought makes me exhausted. I think I’ll take a nap.

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Writing by Hand

Since I am revising this month, I have decided to do almost all of it by hand. I will have to retype everything, but that is okay. Just don’t ask me not to make any more changes while I am typing. I will keep changing every time I check the manuscript until I finally publish it. I know me too well.

Writing by hand is completely different than writing on the computer. My brain functions differently. The thought processes are not very much alike. The product I come up with after handwriting it would not be the same product I would come up with typing it on the computer.

I used to love to write by hand. A combination of feeling like it was expected of me to write on the computer, along with hand cramps, has kept me away from that part of writing. I miss it. Writing by hand is my favorite way to write.

I wonder how many people feel the same way I do. How many have never even tried to write a story by hand? How many would be afraid to try.

The exception to my not writing much by hand is poetry. I can never write poetry on the computer. It just won’t flow. It comes easily when I write by hand. The words seem to have a life of their own.

The hardest part of writing using pen and paper, for me, is the blank page. Unlike computer-based writing, you can’t wipe everything out on the paper so that you can’t tell it was ever there. By the time I finish a manuscript, it looks like a chicken has scratched all over it. It’s not clean. It’s not pretty. But it’s better writing.

I’m not saying everyone needs to write by hand. It isn’t for everyone. But it is how I learned my craft, and it is the way that feels natural to me. Those raised with computers may feel just the opposite. I’m not wrong. Neither are they. What is right for me is not necessarily right for someone else.

Don’t be afraid to try something different, especially if you have writer’s block. It might be what you need to get you over that creative hump.

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Caution: Plot Bunnies Inside

Have you heard about the books for soldiers campaign? It is where writers donate signed copies of their books to be sent to soldiers who want one. I am donating a few copies of my poetry book this time. Next year, I should have my mystery novel from NaNo 2011 out and ready to donate. So, what do you plan on doing with your books?

That isn’t to say anyone has to do that. Not everyone will even want to publish their stuff. Yet, those who do often wonder who is going to read it. Just how do you get it out to the public? How do you get it noticed?

Don’t worry as much about that right now. When the time comes, just do it. Every little bit helps you and can help those who you want to help.

Have you ever thought about reading your stuff aloud? Have you ever read it aloud to yourself? Why not? It is a great way to get the feel of your story. Listen to what your characters are saying as you read aloud. They will take you where you need to go.

Yeah, I know. That sounds corny. Writing is about putting words down on paper, or the computer. It isn’t about reading them out loud. But that is a good way to bring your story to life. It is a completely different feeling reading aloud as opposed to silently.

Often, when I need to understand something I am reading, I read it out loud. It is easier to remember that way. The neural pathways are different. At least, that is my guess. Yours is just as valid.

I have supplied you with several plot bunnies in this article. How many did you pick up on?

The service person who receives a free book – what is their story? Why did they want that book? Does it make a difference in their life? How?

Reading your stuff aloud – will people like it? What would their responses be like? Why do they feel that way? Does it remind them of their high school English teacher, who they thought was a monster? Does it remind them of their best friend, who just got married? Would it mean the same thing to them that it did to you? Ask them their stories.

Those are only a couple of plot bunnies you can pull from this post. Can you find anymore? Catch those little bunnies and put them in your story. Or in that little notebook you keep in your purse (or back pocket) that you keep all the ideas you intend to use someday. Just be careful. Those little critters multiply fast.

Don’t think you have to use all of the plot bunnies you have stored. They might not be what you want, but their offspring might fit the bill perfectly.

Now cuddle up with one of those plot bunnies and write. I dare you.

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Writing With a Headache

Have you ever tried writing with a headache? I have. It doesn’t work too well. That’s why I have been absent the last few days. I have been fighting a bad one.

At first, I thought I might not say anything about it. However, if you have ever suffered from a headache, you know how hard it can be to do anything. You might even be beating yourself up over it. I know I was. But you don’t have to, and neither do I. It’s okay not to write when you don’t feel well.

As much as I keep telling you not to beat yourself up over something like this, it is hard for me to follow my own advice. I just feel so guilty. Is that the way you do?

Tell yourself it’s okay. You may have to do it more than once. In fact, you probably will. Tell yourself 100 times if you need to. Or 1000. Whatever it takes. Just keep telling yourself it’s okay.

Yes, your rough draft is supposed to be a bunch of crap. That doesn’t mean you have to kill yourself to get the crap out. Sometimes, you just have to take care of yourself. Give yourself permission to take care of yourself.

That applies to more than just writing. That applies to everything in your life. You will be surprised at how much writing rules can be applied to other parts of your life.

Don’t like something in your story? Change it. Don’t like something in your life? Change it. Is that character destroying your story? Get rid of him. Is someone ruining your life? Get them out of it.

Yes, I know it’s hard. Life is hard. Writing helps us get through it just a little easier. At least, it does for me. I’m sure it does for many of you as well. I may be unique, but I’m not that unique.

So now, I can get back to writing. The headache is gone, hopefully for a long time, and writing doesn’t cause me physical pain. I can write that crap again without worrying about my health. Although, in my case, it’s mainly editing, so I am polishing the crap I have already rewritten more than once. It’s time for that rough draft to be turned into a gem.

No, I’m not claiming to be a great writer. I’m not even claiming to be a great rewriter. But I am a good rewriter. And I couldn’t have become a good rewriter if I hadn’t started out with that bunch of crap I called a rough draft.

So don’t punish yourself by writing when you have a headache. But don’t let it keep you from writing from now on. Stay in the habit of writing. Get right back to it as soon as you feel well enough.

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Writers Have an Advantage

Are you tired of camp yet? Are you asking yourself why you did this to yourself? You are not alone.

Camp NaNo and NaNo are times to push yourself. However, they are not times to push yourself until you break. If you don’t think you can write 50,000 words this month, then don’t. If you don’t even want to write 10,000, then don’t. This is about pushing yourself, not punishing yourself. Just do what you can.

Many people haven’t reached the point where they are wondering why they did this yet. Still others are wondering if they are even going to get started. If you belong to the latter group, don’t despair. Start today. Even if all you write is “why am I doing this again?” you have written something. That is more than most people do.

I read today where people who write are less likely to get sick, or stay sick as long. Writing helps with blood pressure, depression, and things like that. It helps you get things out. So write on!

You don’t see where writing a love story will get you past being angry? How writing a mystery can get you past unrequited love? How horror writing can get you past anything?

It’s not the genre. It’s not what you say. It’s about getting things out. Maybe writing a love story will flood your brain with endorphins. Maybe not. Maybe writing a mystery or horror story will get your adrenaline flowing. Again, maybe not. I don’t know. All I know is that it is supposed to help. We writers are supposed to be healthier than the average person.

They are talking about expressive writing, but isn’t all writing expressive, to a degree? Don’t we express ourselves in everything we write? Well, maybe not that software training journal. But, then again, who knows?

Write. Write it down. Don’t worry that it’s not good enough for anyone else to read. Just write. Write it down. (Apologies to those who love the song, “Sing a Song”.)

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How is You Cabin?

By this time, you should have met your cabin mates. Are they chatty? Are you chatty? Are you procrastinating by being chatty?

Cabins can be a good thing, or a bad thing. How do you make sure it is a good thing?

First, don’t be a complainer. If you are a complainer, things will get nasty in a hurry. You might not be able to keep others in line, but you can keep yourself in line. If you have a cabin where a lot of complaining is going on, get out. It can stifle your creativity.

Second, be a cheerleader. If you are a cheerleader, even if others aren’t, you can still read what you wrote and cheer yourself on. If someone else in the cabin is a cheerleader as well, that is a plus. Remember, you can do. Let them know they can as well.

Always be constructive when someone asks for help. Don’t put them down. Writing may be a solitary endeavor, but we are all in this NaNo thing together. Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Also, don’t be checking your cabin every five minutes. If you enjoy your cabin mates that much, treat it as a reward. After writing for 30 minutes, you can check in there. Just don’t stay too long. Check no more than once every 30 minutes. Keep in mind, there is writing to be done.

However, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do it that day. Sometimes, you need a break. If you decide to take a break from writing, no one will think less of you. Sometimes, you just need a break.

So, get in your writing spot and get comfortable. Get your coffee, tea, or any drink of choice. Get your snacks ready. Turn on the music.  Boot that computer up or open that notebook and start writing. Whatever you write each day, be proud of it. It is yours. Own it.

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You Can Do It

Two days in. How are you doing? Have you started yet? Don’t worry. It’s not too late.

Don’t let those overachievers who do the whole thing in the first week get to you. Just do what you can do. That’s all you need to do. You’re not competing with anyone, not even the month. Just because you are using this month to write doesn’t mean you have lost if you don’t finish your goal by the end of the month. The real losers are the ones who don’t even try.

Get to the end of the month and find you haven’t started yet? Again, don’t worry. You can still write. You still aren’t a loser. Get that thought out of your mind right now. I said, GET THAT THOUGHT OUT OF YOUR MIND!

Sorry for yelling, but you needed to hear that. Whatever you do is good enough. Don’t go into the month with an attitude that if you don’t reach your goal, you lose. You are already a winner.

So, don’t worry if you are already behind. You are ahead of those who haven’t even considered it. Maybe you just need a kick in the tush to get you going. Consider yourself kicked.

Believe in yourself. Find others who believe in you. There aren’t any friends or family who do? Well, go on the forums. They will be glad to believe in you. Get in a cabin. You believe in them and they believe in you. Push each other. Support each other. Provide a metaphorical shoulder to cry on. You will be glad you did.

Now, tell those characters in your head to shut up long enough to let you write. They can talk when you need them to. Your muse will be there for you. She might just be playing hide and seek. Keep writing and you will find her. She may be trying to tell you the story you are trying to tell isn’t the story you are meant to tell. Let her lead you.

You don’t have to write for others. It is perfectly alright to write for yourself. It doesn’t make you any less of a writer.

If you are like me, and doing edits this month, that’s okay, too. It is part of the writing process. Every good writer needs to edit. Folks who think you just have to put a few words down on paper, or the computer, don’t know what they are talking about. Real writing is work. It is also fun.

So have fun and get to work!

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April Fools (That’s Us)

It’s here again. April. Camp NaNo. No, this is not an April fool’s joke. This is for real.

Are you ready? Do you have pen in hand or the computer booted up to kick off that novel that is within you? Or are you doing something else this camp? I am doing the final edit on my 2011 NaNo novel. Yes, I wrote a novel in a month. No, it wasn’t fit to read.

Several rewrites and edits later and it is finally almost ready to send out to my beta readers.  This month is the perfect time to set a deadline to send it out. NaNo is all about deadlines, whether it is the original NaNo, or the camp version.

One good thing about camp NaNo is the ability to set your own word count goals. I set mine at 10,000. I figure I can do that writing this blog and my violin blog. Then, I can revise and edit to my heart’s content and still make my goal.

How do I intend to reward myself at the end of the month? By sending out the draft to the beta readers. After having worked on it for over three years, I am going to jump for joy when that happens. My mother will think I have lost my mind. My neighbors will be sure I have.

The first thing I need to do is print out a hard copy of my novel to make notes on. By the time this month is over, it might be as much as 5,000 words lighter. That’s okay. I’m going the self-publishing route, so there is nothing that says my novel can’t be 45,000 words instead of 50,000.

I wish professional writing organizations considered self-published writers as worthy of being considered writers. Some of them have a list of publishing companies. If you haven’t published with one of them, you aren’t considered a professional writer. Well, I say “pffft” to them. I can do just fine without them. And I will.

In time, self-publishing will be accepted as professional writing. In the meantime, write on. They probably don’t think you can write a novel in a month, either. At the end of the month, let’s all hold up our manuscripts and give them a huge “Na Na Na Na Na.”

Ready. Set. Write.

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Keeping What is Left of my Sanity

When I stopped to think just how daunting a task doing 50,000 words in about two weeks would be, I decided I would only aim at 25,000. I had already committed to doing 50,000 words in December, and another 50,000 this month would be a bit much. I’m not sure my sanity would survive.

It’s not as if I don’t already know I can do it. Two wins has proven that I can. I just don’t like the idea of not finishing what I started. I guess that is why I decided to do it in December. I had committed to writing a novel in a moth this year, and November wasn’t going to be that month. I wasn’t ready to give up that commitment.

Does that mean I’m a quitter? Nope. It means I am willing to accept my limitations. Writing 50,000 words in a month is doable for me. Writing it in less than two weeks is not. This is about losing my inhibitions, not my sanity. I would like to keep at least a small portion of that.

I saw one woman posting about how she is aiming for one million words this month. All by herself. She already has over 750,000. How is that even possible? My mind is officially blown. My sanity would be too, if I tried that. Heck, 100,000 is more than I can handle.

I am not saying my sanity is completely in tack. It isn’t. I doubt anyone who attempts NaNo is completely sane. Fully sane people would know it can’t be done. Those who aren’t completely sane do it anyway.

I’m sorry if I have shattered your ideas of being fully sane. If we were fully sane, why would we become writers? After all, we have characters who talk to us, and insist on us doing thing their way. Our minds go into strange and dark places. Or light places. It depends on what type of novel we are writing. I’m so weird I can’t settle on just one genre. The first one I did for NaNo was a mystery novel. This one will be a sci-fi novel. My short stories tend to be psychological in nature.

We writers have one thing sane people don’t. If someone makes us mad, we can take it out on them in our novels. Those might even be the best scenes we write.

So, pick up a pen, or grab a keyboard and start writing like what is left of your sanity depends on it. Then, take a break. Your characters will be glad you did.

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You Are An Inspiration

Did you know you were an inspiration? Yes, you are! Just ask Lilo Abernathy, author of The Light Who Shines. No, her book wasn’t written during NaNo, but NaNo was an inspiration. She says “I was hesitant about my ability to write. But when I saw that with NaNo regular people were writing a book in a month, I said ‘Hey, I can write a book!’ It gave me the confidence to go forward.”
Yes, that’s us. Regular people. You don’t have to be Superman or Wonder Woman to write a book in a month. You just have to be persistent. You have to be willing to give up a social life. You have to write, write, and write some more. You have to write until your fingers hurt. You have to write until you can no longer stay awake. You have to write until you can’t write anymore.
What does all of this get you? Well, it gave Ms. Abernathy the confidence to write a novel which is going to be a Kindle Daily Deal on Amazon tomorrow, the 20th. You might not get to have a Kindle Daily Deal, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reach your potential. You just have to believe in yourself. That is one of the main goals of NaNo – to give you the confidence to take that first step and then another, and another, and another, until you have done what you set out to do. You might even find that you can do more than you ever imagined.
I haved decided I am starting today and seeing how far I can get in my novel by the end of the month. Whatever it is, it will be that much more than I had at the beginning of the month. Will I win NaNo for the third year? I don’t know, but I will still be a winner. Why? Because I tried. So many people are afraid to try. They are afraid of failing.
Thomas Edison failed 1000 times before inventing the light bulb. It might take 1000 submissions before someone finally accepts something you wrote. You might publish it yourself. Just don’t give up. As my grandfather used to say “Old I can’t never could do nothing.” My grandfather was a smart man.
Do people think you’re nuts? Great. You have to be nuts to try something like this. People who are not a little nuts are boring. I don’t want to be boring, do you?
So, what do you say? Can I do it? Feel free to cheer me on. I will be happy to return the favor.

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