Tag Archives: writing

Writing With Hand Pain

Yesterday was the first day to validate. Did you validate? I didn’t.

In fact, I have done very little writing the last few days. I printed out my manuscript, then punched holes in it, so that I could put it in a notebook to see it better. Unfortunately, I strained my thumb. Have you ever tried to write with an injured thumb? Let me tell you, it isn’t fun.

That got me thinking about injuries writers are susceptible to. The main one is probably carpal tunnel, but there are others. My sister had to get carpal tunnel surgery. I hope I don’t ever have to have it. But, I could have a touch of carpal tunnel myself, so the possibility is out there.

The pain in my carpal tendon (muscle?) started when I was writing by hand. That is why I haven’t written by hand in years. It doesn’t hurt as much to type. I wish I could write by hand more. Words seem to flow better when I write them out longhand. Something about typing stifles my creativity.

I wonder what percentage of writers deal with hand pain at some point in their lives. It has to be a much larger percent than in the general population. I also wonder how many give up writing because of the hand pain.

One thing I noticed about not being able to write is how much I missed it. I don’t always write when I am able, but it never affected me the same way. It seems that the very act of not being able to do it made me realize how important it is to me. I’m a writer. I want to be able to write.

I’m curious about how many others out there feel the same way when they can’t write, for whatever reason. Do they miss it? Do they think longingly of the day they will be able to write again?

Thankfully, my hiatus was a short one. I think I might have gone insane if it had lasted much longer.

I know. I know. There is a touch of insanity in every writer. That’s where the creativity flows from. You don’t really think people who plot perfect murders every day are sane, do you? I can assure you, we’re not. But there is no reason to make it worse.

So, go ahead and write. But, if your hand hurts, ice that sucker! You don’t have to be a hero.

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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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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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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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The Story Goes Where It May

NaNo. The very thought is mind-boggling. I mean, 50,000 words? In 30 days? Who am I kidding?
These were the thoughts that went through my mind the first time I did it. Now, I think, 50,000 words. I can so do that. Piece of cake.
Of course, it isn’t. 50,000 words is a lot. I thought about just aiming for a lower number the first time I did it. I’m glad I didn’t. The success was invigorating.
Now, I look forward to NaNo. Yes, I still wonder what I am getting myself into the first day but, then, I settle in and just write. It took a while to get to the point that the editor in my head didn’t pop in every sentence or two. She still shows up. My muse just runs her off.
My muse has a mind of her own. She makes my story run off in directions I didn’t intend for it to go. Last year, for instance, I had about five extra murders that were committed. My MC was devastated. Especially when I killed off a whole family.
I was dreading that scene. I knew it would be emotional. I didn’t even realize how emotional. I took off a couple of days before writing it. I was drained when it was over.
Are there any scenes in your story that are like that? Do you dread writing certain parts of it? I was told this scene would be cathartic. It wasn’t. It was just hard.
Don’t let the parts of the story that scare you stop you from writing. They may be the best parts of your novel. I know this scene changed the MC completely. It is interesting to think how she will change by the time I finish the next novel in the series.
Does every story have the potential for a series? No. But a police procedural does, and that is what I wrote. The one I am writing in December is going to be a series as well. I was planning on it being set in the contemporary world, but it works better as a sci-fi novel, so that is what I am going to write.
Let your story take you wherever it may. A good story is one that has room to grow. You might grow as well. Don’t fight it. You will be glad you didn’t.

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My NaNo Story

I remember my first NaNo. I was sure I wasn’t going to finish, but I was determined I was. Does that make sense? It was true.

My first novel was a mess. It had a bunch of disjointed scenes, a subplot that went nowhere, and three separate endings, with three separate killers. I couldn’t make up my mind. But it was 50,000 words. Success! I did it.

The next year, I was going to write another novel, but had to back out at the last minute. Last year was my second time to do NaNo.

I decided to redo the novel from the first year. Did I feel like I was cheating? Yes, but under NaNo rules, I wasn’t. I could do a previous project, as long as it was completely new. There was very little from the second version that would be recognizable from the first. I had several more murders. I gave my MC a brother, and he had a subplot that worked. I knew whodunit from the beginning. It was coherent. It made sense. When I finished, I felt as if I had written an actual novel.

Over the past year, I have made various changes to it. I still have several more to go. I have a plot mistake that will take me rewriting about half a chapter to fix. I decided to take out my belly dancing class and put it in the novel I am writing next month instead. I am replacing it with a yoga class. I have an idea for a subplot 3 or 4 books into the future, which I want to lay down a bit of the groundwork for in this novel. I hope to finish this draft by the end of January or February.

Once I get that far, I intend to send my baby off to Createspace, where I will order a few proof copies. Those, I will send to the people who agreed to give me some feedback before I write my final draft. Hopefully, it will just involve some polishing. Even if it doesn’t, I intend to have it published before next year’s NaNo.

It is good to have a goal. Do you intend to publish your NaNo novel at some point in the future, or is it just to prove to yourself you can do it? Do you have another goal entirely? Whatever it is, you can do it. I know you can.

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I’ve Been Working On A Novel

 

I’ve been working on a novel

All the live-long day.

I’ve been working on a novel

Though I don’t know what to say.

Can’t you hear the keyboard humming?

All the way to morn.

Can’t you hear the wheels a-turning?

A story will be born.

Fingers won’t you type?

Fingers won’t you type?

Fingers won’t you type a lit-tle more?

Fingers won’t you type?

Fingers won’t you type?

Fingers won’t you type a lit-tle more?

Someone’s at their laptop a-typing.

Someone’s at their laptop I know, I know-oh.

Someone’s at their laptop a-typing.

Trying to reach the 5-Oh-Oh. Oh. Oh.

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Are You Behind Yet?

Day 2. Are you still keeping up? I’m not. I haven’t even started yet, due to illness. I’ll start tomorrow. I promise I will. Yeah, I know. That’s what they all say. Well, I haven’t lost a NaNo in November yet, and I don’t intend to start this year. There’s still plenty of time to catch up.

Next year, I intend to publish that first NaNo novel. It will never be perfect. I just have to let it go. Will I publish the one from this year? I don’t know. Probably. Just not next year. But I can’t publish it at all if I don’t get it written. That is why NaNo is so important. It forces me to quit procrastinating and get it written.

Yes, I am putting extra pressure on myself with this blog. That is a lot of words to write that won’t count towards my 50,000 goal. I also have a violin blog I do once a week. I have gotten into the habit of writing once a week on my violin blog, but not on anything else. This month will see if I have the stamina for the daily routine, once I get started.

If you’re in the same boat as me, don’t despair. Illness kept me from writing for the first week or so last year, and I still finished. I haven’t had a year when illness hasn’t gotten in the way at some point.

If you need a motivator, do as I did last year. Buy a “winner” shirt and, if you don’t win, you have to donate it to the local ML at the end of the month. I found out I wasn’t willing to give up that shirt.  I’ll be doing the same thing this year, just as soon as my next check comes in.

Just remember. I’m a winner. You’re a winner. We’re all winners. It doesn’t matter if we do 50,000 words or 500. That is that many more than we had at the beginning of the month. I took a chance. You are taking a chance. Many others are too scared to take the chance. That’s why we are all winners. We are talking that first step. The journey has just begun.

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And So It Begins – Again

Ready. Set. Write! Come on, now, I said write. It’s easy. Just put one word down. Then another. And another.

Only it isn’t. The only ones who think it comes easy to writers are those that don’t write. Non-writers don’t realize how much writers agonize over every word. Except in November. In November, we are supposed to just put one word after another on paper without agonizing over it. The agonizing comes later. The story comes now. So, fire that inner editor and write!

If you’re like me, the inner editor refuses to be fired. He is screaming at me the entire month of November. By the end of the month, the editor is about to lose his mind. Also, by the end of the month, a story is down and ready for him to pick it apart.  And pick it apart he does, with gusto.

So, why do we do it? We’re writers, that’s why. The stories are screaming in our heads to get out. November is the month we allow the stories free reign.

I know it’s scary. Staring at a blank page, whether on the computer or on actual paper, is always scary. The biggest hurdle is getting started. Go ahead. Take that first step. Put that first word down. Let your imagination run wild. I’ll be there cheering you on at the finish line. I hope you’ll do the same for me.

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Throw the Mailman Out the Window

Is this one of those days you feel like throwing your computer out the window? Do it. Or, rather, have one of your characters do it. Does that not fit into your plot? Have them throw the mailman out the window. Let them throw water balloons at the dog barking across the street. Maybe pull a Gallagher and smash that water balloon.

Smash something. Throw something. Blow something up. Have a temper tantrum. If your character holds herself back from violence, have her imagine herself doing it.

Have fun with it. Let us hear the screams of the mailman. Let us hear the sound he makes as he hits the bush two stories below. Does your character look out the window? What does she see?

That barking dog you are throwing the water balloon at – how does his bark sound? Is it high pitched, or is it a low pitch? Is it a happy bark or an angry bark? How can you tell?

Get specific. We want details. We want you to spill your guts, or the guts of one of the characters. Is it one of your favorite characters that gets tossed out the window? Do you think it is one of the reader’s favorites?

Describe the feelings or lack of feelings after the damage is done? Does your character feel relief, guilt, or something else? Explore those feelings. Find out what makes her tick. How did she get to this point?

Flashbacks are fine, as long as they fit in with the plot. Having a flashback just because you can’t think of anything else to write isn’t. There needs to be a reason for a flashback. If there is no reason, place the scene in the moment. Even if there is a flashback, it is still best to make it feel as if it is in the moment to the character flashing back.

There. Now you feel better, don’t you? How did that change your story? Really? Great! Now write all about it.

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