Just Get It Written

Dream, Create, and Make It Happen …


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I’m a Tortoise, Not A Hare (IWSG)

Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. – E. L. Doctorow

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It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time for our group posting for IWSG. Insecure Writer’s Support Group is the brainchild of Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, and his co-hosts for April are Suzanne Furness, Tonja Drecker, Toi Thomas, Rachna Chhabria, Fundy Blue, and Donna Hole!

As A-Z’ers kick off the A-Z Challenge and Campers get busy for a month of Camp NaNoWriMo, I find myself stuck as everyone else surges forward this crazy month. A-Z has always seemed so daunting to me, but Camp seemed like a good idea, especially since I really had fun with it last year.

In the end, I had to make a decision: Do I get back to creating, or do I stick with revising? I could have countless drafts and it won’t do me any good if I can’t see something to the very end—something that I would actually be proud to let others read (which is an insecurity that I will save for another day). There are times when I feel like I’m going in circles, reading and revising the same chapters over and over again. Is there any point to all of this, or am I deceiving myself? Am I chasing something that will never be? But I still love the story, and no matter how long a break I take from writing, I inevitably keep coming back. That, at least, has to mean something, doesn’t it?

One of my current WIP’s is my Camp novel from last year, Lost. It currently sits at 60,940 words. It’s very slow progress, considering I finished Camp with 51k words. I spent a lot of time second-guessing the third person narrative in which it was originally written. I ended up rewriting a portion of it in first person, just to see if that suited the story better. It didn’t. While some parts worked better with the first person voice, the over-all story suffered from it. So back to third person I went.

Maybe it’s a natural progression, something I had to do and see for myself, to see how the narrative plays out. Or maybe I wouldn’t have wasted all that time if I had a writers group or a CP. Who knows? Sometimes it feels like I’m hardly moving at all.

Do you find yourself rewriting scenes in different points of view, just to see how it works out? At what stage of writing/revisions do you feel confident enough to show your novel to others? How did you find your writers group and/or critique partner, if you have one? Any tips on how to find one?


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Celebrating Today

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Join us every Friday as we Celebrate The Small Things, thanks to our host VikLit and my fellow co-hosts Diana Wilder, LG Keltner@Writing Off the Edge, and Katie@TheCyborg Mom!

So what am I celebrating this week?

First off, I’m sick again, so that really isn’t something to celebrate about.

Second, editing is going verrrrrry slow.

Thirdly, my sleep pattern is whacked … which means a lot of reading (so that is kind of good, I suppose).

But today was a good day, and not in the kind of something big happened that made it really good. It was just … good, in a lot of small ways. And crazy busy as it was, it’s the kind of day that leaves you feeling more energized than tired; when even being sick takes a backseat to the general feeling of the day. So even if it hasn’t been a good week, it has been a good day–and that is good enough for me.

Whatever happens tomorrow, we had today – David Nicholls (One Day)

Do you appreciate each day as they come? What are you celebrating this week, or for that matter, today?

 

P.S. I just learned that the A-Z team is hosting a Sunflower Tribute for Tina Downey on Sept 8. Tina passed away on August 23 and she loved sunflowers. Please help spread the word and let’s brighten the internet on Sept 8 with sunflowers, in memory of Tina!

 


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Coping With Grief and Loss

It’s been ten years since my father passed away, but as I’ve come to realize, the pain never really goes away. It creeps up when you least expect it and all I can do is cope the best way I can until it passes. I tell myself that he’s in a better place, and a part of me has come to believe that, but sometimes I forget, and I wonder whether this is one of those lies that we tell ourselves to make us feel better.

For the longest time after his death, it was hard for me to come to terms with things. I couldn’t understand how healing seemed so much easier for everyone else. In hindsight, perhaps it hadn’t been that easy for any of them either; maybe we’re just good at hiding things when we put our minds to it.

People lose loved ones without getting to say goodbye all the time, someone once told me. It was meant to be words of comfort, I suppose, except I didn’t see it that way at the time. How was that supposed to make me feel better?

But little by little, things do get better, even if it has taken me this long to get to where I am now. I’m learning that’s okay, too. We all grieve in our own way and in our own time.

If you’re going through a difficult time, I wish you strength and the will to go on. Take as long as you need, and don’t let other people tell you how to grieve. In time, healing will come.

Remember, hope is a good thing. – Stephen King (The Shawshank Redemption)


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You Win Some, You Lose Some – An IWSG Post

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It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time for Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Thanks to our host, the Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, and his awesome co-hosts for July: Krista McLaughlin, Kim Van Sickler, Heather Gardner, and Hart Johnson for all their hard work!

As we reach the halfway mark of the year, I thought it’d be interesting to talk about goals and check in with everyone on their progress: Are you on track, falling behind, happy with your progress despite everything?

For myself, I hit a setback in June as I didn’t meet any of my writing goals. Life happens, things come up, other things have to be prioritized, and those few pages of edits and research…Do they really count as accomplishing something? I tell myself that yes, they do; that somehow they are all the bits and pieces that have to happen in order for me to achieve my goal. But am I deluding myself? I don’t know. All I know is that goals aren’t achieved overnight. We have to keep on working and moving towards them, even if it’s at a slow pace. As the ever-wise Gandalf said: “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

What’s your process in trying to meet your goals? How do you deal with the adversities and missed deadlines?

And to everyone who’s participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this July, good luck!


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Do It Without Fear – An IWSG Post

This month’s group posting for Insecure Writer’s Support Group is a bit tricky for me. First I was too busy to be insecure about anything in particular and then the more I thought of what I could post about, the more all sorts of insecurities started popping up that I scarcely know which one to talk about.

Since I can’t post about all of them unless I want my head (and yours) to explode, I’ve decided to leave my insecurities be for now and get back to work. I think one of the greatest actors of our time, Sir Anthony Hopkins, really summed it up very well with this quote:

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Yeah, no mention of writing there. But it works just as well, wouldn’t you say? 😉

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Thanks to our host Alex J. Cavanaugh and his June co-hosts C. Lee McKenzie, Tracy Jo, Melanie Schulz, and LG Keltner!


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Celebrate The Progress

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Celebrate The Small Things is the brainchild of VikLit. Each Friday we post our celebrations, no matter how big or small.

It can be hard to appreciate things at times when we do not see the tangible results but we have to remember that it’s the small things, the little steps we take, that bring us to the finish line. And on that note, my celebration for the week is Progress:

  1. Sent off my manuscript to my mentor Janette Currie from the Womentoring Project. This is a HUGE thing for me as I’ve never showed my work to anyone. And so the wait begins…

  2. I got caught up with two of my online courses (yay only two more to catch up with!)

  3. Crossed off some more to do list for work (it’s a never ending list with new stuff constantly being added to it!)

  4. Revisited my April Camp NaNoWriMo project and got a bit of editing done. I have a long way to go on this one!

And with that, I’m ready to call it a week and enjoy my weekend, with some much needed sleep.

What are you celebrating this week? How do you keep things in perspective when progress is going slow?

Progress

 


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Mid-Novel Slump – How Do You Deal With It?

Neil Gaiman

As we reach the halfway mark of Camp NaNoWriMo, some will find themselves hitting the infamous mid-month slump. If you’re on track with your writing goals, you should be halfway through your novel by now. And if you’re behind, well, you’re probably beginning to panic, which brings me to Pep Talks.

Over the course of the month, you get pep talks from famous writers who share their words of wisdom and encourage you on this crazy, wonderful journey you’ve decided to take. What could be better than that?

Camp NaNoWriMo apparently has this feature, too, although on a smaller scale, it would seem, as they’re delivered directly to your inboxes.

It’s the 14th, which means I should have 23,334 words by now. At 20,040 words, I’m still two days behind. A few days ago, I hit my “mid-month slump,” way ahead of schedule. Writing was becoming more and more like pulling teeth. I had to force myself to keep writing, skipping ahead with the scenes, because otherwise I’d not get anything written.

All of us go through this, that moment when you wonder if you should simply give up on this story and move on to the next shiny thing. You begin to wonder whether anyone else but you would care about your novel and your characters. As a matter of fact, you probably want to stab each and every one of your characters by now for being the boring, uncooperative lot that they are.

It is easy to fall into this trap and go through an endless loop of never-finished stories. In these times, we need more than ever to have that cheerleader: someone who’s going to tell you to keep at it, someone who believes in you even when you have lost faith in yourself. Not everyone will have that, unfortunately.

There are way too many amazing pep talks but for today, I want to focus on the one given by Neil Gaiman.

In his pep talk, he sums up the frustration and despair that we go through when writing. We are not unique in this; all writers go through it. The difference is whether we choose to give up or forge on. As much as we’d like to believe, there is no magic formula. It’s all just hard work and we have to be prepared to do it.

As Neil Gaiman put it: One word after another. That’s the only way that novels get written. So keep on keeping on. Write another word and then another.

Which part of your novel do you find hardest to get through–the beginning, middle, or the end? How do you deal with it? And if you’re participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, how is your writing going so far?


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Crush The Inner Critic, Camp NaNoWriMo Style

When I first started this blog, my intention was to motivate myself and others to simply get the story written, without worrying about the tedious road ahead of revisions and publishing. After all, what is the point of letting your fears cripple you if you haven’t even written the novel? Sometimes we all need to be reminded to focus on the present, the things that are within our control, instead of being obsessed about the future.

In my first post, I talked about the advice I received from William Shawcross. I’d told him I was an aspiring writer but find myself hard pressed to continue sometimes even though I know where the story is headed. How do you deal with that? And so he shared with me the quote that he keeps next to his computer: Don’t get it right, get it written by James Thurber. I may not have gone and put up the quote next to my workspace but my blog serves as a reminder. And when I’m staring at a particularly bad piece of writing and tempted to press that delete button, I repeat that mantra to myself: Just get it written.

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Camp NaNoWriMo kicked off a week ago and so far I have written 10,054 words out of my target of 50k words. I am still behind and will likely fall further behind during the week but that’s OK. I have 10k more words now than I started with.

NaNoWriMo is certainly not for everyone and I know a lot of people who are against the very concept. How can you produce a novel in a month? There are enough books out there already and we don’t need more NaNo-written novels cluttering the (virtual) shelves out there.

I think what’s important to remember is that NaNoWriMo never claimed you would have a publishable book in a month. It’s supposed to be getting that first draft out of you, which for some people, is one of the hardest things. NaNoWriMo is about forcing yourself to write freely, without care for grammar, voice, or any of those things. NaNoWriMo is about giving yourself permission to suck as you get that first draft out of you.

As Nora Roberts said, You can’t fix a blank page.

And that is what NaNoWriMo is about: turning your blank pages into pages filled with words. Once you’re done with that, then you can go back and fix it, in that little something called revisions. That is where you make your novel as close as possible to the perfect vision you had of it in your head.

So next time you find yourself frustrated with how horrible your writing is going, tell yourself: Don’t get it right, just get it written. (After all) you can’t fix a blank page.

Do you put up little reminders or quotes in your workspace? How do you quiet your inner editor as you go through your first draft?


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Why Do You Write?

George Orwell3

Writing is not easy. Sure, sometimes you will be in that zone when everything is flowing and you can’t seem to type fast enough. And then there are those times when you simply can’t string a decent sentence together. Why has your muse abandoned you? Everything was going so great.

Setbacks. They happen in life, they happen in writing. The building process of writing a novel is a slow, painful and oftentimes lonely one. For the most part you are on your own and no matter how difficult things get, you have to plod on, from start to finish, or it would never see the light of day. That’s the beauty–and the curse–of the art form. You are the architect, the engineer, and the builder–all in one, and just like any real job, you have to show up and do the work, regardless of how you feel.

Not exactly what we want to hear but the sad reality is we’ll probably spend more time staring at a blank page, cursing and hating what we’ve written, rather than patting ourselves on the back for a prose well done. It’s an uphill climb and we constantly have to battle with ourselves, our insecurities, and perhaps even our demons, questioning all the while why we keep at it, when reason says there are better ways to spend our time on.

So why do we do it? Are we simply gluttons for punishment? Or is writing an intrinsic part of us that no matter all the hair-pulling and angst that goes with it, we just can’t seem to give it up? There are hundreds of reasons why we do it, and as many reasons not to. Perhaps at the end of the day, the reasons don’t really matter; when the undeniable truth is that we write simply because we have to.


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Don’t get it right, get it written. – James Thurber

I received that advice a few months ago from William Shawcross, author of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother: The Official Biography, whom I was fortunate enough to meet during a book fair. I wish I could say that it was a life-changing advice and it did wonders to my writing and productivity. Unfortunately, half a year later, I’m still struggling to meet my personal deadlines. Somewhere along the way, I’d forgotten why I wanted to do it in the first place and allowed fear to cripple me.

Writing can be such a wonderful and yet frustrating thing. Frustrating, mostly, when you realize that this wonderful thing you had in your head, is not quite as great as you thought it was. Some days, you simply wonder if it’s even worth it? Only you can answer that. But if you don’t at least try and make that vision a reality … then how would you know that it’s not worth it?

And so I write on …