Writing Problems and Coffee

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One of my very good friends, Jo-Anne from Inspiration Pie, and I had our weekly (or at least it seems like that 😉 ) coffee date this evening.

Jo-Anne and I met a few years ago at a Nanowrimo write-in. I instantly liked her and I am so pleased that she is now one of my closest friends. Our dates are a must especially when life is crazy or when we have writing brainstorms bubbling under the surface.

A little while back she borrowed the books that my short stories are published in. (You can find them over here.) I was eager to hear her feedback, and to tell me what she thought of my characters. The four of them are stand alone reads but deal with the same characters and an expanding world.

She told me some positive things that gave me a boost. I don’t just mean a “I feel great” kinda way (although I did). It sparked something in my writer brain. And with the way I have been feeling, I am in good need of a spark or two.

It also helped me realize a mental block that I have been having.

My main characters are Quinn and Lily, and I love writing them. I love being in their world. The last few times I have sat down to work on a new short story or novel, I didn’t get very far. I get frustrated. And therefore I don’t want to write. This world no longer makes me happy. It makes me stressed. So, what is this block?

I have too many ideas for them. TOO. MANY.

When I start writing, I start to second guess myself. Is this plot good enough? Should I have went with the other story idea I wanted to start? Should I combine Plot A And Plot C, or should B and C go better together?

Once I am in this train of thought, that’s it. Game over.

Jo-Anne gave me a great idea that I am going to try. Basically write out a big ol’ mind map. I plan to dig out my bristol board, tack it to a wall and start writing down my plots, story ideas and see which ones I can connect well and which should be stand alone. I am excited to get on this and see where it will take me. 🙂

There is always a solution to every writing problem. You just can’t give up on it.

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When Your Novel Isn’t Going According to Plan

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When we sit and jot down notes about our novels or sit down and plan them at some point we generally get a feel for what we hope/want/think will happen.

Sometimes when the day comes to actually sit and write it, everything is going fine and then suddenly-BAM! All of a sudden there’s things happening that you didn’t expect. Or the general feel for your novel has changed. And sometime those characters sound wimpy when they are supposed to be strong. Or sound like a cardboard cut out, when, in your head you SWORE they had a personality.

Right now I am taking part in NaNoWriMo. I decided to do something fun. Something for me. I wanted to get creative and have a world where I could have a free for all.

After a talk with a friend, I decided to write a twist to a classic fairy tale. During the creative process I decided it would be a dark fairy tale. I decided that there would be other fairy tale characters after all. I made my map and figure out what magic and creatures would potentially be in my story.

On day six of NaNo, my dark fairy tale isn’t that dark. It is way more on the…romantic end that I wanted it to be. And my heroine isn’t as…kick ass as I wanted her to be. My villain is more like a cardboard cut out then a person.

So what do you do when things aren’t as you’d wanted?

Roll with it. This is a first draft. You won’t finish a first draft if you keep going back to change it, edit it, alter it in some manner. Take some notes and keep on going. I will work on making my heroine more kick ass, so now that will be part of her character development in the novel. As for making it dark, I will keep it in my mind as I write and when edits come, I will change what I have written to suit the rest of the novel. As for my villain, well, she needs improving. At least I know that.

Even when your character does something unexpected, roll with it. The characters are telling this after all, not you. (This is where Mr.C would look at me funny.) I have written novels where my basic outline got thrown out half way through writing. They just weren’t relevant anymore.

So, don’t get too upset. Don’t get mad or frustrated. Words can be erased or deleted. Have fun and roll with the punches. 🙂

NaNoWrimo: Day 4

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Last night I went to our first Nano write-in and managed to get my word count of the day plus a little extra. It was a small group with about seven of us but we had a great time and everyone made progress! 🙂

I felt like the pace was a bit slow. I had been planning so many action scenes and events in October, and I kind of forgot the fact I had to introduce my characters. And I wasn’t sure how long it would take for the action to pick up.

Today while at work I had some time to write. Well, it was a slow day so lots of time. I wrote almost 3000 words, bringing my grand total to just over 10,000!!! AND the pace is changing now. I am where I wanted to be. There is upset in my FMC’s life. Things are just going to get even better from here.

How is your progress? No matter if you write a few words or lots of them so far, the main thing is this: you wrote. You created. Keep it going. We got this! 🙂

NaNoWriMo: Day 1

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I thought that throughout the month I would update my progress and struggles. And I would love to hear from fellow Wrimos! 🙂

I stayed up til midnight last night, so I could get started right away. By the time my eyes were heavy I managed to crank out just over 2000 words, which made me happy. I knew anything else I would get written today would be a bonus.

After a brisk walk this morning and getting some caffeine into me, I came home and began to write again. I am now at just about 4000 words. So I am feeling pretty good. It is still early in the day so I might write again. However I won’t pressure myself. Ususally during NaNo, I write between 15k and 25k the first few days. But I am trying to pace myself this year. I tend to burn out mid month, which makes the last two weeks or so brutal.

I feel like I am off to a slow start, story wise, but I am not dwelling on it. This is NaNo. We don’t have to like what we write.

How is your first day going? 🙂

My Top 3 Tips For Surviving NaNoWriMo

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In just a few more days writers around the world will take to their laptops, tablets and notebooks and begin the adventure that is NaNoWriMo.

While NaNoWriMo is a month full of writing, cramped fingers, coffee and meet ups, it is a long, stressful month. And sometimes we need to remind ourselves to trudge on.

Here’s how I plan to survive November.

Take a breather. As important as it is to crank out that 50k, it is just as important to take time here and there to take a deep breath. Ahead of schedule? Go for a walk or spend the evening watching a movie. Behind and stressing? Take a short walk or make a coffee run to your fave cafe.

Reward yourself. Don’t reward yourself for every little thing, but do set some sort of reward system. Finish 500 words? Grab a piece of candy! Make the word count for the day? Go play Candy Crush. It’s the little things that help.

Get out. If you are able to get to write ins and Nano meet ups, go! They are fun and you get to chat to fellow writers who know all about the struggle. If you have a writers group, make sure you meet up for inspiration and motivation. Nobody around? Get online and find a writers group or hit the Nano forums.

What are your tips for surviving the month? 🙂

One Week To Go

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A week from today is Halloween, which means that NaNoWriMo is on the horizon. For all of us taking part, we have one full week left to plot, plan and brainstorm. To get in as many finishing touches as we need to begin what I affectionately call ‘The Month From Hell’. (Or as one of my friends call it, ‘The Month That Kerry Disappears’.)

I am panicking slightly.

Okay, I’m lying. I am panicking A LOT.

Which is normal for this time of year. I feel like I am back in highschool and a big exam is in a few days and I realized that I haven’t really even begun to study.

I’m not totally unprepared. I’m writing a dark fairy tale/fantasy. So I have a map printed off and I have gotten totally addicted to creating a little world. I have a semblance of a plot. I don’t like planning every moment because that takes the fun out of writing the actual story. I have a hero I am in love with and he is so fun to work with. He’s flawed and has an interesting backstory and has these little secrets. And he’s yet to tell them all to me.

My heroine is another story. I like her, I really do. But creating her is a bit more…work then it is to create my hero. And I still need to add touches to my world building and figure out a bit more of my actual story.

The part that worries me is my FMC, because I don’t want her feeling like a cardboard cut out the day I start writing.

How is your novel planning going? Are you all ready to go or are you panicked like I am?

A Little Writing Inspiration and A Contest

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My great friend and writing buddy Sherry D. Ramsey has her own blog and writing news letter. This month she talks about Nanowrimo and she is also having a really cool little contest!

So if you want to check it all out, you can find it all right here!

The contest is helping her name a character in her next Nanowrimo novel. I know I will be entering the contest, just for the hell of it! 😀

A lot of people wonder what, if anything, can be done with a Nanowrimo novel. Some people think you can’t produce anything good during the month. (It’s called editing, people. Besides, any first draft is crap).

Sherry was a guest blogger and talks about having her Nano works published, and how Nanowrimo helped her. Check out her read over here.

Happy Saturday!!!