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. 🙂

The Importance of Backing Up Your Work

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I might have talked about this before, when NaNoWrimo was taking place. But I just had a big reminder of advice I give out often to newbie writers. (And sometimes even those who have been writing a long time don’t think to do this.)

I dug out my memory stick. Something that was long over due, and popped it in my laptop. I wanted to save a few files, and also access a couple of things not on my laptop.

Imagine my surprise (no wait, the horror!) when I wasn’t able to open my files. ALL of my work, located on my memory stick, was inaccessible.

Cue the “I’m gonna be sick” feeling rolling in my stomach.

I panicked, and Mr. C arrived home before I had a mini meltdown. With his laptop and skills he could get me my files,  and also announced I needed a new memory stick. He was lucky he could get what he did for me. A lot of my work was already on my laptop, but there were a few things I needed.

I will buy not one but TWO new ones soon.

I learned a long time ago that it is VERY important to back up your work. The last thing any writer needs is to have their 500 page epic or their character sketches gone in a blink of an eye.

So I always have everything on my computer and memory stick. However, I think I will figure out a third option, because technology can go bust at any moment. I might use Dropbox, or (and?!) email myself a copy of my work, just in case. At the very least I can access that from anywhere.

And good old fashioned hard copy. I do love having a finished piece in my hand, hot from the printer.

Go forth, write, and for the love of God back up those fantastic works in the making! 🙂

Writing: Getting Back In The Game

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It’s been a while since I sat down to work on a new piece of fiction or edit or finish an old piece. I could list a dozen or two reasons why I haven’t, but they would sound like excuses. Some of my reasons are valid. For example, when I’m in a deep depression, my creative brain is turned off for awhile.

My current problem: I need to shock it back to life.

While I feel a lot better than I have in…well, all year, that creative side of me is still kind of numb and shut off. And doesn’t that just suck?

Some writers have writers block. Others put writing off for one reason or another. And some writers sit every damn day and create something. (If you are that person, I think you are awesome and I hate you, just a tad. But mostly I think you are awesome).

I have been coming up with a game plan. One that will hopefully get the creative juices flowing. Maybe my game plan will help you get through your own writing slump or help you keep the wheels good and greased.

Get Crafty. Or garden. Or paint. Whatever works for you. Luckily for me, with the wedding next year I have a lot to do. I have always loved being creative, and when I am active in one area, it helps me in another.

Get Rid of Clutter. Cleaning your desk or creating your own little writing space can help you focus. No clutter means no distractions. My desk has a lot of distractions that need to be purged.

Be Realistic. If I sit down and decide to write 3000 words a day, I am going to fail. Like, crash and burn. Then I will feel like shit and like I can’t do anything. Boo. With anything, you need to be realistic with your goals. Start small and build on from there.

Remind Yourself Why You Write.  I need to start fresh. I need to do what I did when I was ten years old. Creating odd and wonderful worlds and not caring what anyone thought because this was MY creation. Because I LOVED doing it.

Talk To Your Writing Buddies. Maybe you have one friend who lives in another part of the country that writes. Maybe there is a local writers group nearby. If you have someone,  go for coffee or send them a message. Fellow writers are a great way to gain inspiration. My writers group is fab at giving me a kick in the pants. If you don’t know any writers, then check out online writers groups or ask your local library. (That’s where I found out about The Story Forge, the group I have been going to for the last twelve years).

It might not sound like much of a game plan, but the idea is to keep it simple. Have you ever been in a writing slump? What helped you to get past it?