Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Dreaded First Draft

Before I give my take on first drafts, I want to share a post I just read that was AWESOME! Natalie at Between Fact and Fiction always gives fantastic advice, and today's was no exception. She nailed every single thing that I've been feeling about my first draft since starting this whole wonderful, crazy process of writing. So, please, check it out!

Now, I've been working on my story for a little over a month and a half now, but I started actually thinking about the story and getting to know the characters back during the summer. This phase, the brainstorming, lasted for about two months. I took my time making notes, creating character sketches, looking up information about the setting of the story, and reading articles and books with tons of helpful advice about writing your first book. I did this until I had a notebook filled with notes, but no story, so mid September found me sitting before my laptop with a blank word document. I was excited, but scared at the same time. I was ready to create my baby, but in the back of my mind was that nagging doubt: You've never done this before, it will SUCK! I ignored it and happily began typing away. For about three weeks everything was great, the word count was increasing steadily, then the doubt came back with a vengeance. This is no good, nobody will ever like this, why are you wasting your time? I told the little voice (you know, evil inner editor) to shut up and continued. I even started blogging about that time. But the more I worked on the story, the louder the voice shouted. IT SUCKS! STOP NOW! THIS WILL NEVER SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY!

I don't know about you, but this is a serious problem for me. I am one of those people who loves to have everything perfect, and the thought of creating something that is, well, just bad makes me feel ill. I was one of those annoying people in school who was never happy with B's, I only wanted A's, so this is really hard for me.

So, my word count is creeping up little by little, but nothing like it was in the beginning. I'm on page 56, and believe me, I'm very proud to have written that much, but I wish I could just accept that this draft is going to suck. That's why I linked Natalie's post. It is a reminder that I am not alone. I'm not the first person to write a first draft and I certainly won't be the last. I have got to give myself permission to write it, no matter how bad it is, and use the revision stage to satisfy my tendencies to make things perfect. I've even got to accept that it won't be perfect when I edit it, but that's O.K.

I hope that all of you getting ready for NaNo takes this to heart. I wish I was joining you, but I'm still working on this baby. I'm not going to give up on it, I'm going to keep plugging along, and I will finish it. Wouldn't it be great if I finish with everyone at the end of November! That will be a reason to celebrate!

So, how do you feel about your first drafts? Do they drive you insane? Do you have to constantly battle the evil editor? Or are you one of the fortunate ones who just plows on through without ever listening to it?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Contest, An Award, and Some More Random Stuff

Lots of info for you today! First up, Shannon at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe is having a contest. Just pop over to her blog and scroll down to the post titled "Contest Starts Today." The details are listed, and you can choose your prize if you win. The choices are: NERDS signed by Michael Buckley, Dreamdark: Blackbringer signed by Laini Taylor, or Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy signed by Robin Preiss Glasser. I'm going for Dreamdark if I win!

Second, I am proud and humbled to say that I was given two more awards last week by THREE different people! I just wanted to take a few days before passing the honors on to some more deserving folks. However, I'm just doing one award today and I'll pass on the other next week. So, I'm excited to say that I was given the Heartfelt Award by two of these ladies: Tina Lynn at Sweet Niblets and Diana at Writing Roller Coasters. I have enjoyed really getting to know them these past few weeks and I love visiting their blogs.

Do you reach for a cup of cocoa or tea when you're relaxing, seeking comfort, sharing a plate of cookies with family and friends? You know the feeling you get when you drink a yummy cup of cocoa, tea, or a hot toddy? That is what the Heartfelt Award is all about, feeling warm inside. Rules: put the logo on your blog/post. Nominate up to nine blogs which make you feel comfy or warm inside. Be sure to link your nominees within your post. Let them know that they have been nominated by commenting on their blog. Remember to link to the person from whom you received your award.

Here are my nominees:
Jade at Jade Hears Voices for her hilarious posts,

Julie at Silver Linings for her thoughtful insights (and I love the music, too)

Kristi Faith at Random Acts of Writing for her great writing tips (and for being one of my very first followers)

I would nominate more, but I'm tired. The oldest kids were home today sick, and it rained all day, and now I'm getting their cold. You know, the headache part, sore throat, runny nose. Let's just say my day was not the best one I've had lately. Oh, my latest word count is horrible, too. We had company Friday and Saturday, so no writing. Sunday, I did manage to get in another 800 words, but last night I was bad. I started reading Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick and I couldn't put it down. I forced myself to bed at 1:00 in the morning! I got up at the usual 6:00, but with the kids sick, at least I got another two hours of sleep in, but boy, the rest of the day was wild. You would think two sick kids would just lay around all day napping, but not mine. Yeah, they complained about the aches and pains, but the fighting was off the charts. My role today was that of referee, while the poor baby was taking it all in. Can you imagine how bad she is going to be at their ages with all she is exposed to?

So, how was your day? Are you reading anything that is keeping away from your writing?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What a Character!

I've been thinking about characters this weekend. You know, what makes them so interesting. What kinds of things makes them sympathetic or not, what sets them apart from each other, and what makes them unforgettable.

I've done a lot of research on what makes a great character, and let me tell you it's tough. Sometimes I feel that I may never have any characters that anyone would want to read about, but when I open my WIP, I remember why I love mine. I spent a long time getting to know them before I even wrote one sentence. I read somewhere that making character sketches would help, so that's the first thing I did. Found lots of worksheets online, but I didn't really like them. So, I just opened my notebook to a clean sheet, wrote the name of the MC, and started writing everything I "knew" about her. Her appearance, her family life, her likes and dislikes, what she wants more than anything, what she fears, etc. I even went online and searched through google images for someone who resembled what I thought she looked like, printed out a copy and stapled it to my character sketch. If fact, I did this will all of the featured characters. I had a blast doing this. Now, I can actually see them when I write about them.

What do you do to develop your characters? Do you spend any time before writing figuring this out, or do you just start writing and figure out as you go?

Friday, October 23, 2009

To Outline Or Not To Outline

First, an update: I wrote 904 NEW words last night! YAY! It may not seem like a lot, but I'm relieved because it's the first new words that I've written in a week. I figured out what was bothering me with the last scene I wrote, fixed it, and moved on. It feels great! Now on to the real post.

I've been reading blogs for a while now, and I've noticed a wide variety of opinions about outlining. It seems that there are two main camps: those who swear by outlining, and those who detest it. Outliners feel that they cannot write anything without knowing every detail of their story. Non-outliners feel that their creativity is stifled, so they "wing it."

I have to be a little different in that I do a little of both. I have tried doing a detailed outline, but that ended up feeling forced. Having to know every little detail takes the fun out the whole writing process. On the other hand, writing without having a clue where I am going doesn't work, either. I have to know some details or I get lost/lose interest/get stuck.

I've tried on several occasions over the past few years to do these things, with nothing to show for it. I was stuck in the "wanna-be writer" stage for what seems like forever because of this, but with my current project, I tried to combine them. I did a very basic outline, only plotting out the main events that I want to take place. However, I left the little details out because I want to discover what happens as I go. I want to leave room for my characters to make decisions, instead of having to think out every little thing myself. I know that may sound crazy, but this seems to be the best way to make my characters come to life. So far it has worked, because when I'm typing I can see them clearly in my mind. Their personalities are really starting to shine.

So, where do you stand on this issue. Do you outline, do you come up with ideas as you go, or are you somewhere in between?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I'm Addicted

Yes, folks, I've developed an unhealthy addiction to blogging. I am spending way too much time on the Internet these days. My mind is screaming You need to write! You haven't written anything new for a week! What's wrong with you? But I can't help it. I am having a blast finding new writers out there and "meeting" new people, and I'm super happy to have 22 followers now. It's a strange feeling knowing that there's people out there actually reading my little blog. Now I've got to come up with topics that might be somewhat interesting for y'all to read. (I'm from the south, so I do say y'all frequently).

Any free moment finds me sitting at my desk online, but I've decided that has to stop. I am going to attempt to limit my blogging to an hour (maybe a little bit more) a day. If I don't, I may not finish my poor WIP until sometime next year. I originally gave myself until the end of October to finish the first draft, but that's not gonna happen now! So my new deadline is the end of November. Your task, if you choose to accept, is to hold me accountable. I need to finish!

So, my you find yourself blogging too much? If so, what do you do to limit yourself?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My First Award!

A huge thank you to Kristi at Random Acts of Writing for giving me my very first blog award! Let me say that this is an honor because I have not been blogging very long. So first, I have to explain the rules.

1. Copy the Kreativ Blogger picture and post it on your page.
2. Thank the person that gave the award to you and link back to their blog.
3. Write 7 things about you that we don't know.
4. Choose 7 other bloggers that you would like to give the award to.
5. Link to the bloggers that you chose.
6. Let your winners know that they have the lovely award!

Now for my 7 choices. Please check out these blogs. They all have great information!

1. Diana at Writing Roller Coasters
2. Julie at The Climb
3. Patti Nielson
4. Natalie Bahm
5. Shannon at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe
6. Tina Lynn at Sweet Niblets
7. Natalie at The Sound of Rain

Boy, the hardest thing is last. Seven things that you don't know about me. Let me see...

1. I love ketchup! I'll eat it with most anything, and I only buy Hunt's. It's the best.

2. I hate fish and seafood. Won't touch the stuff. I'm always the one in the group ordering a steak when everybody else is hitting the seafood bar.

3. My favorite color is green, as you can see on my blog.

4. I changed my major a lot before graduating from college. (Undeclared, Middle Grade Education, Criminal Justice, Psychology, History, English, and finally Early Childhood Education)

5. Even though I couldn't make up my mind about what to major in, I still got good grades. I graduated Summa Cum Laude!

6. I like to go fishing. I will bait the hook, but I won't touch the fish. My hubby has to take it off for me.

7. I am afraid of riding a jet ski. We own one, but I am terrible at operating it. My 11 year old does a better job of keeping it under control than I do.

Don't forget to check out the winners! Great info and very cool people!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

My Inspiration Took a Vacation

My inspiration, motivation, or whatever you call it has left the building. Since Wednesday, I have written Z-E-R-O words in my WIP. No new words, no editing, nothing.

Just one night I didn't feel like writing. Or the next, or the next. I guess you could call this a slump. I think I know why, too. I finished chapter 4, but I don't have a clue what will happen next. I have a rough outline of the whole book, but it is very general. I know what the main plot points are, but I left the little details of how a gets to b gets to c unknown. Up until now everything has been flowing smoothly, but for some reason now I can't figure out what to write.

How do you push past something like this? What have you done to get the ideas flowing again?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Where Does The Time Go?

It seems that there is never enough time in the day to get things done. I start my day at 6:00 by getting up, getting the kids up and ready for school, getting them to school and coming back home. Then I spend the rest of the day chasing the baby around the house. She has so much energy! Climbing over the furniture, tearing up the house, and basically demanding all of my attention during the day. Then I have to leave by 2:30 to pick up the older kids, do any errands that I have, come back home and help them with homework, get supper ready, and get them ready for bed. And I have to fit trying to keep the house somewhat clean in there.

By the time everyone is in bed (husband included) it's usually around 10:00 before I have any ME time to get my writing done. Blogging is now squeezed in whenever I get a little extra time, but no writing is done until the house is quiet. I'm lucky to get about two hours. I wish I could find more time during the day.

How do you find time to get your writing in during the day? Do you write any time you have a moment free, or do you wait until the rest if the family is asleep?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Spark

The spark that started my dream of becoming a published writer happened when I was in sixth grade. My school was having a short story contest and my language arts teacher made everyone in our class enter. While some kids moaned and complained, quite a few of us really got into our stories. I remember sitting in small groups in class with a few of my friends coming up with ideas. Anyway, to make a long story short, I actually won the grand prize! Can you imagine my shock? I was a lowly sixth grader compared to all of the older junior high kids, and I won. That was the very first time that I remember thinking Hey, I could do this for a living!

Flash forward to my college years. I was one of those students who started out as an undeclared major and I stayed that way for almost two years. Why? I knew that I wanted to be a writer, but I didn't want to be an English major because (I thought, in my ignorance) you could only teach high school English. I was terrified at the thought of teaching high school because I looked like I was barely out of high school myself. So, I went from one major to another, completely clueless, and eventually became an elementary teacher (after only five years of college, no less).

Flash forward again to one month ago. I'm now a stay at home mom, I'm 33 years old, and my husband is tired of hearing me complain about wanting to be a writer. After all, I've wanted it since I was 11. He told me if I wanted to be a writer then I need to write something. Yeah, I wanted to be a writer for what seems like forever, but I haven't written anything in YEARS. I think it's because of fear. Fear of failure. Fear that what I write will suck. Fear that nobody will like what I write. But I've come to realize that if I don't write I will be miserable. This past month that I've been working on my book has been amazing. I love my family and my life dearly, but something has been missing for years, and I've found it. I just wish that I had started sooner.

So, what was the spark that started you down the path of writing? How long have you been writing?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Forward March

I took everyone's advice and pushed on through. My WIP now has about 1000 more words. It wasn't easy...I wanted to go back and edit some more, but I resisted. I'm really happy with the new scenes, but I'm afraid in a few days I'll look at it and think What crap, I need to fix it now! Oh, well, that's part of the process.

Welcome to my five new followers! I didn't think I would have any for a while, so I'm very happy. I'll try hard not to bore you too much, seeing that I'm so new to the game and all.

I didn't say this before, but another reason I chose to start blogging was for accountability. I used to loathe that word. See, in my former work life, teacher accountability was the buzz word of choice used by the state to assess student performance. But now, I'm embracing accountability. I am a procrastinator by nature, and since I'm seriously attempting to write a book now, I need to have someone to be accountable to. I don't belong to a crit group yet, so anyone out there who is reading this be will hear all about my progress or lack thereof.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Number 1!!!

So, this is my very first post. I've been debating a while about whether to start blogging now or wait until I actually finish my WIP, but I'm missing out on meeting some cool writers out there. I look forward to getting to know you in the days ahead.

I used to be an elementary teacher, but now I'm a SAHM to my three girls. They keep me busy, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I live in a small town in the middle of nowhere (the nearest Barnes and Noble is an hour away).

My WIP is a YA sci/fi dystopian that I 've been working on now for about a month. I'm having trouble getting past chapter 4 because of the dreaded evil internal editor. I keep going back and editing those chapters. Any advice about how to shut it up?