I've had a rough Nano this year. I've had a hard time concentrating and getting any words on the page, despite having a full thriving outline. Mostly this is because I can't concentrate. I can't let my real life go enough to get into my make believe one. The...words...are...gone.
Even writing this rant is difficult.
The real life stresses I'm normally able to handle without difficulty are overwhelming. My work is stressful under the best of circumstances, my family is adding to the huge stress ball at my back, and even my supposed significant other is driving that little tack in deeper day by day.
Writing is my normal outlet. Without it, I feel the cracks in my armor widening and the bad parts of my personality I try desperately to keep a lid on are oozing out. I'm not like the hulk or anything. I don't go all green with anger and rage out. I just have a generally pessimistic outlook on the world and my little section of it. Being a writer probably doesn't help that. I try not to let myself fall into the pitfalls of ooh, my writing is so terrible, but I understand that happens to all of us. If we want it to or not.
So in conclusion, I'm finding it hard to keep my focus, push for my goals, and keep the real world at bay long enough to accomplish what I want to.
So my question is this: In the battle between your real life, and your writing life, whose winning?
Writing Tanglewood has marked a lot of firsts for me. It's the first time, I've had multiple POV's from more than two character's in a story. It's the first time I've written in first person for more than one character. It's the first time I've had a plot to go on. Not just a novel idea, but a full on fully thought out plot. It's the first time I've been able to do a lot of world building and not gotten bogged down. It's also the first time I've had a character that's so memorable, that everyone likes them, and I kind of do to. Which brings me to the topic of this blog.
Killing your darlings.
I believe it was Stephen King, in his book On Writing, who said don't keep your darlings, kill them. Or something to that effect.
I've never been able to do that in my fiction before. I've tried to before, but that particular character at the time was a trickster and managed to get out of all the fun creative ways I tried to off him. It made me really hate him for it... But I still have people ask me about that character to this day.
In the case of Tanglewood, I have a very memorable character, who will be dying. I know this character is going to be memorable because it's one of the few that I don't have to think about. He's just there. Like an old friend you haven't seen in a long time. I just see him, clear as day.
Because I feel this way about that character, I know he has to die. But I find myself dreading killing him off. I need his death to mean something, not just for the story, but to be as epic and out there as he is.
Because of that, my nano word count has suffered a bit. I'm off by about 200 or so words a day, and so I'm a little behind. Why didn't I just skip that step and get on with another chapter? Because I knew if I did that, I wouldn't kill him off. I'd try to get him through to the end, and that's not what this story needs.
So, tonight when I get home, he must die, and the story must go on. I'm just going to have to buckle down, and make myself do it.
So yes fellow writers, Stephen King is probably right. Kill your darlings, but make it count.
-Write on! -Corbyn
I'm getting ready to do a series of Nano sprints, and for the last two days I've had trouble motivating. I'm not sure why I'm dragging so badly on this novel. Last year I kind of hit the ground running hard, and just never looked back. I also had far less work into the pre-nano stages for that crap tasking piece of writing.
I'm probably just getting in my own way. That' being said I decided to blog first before hitting the Nano keys.
Today's blog post? Creating mood in yourself to foster your writing, and setting the tone for the piece your working on.
Last year I kept a novel journal, and I've done that for Tanglewood making it a standard practice. Before I begin writing on certain chapters, I first sit down at the keyboard, or with a notebook and jot down thoughts about my real life, and then move into the novel. I list goals, or work out more details for my chapters that I'll be writing. It does help.
The other practice I adopted for Nano last year, was to look up pictures of various things. For example my MC last year found herself wandering through a canyon to meet a gypsy like band of witches that roamed through the canyon. So I looked up pictures the closest canyon (the second largest in the US) and gypsy tents, trees. I clicked on hundreds of images saving the ones that spoke to me. I took those images of jaguars and roving camps, and posted them under a private setting on my facebook page, hidden away from family, friends, and work buddies. Why facebook? Because facebook is a writer's worst enemy. It's a time trap waiting to happen. This way I had a reminder of how I should've been spending my time.
The last thing I did last year, which I am currently doing right now. I picked a few songs that resonated in me the things I wanted for specific chapters, or that I felt just fit the work I was actually trying to get out. I played the initially when I worked on my novel journal and right after I re-read the day before's work. So that I sort of trained myself to the music. When I heard those songs, I knew it was time to work. Right now I'm listening to Ciara's rendition of paint it black from The Last Witchunter's soundtrack.
So, anyway, that's what I'm doing to combat writer problem #37. Happy Nanowrimo, and I hope this helps!
It's been a rough week all around, but nothing has been worse than anticipating new toys. Two weeks ago, I bit the bullet and decided to replace my archaic laptop. I did so with Nano in mind. I have lots of tech toys from a tablet to a smart phone, but for me nothing beats a good old fashioned laptop. That's probably due in large part to the fact that I've been working on a larger keyboard/screen for so long that I've not been able to get out of the habit, and frankly I just missed lugging around my old friend.
Which brings me to the title of this blog, low tech vs high tech.
Most writers can go either way. Some loath the idea of dragging around equipment, and opt to feed their muse the old fashioned (to some) way. These scribes hoard away every napkin, receipt, or doodled on scrap piece of paper they can find when the time comes and that all elusive moment strikes. You know the one. It wakes you up at three in the morning, an idea for a story, or piece of dialogue thundering through your mind like a herd of wild horses. These writers flow poetic, even if they can't read their own writing, and only transfer it to tech media after the words have been polished to a high shine. And there is absolutely, positively nothing wrong with that.
The second camp, lug their bulky circuit boards, or sleek waft thin machines to coffee houses all over the planet. They thrive in the land of free wifi, and java. Again, there is nothing wrong with this camp either. In fact there is something to be said for ease of use, and multiple save options. Yes, that's right.. Corbyn Dallas multipass.
I myself have opted to pitch my tent somewhere in the middle of both camps. I've found that it was easier for me at a writer's retreat to jot down plot notes and rough character this and that, rather than booting up ol' betsy. To be fair though, betsy weighed more than three this gen laptops put together, and has been with me nearly fifteen years, in the tech world, that's ancient folks.
But I also realized that bouncing between work, home, and the multitude of other place in between, that I would not be able to meet my Nano goals this year with out some help. I need to be able to work on the go seamlessly, with as little distraction as possible. For me that means no wifi (bad writer you get a wrist slap for spending to much time on Facebook and forums) and good music coupled with headphones. You should see the looks I get living in a back hole in the water place where it is NOT the norm to sit in restaurants/coffee shops and type on your lunch break.
Anyway, regardless of which camp you fall into, find a spot that works for you. Your writing tools aren't much different than your writing style. Ultimately, you've got to try a lot of different things, and decide which is the right fit for you.
Happy Nanowrimo (yes I know it's early but why fight it?)!
Sometimes, when we write, we find ourselves writing about things we don't know anything about. Sometimes, that's ok, and others it just isn't. Research is a necessary part of any writer's tool kit. But how much research is to much? I've always thought, that depends on what kind of writer you are.
For me, I don't want to be the type that comes across as not knowing what the heck I'm talking about. For example, in my current WIP the people populating my story will have to use a variety of weaponry. I know almost NOTHING about weaponry. So when I decided to write this thing, I knew I'd need to research different types of weapons. Because if I don't know how my character should be using something, I can't write about it, and it won't be believable if I do.
Simple right? No, not so much. I know other writer's who refuse to do the research, to spend the time to make their craft believable, and let me just say, it shows. The writing is flat, and makes me not want to continue reading despite how much I might like the characters.
With that in mind, I started my adventure six months ago (roughly). It began with compound bows. When I was a child we were not allowed to play with power tools, or anything that might even remotely be considered a weapon. It was kind of a drag. But that aside, it limited me in a way (which is funny because now everyone of my family members are either hunters, own hand guns, or enjoy archery).
The compound bow was awkward, and I found myself a little discouraged because aiming wasn't what I thought it would be. It didn't help that I caught it on my arm fairly frequently. Now, I considered myself fairly accurate with my hand and eye coordination. I used to team rope in high school, and rarely missed. However, I quickly learned that it just isn't the same thing. Which also disappointed me. I returned to shoot four additional times, but had similar results. The bow did one thing for me however, it made me want to try hand guns.
I've always wanted to shoot hand guns. I like doing things that show me immediate results, and what's more in the moment and cool than venting frustration by putting holes in something? (No I'm not very girly, I don't enjoy shopping.) But I was extremely nervous because guns as a kid were a no-no.
So, I signed up for a gun safety class. After the hour long (and very old) video was over, we went into the indoor range. My instructor was a nice lady, funny to be around, and she said if I fired single shot hitting the target she'd let me shoot more. Sweaty hands and awkward as all hell, I did. And I hit center of the bullseye. She said if I could hit anywhere near that again with my four shots I could keep shooting. I did, sending all four through my initial hole. She let me shoot however many I wanted after that.
I'm not bragging in telling this story. I just think it's important to realize that in some cases you need to get out from behind your computer screen. Nothing compares to real life experience. In this case, I got to shoot two hundred rounds, and learned that I'm a damn good shot. (Ok a little bit of bragging there.) But if I hadn't done the research I would've never tried this, never found out I actually enjoy target shooting, and I certainly wouldn't own a fire arm. (In case your wondering I bought a beretta neos .22 lr .... less recoil for beginners...) I wouldn't have a funny story to tell, and I probably would've gone on writing about safety levers on guns that don't actually have safety levers. (Like the glock.) Which I now realize a lot of writer's do. My instructor got a kick out of why I wanted to shoot. She asked, and I told her research for a novel. Even just saying that bit helped my ego. That was the first time I admitted to anyone out loud, out side of a writer's group that I'm a writer.
So anyway, yes.... do your research, but don't just do it behind your computer screen.
Separate names with a comma.