Let It Be

*ignoring the fact that I’ve been gone for months* So one of my very best friends, who also happens to be a writer, decided some time ago to turn her novel into her senior project for high school graduation. This basically means she spent twenty hours with her fantastic mentor Greg Wilkey, (a local writer whose books and other funsies can be found here), completed and revised her novel over the summer (well actually she’s still working on it even though school starts on Thursday), and is supposed to present the final product this fall to judges. It’s apparently the wussy version of the big-bad-bullying college theses. But the reason I bring up my friend’s situation is because the fact that she actually has a literal NOVEL under her belt (albeit not entirely polished) really pisses me off if I’m honest. Authors generally have overcome the inherent laziness that plagues most writers (especially moi), and my friend seems to be coming along respectably well. And you would think her success would be motivation for my competitive self to catch a fast train and attack my baby manuscript with determination.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

My competitiveness only extends as far as my mouth. I want badly to show everyone else up, and like most people, I have a dreadful tendency to brag on the occasion I do take the lead. I love feeling superior. But I am, for the majority of the time, unwilling to act on my ambitions. A major flaw? I definitely think so.

My novel originally started as a tale about a little girl who could turn herself into a lioness. It became a story about five young people who come from completely different worlds who are chosen to fight for the freedom their lands have lost. And the sheer amount of characters, plotlines, backgrounds, and culture is incredibly intimidating at times. Most people would probably frown and question why I’m making everything so difficult for myself. But I suppose when you have a story that you feel has greatness in it, the kind of characters you wish to God were real, the kind of places you could spend forever exploring, there’s not much to do but let that story grow in your mind. Sometimes the best poems, the best stories, the best art, the best music, come from people who are by no means experts in the craft, but who allow themselves to reach high from the beginning.

Of course, I could laud the magic of amateur creativity for days, but still there lies a far-from-finished novel sitting in my hard drive and it’s frustrating, I won’t lie. But I have to keep believing in it. Even if it takes me years to actually get off my ass and write it, I refuse to simply want myself to complete the final product. I expect it. I owe it to myself to write the story in my head and heart. You owe it to yourself. These stories aren’t just bits of our brain that we’ve plucked out; they can live, they can breathe, they can be, if we can find it in ourselves to let them.

As for me, I’m working on it.

To Be A Writer

So during the past week or so I’ve been having some trouble getting into gear on my draft, mostly due to my own lazy, procrastinating ways. I know I’m not the only one who does this, so I’m not exactly brokenhearted over my faults, but it does frustrate me that I always find excuses or ways to delay sitting down at my desk and trudging through the process when I feel like doing anything other than writing.

We all have those days, those weeks, those months, where things don’t go right, or we would rather go out with friends and see that movie, or we just plain don’t feel like it. And that’s fine. It happens. It’s okay. There is nothing wrong with losing your groove and falling off the writing wagon. There is nothing wrong with having chinks in your armor, in being afraid or unsure or disinterested in your project. And some people, myself included, often don’t realize that. No one is perfect, least of all a writer. By our very definition, we are made up of flaws and mistakes and our great love is to write about those flaws and mistakes and make them into a story. So it’s okay to have doubts or want to slack off.

It’s okay to even actually slack off once in a while, but when it happens, we need to remind ourselves of a few things.

1. Why we write.

2. What we love about our stories.

3. How we will feel when we finally have a completed manuscript in our hands.

I write because in writing, I find my confidence, and in writing I feel hope for tomorrow and the life ahead of me. I love my story’s characters, its rich setting, and the possibilities it holds. When (not if) I hold that completed manuscript, to be honest, I’ll probably be more brain-dead than anything else. But later, when I lay in bed at night or when I’m driving or eating breakfast, I’ll remember the journey of that manuscript and what it took to get the final product in my hands. That will be the proudest moment of my life.

I can’t wait for that day and I hope, I pray, I dream that I don’t forget a single second of what brought me there.

The Hot Dog Technique

So in the past week I haven’t written a word of chapter 4. That isn’t to say I haven’t been writing; I have, just not what I’m technically supposed to be. I’ve been doing exercises, free-writes, diagrams, charts, lists, but nothing concrete to say for the actual rough draft. I think doing these exercises has helped a lot with de-blocking me for chapter 4…but wait, I should probably explain said blockage, huh?

Okay, so last week when I reached the fourth chapter I was feeling accomplished and great and overall writer-spiffy, but chapter 4 holds some important plotty events which I hadn’t quite worked out the technical aspects of at the time. So I got stuck, trying to dig out how exactly to write what happens. Enter in the Hot Dog Technique.

(Okay, so it isn’t really called that, but I like the name so what the hell.)

I read it somewhere a while back (sorry, but I honestly don’t remember a website or book to point y’all in the right direction), and at first I didn’t think much of it, but then I tried it just because, and wow. What you do is simply this: with no punctuation or fretting about sentence structure/grammar/spelling WHATSOEVER (that’s pretty much the most important aspect of the exercise), write to the middle of the page and when you get there go to the next line. It helps to fold the paper in half, hot dog style (the vast majority of people will remember this from elementary school) and only write to the crease of the fold, then to the next line, then the next. Like so:032
This technique helped a ton because its purpose is to free you from distractions like over-thinking  The only true rule there is to follow is to only write to the middle of the page, and even that isn’t required. It gets you out of those holes you dig yourself into, and it also loosens you up and forces you to stop thinking and just write. If you haven’t tried it before, I highly recommend it.

So now I’m sort of unblocked, and hopefully this chapter won’t be too rough on my nerves. I hope everyone else is having a great week!

 

The Writer’s Memoirs 5-8-2012

In the past few days, I have touched upon pretty much every emotion on the scale, which could perhaps be blamed on those inevitable female things which I suppose can’t be avoided at times. I successfully crawled through the worst Monday of my life, managed to avoid losing my mind, and discovered that one cannot go 24 hours without sleep and still feel like a rockstar (unless you’re Superman, that is). I have very unsuccessfully been attempting to write.

I could of course make school the scapegoat of my poor productivity level. This is the last full week of classes before exams, which means I figure out my teachers really are trying to bury me alive with work, and I also figure out that I’m an even worse procrastinator than I thought. A revelation, I tell you.

These past few days have been hard. I look at the mess that is my novel and I see what it could be, but I don’t feel as though I could come close to doing the story and the characters justice. I feel like such a wanna-be, a fraud, a sham, a pathetic loser endlessly deluding myself into believing that I could ever be successful at the one thing I’ve always believed in, the one thing I’ve always loved.

It just feels as though I’m going in circles. I can’t take a break; I’ve been on one for the past year. I don’t want to write, because I’m terrified and certain that my words will be wrong, that they won’t say what I need them to say. So I don’t write.

And not writing hurts like hell.

Writing Tidbits/The Writer’s Memoirs 5-1-2012

So, seeing as how I was a complete fail at posting this past week, I’ve decided to sort of mesh two posts into one. I’ve been completely exhausted for the past week, and next week isn’t looking much better, seeing as finals are just around the corner. My writing has definitely taken a backseat to school, which frustrates me because I really feel ready to dive headfirst into this novel.

But in other news, my muse has suddenly started cranking out all these other ideas, so whenever I’m actually able to spare a few minutes to write, my mind isn’t focused on Glenbrooke Hall, but on my other half-assed ideas. I’m working on channeling all that creativity into my WIP, but my brain is being difficult about it, so fingers crossed that it does what I tell it to do. I might buy a book to help me.

So, while I’m on the subject, how do we “channel our creativity”? One thing that always helps me (though this only pertains to my *cough*fanfiction*cough*) is to go back and reread my story reviews or the emails between me and my crit partner. This always makes me happy and smiley and ready to try getting a few more compliments out of my readers (yes, I’m shamelessly needy when it comes to compliments, they always make my day). But, unfortunately, too often I find myself closing the doc, either not in the mood or just too distracted to write. And it frustrates me because I know my story, I know my plot, I know my characters, and I love its potential, but I can’t seem to find my way out of this funk or discipline myself enough just to write, even if what I write is utter crap.

Do you have a special method/technique/ancient remedy that you use? If so, I’d love to hear it. I’m getting just a wee bit desperate. :(