Friday, October 26, 2012

To NaNo or Not To NaNo? That is the Question!

NaNo WriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and I have a love/hate relationship. On the one hand if it wasn't for NaNo, I would not have set myself on a path to complete my first manuscript. On the other hand NaNo and I do not get along because I have to work at my own pace. Also I love to edit and write at the same time. Now don't freak out, I know you really shouldn't edit and write at the same time, but rather finish the manuscript and put it aside for a little while before editing. By edit and write at the same time I mean I always read the last chapter or two prior to sitting down to put "pen to paper", and when I do that, if I see errors I fix them. That said, while this practice is great for getting into the mindset it's not always conducive for NaNo, which at it's heart encourages you to just write and pretty much ignore everything else.

Then there's the schedule. While I used to laugh at the seeming impossibility of writing 1,666 words per sitting every day, now when I sit down to write I typically hit around the 2k mark in about 2-3 hours. The problem is I don't do it everyday, and don't have time to write every day. Excuses aside, I do however have a schedule that works for me. Which is a good thing, but this schedule is not a NaNo schedule. Granted my glorious beautiful schedule is already disrupted. So do I take the time to NaNo then fix my schedule later or try to fix my schedule ASAP to get back on track?

Then there's ideas. I have lots of new ideas, however I'm mid stream in edits on a project that I've sworn will be finished by the end of the year and about 30k into my WIP at the moment. So do I start something new for a month or continue edits and writing my WIP? Do I attempt to Nano with my WIP even though it already has 30k?

Then there's the fact that I learned so much from my first NaNo experience two years ago. However a lot of what I learned was how to make my own schedule and how to write a lot and eventually how to finish something. All great things to know but also things a new writer has to discover along the way. I know you have the potential to learn something in every writing experience, but do I stand to learn new things from another NaNo induce coma or am I better off going with what works for me?

The there's the fact that I'm very goal oriented. So maybe NaNo is just the kick in the pants I need to get moving again...Oh my brain hurts....What to do?

So I leave you with this, to NaNo or not to NaNo? that is the question!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Writer Therapy

Writers are crazy. There's no other explanation for it. We write because we love it, but in order to do so, we spend countless hours walled up in a room, locked inside our minds, doing what the voices inside our heads tell us to do. If that's not crazy I don't know what is. So what do you do with crazy people? You send them to therapy of course!

But writing therapy is a little bit different than normal therapy even if it does often involve a comfy chair or couch. There are certain things writers need to do in order to maintain some semblance of sanity. It's not always easy to appear sane (despite being far from it) but here's my top ten writing therapies that help me hide the crazy!
  • 10. A Good Book - There's nothing like getting lost in an awesome book. Especially if it's MG or YA, and has some kind of sci fi or fantasy element to it. I can loss countless hours in a good book, and I don't mind that I don't know where the day went. Some of my all time favorites, Ender's Game, The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel Series, Harry Potter and The Hunger Games.
  •  9. A Good Movie - Whether it's something I've seen a billion times (**cough cough** Princess Bride and Star Wars **cough cough**) or the latest release at the theater, a good movie is a great way to get my mind off writing problems and open my eyes to a great new story.
  • 8. TV - Whether it's reality TV (yes i watch the Bachelor/Bachelorette and Survivor), teen filled drama on ABC Family, my favorite comedies/dramas on the major networks or my old standby SYFY, TV is my savior. When I watch I can just let my couch suck me in and shut my brain off. It's glorious!
  • 7. A Drive in the Car - There's something about the quiet hum of my Prius and the road that calms me down enough to allow my mind to flow freely. Now if only I could find a safe way to write and drive at the same time when the inspiration strikes. Time to find a recording app for my phone!
  • 6. A Hot Shower - Get your mind out of the gutter right now! It never fails that when I'm stuck and don't know what to write next, Orion, my muse (yes I named him and it's after the constellation) hits me with an arrow when the hot water is pounding over me. I don't know what it is about the shower, and maybe it's because I have zero ability to write anything down, and then have to stop dripping before I can grab my computer, but the muse almost always pays me a visit there. My muse must be some kind of pervert! All that aside, I'm seriously contemplating getting a wax pencil and a board to hang in my shower for these exact moments. The things we do as writers!
  • 5. Write Ins - Every week I venture out of my writing cave to meet up with a group of local writers at a restaurant. We eat, we chat, we laugh, we share stories and advice, we help pull the plot bunnies out from underneath the couch, oh and we write! Good times to be had by all and it never feels like work.
  • 4. Critique Buddies - Misery loves company and there is nothing like a great critique buddy to lift your spirits when you think you suck. They are always there to cheer you on, help you navigate out of a plot corner, and demand more chapters, which is a nice kick in the ass to get you writing or editing again.
  • 3. Facebook - This is my biggest support system. I say I'm writing or I'm editing and not only am I  holding myself accountable for it but I have floods of people liking my posts and cheering me on. You all make writing worth it! Not to mention I can cyber-stalk my friends (ok I swear I'm not really a stalker) and de-stress between writing sessions.
  • 2. Twitter - It's a whole world where I can get advice from people in the industry, share ups and downs and commiserate with my fellow crazies (I mean writers). Plus can we say awesome distraction full of fun links and geeky things?
  • 1. Friends and Family - Nothing like your favorite people to lift your spirits and take your mind off of things. Plus they think it's cool that I write and always want to hear about what I am up to, which is the best gift a writer can ask for - an excuse to talk about my writing. :)
And if you didn't think I was certifiable before, you most certainly do now. Not to mention you are surely waving a giant nerd card at me, but it's a tag I wear proudly! So now that you have my list, I ask all you writers what do you do for Writer Therapy? And if you don't write, tell me how you unwind and de-stress. I'm always looking for new ways to ward off the crazy!

This post is part of the Writer Therapy blog hop

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Critique Conundrum

Most writers know that an important part of writing and improving your story and your craft is to give and receive critiques. It is impossible to spot every single issue with our own writing because we are too close to it. So we enlist others to help identify issues and in return we read their work and suggest places that need some improvement. This is great because not only are we able to polish our own work but we are also helping others and learning while doing it. Sounds like a great deal right?

So why do I always feel like a GIANT hypocrite when I critique?

It's so easy for me to spot issues in other people's writing but when I sit down and look at my own work I'm completely blind to to the same problems. It's sort of like the mother with the ugly child. Everyone knows the kid is ugly but the mother is in love. Even though in most cases it's not about looks, as writers, our work is like a child to us and we develop an unconditional love for it. Our work can do no wrong! But that's the problem, we as parents of a story need to accept that our writing can always be better. People aren't perfect and neither are stories. In fact, I don't think you can find a published book out there that doesn't have a mistake.

Which brings me back to my original conundrum, why do I feel like a horrible person when I spot something in my critique partners writing that I manage to do all the time and ignore? I may have a horribly guilty conscience, but this goes way beyond that. I feel guilty because I AM GUILTY!

Luckily, acknowledgement of the issue is the first step to recovery. Every time I have the realization that I may do the very thing I'm noting in someone's manuscript, I rush back to mine and make a note. FIX THIS.... NOW! (yes I yell at myself to fix things, no I'm not crazy, the voices made me do it!) So proof yet again that critiquing is an extremely valuable endeavor in helping us discover our own faults through the works of others. Was there ever any doubt?

So how about all of you out there around the interwebz? Do you have similar experiences when you critique or am I just crazy? On second thought don't answer that last bit.