Hello Lovelies, and welcome back to the blog. I’ve been talking this month about NaNoWriMo, or the National Novel Writing Month. Even in years where I have no specific project or aren’t wholly committed to the challenge, I often still love talking about my experiences with the entire NaNoWriMo month. This week, I want to talk about something that I’ve been experiencing this week as the writing has gotten difficult and I finished my draft of a children’s novel early and before hitting 50,000 words. Specifically, I want to talk about that little insidious habit we all get into called procrastination and how I’m getting myself out of it. Let’s get started.
Find Your Writing Flow State
Writing without abandon. Who can do such a thing these days? To answer the question, YOU. Hello Lovelies, and welcome back to the blog. Today I want to talk about the mythical unicorn that is a flow state, how to find yours, and why it will help your writing.
Intro to Kanban Boards and Digital Trello Kanban Boards
Well hello, Lovelies! Here we are in Q4 of 2020. It's gone by too fast, hasn't it? It's time to set some new goals so that I can accomplish ALL THE THINGS! As with other quarters I use a Kanban-style Trello Board for all my goal setting. If all of that is gibberish to you, let me explain. Kanban is a Japanese word and it means "signboard" in English. This type of board aims to provide a visual representation of the workload and a capacity measurement for how much work in each category can get done at one time. You put tasks on your Kanban board as space permits, rather than as line items come up. Most commonly in productivity circles you see the board divided horizontally into three parts.
5 Notes Apps for Writers
Storyist Storyist is a creative writing application for Mac OS X and iPad. Tailored for novelists and screenwriters, it provides a word processor, a cork board with support for index cards and photos, an outliner, and a project manager. It is very similar to Scrivener, so if you're already using that, you definitely don't need …
Goal-Based Plotting Method
I most often start a story with a cool premise. A concept that comes down to me out of the aether that I am extremely excited about, and a story is born. The characters, however, usually stink. When I was going into my fourth draft of #ODUM I was doing a ton of research on …
Beat the “Shiny New Idea” Syndrome
Ever been diligently working on your main project, when out of nowhere, a new idea hits? It's a great idea. You're super excited about it. You just know that this new idea is way more interesting to write, way more publishable, just so much better than the lump of words you're already working with. Then off you go writing that new thing and not finishing your main project. Don't worry. It's happened to me too. In fact, for the first six years that I was a writer, I attempted to write every single new idea that came to mind. It took me nine years to finish a first draft of a novel, because I didn't have a plan in place when the new idea came along. I have so many zero drafts--that is, drafts that I started writing and never finished--that I have lost count of them all. Even as I write this blog post I have ideas for several other posts that I am just itching to... you know. Just... outline a little bit and... maybe start writing some of them... It happens. So what do you do when a shiny new idea comes along? You shouldn't lose your focus on your main project, but you're so much more interested in this new thing! I've learned the hard way that working on every new idea means finishing none of them. So let's jump right in. This is what I do when every shiny new idea comes along. Realize that this is going to split your focus. You already know that if you write this new thing, you may never finish the one you're already writing. What you need to realize is that there is a switching cost within our brains whenever we try to work on a new task, and the cost is huge. It is actually harder to start a project again than it is to start the first time. Remember that if you write this new thing, you may end up with several series you need to juggle. If you write this new thing, you will have to start again on the novel you are trying to focus on. If you write this new thing, you're jumping from world to world and character to character, and you will have to try to remember what their plots are, what the characters have accomplished or need to accomplish, or why you're even writing it at all. You could mix up places, personalities, and forget lots of details while writing in several novels at once, or you could end up with characters and stories that sound the same. So first off, know that writing another novel is going to split your focus and take you away from the main thing you are trying to write. It sucks. It isn't fun. But you have to be realistic about what it means if you give in. Get it all out of you. Just because writing a new project can and will split your focus, doesn't mean it has to. It also doesn't mean that you will never write that story. Now when a shiny new idea comes along, I get it out of me as quickly as possible. I write down everything I have for this story or character as soon after I have the idea as I can. I need to get it out of my brain and onto some pages. Our minds are made for having ideas, not for holding them. I don't suggest that you see that shiny new idea and follow it all the way down the rabbit hole and see if it leads you to wonderland. I'm not saying to begin brainstorming. If you've gotten to that stage, you've already gone too far. It is, however, helpful to write down all the details you can remember, at most a few pages, to get the concept or character out of your brain. This way, your brain no longer has to hold the shiny new idea in the forefront of your mind. Often, an idea comes as a concept. If I can write an entire page about it, it may actually be strong enough to become an entire thing. Here are a few examples of both: Mage City There was once a mage city protected by a wall of sand, blowing crazily like a windstorm. The only way you could join the mages in the mage city was to have sufficient enough power and control over your magic to get past the barrier (over, under, through it). Not much to go on, right? A cool concept. Maybe someone could turn that into a story someday. I haven't been able to use it yet, though I had the idea in 2015. It just never seems to fit anywhere, and isn't enough to make an entire story on its own. The Three Fates A girl is cooking in her apartment when a guy breaks in. She manages to get him out, but he’s very angry and keeps trying to get back in. Suddenly, three people are in her apartment. They have stepped through a vortex in time. They say that they can save her, but she has to come with them right now. She travels the world with these people. When the coolness of the moment wears off, she later learns that these people are the three Fates of Legend. There are two boys and one girl. The girl has the Sight. I’m not sure what the boys do. One of them must measure out rope, and one of them must cut the rope. The Fates are not only capable of killing people by cutting their rope. They can tie length of rope onto people too. The Fates each have their own ropes, tied in a circle, around their necks. The two boys are in a relationship together and they tend to playfully gang up on the girl when it comes to making decisions about who they should save and who will die. They are the Sight's best friends. But the girl with the Sight knows a terrible truth; that one of the boys’ deaths is unavoidably near. She doesn’t tell the boys this, as she wants them to have their happiness for as long as they can. Yet she has searched throughout every single possible future, and has seen that this girl who they have now rescued is capable of taking that boy’s place and bringing balance back to the Fates, but that rescued girl must choose that path of her own free will. I think you can see the difference in quality here. This hints at both a story arc and a character arc for multiple characters. I don't clearly know anything about the boys beyond the fact that they love one another. I have no idea how one of the Fates of Legend could possibly die or be killed. I don't know what decides the main character on becoming a Fate or not. Yet the story is there. Writing out everything I know at the start helps me to keep it out of the forefront of my mind, but also gives me the peace of mind in knowing that the idea didn't just disappear or get thrown away in favor of my current project. I wrote this idea down in 2015, and the bones of it are there for me to look back on and remember when the time is right to write that story. Try it out. If you can write at least a page about the new idea, it is worth exploring in full. One thing I have learned from Author Kate Cavanaugh is to take some time and try a new idea out. Give yourself a day, a weekend, an outline worth of time to figure out if you can actually make an entire story out of your idea. Sometimes, you can't. Giving yourself a day per month, a weekend per quarter, maybe as much as a week between projects to come up with a working outline or to build that character out in full is an incredible way to explore that shiny new idea for a finite amount of time while also not letting it derail your most important work. Remember. You aren't doing a deep dive. You aren't going out and trying to write a first draft in a weekend. The point of exploration isn't to do the thing right now. The point is to see if you could build enough of a story around your idea to do the thing later. You can also feel satisfied whether you did or you didn't finish your exploration, because you know whether or not the shiny idea has any real way of becoming a story you can see through to an end. So that's what I do when a shiny new idea comes along. Have you ever faced the shiny new idea? What tips and tricks have helped you to overcome the idea and keep laser focused on your one true goal? Let us all know in the comments below!
5 Editing Apps for Writers
Pro Writing Aid My go-to app for all my editing needs. I purchased the lifetime account about two years ago now, and it has completely changed the level of errors within my drafts. With a web interface and a downloadable program, you can edit your work on the go. Click through each of the tabs …
5 Writing Apps to Try
Google Drive (Google Docs) – Web, Phone App - Free First and foremost, my favorite writing tool to date. I have talked about Google Drive and Google Docs a number of times on the blog, but I cannot stress enough how easy Google makes it to not lose anything you’ve written. Their auto save feature …
Heart Breathings – Case Study
Last week we talked about the cool plotting method that I found by author Sarah Cannon of Heart Breathings. Her entire plotting method can be found over on YouTube, starting with this video. I again want to highly recommend checking her out and subscribing to her channel! Go buy all her books. Leave her comments …
3 Ways to Use D & D for Your Writing
I’m writing this post today from my desk, a place I have struggled to write from in the past. And which is often filled with non-essentials, like bills, notes, and, most recently, Dungeons & Dragons things.