Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Finally Making Some Progress

You may have noticed that I've slowed down my posting schedule a bit this month. There are two reasons for this:
  1. I started a new job. It's only part-time and it is also in retail which means that even as I've been learning the ins & outs of the new job, I've also been taking interviews for other full time jobs which more closely align with what I want to do. 
  2. With limited time to write, I've felt that my focus (& time) would be better spent on my novel, as I have been trying to finish it & get it ready to send out for several months now. 
So, how am I doing? It's been slow progress. I had written the manuscript into a corner some time ago. I realized that the plot as it was had too many twists and was more confusing than the original story I had wanted to tell. I didn't know where I wanted to go with it and I had no time to think about it. 

In late January, I printed out the last 3 chapters that I had written and read them over carefully. I realized that the reason I had stopped writing when I had was because I had come to the end of the story. The problem was that I was the only one who could see it in the convoluted mess I had in front of me. 

So, I went back to my computer, opened a new word document, and started over from Chapter 13. After some great progress over the last few days, I'm close to finishing Chapter 14 and I feel great. The story makes sense, it's not quite so messy and it's just about ready to see the light of day. 

Once I finish up this draft, I'll be back to posting at my normal pace of 3 times each week. In the meantime, I've got to stay focused. See how much you can accomplish if you focus on one thing at a time?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday Food For Thought

10 Steps to Create the Habit of Writing This is good advice for someone who is struggling to make writing a part of their daily routine. (@ Write to Done)

J.K. Rowling to Write Novel For Grown Ups This makes perfect sense -- the kids (like me) who feel they grew up with Harry Potter are now adults. (@ January Magazine)

Writers Aren't Painters, They're Magicians He's got a great point here, novels need to move. They can be beautiful and picturesque, but if the characters are acting and thinking the same way on the last page that they were on the first, the reader is going to get sick of reading long before they reach the end. (@ Nathan Bransford, Author)

The Busy Writer's Guide To Time Management I know this is one thing that I've been struggling with a lot for the past few weeks, now that I've started a new day job. (@ Author, Jody Hedlund)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Food For Thought

Why Are So Many Literary Writers Technophobic? Jonathan Franzen and Jennifer Egan have both recently spoken out against modern technology. What is it that makes certain writers averse to technology? (@ Nathan Bransford, Author)

The Merging of Books and the Internet: Go Hard or Go Home One author, Hugh McGuire, argues that soon books and the internet will merge into one entity, making physical books a relic of the past. I'd like to see a debate between McGuire and Jennifer Egan about the future of books and technology. (@ January Magazine)

Shut Out the Noise and Find Your Creative Sweet Spot This post resonated with me for a number of reasons, particularly because of how important focus is to writing well. Turning off the distractions and getting down to work is at the core of what she's trying to say here. (@ Heather Sunseri)

4 Lessons I Learned From Being Rejected by a Publisher This is great advice for any new author, particularly the last piece: keep going. (@ Jeff Goins, Writer)

Dickens and His Editor A comic to get your weekend started off right! (@ Rachelle Gardner)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Importance of Being Patient

Patience is a virtue.

How many times have you heard that in your life? Truth is, patience is one of the most important skills you can have in any career. As a writer (especially if you're choosing to go the traditional publishing route) it's a make or break kind of thing. You can send your manuscript out into the world, but you won't get a response immediately.

It could take months. And in that time, you have to wait patiently. No one wants to be harassed -- sending daily emails, "Did you read it yet?" is only going to annoy an agent or editor.

If you're constantly stressing about hearing back from agents, or looking at how many people have visited your blog or bought your book on Amazon, you're going to be missing out on the most essential part of your career. Writing.

Of course you have to market yourself. Of course it matters how many copies of your book are selling. But these things are only a part of your job. Be patient. The books will sell. In the mean time, try creating your next big show off piece.

There is always going to be something to wait for in your writing career. Why not make use of that time while you can?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Alice Walker on Doing Work That You Love

Alice Walker has some truly inspiring things to say on doing work that you love and having faith in your talents in this video from Open Road Media. Here's where I found it.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday Food For Thought

My Novel is Going Nowhere: Dispatches from a Literary Classic in Progress I love reading authors' notes about their own work as it unfolds. (@ The Millions)

Tangled Web: An Interview with The New Inquiry's Rachel Rosenfelt A truly fascinating interview. (@ LA Review of Books Blog)

Book Covers: Are They Important in the Digital Age? I definitely agree with Jody's publicist here, "I don't think book covers will ever not matter." (@ Jody Hedlund, Author)

Books You Definitely Shouldn't Give to Your Valentine This is a funny list with a few good suggestions as well. (@ Flavorwire)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Virginia Woolf on Writing

"I feel that by writing I am doing what is far more necessary than anything else."

-Virginia Woolf, A Sketch of the Past

Monday, February 6, 2012

How To Find Time To Write

If you've been reading this blog regularly, you know that I recently moved to a new state and have been working on trying to find a job for the last few weeks. What you probably don't know is that I've actually been looking for regular full-time employment (not the part-time retail thing I've been doing) for more than a year now. I started this blog as a way to keep myself sane as I applied for countless jobs with little to no response. That's all changed now. In the last three weeks I've had more job interviews than I had in all of 2011.

Of course, running around going to all of these interviews has a down side: less time for writing. If my posts have seemed a little short lately, there's your explanation. All writers run across this problem at some point in their careers. They are faced with real life and have to find a way to make writing fit in.

How can we do that?

Schedule it. Set aside a specific time and day each week that is only for writing. Don't let anything else get in the way. Tell your family, friends, etc that you absolutely cannot do anything for two hours on Sunday afternoon (or whenever you decide) because you are writing.

Use your commute. If you drive to work this is tricky, but if you take the bus or train, it's simple. Bring a notepad with you and write as you travel.

Use any unstructured time, no matter how limited. Sometimes I jot down ideas when I'm making dinner. I put everything in the oven and while I'm waiting I use that time to write. I have a friend who gets his best ideas when he's in the shower. In the foreword to The Green Mile, Stephen King admits that he wrote that book by telling himself a bedtime story in his head every night when he couldn't fall asleep and eventually decided it was worth writing down. It doesn't matter where or when you write, just write.

Turn off the TV. The only time watching TV can help your career is if you're trying to get into writing TV show scripts. And even then, if it's eating into your writing time, it's not helping.

Stay up late or get up early. Yes, you need a certain number of hours of sleep each night to be healthy. But staying up late once a week to get your writing done is not going to kill you.

Focus. No matter how little time you have in your day, when you sit down to write, focus on only one thing: your work. If you tune out everything else while you're writing, you'll be surprised how much you can get done in even the smallest chunks of time. 

How do you find time to write? Tell us in the comments below!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday Food for Thought

Pop-up Books Go 3-D, As If They Weren't Before I like this, but I agree with King. It's "unnecessary but still kinda cool progress." (@ Melville House)

Research vs. Observation Both of these things go together. Research without observation makes your characters fall flat and become forgettable. Observation without research makes them unrealistic. (@ Writer Unboxed)

Know Thyself. 7 Truths About Writers If you're a writer, you'll appreciate this list. It's fairly accurate. (@ Write to Done)

Jonathan Franzen: e-Books Are Damaging Society I wouldn't quite go that far, but I do agree with his point that physical books feel more permanent than ebooks. (@ The Telegraph)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Writing Advice From Mark Twain

"Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very;' your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be."  

-Mark Twain