Outline or no outline?

Here is the age old question, and you will seriously find strong opinions on both sides of this spectrum.

You have to outline or your book reads like you don’t. You go off on wild tangents. Or you have to let it free flow or it reads like an instruction manual. I think I’ve about read every article that lists pros and cons to both.

I’ve tried to be an outliner. Planning my story down, and I find shortly into it I give up. I’m finished with the book before I’ve even gotten started. My brain whirls, and I hate the whole process. I’ve thrown more books away by trying to plan them out, than I can imagine.

I also have friends that plan down to the tiniest details before they’re ready to go. Which works amazing for them. They are able to kick out books at their own rate once they know everything.

After all of this I’ve come to the conclusion like everything else that comes with following your creative flow this too is one of them. It’s no different than what time of day you’re the most creative, and can work. There are no set rules for any bit of it. There have been great successes and failures on both sides of the spectrum. I say lets all work the way we do, and what works for you might not work for your friends.

I’m not a horribly organized person, but I tend to jot down a overview plot line. That’s great enough for me. My friend details out every tiny bit until they are sure they know every nuance of their story, and that works great for them.

This all feeds back to the saying, ‘There are rules to writing, only nobody knows them’. Like all creative lifestyles it’s a matter of what works for you. Invent your own personal rules, and follow them, but don’t forget. Your rules work for you, not necessarily your friends. So in light of it all just remember everyone has opinions, and to quote my father, ‘Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one, and some stink’.

Follow your own methods to writing that novel, and remember…..

L.O.L. (Live It, Own It, and Love it!)

Until next time.

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I’m Calling You Out!!!

Hello, my amazing readers. Here we are sitting on Oct. 23rd all ready. This month has flown by for me, and considering all I need to get done….well, that isn’t such a good thing.

We are less than 10 days away from one of the biggest writing projects to strike the internet. What is that you say? Why it is NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. It is where all of us writers, aspiring writers, and those that just want to give it a try spend the entire month of November writing 50 thousand words on a novel. That is 30 days to write the bare bones of your novel arc down.

50,000 words in 30 days, you might say?! That is insane! It really could be, but it is fun, and you will never find a bigger community of authors supporting other authors through the journey.

Now, lets break it down. We are talking about 1,667 words a day to hit that 50,000 by November 30th. Most people can accomplish this in about two hours of work. I realize some type slower, but still….2 hours a day of typing like mad on that novel you’ve had rolling around in your cranium. Seriously, that isn’t much time to sacrifice to accomplish something artistic.

Not to mention it is absolutely free to sign up, so if worst case you don’t make it, you are out NOTHING! You can sign up here at Nanowrimo.org. If you are anything like me, you like to be challenged. That is when your determination and gumption shines through.

After all of this you still are unsure if you should do it? You’re too busy? You have too many commitments? Come on, there will always be a reason to push it off until next year or sometime. Now is the time to join in the fun, the chaos, and the community.

So, all my grand readers. If you are an aspiring writer in any format I’m calling you out. Don’t push this opportunity off until next year. Jump in with both feet, and take the journey with thousands of us. You never know, you could just be sitting at the end of November going ‘Wow, I just wrote my first novel.’ or ‘Wow, I didn’t think I could do it, but I did.’

Time to get back to the NaNoWriMo preparation. And remember –

L.O.L. (Live it – Own it – Love it!) It’s your journey make the most of it.

Lovely Ladies

Hello, my amazing readers. Today, I wanted to simply give mad props to a group of lovely ladies that I’m so fortunate to have in my life. They are the type of friends, while yes all of them virtual friends on social media, they are still always there. I feel blessed to have them in my life. They are the type of friends that build you up.

Even though we are all on the writing path, they don’t rip you apart. Instead, they help me, and I help them. To me that makes them some of the strongest women I know.

I recently have pulled down my first book to start going through to polish it. You have no idea how much you learn in a few years until you read your first novel. Yikes, icky, and a few other choice words pop into my head as I work on my first novel. I’ve felt stuck, uninspired, and have already packed the book away ready to move on.

Problem is I promised a series out of the book, and regardless of how awful (yes, I’m my own worst critic) I think it is the book has gained quite the readership. Who am I to deny my readers the rest of the story? So while I’m awaiting publishing news on another book (seriously, the hardest wait for a writer) I figured I’d give another crack at it.

Why do I mention this? Because I cleaned up the first chapter. One of my lovely friends offered to critique it for me. I sent it off to her, and bam. She not only sends me back a compliment, but she also sends me back a real critique. One where the chapter is dissected into bits, and she has found things I have never realized with the book.

I know I got done saying I knew it was bad, but I never realized some of these little holes. Oh, no worries I’ll plug them, and get them smoothed out. It’s what I do. It helps so much to have someone willing to say hey, got confused here. You contradict yourself here.

I don’t find it discouraging, but rather invigorating. All of my work will pay off in the end, and the book will be so much better for it in the end. I need the critique partners to finish off this endeavor. It goes like this, after you’ve read through the same book so many times you can’t count the only critical thing you can bring to the table is the lighter to set the book on fire.

So, instead of doing that I’ve got lovely friends that are willing to help out when I need it, and I will return the favor always. We have a you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours mode of operation going. It isn’t something we’ve ever voiced, it’s just the way we work. All of us genuinely want to see the other succeed.

Now that is friendship. I leave you now my readers as I scurry off to dive into the WIP. I have a renewed sense of confidence, determination, and a long rocky road ahead of me, but we will get there.

Thank you to all my amazing friends, readers, and the Trysters in my life.

L.O.L (Live it – Own it – Love it) I know I’m going to.

Inner Voice

Hello once again, my amazing readers.

This weekend was sort of a bust on the writing front. That’s alright though. I’m still sitting at a good number for the start of the week, 14k. I’ll take that, and I’ll increase it by this coming weekend by quite a bit more.

I’m also sitting at that point where I start to second guess my project. Ah, that glorious voice has awaken, whispering my ear.

This is crap. Your characters aren’t strong enough. The story line is weak. You should junk it. This isn’t needed, it’ll just turn out like all your other endeavors.

I’m sure many of you creative types have been through it. This is the exact spot where you stand, and ponder. Do you gear up, and continue the battle? Or do you turn tail and quit? We all face this spot from time to time. It’s the point where the story is no longer fun, or a toy. It also tends to be where the plot thickens, where the characters face challenges, just as you are.

Question is are you going to see them through the turmoil, or are you going to cave?

I have countless half finished projects that usually face the ‘not right now’ pile of finishing. They range from about 15k to 25k. That tends to be my rough spot, and where the inner voice kicks in. There have been many a time that I’ve listened to the voice and thrown them into that file folder.

I lick my wounds with a I’m not ready to write that one. I don’t know enough to finish this one yet, but I’ll come back to it. Or I’m saving myself from wasting my own time.

Oh yes, I’ve used about every comforting crap thought I could. The fact is…I chickened out. I’m great at starting projects, I struggle to finish them. I’d rather face a thousand editing pieces, that muddle through the center of a book….

Ah…yes, it took me years to find that little quirk or fault in myself. Now I have my eye on it I will be pushing through. It’s time to change some habits and finish what I start.

Here’s to telling that Inner voice to bug off, and completing work. We’re getting into the sticky of the plot. Now it’s time to settle into work.

Remember L.O.L. my friends. (Live it – Own it – Love it).

When Things Don’t Pan Out

Hello, my glorious readers. I’m going to start this off by telling you a personal story.

Recently, my husband and I have been trying to get a car. Nothing is panning out in our favor. We’re hearing no, or being ignored by various factors. It’s been devastating. The Hubby Man is starting to slip into a bout of depression from it all. I have found happiness among the factor. Sound odd? Sadistic, maybe?

Not really, let me explain. 

Nothing has changed in my life. It’s not that I’m afraid of change…well mostly. I’ve just come to the realization that we’re not worse off for being told no or ignored. We have survived years without a car. It isn’t like we lost anything. Yes, a car would make life easier, but it isn’t a requirement. We are still in the same financial situations. We still have three beautiful children, and two furbabies that love us. Nothing devastating has happened. What did happen was that we placed so much value into having a car that we felt like we as humans, as caretakers of our family had less value because we did not have a car. 

It’s not true, not in the slightest. Our value as human beings did not change because we were told no, or do not have a car. We will continue to live, and thrive as participating people of the human race.

Now you may ask, how in the world does this apply to the writing world? I’m getting to that.

Yesterday I talked about having a submission waiting for a response. I’ve also blogged many times over the course of years about struggling to write. It has taken me until recently to reflect, and discover all of the key elements I needed to click. You know, those little ah-ha moments we all experience rather creative or not.

What clicked for me? It was easy once I took a step back, and quit fighting myself. 

Much like the car experience, I have done the same thing with my writing. I have put so much value on having a book accepted by a publisher, or being the next big name that I’ve lost the love, and passion for writing. It was suffocating, for me, and for my creativity. I was ready to give up. To accept writing as a hobby that was better left to something I did in free time.

Now I’m not saying I don’t want to have published books. That isn’t the message at all. I’d love to be a published author, or the next huge name. The thing is…it doesn’t change my value as a person. Sure, it’ll make ‘life easier’. See how that keeps popping up? 

It would be a glorious thing to have happen, and I’d be eternally grateful for every second of it, BUT it will not change the value of who I am. Not to me, and that is what matters. 

I have spent so much time placing pressure on myself to write the next big hit. That breakout novel that will set the world in a spin over the epicness of its words. That’s a lot of pressure to apply to ones self. So much so that you will find you are terrified to write. That every time you sit down to write you will throw out more partials to a novel, or have an over abundance of uncompleted work because it’s all crap. 

I sat myself down and I released that pressure. I might not write the next big hit. Not everyone will think my novels are filled with the wordsmith genius of so many other great authors. That’s okay. It doesn’t change my value to myself. It won’t stop me from writing.

Being an author is who I am. Telling stories is what I do. Nothing has changed, will change, or devalued me. That is, nothing but me. I put the reduced price on myself, because I didn’t think I was good enough. I put so much value on being a huge name that I felt unworthy – that I felt devalued without it. 

That all is changing. No matter what the outcome of the submission is I’ll keep writing. I’ll keep submitting. But most importantly – I’ll keep being ME, and nobody can be a better me than myself.

Keep creating. Keep dreaming, and most importantly take pride in the value of being yourself. You’d be surprised what all that positive energy can do for you.

L.O.L. (Live it – Own it – Love it), my readers.

NaNo Sucketh

Hello my brave readers! I had another post written, and scheduled to post today, but I deleted it. It came from a place of anger, and venting. I had placed a positive spin on it, but it still wasn’t the type of post that I wanted to place for today.

That being said you may read the title and wonder what I mean by it. No, I do not mean the annual NaNoWriMo competition sucks. I love NaNoWriMo, and I try to participate every year, even though it is my busiest time of the year. 

I do mean by NaNo sucketh (yes, a completely made up word from some of my frustration) that every time I complete NaNoWriMo I have more of a disaster on my hands than I anticipated at the start of November. NaNo is all about getting that word count down. You aim for a goal every day, and you type until your bones ache. At the end of the month if you hit 50k or higher you’re a winner. You spend December in this euphoric state of being.

January rolls around or later and you pull out this masterpiece that you have written. One peek inside the chapters, and your jaw hits the floor. It’s the worst thing you possibly could imagine. Everything is in a disarray. You’ve just spent thirty days creating the biggest pile of garbage that you have ever laid eyes on. Setting the book on fire, or burying it in the yard seems like a better use of your time than facing this monstrosity that you’ve created. 

Stop. Don’t do that. I can assure you my brave readers, and creative types that is not the way to go. I too am looking at my last year’s NaNo project currently, and I’m in a sad state of affairs with it. 

I’m like a two year old with a tantrum right now. I do not want to have to go through this thing. It would be so much easier to forget I’d ever written it, or better yet bury the zombie book. Still, if I buried my books that better resembled swiss cheese than an actual novel I’d have nothing to show for my hard work. 

But all these ideas that are begging to be written. You might whine. Keep a file on your desktop, write down every idea that comes to you, or even in a notebook. Keep them somewhere safe. Now that, you’ve got that accomplished let me explain the method that I’m trying now.

This is where I’m at now. I can see the mess of my NaNo project (I’m smart enough to admit how bad it is). It needs work, loads of work, but at the same token if I don’t get any writing done in a day I feel like a failure. Yes, editing is part of the process as well, but it can be overwhelming when there is no fresh words to a page.

So, I break up the work. I figure up about how many hours I have to dedicate to my job (or second job for some of you). As I am a stay at home mother of three I have a bit more time than most, but that fluctuates on a day to day basis depending on homework, housecleaning, and the likes. I digress, here is what you can do….remember as I stated previously do not count my advice as the only way things are done, or even the best. It is neither. It is simply what works for me.

Anyway, separate off an hour or two for editing. So, say you can manage four hours of dedicated work to your second job. Take an hour or two from that, and call it your editing time. Meanwhile that still leaves you two to three hours to work on a new project. Set an alarm on your phone, an egg timer something, and keep track of your time.

Use the free time to type out a scene that is running through your head for a book, plot (if you’re the type) on your next book, or generally just get words down on paper. Sprint, if you’re into that type of thing, but when that timer goes off it is time to switch projects. I like to stop a project in the middle of the sentence. My brain uses that half sentence as a trigger so I remember when I was headed, and can continue on easier. I also jot down a few quick notes in italics beneath what I’ve just written so I can review it the next day. Save your project (I would suggest once on your computer and a flash drive). I’ve lost thousands of words to computer crashes. Backups are ESSENTIAL.

Now, close out the program and pull up your editing. Reset your timer, and work diligently on editing. We all have a method to which we work our editing. I like to go through and read the book to be edited front to back first, especially if it’s been a few months since I’ve seen it. That way I get a good feel for the story. I don’t edit while I do this, but merely make some notes in sidelines (if it’s printed) or using the review tool in word. 

After I have the initial reading review finished I will break it down by paragraphs. I get overwhelmed very easily so I’d rather look at the project one paragraph at a time than as a whole. I will mess with the paragraph until it reads smoothly, and then I move onto the next. I work each chapter that way, until I’ve been through the entire book. After all of that work is done I will give it a final read through. This read through I do out loud so I can catch anything that doesn’t sound right, and fix it. Final run through is fixing grammar, and format issues. Once that is complete it’s ready for editors (content, line by line, punctuation and grammar editors are needed) Sometimes you get lucky and find editors that can do at least two of them. After that work on the submission packets, or if you’re like me Indie find beta readers.

Okay, now that I’ve reviewed everything, and this post is extremely long. Let’s get back to the post. Manage your time. If you’re like me, and not getting new words down is frustrating you, but your time is limited to work….remember to separate your time. Spend more time on the project that is at the top of your list, but just because editing is up there to release a new book, doesn’t mean you can’t have another project in a different stage of the writing process. All you have to do is make sure that you are still dedicating time to both. 

So, with all of this being said. I’ve figured up my job time, separated off my edit time, and now it’s on to setting timers and sprinting out some word count. 

Oh, end note before I close out this blog post. Small notebooks and pens that can be transported with you are great ways to keep track of writing ideas while you’re at work or running errands.

Remember LIVE YOUR DREAMS – OWN THE PATH – LOVE THE WORK

Live it – Own it – Love it    L.O.L.

See you next time, valiant creators from around the globe.

Monday Madness

Good morning, readers! It’s Monday. I hear the grumbles from the crowd all ready at that. 

While the world despises Monday’s I rejoice in them. Or at least I do this Monday. It is the beginning of a brand new week. A brand new chance to spend days chasing those dreams. We can reach for those goals, and dreams easier by putting last week where it belongs. All the rough days, and head scratching as we stare at blank screens, just leave it behind. 

Drink a cup of coffee, listen to upbeat music that puts you in a great mood. Or even listen to inspiring music. 

Once you have that cup down, get a fresh cup. Before you ask, yes, I live off coffee like a diet while I’m writing. Tons of the stuff every day. It might be recommended not to drink it during my diet, but oh well. You cannot take the coffee out of the writer. That is not a good thing. 

Anyway, I digress. 

Put yourself in a positive train of thought. Set up big term goals, or small term goals for the week, and conquer.

Just remember as submission calls pop up, novel ideas dive in, and you want to accomplish it all….

Any word count a day, even a few hundred….it’s progress forward, and to be proud of it. You hear the saying all of the time. Don’t compare yourself to other writers. I think it’s safe to say don’t even compare yourself to the way you wrote one book. Some books just come easier than others. 

So buckle yourself down, put on that writing hat, and bleed into your work in progress. (figuratively, let’s not be disgusting or suicidal. I’ve lost way too many author friends recently).

As for me. It’s a fresh cup of coffee, and into the WIP for me. My main character is preparing to face many trials for the day.

Dream on, and dream big, my friends.