“Time takes it all whether you want it to or not, time takes it all. Time bares it away, and in the end there is only darkness. Sometimes we find others in that darkness, and sometimes we lose them there again.” – ~ Stephen King
MMmmhh time for confessions.
I am hard at work on my final and third draft of my WIP – Betwixt & Between….but…
I have also been distracted lately by creating a new Author Website, which you can view here, a new Poetry Portfolio, view here, and a promotional video for my WIP – Betwixt & Between.
One of my lovely CPs put me onto an amazing video slide show creator that allowed me to create my promotional video for Betwixt & Between.
Here is the video I created for my current WIP – Betwixt & Between.
Do you find that sometimes you can be caught up in a lot of behind the “writing” tasks that can get in the way of your writing? Are these the ultimate procrastination tools or necessary to promoting your WIP or building your online presence?
I admit I am guilty of loving anything that allows me to be creative: whether this be Website Design / Video Creation / Poetry Creation/Blogging/Writers Groups/Social Networking. But sometimes I have to insert a large
So as much as I love these Time Takers….alas I must return to my WIP.
So these Time Takers are being put aside for a moment. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t see these tasks that have distracted me as “bad” but the key word here is “distracting”. So it is Time to get back to my WIP…
So how do I plan on getting back to focusing on the WIP. Yes I could unplug the internet but if you don’t have that option?
I use a great program called OmmWriter Dana 11 brought to you by the team at OmmWriter. This is an amazing frills free/distraction free writing program that allows you to switch off from the worldwideweb for a moment and inspires creativity. I have done a complete review on this program here.
Another tool I use is Focus Booster. This is a simple timer that you can download and place on your desktop to boost your focus while working. This is a great tool if you fear large chunks of time but want a way to have creative spurts in manageable bites of time. This is also a great tool for Word Wars.
This week I started reading this amazing book on the craft of writing. I am already half way through and still going back and rereading many parts. This is a book that is a must for writers. It is a book that will resonate with both novice writers and professional writers. She writes from her own experiences and this comes through in the ease of reading. The pages seem to turn themselves. We writers are generous types: we always want to share what is on our minds and what inspires us. So today I am going to share a couple of tips that I am learning so far from Bird by Bird with you:
“Good writing is about telling the truth.”
“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” – E.L. Doctorow
“…the idea of shitty first drafts. All good writers write them. This is how they end up with good second drafts and terrific third drafts.”
“Very few writers know what they are doing until they’ve done it.”
“The first draft is the child’s draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp all over the place, knowing that no one is going to see it and that you can shape it later….Just get it all down on paper, because there may be something great in those six crazy pages that you would never have gotten to by more rational, grown-up means. There may be something in the very last line of the very last paragraph on page six that you just love, that is so beautiful or wild that you now know what you’re supposed to be writing about, more or less, or in what direction you might go – but there was no way to get to this without first getting through the first five and a half pages.”
“Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something – anything – down on paper…the first draft is the down draft – you just get it down. The second draft is the up draft – you fix it up. You try to say what you have to say more accurately. And the third draft is the dental draft, where you check every tooth, to see if it’s loose or cramped or decayed, or even, God help us, healthy.”
“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.”
“Clutter is wonderfully fertile ground – you can still find new treasures under all those piles, clean things up, edit things out, fix things, get a grip. Tidiness suggests that something is as good as it’s going to get. Tidiness makes me thing of held breath, of suspended animation, while writing needs to breathe and move.”
“Writing a first draft is very much like watching a polaroid develop. You can’t – and, in fact, you are not supposed to – know exactly what the picture is going to look like until it has finished developing.”
“The evidence is in and you are the verdict. This will be true for each of your characters.”
” Nothing is as important as a likable narrator. Nothing holds a story together better.” –Ethan Canin
“Another thing: we want a sense than an important character , like a narrator, is reliable. We want to believe that a character is not playing games or being coy or manipulative, but is telling the truth to the best of his or her ability. (Unless a major characteristic of his or hers is coyness or manipulation or lying.).”
“Just don;t pretend you know more about your characters than they do, because you don’t. Stay open to them. It’s teatime and all the dolls are at the table. Listen. It’s that simple.”
“Plot grows out of character. If you focus on who the people in your story are, if you sit and write about two people you know and are getting to know better and better day by day, something is bound to happen.”
“Worry about the characters. Let what they say or do reveal who they are, and be involved in their lives, and keep asking yourself, Now what happens? The development of relationship creates plot.”
“Life is not a submarine. There are no plans. Find out what each character cares most about in the world because then you will have discovered what’s at stake.”
“There must be movement.”
“Let your human beings follow the music they hear, and let it take them where it will.
“So aim but not too hard, and when you finally see the climax forming in front of you, then you can race toward it.”
“She said that sometimes she uses a formula when writing a short story, which goes ABDCE, for Action, Background, Development, Climax and Ending You begin with action that is compelling enough to draw us in, make us want to know more. Background is where you let us see and know who these people are, how they’ve come to be together, what was going on before the opening of the story. Then you develop these people, so that we learn what they care most about. The plot – the dram, the actions, the tension -will grow out of that. You move them along until everything comes together in the climax, after which things are different for the main characters, different in some real way. And then there is the ending: what is our sense of who these people are now, what are they left with, what happened, and what did it mean.” – Alice Adams
All of these lessons and tips are like gold veins through the murky clay of a writer’s craft. There are so many more tips and tools that I have read but I will leave that for my next post next week.
Until then remember to just ” take it bird by bird…”.
Today’s Photo of the day was the 3rd in this series of 3. With the assistance of my creative assistant, Jazz (my Papillon Puppy), I managed to finally capture the shot I wanted. This series of shots got me thinking about today’s Thursday Tips post.
TODAY’S NEWS – THURSDAY TIPS!
GET IT NOW!!!
COPIES ARE SELLING OUT!!!
RHYTHM. SPACE. TIMING. SERENDIPITY.
A story is composed of many parts just as a photograph is composed of many elements. For a photograph you need a subject, a tool (camera), a placing in space, rhythm and perfect timing. For a story you need a plot, characters, a tool (imagination), a setting, rhythm and perfect timing.
So today’s Thursday tips is focused on: Rhythm, Space, Timing and Serendipity. What do I mean by “Rhythm”? There are 2 types of rhythm that I am thinking of: Musical Rhythm and Poetic Rhythm.
Noun: A strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound.
Now you may argue that you do not have an ear for music. You do not realise that your own body has a perfect musical rhythm of its own: Heart beats. Yes. Heart Beats. Now close your eyes, place your finger at your pulse point and listen to the rhythm as you feel the drum beat of your life’s blood flowing through your body. Now if your heart’s rhythm was slightly off, too quick or too slow or skipping a beat, there would be a problem with the way your body functioned. This problem could even be fatal in the worst case scenario. In the same way, this can be an allegory for the importance of having cadence and rhythm in the construction of your story. If one word is not placed in the right space on your page the beat will be off.
Noun: a regularly recurring sequence of events, actions,
or processes : the measured flow of words and phrases
in verse or prose as determined by the relation of long
and short or stressed and unstressed syllables.
You may think you know nothing about poetry but if you were a child at some stage, you will know all about poetic rhythm. I am talking about the wonder and simplicity of Nursery Rhymes. Now I am sure if I ask you to close your eyes for a moment and think of a nursery rhyme from your childhood you will be able to come up with more than a handful. So why is this poetic rhythm so vital to your story? It is vital for the same reason that it took you less than a minute to recall more than a handful of nursery rhymes. Rhythm is strongly intertwined with memory. If something has a catchy rhythm, it tends to be locked in the vaults of your memory bank. But the connection and resonance of the “Rhythm” allows you to re-access this vault at a moment’s notice. So I ask you, what is common to successful stories throughout the ages? They are a perfect synchronicity of musical rhythm and poetic rhythm. The sentences have a resonant beat to them and they flow easily through your mind. The words are perfectly placed and sequenced. The sentences are sharp and neat. The punctuation is perfectly placed, accenting and pausing through the rhyme of the words on a page.
Space and Timing
The other two vital elements to a perfect story is setting (space) and timing. A setting can make or break the story. At times a setting can make or break a genre. Setting is an oft-forgotten but vital element in a successful story. Just as space and setting is vital to the perfect camera shot, setting is not something to be overlooked. So if you have found yourself concentrating too much on plot and character remember to include setting in your focus. After all, your characters need “Somewhere” to have a story. They cannot be in a Vacuum throughout the whole story.
Now I come to one of my favourite elements in a story: Timing. There are two types of timing in a story. The first is the Story’s sequence of events and the second is the timing in the placing of chapters, paragraphs, openings and endings. The timing of events in a sequence will make your story a well-loved hit with your readers or on the other hand the incorrect timing in sequence can alter the story at best and confuse / lose your reader at the worst. You cannot rush the sequence in your plot and you cannot go too slowly. You need to use the second type of timing I spoke of to set the correct sequence. At the same time, you cannot spend an uneven amount of time on any element of your plot. Too quick an opening may leave the reader floundering for a life raft but be too tired in the end to bother. Too slow an opening could bore your reader. Even though you may have put your best part of the story in the middle of your plot, the reader needs to still get there so time your story with care. Don’t rush your plot too quickly that you lose your reader and that your story becomes a blur in their mind. Don’t slow your plot too much or your reader will miss the suspense of the moment. Don’t rush your characters through their dialogue or accelerate their development – your reader will find them unrealistic and have no connection to the story. Don’t go too slow with your characters as by the time you have got your character to the next day, your reader will probably have fallen asleep.
Serendipity is the tie of these 3 elements: Rhythm, Space (Setting) and Timing. I love the word “Serendipity”:
Serendipity ~ the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way….
Isn’t this the perfect way to describe a story that will imprint itself on your reader’s memories?
I leave you with my Poem for the day inspired by my photograph..
Well another week has rolled around and the first week of January is almost at its end. How is your first week going – creatively speaking? Are you feeling inspired? Are you reaching out for inspiration?
As promised, at the beginning of this month, I am going to be doing a weekly post on Thursdays called Thursday Tips. What day is it today? Thursday. So time for some tips.
This week’s tips are going to be what I learned in the Classroom of NaNoWriMo 2010. Have you studied writing? Have you done NaNoWriMo? If you answered “No” to the first question but “Yes” to the last question: Congratulations! You have been awarded a degree of excellence and achievement in both the art of self-discipline and writing from the School of NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo really is like a crash course in a writing qualification. The only difference between NaNoWriMo and a traditional classroom is that in this school the past students are your mentors, your class monitors and your teachers. So I enrolled in NaNoWriMo in November 2010. I was not quite sure what I was expecting but I know that in hindsight the school of NaNoWriMo taught me more lessons in one month than I had learned the whole way through. So let me take this time to share the lessons that most impacted me.
01/11/2010 The Bell rings, School Begins.
I sit down. All my materials for the course are in front of me. I have the notebook, the loosely plotted storyboard, the pens and pencils, the Macbook and more importantly I have my fellow students all ready at desks around a global classroom.
The first lesson of the day is about to begin.
Lesson 1 ~ To write the words you need a blank page in front of you.
Lesson 2 ~ You have to unpack your internal editor and send it away for a month.
Lesson 3 ~ Don’t think about 50000 words or 25 chapters. Think only of your first word. Put that down.
Lesson 4 ~ Now turn that first word into a first sentence.
Lesson 5 ~ Now turn that first sentence into a first paragraph. (You have now officially gained your first commendation. Well done.)
Lesson 6 ~ Write to a timed limit. Set your clock to either 30 minutes or 60 minutes. Write without stopping and when the limit is up,stop. Walk away.Stretch your legs. Make yourself a coffee.
Lesson 7 ~ Sit down again within 3 hours. Your brain feels refreshed but the story is still fresh in your brain.
Lesson 8 ~ Do not read over what you have written 3 hours ago. Instead begin again. Set the timer and write.
Lesson 9 ~ Walk away again giving yourself a 2 hour break this time. Then go back to the story.
Lesson 10 ~ Finish writing for that day. Do not read over what you have written. Remember since you have sent your internal editor – Ethel / Nigel – away, you have nobody checking up on your grammar or your plotting. E-mail what you have written to yourself as the first backup and then drop-box your writing for a second back-up.Back-up is essential: It is like fastening your seatbelt when you get into a car. This is your safety net.
Lesson 11 ~ Second day in, break away from the story and write a scene for your main character. Set a timer and write strictly to the limit.
Lesson 12 ~ Have a 3 hour break. Go back and now write a scene for your antagonist. Set the timer and write strictly to the limit.
Lesson 13 ~ Stop and have a 2 hour break. Go back and write a scene where you create the atmosphere in your setting. Set the time and write strictly to the limit.
Lesson 14 ~ Stop for the day. Switch off your computer / Put down your pen/paper. Rest.
Lesson 15 – Go on this same way for the next week. Alternating from character building and scene setting to the story itself.
Lesson 16 ~ Week 1 is finished. Your energy is still high and you hope you can keep it going for the next week. Stop. Don’t think about a whole week ahead. You have only the page in front of you. Focus on getting down your words in the three timed word wars you have scheduled preferably with your other students/classmates.
Lesson 17 ~ After 6 days of writing, take a day of rest. You will need it to refresh and re-energize your imagination. Do nothing that is writing related. Spend some time outdoors in the fresh air. Take the time to spend with your family and your friends.
Lesson 18 ~ Day 7, sit down at your desk. Read over the last day’s writing. Now read over the last day’s character sketches and scene settings. Do not edit. Read. With eyes and not pen/pencil. Now the story is refreshed in your mind. Set the timer. Write to the timed limit. You are in a rhythm now. Your brain is slowly forming the habit to write when a timer is called by a Word War Mediator or when your timer alarms goes.
Lesson 19 ~ Continue the same way that you did the first week but this time write for 5 days. Add an extra timed writing time / timed word war in every day. So you are writing to 4 scheduled times.
Lesson 20 ~ On the 6th day rest again. If by the end of the 6th day, you are still weary, take another second day to rest. Do not worry about your story. It is not going anywhere. It also will not progress if you write while tired. It is important you rest.
Lesson 21 ~ You are now in to the third week. Do not break the rhythm. Do not look at the calendar. Do not count how many days you have left. It is just you, the page and the story. Time will take care of itself. Your job is to sit down and have your fingers ready to write the seeds that enter your mind.
Lesson 22 ~ Write for 6 days. Then take a day of rest.
Lesson 23 ~ Have you backed up?
Lesson 24 ~ You are now into the fourth and final week of NaNoWriMo. Keep to the rhythm that you have created. Write for 5 days with 4 word wars or timed writing schedules a day. Take a day of rest on the 6th.
Lesson 25 ~ Put your finishing touches to your work.
Lesson 26 ~ You are done. Take 2 days of rest. Pat yourself on the back and celebrate. You have completed a month of disciplined writing. You have treated your story like a job. You showed up for it and you did the hours.
Lesson 27 ~ It has been over 28 days of writing to a discipline and you have rewired your brain. It takes 1 month to form a habit. You are now in the habit of daily and disciplined writing.
Lesson 28 ~ Do not count the words. You may have under 50000, you may have over 50000. The important thing is not the quantity but the fact that at the beginning of the month you only had a blank page and some ideas. Now you have what is a story or the beginning of a full length novel.
Lesson 29 ~ Try not to take longer than a few days break. In this time like in your previous breaks, do nothing writing related. Once you feel refreshed, go back to the writing. You now either have a task of editing to begin or you need to continue your writing.
Lesson 30 ~ Whether you are taking a break from the current WIP and starting another one or whether you are continuing / editing with the current WIP – keep to the timed schedules. Try to do no more than 4 a day. If you do 3 a day, write for 6 days. If you do 4 a day, write for 5 days and take a 2 day break.
Lesson 31 ~ Your story / writing is now as important a focus to you as a 9-5 job. You are both your manager and your employee. Like any employee, you need to be rewarded every now and again for a job well done. Make your imagination feel rewarded. Keep treats on hand for certain accomplishments you have achieved.
Lesson 32 ~ Keep every word you have written. Even if you don’t think there is a place for it in your story now. File it away in a separate file. It might come up handy later on in your story or it may even be the seed for a new story or a sequel. Those words you wrote are precious. Treat them as such.
Lesson 33 ~ Have a trusted person read what you have written and give you their honest opinion. Listen to their opinion. Do not change anything. Ask them to make notes on what they think. File the notes away.
Lesson 34 ~ Now give your story to a writing partner or writing mentor. Ask them to read it and to write notes for you.
Lesson 35 ~ Let someone else read the story aloud to you now. Be the listener. Make notes on what you think about your own work. Think objectively.
Lesson 36 ~ Call back your internal editor from her/his holiday. It is time for them to begin work. Give them the 3 correlated notes; your trusted friends, your writing partner, your own. It is now their job to take control of the wheel. You are now a navigator and your internal editor is in the driving seat. They are in control of the driving but you have the map. Be clear in your navigation.
Lesson 37 ~ Once the editing is done. Do the same thing. Give it to your trusted friend, your writing partner /mentor and have it read aloud to yourself. Make notes again.
Lesson 38 ~ Give your internal editor the notes again. The second editing begins.
Lesson 39 ~ Your story is almost complete. Now go back to your file where you filed the words you edited out. Can you use them now? Are they better for another story? Now is your time to decide.
Lesson 40 ~ Put your finishing touches to your work. You now have a third draft in your hand. Well done.
The bell rings for final period. School is out.
Well done! You have just completed the course of NaNoWriMo. A challenge of timed discipline and forming a daily writing habit. A time when you showed up ready before a blank page and filled it with a story. You are now a writer. Whether you are published or not, you ARE a Writer. You have written a Novel. You are Now a Novelist.
These were the tips and lessons I learned from NaNoWriMo. They are lessons that can translate into any of my writing. NaNoWriMo taught me a vital lesson. That if you show up and you are disciplined, the words will come. It also taught me that it is ok to send your internal editor away on vacation for a while. The world will not come to a halting stop if you do not correct every punctuation or timing element.You can always come back to a piece that is bothering you when you feel refreshed. It is important to reward yourself with treats. It is important to have a day away from your writing every week. It is important to keep your brain fresh from alternation between character / dialogue scenes to setting scenes. Do not make your work monotonous. When you are writing, you are in the driver’s seat. When you are editing, you switch to being the navigator. Listen to the opinions of beta readers, writing mentors, your own voice but stick to your writing instincts. Do not ever throw out anything. File it away in a POSSIBILITY file. More importantly than anything Back-up, Back-up, Back-up. Show up for your writing like you would for a 9-5 job. This is something you enjoy doing. Give it the same time and importance as you would your daytime job. Don’t look at a calendar. Don’t look at the amount of words still needed. Just focus on those timed word wars. The words will come and the story will follow. Trust in the words.
That’s it for this first Thursday Tips post. Good luck for the week of writing ahead of you. Remember show up – the words will come and the story will follow.All you have to do is show up.