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Archive for ‘October 2009’

Things A Novice Learns

Lately I've been on a bit of a time crunch. I'm trying to finish writing a current novel while preparing for NaNoWriMo, which is only two days away. EEP! But I must take a moment to mention some things that I am STILL learning about writing. These are things no one really tells you how to do but tell you to when you start out being a Writer.

It takes a lot of time and effort to get your true voice, and to polish that raggedy Work In Progress into a shiny Manuscript. People will tell you to just write the first draft and worry about the rest later, yet most of the time they don't really mention how. I'm going to let you in on some sekrits I learned that should help. I'm still learning these things, but once you get the hang of them, you'll fly through the first draft and be on your way to revisions and edits in no time.

Developing My Own Writing Process

A day or so ago I took a day off from writing. I didn't necessarily want to, but I knew there were some things I needed to figure out about where to take my characters in the story. I've been having problems with this on and off for awhile now. I'd be writing a scene and almost every time I got closer to the transition to the next, I would slow down or even stop. I'd sit mulling it over, wondering where my Main Character was supposed to go or do next.

Then on Tuesday, I can to a stuttering halt. My inner skeptic, if you recall from the last post, told me I was doing everything wrong and I should start over. Thankfully my lovely writing buddies stopped that in its tracks. I went to bed early, sat with my husband in the morning before he left for work, knowing that while I hadn't started over, I still couldn't keep going. Something was delaying me, a question I hadn't asked yet, a decision I still needed to make. It turned out there were at least two, if not three, ways the rest of the story could play out, I only needed to find the best way.

Writing Buddies - Not Just for November

Lately I've been adding a bunch of friends as NaNoWriMo buddies, and its awesome to have so many. Its wonderful to have that competitive edge, the camaraderie as we all seek 50K in one month. But something occurred to me when I had a bit of a crisis yesterday.

Writing buddies aren't just for NaNoWriMo. I personally think they're for every writer, all year long. Writers need friends who are also writers to help through the tough bits. I found this out last night, when two of my Twitter Friends became, truly, my writing buddies.

I was writing along, though having a hard time getting from one sentence to the next. Something was bothering me and I couldn't figure it out for hours. My muse wanted me to keep going, but I just questioned what she was trying to hide from me. Then I realized I didn't think an aspect in my story was convincing. It was one I had taken from the inception of this idea, but in my regular afternoon slump my inner skeptic felt it was lame and gave me another idea. So I stopped writing, waiting impatiently for a friend to get home from work so I could tell her the problem.

And then she ganged up on me. With my muse. Another friend got on Twitter, and I dragged her into the conversation to take my side. Of course, she didn't. She joined the enemy camp. *grumbles* Traitors.


This button is only for emergencies.

Its October the 20th, and this means I only have ***12*** days left.

Really, I shouldn't even be writing this blog. But I will for YOU, because you have NEEDS.

I still need roughly 40K, so that puts me under 3.5K a day until October 31st, but I really need/ want to finish with a day or two to spare. I really want to be able to spend some time fully figuring out what the heck I'm gonna do with the nanowrimo plot.

See, I've stupidly come up with a more complicated style and plot than the one I'm currently working on. I'm going slow here, I think, because I've been at this WIP for quite a while, and I wish I could let it alone for awhile and come back to it when its time to edit and revise. Problem is, I won't have much to edit and revise if I don't actually finish the damn thing. So words must be written, many many more words.

Write Goals Work - For Me, At Least

A while ago I hit a slow time in my writing, the words not coming. I hold myself accountable on Twitter with #writegoals, specific word counts I aim for each day. Because I'm trying to finish the rewrite of my current WIP by October 31st in order to begin NaNoWriMo fresh with the sequel to this story, my goals  are pretty high. I guesstimate this book, an epic YA fantasy to reach about 80k total. With about a week of low word counts, I'm now need to get at least 3.5k words a day for the next 15 days in order to finish by my self imposed deadline.

During the lag, many Twitter friends suggested I release myself of my seemingly daunting ambitions, worrying I'll wear myself out and quit writing all together. It was true, I did need at least a few hours break, but I'm stubborn. To be told to take it easy doesn't make it easy for me. Being told to lower my expectations of myself actually pushes me to prove to everyone - including myself - that I CAN write 2 novels in 2 months. A few hours rest, higher dose of ADHD meds, and now I'm flowing again, the story ready at my fingertips, my muse cheering me on.

A few people denounced the practice of setting these types of goals, which rankled me. To dismiss a tool many others use so offhandedly is... a lack of understanding. Goals of specific word counts, scenes, chapters, what have you may work for some. For others, goals of any kind shut out the muse, and thats okay, as long as you write, and you love it.

The Truth About Me

I know this isn't expected, or funny, or about my writing, but I've been thinking about it alot since I signed up on meetup.com, and its on my mind now that my first meeting with the Writers Group is 3 hours away. Most of you know that I have Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, and if you've been on Twitter later in the evenings you've seen how hilariously crazy I can get. And I like it, when I'm not writing. I love saying funny things back and forth between tweeps and laughing my butt off. But thats only a small part of what goes on inside my head. This is the story of when I had my first full blown panic attack, and I haven't been the same since.

It was at a viewing for my then fiances, now husbands, grandmother. I’d never liked funerals, the dead bodies meaning nothing to me compared to the souls that housed them. My parents always kept me at the back away from the coffin, but this time they weren’t there, this time everyone was right by the body, and I hated it. I began to tunnel, huddling into my own body, hoping it would swallow itself up and take my mind with it and away from this rigid, cold flesh. I hardly heard a word, my mouth clamped ove the screams that wanted to escape, and my fiance knew I wasn’t well, so he was able to get me out as soon as it was ‘appropriate’. I began to shake in the car as he drove, and the farther we got from the body the worse it became until I was finally in full pseudo seizure mode. My whole body flushed, I couldn’t speak, I was in danger of breaking bones and it took hours and a shot of something that didn’t work to try to relax my muscles and calm me down. Finally, in the wee hours of the morning after almost 12 of them shaking, my muscles tired themselves out, and I lay there in that hospital room, staring at the wall, unseeing.
And thats when I broke.
I had to quit my job as a tour guide at my favorite job because at times, I could barely finish my sentence and I’d race to a place to hide. I had to drop out of college because my mind would race so fast I would whimper, I couldn’t concentrate and my grades plummeted. I’d had mild depression before, but after that night it took over me. I became irrational, hateful, and so so sad. I began cutting, drinking excessively and taking unprescribed medications to sleep for the days I couldn’t and then sleeping for days afterward. During my wedding a month after that episode at the funeral I had to tunnel myself through the ceremony, concentrating as hard as I could on the words and my groom. I steeled myself during the reception and we left early. But after that, my panic attacks only came more frequently, though none have been as bad as the first. I wanted to kill myself, wanted for this all to go away and everyone I loved forget the horrible effects I'd unintentionally forced on their lives, on their hearts and minds and personalities. Things got so bad I was admitted into acute psychiatric care three times in as many months.
After being diagnosed with Bipolar and given a slew of medications, it only got worse. As it turns out, I’m freaking ADHD, with maybe a touch of Bipolar, but we didn't find that out until just a few months ago. The depression has gotten better, as has the concentration, though the meds wear off halfway through the day or sometimes don’t work at all. Through these last two years, however, I’ve since developed a social phobia, from the shit my friends, my parents, even my coworkers and bosses put me through, telling me I’m being dramatic, stupid, this illness doesn’t exist. One by one all my friends from Real Life dumped me, and now I no longer have friends, other than the wonderful people on Twitter, who can't see me, who can't tell when I'm truly at my worst because I can control what they know. I can’t work anymore, the thought of messing up and being told I'm a bad person like the boss from my favorite job too much. I get shaky at the thought of going back to school, where I used to flourish but now worry I won't be able to keep up, though I miss it. I write my stories and blog and stay in my home for days at a time. I only go out for something to eat if I absolutely want to or have to, and then it takes me hours to get up the nerve.
Hardly anyone knows what I go through, what we who suffer from these illnesses of the mind must work through. People love me, roll their eyes and laugh when I say or do funny shit, but when it comes to the dark stuff, the painful stuff, the normal ones just don’t know. And they never will understand our fears, because sometimes we don’t either. I see the hurt and confusion in my husbands eyes when I get bad, when I want him to hold me one moment only to get disgusted with myself the next and shove him away. But he tries, so hard, the most patient man I’ve ever known. I've wondered, at times, when he’ll give up on me, when I’ll go through completely with the half-assed attempts of giving up on myself. I'm fortunate enough to have gotten better, and these thoughts don't come nearly as often as before.

But even with all of that, I've become extremely self aware. I know now when I'm being stupid or when its a panic attack, when I truly feel angry or if its just me being irrational for no reason. I can tell my husband, my parents, when I know I'm being irritable and apologize ahead of time, tell them I'm trying to control it, tell them I'm aware. I've learned so much about myself, some welcome, some I don't like and I'm working on. With every pain, hardship, and loss of reason I suffer I become better, and sometimes a structure once sturdy must be torn down before it can be rebuilt, stronger and longer lasting than before.

Somehow, I felt it was time for you readers to be aware about me too.

Time To Put My Big Girl Panties On

As you may have read in the last two posts, I'm doing a 2 in 2. Writing 2 novels in October and November, finishing the current WIP in October so I have a sense were the sequel I'm writing for NaNoWriMo will be going. The day after I signed up for NaNo, I hit and went above my daily #writegoal word count of 3k, but since then I haven't been able to get to 2k or higher. The problem with this is I don't know how long either novel is supposed to be, and I need to finish this WIP before November.

But I haven't been meeting my #writegoals.

A combination of things have been to blame - sleep problems, my ADHD meds wearing off too soon or kicking in when I'm doing something other than writing, distractions a la Twitter, and areas in the story that I only have a vague idea of have all contributed to the lack of prolific words. This makes me angry at myself, because unlike most other writers, I don't have a job or kids, so I devote my days to writing. My current word count doesn't reflect this, unfortunately.

I wrote my first draft - admittedly so riddled with plot holes it couldn't even stand for its mommy - in 29 days, all of it in longhand. I knew afterwards it wouldn't work, and I began a total rewrite. So while I know I can get the bones down for my story before NaNo, I know I can't do it longhand this time - I need to be able to go look back at previous scenes to ensure I'm not causing unnecessary problems. Scrivener (only for Mac at the moment) is a godsend, and has helped me keep up what little momentum I've been having.


All the excuses in the world won't add words to my WIP, and so I just have to put on my Big Girl Panties and hunker in for the long haul, which is scarily short in time.

I need words, and Write or Die by Dr Wicked is saving my writing. Tomorrow I go to visit my in-laws, which means we'll be playing games, having fun, chatting. So today I need to get 6k words down, 3k for today, 3k for tomorrow. I'm doing this by going for 1k intervals on Write or Die, not worrying about cleaning up the scenes until I've gotten all 6k out. This is good. My meds start tapering off after 1pm, so getting the words out now and cleaning them during the distraction phase is better for me. I can edit in short bursts, but I prefer to write for long periods of time.

This is working so wonderfully, I plan to implement this tactic for all my writing here on out, unless something prevents me from doing so. The Concentrate app for Mac, which blocks other apps, websites, and the like, is good, but I can still find ways to amuse myself away from my writing. With Write or Die, particularly in Kamikaze mode, it forces me to just GO, just write what pops in my head. More often than not, its the best way to take the story forward, and the ways my characters had been wanting to go anyways, if I'd listen more.

So, now I'm off for another round of Write or Die. I suggest you at least try it out too. Let me know what you think. ;)

Current Accountability and I Get a Shiny

After having suddenly become a NaNoer last Friday, I've been working like crazy to get this October WIP done by Halloween. (hey, I like candy too, probably more than any snotty kid) I've had an awesome up and a few downs, but overall I consider this a good start to my first ever 2 in 2.

Whats that? Remember, I have to finish a WIP I started on Oct 1st, then get at least 50k on a novel in 30 days in Nov, so my friends and I have begun to call it the 2 in 2, meaning 2 novels in 2 months. Because this is an endeavor made of WIN, when I succeed I will be receiving a trophy.


In preparation, and because I'm just not sure how long these novels will be, I took the plunge and started using Dr Wicked's Write or Die. Not the kamikazi, because I'm a wimp like that, but its been really good for me. Often times I slow down when I hit a scene I'm unsure of because I'm trying to get all the details. With Write or Die, I can't sit around thinking, or heck worrying about spelling, so I get the gist of the scene down. Then when thats done, I clean it up, make it look presentable and coherent, and move on. The best thing is I invariably add around 200 more words to a scene I've done in Write or Die, and it takes me less than half the time to spit it out of my noggin than if I'd toiled without Dr Wicked.

I've also gotten some awesome support from my Twitter friends, and its kept me pretty much on track. Throughout the day I tweet about my current progress, and my cheerleaders either *shake pompoms*, *throw confetti* (I love that part), or *whap!* me if I haven't made much progress without good reason, like my ADD has taken over or I've been sleep deprived. They're very good about helping me through the afternoon, when my meds wear off and my mind begins to wander. I'm so glad I began tweeting before NaNo, because I don't think I'd ever keep up without the support I'm getting, and the accountability for not reaching goals or slacking off. My tweets about my progress during the day look something like this:

Current Accountability: 3,619 words down, 1,381 to go to hit todays #writegoal of 5k. Have headache. Will power through.#amwriting

ALSO, I've joined a writers meetup group in my area, and I'll be going to the NaNo write ins and meetings in my region, which is thankfully relatively close. I'm finally getting out of my lonely writers bubble, and I'm really excited by this. Nervous too, but I'm ready to face my minor social phobia and rejoin the land of the living. ADD and panic attacks can do that to a girl, but I'm so much better now, and I've found my place in the world, finally. Its with all you fabulous readers and writers, who love words and stories as much as I do.

Well, my twitter writing buddies are *whapping* me to get started on my daily #writegoal, so off I go!

NaNoWriMo - I Will Pwn or be Pwned

So I've been hearing about NaNoWriMo from just about every writer on Twitter. I've checked it out before, but because I'm working on a WIP already, I was all "Eh, I'll do it next year, I'm not prepared." Then today my friend @allikat was all "Go to the San Antonio Forum on NanoWriMo, talk to my friend Jami she's awesome!" (I'm sure you she is) so I did and it looked neat as usual but my muse was all "Nah, we're not ready, don't press that button that says sign up and put in all the required information". But then I wanted to post to to one of the forum topics and so I clicked that damn button and input all the required information, thinking I'd sign up on the website and be kind of like a motivator with pompoms and confetti with GLITTER (if you follow me on Twitter, this should be familiar by now) and not actually be writing 50k words in one month during the holidays, but no, as it turns out I WAS SIGNING UP FOR THE WHOLE SHEBANG.

I'm on Chapter 2 of a major rewrite for the current WIP, and because I can't write two novels at once, I need to finish it by November. I don't even know how many words this WIP is supposed to be, so I've no idea how many words a day to aim for. Do you know what all this means? I HAVE TO WRITE A WHOLE NOVEL IN 29 DAYS, THEN AN EXTRA ONE IN *counts days in November* 30 DAYS. *dies*

I won't back out of NaNoWriMo now, but I feel like my muse is toying with my emotions, being all "Oh, no I don't want to do that, we aren't ready" then recruiting a Twitter friend into her little scheme and sneak attack me into signing up for it and now she's laughing at me. Do you hear that? Its maniacal.

Oh wait. Thats me.

So now that I'm signed up, I'm going into a panic attack. Thanks.