Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

I’ve been trying to get outside every day and was just thinking how wonderful and calming it is to hear the cheerful birds and see the plants growing as usual. Some normalcy in this scary time.

Thanks to David Kanigan for posting this. Margaret Renkl perfectly expresses what I wanted to say but couldn’t find the words.

Please enjoy.

Read via Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

Writing by Hand Versus Typing

How do you write? Do you run to your computer and type as fast as you can to get it all out? Or when an idea comes to you do you need to write it by hand?

When talking to other writers there is a mixture but most of us write our first words by hand. Only after that first draft is on paper will many of us then transcribe it onto the computer.

There seems to be something more organic about physically forming the letters and words using a pen or pencil and putting them onto paper.

Yet we seem to have no problem typing words for blogs, emails and tweets. Why is that?

Is it a matter of ‘serious’ writing versus the more conversational, less important quick communications of today’s social media?

Maybe we consider the social media words more temporary and our fiction, poetry and memoirs more permanent and lasting?

Pensieve

You know when you have so many thoughts bottled up in your head that you feel overwhelmed and scattered? You have a hard time concentrating and sleeping? Trying to focus on one thing at a time becomes a challenge and eventually you feel edgy and cranky?

Me too.

So the first time I read about a Pensieve in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire I wished that it was real.

Definition:

A Pensieve is a wide and shallow dish made of metal or stone, often elaborately decorated or inlaid with precious stones, and carrying powerful and complex enchantments. Pensieves are rare, because only the most advanced wizards ever use them, and because the majority of wizardkind is afraid of doing so.

https://www.wizardingworld.com/writing-by-jk-rowling/pensieve

At times, when one’s head is so full of thoughts that one cannot hear oneself think, it is useful to be able to take some of those thoughts and literally set them aside. The practiced Wizard can extract a thought from his head and store it in a phial or in the Pensieve for another time. If it is in the Pensieve, it is possible to stir the thoughts stored there together and look for patterns. It appears that the wizard has the choice of extracting an entire memory, leaving no trace of it in his head, as Professor Snape does in Harry Potter and the order of the Phoenix or extracting a copy of a memory, retaining the original, as Professor Slughorn does in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It is also apparently possible to edit these extracted memories, though it is a difficult task and one which is often not done well. https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Muggles%27_Guide_to_Harry_Potter/Magic/Pensieve

How wonderful would it be to have a device in which to place thoughts and memories? Those many early mornings when you wake from a deep sleep and stay awake because of all the thoughts fighting for your attention at 3:00AM? How wonderful would it be to take those and place them safely in a Pensieve to look at or take care of later?

After giving this some thought (at 4:00AM) I realized that we have a few ways to deal with those things here in the real world. Nothing as cool as a Pensieve though.

Lists: When I need to remember something I make a list. I am a list person! I have shopping lists and to-do lists. I have main lists and sub-lists. It has become a running joke about me but I’m okay with that. Lists help me relax because as long as I have put something on a list I don’t have to worry about remembering it. I get it out of my head. I can look at that list at anytime, secure in knowing that I haven’t lost that thought.

The Reminder app on my phone is the digital version of lists and I use it constantly. I love that I can write what I want to remember and then select a date and time to get it done by. Wonderful! Any time I hear myself saying that I have to remember to do something, it goes in that app.

Writing/Journals: Writing in my journal works too. I always have too much to say and think about. Writing it all out is a great relief. And I’m sure my family and friends appreciate not having to listen to me endlessly.

Trusted Friends/Family: My favorite way of dealing with too many things on my mind is to spend time with a trusted friend or family member sharing our many ideas. Spending sometimes hours with both of us, or all of us, talking. Each person listens carefully to the others and each gets to talk. As long as it doesn’t turn into a toxic and negative discussion that feeds on itself. That isn’t healthy for anyone. But positive discussions and helpful ideas are wonderful.

After using any of these methods of getting too much clutter out of my brain leaves me feeling calm and focused again.

A friend who knows my love of the Harry Potter universe and who knows me well enough to know that I wish a Pensieve was

real, gave me one.

It’s fun to figure out ways to make the real world a little more magical.   

Pensieve Case

Open case

Revision

I’m working on revising my NaNoWriMo story and that’s taking most of my writing time which is great.

How am I revising/editing?

The following is generally how I’ve been going about this next draft and hopefully it’s making my first draft better and that’s the goal.

  • I’ve been working on fleshing out my characters. I see them clearly in my imagination but I have to make sure a reader can see them too.
  • I have some places to fill in that I skipped in the mad rush of that first draft. I’m writing entire new scenes for those areas. This seems easier now that I see where the story is going more clearly.
  • I saved each scene in its own folder and I’m going through those one at a time. Eventually I’m hoping they will each be a chapter. And I like having each one in its own folder so as this book takes shape I can rearrange easily if I need to. At first I had just numbered them as I wrote but now I’m adding chapter titles so I have an idea of what is going on in each one. This makes it easier to remember what happened when.
  • I’m updating and creating a synopsis as I go. This helps me keep an eye on the story as a whole and will be a better tool for me once this first revision is done. This will help making a short description of the story when it’s done. The chapter titles really help here.
  • When I find things I need to know more about I let myself get on the internet and look things up. That can be a huge time dump so I’m careful about doing that. I like doing this when I’m too tired to actually write. At least I feel like I’m still working on the story but in a different way.

The more I read about revision the more I see that everyone does what works for them. I like picking up techniques that appeal to me.

I also see that a lot of people don’t like this part of the writing process. I like it. To me the hard part is getting a completed first draft done. Revising is adding all the fun parts and the details that make the story come alive. It’s like doing a giant jigsaw puzzle.

I read books, blogs and writing forums to pick up ideas. But again I have to be careful not to spend all my writing time doing that. I need to stick to the actual writing.

Do you have any favorite tools or suggestions about revision that you would like to share? I would love to hear your ideas.

Keep writing!

Confidence?

Now that the holidays are over I’ve been getting back into writing regularly. I’ve set myself a weekly goal of four hours for working on the story I wrote during NaNoWriMo. I’ve been happily adding and deleting words, doing some research about various aspects of the story and trying to piece it together like a jigsaw puzzle. It’s a long way from being done but I’m enjoying the challenge of getting there.

At the same time I’m usually reading two or three books at a time. Its just what I do. There are times when the books I read are enjoyable or good enough. And then there are books that take my breath away with the beauty of the writing, the cleverness of the plot or with characters so real that they feel like friends.

Those amazing books are the trouble. Why? Because those are the books that make me question my own ability to write. I start questioning myself. I could never come up with a plot twist that surprising or clever. Are my characters like cardboard compared to the fully fleshed out people I’ve just read about? My descriptions are pretty good but to make someone stop and reread them just to experience the beauty of the words? That’s a lot of pressure!

These feelings of inadequacy have been creeping around the edges of my mind lately and at least this time I’m recognizing them before they get out of control and I stop trying. I don’t want to lose the momentum I’ve built up while working on this story.

This time I keep reminding myself that I wrote this story for me. That it’s totally self-indulgent and the challenge of putting it together and getting to know the characters and their motivations is fun. That this is play and not to be taken too seriously.

So far this is working. Mostly because it isn’t anywhere near ready for anybody else to read it which is good if it keeps me going. It may never be ready for anyone else to read and that’s okay too.

Do you experience this?

I would love to hear how you keep that devious voice of inadequacy at bay.

NaNoWriMo 2019 Done!

I won!

I’m as surprised as anyone. Was it easy? Definitely not. Was it worth it? I think so. I have a very rough, very messy first draft of a complete story.

I’ve learned a lot.

I learned that I can’t write for more than an hour or hour and a half at a time before I need a break. Not only physically but mentally. I found that I would get that far and my thoughts just stopped organizing themselves in a coherent way. And despite all the action taking place in my head, my body let me know loud and clear that we are meant to move and move a lot. Also, writing in different locations with slightly different body positions makes a world difference. I don’t mean you have to go somewhere else, but just moving from the desk to the couch or even standing at the kitchen counter was good.

I discovered that despite having a pretty clear idea of how the story was going to go, I ran into a few bumps along the way. So I skipped ahead when I got stuck and that worked well. I also have a notebook full of notes and computer files full of comments or highlighted areas to easily find places that I need to go back to.

I did not give in to the temptation of researching online! I know from past experience that turns into a huge time dump. As soon as I saw how quickly I got behind if I didn’t meet my daily word count I realized I did not have time to do any of that.

I wrote every day. A couple of those days were just handwritten notes or a few hundred words. I felt if I skipped even one day it would be too easy to lose the momentum I had going. That meant I had to write a lot on a day off to catch up. On those days I wrote for a while, got things done and then went back and wrote some more. The neat thing about that was keeping the story in my head and when I sat back down to write, it usually flowed easily because I had planned the next scene in my head.

The story and characters really took on a life of their own during the third week. And that is when writing fiction is the most fun for me.

Overall, it worked great for me.

Everything I’m reading is saying to let the story sit for at least a couple of weeks but I’m not sure that will work for me. I think I’ll still play with it to keep it alive. I feel like I just found the real voice of the story and I don’t want to lose that. I definitely won’t work anywhere near the pace I just did. Now I can enjoy messing around with it.

Will I do this again? Probably if I have a large story that needs to get written. This method forced me to get it out as fast as I could and not overthink things.

Also, the writing community is great. Knowing that so many other people were doing the same thing at the same time is energizing.

If you participated, how did you do? I think even if you didn’t get to the crazy word count goal, if you got more writing done than you usually would, then you won.

Keep on creating!

NaNoWriMo Day 17

Day 17

This was a tough week, no doubt. I fell behind on my word counts and boy does that add up fast! So this is just a quick check-in to let you know I’m still writing. Today I reached slightly more than the halfway point.

This week I jumped around a bit in the writing timeline. I got stuck at one point and jumped ahead to keep the words going.

Today I did more out of order writing but  the story is falling into place nicely now. That is in big part to help I got from the Young Writers Group. I asked them to help me brainstorm what could happen after giving them a very brief synopsis of the story and they came through! There were some laughs because some of the ideas were really out there but all of a sudden one of the ideas was good and everyone kept adding on to it. I was typing like crazy to keep up. So a huge thanks to that group!

Another thing that’s helping me is a book that I bought. It’s the No Plot? No Problem by Chris Baty who started this whole crazy thing. The book is funny and but also very helpful.

As of today, day 17, my word count is 25,709!

If you are participating, how are you doing?

And again, if you have any tips to share, I’ll take them.

Keep on writing!