How to Avoid Writer’s Panic

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Your face when you look at your to do list.

What is Writer’s Panic, you may ask? Well, it starts when you realize you haven’t been writing as much as you should. Then it deepens when you realize you’re falling behind. Next you’re neglecting your side projects to the point where they don’t exist, and something completely unrelated to writing completely monopolizes your time.

Now, it might be a happy thing. You could have a baby or adopt a kitten or go on vacation, or there could be a death in the family or a stressful move to another city. Either way, once you settle back in, all you can do is sit there and think about how very, very far behind you are.

Having just had a quarter-life crisis of sorts, I am there. I have an unedited novel from two years ago that still needs finishing, for god’s sake. Follow these steps and you will be up and running in no time.

Step One:

Get over your Writer’s Block. I have a post on that here, and it basically boils down to forcing yourself to write. The easiest way I’ve found is to just write whatever I feel like it whether or not it’s any good. Just sit down in front of the computer and make words happen in some sort of logical order.

Step Two:

Create a list of everything you’ve been working on in the last year or so (or shorter/longer, depending on how long you’ve been away from things). Organize the list in groups of things that are nearly finished, things that you’ve just started, and things you absolutely want to finish.

Step Three:

Decide on what to start on first. Have a short story that just needs editing? The choice is clear. Do you have five half-finished novels and no idea which to start? Think of which one is going to be the easiest to write and which ones you would weep to see go unfinished.

Step Four:

Don’t set any hard deadlines. Until you’re back into the swing of things, deadlines will only make you worry more. You can maybe set goals such as “finish novel B this year” or “write every other day at least” but you have to find a relaxed balance where you can stretch your wings, as it were. It might take time for some people to get back into the groove of things and there’s no use in stressing yourself out when you don’t have to, especially when returning from any kind of stressful break. 

Ask family members and friends help for motivation if you need to. Activities like NaNoWriMo or writing groups can help motivate you without putting any real pressure on you. You just need to remember that writing is supposed to be fun, no matter how much the opposite can seem true sometimes.

To celebrate my return to blogging, I’ve put my book Wildflower Crown for free on Amazon! Click here to claim your copy for Kindle. (It will work on a regular computer too, just download the app!)

Thanks for reading 🙂

The Importance of Plot Bunnies

For those of you who don’t know what plot bunnies are, here is the official urban dictionary definition (can’t get more official than that).

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Alright, so ignore the fanfic thing. It can happen for any kind of story. Basically, you think of something or see something that is so inspirational you’re like OH MY GOD I HAVE TO WRITE THIS. I don’t know why it’s called a plot bunny. I was nine years old in 2003, so this has been around for a while.

Recently, I was attacked by plot bunnies. Or plot wolves, if you will. I had a super realistic dream (I don’t know if this is a thing all writers experience, because whenever I tell people about them they’re like “wtf”) about this land cursed by wolves. I woke up and I KNEW I had to write it. I started it right away and I’m at 12,000 words right now.

The strangest thing is that the story is coming together really well so far even though I’m pantsing (i.e., winging) it, though usually I plan a lot more. I’ve put aside the other project I wanted to work on this summer because the idea for this just completely consumes me.

BABY BUNNIES, BROWN, WHITE, GRAY

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A lot of people will say to ignore your plot bunnies, to put them in a box and only take them out when you need them. However, in real life putting bunnies in a box without attending to them will kill them all. Ideas are a bit like that. Even if something is a good idea, the more you put it off and think about it without acting the duller it can become. If you have some kind of breathtakingly amazing idea you can’t get our of your head, act on it.

Just… don’t make that a pattern. If you keep abandoning your stories at 20,000 words because something new distracts you you’ll never get anything done.

Wildflower Crown too was started with a plot bunny. Though I’ve changed that bunny so much it probably looks more like a bird now, it’s still the same basic idea I started with. I’m excited that I’ll be sharing the story with you guys soon!

Author Update: Damn the Little Gremlins Messing with My Novels

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I mentioned in a post before (I think) that I downloaded a new text-to-speech program that I found and enjoyed. I put Kiss of The Fey in chapter by chapter to sort out the remaining typos. I think it was only a month or so ago that I did the same thing by reading Kiss of The Fey on my Kindle, and I was sure that all the typos were gone, but I still went and found a bunch more with the text-to-speech program.

Clearly, little gremlins have been going through my work and putting typos where they have no business being. Obviously, I am not amused. If they put in any more after this, I am just throwing up the white flag in surrender. I can’t afford an editor and I cannot read through Kiss of The Fey another time this year. Maybe the next two years. I just hate it so much that it will cause me physical pain to do so until I take some time away from it.

Don’t get me wrong, I still like the story and I’m still proud of myself, but I’ve read it something like a dozen or more times in the last year and not only will it hurt, but I think that if I read it again I may actually die.

I need more reviews for Kiss of The Fey both overall and ones that don’t mention typos, so I’ll be doing a free promotion on Amazon next weekend. At the end it will also include the first sneak peak at Wildflower Crown! Just the prologue so far, though both the prologue and the first chapter will be available before Wildflower Crown goes on sale.

As for Wildflower Crown, the publishing date is set right now to be June 1st, but I don’t know if that will happen as planned or not. I just got finished with the 3rd draft and so I don’t get sick of it like I have with Kiss of The Fey, I’ll be waiting a few days before starting the final content edit… which will then be followed by heavy proofreading. And more gremlins. Yay. At the very least, reading it over with the text-to-speech program FIRST should save me a lot of grief.

I think my writing has improved since my previous novel and that Wildflower Crown will be a really enjoyable read. Hopefully. (Obviously I write with the intention of having other people read it and enjoy it!) It’s little more fun than Kiss of The Fey, I think the characterization is a little better, and hopefully in my initial release when I go around begging for reviews the reviews won’t mention any typos. I’m not messing around this time!

-Charlotte Cyprus

P.S. Not writing related, but it is FINALLY warming up here. By warm, I do mean 40-50 degrees, but AS IT SNOWED ON TUESDAY I WILL GLADLY ACCEPT 50 DEGREES. Of course, April showers bring May flowers, so it’s now going to rain for like 30 days straight, but as long as it keeps getting warmer and my foot keeps healing I will not complain.

How To Be The BEST Author Ever

So I’ve been an author for six months now and I think I can say without a doubt that I know everything there is to know about being an author. Since there is literally nothing left for me to learn, I’ve decided to be generous and share my vast knowledge with my lowly followers.

1. Stop reading!

Seriously, a lot of people will tell you to do the exact opposite, but don’t listen to them! Reading will only cloud your judgment and make your own novel worse. Do you want that to happen? NO. Not only that, but you might accidentally lift elements of that story and end up PLAGERIZING. You SERIOUSLY don’t want to do that, do you? And you waste so much time reading when you SHOULD be using that time for WRITING.

2. Make sure EVERYONE knows about your book!

Marketing is very important! If it’s not obvious that you have a book out when people visit your blog, you’re not going to sell any books! Make sure that there are AT LEAST three links to your book on every blog post, otherwise it’s like you don’t even have a book out. You should always ALWAYS always tell new followers/ commenters of your book and where you can find it. I like to use a copy/paste message with a link to my book on Amazon that I send to everyone who comments on, likes, or follows my blog! This is also a good idea on Twitter, to immediately tell new followers where to buy your book!

3.  Never accept a bad review!

Like I said, marketing is very important! If your book has bad reviews, no one is going to want to read them! You have to be aggressive and go after the bad reviewers, explaining how they’re wrong and telling them to either remove their bad review or change it to AT LEAST a four star review. NEVER accept a one or two star review. That’s career suicide!

4. Make up some Frequently Asked Questions to post an FAQ on your blog!

I understand that many of you starting out may not have enough fans to put together an FAQ, so you can just make some up! By acting like the questions you’re answering are asked a lot it will make it look like you’re more popular than you actually are and get people interested in you and your work!

5.  Always write for the market.

Being an author is a JOB. You’re in it for the money! If you write a book no one wants to read, you’ll end up under a bridge! ALWAYS write about whatever is currently trending. Right now, I’d suggest a vampire BDSM book!

6.  Make sure readers know what your main character looks like!

What is a story without a main character? NOTHING! Your readers NEED to know what your main character looks like, from the color of their eyes to that birthmark on their left buttock. The best way to do this is to open your book with your character looking in the mirror and describing everything they see! It’s both comprehensive and immediate, so your readers will start off knowing just what they look like down to the smallest details!

7. Don’t worry about consistency!

All you need is a good story. If your character loves lemons in chapter one but hates them in chapter ten, no one is going to notice! As long as the story goes on, it doesn’t matter if things are consistent as long as there is lots of action!

8. Make sure your story has an agenda!

You aren’t writing JUST to make money; your book has to SAY something! Whether it be about gay rights or abortion or feminist issues, make sure your book has a hidden agenda! Your book is useless if it just tells a story; it also needs an important lesson that will stick with your readers!

9. Don’t worry about your book cover!

You know the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? It’s completely true! Readers don’t care what your covers look like, they’re only reading your description! Just look at these covers, and these books are published! [1] [2] [3] [4]

Alright, but in all seriousness, don’t listen to any of this advice. (Also, to be fair, books with terrible covers can sell [1] [2] but only if you already have a huge fan base and a bunch of books already out.)

A Tale of Editing and Insanity

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Day 1: I have killed off a character. Well, not killed so much as erased all traces of his existence. Sorry, Quade. You didn’t fit into the story like I originally thought you would. On the bright side, I can use his name in another story now. (I get irrationally attached to the names I give my characters. Not the characters themselves, just the names.)

I managed to get the prologue and chapter one edited. There is a scene that needs to be written that I’ve decided to add. To make up for getting rid of the one character, I’m giving another character his own voice. He’s a criminal, so his POV should be interesting.

Unfortunately, I realized that my fun-loving and carefree character is a bit more timid than I thought. Poo. Get your shit together, Wild. YOUR NAME IS WILD FOR FUCK’S SAKE. COME ON.

Progress: 10% done. I’m already falling behind!

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Day 2: Shit. Is this really my novel? Err… not too sure of this anymore. Maybe I’ll become a rapper or something. Writing doesn’t seem to be my thing.

I’ve added more scenes to be written by my new character’s POV. He was a total asshole in the first draft, ready to abandon Wild without any qualms, but now he’s being forced to leave her and he feels kinda bad.

The good news it that I’ve already made Daivat more surly, though he’s less likable now. His fascination with throwing knives also seems a little unhealthy at this point, but that’s for the best. Also I got into a fight on Facebook (well, I was yelled at) because Daivat is apparently a pedophile for finding Wild attractive before he knew her age.

Catcaller: Yo baby let me see some ID.
Female Passerby: *hands over driver’s license, birth certificate, and proof of insurance*
Catcaller: Oh yeah baby, 18, damn you fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine.

(That is an OFFICIAL excerpt from Wildflower Crown.)

Also, I’ve somehow increased the word count? This is good, but I’m not sure how this is happening. Chapter two is edited, as is chapter three, and some of chapter three has been extended to start chapter four.

Progress: 29% done. Back on track!

red

Day 3: I have Senioritis. Does that happen in college? I think it does. Why go to class when I could be editing?

Anyways, I switched one of the scenes to the queen’s POV because she kind of comes off like … a nice Umbridge. So her thoughts help show who she really is despite her outwards appearance. Plus, this will make it less weird when I have the next POV of hers since that was the only one in the book.

Problem: I have no idea how old my character is. You see, in Kiss of The Fey I established Cadmus being around Xenos’s age, who was 30, and now in Wildflower Crown Cadmus is just a boy. I want to make him 13, but I also want him to have left right after Johara was born, and I don’t know how old she is. It’s between 19-25, but that’s a big window. I don’t think this is something readers would ever notice, especially when Cadmus’s age isn’t given a number in Kiss of The Fey, but it still bothers me. Bah humbug.

I’ve made it to the start of chapter six this time. Woo!

Progress: 47% done. Almost halfway!

hurdle

Day 4: I’m cutting even more stuff out. I had to give Daivat’s ex-lover a name so I asked my Facebook friend (who has trouble with the ladies) for a heart-breaker name and he said Sarah. Well. Alright. Sarah it is. Boring, but whatever. I think I only mention her like twice.

I got through chapter six and part of seven. I got distracted and ended up stopping in the middle of a scene, and it happens to be the first sex scene. But at least I got through all the horse nonsense (which has nothing to do with the sex scenes, to clarify) that was a jumbled mess before.

Progress: 63% done.

panic

Day 5: Oh, right, picking right back up in the middle of a sex scene. Not only am I not happy with how late into the book it takes place (I don’t know of a natural way to push it forward, either) but I put a line break, meaning that I was planning to add something, but now I can’t remember what. So whatever brilliant line was there earlier is gone now.

I just…. I just found an error. Like, a big deal. I called my character by a different character’s name. It was the main character. Her name is Wild. I called her Wren. That is the main character of Only in Whispers. And… I almost missed it at first. A+ to me. Good job.

He was wearing one of his mother’s older dresses.

One letter makes a big difference, guys. Don’t forget that.

I just realized how often my characters blush. I think that’s a thing that gets annoying to readers. Like I don’t know, I just think that’s a thing. I’ll have to cut out all of Wild’s blushes during the next edit, but I’m keeping all of Daivat’s. Also, I’m watching Final Destination 3 while trying to edit, so everything in the novel seems creepier than it is.

Progress: 75% done.

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Day 6: Okay, I admit that this gif has no relation at all to my writing, I just wanted it in there.

I added an entire chapter of scenes to write. Haven’t written them yet, of course, but it should help with how rushed the first draft was. I have a scene where Rosabel must bathe in the blood of the innocents skin a rabbit cause fuck you, honey, you need to learn about the real world, and then another sexy scene between Daivat and Wild. Can’t have enough of those, can you?

I’ve managed to extend things enough that parts of chapter nine are now in chapter eleven. Wooo! I know you’re supposed to take away during editing, but I rushed to finish the first draft with a lot of bullshit that I know I’m going to delete, so I need to extend the rest of it.

Progress: 93% done. So close!

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Day 7: You know, I’m quite proud of myself for the scene where Rosabel breaks into the castle. It won’t be perfect until I go through it with a few more rounds of editing, but it still makes me happy to see that everything I wrote isn’t complete shit.

For the rest of this, though… the gif above about covers it. I had a whole ridiculous fairy gathering with like naked fairies living in trees and that is ALL being cut out. All of it. I don’t need such a silly plot to get this story finished. I don’t know what I need to finish it, but it’s not that. I think instead I’ll add a scene with Cadmus’s POV of meeting the girl he has to marry for the second time and having her be way less charitable than Wild.

Progress: 100% done!

giphy (1)So… what did y’all get done this week?

Just Because You Can Write Doesn’t Mean You Should

I’ve known I would be a writer since I was in first grade. My teacher asked us to write three double-spaced pages about a class trip to the moon, and I wrote 10 single-spaced pages (which may be why she always hated me, I hadn’t quite mastered pronoun use at that stage of my life). I wrote “novels” until I was in high school, and then the more reading I did the better my writing got. My high school English teacher praised my writing and encouraged me to keep going, and I continue to improve now.

Writing isn’t easy, and it isn’t supposed to be. If it was, everyone could do it. Writing is a skill like anything else. You don’t expect to be good at basketball the first try or for everyone to be able to swim like an Olympian, so why does everyone seem to think that if you want to write, you can?

I’m not saying that writing should be exclusive. If you want to write, go crazy. Enjoy yourself. However, know that you might not be good enough to get published. I love soccer, but I knew I wasn’t good enough to play for college (and I was only good enough for high school because we had a no cut policy and we were constantly in need of players) so now I can only play for fun. It doesn’t bother me, because I don’t need validation as a soccer player. I know I’ll never be one of the best, but that doesn’t stop myself from enjoying the game when I play.

One of the problem with self-publishing is that it’s so easy that everyone thinks they can become an author. They devalue writing with that kind of attitude. If you like writing, that’s great. Write all you like and take criticism gracefully to allow yourself to improve, but until you honestly believe that you’re a good writer and other people agree, don’t self-publish. You would profit much more from posting your writing on a free site for people to offer helpful critiques, rather than making unsuspecting readers buy a piece of work that should have never been published and making them angry over wasting that money.

I worked in the writing center of my school and let me tell you, I saw some terrible papers. One, of them was, written. Like this. And when, I asked the, girl. Why she, was using. Unnecessary. Punctuation. She said. “I didn’t know sentences could be that long.” Another person’s phrasing was absolutely terrible, and some guy’s paper was so boring and tedious it made my eyes bleed to revise it. These people knew they were bad writers, but there are some people out there who write just as bad but want to be a writer, so they convince themselves that they’re good and that other people are wrong.

Someone asked for feedback on their book, saying that it had been rejected a bunch of times and wanted to know if it was them or the publishers. I read it, couldn’t bare to finish it, and gave her my notes on what was wrong (which was a lot of things, from characterization to plot to grammar to being unrealistic). She ignored me, bashed me for being rude, and then went on to self-publish. Do you think that that book will help the author? She’s not going to make any money on a bad book, and she’s not going to improve in her writing when the reviews will say “don’t buy this book” rather than “maybe if the characters showed some sympathy in chapter five” or “the plot needs to be wrapped up better at the end.”

General Tips to Improve Your Writing:

  1. Take criticism. If someone says “your plot is weak,” they are not being rude. If they say “THIS SUCKS” and nothing else, then they’re being rude. Ignore them and seek more specific reactions.
  2. Write more. The more you write the more you’ll improve.
  3. Read more, especially in your genre. It will help you understand how plots and sentence structure works.

Now, the title of this is a little misleading. If you like writing, I’m not telling you to stop. However, I want every self-published novel I read to be just as good as the traditionally published novels. I want the stigma of self-publishing to go away. The stigma is there because of the people who think writing is for everyone. I want everyone who self-publishes an amazing novel to be able to get the pubic to read that novel, but they can’t do that if those readers first find a terrible self-published book and now won’t touch them.

This post isn’t just criticizing bad writers, it’s just some tough love. Wouldn’t you want someone to tell you that you were a terrible singer before you went on American Idol? (Although, some of those people don’t graciously accept Simon’s decision when they’re told that they’re terrible, just like some people don’t accept that they’re bad writers when they’re told.) A general rule of thumb should be that if you can’t find at least two unbiased non-friends and non-family members who themselves are writers that say you’re a good writer, you probably need to keep practicing.

Writing is a gift, just like musical talent or athletic skills. We need to keep treating it as something special, not as something everyone can do.

Beautiful Books Link Up: Editing

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1. On a scale of 1 (worst) to 10 (best) how well do you think this book turned out?

Like a 6? It needs lots of editing, but doesn’t everything? I’ll get it all sorted out before anyone reads the terrible bits.

2. Have you ever rewritten or editing one of your books before? If so, what do you do to prepare yourself? If not, what’s your plan?

Yes, just the one. My plan is to print it out to see it on paper (using my school’s free print credits) and go through editing it all, rewriting what I have to, rearranging things, you know. Then I’ll go through it again, make any more major changes that need done, then read through it two more times or so to find any smaller mistakes.

3. What’s your final wordcount? Do you plan to lengthen or trim your book?

TBA. Still writing, but I’m guessing that I’ll be over at around 70k, but I’ll want to make it longer during editing to about 80k.

4. What’s are you most proud of? Plot, characters, or pacing?

Um… plot? Maybe? Everything needs a lot of work, so…

5. What’s your favourite bit of prose or line from this novel?

Before she could say another word, Daivat captured her lips and pulled her against him. He felt a fierce need to claim her, to mark her as his own, but he pushed it down. She was still new to everything, and he would teach her to enjoy their time together, not that she seemed to be having any trouble.

6. What aspect of your book needs the most work?

All the aspects! But pacing, technical errors, character consistency are at the top of my list right now.

7. What aspect of your book is your favourite?

The characters.

8. How are your characters? Well-rounded, or do they still need to be fleshed-out?

They need fleshed out and shoved back into their personalities. Wild needs to be less serious and Daivat needs to be more serious.

9. If you had to do it over again, what would you change about the whole process?

Nothing.

10. Did anything happen in your book that completely surprised you? Have any scenes or characters turned out differently to what you planned? Good or bad?

Yes, actually. The kidnapped princess didn’t go as I’d planned, but I like the new direction.

11. What was the theme and message? Do you think it came across? If not, is there anything you could do to bring it out more?

There wasn’t really a theme or message. Overall, it was just about growing up.

12. Do you like writing with a deadline (like NaNoWriMo) or do you prefer to write-as-it-comes?

I like write-as-it-comes, but then it takes forever to finish anything.

13. Comparative title time! What published books, movies, or TV shows are like your book? (Ex: Inkheart meets X-Men, etc.)

Um, nothing? Maybe Ella Enchanted meets Game of Thrones?

14. How do you celebrate a finished novel?!

With editing!

15. When people are done reading your book, what feeling do you want them to come away with?

Just pleasure from reading a good story.

I’ll keep writing anyway!

I'll also keep taking pictures!

I’ll also keep taking pictures!

I can’t quit my day job because I have student loans to repay. I’ll keep writing anyway.

I have one friend who thinks I’m going to sell millions of copies of my books (unrealistic) but basically everyone else just says “meh” when I say I’ve already published one book. I’ll keep writing anyway.

The attitude today seems to be that anyone can write a novel. Oh well. I’ll keep writing anyway.

I’ve only reached a handful of people with my blog, and even fewer with my book. I’ll keep writing anyway.

I might not be the next big hit, or even a hidden gem among writers. I might just be average. I’ll keep writing anyway.

My books aren’t some literary explosion of genius, they’re just meant to entertain. I’ll keep writing anyway!

There’s no daily reward for my work. I don’t save lives or change people’s outlook on life. Each word can sometimes be a struggle, and I don’t see the fruits of my labor until months after I write that first word. I’ll keep writing anyway!

I don’t have a writing nook. I don’t have scheduled writing hours that I can write. I don’t have a ritual, I don’t have time to write some days, and sometimes I feel like the real world has sucked out all of my writing energy. I’ll keep writing anyway!

My professors are not amused. Too biased. Too personal. Try to be serious. I’ll keep writing anyway!

I can’t write everything I want without giving up my real life. I’ll keep writing anyway!

I need to keep my apartment clean and make time for my boyfriend. I can’t skip showering to write, and I need to eat at some point. Sleep, too. I’ll keep writing anyway!

Life will go on. I’ll keep writing anyway!

 

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