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 Editing Never Ends

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This was the “final” copy of Wildflower Crown. The one that was completely corrected and without errors. Yeah. That’s like 150 markers. To be fair (to me), there were only two or three actual mistakes/typos. The rest were “Hmmm, I could totally word that better,” or “DIALOGUE TAG WHAT ARE YOU DOING GTFO.”

So yeah, this is a little reminder not to freak out over shitty first drafts. This is the 6th draft now. However, all I have to do is make sure that fixing all those little tab things didn’t mess up any spacing and then format it for Kindle and it’ll be ready for publishing. Depending on how much time it takes to go live, Wildflower Crown will be out sometime this weekend or early next week. (I don’t know about you guys, but I’m excited. My second book! Woo!)

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Seriously got down to one of these things. Didn’t even notice until I’d already shut the book. Good thing I didn’t find two more things to be super picky over :p

End of November

Alright, now that November is over I need to actually finish my novel still. It doesn’t even seem half done, so there is going to be a lot of work and then a LOT of editing to do. Here is my to-do list:

  • Pass all my classes
  • Finish Colors of The Sky (or whatever I decide to call it)
  • Print out Only in Whispers with my school’s print credits (put that tuition money to good use)
  • Make Kiss of The Fey free for KDP
  • Read all the books I’ve stored up on my Kindle app
  • Get foot surgery
  • Actually edit Only in Whispers
  • Decide what to write next, another Fairy Curse Novel or my new urban fantasy series.
  • Go to Florida.

So yeah, I’m going to be trying to get a lot done over the holidays. The hardest part about writing is wanting to write all the ideas at once.

NaNoWriMo For Newbies – Part Five, Reaching 50,000

unrelated awesome picture

unrelated awesome picture

Alright, this is the final installment in the NaNoWriMo for newbies. I’ve been scanning the forums for tips and tricks to reach 50,000 words, and I’ve picked out the best ones, not that I don’t have my own tips to share.

Don’t despair at the quality of your writing. Critics points out that NaNoWriMo does nothing but force writers to churn out shit that will never make it to the final draft, but that isn’t true. NaNoWriMo forces me to write when I would rather sit and watch TV or avoid writing a difficult scene. I have to keep thinking about how the story progresses, and I have to finish it (or get within the last few chapters). Once it’s done, I have all the scenes and character development, or lack thereof. I can see what the story needs and start editing it to make it actually readable. It’s worth the stress just to be able to make it that far.

Don’t edit. At all. Unless it’s going to add to your word count. Decide that you want to change your MC’s uncle’s name? Don’t go back, just make a note of it and keep writing. Decide that you want to hint at a hidden door in your FMC’s walk-in closet? Go ahead and add a paragraph about it in chapter two, then come right back to the end point and keep writing. Typos and grammatical errors will be easy to catch when reading back through, you don’t have to worry about it. It’ll be fine.

Don’t be afraid to jump around. Write the last scene, then the sex scene that will happen later. Go back to the fourth chapter then write an awesome scene that still needs some sort of connecting to your current point. As long as you remember the order, you’ll be fine. (I do everything old school and just sit down and write in a Word doc. If I’m writing ahead in time, I just insert a page break and write it so that it’s at the end of the document whenever I need to put it into the actual timeline.)

Make a playlist that motivates you. Try an inspiration folder (but only when you’re caught up on your word counts!) Give yourself treats for reaching your word goals. I know that week two is the worst, and that it’s hard to get through the period of not-beginning and not-ending, but push through. Write whatever crap comes to mind. It might turn out to be gold, or it’ll serve as a good starting block for a real scene.

Dirty Tricks: Give your character two names, like Mary Jane. Use long chapter titles. Add in blog posts about your writing. Give your character a very long title that he insists on being referred to as, like The Mother of Dragons, The Unburnt, Breaker of Chains, and so on. Have a babbling character who speaks about really mundane things. Do not use contractions. Use all five senses to describe things, even if it’s just to say that your character heard nothing interesting.

Good luck to all of you! If you’re behind on your word count, use the weekend to get ahead. Feel free to share any problems you’re having with your novel. I’m really struggling just to keep thing interesting when not much is happening, but I will push on! I’m having foot surgery over winter break, so I’ll have lots of free time for editing.

Previous parts: The Plot, Your MC, Your Love Interest, Subplots, and Outlining,

A Look at Vanity Presses

So a while ago, back when I used FictionPress a lot, I was approached by a vanity press who wanted to work with me. To make things simple, here was our conversation.

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Alexis being the Vanity Press, clearly.

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And I am the majestic blue-footed booby.

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I looked her shit up, thought no thank you, then decided to fuck with them.

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They never emailed me back about using my editing services 😦 Granted, I have never ever used that email address and I don’t know if it fuctions or not, but hey. The reviews DID say it needed editing.

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But yeah, my research led me to believe that they were not to be trusted.

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Also, anytime a profile has no activity then updates or is created right before messaging you is 100% shady.

However, I ignored it until I was going back through my old messages finding people who had been interested in Kiss of The Fey when I found this message, and I when I started to look up their information for putting together this post….

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And poor Lisa Alfonso is gone as well!

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Her author page is still up and someone mentioned that they couldn’t wait for the sequel, and the author replied “It’ll be out in March!” back in 2012. Someone came along in 2014 and said “I’m guessing that wasn’t March 2013 that it was coming out.”

Assuming that Lisa was a real person, not just part of the Vanity Press, I feel bad for her. It seemed like she had a really good story and she was doomed when a Vanity Press took her book, didn’t edit it so that it would actually sell, and then vanished and left her high and dry. All she can do now is self-publish since publishers only want first rights. But Believe might still be under a legally binding contract with the Vanity Press, even though it’s no longer for sale on Amazon. She just can’t sell the second book and have the first one be unavailable, so what is she to do?

The moral of the story is, NEVER trust a Vanity Press. If they try to make YOU pay to publish your book, it is not a real publisher. This is the internet. Trust no one. Always do your research!

 

How I Visualize The Writing Process

2drawingexcerpt2Step One: You’re planning out your story. You’ve got it all in your heads. Some of the details are a little wonky, but that’s okay. You’ll fix that later. For now, you have a story.

 

titan-skeletonStep Two: Erm…. your story isn’t looking so great. You’ve written it, but it seems a little bare. You rushed some and forgot some stuff. Maybe rewrite everything up until chapter ten, and get rid of all those boring scenes about your MC making toast. Add some more action and make sure your characters shine with personality.

 

disturbing-anti-anorexia-ads-compare-starving-women-to-fashion-sketchesStep Three: Okay, so far so good. You’ve got a story. It makes sense. There are people who would be okay with reading it…. but why not keep editing? Give it all you’ve got! You know there are still typos in there and things that might not make that much sense. Don’t whine about it, just edit some more.

 
Kate UptonStep Four: Great job! Look at that shiny new story your have! It’s all edited and perfect! You’re sick to death of reading it, but it’s okay, because you’re done! Or… are you? Maybe take another look at it. Is this really what you want your story to be? Are your characters too perfect, do they never swear or sweat? Is it a teenage drama with no mention of a pimple where all the girls are smoking hot? Maybe you should do one more read through and see if there is anything you’d change.

 

rs_293x398-140321093512-634-kate-upton-vogue.ls.32114_copyStep Five: There you go. That’s something to be proud of. Now put a ring on it, put it on the shelf for a few years, and see if you still like it just as much in ten years.

**I own none of these pictures.

Editing is Work

I just finished editing chapter eight in Kiss of The Fey. That leaves seven chapters and the epilogue to go, then reading through the whole thing once more and trying to get a few people (besides my mom…) to read it. It’s a pain to edit it, mostly because I wrote out all the edits so it’s bothersome to edit the actual computer document.

To give you an idea of the number of changes that goes into the making of a novel (and I consider these changes to be quite minor) here is a list:

  • I actually gave some lines to Johara’s half-sister. And completely changed the opening scene to make that happening, changing a bunch of info-dumping while Johara was trying to sleep into a ballroom scene.
  • I cut lots of scenes with three characters. I changed their motivations and two are killed much earlier than originally.
  • I completely cut out a subplot. In the beginning, Johara was stabbed by an enchanted dagger that put her into an enchanted sleep, which is how Xenos met her. The original plot will be explained down below. *
  • I’ve decided that my characters need last names. Sigh. I was going to just make it “Johara of Blairford” or “Xenos of Malum” but then Johara’s maid could say she was Lorn of Malum and there would be nothing marking her apart from Xenos. I fought with this early on in writing and decided that I didn’t want to bother. However, I’ve changed my mind and now must go back and give everyone names. Bleh.
  • I needed to change how my characters felt towards each other. Johara and Xenos became friends too quickly. Xenos is known far and wide as Xenos the Horrid, so it made no sense that she was okay with him right away.
  • I gave Johara more personality. I hope.
  • Xenos is less dramatic. He acted like a teenager sometimes, and he’s like 30. So.
  • Orion is less like fanfic Dumbledore.
  • I completely changed the dramatic climax scene and replaced it with a subplot’s scene due to the deletion of the major subplot discussed below.
  • Obviously I fixed all weird typos, awkward phrasings, and things like that. Stuff that I typed up in a rush and said “WTF” when I looked back at it.
  • I still need to fix some scenes once I’m all done to add more thoughts of home and stuff like that. Little things here and there.

Again, all these things are pretty minor. I’m only completely rewriting a few scenes. Granted, this novel started off as a G-rated novella, so I guess that counts as an edit.

*Okay, this is the most unnecessarily complicated subplot I’ve ever thought of. Johara needed someone to stab her. I decided that it would be some thugs hired by the King of Yacia. The King of Yacia stabbed a ransom note to the girl in the hope of getting enough gold to buy an army. However, the ransom note soaked through with blood and was never read. Once that failed, he sent his thugs to Malum after Johara married Xenos to steal a lock of Johara’s hair to make a love potion. The King of Yacia gave the love potion to Prince Kain of Yacia so that he would fall in love with Johara and try to go carry her off and be killed by Xenos. See, because the King of Yacia had a magic bracelet that switched his mind with the body of his brother. He truly the brother of the king, and he’d been locked up for killing the Queen of Yacia. He’d had comfy enough quarters to get thugs to put the bracelet on his brother to make him king, and threw his brother (in his body) into the dungeons. But the bracelet wasn’t infinite, and it would switch them back soon, so he hoped to get Kain killed (since he wouldn’t be able to buy an army to defeat his brother) so that he would be his brother’s heir so that he could just kill him and grab the throne.

Did you follow that? No? Yeah, my mom didn’t get it either. I decided to make it WAY simpler than that. At the first mention of this plot I wrote “CONVOLUTED AS FUCK” during editing and knew I had to change it.

Has anyone else made big changes while editing? (And honestly, I don’t think these changes are that big.) Feel free to share in a comment or blog about your own experience with editing and share the link!

End of May Writing Update!

5604. Not my original 10,000 goal, but good enough. No editing, on Kiss of The Fey, though, so I have yet to submit it for publishing. So poo. I’m upset with myself for not writing as much as I wanted (even if I had just spread that 5604 over more days I would’ve been more happy) but what’s done is done. I’m working full time at Wendy’s, my boyfriend and I just technically moved into our new apartment, and my computer is a piece of shit.

Some time over winter break, Best Buy directed us to the power cord to buy for my computer since the current one snapped in two. We ordered it and it didn’t fit my computer. None of the cords in the store fit my computer. My charger plug isn’t in the shape of a pentagon or something, it just goes really deep into the computer. After we realized that no cords fit my computer, my dad got the cord back together, but it started coming apart so I taped it to a pencil. I have to hold it just right, or my computer won’t charge. In addition to that, my touch pad has uninstalled itself from my computer. My computer just doesn’t recognize that it’s there and I have no idea why. It happened before and I just reinstalled it and it was fine, but it’s not working this time. I’m so done with my computer. It’s only just a little over a year old. This is bullshit. So I went again and backed up all my novels and short stories with my boyfriend’s mouse. /rant

Anyways….! How is everyone else doing with their writing goals? I hope you’ve all had better luck than I have!

Stop Writing Gold, Start Writing Shit

Seriously. I urge you all to put down your pens (I’m kidding, I know we all use computers and spellcheck) and stop whatever great novel you’re writing. Throw it out and never look at it again. Forget everything about writing that you were ever told. Actually, turn off spellcheck too. Turn off all possible squiggly lines that might distract you from writing.

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Now, come up with a super generic character. Just go down the checklist of Mary Sue characteristics and use everything there as the base for your character. She is super hot, but she doesn’t think so. All the boys love her even though she shows no interest in her. She is flat and lifeless and will make your readers want to stab her. Have the perfect character yet? Good. Moving on.

EL James

Now you need a love interest. Assuming your MC is a girl, the love interest has to be a boy. This is mainstream romance, people. Gay people don’t exist. Neither do transexuals, or people of color. Just straight white men throwing themselves at your MC. However, since your MC has so many men to chose from, your love interest has to be special. To make him special, we’re going to make him abusive. He’s going to stalk and harass and place ridiculous guidelines for your MC to follow. That makes him so super hot, right? You don’t even have to describe how attractive he is, just say “He’s, like, so hot” and your readers will just know.

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Next, you need a plot. Publishers want what sells, so you’ll need to write romance. There is no other genre, only romance. This means the entire story will be boring things between your MC and your love interest. Them talking about the love interest’s boring siblings. Making sandwiches together. Going from hating each other to loving each other in the same scene. Unrealistic make-out scenes. A pointless love triangle between your MC, the love interest, and some guy you know has absolutely no chance with the MC. (If you can’t come up with a plot, just steal all the characters and elements from a wildly successful young adult series and then change all the names.)

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Finally, you need to take that plot and stretch it out into at least three books. Four, if you can manage. Just throw in whatever scenes you can, they don’t have to make sense. Hell, none of it has to make sense. Just write the first crap that comes to mind and shove it on in there. Now you’ve got your gold.

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This all stems from this post about how some terrible One Direction fanfic is now being published. Also on that blog is an overview of each chapter and why it is horrible.  I have just given up on life, for the moment. I don’t even have time to write right now, but all I can think is “Oh, my writing is too good for publishing, maybe I should give up on punctuation!” I’m thinking of writing a fanfic of Obama’s family and make it so Mrs. Obama is having an affair with Kim Jong Whoever (you know who I’m talking about). That should get me some attention.

Writers unite! Write with me this summer!

I plan to write more this summer than I normally do. I know I’ll have enough time to do it, so it’s just a matter of setting goals. I went ahead and made a spreadsheet that can help me as Nano does with keeping track of my word count. It looks a bit like this.

CaptureColor-coded by month, because I’m a boss. If anyone would like to use this tool, you can download it here. I’ve used that site before and it’s safe. My document won’t give you any viruses, it’s just an excel file (it should be able to open with both Word and Open Office).

You can customize it as you’d like, delete May or August or get rid of the colors, but I already have all the formulas in there so that you don’t have to calculate a thing. Instructions are included in the file, but if you have any questions about anything feel free to ask!

I just think tools that let you see everything like that can be really useful. I want to see if anyone would like to write with my this summer. Nothing intense, nothing nearly as frantic as NaNoWriMo. My personal word goals are 10,000 for both May and July, then 20,000 during June and August. Obviously I won’t write every day, but I’m hoping to keep myself writing at least every week.

So if you’ve like to join me, leave a comment here! If enough people join up (you can write as much as you want, set your goal for 5,000 words a month if you want) then I’ll post each month to tell everyone how I’m doing and ask everyone else to report on their current status. I think it’ll be a fun way to meet some more bloggers and get to know them!

The project I’ll be working on primarily is A Game of Madness. If I finish I’ll just start my other project that was abandoned from trying to write too much at once. I don’t think I’ll get past A Game of Madness, though.