>Writing every day

I can hear your groan a mile away. This is not new advice, right?  Yeah, every writer blog you’ve ever seen tells you that.  It’s good advice, but you’ve already heard it.

Well, I’m not going to tell you to.  Because you already know. What I will tell you is how this advice has started to transform my life!

Seriously, I’ve been suffering from insomnia for the last year or so. A lot of it is because of my lingering post partum depression (PPD, to the uninitiated.)  Some of it eating habits (Why yes, I’d love a coke at 10:00 PM!). But the primary cause is staying up too late on the computer. There was a study done recently linking computer screen time to insomnia.  My husband told me about it, and it makes sense;  the light emanating from the computer screen interrupts your natural biorhythms.  So I figured… why not. Let’s cut out the electronic lap-teat and see what happens.

I don’t have any good books around right now, so I pulled out my blank journal, the one I’ve been half-ass carrying around with me all the time with intentions of writing.

I wrote 20 pages in two days.

That was four weeks ago. I’ve only missed three nights, and that was due to unavoidable medical issues.  I’ve gone from 24 pages to 92 (as of last night.) I’m sleeping better, my back hurts less,and I’m a lot less grumpy. More importantly, the only time I’ve seen 3 AM has been when the insomnia left me tossing and turning in bed AFTER I wrote.

It feels good. I’ve actually loved sitting in bed, with my husband, him reading a book, me listening to my MP3 player and scribbling like I did when I was a poor teenager with no computer.

Best of all? No email to distract me from my latest WIP.

Now that, my friends, is good news indeed.

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>How to make a million dollars writing

>Write.

Amazing, isn’t it? I bet you thought I was going to sell you something, or tell you a secret that only a select few knew.

Nope. Just write. Writing well helps, but isn’t necessary. It really helps, though.

Do not do what I’m doing at the moment, which is surfing blogs, writing blogs, reading webcomics, and not writing.

I’m going to take my own advice now, and write.

>Obsession and time

>I hear about this sort of thing a lot, especially on the NaNoWriMo forums. Someone will talk about a story that they’ve been writing for years, often five or more. You’ll hear about a book that took seven years to write, and now the writer is trying to find (unsuccessfully) representation for it. Justine Larbalestier wrote of one such who is so defensive about their magnum opus that they literally will NOT ever accept any criticism, positive or negative, regarding their work. They still have no representation.

Part of being a writer is learning that no matter how wonderful you think a scene, a character, or even an entire novel is… that other people can and probably will think differently. When you invest so much of your life and heart into one work, you literally become unable to separate yourself from it in any useful fashion. I see truly talented writers get lost in a sea of obsession over a single piece, a single character. I’ve seen good novels go in the toilet because of a single scene that detracted from the meaning, but the writer was too invested in it to cut it.

Being a writer, a successful one anyway, means being able to step back and look at your work objectively.

Not only that, if you spend all your time and effort on one tale, your other tales get lost by the wayside. When and if you finally get published, your agent and your publisher aren’t going to want you to stop there. They’ll want you to keep writing, because that’s what a career is: writing books. Plural. So if you’ve spent all your life writing one, you’re not going to really KNOW how to write the next.

All writers need distance from their work in order to really be able to improve it. I spent five years away from Nightblade’s Fury. That was probably longer than I should have gone, but my life was tumultuous. When I did finally pick it back up, I was able to read it with fresh eyes. If I couldn’t see where something was going, I knew that my readers certainly wouldn’t be able to. It gave me perspective, and I was able to whip out my red pen and brutalize it.

Here’s what my novel looked like when I picked it up after five years and started reading:


2576 x 1932 (807 kb)

Do you really think I would have been that brutal with it right after I was done with the first draft? I cut whole chapters… probably half the novel, lost to the red pen. But when the chaff was gone, I had wheat. And I had a product that I was actually not ashamed to show to others. It’s not perfect, and still needs a lot of work, but I think that the end result will be great, and salable. But I won’t stop there; in fact, even though I’m not done with this one, it’s out of my hands, and I’m already working on the next project. An object at rest tends to stay at rest. Thanks to my completion of Nightblade’s Fury, I’ve got motivation to really work on other things… I want a backlist of novels to submit. When Nightblade goes out to the agents? I’m going to keep writing. Because it may not get accepted, no matter how great I think it is. I don’t want to put all my eggs in one basket.

>Eureka!

>Just goes to show, you can always learn something, even when you think you know everything about something.

I’ve been struggling with stylistic concerns, lately. You may remember a previous post about conjunctions (or that might have been an LJ post, or even an email… it doesn’t matter. Someone feel free to correct me, and I’ll repost here for your benefit, if you’re all that interested).

I’ve been struggling with the flow of my prose, how things sound. Since I’ve been doing the latest pages in Nightblade’s Fury by hand, in a notebook, I noticed that hasn’t been bothering me as much.

I figured out why.

I’m thinking too much about it. I’m concentrating so much on the technical aspects, that I’m losing my style. It doesn’t MATTER if it’s technically correct, what matters is that it flows. I need to focus on the story, and worry about the technical stuff.

What I may be perceiving as a problem may not actually be one at all; it will depend on what others feel about it.

Check out Orson Scott Card’s writing class on style… this is what really got me thinking. He speaks of people so choked by their obsession with “correct style” that they couldn’t write at all! You get so caught up in not using too many adverbs, or obsessing over showing-not-telling that you get away from what matters… the writing. It doesn’t matter if it’s technically correct by MLA standards if people like your storytelling ability.

I’m feeling more up to tackling Hacker Dragon, now. I was thoroughly intimidated, because that story was begun in a feverish haze of emotion and character, and I wasn’t sure I could recreate the tone and intensity. Now I know that I can… I just have to stop worrying about HOW, and just write!

>101 Reasons to Stop Writing

>http://101reasonstostopwriting.blogspot.com/

This guy is brilliant.

There are far too many people on this planet who have no business picking up a pen. Or a keyboard. They wouldn’t, if they had to pick up a pen to do it. They spew their drivel over the pages like so much vomit, and then are Hurt and Amazed when the rest of the world thinks it’s utter crap. These are the people who get their mommies to sent hate mail to agents who reject them, who send hate mail to agents who reject them, who refuse to do edits, or who finally turn to POD when no one else will take it. Or, God forbid, the Christopher Paolinis of the world, with rich enough parents to convince people to buy their book. Those are the worst. They’ve been told, wrongly, that they can write.

Here’s the thing. Write your story. Go for it! I’m a hearty proponent of the NaNoWriMo experience. Writing is fun. I’ve done it for most of my life. But just because you’ve written something doesn’t mean it deserves to be published.

Don’t get your panties in a wad when people not related to you or who aren’t your friends aren’t interested.

Writing and publishing is a tough business. If you aren’t willing to accept the realities and hardships involved, then this isn’t the business for you. I expect it will take me years to break in, if at all. I’m realistic about my odds. But you can be damn sure I’ll never burn my bridges because someone else thinks my deathless prose blows chunks (After all, they might be right!). I think I write better than Anne Rice ever has. But she has something I don’t: a fan base.

One day, maybe. But I swear, in front of God and everyone who reads this blog (all three of you) that I will never, ever, EVER be too damn good for an editor.

And you can quote me on that.

>On the rules of writing

>Learn the rules. Inhale the rules. BE the rules.

Because only once you understand the rules, may you break them.

The greats who break the rules regularly can do so because they know what those rules are, and know why they’re breaking them. That’s what makes them great. Breaking rules because you don’t know they exist just makes you uneducated.

When you’re just getting started in this wild and wooly world of writing and publication, you have to know your craft. To steal from another blogger: You wouldn’t want a doctor who doesn’t know anything about bones, nor a lawyer who decides to study the laws after passing the bar, would you? No! Don’t try to become a published author on sheer ideas alone.

You can have the best idea in the world, but if your technical ability blows, you’ll never get past that agent’s assistant. The world is full of many people who think they can write; don’t be one of those who blames the publishing industry for the fact that they suck.

Also understand that you’re not as good as you think you are. Just because your family, your friends, and your dog tells you that they love your stuff doesn’t mean anyone else will. I know I’m a good writer… but I also understand that I have a LONG, long way to go before anything I write is publishable. To quote Hemingway: “The first draft of anything is shit.” That also means the second, third, and fourth drafts will probably suck, too. And that’s okay. As long as you never reach Anne Rice proportions and decide you’re too good for editors, you’ll have a chance.

>Methylisothiazolinone and Phenoxyethanol

>What do you need to be a writer?

I mean, NaNoWriMo was created for everyone’s “someday”, so that instead of waiting until you retired to write that Great American Novel, you do it now, and get yourself really started. So what makes a person want to write a book in the first place?

For me, at least, it was being a voracious reader. The sort of reader who got in trouble for reading in school. I mean that quite literally… I have the report cards from elementary school to prove it. In the comments the teacher would say things like “Must stop reading during lessons.” Some kids would get busted for hiding porn in their textbooks… I was busted for hiding C.S. Lewis novels.

My parents would search my bookbag before I left to make sure I wasn’t smuggling in fantasy stories. The library had my signature in most of the checkout cards. The librarians all knew be by name, and absolutely lit up to see me enter.

At the breakfast table, I’d read the back of cereal boxes, the ingredient list, everything I could get. In the shower, I learned that methylisothiazolinone is an ingredient in most shampoos. I couldn’t stop reading.

And so I learned to tell stories myself. It started with little notebook paper books, ten pages, maybe a hundred words total, stapled and illustrated… and hasn’t stopped. I wrote most of the literary magazine my senior year myself.

The great thing about this is it gave me a pretty good idea of what it takes to write a book. When you read so many, you learn what works, and what doesn’t. I hope to take that knowledge and turn it into something marketable. And hopefully profitable!