Where to Start… Editing (ugh)

giphy-2

I feel this, deep in my feels, because editing is hard. It’s on par, for me, at starting a new book. I sometimes flounder around, not sure where to start, and it keeps on getting pushed back. It’s not the best, because we all have to edit our novels, as they do not come out as perfect stories. Not even the great authors can say they have a great story, draft one, so they have to edit too. Even though I think that, as a writing community, the majority of us hate it.

So, all of that out, where the heck to begin? And, I know, if I say at the beginning, everyone’s going to come after me. So I’m not going to. Where you begin is how I do – you put it in a drawer. Yep, you heard me. You start editing by not starting it immediately after writing. You’re too close. I keep on coming back to this advice whenever I speak about editing because it is the best advice out there. Now, you cannot do it forever. You have to have a date where you bring it out of the drawer. I recommend about two weeks to a month. Any longer and you’re just putting off what needs to be done.

When you are ready to start editing, where you begin is going to depend on what you want to edit. Do you want to go through line by line and make sure everything is perfect on a grammar level? You start at the beginning. If you made notes or remember where you had problem spots? You smooth those out first and then start at the top. Character edits? Go to where characters are introduced and make sure they’re introduced properly with a clear voice. Your start point is going to vary depending on what you’re editing and that’s a very good thing. Sometimes, with edits, like writing, you don’t need to start at the top. You can go to where you had a problem writing and start there.

How do you start editing? Leave a comment below and, until next time, take care.

Start at the Very Beginning

giphy

One of the hardest things, for me at least and for many other writers, is beginning. You can plan all you like, you can make sure you have everything, but the start of a novel, the blank page, is one of the most daunting things a writer can face. I know I’ve talked about this before, about conquering the blank page, but I’m coming back to it because it’s January. It’s the start of new beginnings, so why not continue on with the theme. So, let’s talk about the beginning of our books.

There are ways to start a book, but you want to make sure that you hook your readers. I know I have a problem with this, so I usually just steamroll my way into my books and come back during editing to fix the hook. If I spend too much time, at the start of writing, trying to think of how to start the book, it will never start. I will never write that first sentence, which will go into a second one, and so on. I highly recommend just starting and coming back to edit in a hook. There’s no shame in it. Only you and the book will know that you do it, unless you’re like me and just announce it to the world. Go me.

However, if you’re not a fan of that, take a cliche and run with it. Take starting out with the weather or with a character introducing themselves or with a character introducing another character. One of the biggest strengthens of Prayer for Owen Meany is John Wheelwright describing Owen Meany for the reader and what he does for the main character. Is it a long first sentence? Oh yes. But what a way to set up your book and hook a reader in. So there are three different ways for a writer to set up a book. Now, will these methods also mean that you’re just jelly and you won’t have to edit it? No. You’re always going to have to edit. Make peace with it now.

If you’re really daring, don’t write the first chapter first. Write your ending. Write the middle. Write chapter 2 and then come back to chapter 1. Do whatever you can so you start your book, even if it is not at the very beginning, because it’s still a start. It’s still words you didn’t have the day before. And that, always, is a very good thing.

Until next time, take care.

The Start of a New Decade

giphy-1

Yesterday, I showed off my planners to help me with my goals. Today, I’m going to talk about my big picture goal for 2020, which surprise nobody, and my three goals for Q1 to help me get to that big picture goal. Like I said yesterday, this is due very much in part to Sarra Cannon’s 3 Day Bootcamp and how she broke it down into figuring out what you want and how to get to it. As always, feel free to leave what your goals for 2020 are down in the comments or over on Twitter. I love hearing from everyone!

The big picture, overarching goal, is to get published. Of course, I’m a writer and unpublished author. I want to take out the un in 2020 and I’m going to put all I can into it. It’s either going to be due the traditional route – agent, publishing house, so on; indie; or self publishing. Of the three, the last one is the most scary but if it is what I need to do, then I’m going to do it. You can’t live life sitting on the sidelines and all of that motivational stuff. I have projects that I can push out there and polish up the query letter. I’m not worried about this overall goal but it has a ton of smaller working parts. Which is how we get into my goals for Q1.

  1. Finish my current projects to work towards becoming a published author.
  2. Build up my social media and blog to reach and keep 20 / 40 / 60 new followers
  3. Have 3 solid hours of working time on 50 / 80 / 100% of my working days to build towards having a solid 100% on all my working days.

Now, these are broken down into two different categories and so on and so forth. The novels that I’ll be working on this quarter are Lady of Arrows and trying to tinker with Mystery of the Dark. The second one is because it keeps on being rejected for personal reasons and I want to dig deeper into why. Also, I might change up the format of Mystery of the Dark and self publish or indie publish. Or think long and hard if I want it out there before I am traditionally published. We’ll see. Either way, 2020 is the year I become a published author. I’m entering my fourth decade of being on this rock and, come hell or high water, it’s happening.

What are you goals for 2020? For the decade? Maybe just for this week? Leave a comment down below and, until next time, take care.

 

The Eve of the Start of the Rest of Our Lives

giphy-2

First all, happy New Year Eve! It’s nearly the start of 2020 and.. well, I have plans, guys. I have so many plans that I’ve got 3 planners to help me out here. Okay, so one is more scrapbooking and pretty planning than anything else but that’s okay. It’s also how I’m stopping myself from going insane as it’s a Recollections and… well, it’s just not my planner. However, I wasn’t going to know that and I’m going to stop rambling now. Let’s get into how this is going to go.

20191231_014504

The first two planners I’m going to show you are my main planners. They are where all the things are going down. Also, not going to lie, but the first one is a binder for my HB90 work. HB90 is a 3 day bootcamp run by Sarra Cannon that made me feel like, for once, I am in charge of what I’m going to be doing. A lot of the time, I run around, thinking I’m getting things done, but I get to the end of the year and that’s not the case. Through that, I have 3 defined set goals in my writing, social media, and getting my life into order and we’ll see how it goes. I do highly recommend it when it comes around again in March for Q2.

img_20191231_015719

The second planner is my mini Happy Planner. The one pictured above is the monthly Stargazer, which is really nice. There are pages for the month, then goal planning for the month, followed by daily tasks (I’ll use this for a gratitude list), and then a couple of note pages. However, this wasn’t enough for me and I added in a week on 4 page inserts. I really want this to be my main work planner and on the go. I did get the pen case that comes from the Happy Planner – it’ll fit my planner AND my Kindle paperwhite, so this thing is big – so that should help me throw it into my backpack. I am transferring a lot from the HB90 planner into this one, plus a lot of life stuff – mom’s days off, Cookie’s vet appts, my own appts, etc. – and I’m thinking it’s going to be my main planner. We’ll see how it goes, but fingers crossed it works.

img_20191231_020237

As you can see, this is the pretty planner. I love the idea of using it as a scrapbook / memory planner. I’m thinking that no checklists will be going in there – those will be in the mini Stargazer – and just make it about what happened during the day. I like having time to just sit down and decompress with my planner with no strings attached. I’m wondering if anybody else does that – buys a planner but uses it for recording memories instead of planning ahead – and what your planner looks like.

Ok, so that’s the planner line up for the year. If you want more planner pics, as well as other photos of my life, feel free to follow me over on Instagram here. Join me tomorrow where I’ll blather on about my main big picture goal and my three Q1 goals of 2020. Until next time, take care.

What to Do if You’re Getting Back to Writing After Being Sick

giphy

Hey everyone. For those wondering why this blog post is coming into existence today, it’s because I’m getting over a cold. The end of NaNoWriMo hit and so did a cold, so that was fun. However, it got me thinking, how do I bounce back into writing after giving myself time to be sick? Now, by giving myself time to be sick, it means there is horrible stuff happening – more on that in a sec – but I was okay with that. There was no way that I was up to doing anything other than making sure the house ran smoothly. Also, I like taking a small bit of time (more like a few days, not an entire week, but, ya know, cold) of a few days after the insanity of writing has stopped. All in all in was not a bad thing.

Now, those horrible stuff is more that I need to move around what I was considering as deadlines. It’s also why I’ll have a stretch deadline and then an actual deadline. The stretch deadline is if everything falls into the right place at the right time and nothing unforeseen happens. The actual deadline is because, well, life. Never know what is going to happen or when it’s going to happen so… yeah. Just got to roll with the punches and think if I can really make a deadline or if they have to be pushed back. Or even broken up into different chunks. Again, it’s doable, but you have to be flexible. Otherwise, you’re just going to go “well, that passed and I didn’t reach it, so why do anything”. I’ve been there and it sucks, so, trust me, breaking it down or reminding yourself that you’re human (SO HARD) is a good thing.

Back to the subject on how to get back into it after being sick has different levels. There’s going to be some people who knock back some dayquil and power through (so done that). There’s going to be some people who don’t want to use medicine because it’s not that bad (hi, it’s me this time). There’s also going to be some people who, like always, don’t fall into either but i hope get some helpful advice out of this.

For the first people, as much as you think you want to power through 2,000 words / editing 5 chapters / plot out an entire novel… don’t. Not at all once. Break the 2,000 words down into 500 chunks. Go one chapter at a time. If you need to nap, nap. You will only get sicker if you decide to push your body while you’re getting over a cold. Also, remember to hydrate and eat if you feel that you can. Hydrate no matter what. However, if you break it down and can only do one chunk before napping, that’s okay. If you can get through all of your chunks, that’s great and I want your level of energy. The main point is not to stress yourself or your body out with doing too much too soon. It’s old sage doctor advice, but it so works.

Now, if you’re like me with the cold I’m just getting over, I’m also breaking things down into small chunks. However, mine are even smaller. Instead of 500 word blocks, I’m going with 250. Instead of a chapter a time, I’m doing two to three pages at a time. This is due to the fact that I still feel cruddy and wanting to not do anything. If I can poke my brain into doing 250 words? That’s awesome. That’s my level of what I can do right now. You might be able to do more. You might be able to do less. The thought process is the same – we’re not here to stress our our bodies or our minds. This is a way to ease back in and build up your strength so, in about a week, you can move up to 500 word chunks / chapter at a time. Or even doing the 2,000 words without breaking a sweat.

In either case, I do recommend listening to your body and making sure that you’re doing what you can to get well. I highly recommend lots of tea – helps with keeping hydrated too! – and to not stress yourself out. Things will get done, especially if you have two kinds of deadlines to help you out. What other tips and tricks do you have for getting back to it after being sick? Or even just coming out of not wanting to do anything? Share below and, until next time, take care.

NaNoWriMo 2019 In Review

Hey all, long time no talk. We all knew that was going to happen because I threw myself into NaNoWriMo. I had big dreams – two separate projects! – but it got rolled into both of them being under one account. This is no longer a rebel thing, as I believe they acknowledge that all words are words now, and I’m glad I did it. There were so many problems this month but I’m going to go first into mine and second into NaNo’s. I love the NaNoWriMo team and all but they had problems this year. But, first, me.

The first week of November went well. I did my first 10K day, hit targets, so on and so forth. Then it snowed. Not a light dusting but SNOW. I was not ready for it at all. It didn’t help that it also turned dangerous cold for anybody to be out walking in it for long periods of time. I was stuck in the house a good two months before that really happens. I basically wanted to do nothing but sleep and mope, so that’s what I did. I also had a computer problem that still needs to be worked on. I didn’t lose any files but my speakers are no longer working on my big laptop. Le sigh.

So, it was a combination of the weather being shitty, me wanting to sleep all the time, my own damn fault (there was tea involved with the computer), and getting behind on word count. So I combined my two projects, felt better, and started writing again. I hit 50,070 words on November 26th and this is where we go into part 2 of why November kinda sucked – the NaNoWriMo team.

This year was the 20th year of NaNoWriMo. I’m kind of shocked, but there it is. They decided to celebrate by completely changing the website and forums. It’s a really good idea when you hit 20 years of doing something that a ton of people love doing. However, they probably should have started doing a soft roll out in January or even whenever the first camp was, instead of during November. There were so many problems.

The site was slow. Forums were confusing. There was just a ton of dust but nobody died. We got over it. The site started going faster and things were hitting where they should. Until validation. The validation tool was not working for the new website. They thought they could get it up by the end of the month but it was no go. Which, you know, that’s life and all. However… I am surprised by how it effected my overall experience. I am used to, near the end of the month, uploading my document and being declared a Winner!

This year? Yeah, I put in my word count saying it but there’s nobody going “hey, found these extra words” or “you need x amount”. It did not feel official. It really didn’t. But, as I was talking this over with my longest ever friend (we met in 4th grade), she put forth the question “is this challenge even for you anymore?”.

It got me thinking. Maybe it isn’t. Maybe I’m putting this all on NaNo when, in reality, I know I can write 50,000 words or more in a month. I’ve done it for 11 straight years (that’s including the 2019 win). I am a writer. I introduce myself as an unpublished author. Maybe I am just too experienced for NaNoWriMo and, next year, I should push my goal to be writing a complete first draft in a month. That usually takes me a month and a half to two months.

We’ll see. There’s 11 months to get my own shit together and for them to do so too. Until next time, take care.

#Preptober – #NaNoWriMo Eve-Eve

giphy-2

Alright everybody! It is T-2 days until NaNoWriMo! Is your house clean? Is your writing space ready? Do we have all of the plotting done or are you going to wing it, you adorable pantser you? Today, I’ve just got some last minute advice before we dive into the adventure together.

If you are a planner – how’s it going? Do you have your outline done? Are you committing to be flexible and let the story take you on a journey? By now, the answers to these questions might be yes. Or they might be that you’re hiding under the covers or couch and that’s okay too. Deep breaths here. Writing 50,000 words in a month is scary but you got this. You have a plan. I would advise to make peace with being flexible now instead of when you’re possibly falling behind. Make sure that your writing space is ready and that you have everything ready with your family and pets.

If you are a pantser – how’s it going? Do you have some characters and an idea? I bet that you are peaceful with being flexible so I’m going to ask you to make peace with that you might have to bring order to chaos. You might have to stop and think to plan out how your characters or plot will survive. Or even your world. Make peace with it out – maybe even sketch out the bare bones of a plan B, C, or M. Maybe a character dies in plan M (kudos if you know what that’s a kinda quote from). Just sit a bit with the feeling that you might have to plan out something. It’ll be okay.

And, if you are completely done, kudos! Have some Halloween candy early. Or double check that everything is in place that you need to have in place. Do you have your supplies? How about coffee / tea / beverage of choice? I would recommend checking out the NaNoWriMo forums, perhaps deciding on some word crawls, and then relaxing. Perhaps some reading or TV time. Or sleep. Sleep is good.

No matter how prepared or over prepared you are, Happy Halloween and Happy NaNoWriMo. Until next time, take care and happy writing.