Inspiration and my Favorite NaNoWriMo Pep Talks!

Marie Lan Nguyen

If you’ve found this page in my blog then you’ve likely already made the decision to join NaNoWriMo and write a novel in November.  (Thank God!  I don’t want to be alone in this!) 

Seriously though, I really believe that everybody has a story to tell.  I’ve met so many people who tell wonderful stories but most have never bothered to put them down in writing, like my father, and it’s really hard to write someone else’s stories down for them.

How you tell that story is up to you. I also very firmly believe in NaNo Rebels – write poetry, a memoir, short stories, a script, whatever you fancy, just write those words down.

For some of us, writing is what we we felt we were always meant to do for the rest of our lives, but that isn’t necessary to NaNoWriMo.  It’s okay if you’re doing this because you want to get your memoir down or just want to give it a try. There’s no right or wrong way to do this, or a right or wrong reason for doing it.

It doesn’t matter whether the manuscript ever sees the light of day, just joining us on this endeavor is going to put you in touch with your creativity in a way you’ve never experienced before. 

There have been quite a few official NaNoWriMo “Pep Talks” over the last six years.  Sadly they are not all created equal.  Some ramble, some need editing, and some have really good advice.  The advice can be useful but when I want a pep talk, I want a PEP talk! I’ve been making a list of my personal favorites.

(2009 was a short list but the two I chose are some of the funniest I’ve read.)

Obviously, the best inspiration comes from reading material that directly relates to your novel in November. For me, I’ll be looking at articles and books, pro and con on GMOs, that inform my fiction. I’ll also be watching movies that are in the same genre I am writing. 

(Where will you glean inspiration from? Please take a minute to comment and share!)

Whether you’re getting ready for Nano and want to procrastinate a bit, are looking for some much needed encouragement or want to bookmark this page to pop back in when you’re two weeks under way and feel like you’re foundering, here they are – my favorite pep talks in all of Nano land.

2007

Author – Neil Gaiman

Favorite line –You don’t know why you started your novel, you no longer remember why you imagined that anyone would want to read it, and you’re pretty sure that even if you finish it it won’t have been worth the time or energy and every time you stop long enough to compare it to the thing that you had in your head when you began—a glittering, brilliant, wonderful novel, in which every word spits fire and burns, a book as good or better than the best book you ever read—it falls so painfully short that you’re pretty sure that it would be a mercy simply to delete the whole thing.” Sounds SO cheerful, doesn’t it?

Link –  http://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks/neil-gaiman

Author – Sue Grafton

Favorite line –Perhaps you’re suddenly uncertain your immediate family will appreciate your rendition of their annual drunken Christmas antics that result in all those accusations, renunciations, and slamming of doors. “

Link – http://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks/sue-grafton

Author – Sara Gruen 

Favorite line –But today, I am going to jump around and write only the fun bits! I’m going to write about food fights, and disastrous sex, and escaping in-laws, and apes with unlimited credit! “

Linkhttp://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks/sara-gruen

2008

 Author – Chris Baty

Favorite Line –November 16: The second half of NaNoWriMo dawns. Writerly confidence builds. Your book comes to life, and characters start doing interesting, unexpected things. Nice. Weird.”

Link – http://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks/chris-baty-2008

Author – Meg Cabot

Favorite Line –But how long until some other story idea comes along and twitches its enticing little characters at you, and you decide to abandon this new one for it? How many words will you have then?”

Link – http://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks/meg-cabot

Author – Janet Fitch

Favorite Line –When in doubt, make trouble for your character. Don’t let her stand on the edge of the pool, dipping her toe. Come up behind her and give her a good hard shove. “

Linkhttp://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks/janet-fitch

Author – Jonathan Stroud

Favorite Line – “This wasn’t the moment for genteel self-editing. This was the time when the novel had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into existence, and that meant piling up the pages.”

Link – http://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks/jonathan-stroud

2009

Author – Maureen Johnson

Favorite Line – “What’s nice about NaNoWriMo is that you are traveling with a posse of thousands, all of you making your way over the mountains, through the valleys, across the creeks. You are fighting off the beasties.”

Link – http://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks/maureen-johnson

Author – Gail Carson Levine

Favorite Line – “My techy friend spent hours tinkering with my computer. She’s assured me that it will combust if I try to reestablish connections to the internet and email. The single thing I’m keeping is my cell phone in case I start to go into cardiac arrest, but the keys are smeared with battery acid, except the 9, the 1, and send. “

Link – http://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks/gail-carson-levine

2010

Author – Chris Baty

Favorite Line – “Incite change. If your story is losing momentum, juice it up by inflicting some major changes on your characters. Crash the spaceship. End the marriage. Buy the monkey. Change is scary because we have to figure out what comes next. But feeling afraid is ten times better than feeling bored, and your book will benefit from your risk-taking.”

Link – http://http://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks/chris-baty-2010

Author – Lindsey Grant

Favorite Line – “All together, let’s laugh in exultation at our total domination!/ MuahaHAHA!/Now let’s go do some writing.”

Link – http://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks/lindsey-grant-2010

Author – Holly Black

Favorite Line –There aren’t good books and bad books. There are finished books and books that still need more work. Please don’t let wondering if there’s a market for your book or wondering if the book you’re writing is genius or evidence that you should be heavily medicated get in the way of the writing. “

Link – http://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks/holly-black

Author – Lemony Snicket

Favorite Line – “Think of all the things you could do with your time instead of participating in a noble and storied art form. There are things in your cupboards that likely need to be moved around.”

Link – http://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks/lemony-snicket

2011

Author – Chris Baty

Favorite Line – “Sadly, the older we get, the harder it is to find time to visit these wild places within. Between school, work, and family, the days just get away from us. There might be an hour of writing here or a few minutes of dreaming there, but it’s usually sandwiched between tasks and errands. The roar of that creative ocean becomes a distant sound that occasionally drifts in through our windows at night, reminding us of a place we once loved, and keep meaning to get back to./ But you know what?/ This November, we’re going to the ocean.”

Link – http://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks/chris-baty-2011

Author – Rachael Herron

Favorite Line – “Every day I white-knuckled it, and on November 30th, I wrote my 50,006th word. The words The and End were two of those. After a few months of lying in dark rooms recovering, I picked it back up and gave it a real ending. “

Link – http://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks/rachael-herron

Author – Erin Morgenstern

Favorite Line – “I want to mix you each the beverages of your choice, cocktails or sodas or tea or foam-topped espresso drinks that all magically maintain perfect drinking temperature. Bring you truffles or tira misu or chocolate-covered popcorn and give you wrist massages while whispering these encouraging, fortune-cookie bits of wisdom-esque whatnot garnered in my years of NaNo-ing”

Link – http://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks/erin-morgenstern

Author – Lani Diane Rich

Favorite Line – “You’re not signing up for this challenge because you want to type a lot in November./ You’re doing it because you have a story to tell, and that’s a big deal.”

Link – http://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks/lani-diane-rich

2012

Author – Chris Baty

Favorite Line – “…we’ve realized the whole “fair fight” thing was a dumb idea, and partly because we blew all of our harassment budget on yesterday’s spectacularly unsuccessful attempt to crash every word processor in Manitoba.”

Link – http://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks/chris-baty-2012

Author – Grant Faulkner

Favorite Line – “It resembles a canvas that a gaggle of preschoolers are fingerpainting on together. Then, while the teacher isn’t looking, the ornery little devils find a box of feathers, glitter, Cheerios, pasta shells, and they toss it all into the mix.”

Link – http://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks/grant-faulkner

Author – Marissa Meyer

Favorite Line – “The trick to landing an excellently unexpected insertion is to not go with the first idea that pops into your head—too often, that is the domain of clichés and the all-too-expected. Rather, try making a list of at least twenty things you would enjoy writing about right now. It doesn’t matter if it has anything to do with what you’ve written so far (you can always drop in some nice foreshadowing during revisions), and the whole point is that you’re about to insert something fun, unique, and exciting into this draft.”

Link – http://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks/scott-westerfeld

Author – Scott Westerfeld

Favorite Line – “Make a list of all the varieties of aliens you can come up with. (And if it’s less than 3,000, then THE PEARS ARE LAUGHING AT YOU, MY FRIEND.)”

Link – http://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks/scott-westerfeld

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Well Begun is NOT Half Done, But It’s a Start

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Well begun is not half done.  Not even close.  But it’s a start.

So, there’s been a little writing this week.  A couple small poems started, waiting to see if they lead anywhere. One is a spoken word poem about intrinsic self worth.   Yesterday morning I saw a couple Turkey Vultures on the peak of the barn roof and it made me think about a haiku  –

Two Turkey Vultures

Sitting on the old barn roof

Scan for cat’s dead moles

Yeah, that last line might need a little work, but at least I’m writing something.

I’ve been listening to Ted Talks about storytelling and writing while I work on things that don’t require my full attention this week.  I get all inspired and then when I can actually write, I’m too tired.  It sucks.

Today my goal is a list of everything I want to be doing, in writing, outside and inside the house.  I think it will help me focus on chipping away at my goals.

I’ve also been thinking about how the root of great writing is storytelling.  I grew up with a father who told really great stories about his childhood.  I think that’s part of what got me interested in writing.  I’ve heard of a writing method called the Snowflake method.  Someone told me about it once and the way they explained it, you start by writing down your story as if you were telling it to a friend or a small group at a party, to entertain, then you flesh it out, adding character traits, setting, details, etc.

There’s an ehow on how to write using that method here, but that isn’t the way it was initially explained to me.  I think I prefer the way it was explained to me.  This results in more of a synopsis that you can fill with details.

Overall, I prefer more of an organic method for writing, just starting with an idea and seeing where it leads me.

We looked at a writing method last night in writer’s group that suggested breaking the parts of writing out so that you research at the beginning, then write, then edit, doing things in an exact order.

I personally prefer to research until I reach a sort of escape velocity/ maximum threshold where I have to put pen to paper and start pouring the synthesized ideas out into something new.

One writer pointed out that he prefers to write then see what he needs to know and do the research then.  I suspect it’s a recursive process for most of us and while it’s wise to try not to edit while you’re doing the bulk of your writing, the writing and the research will circle around each other.

So, the light is peaking over the horizon and the writing has begun again.  I don’t feel quite as blocked but it’s building slowly instead of galloping along.  Time for a list and some good old-fashioned elbow grease.

Stalled Writing Mind Needs a Jump Start

carabandoned

Writer’s write.  Right?

Except, sometimes we don’t.

My mind has stalled.  That doesn’t mean it’s ready for the junkyard.

I had the bright idea to take a vacation day today.  I was going to go hide somewhere and finish editing those next fifty pages of Biomalware and write one of the short stories I have started.

Then I remembered that I have an appointment with a budding author today to talk about how to publish an ebook and the desk shifts at work got rearranged so I am scheduled on the desk today after all.

*sigh*

The truth is that I just can’t clear my schedule of life to write.  Writing is going to have to happen around my schedule.

And I’m not like those authors who are capable of staying up late writing into the wee hours of the morning and going to work on coffee and a couple hours sleep, or getting up a couple hours early to write before work after going to bed at midnight, once the munchkin is taken care of.  I need more sleep than I get now.

I’m going to have to grab my time to write and edit when I can, whenever I see a few minutes to do so, on a daily basis.

There may be times when I have a chunk of time to devote to it, but that isn’t my daily life.

Sometimes exhaustion or sadness over events of the world keeps me from feeling creative, my body gets overwhelmed or, like last night, I worry about the coming weather and find myself restlessly flipping back and forth between weather.com and Facebook.

These things serve to distract me.  Sometimes, I feel like I’m trying to turn a car that’s lost its power steering back on course.  You can do it but it takes some real muscle.

So, I’m curious, my question is – how do you fit writing into your life?  Is it daily, weekly or just whenever you can?  And what do you do when you feel like you’ve gotten off track to get yourself back on?

(Please join me on my Facebook page, where I will be posting a daily note on something interesting or inspiring about writing or life in general. Just click here -> Melora Johnson’s Facebook page.)

Creativity, Deadlines and NYFA Source for Artists

450px-Old_Faithful_Geyser,_Calistoga,_California

I was at home yesterday with my daughter and managed to write… one whole sentence.  So much for the font of creativity.

It was a really good sentence though.  Actually, it was even dialogue.  It seemed to fit in with one of the five stories I am working on so I opened the document and typed it in.

That’s how it’s been going lately, drips and drabs.  I think my font may have frozen over.  One of these days something will capture my imagination and I’ll get something done.  I think I may need a deadline though.  Deadlines just help me focus and accomplish.  That brings me to what I wanted to share today, NYFA Source, because it’s a place to look for fellowships, scholarships, grants and other competitions which can provide the needed deadline.

Now, this is through the New York Foundation for the Arts BUT it does cover resources across the country.

The New York Foundation for the Arts (nyfa.org)

“The New York Foundation for the Arts’ mission is to empower artists at critical stages in their creative lives.”

NYFA Source is the nation’s most extensive database of awards, services and publications for artists of all disciplines including dance, folk, traditional, media, performance, interdisciplinary, visual, music, literature, theater, and arts management.

What do they mean by “awards, services and publications?”  Awards include the usual – grants, fellowships, scholarships, emergency funds, and even space to work in.  Services may include legal, education, financial, insurance and more.  Publications are geared towards your specific discipline, including newsletters, online publications, magazines and even books.

Go to www.nyfa.org then hover your mouse cursor over “for artists” and select the third item down, “NYFA Source the resource for artists.”

Now you have 8 different tabs and you can fill out criteria in one or more of them to search.

  1. Awards
  2. Discipline
  3. Location
  4. Deadline
  5. Services
  6. Organization
  7. Keyword
  8. Other Criteria

Give it a look sometime.  Oh, and don’t forget to stop by Facebook and like my page for a daily message of inspiration or information, depending on how I’m feeling.

Happy writing!

The Power of “Could” Over “Should” For a Writer

Monkey-typing

This past week I’ve been on vacation, at home, but I’ve got diddley squat to show for it in terms of writing and editing. 

My plan was to edit the first fifty pages of Biomalware then go back and start a total re-write.

Then I got an idea for a new short story. 

Then the short story turned into a novel idea.

Then I made a list of all the short stories that I’ve started on my computer and never finished.

Then I made peanut butter chocolate chip muffins with my daughter.  (She did the stirring.  Well, some of it.  She’s only 2 1/2.)

And did a few Soduko puzzles.

There were other things in there but you get the idea.  Not much writing or editing.  Part of the problem is that I think about what I “should” do and my brain balks like a mule.

So, I’m going back to an old idea I learned years ago, turning “should” into “could.”  Instead of telling myself I should be editing Biomalware or working on a short story, I tell myself I could edit or pick a story to work on.  For some reason my brain just hears it differently and I don’t get the malaise that I get when I tell myself I “should” do something.  Hopefully that will help me getting some writing or editing done over the next three days, before I go back to work.

I did manage to post a new short story to Yahoo!, Memories and Choices.  I originally submitted it to the Writer’s Digest short short story contest but it didn’t win so I’ve put it out there for the reading.  It’s a bit of science fiction, magical realism and fan fic.

I understand there’s a Camp NaNoWriMo running this month.  They can be great for motivation but I won’t be participating this month.  I’m trying to focus on quality over quantity right now.

Happy Writing!

Making a Start on my Writing, Over and Over Again

Mountains_in_Azerbaijan

 

The other day I was telling one of my co-worker’s, who is also a writer, about my intention to edit the next fifty pages of Biomalware (just in case the fellowship contest wants to see them) then go back and do a complete re-write and re-imagining of the book, to really get the tone I want.

She looked at me with something akin to admiration, “You’re really doing it.”

“Well, not really,” I replied, shamefaced. I’d been procrastinating terribly, as far as I was concerned. “I haven’t done anything with it in a couple weeks.”

“But you are,” she insisted. “You’re thinking about it and that’s an important part of it.”

 She’s right. I am doing it. Stating my intention and thinking about it is a step in the process.

I also have a huge tendency to discount what I’ve accomplished because I’m not accomplishing it as fast as I’d like. (I suspect I’m not the only one, huh?) I intended to do a complete edit on those fifty pages today. Instead I did about seven pages. I made a start though, and that’s important.

So, maybe it’ll take me a week to get that edit done, but I will get it done. Then I’ll start the re-write, hopefully by the beginning of April and complete it within the next three months. Maybe it will take longer. I’ll take as long as I have to. I simply won’t stop until I accomplish it.

Perseverance. It’s the difference between the published and unpublished.

I’ll keep writing, no matter what, because I love to write. I’ll keep growing in my writing because I love to learn. I’ll keep submitting because I love to share my stories. I’ve already found people that enjoyed my stories and I’ll find more. Hopefully some day I’ll be writing for a living.

I always recall Joseph Campbells advice to follow your bliss. If you do, the money will come. If it doesn’t, you’ve still had a damned good time in the process and life is about the journey, not the destination.

Give Yourself Some Writing Credit

Taken by Bohringer Friedrich

So often, we think about all that we have yet to do or that we should be doing, but I’d like to take a moment to focus on all we do get done as writers, usually with schedules that are already full of living.

 Last week a coworker sent me a link to Pen Parentis (http://www.penparentis.org) an organization set up specifically for writers who are also parents.  There are dues to pay but you receive certain benefits by being a member, like being part of a community of writers who understand your challenges as a writing parent, savings on application fees for certain contest and fellowship application fees from Pen Parentis partners, an author profile, marketing space, promotion of your literary events on the events calendar and a Pen Parentis logo that you can use on your web site or e-stationary.

 Anyway, it got me thinking that, you know, I’m doing pretty darn good at this writing thing. I am a parent of a small child, I commute an hour each way and work a full-time job. I still write, even participating in National Novel Writing Month where I wrote over 50,000 words in August during Camp NaNoWriMo and hope to do so again this month. I’ve published things on Yahoo! Voices and earned actual money from it, as well as entering various contests.

 Of course, all this writing doesn’t happen in a vacuum. My job is a tremendous help. Not only am I librarian, surrounded by books in a moderately large library, but I run an adult writing group there, sanctioned and originally requested by the library. My director is tremendously supportive of my writing endeavors too. When I had two pieces featured on Yahoo! Voices, she celebrated by giving me a ticket to a local charity fashion event.

 Then there is my family, friends and past school teachers. I’ve never been laughed at or scoffed at but rather supported in my writing. I remember each of my English teachers in high school being supportive in some way.  I remember going to a reading with some students from one of my English classes in high school. I thoroughly enjoyed it and when we left I said that I really liked one particular story and wished I could write like that. My English teacher looked at me and said, “You write better than that.” I never forgot that.

 Last, and perhaps most importantly, my husband is very supportive of my writing – verbally, actively and financially. He listens to me talk about stories that I’m writing with interest and when he knows I’m working hard on a piece he will do extra chores around the house, like emptying the dishwasher when it’s not his turn. The laptop that I’m writing on right now, plus the voice activated digital recorder and the Dragon NaturallySpeaking software that I use were all bought for me by him.

 No, all the roadblocks in my way have been of my own creating which creates a little bit of guilt. I love to write and hope to one day write for a living. Now I have to prove that is what I want by writing and submitting finished pieces. I could kick myself for not moving toward my goals faster, but as the song by Jason Mraz says, “I’m letting myself off the hook for the things I’ve done/ I let my past go past/ and now I’m having more fun.”  We need to start giving ourselves credit for all we do accomplish and enjoy writing. Who’s with me?

Camp NaNoWriMo and getting started –

Well, I wasn’t sure I was ready to start this novel.  I wrote the short story, Biomalware, months ago and my writer’s group proclaimed it “the one.”  They felt I should turn it into a novel.  I thought about it for a while and decided they were right so I started mulling over how to do that.  I got some character sheets, setting sheets and scene sheets from The Writer’s Craft web site and… they sat there.  I made up my mind to start writing the novel as part of Camp NaNoWriMo in June, and I got about six hundred words, give or take.  That was as far as I got.  Don’t ask me why.

Then, recently, I had a dream.  In my dream, I was sitting at a computer at work, doing something.  I realized that if I just started writing the novel, it would come and it would sell.  So, in my dream, I took out a tissue and blew my nose.  Then I opened a blank document and wrote, “She took out a tissue and blew her nose.”  (Thankfully, what I’m writing is not a chronicle of my life right now.) 

When I woke up, I decided to start writing with Camp NaNoWriMo in August.  “This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything.” (Douglas Adams)  I prepared a little bit but on August 1st, I opened up a blank document, brought over the first three sentences of what I had previously written and just started. 

It was grueling at first.  I didn’t feel inspired.  I worried the whole venture would have to go this way, slogging my way through bit by bit.  But then I reminded myself about what Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo, had said about how the novel takes on a life of it’s own.  So I stuck with it hoping that, after a week, the novel would take off and things would get a bit easier. 

I made it through day one, then day two.  I tried to keep going over what I’d written so far and the story as I knew it so my mind would work on it when I had nothing else to think about.  And a funny thing happened at the end of day two.  I had more story to tell.  I couldn’t go to sleep until I scribbled a few paragraphs down.  Then I woke up this morning and my brain had more to say about it.  Something is happening here, folks.  I’m beginning to live in my story, and it feels wonderful.

(By the way, synchronicity is a strange thing.  I just went to the NaNoWriMo web site to look for Chris Baty’s name because I couldn’t remember it and found there was a post Nano pep talk from Audrey Niffenegger that I had never read last year.  Since I just started listening to Her Fearful Symmetry in the car last night, I read it.  Quite nice.  But I won’t tell you what it said because you should have signed up for NaNoWriMo last year so you could get the pep talk and read it for yourself!)

Anyway, looking forward to lunch so I can write some more.  I’m hoping that one of these days my characters are going to surprise me and do something really interesting.  If not, I’ll just have to add it in the re-write.

Determination and Dreams

I had a dream last night that was rather interesting.  I was sitting at a computer and I had the realization that if I just started and wrote the darn book, it would sell.  In the dream, I blew my nose, opened a blank document and wrote something along the lines of “she blew her nose and…”

Now, I could take this as a sign that if I just sit down and start typing on my novel, the words will come, they will be good and it will sell.  That’s an exciting and a scary idea at the same time.  Or I could take it as a statement that I believe in myself.  If the latter, why haven’t I done it?  Can it be, as Marianne Williamson says, that I am afraid of success?

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.” ~ Marianne Williamson

Perhaps it’s like having a lottery ticket.  I buy a lottery ticket, either scratch off or for one of the drawings, as a game.  I don’t particularly think I’m going to win, but since I bought the ticket, there’s that slight chance.  Maybe 1 out of every 5 times I’ll win a dollar or two.  1 out of a hundred times I might win twenty dollars.  Maybe one day, I’ll actually win something significant.  My odds for writing and selling, something I’ve been working on improving my skills at for a while now, have got to be a lot better than that.  The great thing is that my enjoyment is not contingent on the selling, I can just enjoy the writing part of it too.

I had an assignment this past week for the Yahoo! Contributor Network.  After storms on Thursday, we were without power to Saturday night but I knew I had the assignment to do so, on Friday morning, while my husband was there and my daughter was playing, I sat on the couch with my laptop, which was thankfully fully charged, and made notes then drafted the essay.  I found out that, even with my attention divided, I could still write.  I’m afraid it’s not going to carry over into fiction very well, but I’ll find out.  (We went out to lunch and then stopped by McDonald’s to use the Wifi so I could upload the essay.)

I’m going for NaNoWriMo in August.  I may not finish the book in August, in fact I’m sure I won’t, but I will take every opportunity to write and make significant progress.  This is the year.  This is the year that I write a book and sell it.

Changing Approaches

I’ve read a lot of articles and blogs by authors who talk about the way that they write or their “method.”  The truth is that there may be as many methods of writing as there are authors, but I’m coming to the conclusion that we need to be open to changing the way that we do things based on our current situation.

My preferred way of writing has been to get up in the morning and write but that isn’t really possible these days because of my schedule.  I have to tuck it in wherever I can, like writing in my head on my drive time then scribbling it down when I get to work.

Also, I prefer to keep taking in information on a topic until I reach a critical mass and start synthesizing it into a new form that will be my novel or short story.  That isn’t working for me right now so I’m planning to start my novel anyway and use Laurel K. Hamilton’s method of writing.  I remember reading an interview with her where she said that she writes along and when she comes to something that needs research she simply inserts something along the lines of [insert info on _____ here] and keeps going.  Sounds like a good way to draft.

At writer’s group last night, one of my fellow writers talked about trying to add to scenes and not getting anywhere so instead he was writing down everything he knew about all his characters and then he would see where that leads.  As he read what he already had, we made suggestions and we could see fireworks going off over his head as he made connections and thought of more.  (Writing as a group jazz improv is really fun, I have to say.)

I think it’s important to be willing to change directions or approaches when you find that what you’ve been doing isn’t working anymore, for one reason or another.  I just got the Scrivener writing software and I plan to do the tutorial for that and see if it opens up a new way of approaching the novel for me.  I might try Jim Butcher’s approach (from his blog) again because I think it might work particularly well for the novelization of Biomalware.

It comes down to this – when what you’re doing isn’t working, try something new because banging your head against the keyboard just turns on sticky keys.

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