Writer Ups & Downs

It’s a funny thing: it seems the writers’ life consists mostly of ups and downs.

I mean, there’s all these times when we’re either SUPER EXCITED about writing and just so energized, and other times when we’re super down about it and think our writing is worthless etc. etc.

One moment we are all:

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

And the next:

Quoth the raven: Nevermore.

Our writer lives are a series of mountains and valleys. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

It seems that there’s not an even road, where we are just quietly content in where we are in our writing, things going smoothly but not exciting (because if it’s going smoothly, that IS exciting), or just generally “meh, it’s okay” (because thinking that rockets one quickly to: “there must be something wrong with it if I’m feeling that way about it!” which turns to super down), and it’s all extremes.

(I’m generalizing, and if you’re not this way, then just ignore everything I said. XD)

But I suppose it makes sense, since writers are primarily storytellers, and in a story, things mostly ARE extremes. It’s either enormously happy for our heroes or super-super-enormously, extravagantly bad for our heroes. (Usually the latter; being a book character is a poor career choice, let me tell you. XD) Because in a story, if it was just meandering along a flat place where things were okay or all right, then… there wouldn’t be much of a story.

Perhaps we writers are attuned to that (and are also dramatic souls *cough* *guilty*) and tend to take it in extreme emotions one way or the other.

I’m not saying this is good or bad. XD I’ve just been thinking about it. 🙂 (Again, if you’re not this way, forgive my ramblings and let me know otherwise. :P)

I’ve been going through some writer ups and downs this year myself.

I’ve been writing short stories, which means I’ve been finishing things! But that also means I haven’t been making progress on novels.

I’ve been writing in small dashes of this-and-that, not focusing on any one thing, which means I haven’t made any serious progress on ANYTHING. But I HAVE somehow amassed about 20,000 words of writing this year!

I’ve had some great “clicking” moments that have resulted in excitement over various stories! But I’ve also not been excited enough about one thing to focus on it.

I’ve been writing in snippets, so I haven’t made consistent progress. But I’ve been using Scrivener and that has helped with my snippet tendencies and I’m getting fun inspired scenes down!

I’ve (hopefully) decided what to write for NaNo and gotten super excited about it! But NaNo is 4 months away. (That’s both good and bad. XD)

I’ve written three short stories this year, which total 14,700 words (Wintertale, A Tale of Two Boxes, and a Kedran’s Wood “fanfiction” that will never see publication but was fun to get me back into the series). I’m 2000 words into another short story, Invisible Beauty, and almost finished. I’ve written at least a thousand words of The Secret of Kedran’s Wood a.k.a. KW2 (I haven’t been keeping very good track, just trying to get further since I’ve been stuck) and a snatch of KW3. I’ve written 1700 words of snippets of The Other Half of Everything. And a couple lines of random other things. Plus various plotting I’ve done.

In a way, it’s not very much for six months. In another way, it’s far better than I was doing this time last year during my huge burnout!

Plus, I’ve been doing a LOT of reading and reviewing, getting my story-and-writing-fix that way.

I’m at the point where I have decisions to make of which paths to take as I wander these mountains and valleys of my writing… and these decisions, too, are huge opposite decisions, in keeping with the ups-and-downs-extremes theme of this post. XD

I either need to get seriously back into writing soon, OR take a serious break in order to recharge.

I either need to buckle down and decide that I will focus on one specific story and pick it and stick to it, OR embrace my work-on-multiple-things-at-once thing I’ve been doing slightly and make it work for me.

I either need to start writing in order again and focus on getting things done that way, OR I need to embrace my scribble-snippets-out-of-order-all-over-the-place thing I’ve been doing and make that work for me too. (Scrivener might help. But it’s hard to sew the quilt-pieces together once I’ve made them, so… I don’t know.)

I also need to remember tips that I’ve learned in the past that I don’t always remember to put into practice, such as:

  • Draft zero. This is a huge friend of mine, or at least has been in the past, and it could really help me if I’d remember to use it.
  • Timers and wordsprints. Especially the awesome wordsprint timer on the NaNo site. This is also super helpful for if I want to write something and just don’t have the motivation. I’ve only used it for NaNo and Camp so far, but the amount of progress that can happen in 15-or-20 minutes with this thing is astounding, so I should probably go for it again sometime.
  • Music. I know music can be super inspiring and get me in the grove, but I just don’t remember to listen to it much. (It doesn’t help that the speakers on my laptop are shot, so I have to remember to use earbuds, and I just don’t.)
  • A time to focus. I don’t write when I can’t focus, which means I just don’t have a time for it in my life right now. I need to set aside a time every day, or at least occasionally, to block out distractions and just open my Scrivener documents and at least TRY. Normally those times come at night and I’m either too tired, or I decide to read or write a review instead. Problems. 😛

Anyway. There’s a bit of a ramble on what’s up with my writing life of late, and its ups and downs, and partially just to remind myself of some things I should know. (Does that ever happen to you?) Writing is how I understand things in my life, so writing this out helped show me where I am, which is helpful. 😉

I’m going to leave you with a scribble of poetry that was meandering around my head at 2 a.m. when I was trying to sleep but instead thinking about all these things.

Writer ups and writer downs
We will don our paper crowns
Take up our most loyal pens
Find out where the story ends

Thanks for reading! ^_^

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Writer’s Life Tag

WritersLifeTag

I was tagged for the Writer’s Life Tag by Lauri a.k.a. Christine @ Musings of an Elf — thank youuuu! ^_^ (Everybody go read/follow her blog ASAP because it’s fantastic in all meanings of that word. ❤ )

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I miiight have done this one once? It sounds familiar? But I don’t even care if I did because it’s a fun writer tag and is awesome. SO LET’S DO THIS THIIING.

Write-fuel: What do you eat/drink while writing?

I don’t, really. I can’t multi-task very well like that: I either write or I eat/drink, but not both at once. XD I’ve taken to having a glass of water nearby while I’m writing, but that’s about as food/beverage-y as it gets.

Write-sounds: What do you listen to while writing?

If I do listen to music, it’s usually instrumental Celtic music, or else music that’s inspirational for the particular book I’m working on.

Write-vice: What’s your most debilitating distraction?

Oh, so many. Internet. Pinterest. Goodreads. Blogging instead of writing “real” words. Endlessly making lists of my various WIPs instead of writing them…

Write-horror: What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you while writing?

When my computer starts freaking out and breaking in the middle of something. Horrifying. It gives me a heart attack and makes me fear I’m about to lose all my work. 😛 If the power cord accidentally got pulled out and the screen suddenly goes black… Also, recently, my “A” key has taken to falling off my keyboard. Yeah. >.>

Write-joy: What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you while writing, or how do you celebrate small victories?

Finishing a story, or the thrill of inspiration when you’re typing as fast as you can and still can’t keep up, when a scene is really shaping up as something special/unexpected and the characters are just being a blast. ❤

Write-crew: Who do you communicate with or not communicate with while writing?

While writing, no one. I need to write by myself, pretty much. But I’ll often talk to my sister about writing, and a few good friends online who are writers, as well as blogging… It’s very motivational to have writerly friends to talk with. ^_^ *group hug for all you wonderful people*

Write-secret: What’s your writing secret to success or hidden flaw?

Secret to success: draft-zero scene outlining. It works wonders. I really need to do a post about it someday.

(Not-so-)hidden flaw: I procrastinate and am afraid of starting. I don’t just sit down and start writing.

Write-spiration: What always makes you productive?

If I knew the answer to this, I’d have a lot more written than I do. XD I’ve noticed taking a walk helps sometimes… I should do that more often.

Write-peeve: What’s one thing writers do (or you do) that’s annoying?

Other writers: killing off characters. 😛

Me: not writing.

Write-words: Share one sentence from a project, past or present.

One-sentence snippet I wrote recently:

Ivan sent Teague a half-awake glare that read (even to my inexperienced-with-siblings eye) “I will hurt you” and then fell asleep again.

–from The Other Half of Everything

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 And that’s what’s up in this writer’s life! Thoughts? Consider yourself tagged if you want! 🙂

#WritersLife Tag: NaNo Edition

I wasn’t specifically tagged for this, but writerly stuff is pressing on my mind what with NaNo coming in less than a month (EXCUSE ME? HOW DID THIS HAPPEN??), and Cait did say to consider yourself tagged if you’re a writer, and she stole this herself, so… Yes. I’m just going to do this tag because I want to. 😉 So I’m stealing it from Cait @ Paper Fury and using it for my own purposes. *devious laughter*

I’m NaNo-theming this #WritersLife tag because NaNo is coming sooner than any of us are going to be ready for it.

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WRITE FUEL:

WHAT DO YOU EAT/DRINK WHILE WRITING?

I actually don’t usually, because food is messy around laptops (ask my character Baz about the properties of Devious Mustard…) and I’m not really a snacker… I will sometimes drink hot tea or something during NaNo while I’m writing because, let’s face it, November can be cold sometimes, and if I’m going to be writing for like three hours in a day, I might want to drink something warm.

WRITE SOUNDS:

WHAT DO YOU LISTEN TO WHILE WRITING?

Generally instrumental music like soundtracks or Celtic music I have around… During NaNo it either has to be inspirational (i.e. sound gorgeous or epic) or it has to be REALLY fast for ideal typing speeds. I’ll listen to stuff with lyrics if I really like it and if it won’t distract me. I haven’t yet decided what my music of choice is going to be this NaNo, but last year when I was word-warring myself against a timer, I listened basically non-stop to this song which is stupendous for fast typing.

WRITE VICE:

WHAT’S YOUR MOST DEBILITATING DISTRACTION?

During NaNo, every. single. thing. that I can come up with. I’m a horrible procrastinator. But probably the internet. I know, that’s sooo surprising. But it only takes a minute to check email, the NaNo forums, Goodreads, etc., right? …Right? *hours later* “Oops, I should have been writing, now it’s bedtime.” #fail This year I’m going to have to set some serious rules about internet (even though I have super-good excuses like being an ML who should be keeping track of stuff. But I must write too!).

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WRITE HORROR:

WHAT’S THE WORST THING THAT’S EVER HAPPENED TO YOU WHILE WRITING?

When I lose some writing because I was stupid and didn’t back it up. Fortunately, that hasn’t happened TOO often… During NaNo, it’s being behind and feeling completely and utterly stuck, writers-blocked, and despairing. That’s generic, though. The worst thing that HAS happened is probably my first year of NaNo, when the final day dawned and I still had 8k left to write, absolutely no plot figured out, and no inspiration. (I overcame it though! Nearly five years later, I’m still amazed I managed to write 8k of utterly pantsed NaNo novel that day.)

WRITE JOY:

WHAT’S THE BEST THING THAT’S EVER HAPPENED WHILE WRITING OR HOW DO YOU CELEBRATE SMALL VICTORIES?

The best thing is when you finish something. That never, ever gets old. But, during NaNo, it’s easily hitting the wordcount goal for the day and being super inspired/on a roll and ahead of schedule. Fabulous feelings! I don’t celebrate much, usually, other than being excited and maybe shouting it through the house or posting somewhere online to squeal about accomplishments. For big things, I might reward myself with some chocolate or reading a Diana Wynne Jones book or playing on Pinterest.

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WRITE CREW:

WHO DO YOU COMMUNICATE WITH OR NOT COMMUNICATE WITH WHILE WRITING?

My sister gets the main load of writing complaints and excitements. My lovely braintwin/writing buddy Christine, too, gets a lot of that. And during NaNo, there’s a wealth of forum places on the NaNo site to celebrate and commiserate, especially with people in your age-range, or genre, or region. So some of that goes on.

WRITE SECRET:

WHAT’S YOUR WRITING SECRET TO SUCCESS OR HIDDEN FLAW?

Secret to success during NaNo is setting a timer and word-warring against it to really fast music. It works. I only survived last NaNo (on a road trip) because of that. Because, wonder of wonders, if you actually start writing and write for 5 or 10 or 15 minutes, at the end of that, you WILL have words. And that’s going to add up. Who knew, right?

Hidden flaw? I’m a procrastinator, a perfectionist, and I don’t actually sit down and START writing during NaNo. …Not that those are all that hidden. *cough*

WRITE-SPIRATION:

WHAT ALWAYS MAKES YOU PRODUCTIVE?

I want to repeat the above writing secret. NaNo wordwars, either with yourself or someone else, are super productive-inducing.

WRITE PEEVE:

WHAT’S ONE THING WRITERS DO (OR YOU DO) THAT’S ANNOYING?

It’s really annoying when I don’t write. Like, when I say I’m going to write and I don’t. Or anytime during NaNo when I SHOULD be writing and am not…

(Thanks, Mal. I needed that…)

WRITE WORDS:

SHARE ONE SENTENCE FROM A PROJECT, PAST OR PRESENT.

Well, since I haven’t started my NaNo yet (obviously) I can’t NaNo-theme this answer…

R&RA line from The Rose and the Raven, my current Sleeping Beauty retelling project:

Whatever it was, it wrapped around his heart—the feeling of an almost insubstantial web . . . the shadow of a black cloak, a whisper’s echo, a ripple in a midnight pool; an invisible spiderweb, greyed with ashes, clinging to him somewhere that he could not shake off.

I’m not tagging anyone, since I did after all “steal” this, but if you’d like to do it on your blog, feel free to take it as well, NaNo-themed or otherwise!