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Top 9 Ways Writers Procrastinate… and the one way to actually get the words on the page

standard November 19, 2013 2 responses

The first of November kicked off the 14th annual National Novel Writing Month wherein an insane number of writers (303 580 and counting to date)  try to write a 50 000 word novel in under 28 days.

What really happens is that over 300 000 writers sit around and find creative ways to procrastinate on writing the number of words they have to write every every day to reach their goal.

Oh, and if there’s anything writers are good at, it’s procrastinating. We’ve turned it into an art form. And we can justify every single way until we’re blue in the face.

Want to know how we do it? Sure thing.

1) Laundry.
It has to get done. It never goes away. And it’s awesome mindless work, which is perfect for brainstorming scenes, thinking up plot points, and letting your subconscious noodle away at that gnarly issue we’re facing with that uncooperative character.

2) Grocery shopping
Dude. Even writers have to eat. You can’t think without the right brain food. Plus, hanging around at grocery stores is a wonderful way to people watch. After all, you can’t create believable characters without watching real people.

3) Making coffee
Can’t write without coffee. Well, for me it’s tea. Either way, until we make the best seller list for the 10th time in a row, we have to make our own caffeinated beverages. Plus, it’s more of that mindless repetition stuff that helps get the creative juices percolating. Mmm percolate. Like coffee. See?

4) Reading
Everyone knows that to write you have to read and read lots. Such a shame when you get sucked into a good book and lose track of time… of writing time.

5) Preparing yourself so you can write.
There’s no shortage of software that exists solely so writers can organize their thoughts and stories. Scrivener is a top favorite. Within a couple hours you can have created character profiles, setting profiles, chapter outlines, and a million other things. What you won’t have done is written a single word. But hey, you’ll be ready to write…. That’s something, right?

6) Watching TV.
You know how to master great dialogue? Yup. You have to hear great dialogue. And you know where you can hear great dialogue? Yup. On TV. TV shows help you get your own dialogue flowing. It’s scientifically proven. Totally. I saw it on TV. Gotta watch TV. Lots and lots of TV. Plus, how else are you going to know how to write the screenplay to your novel if you don’t watch lots of TV shows and movies? Duh.

7) Writing a blog post
Nothing gets the creative juices flowing (you know, other than laundry and making coffee) faster than writing. The trick is to trick your brain into writing. So you start with something completely unrelated to what you’re supposed to be writing. It’s like tricking yourself into exercising by playing with the dog. Not that you guys are dogs. Or that I would ever do something like this. No… not me…

8) Checking email
Have to do it. Have to do it often. I mean, you never know when an urgent email is going to come through that needs super urgent attention. What if that happened after you got into the ‘zone?’ Then what? Huh? Better check and then better check again. Just in case. You just never know what’s waiting in there!

9) Internet research.
Has to happen. You can’t write about something you don’t know. There’s always something that has to be researched. Always. And then poof, it’s three days later , you haven’t eaten, you haven’t showered, and you’re not quite sure where your kids are, but hey, you’re the proud owner of a multi-cooker, have 57 recipes pinned to Pinterest, and a vague idea about what you were supposed to be looking up in the first place. Oh yeah, the top speed limit in Omaha. Wait. I’d better look that up. It’s a key plot point in my novel.

And the one thing we all know we have to do to write down the words? 
Easy. In theory.

Sit your butt down, turn off the Internet, put your fingers on the keys… and just start writing.

Because I am the queen of ADD, I find it easiest to do that if I set a timer first and then open OmmWriter. It shuts out all of the distracting bleeping and dinging my computer likes to throw at me. But that’s just me.

So, if you’ll excuse me, I have 2700 words to write. You know, after I make myself some coffee, and maybe get some lunch. It’s getting a little peckish around here…

Those who believe in me – 30 Days of Silver Linings & Gratitude – Day 1

standard November 2, 2013 Leave a response
Day 1
Those who believe in me
So, as the heaps of Halloween candy littering my house (and the wrappers, filling up my office wastebasket… heh) can attest to, apparently it’s November. 
And we all know what November is, right? It’s pumpkin pie month!
Nah, it’s gratitude month! YAY gratitude! 
If being grateful for a few things every morning can radically alter your brain chemistry and turn you into a happier person, celebrating a whole month of gratitude has to do something awesome like help you win the lottery, right? Or maybe it just makes you feel like you’ve already won the lottery. Win/win really.
I’m kicking off this month-long series by proclaiming my gratitude for all the people who have never once wavered in their belief in me. Those who encouraged me, read my words, helped me edit, and told me again and again how much they liked what I wrote. 
My family, my friends, and even a few virtual strangers. All with enough faith to keep me moving forward when I wavered in my belief in myself. 
And all to what end? 
Oh, just this.. My book. For sale. Today. 
 Oh yeah. 
So, let’s think of this as a soft launch, shall we? It’s just the digital version. The paperback version will be out in the new year. Consider this a reward for all y’all who’ve gone Kindle.
I am SO excited. Please read it. Please tell your friends to read it. Please have them tell their friends. I’ll be forever grateful, and haven’t we already established that November is all about gratitude?
Thank you to everyone who made it possible for me to get to this point. You’re all amazingly awesome.

Want to see what else I’m grateful for?
Check it out below!

The Next Big Thing: 8 Things You Wanted to Know About My Book But Didn’t Think to Ask

standard May 15, 2013 3 responses

A few weeks ago a relatively new reader, Pauline Wiles, author of the soon to be released Saving Saffron Sweeting,  asked me if she could tag me in the Next Big Thing “meme*” for writers. I don’t often go in for that sort of thing, but these days it doesn’t take much to convince me to talk about my book and I really liked the sound of the questions she was going to send my way. So here you have it! 8 things I bet you really wanted to know about my soon-to-be-published book!

What is the working title of your book?
Right now the book is called Aloha Can Mean Goodbye, but my publisher isn’t a huge fan of the name. She thinks it’s a bit too dark. While she waits for inspiration to strike, I’m secretly hoping she doesn’t come up with anything she likes better. The name has grown on me over the years!
What does the name say to you?

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I once heard that Jodi Picoult came up with her story ideas by asking herself “What if?” questions and riffing off of the possibilities she thought up. Ever since then I’ve played the same game.
After spending a lovely time at a friend’s wedding on the Big Island in Hawaii I started to wonder what would happen if a girl showed up there to get married and ran smack dab into her past upon arrival.
In my mind, the final scene, where the protagonist shows up to her wedding still undecided as to which man she’ll marry, played out. I couldn’t resist writing out the story that led up to that.
Ironically, as I wrote the story, that final scene rewrote itself and the story ended completely differently than I had originally anticipated.
What genre does your book fall under?
Some people are going to want to classify it as Chick-lit, but I believe the book falls squarely under Women’s Fiction. The issues the characters face are more challenging and profound than the issues generally dealt with in traditional Chick-lit.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I think I’d pick Jennifer Lawrence to play the lead. She’s got just the right amount of “girl next door” attitude to pull it off. For her best friend – a sweet redhead who keeps getting the raw end of deals – I think I’d choose either Emma Stone or Amy Adams. As for the other best friend who is a tall blonde model type? I have no clue. Have any suggestions?

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
It’s a story about love and friendship and about recovering from the past so you can get on with your future.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Just as I was starting to look into self-publishing options I lucked into a relationship with a local indie publisher, Sand Hill Review Press. I think indie publishing offers the best of both worlds – it’s a small publisher so I get a lot of say in how the book will turn out, but the editor has a lot of experience and has already guided me to turn the book into so much more than I could have done on my own. I’m thrilled with how things are turning out! I’m especially thrilled that I won’t be alone in deciding when the book is “ready,” what the cover art will look like, and all the other little details I was facing while looking into self-publishing. 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
The first draft took just over a year. I still remember the high I felt when I typed the words “The End” at the end of the last chapter. Then I realized just how much more work still needed to be done and I came down off that writer’s high very, very quickly! It took me another 3 years to get the book finished and ready for publication.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Everyone who has read it has loved it for different reasons. My sister loved the friendships, my friend loved the lover’s triangle, but everyone agrees that the characters really came to life for them and have stayed with them long after they were done reading the last words. I hope you’ll feel the same way!

Right then, this is the part where I should tag people, but I’m never a huge fan of that bit, so, if you’ve written, are writing, want to write a book consider yourself tagged! Come back and leave a comment with your blog post and I’ll link to it! 

*A meme is sort of a modern day equivalent of a chain letter. Someone writes something, usually answering a series of questions, and then “tags” other people at the end, asking them to answer the questions on their own blogs. 

Don’t ever stop touching

standard April 11, 2013 6 responses

The longer you go without touching someone the harder it is to start touching them again.

That little truism is pretty much all I retained from the movie Hope Springs which I saw this past winter, but it’s something that has somehow stuck with me since I heard it.

Think about it.

When you have a spat with someone the last thing you want is to be touched. Touch is intimate. It’s a form of language, and when you’re mad, you don’t want to talk, no matter what language it’s in.

But then, when you’re done being mad, when you’re done not wanting to be touched, it’s like an abyss has been formed between you and the other person, a gorge that’s hard to reach across to make contact again.

Same thing happens when you’ve been separated from someone or something you love for reasons out of your control. A vacation, an illness, a move, a deployment…  When you first see the person after a long absence, it’s hard to connect again.

The rather simple solution to it all is to just not stop touching the things that are important to you. But that’s neither practical nor always possible.

6 weeks ago I set aside my second novel so that I could focus on the rewrites of the first to get it ready for publication. I was on deadline and I needed to give the first book my undivided attention.

The setting aside of the first book was both intentional and necessary and yet I so wish I hadn’t done it.

I turned in the final version of the first book over a week ago. (10 days if we’re being precise.) And what have I done all week in regards to the second book?

Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

I’ve just procrastinated.

The file is right there. It’s filled with a book oozing potential, a book I’ve really enjoyed writing so far, a book that I’m not close to having finished.

And yet, I can’t bring myself to open it, to read back, to write forward.

I should have popped open the file every day. I should have read a few paragraphs or written a few hundred words before moving on to the necessary edits of the other piece. I should have at least touched it.

Every day I make a point of touching my husband’s shoulder when we dance around each other in the kitchen. I make sure to kiss him hello, hug him goodbye. Little nothing touches here and there that keep us close, keep us connected. It’s something that I never thought about before watching that movie, something that I never forget now that I know what could happen if I stop reaching out, stop touching him.

I should have realized that a relationship with a novel-in-progress needs the same kind of nurturing touch.

I’ve let the abyss grow and every day it gets harder and harder to cross.

It’s not a mistake I’ll ever make again.

Crazy movie about older couple who learn to touch each other again. Funny. Kinda.