You Have To Make Time

Many people will say they can’t write until inspiration hits them, and then those same people never actually finish anything.  The biggest reason is because they are waiting for lightning to hit instead of making it happen.  I can say from personal experience the best way for inspiration to strike is to just sit down and write.  Yup it is really that simple.  However, one of the biggest obstacles can be finding the time to actually do this.

One thing I really like about NaNoWriMo is that it forces me to work on something.  Granted I could just ignore the challenge the month presents but having a place to go, friends to “compete” against, and something which shows my daily progress really helps me to want to write.  That November mayhem has taught me that I work very well under pressure.  It’s the rest of the year which I have trouble.

So what’s the answer, well it’s kind of the same, I have to force myself to work.  This is much easier said than done though.  Just like with exercising, if you want to keep at it, you have to find out what works for you.

So if you write better in the morning, make the time.  You say you have to be at your boring, demanding job at 8 am, well get up a half hour earlier and write for those thirty minutes when you will be at your peak.  Are you better in the middle of the afternoon, work something in there.  Of course that might be hard if you have an 8-5 type job.  My advice then is to write during your lunch.  Or you could see if changing your hours is possible so you are off during your peak creative time.

Whatever you decide, you have to make the time and stick with it.  This doesn’t mean you can’t take a break now and then or that no matter what happens you have to write at that time.  However on the same note if you let other things distract you too much, well you have defeated the whole purpose.  And if you really don’t have a good time due to family, work, and other obligations, find five, ten, fifteen minutes you can write throughout the day.  Those small chunks can make all the difference.


Boring yourself

Last week I spoke about striving for perfection in my novel.  While I am in a way, I also came to realize that I am starting to get bored reading these same few pages over and over to make them better.  Now does that mean I think a potential reader will be bored with the story, no.  But I do see that I need to move on in the story before I decide I don’t like it anymore and want to stop working on it altogether.

I have to admit I never thought I would get to this point.  I mean I love my own characters, even the ones I hate, because I created them; or at least made them my own in the case of some.  So how could I get bored with them?  Well I think it’s because I want to get on with the story and see what comes next.  It is the same way when I read a book.  I want to keep going so I can see what happens to the characters I like, or despise.  The really, really good books make me want to keep reading until I am done in one sitting.  For some books that is not possible and I rue having to stop.

Now some might ask how I can want to get on with the story when I know it.  All I can say is it has been long enough there are some things I forgot and there are some things that need to be changed so the story becomes better.  Also, I have some ideas for my world that I didn’t when I began writing this story and need/want to incorporate them into the novel.

It could be that boring myself is not the correct term but I cannot think of anything else which fits.

Have you ever been working on something and got bored trying to make it better?

What to Change?

When you are in a writing group which critiques your work, you get all kinds of advice.  Everyone is attempting to be helpful to make your work better and, while sometimes they agree what needs to be changed, they don’t always.  So what are you to do?

The first thing to keep in mind is you will never please everyone all the time.  No matter how many times you change your manuscript there will be something someone does not like and thinks you could make the story better.  That’s alright; people are entitled to their opinion.  It’s why we have so many different genres, authors, and authors within genres.

The second thing to keep in mind is that essentially it is YOUR story and you can tell it however you like.  This means you can ignore all the advice you get if you want, although I wouldn’t recommend that.

So with that in mind how do you decide what to change?  Listen to what people say.  Take notes on a copy of the same work they are commenting on so you refer to them later.  If you hear something more than once, it probably should be changed.

Occasionally though you will get one person who just nitpicks things, major or minor, and makes you want to completely ignore them.  Remember you can do this, but if they see the work again they may tell you they still don’t like this, this, this, and this.  It also could be that the genre you write is not something they normally read.  So while you may have a good story, they just don’t really understand the concept of why you wrote it the way you did.

When in doubt though, ask questions.  You know what you are trying to say and, of course, the way it’s written makes total sense to you, but if your audience doesn’t see it then you need to figure out how to fix it.  Without some kind of guidance you might not be able to make the leap from in your head to on the page (and thus into your readers heads).

Are Breaks Good or Bad?

I have to admit I haven’t touched my manuscript in a while.  I have wanted to, life can get in the way though.  Besides working a full time job, I do writing on the side, work with some other gamers on creating games ourselves, am a member of the SCA, a wife, dog owner, gamer, and various other things which come with being an adult; so sometimes my writing or editing just falls to the wayside.

I do think breaks from writing and editing is necessary, it gives you time to get away and see things with a fresh mind.  This can help you see something which was there all along but until you didn’t look at it for a while, you never realized needed changing.  Of course on the flipside of that coin is the fact that the longer you are away from working on your manuscript, the harder it becomes to make it habit to work on it again.

I have hit that point.  It actually didn’t occur to me until the other day when I realized my writing group will meet this week.  I did do some editing to the pages I took the last time but it needs more.  Life just hasn’t been good for me.  Of course it hasn’t helped that many weekends this month I have not been well and thus many things have been ignored, but that is an excuse I need to just get over.  So it’s back to the grindstone for me.

What are your thoughts on taking breaks?  Do you think they are helpful?  Hurtful? Something which perhaps should be “scheduled” in to your writing/editing process?

Red Flags

I started this blog as a way to help me go through my manuscript writing and editing process, and hopefully help others in as well along the way.  However, I also do some freelance writing and editing on the side.  I know many people who do both, you know you have to pay the bills (or try to) somehow while waiting for your novel to be discovered.

Everyone knows there are many scams out there from people who are trying to part you from your money or other illegal things that involve money.  It is something we all need to be careful about and warn each other when we find a new one.  Well I recently had one attempted on me.

I have myself listed on many sites as a freelance writer, some I frequent more than others.  I have received jobs from random strangers via email, referred to me by someone I have worked with.  However, I received one last week which was not.

Now they sent me the article they wanted rewritten and edited, I’ve seen that before so you know what to quote.  I looked it over and asked several questions before saying yes.  I made up a contract and sent it off expecting them to tell me my fee was too high.  In a way, it was but the article was in terrible shape and their English in the emails was just as bad so I knew it would be difficult to get right.  They agreed and sent the form back to me.  I told them in the contract that the project would start once I received half the money upfront (the balance would be due at the project completion).

Well a few days later, I receive an email telling me that the person in charge of the money sent me a money order for their entire project budget, $2000!  I received an apology in this email and three copies of identification.  I requested the return address so I could send the money order back and asked them to pay me my retainer only.  I was suspicious at this point that it was a scam but wanted full proof.

The reply was to cash the MO, keep my fee, and Western Union the rest back.  That confirmed that it was a scam and I stopped replying right then and there.  I contacted my location police requesting the email of the police department and I contacted the site where I was told they found my name.  Not surprising the site had never heard of these people but they thanked me nonetheless and said they would inform their people of the scam.  I emailed both the police and the site the entire email transcript.  If I receive an MO, I will also take that to the police.

Once I did all that, I informed the fraudulent company that I had reported them to both places and that the contract was void since they were scam artists.  I have not heard from them since and have told as many people as possible.  Some said I should have known from the beginning but others said it was new to them but those kinds of things have started showing up in areas they previously had not.

So be careful when you are approached for writing jobs.  If it raises a single red flag, it’s probably fake.

Go Tell it on a Mountain

You’re a writer right?  Even if you are unpublished you still consider yourself one right?  Well don’t be shy to tell anyone you have a friendly acquaintance with.  No matter the subject you write, unless maybe you write erotica because many people are sensitive to that, don’t feel like they will think less of you.  There will always be those not interested in the genre you write but even those that might not be possible buying customers someday will find it fascinating that you do write and ask questions.  I say tell them because you never know what may come of a simple conversation.

Case in point for me, my neighbor has known for years I write.  When her daughter was in her early high school years she expressed an interest in the same genre as me and we did some exercises together.  Later the daughter quit because compared to my writing, hers was not stellar (her words not mine).  I still encourage her to keep doing it because she will get better the more she does it, so far she hasn’t.  However my neighbor occasionally asks how my writing is coming along and we discuss it for a few minutes.

Yesterday I get a message from her on Facebook; she was speaking with a co-worker of hers about the fact that I have a book completed which needs editing.  The co-worker has a brother in the same state but a few cities away who writes a different, although similar, genre and the co-worker said might be willing to look my novel over and give me some advice for making it better!

This is not something I neither requested nor asked about but due to some simple conversations the chance is there.  So get out there and let everyone know you write because you never know what it might lead to.

Silence is Golden…or is it?

Editing a novel can be a complete pain in the rear.  As the writer you don’t see the glaring and especially the non-glaring errors that others do.  It can make you want to run screaming the other direction when you are told to go back and edit your novel again, because you’ve done it once of course you found all the mistakes the first time around.  If only it were that easy.  In thinking about my own novel and how I don’t want to start editing the second one yet I have come to the conclusion that it is time to try one of the tricks you read in books and hear from people a lot.  I plan to read my novel out loud.

Now if you are like me, you don’t feel comfortable doing this in front of ANYONE.  I want to do it when I am alone so when the obvious to others but not me mistakes come out of my mouth, I will not feel stupid for missing them in the first place.  So I have decided that I will do one chapter per night I am alone.  It may take me a while to get through the whole novel this way, I really don’t know how many chapters I have since I didn’t number them, but I think the benefit will be worth it in the long run.  Some of the chapters are shorter than others so it may end up that some night I read more than one.

I do have another hope in doing this; I hope that I can find what doesn’t work to distinguish some of my characters from another.  I have a feeling I will be surprised at the ones which sound the same.  I think this will also make the novel better.

So I’ll let you know how it goes next week since tomorrow night I will be able to put this in affect.