Thursday, August 29, 2013

Distractions and focusing on your daily writing goal

Distractions. You know what I mean. Writing is difficult enough and you add in distractions, it all seems to slip away.

You set aside some time to write and you start and a few minutes into it, your mind starts to drift and eager to pick up on any distraction, like email, facebook, twitter, laundry, dishes, clipping your finger nails.

Reading Cory Doctorow's 2009 article,, provided some great insight and ways to tackle that distraction.

Here are my notes:

Short, regular work schedule
- set an obtainable goal and meet it
- focus on nothing else for that 20 minutes
- you can always find a block of 20 minutes in a day
- but, do it every day
- try to think in advance about sensory detail to include in the next day's writing to start you going the next time you sit down to write

Leave yourself a rough edge
- stop writing after you hit your daily word-goal, even if you're in the middle of a sentence.

Kill your word-processor
- fancy wordprocessors can be a distraction on their own
- to take advantage of that 20 minutes, just use a text editor

Okay, I've stepped away from my writing long enough now that I should let this distraction go and get back to writing!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Writing update or I'm in too deep to lose faith in my work

It's been a crazy-buzy couple of months with work and vacation putting the squeeze on my writing time and commitments. Welcome to the real world. I'm trying to de-clutter my writing schedule, shedding any unnecessary items and trying to streamline my thought process towards writing my novel.

Unfortunately, I haven't heard back from Del Rey about my novel pitch. I'm not sure what's the appropriate response time after my SDCC pitch, but I'm not going to let it drag me down. Preparing the pitch for my novel, Spirit Quest, has reignited my passion for the project.

My goals are to proceed as if I had been asked to provide a submission from Del Rey. So I'm going ahead with the following pieces:

1) Synopsis
2) Act breakdown
3) Character sketches
4) Complete the First Draft (aiming for 90,000 words)

So, how do I get that all done? Parking my butt in a seat and writing. No need for a writing schedule or reading countless books on how to decide on an approach for each of these pieces. No distraction from my core work. Those first three items should ideally happen in parallel with the last (and most important one). Targeting a 1,000 words a day might be too ambitious as I still have to wrap up a few other writing commitments, but at least for the first couple of months, 500 words should be doable. At that pace, a 90,000 word first draft should take me 6 months. But, thinking about the submission, I'd like to get that down to about 3 months, considering the amount of a first draft I've already written.

One of the roadblocks in my way is that I'm a outliner and really feel like I need to know where I'm going every time I sit to write. I need a direction and need to see where I'm going. Otherwise, I feel like I'm spinning my wheels, writing stuff that won't matter. But, I think I need to change that approach and focus on the writing and see what develops. Nothing really ever gets thrown away in terms of writing, it's all part of the process whether it's exploring a potential sub-plot, or developing a character in a way you might never have thought.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Show Don't Tell - invaluable advice from Chuck Palahniuk

Grabbed from:

You've probably heard the writing advice to "Show Don't Tell." But, that's always easier said that done in your writing. Writer Chuck Palahniuk has a handful of concrete ways to help you show instead of telling.

In six seconds, you’ll hate me. But in six months, you’ll be a better writer.
From this point forward—at least for the next half year—you may not use “thought” verbs. These include: Thinks, Knows, Understands, Realizes, Believes, Wants, Remembers, Imagines, Desires, and a hundred others you love to use.
The list should also include: Loves and Hates. And it should include: Is and Has, but we’ll get to those later.
Instead of characters knowing anything, you must now present the details that allow the reader to know them. Instead of a character wanting something, you must now describe the thing so that the reader wants it.
In short, no more short-cuts. Only specific sensory detail: action, smell, taste, sound, and feeling.
One of the most-common mistakes that beginning writers make is leaving their characters alone. Writing, you may be alone. Reading, your audience may be alone. But your character should spend very, very little time alone. Because a solitary character starts thinking or worrying or wondering.
Better yet, get your character with another character, fast. Get them together and get the action started. Let their actions and words show their thoughts. You—stay out of their heads.
Instead of bland “is” and “has” statements, try burying your details of what a character has or is, in actions or gestures. At its most basic, this is showing your story instead of telling it.