The attempt at an ideal writing day

The idea of creating an ideal day started to stir in my head sometime last year. I originally planned to get a blog post out to the internet then, but it fell to the wayside.

Over the last couple of weeks, I played with the layout (which took the longest), what I wanted to include, organizing it, and other things of that nature. I guess what got me in this process was how to create one with a fluctuating schedule and two separate off days.

It’s easier for me to run errands on off days–these are days when I start writing in the afternoon while I am at my local Starbucks or home.  On my early work days, I have a limited time to get writing done, but mostly free after. I can get through a chunk of my word count goal if I go to work  in the afternoon.

In all this mini-chaos, I decided to have my work days on one page and writing on the other.

IdealDaysSpread

My ideal day for work, left, and writing day, right. I color coded to make things easier to understand when it comes to my schedule. The main layout follows my Monday, Wednesday and Friday work days. Tuesday is indicated with a T next to a color coded dot.

I tried to stick to the routine I normally do when creating this. But now I’m wondering, am I just writing down my routine? What makes this ideal then?

When it comes to writing, getting any kind of time in is ideal. I think when you’re creating your own ideal writing day, or a general ideal day, the root of it is time management. How do you spend your time normally and how do you want to change it, or what are the things you want to hold yourself accountable for?

In the end, I wanted to create something for me to take note of everyday, especially when I say I don’t have time. I’m going to use this visual as a reminder to myself, and hopefully to writers, that it can get done. Even if it’s just on a lunch break.

As writers, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to reach word goals, get the dialogue or prose right the first time. This is something you shouldn’t stress about. This is something you should use a guideline and keep yourself accountable.

Supplies used:

Leuchtturm1917 A5 Medium notebook – grid, Red

Grid paper – to plan

Marvy Le Pen – Black, Grey, Periwinkle

Sharpie Pen – Fine – Green, Purple

Muji Polycarbonate Ballpoint Pen .7mm with grip – Red

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A lesson in rejection

Hey writers,

This is a random post spurred by an email rejection. Yup, you read that right. And it stung.  

At work, I have my personal email up in a tab–I check it when I get into work. After settling into the groove of things, I went to my browser and noticed the blue dot next to the Gmail icon.

I clicked and saw the email. The first line filled in the preview area.

To clarify, I didn’t sumbit a query, I submitted an application to a creative writing program. I thought what I had would get me into the program. The email was general rejection letter explaining why I wasn’t accepted, how it’s complicated judging process, and how the rejection shouldn’t deter  me from writing. 

The email was crack in my confidence–I almost started to cry. I had my thoughts of how it would go if I got accepted. I was ready for that. I was excited for it. But clearly this is not the path I’m meant to go on right now. And that’s ok.

MPhanQoute
I updated the people who knew I applied to the program and they responded with encouraging words. It was helped me feel better. And it also became my fuel to keep writing.

While this isn’t a query rejection, it’s still one nonetheless. It’s something that’s a part of the writing process.

I think it’s ok to be upset for a couple of days or a week about getting a rejection. But as long as you don’t linger on the pain or have it stop you, you will be fine.

Do you what you need to do to move on from it.

And keep writing.

 

Write Reads 2: Forest for the Trees

Hello writers, I wanted to start the Write Reads series this year with Betsy Lerner’s “Forest for the Trees.” I am hoping to bring these writing book reviews to my site to serve as a guide to pick up something you may want to read, or not read. Enjoy!

Please note, I will be paraphrasing anything from the book or it will be italicized and in quotes. If it’s long, I’ll put ellipses in them. Don’t worry, I will be leaving chapter and page numbers if you decide to pick this book up.

Here’s some quick book information:

Betsy Lerner, “Forest for the Trees”

Riverhead Books (Penguin Group), publisher.

Revised and updated edition, October 2010.

12 Chapters; 285 pages total; Pages include introduction that starts at page 1 and a bibliography that starts at 279. The book is broken up into two parts; First part is Writing and the second is Publishing.

After thoughts…

I was first assigned to read this book for my editing and publishing course that I took in my last semester of college — I was able to get through a big chunk of part 2 for an assignment. About a couple of years ago, I decided I wanted to pick it back up again for the sake of understanding the publishing industry and see what I could do in bettering my craft. Though it offers some quick tips on writing, it does not make up entire chapters. And like the subtitle says: “An editor’s advice to writers.”

At the end of reading this, I felt like I had an idea of what publishing industry is about; it’s as recent as 2010, but it’s still information that’s good to have.

Recently, I’ve been reviewing the some of the lines that I’ve highlighted. Some of these have grounded me in a way, serving as something to keep in mind now and for the future.

Most notes from…

Part 1 Writing:

Chapter 1, “The Ambivalent Writer.” Page 1.  /// 9 notes. Why: In the beginning of the book it talks about different types of writers; besides ambivalent and neurotic (below), there are the natural, wicked child, self-promoter and “Touching Fire” types. While each chapter (writer types) had parts that I could identify with, this chapter stood out to me because Lerner describes this writer as the one who bounces around between a multitude of ideas.  Yes, as writers we all bounce around with them, but this is more like the writer who can’t choose which one to work on and haven’t finished a story.

While I have grown a bit out of that, it was definitely me in the beginning. I would not finish a fan fiction (I do have plans to finish my Teen Wolf fic, but I digress) or start a story get about halfway through. This chapter kind of called me out on my flakey ways when it came to writing. In turn, it’s made even more determined to complete whatever I’m working on.

Chapter 5, “The Neurotic.” Page 93.  /// 9 notes. Why: Lerner approaches this chapter saying the neurotic writer has a ritual, or habit, that allows them to write in that one condition only. She also addresses those who present “the gamut of phobic behaviors from nervous tics…”.

I believe the point of this chapter is to making sure a writerly habit  doesn’t prevent you from producing work if you somehow can’t go through a ritual. Lerner put it best when she wrote: “Should you fail to achieve success, all these behaviors look only like excuses or sick behavior.”

Part 2 Publishing

Chapter 10, “What Authors Want.” Page 211. /// 9 notes. Why: This chapter was more so to understand what writers go through on the other end in the process of becoming published. The approach to this chapter seems as though Lerner is trying to mentor another editor. I believe it offers a perspective for writers of what other writers want, what a relationship could be like between them and an editor, and more.

Chapter 12, “Publication.” Page 255. /// 9 notes.  Why: It’s important to understand the process of getting published. This is good chapter for writers who think about going into the industry. Some of the things in this chapter served as reminders.

Most beneficial chapter…

Publishing — Chapter 11, “The Book.” Page 229. Why: When I read this chapter, I highlighted the crap out of it…I had at least 24 four things marked up with my purple-blue highlighter. The chapter basically discusses the process and the decision-making of the book. It also touches on writer careers and how it may take some time to build up an audience.

Honorable mentions…

Chapter 1, “The Ambivalent Writer,” pages 24: “If you’re struggling with what you should be writing, look at your scraps. Encoded there are themes and subjects that you should be grappling with as a writer. If you still can’t figure it out, whatever you do, I beg not to look at the bestseller list.”

Chapter 12, “Publication,” page 276:  “Again, Rome was not built in a day.”

Chapter 7, “Making contact: Seeking Agents and Publication,” page 149: “Multiply submit….Make two submissions that are a reach two that are in range and two you would consider ‘safety schools’” 

New Year, so what’s next?

Yes, it happened again. I went away at the sometime in September.

I didn’t make my self-imposed deadline for Torque, but I have a good reason:

October was a busy month for me and the things I had planned to post for that month fell to the wayside. The reason why is because I decided to take a leap and apply to a graduate school.

The application required a fiction writing sample. So needless to say, writing a fiction sample and writing a book became a bit much. I needed to focus on the sample to make sure it was well-written and reflected on my skills as a fiction writer.  I submitted a new sample of my work instead the chapter I previous written.

Now, you’re probably wondering why. My instincts told me to rewrite part of the first chapter and not submit what I had. What helped was that I was itching to rewrite the beginning of my book in the first place. I am happy with my decision to rewrite and submit the new version. So fingers crossed.

I will be as consistent as possible, posting mostly on Mondays or Wednesday about three times a month. I will also be opening up a Ko-Fi account to help support the content that goes on to the page. Once that gets posted, please feel free to donate.

But now onto the what I have planned for the rest of the year:

Prompts: Expect to see them each month for the rest of the year. I also have plans to share my own responses to them, as well as post separate short stories for other projects.

Write Reads: Expect to see at least five or six of them this year. I know what I want to read, but I may refrain from mentioning them if plans change on when I want to get posted.

Tips and resources: I plan to explore and experiment  with ways to make the journey easier. I want to be able to link writers with something that will help. I know it’s tempting to want to do everything yourself/ make it on your own, but getting help will make the process easier.

Writing tools: I hope to to review writing apps, especially for phone apps, and taking another look at Scrivener, which is now updated.

Editing Services: Later this year, I am planning to open up slots for freelance editing. I plan charge an hourly rate—but there will be separate post on it once I am ready to open spots up.

Thanks for reading and keep a look out for next week’s writing prompt.

Writing Prompt No. 4

A little bit of dialogue, a scene starter and a word association:

 

  1. “You’re always so far away…”
  2. Each night your character walks past an empty building on the way to the parking lot. And every time, they take a peak in to the building as the ground level seems to still have its lights on, showing off that one lone desk and chair. But one night they walk by the building and someone is sitting in the seat and with a pause in their steps, the person at the desk beckons them inside…
  3. Noir

 

Progress Update – TORQUE

In my head,  I’ve kept up with my word count and I’m breezing along to finishing my novel by Dec. 15, 2017. In reality, I’ve skipped at least 14  days of writing due to being tired and not knowing what’s next (trying to make each scene mean something for the end product).  When I restarted, I was stuck on chapter five and six for the longest time, telling myself I will get to it later. But certain events in my life pushed me to stop messing around and set a goal. 130,000 words here I come!

I am now in chapter eight (of 18…maybe) in Torque. The last month has been the fastest I’ve ever gotten chapters done, and had less slumps. It’s clear I need to keep the momentum going so I don’t have as many.

I’ve been using Scrivener’s word count tracker to help push me to write between 750 and 900-plus words, for the days that I’ve selected as writing days. Since there have been days that I didn’t plop a single word onto the page, it adds words for the next day so that I can make up for it. Which is nice in a way, but if I wasn’t committed to being done by my self-made deadline, I’m sure that my word count would be way higher. And looking at my goal for the day can be a bit overwhelming sometimes, but as long as I split the writing to before and after work, I reach my goal.

I’ve also been using my book map to keep me on track plot wise. I noticed the other day when I went to Starbucks that I never really finished my detailed outline; breaking each chapter down by characters introduced and mentioned, and a detailed look at three important/ focal points for the book.

While I am all for planning, it’s not realistic of me to try and finish the outline. In the book map, I break it down with a one sentence summary (for both of my main characters, chapter conflict, storyline notes, characters introduced and mentioned, and if there are any important plot points for it.

I know this sounds like more work than the detailed outline, but it works for me. I did my best in the book map to keep everything brief so it wouldn’t take so long to do. As mine is in Google Sheets, it’s easy to adjust and change and I always have access to it.

Since I am trying to write 130,000 words by the end of the year, I need to keep my focus on that, but I will do my best to do one full post and a writing prompt for the rest of the year.

I will eventually have a second Write Reads post on here soon, but until then, check out the first one and let me know what you think.

-Keep Writing

 

Writing Prompt No. 3

Some dialogue starters:

  1. “There are consequences to your actions, you know this – it puts us all….”
  2. “This can’t be any different than when we….”
  3. “You watched me lie there, I would think that….”
  4. “But I am young, so what…”

 

Check out the last writing prompts here!

Rediscovering the ‘why’ in writing

Along the way in our writing journey, we fall into a slump. (The dreaded writer’s block.) We lose that thing that keeps us going. Whatever that thing was, it was sparked by something, right?

Movies, art, music, television and, of course, our favorite authors and books, all give us something. Something that sticks with us in the back of our minds, whether that be the unexpected plot twist or the graceful storytelling.

And it’s inspiration; defined as the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.


In an earlier draft of  this post, I wanted to discuss what moves writers to act, but it turned into rediscovering what may be the reason of why we write. I do think that inspiration has a part in this process. Sometimes it’s is a writer’s ‘why’ when they write.

I am a big believer in not waiting for inspiration or motivation to hit you. You’ll be stuck in your first draft for a very long time. The feelings of these things are fleeting, and it’s something that we have to keep in mind as writers. Anytime we write, some words will hop onto the page with ease. And there are times you are just left looking at a sentence that needs to be completed.

But I do think the source of your inspiration can become something to keep you moving. One thing a writer can do is write it down and why it inspires/ motivates you. For me, there have been many things that have turned the gears in my brain; anime, music artists and Shondaland, a production company by Shonda Rhimes, shows like “Scandal,” and “How to Get Away with Murder.”

Keep that list in your writing space, or somewhere you will notice it every day. You can even go as far as making it your screensaver. Constantly looking at it will, hopefully, keep the fire burning inside.

The one thing that can stamp that fire out is fear. Whatever it may be, put that fear in a box and lock it away. It won’t serve you as you’re trying to fulfill your goal as a writer. (If you think fear is holding you back, I would suggest dabbling in a short story or fan fiction.)

While on a separate paper write out why it inspires you — what makes you want more of it once it’s done? Identifying this will help with your own writing because it may be a technique that you later put in your manuscript. Break down the ‘whys’ as far as you can go to pinpoint what you like about the certain thing so much.

Here are some of my whys:

“Scandal,”  “How to Get Away with Murder”: For those unfamiliar, these are a couple of Shondaland shows that I love to watch. The complicated plot twists is something that keeps me coming back. The characters are also pushed to their limits, so much so that it’s sometimes unpredictable.

“Yuri!!! ON ICE”: This is an anime that follows a young male figure skater who struggles with anxiety and meets his idol, who  becomes his coach. Compared to the Shondaland shows, the plot is simple and relatable. Having a character to deal with something that people deal with in the real world could hook your audience.

Here’s a list of things that inspire me on a Pinterest board.

Another way to help rediscover your ‘why’ is to reread your old works. Whether it’s fan fiction, a short story or what you’re currently working on.  Don’t go into editor mode here, try not judge what you have. Remember why you wrote in the first place, and how you were able to get through it.

It may have been because of a potential audience. We all dream/ think about those. We’ve all seen the quote that’s floating around that says: “Someone out there needs your book….” And it’s true. We write to express, to escape our daily lives — and so does your (potential) audience. You need to keep writing to pull them in so that they are avid readers of your work. By all means, don’t wait until your book is out to do it. You can build and grow one now. Give them a taste of what you can do.

So keep writing and I hope you can rediscover why.