Thursday, January 31, 2013

NaNoWriMo, You Can Kiss My Flat, Nonexistent Butt (And Other Thoughts When Reaching 50,001)

I decided the last week of October to join NaNoWriMo this year. I started off with good intentions, as is how things work.
And then due to approximately thirty-seven thousand things blowing up in my face… well, let’s just say I didn’t get to 50k.
Not by a long shot. I was too busy having an existential crisis, or five.

Was I okay with the fact that I miserably failed NaNo? For the most part, yes. I walked in with no story and no plot (and finally came up with one on November 2nd at 11:30 PM). There were all sorts of other things going on at the same time.

I think we can say I officially started writing this book January 6th- the verrrry end of December, if you’re counting when I first started scribbling down notes for it.
To put it mildly, this has been QUITE the month in the life of KK, for all sorts of various and sundry reasons.

So, what happened this month? Well, the beginning of the month saw me on a vacation/mental health break after having quit my last job, where they were really and truly crazy. Yes, they have given me plenty of material, but no, they will not be in the upcoming book. Maybe in one somewhere down the line, when I can laugh about it easier than I can right now. January saw me sign up to take the GRE in mid-February, and start to study for said four and a half hour torture session that I was PAYING for. Education is so weird. January 14th saw me start the New Job. (Where they are lovely, wonderful people who let me listen to music while I work, God bless their wonderful souls.) This past Tuesday saw me start spring semester of graduate school, complete with a boatload of homework.

Today is January thirty-first.
NaNoWriMo, you can kiss my flat, pretty much non-exsistent behind, because a little while ago, I typed the fifty-thousand-and-first word of my book.

A lot of it is crap.
There are plot holes in what I’ve written, and for what I have planned for the rest of the book, and from now till I type the words The End are going to be some iiiinteresting times.
I still have a long, long, LONG way to go.

But I got here.
Somewhere I never imagined I would get to.

Now, this post isn’t to brag. (Well, mostly not. Because I can brag a teeny bit, right? Thanks. I appreciate it.)
Because honestly, if you would have asked me last month if I could have written over fifty thousand words for a story I had only started to think about by the end of January, I would have laughed in your face. But here we are.
Now, I can write a whole post about all the secret little tricks that can make you, too, write like a crazy person for a month. But I won’t.
Mostly, because there aren’t that many secret tricks.
Yes, you need to learn what works for you. Can you trick yourself into being creative? Yes, but it takes time. Can you learn to type 70 wpm so when those flood of ideas come, you can type fast enough to keep up with them? Yup. (Mavis Beacon, my old pal, is responsible for my typing skills. And a certain third-grade typing teacher who painted nail polish over all the letters on the keyboard so we couldn’t cheat.)
Can you write plotlines, do character outlines, or write drunk, if that’s what fuels your creativity? Oh, indeedy you can.  (No, I haven’t written drunk yet. But I’m willing to try it one night…) Word prompts, picture prompts, song prompts, food prompts? Honey, you can use pretty much anything to spark creativity. To write that many words a month? There is a certain amount of discipline and focus you need to have, along with the ability to not sleep for an indefinite period of time.
But when it really boils down to it, those are all flimsy covers, and see-through magic tricks. There aren’t really any sure-fire ways. There are no hidden secrets.

It’s just you and your words.

So for all of you who are debating whether to start- whether to try to start, because you’re scared you’ll never get anywhere, or that everything you write will be meaningless tripe.
This is for you.
From the bottom of my heart to yours.

Just start.
Start even if you don’t know where it’s going to go.
Start even if you think it’s stupid.
Start even if you don’t think anyone will want to read it.
Start even if you’re doing it during your lunch break, between your classes, or while the baby sleeps.

I can’t tell you much about finishing. I haven’t gotten there yet.
But if there was any advice I took to heart, it was this.
Do it.
Just write. Write what you need to write. Whatever you need to express. Whatever is bubbling inside you. Regardless of if people want to hear it, you need to write it. It may never go anywhere past your eyes, but if it’s in you and it needs to be written and you don’t write it, you are slowly killing pieces of yourself.
It will be hard.
You will have nothing to say at times.
You will probably drink more (fill in blank with your beverage of choice) while you do it than you have in the past two years.
You’ll detox later.

For nobody’s sake but your own, write.
Put your fingers to the keyboard. Put your pen to the paper. Put your spray paint to the wall. I don’t care how you do it.

And know that I’m here, cheering you on.
And writing.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Breathe, KK. Breathe.

I've never finished a story. Never managed to get to the words "The End".
Kinda sad, isn't it.
They all start the same- with good intentions, and all sorts of visions for how everything will go down.
But then something always happens.
I don't even know what.
Except for I stop writing. I tell myself, I'll get back to it one day.
And I never, ever, ever do.

This lack of finishing thing scares me.
Honestly, I can say that the longest story I've ever written (without finishing it, of course) was around 14,000 words. And we're not even going to discuss the miserable failure that NaNoWriMo was this year.
It was baaaaaaaaaaaaad.

So excuse me while I have a miniature panic attack here for a minute.
I use Scrivener to write, one of the best investments I've made for my writing. The obsessive-list-maker in me loves it so very very much, as does the easily distracted possibly ADHD'd part of me.
And while Scrivener is great when it comes to all sorts of things, I don't really know how many pages the book (which is still untitled) is.
I'm a good little writer, and have learned the hard way, so I have the book backed up- not only as a word document, but on my Google Drive, as well. I'll re-transfer from Scrivener to Word every night, and from Word to Google Drive every three days. (It's not paranoia when it can happen.)
So when I transferred over to the word document last night, I think I stopped breathing for a little bit.

My baby, my book, has reached one hundred pages.
1, and then two 0's.
Let me just sit here for a minute and be smug.

Now, is all of it award winning writing?
There is a lot of complete and utter crap that has been written, which will get mercilessly edited and changed.
It's there.
A story.
An actual, honest-to-goodness story.
While I haven't written those two magical words yet (and I assure you, I will let you know when I do), I see them. The light at the end of this tunnel is not an oncoming train. I hope.

So I'll keep going. Keep writing, even when I know it's not the greatest, keep writing even when I really should be sleeping, keep writing because there are people in my head who need their stories told.

And after I recover from this milestone, I'll be back :)
Hope y'all are having an excellent weekend!


Thursday, January 24, 2013

How To Train Yourself To Become Massively Inspired And Write Till Your Fingers Fall Off

Thing you should know: One of the things I do when I'm not writing is going to graduate school, and I'm studying psychology. I absolutely love it- almost every second of it. (Minus that one professor who talked about grammar syntax, Latin verbs and advanced mathematics the whole time. I like talking about feelings, not verb conjugation.)


One of the hard things about giving yourself a tight deadline to finish writing something is when you just aren't feeling it. When you sit in front of the computer, and you can't even type a complete sentence.
Those days are the WORST.

Now, there are those people who say that you can't force yourself to be creative. This is true. However, you can trick yourself into being creative. This does not happen overnight, but I pretty much guarantee that if you follow the directions, you, too, will be able to literally flip on the creative switch at your leisure.

Special thanks goes to Ivan Pavlov and Kenny Chesney for the inspiration of this excellent method.

Anyone who's ever taken Psychology 101 has heard of Ivan Pavlov. (Quick review now.) Pavlov was a researching the physiology of digestion of dogs when he discovered the concept of conditioning. He realized that if there was a constant stimulus before he appeared with food, regardless of what the stimulus was, the dogs was start salivating when exposed to the stimulus, regardless of if there was food there or not. Pavlov decided to try it consciously to see if the phenomenon was consistent, and used a bell as (what is called) the conditioned stimulus. The rest, of course, is psychological history.

Kenny Chesney has a song entitled "I Go Back"- a song about how a certain song triggers very specific feelings and memories about his teen years.
"...Well, I heard it today and I couldn't help but sing along/'Cause every time I hear that song/I go back......We all have a song that somehow stamped our lives/takes us to another place and time..."
Some songs are just like that, aren't they? You'll turn on a song, and you're transported to that crazy road trip, to studying for that final in college, to that boy. Everyone's got their go-to songs when it comes to needing to conjure any type of mood- music is incredibly powerful like that.

What has this got anything to do with you and your creativity? And how can we combine these two excellent but strangely random pieces of information to hack into your creativity?

The first thing you need to do is pick a song that gets you into book mode. You know the song- the one that gets you into the mindset of your book, your characters, your authorness. Got lots of songs? Start with only one song- it's easier and faster.

Warning: You're going to be listening to this song A LOT. I hope you like it.

Have a crazy flow of creativity? Before you start writing, turn on your designated song. Put it on repeat. Have the song playing in the background, loud enough that you can hear it, but not loud enough to distract you from creating. (If there is no such decibel that will distract you, put it on loud enough that you can hear it but not loud enough to make you go deaf. There is no need to sacrifice your ear for art, even if Van Gough did it.)
When your spurt of creativity drains, turn off the song. What you're trying to do is equate your song to spurts of incredible creativity, so having the song playing when you AREN'T feeling creative won't help so much.

Now, like with Pavlov's dogs, and with all other incidences of conditioning, the only way for this to work is to rinse and repeat. Every time you feel a rush of creativity, turn on your song. Rinse and repeat.

After doing this a bunch of times, there will come a day where something truly magical will happen. You'll sit down with your laptop, notebook and ballpoint, typewriter, or quill and parchment, turn on your song, and BAM.
Instant creativity.

-Hope this helps you with your dry spells... let me know what happens.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a song to listen to until it comes out of my ears- I have a number count I'd like to get to today. :)

Happy Writing!


PS: If this post was helpful, I'd love for you to share it with other writers and creators you know. The more the merrier, right? Right. :)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Ever-Evolving Playlist

I can write with music on, but only if it's good mood music. It's an never-ending process trying to find good mood music, and currently I've got the same few songs on loop.

Current favorites? Fix You by Coldplay, A Thousand Years by Christina Perri, Six Degrees of Separation by The Script and Lullaby by Nickleback.
Pandora has been great for finding new music to listen to without too much trouble- except that whole I listen to it while on the internet on my laptop, which means, unless I'm hyper-focused and can type as fast as my fingers go, it ends up with me.... uh, procrastinating. Way more than I want to admit to. I know, you're shocked, aren't you? ;)

It's interesting, how the whole creative process goes- there are days that you sit and try and try and try to create something- anything, regardless of how crappy it is, but nothing happens, and you have to drag each individual piece of it out with a pair of pliers. And then there are the days that everything not only flows- it gushes, like some demented waterfall, regardless of what you're supposed to be doing, leaving you to scribble on the backs of receipts and unused napkins as quickly as you can, hoping you can get it all down before you have to go back to work.

Creativity is an interesting boss.

In other news, I realized I have over 180 eBooks on my iPad  between my nook app and my kindle app- not to mention the constant rotation of eBooks I take out from my library (If you haven't checked to see if your library has eBooks  check NOW. No more late fees, ever, ever, ever, which is enough of a motivation for me). Not to mention the physical books that are piled all over the place.

And yes, I've read the fast majority of them.
I surprised myself with that little number count.

Last book I read? The Song of the Silk Road- I borrowed it from a friend and read it over the weekend. I'm still not sure how I felt about it- it was definitely an interesting read, and gave a great picture of the places she visited, but the character development or lack thereof had me able to just put the book down in the middle. I did finish the book, but it wasn't one of those books that if I hadn't finished, I would have to go find it to finish it to see how it ended.

Back to writing now- hoping to get another 1500 words in for today. Hope you're enjoying your weekend!


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

*Insert Celebratory Dance Here*

Last night, the word count of the as-of-now-untitled-manuscript has surpassed 16,000 words.
This is the longest story I've ever written. And it's not even close to being done yet ;)

So: How exactly am I writing this?
Well, mostly I'm writing it in order. As I've mentioned before, I wrote a mildly detailed outline, and now I'm making it more detailed. I can't say I'm sticking with the outline 100%, because I'm not, but so far, I've mostly stuck with the story line.
I wasn't expecting a couple of scenes to pop up, but I'm pretty happy with them there.

In other news, the new job so far is mostly uneventful. And quiet, which is an excellent change from the previous, drama-filled job. And while drama is all fun and games when you're watching it, it's only when you're watching it from afar. Very, very, very far away. It doesn't really need me to be completely emotionally invested, as it's mostly office work, which means that I get to think about the book while I sort things on excel spreadsheets. I've been using StickyNotes to jot down ideas or snippets that come during business hours, and then at the end of the day, transfer them to my Google drive so I can access them at home when it's just me and Scrivener, hanging out. Usually with a soundtrack of The Script and Coldplay, which seem to be my current writing music.

Now, I'm off to play grown up and do some work :)


Monday, January 14, 2013

Where Is This Blog Going To Go?

I have no idea.
I know, I'm super helpful like that.
But honesty is how I roll, so that's the bottom line.
I'm not sure where this blog is going- but only writing about my word counts will get boring, I can assure you of that.
I don't really have any deep and meaningful writing advice for people, nor any deep and meaningful advice about publishing. But telling you what I know and what I'm learning is something that I can definitely do, as well as let y'all know if I've read an excellent book or two lately.

I'm actually starting a new job, so that's going to be an interesting juggle, along with everything else.
In the beginning, I don't think anyone is JUST a writer- I can tell you that I definitely am not- I've got all kinds of secret other jobs... actually, I think this one is the secret job :)
There are worse secret jobs to have, you know, so I'm all good.

But today my calculator and I had a lovely little meeting, and while it may be a bit insane (but that is how I roll), I'm calculating to have the first draft finished by May 1st. That actually gives me a few weeks for flexibility, for all the times that things come up.
It will mean I'm going to be writing like a crazy person- early in the AM before going to work, on my way to class (because, yes, I'm in school too), on subways and buses, at ungodly hours of the morning where really I should be sleeping.

This also means that now that I've announced it to the entire internetsville, that now I'm actually going to have to finish it by then. Accountability is always a good thing.

I have only one thing to say to my overachieving, slightly crazy self, the one who thinks I can somehow write an entire novel in less than five months.
Bring it on, baby.
Bring. It. ON.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Outlines, Plotlines, and Doing It Their Way

I've been doing some web stalking, and reading everything I can get my hands on about writing a novel, and the entire process.
Let me tell you something.
It is mighty confusing.
Everyone has their own version of how you're supposed to go about writing- from how you're supposed to think of the idea, how and where you're supposed to write said novel, to exactly how you should go about getting it published.
It's enough to make your head fall off.

So before I freeze up and freak out about doing it wrong, I will be following the ONE PIECE of advice that has been most consistent. One given to me by a bunch of very wise friends, and one that really? I should tattoo to my forehead.

Write first. Worry later.
So here I go again.
Back to the mildly detailed outline, to make it a tad more detailed. And then more detailed. Rinse and repeat.


Monday, January 7, 2013

I Think My Fingers Are Going To Fall Off.

Just a quick little update, because my fingers need a break. :)
After what seems like three days straight of non-stop typing, I have finished the mildly detailed plot summary.

I have yet to finalize which genre it's going to fall under, but right now it's leaning towards New Adult.

And I have one thing to say about a certain handsome character. Hubba Hubba.
(This is going to be fun.)


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Well, Hi. (the Miniature Emotional Backstory)

Writing (and publishing) a book was always one of those things I told myself I would do. Started a few, and never, ever, ever finished one. Part of me thought that I never would.
But when it came late December, and I was going through all the different goals I wanted to accomplish this year, finishing a book and publishing kept on showing up.
I know. I am the world's biggest cliche sometimes.
But someone had decided to move into my mind around the same time- a few someones, for that matter. And until I wrote their story, they weren't going to leave.

So here we are.
At the beginning of what will probably be a wonderful, caffeinated, hair-pulling, frustrating, but incredibly rewarding ride. I'll be posting updates on all sorts of things, from actually going through the process of writing a story, the process of publishing it, and everything and anything in between.
And of course, when I have little tidbits and teasers, I will not hesitate to share them with y'all. Because what's a little sharing among friends?

I'm so glad to have you here with me.