Kreativ Blogger Award

What a wonderful surprise – someone was sweet enough to send the Kreativ Blogger Award my way =)  My thanks to the lovely Virginia, who has chosen me as a recipient.

I love the idea of the Kreativ Blogger Award. For anyone who isn’t familiar with it, it’s an award passed on from blogger to blogger, and encourages networking and communication. If you’re curious as to the origins of this award, check out this post on Simon Food Favourites. (Simon’s post will also explain why my logo’s different than the usual pink and green one floating around! I think it’s an awesome idea to design a logo that suits you and your blog.)

As a recipient of the Kreativ Blogger Award, I’m expected to follow a few “rules” to keep it moving:

Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.

Thank you again, Virginia! I love visiting her blog, Poeta Officium. She inspires me, even though she doesn’t know it. ;)  She oozes positive energy, go check her out!

List 7 things about yourself that readers might find interesting.

1. I love cats, big and small. (Can you tell?)

2. I’m a gamer geek. My favorites are World of Warcraft, Aion, Diablo, and Minecraft. And yes, I used to play D&D.

3. I’m obsessed with tattoos! I have three fairly good-sized ones on my back, and I’m always planning the next one. (One of them is actually my avatar image.)

4. I love my little family more than anything. My husband and son – they’re my best friends, and an enormous source of support.

5. By day, I work as a medical transcriptionist out of my home. My “uniform” is a pair of sweats and a T-shirt.

6. I’m a member of Writing.Com, a wonderful community of writers that offers feedback and support. I’ve made some lifelong friends here (love you guys!). On the site, I run a group called Rainbow Writers – a group for those who write, read, or otherwise support the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender) genre.

7. A vast majority of my stories focus on characters who are gender diverse.

Nominate 7 bloggers, notify them of their nomination, and post links to their blogs.

I’m breaking the rules here – I don’t know a lot of bloggers, and only have six of them to nominate.

Shira Anthony’s Blog – She’s an amazing writer, and a friend of mine from Writing.Com.

Kim’s Craft Blog – She has a lot of great creative writing advice, and I’ve been visiting her blog for a while now.

All Write – Fiction Advice – Another awesome blog for writers.

Genderfork – A blog offering support and a sense of community for those who are gender diverse.

Finding my Creature – This blog follows the writer’s journey as she seeks her creative side. I love her energy.

Pretentious Title – The blog of author Rachel Aaron – her blog has helped me to look at my writing in a different way. I visit her site quite often to get motivated.

And that’s a wrap!

~B

Finding Your Writing Method

I’ve been working my way through Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy. It turns out I really needed to read this book. It’s one thing to have a desire to write a novel, but as I learned from my first (botched) attempt, I need to start from the ground up. I’m going to share with you the most important thing that I’ve learned from this book, the thing that helped me move past a self-imposed road block that kept me from making any writing progress. It’s something that I think every writer should take the time to learn – finding your method of writing. You’ve got all the “who, what, and why” ready to go… but if you’re not sure about the how, you may never achieve your goal.

The book outlines four different writing methods that are used by novelists to get that first draft done. (They call them creative paradigms.)

The first method is “seat-of-the-pants” writing – I’d heard this one mentioned by other writers quite a bit during the Nano season. In a nutshell, you sit down and write your first draft straight through with no planning or editing beforehand. You write things down as they occur to you, and worry about fixing it up later. This method involves a ton of rewriting, but it can be a lot of fun.

The second method is editing as you go. A variation of seat-of-the-pants, still writing without planning, but you go back and edit each scene as it is completed.

The third method is known as the “Snowflake Method,” created by one of the authors of the book – Randy Ingermanson. Randy explains how to use it here: http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/art/snowflake.php  The idea is that you plan a loose, basic structure, write a little bit, then as the characters and story become more clear you go back and alter the original structure to fit the new ideas.

And the final method is outlining – structuring the entire story, start to finish, scene by scene before you even begin writing the first draft. Those who use this method will often revise their outline many times before starting the actual story.

For the longest time, I assumed I was a seat-of-the-pants writer. Why? Because that’s how I do everything else in life. I don’t like a lot of structure, and I loved the idea of just writing. Freely. Letting the story come as it may. I started my novel by doing a small bit of brainstorming and character creation, then jumping right into the first draft. SotP for the win, right? Well, that story didn’t work out. Things kept changing on me. My mind kept thinking, “Oh, but what if this happened instead? Let’s try that.” All too often, the new course of events would nullify my first few scenes. And let me tell you, that was frustrating for me. Each time, I grumbled about it not working and scrapped it. I had a growing pile of novel and short story beginnings that I kept tossing aside because they weren’t working out. And the bigger that pile became, the smaller my self confidence shrank.

Finally, on the last story I wrote (submitted to DSP in hopes of publication), I tried something different. I pre-planned my key plot points, my scenes, the entire story. I outlined the whole thing before I wrote. I had a real, solid structureFor the first time in a long while I had a sense of direction when I began writing. I actually knew how the story was going to end even before I started. It was amazing. Instead of going into it with a feeling of dread and an expectation of failure, I went in ready and excited. I knew it would work. And I had fun writing it. Something clicked – I knew I’d found my writing method. I still want to experiment with the others, the ones I haven’t tried yet – who knows, there might be another one that’s even better for me. But discovering that SotP doesn’t work for me – knowing that I have options – has given me a new outlook.

The point of all my blabbing is that if you’re having trouble with your writing, whether it’s starting up or completing projects – make sure you’re going about it the way that works for you. Everyone’s going to be different – and if you like rigid structure in your everyday life, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll like rigid structure when you write. I definitely encourage all writers to try different methods and take the time to discover which one is right for you.

I’d love to hear from readers – how do you get that first draft done? Do you use one of the writing methods I mentioned above, or a different one entirely?

~B

Scheduling Time to Write is Key!

My first week of new writing goals went fairly well. As I expected, the idea of getting up early fell flat. I got up twice, was super productive that first day, then only got about 15 minutes of writing in on the second morning. I’ll just keep trying on that one. I sleep like the dead, and more often than not I don’t even hear my alarm go off. I end up clocking into work late about half the time. Luckily, I work from my home, so it’s just a matter of rolling out of bed directly into my chair. Kinda kills my allotted short story time, though. *grumble*

The two hours in the afternoons are perfect. I love it, and I look forward to it all day. That time is set aside for work on my novel. Fantasy is a lot of fun to write, but there’s a lot of set up, especially if your setting is an entirely different world than our own. The world building is pretty intense – you have to think about maps and climates and agriculture and social differences… the list goes on and on. I’m having a blast, but I’m itching to get to the actual story. I need to be patient though. Getting the world building done right will only help me in the long run.

Working like crazy right now on a short story for Dreamspinner Press that’s due in four days. Talk about cutting it short. (Come to think of it, this sounds familiar… I waited til the last minute for “Snow Angel,” too.) In my defense, I hadn’t intended on submitting a story for this particular collection. The theme is a romance that somehow involves time travel, and for the life of me I could not come up with an idea. Something hit me like a brick the other night, and now I’m determined to make the deadline. Needless to say, that will be my sole focus for the next few days. (Sorry, Kieran! I haven’t forgotten you, I promise.) After this one is finished and sent in, I can go back to working on my novel and the story for DSP’s next collection.

All in all, this week it’s gotten a little easier to juggle everything around. If you’re serious about writing, then scheduling writing time is necessary to achieve your goals. Counting the days until I can write full time.

~B

Taking Writing More Seriously

Besides my family, writing is the most important thing in the world to me. I write because I have to – my mental health depends upon it. =) After a good writing session, I feel more balanced and calm, and I have that sense of accomplishment that tells me I’m doing exactly what I need to be doing. My characters are sated for a while, pleased at having been given some much-deserved attention, and less grumpy characters means a less grumpy me.

Why, then, does writing always take a backseat to everything else in my life? Why do I insist on only squeezing in a few minutes “when I have time?” Something that means this much to me should have more of a spotlight, right?

Sometimes it’s guilt that keeps me from writing – guilt over not spending time with my family, guilt over not tackling the mountain of laundry I trek over every time I walk through the hallway, guilt over leaving my son with my husband all day long. So much guilt. Over what? Having a passion? Following a dream? Terrible.

And so, along with reworking my novel, I’m also reassessing my goals and habits. I’ve heard over and over that it’s not about finding time to write, it’s about making time. Making sacrifices. I have a better understanding now of the sacrifices I will have to make to pursue my writing career, and I’m ready to deal with them. I’ve assigned myself writing time six days a week, allowing myself an “off” day strictly for family. I’ve announced my writing time to my husband, and I’m enforcing it. I was able to carve two hours out of each day in between my work shifts – and during that time I lock myself up in my bedroom and write. I may even need to put up a Do Not Disturb sign, since I still get frequent visits from my guys. If that’s what it takes, then I’ll do it. I will protect my writing time. It’s time to take my writing more seriously.

Along the same lines, cracking down on my writing also means keeping up with the blog. I’m not exactly the most diligent blogger, as evidenced by the once-a-month posts. I think I can handle once a week, hmm? =)

One thing I’m having trouble with is balancing the work on my novel with writing short stories. I love writing short stories as well, and would like to start sending them in again to Dreamspinner Press for publication into their anthologies and advent calendars. With just two hours a day to write though, it’s hard to designate time to work on short stories when I’ve got a novel to finish. This may be where more of those sacrifices come into play… I do covet my sleep, but getting up an hour early would give me time in the morning to dedicate to short stories. What the hell, let’s call that a goal, too!

  • Get up early and devote an hour to short story writing.
  • Two hours of writing time every day from 3 – 5 p.m.
  • Post to the blog at least once a week.

Now maybe one day I’ll tackle exercise… >.<

~B