Rachel Aaron’s Blog

Today I want to share with you another author’s blog post that has given me ridiculous amounts of motivation. This author in general inspires the hell out of me because of her positive energy and fun approach to writing.

Rachel Aaron, author of The Legend of Eli Monpress, has seriously nailed down her writing process. One of her most popular blog posts is entitled “How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day.” You may have already seen it while browsing the ‘net looking for writing advice. But if you haven’t seen it, you should. Whether or not you are a fan of the fantasy/science fiction genre, she has a lot of information on her blog that has helped me work out the kinks in my own writing. You can find the link below ~ I highly recommend checking it out. Thanks, Rachel! You’re awesome.

Pretentious Title: How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day

And if you’re a fan of fantasy, go check out the Eli Monpress books! They’re good fun =)

 

~Beka

Tips on Squeezing in Writing Time

Here we go, Day 5 of rediscovering my blogging groove! This one took some thinking. I am by no means a new writer – I’ve been writing stories since I was a kid – but taking writing seriously is new for me. It’s only within the past year or so that I’ve dedicated myself to achieving the dream of becoming a published author and began studying and practicing the craft of writing. I didn’t know how to handle a tip post. I kept telling myself I wasn’t qualified to give tips on writing.

But I realized there was something I’d been actively working on in my own writing life that I could give a few tips on: Squeezing in time to write! Perhaps this post will get to someone who is struggling with finding writing time. Even if I only help one person, I’ll be happy. =)

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Ways to Squeeze in Writing Time During a Busy Day

Making time to write has always been a challenge for me. I have a full time job and a 4-year-old son, and sometimes my dream falls by the wayside. With a little determination though, I’ve figured out how to keep moving forward with my novel, even if it’s only a few paragraphs at a time. Being strapped for spare time that doesn’t involve a toddler climbing on my back and shooting me with Megatron’s gun, even those tiny increments of progress are important to me.

Get up early! ~ I know I’ve mentioned before that I sleep like the dead. Usually that’s because I’m up late the previous night. What I’ve been doing is setting my alarm two hours before I have to be clocked in at work. Sometimes I hear it the first time it goes off, sometimes I don’t. The trick for me is to roll out of bed the first time I hear it. Once my feet hit the ground and I reach a standing position, as long as I don’t glance back at the pillow I’m good. After that, it’s just a matter of shambling to the fridge for a Red Bull.

Doing this has given me anywhere from 15 minutes (on zombie mornings) to 2 hours (on awesome mornings) of extra writing time. What’s really cool is that those morning sessions are sometimes the most creative. I wonder if that’s residual from my dreams the night before?

Work breaks ~ This somewhat depends on your job and how your breaks work, but I figure even if you get no more than a 10 minute break here and there… well, that’s 10 minutes of writing time. Consider this – if you know you only have 10 minutes, you’ll learn to use that time for a hardcore focus boost. Quite possibly with a sandwich in one hand.

I’m lucky enough that I get an entire hour for my lunch break. I give myself about 15 minutes to piss around and make lunch, then guess what? I get 45 minutes of writing time. And yes, with a sandwich in one hand. You’d be surprised how fast you can type with one hand.

Let’s say my morning was somewhere between “zombie” and “awesome,”giving me 1 hour before work. That’s now about an hour and a half of writing time squeezed in.

Daydream. Think. Plan. And take notes! ~ If you’re like me, your story is on your mind all day long. You’re always planning the next step, always tweaking the plot and characters in your head. We all have moments at work when we’re on autopilot, or we’re taking a breather, heading to the bathroom, smoke breaks, etc. These are perfect planning moments. Having some ideas rolling around in your head at any given time can make your next writing session more productive, because you have a goal in mind, even if it’s just a loose idea. It might help to carry around a notebook, or use an iPhone or similar device to keep short notes.

Something people might not realize is that thinking is a major part of the writing process. When we’re sitting there staring off into space with a blank screen in front of us, that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re slacking. This could be the most intense stages of planning going on!

Take advantage of Spongebob. ~ After work, it’s tougher for me to get writing time in. It’s family time then, and I like to hang out with my son and husband. Often though, my son is also winding down about this time and he’ll scurry off to my computer to watch Spongebob on Netflix. A Spongebob episode is about 20 minutes. What does that mean? You got it – 20 minutes of writing time. And if he chooses something longer, like Fireman Sam or Pingu… score! I get 45 minutes.

Now we’re up to approximately 2 hours total for the day.

Of course, this one might mean skipping Hell’s Kitchen when it airs… which makes me a sad panda. But that’s what Hulu is for, right? =)

Stay up late. ~ After my son is in bed, I allow myself some time to veg out. This is the only time of day I get to hang out with my hubby alone, without the kid. I try not to push writing into this time frame – I love to chill out with him and catch up on TV shows or slay hordes of demons.

About 11:00 though, I kick back into “chasing a dream” mode and head out to the living room where it’s nice and quiet this time of night. I stay up until about midnight or 12:30 to write. This is another extremely productive time for me, as there are no distractions. Unless the cats get feisty.

Total possible writing time thus far: About 3 hours.

Allow yourself at least one day that is 100% yours for writing. ~ Although we can fit little bits of writing time in now and then, there is nothing more satisfying to me than a huge, several-hour writing session. We all deserve to have some selfish time. Even if you have family and kids, allot a certain time each week for writing. Period. It helps if it’s the same time each week. Protect this time. Covet this time. Insist on it. And above all – use it wisely.

My super-huge chunk of writing comes on Monday nights. I’m off on Tuesday. After my husband goes to bed on Monday, I sprawl out on the couch with my laptop, reference books, notes, maps, everything. I crack open a Red Bull and write. When I hear the doves the next morning – usually around 4:30 a.m. – I crawl into bed and sleep til noon. I’ve claimed this night as mine, and I protect it! Sometimes I get to do it again on Friday night.

Don’t fight yourself. ~ Now, let’s be realistic. These are all possibilities, but they’re not set in stone. And they shouldn’t be. On a good day, where I’m insanely focused and determined, yes – I can scrape up those 3 hours of writing. But some days, you just can’t. Or just plain don’t wanna. And that’s perfectly fine. Sometimes on my lunch break, I just wanna eat my sandwich with two hands and catch up on my shows. This post was meant to show you how to rethink your day, how to assess your time and see if you can squeeze in 15 minutes here and there.

But be nice to yourself. Don’t get on your own case if you can’t write every spare moment of every day. It’s good to relax sometimes, too. Besides, the story’s always going on inside your head, anyway. ;)

~Beka

Helpful Writing Links

I’d planned on doing a review post this time, as per Day 3 of rediscovering my blogging groove, but alas… I haven’t had time to put together a proper review. So, I’m going to skip ahead to Day 4 and come back to it.

I’m going to share with you a few interesting links that have helped me along my writing path. Some of them have taught me something, and others have offered me inspiration. I hope that you’ll find them helpful in some way, as I have. Of note, if you’d like to see some awesome sites on world building, you can find some links on my main page in the right hand column – some fun sites there, check ’em out.

Plot to Punctuation, “The Unavoidable Character” ~ This link here is the one that brought me to this site, which is now one of my favorites that I try to keep up with. It discusses author intrusion, and ways to keep it out of your writing. You never want your reader to remember you’ve been there, and this post can help you avoid that.

Character archetypes ~ Author Suzanne Pitner explains some of the more common character archetypes, which are fun to play around with when developing your characters!

Man Up: Writing Male POV ~ Author Roni Loren gives some amazing tips here on writing from a male’s point of view. This has been extremely helpful for me, as many of my main characters are guys. It’s a lot of fun to get inside a man’s head. ;)

Live, Write, Thrive ~ Author C.S. Lakin’s blog. I keep up with this one – her posts are always inspirational, and help me out on those writing days where I do nothing but bitch and moan and drag my feet. Or would that be drag my pen… ? O.o

Speech Accent Archive ~ Now this is cool. I go here a lot when trying to figure out how to describe accents. It is extremely extensive, and extremely helpful to me with my fantasy stories. I can get a feel for how I want certain characters to sound.

That’s all for now. I hope these help you in some way! Have fun, and keep writing. :)

~Beka

Character Values, Ambitions, and Goals

Here I am on Day 2 of rediscovering my blogging groove!

I was almost stumped for today’s post, as the idea is to answer a question from one of my readers. My blog is fairly new. I don’t have many readers or followers yet, so I didn’t have any questions to pull from. Instead, what I’m going to do is share with you a link to Randy Ingermanson’s blog where he answered a question of mine last month. He’s an awesome guy who is full of knowledge on the craft of writing, so I recommend checking out his blog anyway. (He and Larry Brooks are my go-to guys for writing info – they both have a down-to-earth approach to writing, and I can always find inspiration and helpful advice from them.)

My question to Randy involved the values, ambitions, and goals of my characters. Before I send you off to his blog, I’ll give you an idea of what I’m talking about:

The value of a character is a simple truth, something that is more important to them than anything else on the planet. It’s good for the story, and for character development, to give your character two or more values that conflict with one another. Then later you can make ’em squirm when they have to choose between one or the other.

An ambition is something that your character wants very badly – but the character’s ambition isn’t concrete. It’s an abstract thing, something intangible and vague. The character’s ambition should sprout from their value.

The character’s goal is their solid plan of action, how they will go about achieving their ambition.

All three of these things should link up and give you the focus of your story.

I’ve spent a lot of time developing my character’s values, ambitions, and goals, and it’s something that really bogs me down. I have trouble with it. My confusion started when I realized, “Hang on a sec… won’t some of these things change throughout the story?” I wasn’t sure if I should be focusing on what their goals were before the story started, after, or both. So, I asked Randy. And he gave me an awesome answer.

Click the link below to read my question on Randy’s blog:

Values, Ambitions, and Goals for Your Character

Hope you find this helpful! :)

~Beka

5 Things That Keep Me From Blogging

Over a month since my last post! Terrible :)  I’ve lost my momentum. Looks like it’s time to rediscover my blogging groove!

Today, I bring you:

5 Things That Keep Me From Blogging

1. My novel. Although my poor blog has been suffering, I am happy to note that my writing in general has been steadily moving forward. Not fast, mind you, but there is definite progress. I’ve done as much world building and structure planning as I could possibly muster before I just couldn’t stand it any longer. I finally started to just write the damn thing :)  The first draft is underway, and this time around I’m going to try a half-pantsing, half-planning approach. With the little free time I have, when faced with the choice of blogging or working on the novel, I’ll always choose the novel.

2. My job. My schedule can be tough to work around sometimes. I work from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. By the time I get off work, hang out with my son for a bit, and then get him into bed, my mind is shot. As for blogging before work… I am by no means a morning person. If I try to get up early, I’m a zombie. And zombies don’t write good blog posts. At least, not about writing. All their posts would be about brains and the latest fashion in tattered pants.

3. Lack of topics. I gotta admit, sometimes it’s just hard for me to think of something to post about. I get a lot of inspiration from other bloggers, but because I’m so focused on my novel my reading has kinda slacked off. Guess getting my blog groove back means keeping up with my fellow blogger’s posts! :)

4. Self doubt. This one has to go on the list. I’m someone who has been plagued with feelings of inadequacy my whole life. It’s just me. I doubt, I question, I second-guess. “Nah, I can’t post that. It’s stupid. No one will want to read that.” You know, that evil stuff. And speaking of evil…

5. Diablo 3. We all know this is the real reason I neglect my blog. But come on… Diablo’s out there somewhere, terrorizing the world. Someone’s gotta stop him. And that someone is totally me. ⌐■͜  ■

Until tomorrow!

~Beka