Oh me, Oh my…

So, last week I did what I always do. I grabbed my USB, sat down at my desk, plugged it in to open up my WIP and start working, only to find…..

Someone has deleted everything from my USB. (My guess would be the little minion who bugs me to use my computer all day every day. I call him Son.) All of it. It’s all gone.

omg-excited

Needless to say, I almost broke down and cried. I consequently freaked out for about 4 hours. I ran all of the software I could to try and recover something, anything, and nada. No good. No go. Do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars.

Nothing could be restored.

pass-out

After having myself a nice pity party all weekend about the loss of my WIP, there is only one thing left for me to do. Start over.

Luckily for me, I hand wrote most of my outline, and emailed some of my chapters to critique partners. So I can save up to five chapters. I just have to start anew from chapter six forward.

So here we go. Starting over. Perhaps it’s for the best. That’s what I have to tell myself. That’s what I need to believe. That whatever ends up coming out in these newly written chapters will be better than what was there before. Or I might run away.

abort

Writing Struggles

Newsroom trash

Photo Credit: Louis Allen

I cannot tell you how many times I have let that voice inside my head get to me. Every writer knows it. The one that while you’re in the middle of your WIP says “This is crap.”

Do you listen to that voice?

I have, before. I have worked on, deleted, trashed, thrown away, and shredded so many started novels that I lost count. I’ve finished some too, though.

But there is always that voice, that one that says it’s not good enough, that it could be better, that this isn’t the story you should be working on. That voice is a liar. Don’t listen to it.

While yes, during your first draft, it may be crap. It probably is crap. The first draft is to get the story down, on paper (or computer) and out of your head. Then comes revisions. Make it not crap.

You have to get through this voice. All writers hear it, even the greats. No one can sit down and write a publish ready first draft, no one. If you can, you’re a unicorn and I want to be your friend.

You see, you’re not alone. While you’re sitting there, staring at your blank screen, or your blank page. While you’re reading over the chapters you just wrote. While you’re reading the critiques you’re getting back. We all have that sliver of doubt that enters our minds. It’s normal. It’s how you push through this fear and doubt that matters.

Don’t give up. Don’t assume because your first draft isn’t what you expected that you’re not a good writer. Don’t doubt something that pulls you back to it, no matter how long of a break you take, it’s your passion.

This is only one of the struggles writers face. Every. Day. Every time they sit down to write or edit. I have made a name for that voice. I call him Edgar. Yes, the voice in my head is a guy, I’m not sure what that means.

I imagine him sitting in my office at home while I’m writing at the other desk. He is across from me in the other desk chair, his fingers laced together and clasped in his lap. As I look over to him he gives me mischievous grin as he prepares to speak, yet his three feet stature and pudgy face makes me giggle. When he starts his negative talk, as he always does, I threaten to punt him across the room. That tends to shut him up for a while.

Who knows, I kind of like Edgar, even with his negativity. He pushes me past my comfort zone in my need to prove him wrong. He may end up in a story one day.

You don’t have to give that voice a name, or a physical embodiment, like I did. But do what you need to do to no longer listen to that voice anymore.

Now it’s your turn. What do you do when you hear that doubt creeping into your head?

5 top sites for writers

So today I wanted to talk about my favorite websites that I visit for writing information, tips, answers, and generally just everything writing related.

There are so many sites out there. Seriously, google it. But I want to give you my top 5. The ones I go to the most, and the ones that have helped me grow as a writer and a CP.

So here we go:

  1. Scribophile.com – This one is more of a community and a forum. Writers get together, share their work, get critiques, join groups. And they are very active. I’m in about I think, 7 groups now. You need karma points to be able to post your work and get critiques. You earn those points by reading and critiquing other members work. You are exposed to so many different writing styles, and types of people, it can really open your eyes. At least I know it did for me.
  2. jamigold.com – If you’re a plotter, like me, this site offers so many beat sheets and resources for writers. All of which are downloadable in excel format. They do all the math for you, and if you’re not a fan of math, this can be incredibly helpful. Also if you’re still learning structure, the numerous beat sheets they have will show you all different structure styles. I highly recommend it.
  3. Writability – Ava Jae is the Author of Beyond the Red. Her blog is hilarious as much as it is informative. She shares tips on writing, editing, revising, etc. She also runs contests to win a chance for her to critique your first 250 words, and all the critiques I’ve seen her do are incredibly helpful. She been blogging for years, so you probably won’t get to read all of her posts (I’m still trying) but read as much as you can.
  4. The Creative Penn – Joanna Penn is Author of multiple Fiction books, as well as Non-Fiction books on writing craft. Her blog has been so helpful to me over the years. Just about every question I have had, I have been able to find multiple answers to on her blog. Seriously, if you haven’t checked her out yet (And if you’re a writer, I’m not sure how you wouldn’t have heard of her) go do it. Now. Really. I’ll wait.
  5. Jane Friedman – Jane is a former publisher and gives all kinds of advice to writers. She has classes, books, resources. All of it, invaluable. Hers was one of the first sites I found when I typed in a writing question years ago, and I haven’t looked back since.

So there you go. The top 5 websites I visit for writing purposes. I’m not kidding when I say they have all helped me in one way or another, and I don’t think I would even be the writer I am today without their helpful posts and communities. So if you’re serious about being a writer and getting published, these sites should be on your list too!

So what’s on your list? What are some of the top sites you visit for help when it comes to writing, editing, revising?

Another year Growing Older

8251028654_3aa257e2c3_n So last week it was my birthday, today it’s my step-dads, and next week my husbands.

Since we have three birthdays in a row every year, it always seems to go by with a blur. I’ve never really sat down long enough to think about growing older, my goals, and if I am where I thought I would be.

Well, today is that day.

First up, how do I feel being this age now? It’s no secret, I’m not ashamed of my age. I’m 33. I guess I’m really not sure how I feel. I know I definitely don’t feel like I did at 23.

I never had that freak out moment, or feeling of dread when I came into my thirties. In all honesty, while my friends were bemoaning their 30th, I was looking forward to it. I never really knew why. And now, I’m three years past it, and I still feel… I don’t know.

You see, I guess I never really ever felt like an adult. I felt like I was just pretending. Like I was playing dress up and one day someone would call me out on it. I thought that when I hit my thirties that feeling would go away. It did not.

Yeah sure, there are some days where I absolutely know I am no longer in my twenties. When I wake up with my back hurting, or something on my body pops and cracks. My body makes all kinds of weird noises now that it didn’t when I was younger. I also get hang overs a whole lot easier than I ever did before, and I absolutely need more than four hours of sleep now vs then.

But in my head, I still feel like that little girl. That girl who always looked at the adults in her life with awe and a hint of mysticism. Always thinking it would get better when I was finally an adult. They had their shit together. Adults knew things.

Well, that was a lie. Sure, from the outside looking in, we (our family) may look like we have it all figured out. But I’m telling you know, we don’t. No one does. It’s all an act. We’re all just going through life pretending. But, that’s not a bad thing. If we stay in touch with that inner child, the one that still looks at the world and those around us with the eyes of wonder and imagination, well nothing will ever be dull.

Now on to goals. Did I reach them? Did I even have them? Well, yeah, I kinda did. I knew I wanted to own my own house by Mid-Thirties and I’m there. I knew I wanted to be a writer, and I’m doing that. I knew I wanted my kids to have more than I did, and they do. So I guess I reached them.

But one I didn’t? Being traditionally published. I’m not there yet. So, I have a new goal to hit before 40. Hopefully I will.

How about you? No matter if you’re in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, or up. Are you where you thought you would be? Do you feel like an adult? Did you reach those goals you had set for yourself when you were younger and uninhibited by the world around you?

5 Words we should be using!

I love words. I think that may be a little obvious, but I do. I love that our language is so diverse, and I love that one word if used one way, could mean something completely different if used another way.

Now, I have found that while reading I find myself longing for better words. Wishing for something that really excites my brain and tastes sweet as I speak it out loud. So if you’re like me, and you’re looking for better words to use while writing, here is my list of 5 words we should be using:

  1. Aflame – Instead of using excited
  2. Despondent – Instead of using sad
  3. Aghast – Instead of using anxious
  4. Clamorous – Instead of using loud
  5. Quake – Instead of shiver

So there you go, my 5 words we should be using. Do you have any more? I’d love to hear them and let’s start the next list!

Revisions, and learning to love them.

Yes, you read that right. Learning to love revising.

Oh come on, don’t groan.

We all know revisions are part of writing. It’s what takes that first draft to polished finished manuscript. But it can be drudgery.

You’ve finished your first draft. Go you! Now put it away. If you start revising now, you’re still very much in the story. You’re riding the high of it being finished, and you may miss some things that could/should be changed. So put it away.

After you have left it alone for a while, and you may even be starting to forget a details of your story, then pick it back up. You will have fresh eyes and be able to read your story as a critical editor.

Read it all the way through. Don’t stop. Make some notes if you must, when you find glaring issues, but read it from beginning to end. This will give you the best picture of the over all story and any big plot holes or gaps you will need to fill in.

Ok, so you’ve read it, you’ve made a few notes, and you have a good feel for the issues in your story. Now you start revising. If you’re like me, you will want to work in stages. It’s easier, I promise.

Round One of revisions.

I like to break my stages up into three chapters each. Unless there is an arch in the middle in which case I may add a few more chapters to round it out. As you’re going through, don’t pay too much attention to your punctuation just yet. Because you may change bigger things later on that will have made those punctuation changes useless.

After you have finished this first round of revisions, now you send it to your critique partners. When you get their critiques back look and see if they are similar. If they found the same issues, or had the same suggestions. This usually means there’s an issue that needs addressing.

Round Two of revisions.

So you read through your critiques, you made your decisions based on their suggestions, and you revised. Now, send it back to them. See what comes back. Did what you changed/added/removed change anything major that you missed? Did it cause a plot hole? This is what they are looking for the second go round.

After they send it back, you’re(me/we’re) hoping there are no huge changes, only minor grammar and punctuation at this point. If all street lights are green and the road is paved in gold, it might be. But for now, let’s just say that it is. Great!

Round Three of revisions.

You fixed the grammar, the punctuation, and your critique partners didn’t find anything big that needs to be changed. Now what? Your Beta readers. You send it to your betas to read through. You will get comments back. They will make suggestions, and you will have another revision to do.

Round Four of revisions.

Ok, you made the changes. It’s getting better with each pass. You’re confident in it, and you send it back to your betas. They jump up and down and call you the next [insert your favorite author here]. You’re stoked! What’s next?

Round Five of revisions.

One final pass. One final revision. Polishing it to the very best it could possibly be. You wanted to rip your hair out and throw your computer out of your window, but you’re done.

Why would anyone ever love this process, and why should you? Because, if you hadn’t done it that polished and shiny completed manuscript you have wouldn’t even be there. And looking back at it, isn’t what you ended up with so much better than what you started with? I’m willing to bet you fifty bucks it is. Just make your check payable to A.G.

But in all seriousness, while revising can be daunting, and it can feel like a never ending loop, know that with each pass you are one step closer to that finished publishable novel. And isn’t that something to love?