writer

Juggling Multiple Writing Projects #amwriting

As long as we work toward FINISHING a specific writing project by sticking to daily or weekly writing goals, it’s perfectly acceptable to occasionally divert our attentions to write on other projects that excite us.

Writing Fun Job FINAL

 

 

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To Publish Books, You Must Write #amwriting

https://ebmessenger.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/2c858-ahappywriter.jpg?w=219&h=238

In the mad rush of writing, reading, and living life, it’s important to pause and reflect because from reflection comes awareness, and from awareness comes new goals. Setting new goals helps me continually improve myself both as a writer and as a human being. It isn’t always easy, especially because there are so many things I could improve upon. Where to start?

I decided to reflect upon why I was able to write twice as many words during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) last year than I did this year.  This November, I crossed the NaNoWriMo 50k finish line with 1,535 words to spare. Yay, I’m a “winner,” but it’s a far cry from last year’s 112,000 words. What changed? Here are some of the things I did differently during NaNoWriMo last year.

-I wrote every morning.

-I frequently left the house to write. Coffee houses, the public library, and the university library all worked well.

-I had not yet started blogging and tweeting. Surprise, social media sometimes draws my attention away from writing.

-I wasn’t reading nearly as many books. This November I read eight novels while participating in NaNoWrimo. In order to do this, I had to cut out pretty much all TV shows and movies–which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

-I was a lot more interested in last year’s novel than the one I wrote during NaNoWriMo this year.

-I wrote with 100% carefree abandon. This year I was a tad bit more careful so the resulting first draft wouldn’t be quite such a traumatic mess.

-I didn’t have other areas of my life crowding out my writing time so much. Oh, dear reader, over the past couple of months I had a major personal thing happening and, boy, did it take me emotionally and physically away from writing, but hey, no excuses, right?

So. . . this year, things changed. Life does that. In reflecting on the differences in productivity between NaNoWriMo past and present, I’ve decided to:

  • Make it a priority to reestablish a morning writing routine.
  • Be more mindful of the time I spend on social media. I’m SO grateful for the kind and talented writers and readers I’ve connected with through blogging and social media. They have made the pursuit of a writing career so much less lonely. And I’ve learned so much about publishing and writing, as well as great new books to read. I’ve also gotten a good grasp on what makes a good query letter (thanks especially to literary agent Janet Reid of Query Shark). And I have assembled a long list of excellent literary agents with whom I’d like to work, thanks to lots of internet research, agents’ blogs and tweets, and industry insights gleaned from sites like querytracker.net. Those are all good things to be aware of, and to be prepared to execute well when the time comes. But…

To publish books, you must write.

Though I’m not at a place where I feel the need to set limits on my social media time, I do realize that–as a person whose dream, goal, and mission is to publish successful YA books–more of my free time should be spent writing.

If you’ve come up with good ways to create a balance for yourself between social media and writing, I’d love to hear about them.

–Eve Messenger

Stick close to your novel until it’s done so you’re less tempted to break up with it. #amwriting #writer

When I’m writing my novel, I love it.

But when I’m away for too long, doubt sets in and I’m filled with everything that’s wrong with it.

With a novel in progress, distance makes the hard grow colder, so stick close to your novel until it’s done, nurture it every day, and you’ll be less tempted to break up with it.

— Eve Messenger

I Did It; I Called the Police.


Yes, and I’m nervous and excited about it all at the same time. After weeks of fear-fueled procrastination, I called my local police department–on their non-emergency line, of course. My intimidation only grew as I spoke to the first officer: a stern-voiced woman with a disconcerting ability to speak while barely opening her mouth. I explained in a very scattered way that I was calling as a local resident and writer (yep, that’s the word I used 🙂 ) with a question about police procedure in a missing persons case.

(Note: The book I’m working on is not a crime story, but it does contain an important incident involving the police, and I wanted it to be accurate.)

As she patched me through to the detective division, my palms really began to sweat. My thoughts at this point were: I’m not worthy; the detectives are busy solving crimes; I shouldn’t be troubling them with a petty writing question.

But then I told myself: it’s just one question, and I repeated this aloud to the next person I spoke with, Sharon, who surprised me by speaking in a lilting Scottish brogue. (I’ve never heard a character on a cop show speak this way, and since that’s pretty much my only exposure to police detectives, I was surprised.)

I’m not going to say getting an answer from Sharon was easy. If today’s call was any indication, law enforcement officers do not like giving definitive answers to questions like:

If there’s a missing person whose vehicle is taken into evidence and there’s no obvious sign of foul play, how long might it take for the vehicle to be returned to the family?

Sharon went off on several tangents (I took notes anyway), and I kept reeling her back in with comments like, “That makes a lot of sense. What do you estimate the range of time might be for a vehicle to be returned to the family?”

More tangents.  More variations of my question. Then, at last, an answer:

In a missing persons case, if a vehicle is taken for evidence, detectives and CSI officers try to process and release it back to the family as soon as possible. If there’s no blood stain or other evidence of homicide, the vehicle might be returned to the family in as soon as a day.

Eureka! What a relief to finally have an answer to my question; the uncertainty had really been bugging me and was putting a crimp in my plot timeline.  Now, as I dry off my sweaty palms, I want to share that I am also proud of myself for taking another step in my journey toward becoming a successful published author. For those of you who’ve read my blog, you know this is my mission and my dream.

— Eve Messenger

How to Weave Plot Threads Without Going Insane

Recently, I’ve had to face the cold, hard fact that I do not write simple plots. Very “not simple” plots, though I will stop short of calling them complicated. In coming to terms with this, my first instinct is to get very, very nervous, as in: how in the hell am I going to weave all these plotlines together into a cohesive story? Sure, the plot makes sense in my head, but piecing it all together on the page is another matter entirely.

So how do I avoid getting tangled up in plot threads?  Since I don’t personally know any professional writers To ask, I turned to my good friend Google for advice.

One of the first things that pops up is “Calendaring Your Story,” an article by writer Mindy Obenhaus. One of the things she says that really pops out at me is that she is “a visual person, not to mention somewhat detail-oriented.” That’s me, too. I am most comfortable processing information visually, so when it comes to plotting a novel, it makes sense to create a visual representation of my plotlines, a timeline that shows all the major plotlines side by side.

But how?

Obenhaus apparently uses a calendar, a large, desk-sized one. Other writers create Word tables or Excel spreadsheets. Still others use flashcards, a different color for each plot thread. And there are surely plenty of other methods crafty writers have come up with for calendaring their plotlines. (If you have any ideas you’d like to share, please feel free to comment.)

Then I remembered that at a company I once worked for we entered departmental events into an online calendar, with each department displayed in a different color, a multi-person event calendar, something like this:

Maybe this could work for calendaring plotlines, thought I.

So I tried it.

  • First, I found a decent online multi-person calendar at TeamUp.com, a free version that allows you to calendar up to ten different people/plotlines.
  • Then I got to have fun deciding which color best represented each of my major characters/plotlines.
  • After that, I started entering major plot points and, right away, the process got me thinking about my novel in new ways. For instance, I realized that my original plan didn’t logically allow enough time between a couple of key events.

Now the “heavy lifting” begins. I’ll need to really think about each major milestone and decide precisely when it should occur so I can put it on a calendar. I KNOW (as hard as I try to resist this) that calendaring my plot lines will make me much less confused than I was with my first two novels. As convoluted as those first drafts were, I’m thinking surely this will be an improvement.

The Epiphany of “Write What You Know”

Epiphany

“Write what you know” messed me up as a writer for a long time but not anymore. I was conflicted because I thought Mark Twain’s adage meant I could only write with authenticity about experiences culled from my own life. But this morning, as I contemplated the third draft of my YA fantasy novel, I had an epiphany. My protagonist — a feisty, daredevil fifteen-year-old girl living in a magical, alternate world — might be very different from me, but she is exploring the great theme of my own life: Who am I? Why am I the way I am? Where do my people come from?

I am writing what I know.

My Name is Eve, and I am a Recovering ‘Pantser’

pantsing

I’m one of those writers you might call a ‘pantser,’ you know, the kind who writes a novel with reckless abandon — sans plot outline — until I reach the semblance of an ending.

It’s fun! It’s exciting! It’s FRESH.  And I’m afraid if I don’t write like that I’ll overcensor myself , or worse, get bored because I already know what’s going to happen.

But.

Revising a pants-style, mutant pit first draft of a novel takes a really, really, really, really long time.  I’m not saying I’ll never pants a novel again, but I’ve done it twice now, and the first novel was such a complicated mess I had to stick it in a drawer until I became “a good enough writer to tackle such a complicated plot.”

This second full-length novel, a YA fantasy, I’ve been revising for dozens and dozens and dozens of hours…reordering scenes, consolidating bits I had epiphanies about later in the writing, just, you know … Clean-up on aisle seven…and twelve…and one…and fourteen.  Clean up the whole damn store.

But hey, writing and revising a novel should take as long as it needs to, right?  And who’s to say I would ever have been able to come up with the cool, out-there things that happen in this story (don’t mean to brag, just sayin’) if I had NOT let my imagination flow 100% unhindered, not even by a plot outline?

But.

I’m not as young as I used to be (I’ll admit) and have a lot of stories I want to write. So many.

Yet here I am, dozens and dozens and dozens of hours into revising and fleshing out this first draft into a flow, a scene order, that tells a cohesive story.  Yes, there is light at the end of the tunnel — I’m three-quarters of the way through — but I’m not even talking about all the fun edit-y things like crisping up dialogue, bringing out sensory details, polishing prose.  I’m talking about just getting the first draft into an order that makes sense.

Outlining would have been so much easier.  More importantly, it would have been FASTER.

Then this morning a lovely thing happened.  A brand new character, with a brand new story, in a brand new genre (still YA), danced herself right onto my computer screen.  And she brought a LOT of her story’s plot with her.  God bless her.  When I’m done with this YA fantasy, I might just be able to write a novel using a proper outline.

HALLELULAH.

Now if I just knew the best way to outline a novel.  Any suggestions?

–Eve Messenger

Fellow Writer, What Puts You into a Creative State of Mind? 

Creativity

I’d be really curious to learn what stirs your imagination and creative spirit.  If it’s music, do you usually listen to the same music, or does the music vary depending on what you’re creating?  Reading great literature?  Exercise — rigorous workouts or leisurely strolls?  Habit, as in writing at the same time every day or in a particular environment?  Meditation?  Random things?

I’d love to hear from you!

The Word for “Lover of Words” is . . .

Logophile crocodile

Admittedly not the prettiest word, ‘logophile’ conjures an image (at least in my brain) of a crocodile, on a log, (ph)iling his claws. But seriously, how much can a person love her thesaurus? All 978 book-bound pages of it.

SEE CONCEPTS.

lexical bliss