Tag Archives: Writer’s Block

Writing 1,000 Words a Week?

One of my belated-resolutions was is to write 1,000 words a week for my book Four and Twenty Blackbirds. As my belated-resolutions began on 1st February, and I’m counting a “week” as a calendar week starting on a Monday (playing it fast and loose, I know)… that means I have until the end of tomorrow to write my week’s quota.

writer’s block

As much discussed in i.am.sophus., I’ve been suffering from writer’s block for a time now. I started this blog to address this, I’ve also attended a drop-in session at an Anne Aylor writing class. Both of these things have helped in revving my mind up. I’ve picked up a pen for the first time in an age and have started working on my novel again: the background, the characters, the world in which it is based. No actual word count increase yet, but I’m moving in the right direction. In writing this blog, I’ve reminded myself of my novel writing rituals, which is helping me get back in the groove. I’ve even gone out and bought a scrub stick because I associate the scent with sitting down and writing.  I’ve included a photo of my sage-burning and character background planning, below.

Char Dev

It’s an outline of the Twelve Families Harbottle – the 12 families that make up the Harbottle tribe of brownies. A brownie is the point of view of a little less than a third of my narrative, so a comprehensive background is really important. By brownies, I do mean the small elf-type individuals (and the fairy tale/ folklore type of elfs that live under toadstools, not the elves from the Lord of the Rings/ Forgotten Realms vein).

slash and burn editing

Writing from a brownie POV for an adult novel is challenging, and my aim is to make the brownies very dark. I’ve written about fifteen thousand words or so thus far, and very sadly, it’s too light and fluffy. I do really like what’s I’ve written. However, having restarted my writing brain and dedicated some proper time thinking about 4&20 (I think that the sage burning helped too), I’ve come to face the fact that it’s going to have to go. I’m going to have to start again. It feels like I’m severing a limb. But better to do it now than later on. Still, it is very dispiriting.

I will be counting my rewrite as going towards my 1,000 word a week count. Not to do so would be far too depressing. I will keep planning this evo, and get cracking on the rewrite early on tomorrow. Wish me luck.

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Realism in Writing Goals

Reality Check aheadOK, I have an admission. Although I did enroll in Coursera’s Science Fiction and Fantasy course with the University of Michigan. I’m realising that it’s one commitment too far, there are simply not enough hours in the day for me to do this, my blog, my novel and all the other extra-cirricular activities that I am involved in. It’s one thing too many, lest all the balls that I am juggling come tumbling down.

The reading list is great (and I think it I will follow it), the course materials are great, but enrolling late and trying to launch myself into it was a little optimistic. I think that I will definitely enroll into another course where I have prepared myself  timetable-wise. In fact, Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative, a Coursera course with Vanderbilt University which starts in the summer looks particularly entertaining (one of the classes is held in the LOTR MMORPG), but I digress…

Progress with writing 4&20

As far as crafting long-form fiction goes, I am a slow writer. I spend hours agonising over every word and phrase. Constantly fact-checking and looking for better suited synonyms to make my writing just so. Although I would say that overall my standard of writing is fairly good, there isn’t very much of it and to put it frankly, a snail would easily outpace me.

Blog-assisted inspiration

I’ve been blogging for just under 2 weeks, and I really feel that it is helping me. Helping to give me focus in my writing. I have been in a writing slump for nearly half a year: I set aside my novel 4&20 and my fairy tale fantasy world, and they’ve been gathering dust in a shadowy corner. Although I have not yet added anything to my word count for Four and Twenty Blackbirds, it has been foremost in my thoughts this past fortnight. I have been world building and developing my characters, something that I have not done in an age. I’ve also signed up for a drop-in writing class this Thursday with the very awesome Anne Aylor, which I really think will help get my proverbial ink flowing.

100-Word story: jeffrey archer short story challenge

On other fronts, I have finished my 100-word story for the Jeffrey Archer Short Story Challenge, entitled FreeCycle. I will be going over it with my writing group WLWG on Wednesday, and will post it here after submitting it to the competition.

Happy writing, one and all.

The Terrifying Blank Page

I’ve been blogging about resolutions, of which I have given myself a handful (double meaning of handful intended). ‘THEY’ say that if you want something done, give it to a busy person, so I am applying that rationale here, if I laden myself with tasks, perhaps things will indeed get done.

So continuing with my ‘blog everyday for 100 days‘ resolution, this morning, I was staring at my “Add New Post” page with every good intention, but my mind was a blank. I couldn’t think of anything at all to blog about. It is really amazing running-inspirationthat we have so many blog-appropriate thoughts but when the moment comes to connect the dots, everything evaporates. So I turned to another resolution – exercise, and I conquered the many excuses and made it  out for a run. Although the at the start it was a struggle, at the end I was really getting into my pace. For me, there is definitely a link between exercise and peace of mind, and leading on from peace of mind, I get clarity on my creativity. Basically, during my run my mind had the opportunity to be distraction-free and I thought of lots of things to blog about and many ways to address my writer’s block for Four and Twenty Blackbirds.

Addressing writer’s block

Firstly, I am going to map out some family trees for my main characters: parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, friends, relations, family feuds, etc. I think it would be a good exercise.

Along side that, I am going to do a little world building: sketching out maps of the world that I am creating. In a spurt of either desperation or enthusiasm, I recently purchased some slightly pricey software by Profantasy called Campaign Cartographer. While it does seem to be able to make brilliant maps for fantastical worlds (which is perfect for my fairy tale world), it also requires some practice and perhaps watching a couple of tutorials on how to make the best of it, which I have not yet bothered with. However, rather than get distracted from my drive to move my story forward, I think I will sketch by hand first, and perhaps leave the specialist cartography for another day.

20 Inspirational Quotes from Sci-Fi & Fantasy Authors

images

 I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
Douglas Adams

OK, so the  first quote, above, is not so much an inspirational quote as much as it is a highly amusing one. The following are some great lines and advice that I have come across on my procrastination occasions. I’m sure that there are several other wise words from esteemed authors of the Sci-Fi and Fantasy vein. If you have any, please add them to the comments, it would be great to hear from you. I have taken the liberty of including E.B. White in the list, because anyone who writes about a talking mouse is writing in the realm of fantasy…

1.  Write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter. – Neil Gaiman

2.   The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story. – Ursula K. Le Guin

3.    There are two kinds of writers. There are architects and gardeners. The architects do blueprints before they drive the first nail. The gardeners just dig a hole and plant the seed and see what comes up. – George R.R. Martin

4.     Don’t be afraid to discard work you know isn’t up to standard. Don’t save junk, just because it took you a long time to write it. – David Eddings

5.     No one can write decently who is distrustful of the reader’s intelligence or whose attitude is patronizing. – E.B. White

6.     Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very;” otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite. – C.S. Lewis

Read. Read. Read.

7.      If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that. – Stephen King

8.     The most important thing for any aspiring writer, is to read! And not just the sort of thing you’re trying to write, be that fantasy, SF, comic books, whatever. You need to read everything. – George R.R. Martin

On Characterisation

9.      Get inside their skin. That includes even the ones who are complete bastards, nasty, twisted, deeply flawed human beings with serious psychological problems. Even them. – George R.R. Martin

10.      I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose. – Stephen King

11.      Listen to the way people talk. If your characters sound real the rest is easy. – David Eddings

12.      First, find out what your hero wants. Then just follow him.  – Ray Bradbury

13.     If you want to be a writer, you must do two things about all others:  read a lot and write a lot…reading is the creative centre of a writer’s life…you cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you. – Stephen King

On Inspiration:

14.      Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work. – Stephen King

15.      Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any. – Orson Scott Card

16.     Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way. – Ray Bradbury

Perseverance: Get Started and Keep Going

17.      Keep working. Keep trying. Keep believing. You still might not make it, but at least you gave it your best shot. If you don’t have calluses on your soul, this isn’t for you. Take up knitting instead. – David Eddings

18.      There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write. – Terry Pratchett

19.      It’s the job that’s never started as takes longest to finish. – J.R.R. Tolkien

20.      You fail only if you stop writing. – Ray Bradbury

Exercise for the Mind and Body

So it’s Saturday and I have a blank slate so far as my calendar says, it’s frickin’ freezing, but the sun is shining and its a perfect setting to get ones arse in gear – out for a run to get invigorated and then down to work… But then, oh dear where is my cold weather running gear? – and then when that’s finally found – oh, damn, where’s my iPod? I can’t possibly go running without music, no-sireee. So all-excused out and promising myself I’ll do better tomorrow, I feel I need to address some other area of productivity in my everyday life. I’m now distracted by the weekend demands of – do the shopping, fix the shower, and then finally after a little r&r, I maybe perhaps can think about applying arse to seat to write.

I can’t quite decide if the moral of the story is to be better prepared for a run, or to stop making excuses, I think that it may be both, weighted far more towards the latter.

 

Writing Group Inspiration

It was a small crowd at the writing group this week, fearful weather and January blues permitting, As ever, although it was only a couple of readers, it was really inspiring. I found Jennifer’s words of encouragement really helpful, along with her suggestion of going back to pay a visit to Anne Aylor to get a kick start back to writing after my long lull in the doldrums of writer’s impasse. I’ve been finding it so hard to write for such a very long time that I’m not sure where to start.

But I’ve now done 2 things: (i) I’ve re-started blogging with a new revamped and rejuvenated site, and (ii) I’ve been in touch with Anne and will be attending two upcoming drop in sessions in her So You Want to Write a Novel? course – the first on “plotting and shaping”, how apt, and the second on “editing”.

Thoroughly enjoying throwing myself back into writing.

 

Which Witch?

Long time no blog.

After much silence, during which I have written a little, but by no means enough, I’ve decided to start this little project up again. And I’ve decided to start on the topic of witches. I’m in a quandary, after reading my exposition, please help me make a decision by participating in the poll below.

I’m working on my main protagonist’s past, and I know that he was abandoned at childbirth and was raised by a witch in the wood. Raised evil. The witch must be typically evil, in a guts and gore and blood sacrifice of the innocent kind of way. She’ll raise Dixie (said protagonist) as a prize for her to trade at a later date.

As my tale is essentially a deconstruction and amalgamation of the fairy tale, I’ve been going through famed witches to cast in the role. There are several to chose from, and I have whittled it down. Leading the pack was Baba Yaga of Slavic folklore fame, which one commentator has said is the witch. But my writing group has poo pooed the idea as she is too iconic for such a role and deserves attention in her own right. Perhaps. I may still have to disagree.

Next up, we have Morgan la Fey (or whichever rendition of her name you would prefer to go by). She’s fairly appropriate, especially with the “fey”- fairy connotation, but it may be a little too much towards the “fairy”, I’m not sure if I want Dixie being brought up by a fairy, but then again, it might produce some interesting results. Hmmmmm, things to think about.

Or we could instead delve into history and go towards Mother Shipton, although she’s much more of a soothsayer than an all out evil bi-atch.

Or I could step back from the reverent/ irreverent fairy tale integration and just go with my own invention of Morag Witherlin, whose character I could shape and mold as I wish.

Or perhaps someone else entirely who I haven’t given due consideration…