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When Your Best isn’t Enough

12 Jun

You just pause… re-read the last paragraph… stop… look around the room. This can’t possibly be me at my best, right? My inspiration it’s lost under a pillow, or stuffed at the bottom of my closet. This, this on the page can’t possibly be what I came up with, can it?

Even when you’re giving it your all it sucks. Gosh it just sucks. The words don’t sound right. Every sentence is lopsided, and the dialogue sounds stilted and awkward. You just want to vomit. Yeah, because vomit might actually look more appealing than this mess.

We’ve all felt this way. Even when you are trying  give your best it just falls flat.  It’s frustrating. It’s what makes us dread writing, and in a way, what makes us love it too.

After all, there is nothing like a writing high. I don’t think there’s a drug in the world that can duplicate the feeling. That drive to write, to create, that just never ends, words are bubbling up in your mind so fast that it’s as if you’re living the scene in your mind as it spills out onto the page, and when you look back over it your just so… proud. It’s not even close to the right word, but that is as close as I can get to describing it. Pride, relief, accomplishment.

Without the lows, the slugging through terrible, or what feels terrible. Without the slam on your brakes wrong turns, and the stink of cheesy lines, you’d never know what the really good thing felt like.

But when your best doesn’t feel good enough what do you do?

If you can answer this, you have the answer to writers block, to everything that stalls, stops, or slows us down as writers.

And my answer? Gosh man will I feel dumb saying this, because it’s not the answer you guys want. It’s not the answer I want. That’s why you’re sitting here reading this right? Why you keep reading writing blogs, why you Google ‘how to get rid of writers block’? It’s because you hate the answer; an answer YOU ALREADY HAVE. I bet you can guess what it is before I even say it.

Write. Write, write write write write write write.

I would read this same advice over and over, but it never got through to me. Sometimes it still doesn’t make it through to my fingers from my brain. Okay, A LOT of the time it doesn’t. I just kept searching for a different answer and I never found one.

You won’t either.

That’s the reason your best isn’t good enough, it’s because you have absolutely convinced yourself (consciously or not) that there is another answer to your writing woes. That the act you’re doing now, or have done, or plan on doing is not good enough to make you better.

So every time you tell yourself it’s not good enough. Ask yourself why. I guarantee that every time you write you DO get better (whether you realize it or not!). Just keep writing.

Go on now! Write!

😉

 

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A BUTT KICKING: Knowing Where You Stand

18 Jul

Hello fellow writers, I’m here to give you a healthy butt kicking! Today’s topic:

Knowing where you stand.

You know, the problem with a lot of writers is that they are totally lost. They even admit it. You see it all the time, ” I don’t know what to write” “I don’t know how to fix XYZ”.

They’re lost, not inexplicably so either.

Being lost comes with inexperience. Granted I don’t claim to be an advanced writer of any kind, so this is just my two cents, but from the writers i’ve spoken with (there’s pretty many) i’ve found that the majority can’t (for one) complete a novel, and (for two) can’t deal with the crap they end up with afterwards (if they do complete the novel). First drafts are always crap, as you know.

The reason being that they don’t understand the position they’re in. They have so much excitement and “go getterness” swimming around in their brains that there’s not much room for order and thinking things out. Granted, that’s half the fun of writing a novel, but it also hinders those who can’t control it.

So i’m here to tell you that you need to know where you stand at all times. What do I mean?

I mean you need to know, realistically where your weak and strong points are,  and you need to  know your novel.

So  lets take our first point: Knowing your skill level.

Personally, I think that honest self assessment is one of the greatest skills writers can have. Knowing that you suck at description or character building for instance, allows you to look for those things in your writing and search and decease. Being able to look at yourself critically will allow you to grow. Becoming defensive and refusing to see weak points in your work helps no one. (except your ego) Ergo your novel will continue to spiral  into the slush pile. Something, I don’t think anyone wants.

What i’m saying is that honesty, even if it makes you rewrite the first 260 pages, is the best policy.

And if you can’t be honest with yourself (because at times we can all turn a blind eye to certain aspects) you need to find someone who will be. AKA a crit partner.

Second, You need to know your novel.

When I say this I don’t mean knowing your plot or characters (which is important yes, but not the point). I mean knowing your direction, your point, your REASON FOR WRITING THIS BOOK.

If you don’t understand why your story needs to be told, it will be extremely hard for you to stay motivated to write, and continue on when things get tough (which they inevitably will).

Behind every story there is purpose, and a drive. Find what ever it is that made you want to write it in the first place, and carry it through to the last page. This will give the piece a pull and help to keep you on track. It eliminates the need for excess (because if a scene doesn’t drive home your purpose then it isn’t needed).

I’m not talking moral or anything here, just for clarity’s sake i’d thought i’d say that. Though that could be your purpose.

For instance the original thought for BTE was:

What happens after an unrightous dystopia falls. We’ve all seen that played out a million times after all. And that got me thinking about how the “heroes” of that story could potentially morph into villains. So the purpose evolved into its current state of:

The Line between right and wrong in not always clear.

So, I suppose you could call that “theme” too. Knowing where your novel stands based upon that one point allows you to focus.

That focus makes knowing where you stand and where your novel stands much easier, and knowing that  is possibly one of the most important things you can find out as a writer. Agree? Disagree? What are you all thinking?

CURRENT MUSIC: If You Could Only See (Acoustic version) by Tonic

Time, An Oxymoron

12 Mar

The Funny thing about time is that it may never stop, but there’s never enough of it.

Never enough time to write

Or plot

Or edit

Or blog

Or have any manner of a “social life”

Whatever that is…. Ha-ha

I’m just sitting here wondering where it all goes. I mean one second you have a full twelve hours to get it all done, and then two brownies, five phone conversions, one re-read chapter, and three episodes of “The Real House Wives of Orange County later.” and then, snap Its gone

So in honor of my “timelessness” today’s post is about just that finding time to write. Lord only knows there isn’t enough of said time to do it, but somehow that darn James Patterson has another novel flying onto the shelves just three months after his last release.

And you…well; you have less than a chapter written of a second draft.

I think the problem is that people don’t keep their schedule full enough.

I know your probably all scratching your heads like “what is this chick talking about? Didn’t she just say we are too busy to write as it is?”

Uhh NO I did not say that. I said there’s never enough time to write, and that is a completely different situation than “I’m too busy to write” which, let me tell you, is a total lie.

(And, if you’re walking around telling yourself that, stop kidding yourself and either quit writing or get to it.)

There is always time to write, we just waste it.

I suppose you expect me to start spouting off ways to “clear time” in your “busy schedule” and how “writers with 29 kids find the time so can you!

Uhh… no.

 Sorry, but all those nice little writing books lined up on your shelves aren’t helping you out with “finding the time” by giving you schedule clearing tactics, because if your being honest with yourself you know that you do have the time, tons of it, loads of it, for some of us so much we could bath in it and still have some left over.

What I’m saying is we do have the time; it’s just taken up by the biggest thing in all our lives “nothing”.

Here she goes again! You say, some psychotic rant that makes no sense

But its true gosh darn it! The “nothing” I’m speaking of is what I mentioned in the outset “chatting it up with people on the phone, re reading novel chapters, because you simply can’t begin until you’ve re-read your last chapter! And god forbid you miss the next episode of Real House Wives”

Really people, if these things, or things like this, are what your doing during the day can you honestly say, your  busy? Can you honestly say that in the long run finding out whether Georgia’s second cousin is her next lover (or whatever goes on in those shows) is really important? That it really isn’t nothing?

That brings us back to my earlier point, in order to make time for writing; you have to keep your schedule full, keep moving, and keep busy.

You see if the “nothing” takes up the first eight hours of your day you’ll spend the last three or four accomplishing what your suppose to, house work, homework, or whatever it is that demands your attention.

Keeping moving and busy, makes sure that you get everything you “need” done, and thus, by the end of the day, you have no excuse, none what so ever, as to why you can’t write.

And even if you, by some stretch of the imagination, still don’t find the time to write…

At least, you can say that you didn’t waste an entire day of your life glued to the picture box eating brownies. Right?

So there it is folks, the best way to clear your schedule for writing is to fill it up.

Yeah, I’m full of oxymoron’s like that.

Respect? What Respect?

27 Feb

Sorry but this is going to be a rant. You know what, never mind, what the heck, I’m not sorry at all. Because this needs to be said, and by god I’m going to be the one to say it. Obviously no one else seems to want to disrupt the teeny-bopper brain fog so I will.

To begin, so you see how justified the following rant will be let me give you a little bit of modern teen culture:

Nice legs, Daisy dukes,
Makes a man go whoo-whoo
That’s the way they all come through
Like whoo-whoo whoo-whoo
Low-cut, see-through shirts That make you whoo-whoo
That’s the way she come through
Like whoo-whoo whoo-whoo

Tight jeans, Double D’s Makin’ me go whoo-whoo
All the people on the street Know whoo-whoo

~3OH3! Starstrukk

Seriously What the Heck is going on with that?! What does that say to teen girls about body image and not letting themselves be objectified?

I mean, I’m no feminist, if a guy wants to open a door for me, or carry my books, go on ahead, but this… it makes me sick.

Girls today, think that being objectified somehow makes them better. Like their worth less if they don’t fit into the above criteria. Do they want to be made a piece of meat? Really? That’s what you want to do with your life?

Let’s face it, most YA literature is NOT helping. We have all these female protagonist that break down into a depressed pile of sludge when their 100 year old mythical creature leaves them! (You all know what I’m talking about right?) Then there’s the protagonist *ahem* who lets themselves fall prey to what ever is around and just hopes the supernatural “hawteee” steps in.

Please! Really? This is what we want young girls growing up thinking they have to be?

Personally I think (the majority of) YA needs to pull it together, and promote some YA fiction with strong female protagonist. That means they don’t weep under the slightest twinge from their Werewolf boyfriend!

I’m not saying that the girl needs to be all macho and tomboy. But, can’t she fight for herself? Or have a life outside the mysterious bad boy that has suddenly popped into her existence? Or even stand for something other than falling into danger so said “hawt bad boy” can save her? I mean look at Elizabeth in pride in prejudice she never shot a gun but was a strong INDEPNEDENTLY MINDED female! Where did the Elizabeth’s go?

Where did the Sarah Connors go? (You know the Terminator Mom?) I mean just look at her, she is bad, and John didn’t even get a gun! That right there is what I’m talking about!

From one of my personal Favorites, "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" I mean seriously she gets TWO guns, if thats not female toughness I don't know what is.

I don’t mean to sound so aggressive, but I feel very strongly about this. I mean where is the respect? Where are the tough independent female characters?

These authors are not helping our girls, understand that they shouldn’t have to be objectified to be liked. That they should be respected.

Am I being over dramatic or do you all agree?

PS:

 I know not all YA authors are like this.

Infact I would like to thank Kristen Cashore for her two strong female protagonists Katsa, and Fire right now, and Also my Crit. Partner Carrie, for sharing my stance on this matter, and making sure her YA portrays the kind of girls we should all be.

Thank you to all writers, who have made it a point to make strong female characters.

You are Alligator Kibble!

3 Feb

Writing scares people.

Heck, writing scares me sometimes. Mostly because, after a certain point, it takes over. You no longer have any control.

It’s kind of like those cute little baby alligators they use to sell in Florida. You know the little kids who went on vacation would buy them and bring them home all excited! I imagine the conversation went something like this:

TOMMY: “O mommy look! A lizard, I want one! I want one!”

PARENT (badly sun burned and jet-lagged): “Huh? Oh, sure Tommy… go on ahead and get that little… uh, lizard?”

TOMMY: “Yeah! I love you forever!” *gives parent a big hug*

PARENT: “Ouch…”

 

Sixth Months Later…

PARENT: “Honey stop thrashing around in the tub! You’ll get water all over the floor!”

TOMMY: “What are you talking about mommy? I’m right here…”

PARENT: (turns around from bathroom door) “Then whose in…”

Bathroom door crashes down

ALLIGATOR: “RAAARR!”

TOMMY & PARENT: “AHHHHHH!”

That is what happens when you start a first draft. It begins as this cute little innocent idea, and then it gets too big to handle and SHA BLAM! The next thing you know your alligator kibble in the bathtub.

Dramatic? Yes. True? Also a yes… in a metaphorical sense of course.

What I’m saying here is that we have to control our manuscripts, kind of like training a puppy.

How do you keep your swamp monster baby of a manuscript from getting out of control? Simple, you plan. Planning is super important. I mean, how are you supposed to keep your gator in the bath tub when you never learned how to wrestle large lizards? You can’t.

This is why you must plan your novel. Planning gives you an understanding of what’s going to happen to this baby gator, and how to keep it locked up in your bathroom.

First off you have to give it sometime to marinate. You must fully understand what you’re getting into. That means: having an idea of how big this things going to get (Knowing your ending and beginning) and knowing how it will get that way, and what to expect in between (how you get from once upon a time to the end). Not knowing this will surely make a mess of things. Don’t be like Tommy’s Mom and not realize what you’ve started until you discover the gator in the tub scenario.

Plot, Plot, Plot, until you can’t do it no more! This will save you tons of time in editing, and it will also ensure that you follow through with finishing the novel and don’t flush ol’ Chompy down the drain to end up as the gator of the Black Lagoon Sewer System.

What I mean to say people, is that pre-planning and understanding the majority of your story before you begin is ever so important. It will help you make it through the middle when you think everything sucks, and will make you so proud when you go through editing and realize you have to do a lot less than what you thought!

Oh and the best part?

You won’t end up as gator kibble.

New Years Resolutions (AKA The Best Thing You Can Do.)

26 Dec

It is that time of year again people! Christmas has passed, and we are just counting down the days until new years. This is one of my favorite times of the year. The end and the beginning. My favorite part? New Years Resolutions. GASP! You may say. She is crazy, New Years Resolutions? No one actually sticks to those. Well, I do.

To clear this up let me start by saying that I am a very goal oriented person. I like to have a focus something that tells me where I’m going but not how to get there because I am fiercely independent like that. I guess I view New Year’s resolutions as an opportunity to shape my future. If I follow through. Which I do. I think the reason a lot of people don’t succeed is because they make goals that are broad like “get healthy”. What does that mean? How do you know when you are healthy? When can you justify crossing that off your list? So, I like to make mine specific, with a goal that is in reach, but I still have to push myself to do.

Another reason I believe resolutions fail is the simple fact that people make goals they can’t cross off until December 31. Like “do fifteen crunches everyday”. Personally I like to see the process of my resolutions being accomplished through out the year. I like being able to take my jumbo sharpie and swipe off one every few months. Makes me feel like I’ve done something.

At this point you’re probably all burning with curiosity to see what my resolutions are (or maybe not, but it doesn’t matter I’m telling you them anyway) so here you go:

1. Finish Manuscript

2. Dissect a novel and take notes.

3. Blog at least once a week

4. fill up sketchbook

5. Get all A’s second quarter

6. Do a painting/drawing and give it to someone

7. Save $150 or more for Florida

8. Read a Charles Dickens novel

9. Come up with title for Manuscript

10. Bake a cake from scratch with strawberries in it & eat it

So, as you can see a few of these revolve around my novel which I am praying will be done in the next few months, but who knows, maybe I’ll slave away at this thing for fifteen years and die with out it being published.

SHUT UP inner saboteur

*Sighs* What do you guys think about New Years Resolutions? What are yours for this year?

Do You Want some Epic with that Fail?

18 Dec

I belong to this great writing site called, http://www.critiquecircle.com and I posted a flash fiction blurb up on the site to get some feed back, so far I’ve gotten six critiques. Then I read them. I’m not even going to lie here, I was so proud of my little flash fiction, it was a first draft and I thought it was epic. Then I  had someone else read it and they showed me all the little problems in it.

So today’s blog post is about writers perception of failure and how to deal with it.

Anyway, like I was saying, now that I had the piece critiqued I see all the little things that need to be fixed. At first I was like… Wow Alex major fail! Why didn’t you do two drafts before submission? But then about an hour later I was reading Maggie Stiefvater blog words on words (you should defiantly check out her blog it is AMAZING) and stumbled across a post about growing as a writer. And I remembered that that was the reason I had posted the thing in the first place, to grow. Failure or what we can view as “Failure” is what helps us grow and learn. Learning to deal with this and change what we view as something negative to something positive in our perception can be difficult, because we then have to perceive criticism as something we need, and have to open ourselves up to it. This can be hard, because we naturally want to shield ourselves from things that can hurt us, or put us down.

The important thing is to view everything as practice. Even an entire novel. My current novel, I doubt it will ever be published, but I continue to write it because it is good practice for future writing. It’s my learning novel. Practice, and while it doesn’t make perfect it certainly helps improve your writing.

What I mean is that when you receive criticism you should channel what can initially come off as negative to something positive. When you receive a crit. you should not automatically respond to a “negative” comment by doing a face slap and thinking: I failed, maybe I should buy myself some epic to go with my failure for Christmas! You should use the criticism to make the piece better and improve all our writing.

Any of you still want to do that face slap?