Reflection: Write Like a Pro

After a long 10 weeks of a challenge, Write Like a Pro (WLaP) has come to an end. I’m not sure how successful it was as a site-wide challenge, but it was interesting enough within my personal writing group, so at least it was a semi-success? I know it was long and people were unsurprisingly unwilling to give up their opportunity to sleep in on their days off from their day-jobs, so that definitely hurt the challenge a little. But, there were a handful of people who tried to do the single day each week, so overall, I’m calling it a win. Will I run it again? Probably not. But it was a fun summer experiment that served the exact purpose that I wanted it to serve — figuring out when, where, and how I prefer to write and helping me to start to figure out what an “ideal day” would look for me as a full time writer.

It helped me confirm something I’ve always known: I am a morning person. Through and through. Which works well because apparently most non-substance-abusing writers are also morning people. Maybe it’s because they want to still appear to be humans, rather than vampires, maybe it’s because they’ve read and believe the studies that people are scientifically more productive once they’re accustomed to waking up earlier, maybe it’s because in order to get things done, they’ve decided to actually get up and treat writing like a serious, full time job. Regardless of the reason, the majority of the “known” writing schedules started before 7am. Which was not ideal for my summer vacation mindset, waking up to an alarm on the weeks that were earlier than 6am, but… For the challenge, it was worth it.

It also helped me learn that I do best with a short burst of writing and then a break for some sort of physical activity. Don’t be fooled, I’m no Murakami, running a 10k daily, but working out and getting some sort of physical activity in was surprisingly helpful for my creative process.

And lastly, something the final week taught me was… I do not have the brain power to be creative at work all day and then turn around and be creative at home. If I weren’t completely starting from scratch this year at work, I’m fairly confident that would be different. Unfortunately, this year, that wasn’t in the cards for me. Maybe I’ll try Kafka’s schedule again another time when I’m a little more equipped to split my mental capacity between multiple different endeavors (which, I actually am doing technically, teaching 3 brand new classes, but that’s beside the point).

Now, the real end goal from this is going to be coming up with an ideal writing week. So… I’m still working on coming up with my own, but that’s a thing for everyone to look forward to.

What’s your ideal writing schedule?

Writing Tips

August Knows Best

We’ve all heard “Write What You Know.” What do you think? Truth or fallacy?
Is there an option for both? Because I’m going with both. #OwnVoices is a genre for a reason. And right now? When the world seems like it’s quickly going up in flames and headed off the side of a cliff simultaneously, while the only possible course to fix it is by understanding each other and showing compassion? Yeah, writing what you know is more important than ever. But, that in and of itself is a double-edged sword. What if you end up outing yourself / someone? What if feelings are hurt when the truth is put down on paper? Relationships can crumble under the pressure, the reality you know falling apart around you.
And, maybe an even harsher reality: what happens if all the agents you submit to reject you and no one wants to hear your side of the story after all?
Writing books is painful. Especially when you’re writing what you know. But that’s also part of what makes it so great.
Of course, that’s also assuming you have a story to tell. Maybe you’re just an average person with an average life doing average things. Should you create a novel / character based around your life if you’re just sitting around your house watching TV and going to your 9-5 job? Probably not. There’s enough of that in the real world that I can’t imagine a book really being able to find and fill a need in that niche. So, for those people, I encourage them to get a hobby, go out and see the world, and pull pieces from those experiences into the novel you’re wanting to write.
Do you have to live in a city to set a novel there? No, of course not. Does it help to build authenticity? Absolutely. Do you need to get a job as an accountant to write a novel with a protagonist who is one? No. That’s what research is for. With information being easier than ever to obtain online, you don’t have to go out and experience those things to be able to write about them effectively. It will always help, of course, but as long as you’re good at your job researching and finding editors / betas to help nitpick the small stuff?  There’s not a desperate need to do it.

Do you write what you know?
A little bit yes, a little bit no. With locations, I tend to write about places I’ve either lived or spent enough time visiting that I felt like a local in the time I was there. I want to know where the weird bumps in the sidewalk are from tree roots pushing them up or about the way a certain traffic light always knocks up against a branch if the wind blows hard enough. But I don’t have to live there to experience those things. A visit is enough for me. Sometimes, Google Maps / Streetview also works — or serves as a decent reminder if I’ve forgotten.
I listen to people’s conversations or watch them in the streets and make up background stories for them in my head. Both of those things get adopted into my novels. But that person up above who just sits in their apartment and goes to work? That’s me. I’m boring and okay with it. But my life as it is right now? Wouldn’t make the best novel (unless I wrote about my day job. That would be heartbreaking, honestly) for anyone other than me. So, sure. There are bits and pieces from my every day life mixed in, but I don’t rely on just the things I know. Research is great.

#50in5: An Introduction

If there is anything you should know about me as a writer, it’s that I don’t like how solitary an activity it is. Sure, I do my actual writing on my own, but I like to write much like I prefer to live: alongside other people inhabiting the same space / doing the exact same thing on their own, but close enough to suffer simultaneously with me and be close by when I need someone to bounce ideas off of or commiserate with. That’s why I love challenges so much and it is also the thing that brings me back to events like Camp NaNoWrImo / NaNoWriMo / WriYe, but even beyond that — it keeps me participating in crazy events with my Writing Chat Friends (TM).

July will be no different. Camp NaNoWriMo’s second session begins Monday, and several of us are doing two starkly different Camp projects — complete with two unique accounts to contain them. One project is more traditional to the idea of Camp (I’ll be talking about mine here on Monday), but the second is one that we’re writing slightly uniquely, as well as where the hashtag in my title comes from.

#50in5 asks you to take the classic NaNo challenge of writing 50,000 words and makes it even more difficult — by doing it in 5 days, and 5 days only. We’ve all realized that as we get older, time becomes more and more valuable, and often we only have one day a week that we can squeeze in for writing. So one day each week, we will write (at least) 10k and by the end of July, we’ll have (at least) 50k written in our novels. Great plan, right? We think so.

Personally, I prefer this kind of binge writing, so I’m really looking forward to the challenge a lot. I’m planning on joining my friends K. A. Wyles and Elizabeth Szubert to write 10k all four of the Fridays in July (while our friend Tatra holds down the weekend to complete her 10k days) and then my fifth 10k day will take place on 21 July during the 10k Writing Challenge hosted by Mandi Lynn. Because, as stated at the beginning: I don’t like doing these crazy things alone.

So, as fun as #50in5 will be with the handful of us who are already planning on completing it, it will be even more fun, if other people join in with us! There are goodies if you do! Of course, there will be a virtual goodie for you to post / use online, as there always is when we do a challenge like this. However, with this particular challenge, there will also be two different physical goodies for participating as well. The first will be a custom postcard designed and mailed by K. A. Wyles! The postcard is beautiful AND functional… But that’s all you’ll hear about it from me. Trust me when I say you will want one of these in your possession, however. The second goodie will be a set of custom #50in5 stickers designed by yours truly. These can be used to mark your progress in your planners / calendars and remind you of the days that you should be writing 10k. They will also have a little somethin’-somethin’ to coincide with your postcard, as if you weren’t already enticed enough to want to grab these things for your very own. If you are absolutely jumping out of your skin excited about these little gifts from us, all you have to do is comment on this post to tell us exactly how stoked you are, and then make sure you fill out this form to share your mailing address to get your fun goodies (your information will not be shared / sold and will only be used to send stickers / a postcard for #50in5).

So far, I’ve been having a pretty fruitful summer of writing and I think this is going to be a good finale to the season before heading back to having a day job for the 2019-2020 school year. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone successfully write #50in5 with us this July!


New Beginnings

As goes the old cliche, a new year has brought forth a new beginning. In my life, that has manifested itself in several ways. Most notably, however, is the sudden resurgence in my focus on my budding writing career. Since I was a child, I’ve wanted to publish stories. About ten years ago, I started the process of researching the publication process and got all the way to the point where I felt comfortable sending out query letters and looking for an agent… But then, before I mustered up the courage to actually click send, I chickened out and went back to “just” writing.

Then The Great Writing Exodus of 2014 happened and I basically dropped off the face of the writing planet, disappeared into the abyss of full time job (and then full time career) having, and basically walked away from my unrealized goal.

It happens all the time; people move on and life happens to all of us. But there was something that always called me back to writing. As December was coming to an end, I knew that I was going to make this year my year to return to writing and decided to do so by going back to the first writing community that I ever loved: WriYe. And so… Now that we’re all up to speed, I’m here to deliver to you, the January WriYe Blog Circle post!

What’s your WriYe Word Count goal for 2019? Why did you choose it?
My WriYe Word Count goal for 2019 is 250,000 words. I broke each month up with a different goal, depending on how busy I expect my life to be at that particular time of year (since June / July is much easier to write a ton of words than October / November, for example), but overall, by the end of the year, I would like to have a total of 250,000 new words overall. I went with this goal because it was small enough to not be terrifying and overwhelming, but still large enough that I can’t slack so much that I stop halfway through the year because I’m not feeling challenged. It seemed like the perfect amount to keep me productive and ease myself back into the writing world.

What are your plans for the year? What do you want to accomplish with your writing?
The biggest plan I have for the year is part of the reason why this blog even exists — I’m on the road towards publication. I want to pinpoint which of the two completed novels would make a best first / breakout novel (currently leaning towards Sunshowers in Bluebell Fields), editing it to perfection, and then hopefully finding someone to represent it and love it in the same way I do.

Part of that relates to my other plans for the year, which is creating this blog / website, my official author Twitter and Facebook profiles, and just basically maintaining my professional writing life throughout the entire year and really honing in on my skills.

As for what I’d like to accomplish, it’s probably pretty easy to guess that traditional publishing is the route I’m pursuing and I’d like to continue to grow towards that goal all year long.