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Category: Writing

What do you hear when you read?

Back­ground sto­ry:
My husband’s FAVORITE series is the Sword of Truth series. He’s read all of them, and thinks they’re just the best. Because I’m a book per­son, and he’s a book per­son, we tend to talk books. So, once he found this amaz­ing series, he want­ed me to read it too. Under­stand­able and hap­pens all the time BUT … I HATE THIS SERIES SO MUCHCAN’T STAND IT. I’ve spent the last almost 3 years try­ing to get through it and I’m mid-way through book 2. There are 19 books.



I don’t read slow. I can read a book in a day or two if I have the time for it. But, not this series. I can’t force myself to care about it.

And the hard­est thing is dis­cussing *why* I hate it so much. I have a few rea­sons, and I’ve gone through all of them with him, but he just can’t see it from my point of view, and always has a rebut­tal for every rea­son I have for not want­i­ng to read it. He just can’t accept that I won’t read the series because he LOVES it so much and wants to talk about it and dis­sect it with me, like he does with every­thing else. (Movies I’ve nev­er watched I’ve heard hour long rants on how the physics was wrong — which made me not want to watch the movie because I’d already heard almost the whole thing includ­ing dia­log, but any­way)

That’s beside the point, but sets the scene. So, the lat­est (19th) book came out and since I’m a librar­i­an I saw it hit the shelves on release day, and texted him to say his favorite series has more mate­r­i­al. (because even if I don’t want to read them, I under­stand lov­ing a series and want­i­ng more as soon as pos­si­ble). So, nat­u­ral­ly, he went out and bought the book.

What start­ed my writ­ing cri­sis was that we were dis­cussing his favorite book series. Again. And he was express­ing inpa­tients because I hadn’t read it, and I’ve read a LOT of books since I start­ed read­ing his series (as a rough guess, I’ve prob­a­bly read about 100 books since). So we were dis­cussing why, which is where things get “heat­ed”

  • I can’t con­nect with the char­ac­ters. They feel sta­t­ic.
  • The MMC is a whiny baby — he annoys me.
  • The author repeats things a LOT, as a way to estab­lish that some­thing is a habit. But it’s obvi­ous enough to be real­ly annoy­ing – or it could be just annoy­ing to me because I lit­er­al­ly don’t care how often this char­ac­ter checks that his sword is clear of its scab­bard. Not at all.
  • The first book has a lot of POV char­ac­ters that by the time you go from one to anoth­er to anoth­er and back again, I’ve for­got­ten what the first one was up to (some of this hinges on the fact that it’s tak­en me so long to read it and I’m not all that invest­ed in the first place)
  • The sec­ond book has few­er POV char­ac­ters and spends more time with each one, but what they’re doing still isn’t all that inter­est­ing and I found myself want­i­ng to yell at the char­ac­ters through­out the whole thing to “hur­ry up already and get to the point” – plus, because it does take longer to go between char­ac­ters now I’ve REALLY for­got­ten what the oth­er ones were up to.
  • There are actu­al­ly a lot of instances where things could be solved by just being straight for­ward and talk­ing to each oth­er amongst char­ac­ters.
  • There are oth­er sim­i­lar instances where things could have been avoid­ed if they had just sim­ply kept going instead of wan­der­ing off on some con­trived thing instead.
  • They go into SO MUCH DETAIL about strat­e­gy and how gov­ern­ments are run that I’m *so bored* when I read it. But to my hus­band this is a bonus. He’s thrilled with it, and says that books 3 and 4 the main char­ac­ters aren’t even IN IT until the end and that the whole thing is about this oth­er gov­ern­ment. He finds it fas­ci­nat­ing … I’m try­ing to con­vince him to accept that I’m nev­er going to read those books.
  • And that’s not even going into the CONTENT of the books … because frankly I don’t remem­ber enough of it. I know there’s some ques­tion­able instances, and that you can CERTAINLY tell it was writ­ten by a man for male read­ers and it’s part of that Tolkienesque field of epic fan­ta­sy (and full dis­claimer I don’t like Lord of the Rings either)

Some­how things got onto the sub­ject of how it sounds when we’re read­ing books. He says he can hear the female char­ac­ter in a female voice, the male in a male voice, the old man in an old man voice, etc … and I can’t recall ever hav­ing that hap­pen for me. I hear every­thing in my voice. Rarely, if I’m read­ing a book that I know as a movie I may be able to put an actor’s voice to it, but only if I’ve recent­ly heard that character’s voice. I can see entire scenes, I can pic­ture a tree and the apple that falls from it and see­ing it bounce along the ground. And he says he can­not – for him it’s more of a wire mesh vague­ness that sug­gests what’s going on. But he was flab­ber­gast­ed that I don’t get voic­es, and that’s when he said that maybe I should stick to read­ing non-fic­tion because with­out voic­es, why read fic­tion?

And it just … stuck with me.

I know he didn’t mean it in the way I then took it and ran with it. (I know he was also just hurt that I can’t read his favorite series and he real­ly real­ly just wants to talk about it with me) Which is to say, my brain then went on a down­ward spi­ral of if I’m not cut out to read fic­tion, how can I write fic­tion, and if I can’t write, than what am I going to do with my life because books are my life, I can’t not write, it’s what keeps me sane, I couldn’t han­dle not com­ing up with sto­ries, I can’t let go of my char­ac­ters.

Then I came back to my sens­es and real­ized … if I can’t bear to part with my char­ac­ters, than there must be enough of them in my head to be real char­ac­ters. Right? So, even if I don’t hear their voic­es dis­tinct­ly, I do hear their dia­log, and I do know what they’re feel­ing.

So that’s where the spi­ral end­ed, and I decid­ed to sit down and write the start of my new nov­el just to prove to myself that I could. So, there’s that. But still, it made me curi­ous … am I real­ly that weird for not hear­ing voic­es? Is there any­one else out there that doesn’t hear voic­es or accents in their head when they read?

Hobby writing, and why that’s okay

I’m not a blog­ger, and I’m not going to do this reg­u­lar­ly, but some­times things in the writ­ing com­mu­ni­ty come up and I want to lend my voice to it — which is what was turn­ing into, but it still was hold­ing on to the past of being a jour­nal-blog of sorts. That’s some­thing I don’t want.

Some writer-fairy-grand­moth­er advice:

  • You don’t have to write every day to be a “real” writer. You’re writ­ing, or think­ing about writ­ing? You’re a writer.
  • It doesn’t mat­ter how long your chap­ters are, or how long your draft is until you’re ready to pub­lish … and even then, not so much. Don’t stress about the lit­tle details, just write the sto­ry as it needs to be told.
  • Your men­tal health is impor­tant.
  • Writ­ing is hard, and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you have to beat your­self up about it.
  • Some­times aban­don­ing a project for a new one is a good choice. Some­times not writ­ing at all for a month and read­ing instead, is a good choice. Do what feels right to you.

I’m going to add to this list over time. Do you have any­thing you want to share with oth­er writ­ers?

2016 Year end summary

Some­how, I’ve man­aged to read more than fifty books, and write almost 200,000 words.

2016 wasn’t a great year until the end. I didn’t write much until after April. I didn’t read much either, and I don’t care.

I’m not a write every day per­son. I write when I can, I read when I can — mov­ing from one project to anoth­er when I get stalled, or switch­ing to read­ing for a block of time, works for me. Appar­ent­ly the lat­ter half of this year (most of those words hap­pened fair­ly recent­ly, like since this fall) was good for my cre­ative out­put. It wasn’t good for much else.

Things are start­ing to go well, I start­ed a new job so my hours are a bit more sta­ble than they were with two part time jobs — but I’m com­mut­ing more so I don’t actu­al­ly have any more time avail­able to me — it’s about even. That’s one good thing, the new job. My hus­band and I cel­e­brat­ed our ten year wed­ding anniver­sary in April. So that’s two. I made more friends with library peo­ple (three) and I seemed to care less in gen­er­al about … every­thing — which could be good, or could be bad, depend­ing on how you look at it.

I feel less stressed, less wor­ried over all the lit­tle things. I fig­ure after what we went through so far put things into per­spec­tive. It can get a LOT worse, I under­stand that, but it was pret­ty bad and we man­aged okay. Not great, but okay, and we’re on the oth­er side now, sor­ta.

I real­ized some things I was try­ing to do, just won’t fit into my life. I’m not a blog­ger. I’d like to blog about writ­ing, or about fix­ing up the house, but there’s far too much pres­sure and not enough time for any sort of depen­den­cy. I’m not an author­i­ty on any­thing, so I don’t feel like I could ade­quate­ly con­tribute. And I don’t have the time or men­tal ener­gy to fit stress­ing about not blog­ging into my life. So, I won’t. And that’s where I’m at.

My host­ing expires in April. I’m going to keep up the author page, maybe try to spruce it up a lit­tle, but this one won’t be stay­ing after that. It’ll prob­a­bly just redi­rect there. That way I can con­cen­trate on writ­ing, and edit­ing, and read­ing, and the main course of being an author.

I hope every­one has a won­der­ful 2017, or at the very least, that it sucks less than 2016 did.

What you can learn about writing from yoga

Life is crazy, the to-do list is nev­er end­ing, and there’s always some­thing more to add to it. As far as I know, there’s no get­ting around that, it’s just part of being an adult. Hav­ing a pas­sion for some­thing, and want­i­ng to pur­sue it doesn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly mean you’ll get it done. There’s real­ly only one way to become a nov­el­ist, and that’s to write nov­els. When­ev­er and wher­ev­er you can.

I’m not an advo­cate for writ­ing every day. It does no good to com­pare your­self to some­one else’s ide­al, and then berate your­self for not liv­ing up to their stan­dards. Find your bal­ance, find what you can do and fit into your life, and do that.

In Octo­ber, I start­ed tak­ing yoga. I’d been think­ing about it for years, but always put it off as too expen­sive, too scary, as some­thing I wasn’t fit enough to do. Know­ing myself, prac­tic­ing at home isn’t going to hap­pen. I’ve tried. There’s always some­thing I need to be doing while I’m at home. If I don’t sign up for a class, then it’s not going to hap­pen. I’m too afraid of just show­ing up unex­pect­ed to a drop-in class. So, I signed up for a begin­ner series. Then I signed up for three more one after anoth­er.

I’ve only tak­en begin­ner class­es so far, but I already feel stronger and more secure in my body-image. I haven’t changed at all, but my mind­set has. And that’s giv­en me a lit­tle inspi­ra­tion as far as my writ­ing is con­cerned. When start­ing out in yoga, you will not be able to get ful­ly into all of the pos­es. Some of them are sim­ply out of reach, and you may not ever real­ly get there. Your body’s struc­ture, might just not be set up to accom­plish that.

And that’s fine.

My yoga instruc­tor has said that yoga is a jour­ney, and your yoga prac­tice is the path of that jour­ney. The ide­al of the pos­es, is the goal. If you can’t fold that far for­ward in hum­ble war­rior, that’s fine. You may find that over time, with prac­tice, you can fold fur­ther. If not, visu­al­iz­ing the goal and striv­ing to achieve it, even if you’re not actu­al­ly mov­ing for­ward yet, brings it’s own strength.

To me, it sets up your mind to accept that you can.

You may not be able to yet, but you’re not rul­ing out the pos­si­bil­i­ty. And that’s impor­tant.

It’s the same with writ­ing. You may not be a best sell­ing nov­el­ist, but don’t sell your­self short or set your­self up for fail­ure by giv­ing up that goal before you get start­ed. You might fall over in walk­ing tree pose, but there could be a day where you don’t. You might go a month with­out writ­ing, but even if you only write once a month, even­tu­al­ly you will fin­ish a draft. Then you’ll fin­ish anoth­er draft, or twelve. You’ll find your groove, what works for your life, your goals, and you’ll do that. Whether it mea­sures up to some arbi­trary stan­dard or not, doesn’t mat­ter. All that mat­ters is that you what’s right for you, there’s strength in that.

Bullet Journaling, sorta

I’ve seen a few posts from a friend late­ly about bul­let jour­nal­ing. Then as I was tack­ling the idea of what to do next as far as my Kon­Mari project is con­cerned, it inevitably left me going through all the things around the house I want to change.

Which is admit­ted­ly, a lot. Not just fix­ing bro­ken things, but updat­ing and basi­cal­ly a full house ren­o­va­tion.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly we have near­ly $0 to tack­le any of that stuff.

But, things kept going round and round in my head, so I got out a note­book and start­ed writ­ing.

bullet house journal

It’s not fan­cy, it’s not pret­ty. I’m impressed it’s leg­i­ble to be hon­est.

The Kon­Mari check­list is just that, a list of all the cat­e­gories I found on a few pages on pin­ter­est. Some I won’t use, but I wrote them all any­way (minus the children’s stuff one because … well aside from not hav­ing any, I’m not ready to think about when I do). The two pages of brain­storm­ing ideas are a lit­er­al block of test. I men­tal­ly went through each room in the house and not­ed down what I remem­bered off the top of my head that the hus­band and I had dis­cussed doing (minus his com­put­er room/future nurs­ery for obvi­ous rea­sons).

We don’t have the mon­ey for the big ren­o­va­tions we want to do. But I can clean up the house, and I can maybe get an idea of how much we might actu­al­ly need to save to do some of the things on our list. I think it’s also part of step 1 of the Kon­Mari method, visu­al­iz­ing what you want the space to look like. Right now, the answer is “any­thing but this” and has been for the 4 years we’ve lived here.

This is a start to fix that, a mod­est one, but a start is a start.


Getting my headspace back together

I don’t want to use this place as a jour­nal. Noth­ing good real­ly comes of that, so I’m not going to go there. But I do believe in being open about things, because some­one else might be out there strug­gling, too. There’s nev­er an easy way to go through hard times … lit­er­al­ly why we call them hard times. It’s hard.

Last fall, I got preg­nant for the sec­ond time. I wasn’t near­ly as sick as the first time, but I was still filled with trep­i­da­tion. We wait­ed a cou­ple extra weeks before tak­ing the preg­nan­cy test. Then we wait­ed anoth­er week before call­ing the hos­pi­tal to have a test done to con­firm. At 7 weeks along, we had a dat­ing ultra­sound and every­thing looked great. Already I had made it far­ther than before, but still we didn’t want any­one to know. We didn’t want to let our­selves start to hope. Around 9 weeks I told my jobs, because I was start­ing to feel real­ly run down and rather queasy. I nev­er got sick, but I felt on the verge of it for months. By 11 weeks we told my par­ents. Then grad­u­al­ly we told more and more peo­ple. By the end of 12 weeks, we start­ed dis­cussing names, and at my 14 week appoint­ment, when my DR said every­thing looked per­fect, we start­ed get­ting excit­ed.

At 16 weeks I mis­car­ried. Again.

Mis­car­riage at 16 weeks is crush­ing for a few rea­sons. Obvi­ous­ly, you’re no longer get­ting the baby that you had hoped for.  You’re blind­sided because you were sup­pos­ed­ly in the “safe zone”. There’s doubt of whether you’ll ever be able to car­ry to term. Anx­i­ety about the wast­ed time and the tick­ing clock (hel­lo 32, I see you on the hori­zon there). But there’s also the pain of actu­al­ly going through labor. And then also, not hav­ing a baby at the end of that labor. The after­noon surgery I had with the first mis­car­riage couldn’t be done at the local hos­pi­tal. I’d have to trav­el over an hour to a spe­cial­ist up north to have a D & E per­formed at 16 weeks. It would have been a 2 day pro­ce­dure, and the risk of dam­age to the uterus was increased over the pre­vi­ous one. So, we chose to go through labor.  Since we still do want kids, we want to give any future preg­nan­cies the best chance pos­si­ble.

The nurs­es were great, but that was the sin­gle worst day of my life so far. I have nev­er been in so much pain. I had bruis­ing from the IV and blood draws for two weeks after. I couldn’t climb stairs for two days. And only now, two and a half weeks lat­er, do I feel nor­mal, no lin­ger­ing twinges, or oth­er pains.

I’m still work­ing through the emo­tion­al pain of it all. I’m not sure when or if that real­ly goes away.

On not writing

I’m going to do some­thing real­ly con­tro­ver­sial for a writer this week: I’m not going to write.

It’s a hot top­ic, and one that I’m still com­ing to terms with.

And, it’s a les­son that I have to con­tin­u­al­ly teach myself — it’s okay to not write. There is a thing called burn out, and for me per­son­al­ly, push­ing through it only makes the prob­lem worse. That is why I don’t advo­cate for writ­ing every day — I don’t dis­agree with it, it’s just not prac­ti­cal.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not a writer. I am. I write! (Most­ly on lunch breaks or late at night after work and din­ner, or rushed between jobs.) But not every day,  and some­times not every week.

The les­son I’ve learned is that it’s okay to need oth­er things in life: human inter­ac­tion, oth­er cre­ative pur­suits, sleep. When you have lim­it­ed time to devote to any­thing out­side work, all those things have to share. They’re all essen­tial to liv­ing a bal­anced life, and that bal­ance is what fos­ters the men­tal clar­i­ty need­ed to write well.

The hard part is know­ing when to take a break. Know­ing if you’re actu­al­ly burnt out, or if you’re just stuck on a prob­lem is a skill that takes time to devel­op.

That’s when it real­ly helps to keep track, and notice any pat­terns. When do days go well? When do they go real­ly bad­ly? What’s your men­tal state like?

This year hasn’t been the best year, there have been a lot of ups and downs, and most­ly downs. I’ve been stressed, and because of that, I’ve felt total­ly over­whelmed most of the time — large­ly about things out­side of my writ­ing life, but writ­ing this book has been one of those stressers. I’ve want­ed to final­ly get on with fin­ish­ing this draft, that I was push­ing myself to just keep going.

It wasn’t work­ing.

I’d make a lit­tle progress, then stall and spend time beat­ing myself up over not writ­ing, not con­tin­u­ing. It made writ­ing hard­er, and I ened­ed up wast­ing time I could have used writ­ing wor­ry­ing about not writ­ing.

Until I gave up. I’d had enough. I picked up a book, then anoth­er, and just let myself read for a while.

It was a recal­i­bra­tion. After get­ting back into read­ing, I wrote chap­ter three. Then instead of feel­ing down for not mov­ing right into chap­ter four, I picked up some stuff to make art again. I paint­ed a pic­ture. Then I wrote chap­ter four.

Now, I’m at that point again of hav­ing fin­ished writ­ing a chap­ter and tran­si­tion­ing into the next one. I’m already feel­ing that resis­tance to writ­ing, so instead of fight­ing it, I’m going to read a book.

Writ­ing every day will work for some peo­ple. It doesn’t work for me and my sched­ule, and that’s okay. Maybe alter­nat­ing between read­ing, or being oth­er­wise cre­ative, and writ­ing will help you, too.

Behind the scenes, writing tag

Tag! You’re it!

I saw a post by Kris­ten of She’s Nov­el, with a few inter­est­ing ques­tions about how she writes, and I thought it was fun.

Since I haven’t been hav­ing a lot of suc­cess late­ly, I thought I’d see what my answers would be, and maybe they might help me get back into the spir­it of writ­ing.

Where do you write?

I don’t have a big enough desk to write at so for a while I was writ­ing at my din­ing room table – but I was get­ting over­whelmed by all of my note­books spread out over the whole table, and still hav­ing to run upstairs to my com­put­er when­ev­er I need­ed to look some­thing up (some­times my phone was just too small for what I need­ed), or when­ev­er I had to print some­thing. When I don’t need all my note­books of world and char­ac­ter build­ing, I write on my lunch breaks at work. I’m still look­ing for a suit­able place to write at home – which is I think why I haven’t been get­ting any writ­ing done since I took my stuff off the din­ing room table. I final­ly put all of my out­line and my sec­ond draft and the begin­ning of the third draft into Scriven­er, but I haven’t been able to write any­thing into it yet. It’s help­ing me to see where the holes are, and to see which scenes need to be writ­ten, but I can’t get com­fort­able, and I can’t focus while I’m at my desk­top com­put­er.

When do you nor­mal­ly write? Night, after­noon, or morn­ing?

I write at night after work around 9pm until I go to bed around 11, or in the after­noon at lunch (or I would, if I was get­ting any writ­ing done – that’s the time I have at home any­way – although some of that time also includes mak­ing and eat­ing din­ner, any time spent with the hus­band and cats, or any­thing else com­put­er relat­ed, even mun­dane things like pay­ing bills, or check­ing email).

I’d much pre­fer to write in the morn­ing. First thing is when my mind is going with ideas. By night, my brain is fried. I’ve tried get­ting up ear­li­er and writ­ing before work, but it just doesn’t work out. I’m way too tired at 4am to get any writ­ing done, and we have to start get­ting ready by 5:30 – 6am most morn­ings.

Is there a cer­tain snack you like to eat while writ­ing?

I’m usu­al­ly writ­ing while eat­ing lunch or din­ner, so it’s what­ev­er I’ve packed for lunch or what­ev­er I’ve cooked for din­ner, not real­ly a spe­cif­ic snack. I try not to snack too much between meals, any­way.

How often do you write a new nov­el?

Ha. Haha. I’ve been writ­ing this same nov­el for the last five years. I think I’ve got it fig­ured out now, and I’m slow­ly (slow­ly) teach­ing myself how to write a nov­el, so I’m real­ly hop­ing that the next three nov­els in the series get pro­gres­sive­ly short­er in terms of how long it takes to write them.

Do you lis­ten to music while you write?

Some­times, but noth­ing with lyrics when I do. If I need it to drown out back­ground noise (usu­al­ly my hus­band watch­ing TV or play­ing a game while I was writ­ing down­stairs at the din­ing room table), I’ll lis­ten to a playlist of my favorite Lind­say Stir­ling and David Gar­rett songs. Oth­er­wise, when I need to real­ly con­cen­trate, I pre­fer silence.

What do you write on? Lap­top or paper?

I don’t have a lap­top any­more, it died. In our old apart­ment, I used to write on my lap­top on the couch in the liv­ing room when I was between class­es or before work, and it was great: bright and sun­ny, on my com­fort­able couch, with my feet up and just typ­ing away. Then we bought our house, and my com­put­er, and my exter­nal hard dri­ve died (with all of my writ­ing on it! – luck­i­ly my WIP was saved to google docs, but that’s was the only thing) and my lap­top died all with­in the first month. It’s been a few years, and I just can’t get into writ­ing at my desk­top com­put­er. The chair is so uncom­fort­able that I can’t get into the zone any­more. (It might also be that I’ve been writ­ing this sto­ry for so long, and that edit­ing/re-writ­ing is a dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ence than draft­ing was.) The din­ing room table chair was even less com­fort­able, but at least it was sun­ny. It’s so dark in my house.

So now I write on paper usu­al­ly in pen­cil, but some­times I need a col­or­ful pen just to perk up the mood (some­times the lit­tle things are all that keeps me going), then I’ll type it up on my desk­top and tweak things as I type.

Is there a spe­cial rit­u­al you have before or after you write?

No. If I had any rit­u­als, I’d get even less writ­ing done than I do now – which would mean not writ­ing at all.

What do you do to get into the mood to write?

Read. When­ev­er I’m read­ing I want to write. It’s too bad that I only real­ly have time for one or the oth­er, nev­er both at the same time. So, I usu­al­ly read a book or two until I don’t know what I want to read next, then I’ll write until I run out of steam, and by then I’ve usu­al­ly decid­ed on my next book to read.

What is always near the place you write?

My phone, but to be fair, my phone is near every place I’m at. For writ­ing, it depends on the place. If I’m at work, I’ll have just my note­book and pen. At home, I’ll have my binder for world building/story bible and a large note­book with more notes and pho­to­copies of research, I’ll also have my binder for char­ac­ter charts/notes/list of names. I’ll have my binders for past drafts. I’ll have my note card hold­er with the out­lines for the next three books. I’ve also recent­ly added The Nov­el Plan­ner, to track when I’m writ­ing and how much – I’m still work­ing out how best to imple­ment that so that it actu­al­ly makes a dif­fer­ence to the amount of writ­ing I get done.

Do you have a reward sys­tem for your word count?

I’ve tried stick­ers. I’ve tried dai­ly goals. I’ve tried more tan­gi­ble rewards like get­ting a new book, or allow­ing myself a day of play on my favorite game, or a movie night or some­thing. None of that works. Any­thing that costs mon­ey isn’t a moti­va­tor because if I have to pay for it, it’s not real­ly a reward. Food just makes me feel guilty for hav­ing too much junk. If I reward myself for writ­ing by read­ing, or play­ing a game, I’m using time I might want to use for writ­ing, for oth­er things – and then I feel guilty for not writ­ing! It’s a no win sit­u­a­tion.

I’ve tried send­ing what I’ve writ­ten to a friend, but her sched­ule is as packed as mine, and I haven’t had a response. I tried a cri­tique part­ner, but I was using all of my writ­ing time to read and respond to her stuff that I didn’t have time to write any­thing new for mine. I tried a writ­ing group, but it took a cou­ple hours out of the evening where I could have been writ­ing, and I didn’t end up get­ting any use­able feed­back that would help with edit­ing a first draft.

I’m still try­ing to find some­thing that will work.

Is there any­thing about your writ­ing process that oth­ers might not know about?

I don’t have one? I think my sav­ing fea­ture as far as writ­ing goes, is deter­mi­na­tion. I have to write this book. I can­not not write it. I don’t have the time. I’m often frus­trat­ed. I real­ly don’t actu­al­ly know what I’m doing at all, but I keep going. I’ve been writ­ing it for five years now, and that’s a long time. As many obsta­cles as there are in front of me, I just keep mov­ing along slow­ly (so slow­ly). If I don’t fin­ish this series, I’ll nev­er be able to write any­thing else. At this point, I’m com­mit­ted, whether I like it or not.

I’ve tried work­ing on oth­er ideas, on giv­ing this a break, but I just keep com­ing back to this one.

If any­one else would like to answer the ques­tions, please leave a link in the com­ments, so I can check them out. Maybe we’ll learn some­thing from each oth­er!

Writing when you don’t have the time

There are writ­ing advice blogs every­where. Most will tell you that the best way to devel­op your skill is con­sis­tent prac­tice. And I’m sure they’re right. I look for­ward to spe­cif­ic days because I know some­thing is com­ing from some­one I fol­low (ex. @blotsandplots posts on Mon­day, @ShesNovel emails her newslet­ter on Sun­day).

It works. Hav­ing more books is proven time and again to gain you more fol­low­ers.

But what if you can’t?

For me, I drown in guilt for not writ­ing, even though I also feel guilt when writ­ing because I should be doing some­thing else. I make excus­es about being busy, and tired, and need­ing to men­tal­ly recharge … But my inner voice says that it’s all just excus­es: I should be writ­ing.

It’s true, but being busy, tired and drained is also true, and some­times I want to enjoy a hike with­out feel­ing like I should be home writ­ing.


What’s a writer to do? Ulti­mate­ly, it real­ly is up to each indi­vid­ual. Every­thing is. But, what’s best? Isn’t that the point?

1. Write what you can

It’s best to write often, even a lit­tle, because it will get eas­i­er. But stress­ing over not writ­ing will only hin­der your actu­al writ­ing time, if you’re any­thing like me because there will be more pres­sure to make up for that lost time.

2. Have a place to keep your stuff

Not every­one has a size­able desk to spread out on, or any­where qui­et in their home to write. Make the most of what you do have, by find­ing the spot with the least resis­tance to get­ting start­ed.

For me that has been leav­ing my note­books and stuff out on the din­ing table. I walk by all the time, when I’m home, so it’s a visu­al reminder as well as being ready to go when I do have time to sit.

If at home writ­ing isn’t your thing, find­ing a portable solu­tion might be. A back­pack or lap­top case that keeps every­thing togeth­er, so that you can just grab it and go.

3. Be pre­pared

I find that I can’t just sit and write, and my jobs late­ly don’t allow me the free­dom of day­dream­ing. As a result, I loose track of where I am between writ­ing ses­sions. To get back in the mind set, I look a my inspi­ra­tion pic­tures for the scene I’m writ­ing: char­ac­ter, set­ting, col­ors. I might try music to set the mood, but not often. I most often write with­out music,  but if there’s tv or talk­ing noise near­by, I’ll need some­thing to drown it out. Then, I read a lit­tle of where I end­ed and hope­ful­ly jump in.

If all that fails, maybe there’s some­thing else at work. Are you too tired to focus? Is some­thing in this scene not work­ing? When I get to this point, I step away to fig­ure out why I’m hav­ing trou­ble.

Some­times it’s because I’m think­ing of oth­er things, and jour­nal­ing will help. If it’s because I can’t set­tle myself after work, I try col­or­ing to relax and focus. What­ev­er the prob­lem, my point is to adress that rather than waste time try­ing to write if you know the words just aren’t hap­pen­ing.