4/29/17

Hey You: it's okay

This month was rough. Not gonna lie. Right now, I'm sitting at 20k words. I started the month with a goal of 40k.

HAaaaahaHAAA.

Yeah, that didn't happen. But it's okay! I'm happy with the progress I've made. The goal is 25k but ... we'll see.

As you might have guessed, I learned a lot this month. Granted, I learn a lot every month, but this month especially, I learned a lot about writing, about myself, and about the world. And I've learned that a lot of things we stress about really don't need to be stressed over.

In a word, I've learned that it's okay.



It's okay to not meet a goal.

Goals are there to encourage you. When you don't meet a goal, beating yourself up about it totally defeats the purpose. You likely got a lot accomplished anyway, or at least something. And chances are nothing would have gotten done if you hadn't set a bar for yourself. Hadn't raised a standard to reach for.

It's okay to not feel so great.

You can't really control how you feel. You can choose to think about certain things, and you can choose to change your mindset, which often impacts how you feel. But you can't control every little feeling you have.

And it's okay not to feel great. It's okay to be down. It's okay to be sad. It's okay to be discouraged and disheartened.

The important thing is to remember that you will make it through. We are warriors, and we will fight our way through this life. We will be champions together.

It's okay to not have it all down. 

With my writing, I'm not really sure on some details. I don't know exactly how the Climax of Act Two and Three are going to happen. I'm not sure where my Dark Night of the Soul is going to take place. I'm not sure what my Midpoint even is.

And that's okay.

Writing is about exploring and discovering. So write. Write, even if you're not sure what you're doing. Write, even though the words are rough and you're kind of lost. It's okay to be a little confused.

It's okay to give up.

I don't mean you should abandon everything right now. I mean it's okay to give up a goal. It's okay to give up a deadline if you need more time, or have to move on to another project.

"Give up" tends to carry bad connotations with it. In reality, it's much the same as "letting go" which is very important and very necessary to just about every part of life. You can't live clinging to everything around you. You have to detach yourself a bit sometimes. You have to put up a line and say, "I can't take on anymore." Don't stretch yourself too thin. Give yourself some grace.

If you haven't met your nano goal, take a deep breath.

It's okay. You'll get there eventually.

If you don't know what's going to happen next in your story, take a deep breath.

It's okay. You can brainstorm your way through it.

If you don't think you can take on another project, take a deep breath.

It's okay. You can say no to people. You need to say no to people. It's hard, but it's better to give a few people your all instead of giving a dozen people just an exhausted smidge.

Take a deep breath and give youself some grace.

It's okay. 

Did you survive this month of Camp Nano? Nano-er or not, how did writing go for you this month? Do you need to give yourself some grace?

<3

4/22/17

Hey You: art is messy

Hey you. Yeah, you.

If I had to venture a guess, I’d say you’re in the middle of a project right now. It might be a novel, a short story, or a poem. It might be for teens or adults or children. You might be in the heat of the first draft, or in the craze of edits.

Regardless of which of these you’re in at the moment though, I can almost guarantee one thing.

Your book is just a little bit messy.

If you’re in the sea of first drafting, you probably feel like you’re trying to make a sand castle in the bottom of the ocean. The water is quickly destroying any progress you make, tearing away your carefully constructed details and reducing your work of art to a big hunk of blob.

If you’re in the desert of edits, you probably feel like you’re stranded in the Sahara and struggling to make that sand castle—only now you have no water and the sand is too dry to form much of anything at all.

And maybe you’re not in an ocean or a desert. Maybe you’re sitting at your desk with a sheet of nice clean paper. But when you look around for a pen, all you can find is a box of crayons, most of them broken and none of them pointy. A nice, detailed picture or elegant poem is nearly impossible. 




Writing is hard stuff. It’s messy. Whatever stage you’re in, you can probably relate. It’s frustrating when that scene just won’t come together like you wanted, or when you just can’t get your antagonist’s motive down.

And you know what?

It’s okay.

Not just because it’s nano, the notorious month of mayhem and mess, but because it’s writing. Writing is tough stuff. You can’t get it perfect the first, second, or third time. In fact, you can’t ever get it perfect. Not really.

And you know what?

It’s okay.

You know why it’s okay?

Because this is art. And with art, there is not perfect way.

There is no perfect way because there is no set standard. Art is about being expressive and unique. It’s about touching people in ways nothing else can.

People are all very different. Why would there be some set standard of How To Impact a Human? We are all impacted and touched by different things. Thus, all art is beautiful and different.

You—yes you—have power. You have words. You have things to write, a story to tell.

So enjoy the mess. Messiness is its own kind of beautiful.


And there’s always another draft.


How are you faring in nano so far, or whatever writing projects you're currently handling? Are you embracing your mess? 

<3

4/15/17

When You Hit a Wall

Two weeks ago, camp nano began. While everyone around me was getting pumped for it, I was blocked from day one. I couldn't write. I had some big changes to make, but nothing wanted to come out.

I hit a huge wall. And it was not fun.



I think post-inciting incident is my sweet spot for disaster. The day nano started, I sat down at the keyboard and stared at the letters, at the waiting word document full of words that needed editing.

And I couldn't write a thing.

Three days in, I had a little over 1k.

That's not normal for me. I usually write quickly.

I was forced to admit the sad truth that I'd naively hoped wouldn't prove to be with my precious new baby, The Dream Walkers. It had been so nice to me so far.

But no. I'd hit a wall.

What to do? I've set a goal of 40k words to edit (now at 35k, possibly going down to 30k). I want to finish this draft before June. And, above all, I do NOT want to have another "TC" disaster. I will not spend a year on this draft. I can't. Not again.

I needed to break this wall. I needed to get a huge hammer and smash into it with all the power of a steam train. But how?

The first step was figuring out why I'd hit the wall. You can't really break something until you understand how it's built.

There are two main elements to what created my wall.


PROBLEM 1: FEAR

This book had been so good so far. But as nano started, so did all the major changes I had planned. And so the fear came. Fear of change. Fear I might mess everything up. Fear I wouldn't do it right.

On top of all that, I'm sending this draft to betas. Therefore, draft two must be perfect.

Right?

WRONG.

What do you think betas are there for? I know it can't be perfect yet, but that's the thing that was not allowing me to write at all. I needed to throw the words out. To force them onto the page.

And you can't do that and keep the quality high. You have to get in the dirt and heave.


PROBLEM 2:  AN UNCLEAR DESTINATION 

Yes, I had some big changes to make. But I also had some brainstorming to do. There was world building I hadn't done (I know, shocking) and some character motives and secrets I needed to nail down. I got my notebook and began the brainstorming, and when I got home that evening, the words began to come better than they had all month.

I knew what changes I needed to make, but I wasn't really sure how to make them. I didn't really know where I was going, and I was left wandering about and gazing at the clouds.


So from these two points, I think we can guess how to fight the block.


SOLUTION 1: KNOW WHERE YOU'RE GOING

Get your journal. Open the doc. Grab the restaurant napkin and pen. Whatever spurs your creative juices. Grab it and get to work. Be creative. Write down everything that comes to your mind. You'll find something. I know you will. I believe in you.


SOLUTION 2: BE BOLD, DARING, AND BRAVE.

*glances at betas* Yes. Yes I did just do that.

A good book can only become great after a lot of work. It's not going to happen in just a few days and two drafts. It takes more than that. It takes trying new things and ideas and failing a little. It means scrapping things that don't work and trying things to see what does.

And that requires a little bit of boldness. A dash of daring. And a whole lot of bravery. You have to remember that there is no "failing". There are just things that won't work and things that will. You can always try again. The important thing is to decide on something, and go for it with all you've got.

Please, please, don't be afraid to write new things. To make changes. Some part of you wanted to make those changes in the first place. Likelihood is, it's going to make your book better.


SOLUTION 3: PUSH THROUGH IT

And if all else fails, you just have to do it. You might have to lower your target goal or make some changes to what you'd wanted to get done, and that's okay. Give yourself some grace. Writing is hard, and editing is even harder. It's okay if you're not as fast as you'd like to be.

Just take a deep breath and let it go. In this moment, you are right where you need to be.


I hoped this might have encouraged some of you struggling to get the words down!

AND HERE'S A SNIPPET FOR YOU. It's small, don't worry ;P But I just have to let you in on my little reference I made up there. This becomes a theme throughout the book. It was totally pantsed in first draft, but I've kept it and it's become and integral part to pretty much all the characters. *snuggles my children*

*happy sigh* my little children

And now off you go! Go break the block!


How has nano been so far for you? Have you fared better than I have, or are you struggling with a block too? 

<3