At best guess, I’m 6,000 words from completing my third novel. I’ve been at this point for the past three weeks. Beyond, at one time. I’ve added, deleted, revised, rewritten. I moved the fifth chapter to the beginning, deleted the entire third chapter, and combined two others.
I’ve mapped numerous bright orange post-its across a magnetic board near my workspace, rearranging events and inserting new characters and plot points. I’ve scribbled lines of illegible notes inside my marble composition book. My desk is a disaster of index cards and post-its. Reading over some of my notes, I wonder why I wrote them. What did I mean by she needs new shoes first?
So I caved. I admitted defeat. I joined the present day. See my post on Organizing.
I purchased the highly touted Scrivener app. (Hard to resist at 50% off.)
Good buy? After making my way through 30% of the 23-step tutorial, I’m wondering if the program can help my current project. After all, if I were to employ Scrivener now, I’d need to type up all these crazy notes. I’d need to discern which are about character, setting, theme, and so on. Not an impossible task, but still time-consuming.
Finish this book and save Scrivener for my next, you say? Perhaps.
In the meantime, here's what I like about the tutorial and some of what I've learned thus far.
1. The tutorial is lengthy, but it's reader friendly.
2. It employs the “I do, we do, you do” teaching method – gentle hand-holding and encouragement for you to try.
3. You can make mistakes (in the ‘you do’ time, your practice does not delete the original tutorial).
4. There are many bells and whistles, but you choose which to blow, ring, or ignore.
5. The writer uses gentle humor and intuits when your cup has runneth over. In fact he encourages you to get a cup of tea at that point and have a break.
We’ll see how much further I get into the tutorial before next week. There’s always a struggle to balance writing and learning. I’m hoping Scrivener eventually provides that balance for me. Isn't that what its icon suggests?
Have you tried Scrivener? I'd love to hear your impressions. What do you like? What works? What doesn't?
Everyone can write. Everyone can run.
It's true. However (yeah, you know where I'm going), just as not anyone can run a marathon, not everyone has a gift to write clear, lyrical prose that entertains and engages readers. That's why you need to treat writing just as you would any other sport.
You need to get up each day and practice. And just as with running, you will need to warm up, stretch and find inspiration. A running partner can help, too.
I have a friend who runs. She runs every day. She runs because it makes her happy, keeps her healthy and because it feels good. Whenever she can, she enters a mini marathon or fundraiser run. When I asked her why she does it, she said, "It's fun, and it makes me a better runner." When she runs these races, she runs to win. She doesn't train extra for them, but she makes sure she's prepared to go the distance.
Such is true for writing. You need to make writing a routine, and you need occasional "races" that are fun to be part of and make you a better writer. Go ahead, challenge yourself. Brave yourself for some feedback, even some criticism. Believe me, it will make you better at what you do.
If you are a teen writer, here are some places to submit your work. Be sure to read their submission guidelines.
New Moon Girls - online and paper; girls ages 8 - 14; accepts poems, articles, stories.
One Teen Story - online and paper; publishes stories for the teen audience.
Teen Ink - online and paper; teen audience and writers; publishes fiction, nonfiction, poetry, photos, art.
The Writing Conference Contest - once yearly; open to students in elementary, junior high, high school; accepts poems, narratives, essays.
Oh, and don't forget the ThisGirl summer writing contests!
After you've viewed the above sites, set a target. Plan to submit at least one piece of writing by the end of the year. In the mean time, practice.
Please post links to any of your work online, or just give a personal shout out for your achievements. Good luck. Write on!
Whether you are writing a novel or running a business, you realize the importance of being organized. It saves time, makes finding things easier, allows for more productivity, provides safety (less things to trip over), but most of all it opens the gates of creativity.
Let's examine each benefit for our writing.
1. Save time. Keep a notebook (pretty or practical). Keep a big one near your writing station. Keep small ones with you, in your car, pocket, purse, bedside, everywhere you are. When you finally figure out how to get your protagonist to meet his long lost mother, and you are sitting in traffic, you need to get that idea down on paper. Now. If you are driving, leave yourself a handsfree voice message. Getting your brilliant ideas down immediately will save you time later trying to remember or recreate them.
2. Find things. Now that you have a notebook (or 2 or 3), you can easily refer to your ideas and work with them when you finally do sit down to write. Keep all your ideas on paper when possible. If you write something on a napkin in a restaurant, stuff it in your pocket and tape it in your notebook when you get home. Your future self will thank you.
3. Be productive. You're rolling now! You have a notebook (several). You are keeping track of your ideas. You are not wasting time trying to remember those midnight epiphanies, because they are all right next to you. Be sure to make that notebook even more useful by attaching index tabs with categories for: plot, characters, setting, themes and motifs, random lines, resources, scene ideas, etc. If you want, you can always translate these physical notebooks into a Word Notebook (my personal fave) or an application like Scrivener or Inspiration.
4. Be safe. This is no joke. Being organized keeps your story safe. Following the first 3 rules ensures you won't accidentally give your character blue eyes in chapter 1 and brown eyes in chapter 7. Being organized prevents accidents. Don't trip up your readers with messy plot structures or untidy character sketches. Know where to go for help. I have Pixar's 22 Tips taped under my laptop.
That's it. Four reasons to be organized; four benefits for being organized.
So, now that your writing world is in order, get writing! Create. (Be sure to share your own tips for staying organized with us.)
Taking a break from writing tips this week to participate in an invitational Blog Hop via my writing pal north of the border, Natalie Sampson. This feisty mom also writes YA. Please visit her page and check out her books. http://www.nataliecorbettsampson.com/
Here’s a little more than you need to know about me. Stick it through to the end where you will find a few other blog recs for your writing bookmarks.
1. What am I working on?
I am 50,000 words into my third contemporary YA novel. The story follows high school freshman Kathryn Clark and her obsession to track down Michael J. Fox. She hopes he can do for her what his fictional character did for his folks in the film “Back to the Future”. Reignite their passion. She’s desperate to change her past and right her future. Besides the obvious, there are a few problems with this plan: 1, Kathryn’s never met her dad, 2, her mom seems too distracted hopping in bed with other men to care about any reunions. But those aren’t even Kathryn’s biggest issues. This girl hears voices. Even worse, she talks back to them. The kids at school call her a freak. All of them except for her dyslexic BFF Veronica and one skinny toy clerk Mick Falls. When these three outcasts band together, they discover that the only time worth changing is now.
2. How is my work different from others of its genre?
If we’re talking the genre of Literary Fiction, I don’t think my work is radically different. I try to write from the adolescent’s point of view, focusing on their angst, anxieties and emotions. My characters are real, ordinary, everyday kids you’d meet in school. I try to portray them pimples and all. Hopefully, in the end, they learn something about life and show it to us.
3. Why do I write what I do?
I am a mom and middle school teacher. I see kids going through such worry over simple daily life. Yet the years go on, they grow up and I see they’ve survived and become these amazing young people. I want to tell their stories.
4. How does my writing process work?
I begin with a story seed. I see something and it sparks an idea. I roll from there. Once a book starts to form, I make a goal to write everyday. Sometimes it’s notes on index cards or post-its. Sometimes it’s a thousand words. I usually create a notebook with sections for things like CHARACTERS, THEMES, SCENE IDEAS, SETTINGS, PLOT. I begin writing my story in a linear format, but sooner or later I am hopping back and forth between chapters, time and characters. I rewrite and delete a lot. A lot.
Currently, I am in search of an editor.
Here are three Twitter folks whose blogs I enjoy perusing for ideas and advice:
@morgenwriteruk MorgEn Bailey - https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/ lots of good advice!
@FionaQuinnBooks Fiona Quinn - http://thrillwriting.blogspot.com/ fabulous tips for thriller writers and more.
@HeatherJacksonW Heather Jackson - http://heatherjacksonwrites.com/blog/ - Lots of juicy articles here.