Friday, January 29, 2010

Quick Hello

I thought I should stop in and say hello because I've been absent from blogging the last couple of days. I've been sick, and although I'm feeling much better, I will be away from the computer all day today. I miss all of your insightful posts, and I hope to catch up over the next few days. Until then, have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Is A Good Polish Enough?

Or do you need a whole new pair of shoes? Sometimes, no matter how hard you work at it, shining your shoes isn't going to get them looking as good as you'd like. That's when it's time to throw in the towel and buy a new pair of shoes. You friendly bloggers have listened to me for the last three months about my revision woes, and for that, I am very grateful. You guys are the best. I have to admit to you today, though, that what I've been doing has turned more into rewriting than revising. How do I know the difference? Well, let's just say that I've tossed more scenes than I've kept, and I've changed just about every sentence in one way or another. I've kept the same basic story line and, aside from eliminating a couple of secondary characters, the cast has remained the same. Some, although very few, scenes have remained in tact, but other than that, it's a whole new manuscript. I knew from the start of these revisions that I would be adding at least three completely new chapters to the beginning, but until I got past that, I had no idea the amount of rewriting I would have to do to the existing chapters. When deciding if a scene should stay, I looked at a couple of things. First of all, I determined if the scene had both an internal and external turning point. If it had neither, I tossed it. If it had one but not the other, I tried to add the missing one. If I couldn't, I tried combining it with another scene. When all that failed, I tossed it. Second, I gauged how long I was spending revising the scene. If it had been an unreasonable amount of time and I still wasn't happy with it, I tossed it and started over. Sometimes, it's just time for something new. How do you determine which scenes to cut when you are revising/rewriting?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Better To Look Good Than To Feel Good

Or is it? As many of you already know, I'm only five feet tall. To add a little height, I typically wear heels. (Nothing like the one pictured here, but still, at least a small heel.) This has never been a problem. Until recently, that is. I had to work at drill team competitions the last two weekends. This meant being on my feet for way too long. About eight hours into the first competition, I realized that heels weren't such a good idea. Needless to say, I wore flats the next time around. It got me thinking about why I care how tall I am. I came to this conclusion: society prefers taller individuals. Everything is designed for people who are at least two inches taller than me. I have a hard time seeing over the hood of my car when I'm driving. I can't reach the top shelf in my kitchen cabinets, and I have to stand on a chair to clean the mirrors above our bathroom sinks. There are certain instances when wearing a heel is both functional and comfortable. However, there are also times when it's painful regardless of the purpose it serves. Now, here's the part where I relate this to writing. How important is it to conform to industry preferences when we are writing? Do we sacrifice comfort to fit in? I'd have to say that it depends. There have been things I've changed during my revisions to please the industry without causing myself too much discomfort. There are other changes, though, that have been downright excruciating. In my opinion, the most important thing is to follow your heart, to follow your passion, and to write what you are fired up about. If making changes to please the industry doesn't sacrifice that, then I say do it. So, what do you think?

Monday, January 18, 2010

I'm Hanging Up My Shoes!

If you've been around here for a while, you know that during the third week of the month, I partially unplug from blogging. By that I mean that I don't post any new shoe pictures, and my topics are somewhat random. In November and December, however, I completely unplugged and did no blogging whatsoever. I got used to that. So, I'm going to do it again this month. I plan on using this time to get caught up on critiquing, as well as my own revisions. I hope you all have a wonderful week, and I'll see you next Monday!

Friday, January 15, 2010

I've Got Nothing ...

...well, except for this empty shoe box. I've spent this past week discussing things I do to keep myself motivated during the revision process. I had a great topic for today, at least I think I did, but for the life of me, I can't remember what it was. So, I'm letting it go and admitting that I've got nothing. Now, I'm going to count on you to take up the slack for this nothing post. You tell me--what do you do to stay upbeat during revisions or any other stage of the writing process? I can't wait to hear what you all have to say. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Make A Game Of It

I've always been a big game player. I love board games, card games, dice games. You name it, and I love it. You might even catch me watching the Game Show Network from time to time. Simply said, I love a challenge. One way I survive the revision process is to think of it as a game. And since I'm a little competitive (okay, maybe a lot), I'm in it for the long haul. No way is that manuscript going to beat me. I will be victorious. This mindset could hold true for a many number of things. Pick anything challenging you like to do (games, puzzles, workouts, etc.) and think of your manuscript in that light. You will be surprised by how motivated you become to solve any problems. Do you come at your manuscript with a competitive, I'm-going-to-win attitude? Okay, then, let's go get 'em!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Keep On Moving

As most of you probably know, I've been talking about staying upbeat during the revision process. Yesterday, I talked about taking a break from your WIP and patting yourself on the back for coming as far as you have. Today, I'd like to talk about moving forward after that break. Breaks are good, but at some point, it's time to get back to work. Sometimes, this isn't an issue for me. I'm so ready to get back into my writing that it would be impossible to keep me away from it. Other times, though, I'm distracted and tend to procrastinate. Some of it has to do with things that are out of my control, like my kids being out of school for four days more than they were supposed to be for the holidays because of snow. But other distractions are within my control, like a new-found addiction to SHOWTIME on demand. In my defense, I can watch a movie with my kids home, and one of my goals for this year is to keep my writing from interfering with family. But enough with the excuses. It's time to get back to work. My point is, after we take a much needed break, we have to press forward. One of the biggest motivators for me during the revision process is to make it through a difficult spot. It gives me a new energy, a new passion, and a new desire to keep going. When you overcome a hurdle, doesn't it feel good?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Put Your Feet Up

This week, I'm talking about things I do to keep myself motivated and enthusiastic during revisions. Based on your comments from yesterday's post, I think some of you are expecting a run down of my actual revision process. I apologize in advance, though. For now, I'm just going to discuss ways to keep focused, but in the near future, I will discuss the particulars. Okay, so that being said, the first thing I do when I get frustrated is to put my feet up and take a break. During this break, I remind myself that I have completed a novel. There are millions of people out there who want to write a novel, yet they never even attempt it. I can be proud of myself that I've already accomplished as much as I have. That in itself is a huge motivator to keep trudging along. The second thing I do during this break is to read some of my earliest writing. It is then that I can see how much I have improved. This always makes me smile and encourages me to keep pressing forward. So, what about you? Does reading your older writing motivate you? And for all of you who have actually started writing, give yourself a pat on the back. You've done more than many others can say they've done.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Smiling Through It All

As I mentioned last week, one of my goals for 2010 is to finish the rewrites, revisions, and edits for my current manuscript. I've been working on this for quite some time, and I will admit that I have many moments of doubt and even more instances of pure panic. I think it's safe to say that we all love writing. Otherwise, we wouldn't be doing it, right? There is something exhilarating about getting an idea for a new story. There is something satisfying about turning the first sentence into a paragraph, the first paragraph into a chapter, and, finally, the first chapter into a novel. There is something indescribable about watching your little spark of an idea evolve into words and characters that you can lose yourself in. But, how do we keep that same enthusiasm when the real work starts? How do we stay motivated when we have to push up our sleeves and dive into the not-so-fun revision process? This is what I want to talk about this week. I'll share what I do, and I hope you will share what you do. So, what about you? Does the revision process bring you down a notch or two? If you haven't hit that stage, does it scare the living daylights out of you? I know it did me.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Balancing it All

This week, I have shared with you some of the goals I have for the coming year. They aren't lofty or unreachable. Every single one of them is within my power to achieve. I've saved the most difficult yet most important one for last. My eleven-year-old son told me one time that when I'm writing, it makes him nervous. Now that wasn't exactly something I wanted to hear. After further investigation into what he meant, I realized that what made him nervous was that he had to be quiet and careful not to disturb me. Any parent who works from home expects their children to show some respect and let them do their job. The problem is, I was working all the time. He never had a chance to be loud and obnoxious like eleven-year-olds can be. It wasn't fair for me to ask any of my children to be quiet the entire time they were home. One of my goals for 2010 is to balance family time with my writing, just like I would with any other job. I'd like to keep my writing, researching, social networking, etc. confined to the times that won't interfere with my family. In other words, I want to do these things when my kids are gone or otherwise engaged. I've decided to make this my biggest priority. I don't want to make my son nervous, now, do I? So how do you handle your writing time? Do you force silence upon your house at all hours of the day? Or do you limit your writing to when it doesn't interfere with the family? Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Friendship Is A Wonderful Thing

I've been talking this week about my goals for 2010. One of those goals is to develop and maintain strong friendships among the writing community. I've already met and gotten to know so many fantastic people through blogging, and I hope to get to know many more. Some call it social networking. Some call it marketing. And some just call it fun. I think it's all of the above, but even more. Blogging, Twitter, Facebook, My Space, etc. are all excellent communities for writers. I'm so thankful that I decided to blog last year and for all the people I've grown close to through the process. This year, I want to do more. First of all, I want to get back on top of blogging. I got a little lazy during the last couple of months in this regard and have failed to keep up with new followers and comments and all the other stuff that comes along with a blog. I apologize, and I promise to do better in the coming months. Second, I want to start another Facebook account devoted to my writing. I have a personal one, but I started it as a means to keep up with friends from high school. This new one will be started as a means to keep up with fellow writers and industry professionals. Third, I want to figure out Twitter. I opened an account. Got on there once. Couldn't figure it out. Never went back again. This year, I will take some time to learn the ins and outs and use the service to my advantage. The friendships I've made through social networking are very important to me, and I want to be sure to cultivate those friendships throughout the coming year. If you are reading this, I assume you blog. Do you Twitter? Do you Facebook? Any advice?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Footprints Lead the Way

I've always been a pantster when it comes to writing. With my completed manuscript, I only started with an image of two characters. Their story unfolded as I wrote it. With my second and third projects, I started with basic plot ideas, but within a chapter or two, those ideas turned into something else entirely. There are definite creative advantages to writing like this. None of my projects would have ended up with the story line they did if I'd had a plan. Unfortunately, there are also some major disadvantages. In the end, there is a great deal of rewriting, revising, and editing required. With my first project, because the plot didn't present itself for several chapters, my characters lacked internal motivation to act the way the new plot required them to act. Therefore, I've ended up rewriting the entire thing. The point I'm trying to get at is that, this year, I want to become a plotter, at least to a certain extent. I don't want to write by the seat of my pants. I want to make footprints that I can follow, even if they aren't set in stone. From what I can tell, the pros would far outweigh the cons. Perhaps I will find that I'm wrong, and that writing actually works better for me when I go about it without direction, but either way, I want to give it a try. That being said, one of my goals for the new year is to, at the very least, develop a basic outline before diving into my next project. I want footprints to mark crucial points in the plot and provide a vision of where I'm trying to get to. If it doesn't work for me, then so be it. I'll go back to my ways as a pantster, but I will know that I gave plotting a chance. What about you? Are you a pantster or a plotter? Have you tried both? If so, which one worked better for you.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Diving In

Since I posted a picture of winter boots yesterday, I thought I should lift our spirits today with a picture of something that will remind us that warm weather will come (eventually anyway). In my previous post, I talked about wanting to learn what it feels like to move on in 2010. The second thing I want to learn is what it feels like to dive in without looking back. I have two works in progress that have been on the back burner for several months now. I'm excited about both projects, and I look forward to diving into them when I finish the revisions on my current manuscript. The problem is, I'm not sure which one to dive into first. And to complicate matters even further, I have two additional ideas that are screaming at me to take notice. I faced this dilemma last spring, so I worked on both projects at the same time. This didn't work so well for me. I made it through about six chapters of one project, and only three of the other. This year, I want to pick one and stick with it until it is complete. I want to commit to one of them and not second guess my decision and start working on the other prematurely. In other words, I want to trust my instincts and dive in instead of testing the waters. My goal is to know what it feels like to have completed not just one novel, but two. Have you ever had too many ideas flying around in your head? If so, how did you decide in which direction to go?

Monday, January 4, 2010

I'm Through With These Shoes

When I bought boots similar to these this fall, I thought I'd never grow tired of wearing them. But Mother Nature has decided to bombard us with never ending snow, and I've been forced to wear them every day since Christmas. I'm ready to move on and put them on their rightful shelf in my closet. Last week, I shared with you some things I learned in 2009. This week, I want to talk about what I hope to learn in 2010. At the top of that list is learning what it feels like to move on. I want to find a home for my completed novel, whether that home be under by bed or on bookstore shelves. So, one goal I've set for myself for 2010 is to finish the revisions on my first novel and move on to one of my other two projects regardless of what happens with the first one. Winter is over, and it's time for a new season--time to put the boots away, and bring out the flip-flops. (Unfortunately, according to the local weather men, this won't be happening any time soon.) Out of curiosity, what happened with your first novel? When did you know it was time to move on? If you aren't to that point yet, what would make you ready to move on?