Return from Temporary Hibernation

I went into hibernation over the last couple of days. I had to…I was nearly 10,000 words behind on the CampNaNo challenge. It is important to me that I win CampNaNo, especially this being my first year participating. What is most important, though, is that I get my manuscript completed. CampNaNo is just the challenge I need to get this book written.

Over the last few days I have been writing. Not so much during the week — just bits and pieces. There’s something about a writer when they prepare to write: life seems to get in the way. Everything that life could throw at me came hurling past me. Anything that would distract me or cause me to procrastinate became a roadblock in my path to 15,003 words — the total word count needed by yesterday in order to be on track.

I am happy to announce, however, that I met and surpassed yesterday’s word count total goal! 1,667 multiplied 9 times gives you 15,003 (yesterday was the 9th day of the month). The CampNaNo Word Validator has validated my total word count at 15,677!!! That’s 674 words more then needed to reach yesterday’s goal, leaving me with only 993 words to complete today and stay on target to reach 50,000 words by the last day of June! Best yet, I really feel good about my manuscript. I am not taking these 30 days to dump garbage onto the page just to say I won CampNaNo. I am putting the time and effort that any serious writer would put into a first draft. It is coming along nicely, if I may say so myself…

I have found that once I put butt in chair and get to writing, the words have come flowing easily. There’s no writer’s block, nor do I find myself struggling to get a paragraph down. This is the first draft and therefore I don’t expect it to be perfect. My method for moving through the pages:

  1. Write without editing. I know you’ve heard this before.
  2. Each day when I prepare to write, I re-read the previous day’s writing for content only. This will get the creativity flowing in my mind so I can continue where I left off. I do not re-read the entire manuscript. That will have me wanting to edit and it is not time for editing yet.
  3. I keep writing nonstop and try not to pay attention to my word count. I don’t want to create a habit of only writing until I reach the day’s word count goal. So I ignore my word count and just write until I am ready to stop. It is then that I verify my count — if I have enough words I stop, if not I plug along some more so that I can keep up with the daily word count. EXAMPLE: I was using Microsoft Word yesterday when I was writing. It keeps a running word count total for you at the bottom of the screen. I knew exactly when I reached the 15,003 words needed but I hadn’t completed writing out my thoughts when I hit my target. So I kept writing until that thought was completely written out. I ended up with an extra 674 words by continuing to the end of the thought…
  4. I also print my manuscript when I go to read it. This serves two purposes for me: a) it takes stress off of my eyes from reading a computer screen for too many back-to-back hours, and 2) it gives me a “legacy” of the writing that went into that particular manuscript. The manuscript is printed on hole-punched paper, and then is added to a notebook with the prior’s day printout. When the manuscript has been completed, I will have a keepsake so to speak of the various iterations the manuscript went through over the course of time to “The End.”

It may be a little hokey to retain the various drafts of the manuscript along the way, but I am a keepsake kind of person. I have an avid scrapbooking/paper crafting hobby complete with a scrapbook shop for folks to come hang out and create with me. If you know anything about scrapbookers, you know that they don’t let one iota of “scrap” paper pass through their hands without salvaging it for one project or another. To toss my printed manuscript would be to toss an unimaginable amount of scrap paper and I couldn’t have that now could I? I foresee myself turning my manuscript draft pages into beautiful art journals commemorating their journey to publication. That would be a wonderful way to honor the draft pages while retaining a beautiful keepsake that is not only the original manuscript, but also a beautiful piece of art.

I am excited now to complete my manuscript! Now I’ve got a wonderful new idea to further the publishing experience for myself and make it a beautiful and lasting memory. I will share the transformation of the draft pages into a beautiful art journal once I get to that stage. For now, I need to concentrate on getting at least 1,667 words down on the page each day. Light duty on this Sunday thanks to yesterday’s marathon writing session…

Time to share…
What do you do with your printed manuscript pages? Do you retain them for posterity once the manuscript has been completed? Do you toss them in order to prevent clutter or for other reasons? Will you now create beautiful masterpieces with them now that I’ve thrown that idea out into the world? Share with us what you have done or what you are planning on doing with your printed draft pages.

Your Writing Life and the iPad

DISCLAIMER: I am a technology junkie. I have worked in the information technology field for over 20 years. As such, gadgets get my adrenaline up. I am forewarning all who read this blog post that I may get a little geeky on you…

I purchased my iPad 2 on the Monday before the New iPad was released (Friday of the same week). The retina display et al that the New iPad boasts was not enough of a draw for me to spend the extra $100+ dollars, nor was I waiting in mad mob lines trying to get my hands on one of the New iPads on release day. I have since put my iPad 2 next to a New iPad and looked at the display. There is a clear difference between the displays; however, still not enough for me to have spent that extra money. If you are into doing lots with photos, streaming videos, and creating/editing both then yes, the New iPad would be marvelous. But I’m a writer…

Since I have purchased my iPad, I have been on a hunt for a productivity app that would allow me to type my manuscripts onto my iPad, save them, and access them later from other devices (iPhone, laptop/desktop PC, android tablet, etc.). I happened upon Storyist in one of my searches, purchased the program and use it religiously on my iPad. However, with me writing multiple manuscripts at the same time (the muse won’t let me focus on just one…) it was getting cumbersome to use the iPad, save to Dropbox, download from Dropbox on my PC, convert the file to a useable PC format (for Word), and then be able to start writing. I have enough procrastination techniques already…don’t need another one!

This morning, I was determined to find a tool that I could use on my iPad that I carry everywhere and enable me to write at the drop of a dime without all the uploading/downloading/converting hassle. So I did a Google search. Lo and behold I found OnLive Desktop! Can I tell you how excited I was to find this?! This is a FREE app for the iPad that allows you to access a Microsoft Office desktop which has Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Adobe Reader X at your disposal. Your account also comes with 2 GB of storage in the cloud. They have paid options as well; however, my needs were met with access to Microsoft Word and 2 gigs of storage space!

Now, I am not putting this out there as a “complaint” against Storyist. I love that app as well. However, being a PC-shop at home and the only Apple devices I own are my iPhone and iPad, it was just too cumbersome to use Storyist. If you have a MAC at home, you can get Storyist for the MAC as well and that would resolve all the issues that I was facing going between an Apple device and Windows.

I haven’t even had the opportunity to do anything more on my iPad then launch the app once I installed it and launch Word. I was in heaven! Haven’t typed one word yet… Therefore, the jury is still out regarding the stability of the app and whether it crashes and/or you lose data. I will definitely update my review on this find once I am able to get working with it. In the meantime, however, if you are like me and were struggling with compatibility issues between mobile working and working from home, then this might be the app for you.

Check it out and let me know your thoughts. I would love to hear about this service or any other apps or services others may have found that you are using in your writing life which are working for you.

Keep writing!

Writing Through the Pain

I “win” at writing — I write to inspire and nurture… My writing aims to empower and uplift. Some people may classify some of my works as “self help.” Most of my writing is drawn from personal experience, and thus puts it in the classification of memoir.

Writing memoir is hard. Hard because it means you will be dredging up memories. Memories that are sometimes difficult to re-live. I am currently working on a two-book memoir which deals with infidelity. The writing is bringing up some heart wrenching, traumatic, and painful memories for me. How do you continue writing through this pain?

It is difficult. My subject is a very sensitive one. Writing reminds me of my experiences with this subject and the pain and destruction it causes. As a writer, it is already quite difficult to get the words on to the page. Fighting with your inner critic, fighting the urge to edit as you write rather than “get it down, then get it right” as Don Fry would instruct, distractions of home/work/life, writer’s block — the list of road blocks is monumental. Add to that writing from the heart on a topic that brings back painful memories and you have one great recipe for not making it to the printing press…

How then does one avoid the pitfalls and continue writing — to completion — a memoir with harsh memories?

The answers are many. As many as there are writers of memoir. Each writer handles things differently with one common thread — writing. They continue to write through the pain. They push forward and get the pain out of their minds and hearts and onto the page. But for me, this doesn’t always work…especially with my chosen topic. Sometimes the pain is too great to write through and one must take a break. So how do you prevent the necessary emotional breaks from stalling the writing process?

Write about something different…

Rather than take a mindless break that would have most writers lost for hours surfing the Internet or doing laundry (procrastination techniques 101), take a writing break:

  • Write and schedule your blog post for the next several days or weeks.
  • Edit your NaNoWriMo from 2011.
  • Try your hand at romance novel writing.
  • Start your first mystery trilogy.
  • Just don’t stop writing…

Change what you are writing about. I took on the ScriptFrenzy challenge for the first time this year. Failed miserably! But having another thing to write gave me something I could escape to while continuing to write… I was able to take a break from the pain of recalling the memories yet I kept writing. For me, this makes it an easier transition back to the hard task at hand. If I took a break by not writing anything, it would be much harder for me to pick the pen up again and get going. It is hard enough putting “butt in chair” and starting in the first place. To stop writing, especially when writing something emotionally difficult, would hurt far more than it would help.

My advice — keep writing. Write through the pain in the manuscript if you can. If the pain of writing is jetting you toward putting down your pen and doing laundry, switch gears and brush up on your screenwriting. Or start your first paranormal romance. Take a stab at fiction writing if you consider yourself a nonfiction writer. Whatever you do —

Keep writing…

Time to share…
How do you make it through writing about difficult subjects, ones that cause you emotional distress and/or hurt? What advice can you give to other writers who run up against this same issue?

Productivity…

It was a great weekend, although far too short as always. Relaxing. Spent quality time with the family. Got some yard work done, including some mulching. Even did some housework — the bane of my existence…

What I did not do was produce. At least not in the writing sense… I wrote my minimum 750 words daily on the http://www.750words.com site. This is a site that allows you to create a private “diary” type writing space. Gives you a blank page with word count to start, and keep, writing for as long as you desire but encourages you to write at least 750 words a day. I even took them up on their May’s writing challenge to write every day during the month of May. So far, so good…

Much past those 750 words (well, 784 to be exact…), I did no writing. Why? Because I purchased a new “for Dummies” book on Friday and couldn’t put it down. It’s the Canon EOS 60D for Dummies book and it’s a godsend. I have had my Canon EOS 60D for over a year now and have never taken it off of full automatic mode. Yep…I bought that high quality and expensive camera and basically have been using it as a point-and-shoot for a year. Tisk, tisk, tisk! Now that the weather’s warm, I am bound and determined to take my camera off of auto and get the full benefit of the 60D by going manual.

So… I spent my whole weekend reading. Reading the Canon EOS 60D for Dummies book and playing with my camera. I have read 68% of the book as of this morning… I will report, however, that I am on full manual mode as of this writing and loving the creative freedom! I managed to take some excellent shots of the boys playing darts in the backyard and running around with Ebonie, my puppy. I even pulled off the Continuous Shot setting and got a burst of consecutive shots of them running with the dog. Awesome! My next feat is a timed shot…

This week, we’re supposed to be discussing self publishing. I just want to play with my camera LOL! Look for an article later today on our week’s topic. I promise to stop playing with my camera long enough to finish the research and get the post written. Until later today…

Fighting the Urge

Writers are unique creatures in my opinion. They have a passion for words and ideas and they are able to get those words and ideas down and on paper while constantly being mind-whipped with the influx of new ideas. As one author puts it — “we’re always chasing mental rabbits.” My question, then, is how do you fight the urge to chase the rabbit that just ran past your pen as you are working on one manuscript? What stops you from switching gears mid-write and chasing down that path after the new rabbit?

These are questions I’m grappling with myself. I currently have 3 or 4 WIPs (works in progress) and the more I write and work on any of those manuscripts, the more bunnies keep running past my typing fingertips trying to distract me and take me down a different path. This is what causes me writer’s block — too many ideas jamming up my writing flow… It is very rare that I have the opposite problem — needing to write and having no words come to mind.

What I have done thus far is first and foremost try to ignore those bunnies. I know that it’s just the EIW (Evil Inner Witch) trying to steal my precious writing minutes from me. If that doesn’t work and the bunnies just keep hounding me, then I take a moment to pause and jot down the idea. I have a file in Storyist (I’m an iPad + Storyist writer…) that is for General Ideas. I’ll open that file and jot down some brief bullet points — a quick brain dump of the ideas that are in the way of my focusing fully on the manuscript at hand. It’s really helped me a lot. It allows the idea to be “born” because it won’t stop pushing until I get it out, and it allows me to get right back to the manuscript I was working on without much delay.

Time to share…
What do you do to stop yourself from chasing all of the rabbits?