On Fear, and Writing for Fun

Bit of a mini-post today.  I just got back from Scotland last week, and I’m leaving the country again tomorrow!  So I’m a bit short on time.  But here’s something that’s been on my mind for a while.

Sometimes, I approach writing with fear or trepidation or pressure or worry or just general negativity.  I found this video (see below) a while ago, and I felt it related really well to being a novelist.  So often, I sit down to write with a voice in my brain going you have to publish story this someday.  You MUST be ‘good enough’ and you MUST write well.  Come on, you’ve been a writer for three years now.  Do better.  Get your act together.  If you’re not good enough, it’s just a whole waste of time.

I found an answer to this problem in a video by Tessa Violet.  She’s a phenomenal YouTuber and singer as well.  In this video, she talks about songwriting, which is super cool – and I think it compares well to novel-writing.  She says this wonderful phrase about two minutes into the video:

“A great way to never write anything is to enter into creativity with fear.”

 

You don’t have to watch the video if you don’t want to.  But she makes an excellent point: fear is the opposite of creativity.

So how do we stop this?  For me, it’s reminding myself that writing is play.  It’s fun.  I have to remind myself that (for now), it’s my HOBBY.  It means taking the pressure off myself to be perfect.  It means reminding myself of the things I like about writing.

It means letting myself enjoy the process, instead of being so very focused on the end result.  It means writing for me, and only me.  For MY enjoyment.  If I share my work later, that’s great!  If I get published later, woohoo!  But my rough draft is only for my eyes, and for my enjoyment.  (Not that every day of writing will be fun, or that it’s all sunshine and butterflies.  But since I’m currently not getting paid to write, literally the only reason I write is because I enjoy it.)

So.  If you’re finding it hard to write right now, maybe take the pressure off for a bit.  Write for the sheer fun of it.  Let your creativity flow, and give yourself permission to have a good time.  You never know what might happen, and you might be surprised by how good your writing is.

P.S. If you’re interested in more YouTube videos about writing and art, I recommend these: John Green, Cheyenne, Wyoming.  Nathan Zed, You’re Not Good Enough.

A Little Thing I Wrote

Some days, the words just won’t be written.  The novel is hiding in a far-off land, the plot is taking the day off.  On those days, you take the elevator to the top floor of your school’s library, let go of your expectations, and simply write for fun.  Sometimes, writer’s blocks need to be written around.  Sometimes you need to remind yourself how to connect your brain to your fingers to the keyboard.  Sometimes you need to remind your fingertips how to sing their melody as they tap the rhythm of a story.

Somedays, you don’t get any noveling done, but you fall a little more in love with the power of writing.  Somedays, that’s all you need.

I’d love to now share with you a little thing I wrote: Libraries and Dragons.  It’s not really a short story – more like an essay in an imaginary world.  It hasn’t really been edited; it’s not going to win any awards.  But I love it anyways, and this little tiny piece reminded me that writing is a sort of magic that I adore.  So.  Enjoy.

One last note: the first paragraph is a note to myself.  But it’s kinda a part of the piece, so I left it there.

Alright, brain.  You’ve had your coffee, now write your words.  Forget the product, the answer, the perfection.  Write the words.  The words are the only thing you care about.  The words, the words, the words.

All libraries are living things.  Picture them dragons, if you will.  They’re not dragons – no, they’re nowhere near as polite as dragons – but picture them dragons for a minute.  They’re really quite similar if you think about it.

The largest of the dragons are the Nightmares, ancient things, all black scales and blazing eyes, huge leathery wings that haven’t tasted night air in centuries but would blanket the world in darkness if they were opened.  These dragons are like the Great Old Libraries.  The libraries that now only exist in faraway lands and are in danger of disappearing entirely.  Most people only see pictures of them on Pinterest.  But a picture can’t capture the smell of thousands of souls, aging away together for centuries until their stories are all intertwined.

The next in size are your Sea Dragons – not really dragons, per say.  (Although never try telling a Sea Serpent that she’s not a real dragon; it will be the last thing you say.)  These represent your – uh – electronic libraries.  Provided for you by deities such as the great River-God Amazon.  Do they count as real libraries?  Can a book still be a book if it’s pixels instead of paper?  Can a dragon still be a dragon if she doesn’t breathe fire?

The next largest in size are the Green Giants.  It’s said that they like to impersonate hills, curling up for years on end, covering themselves in dirt blankets, letting green grass feel at home on top of their already emerald scales.  These are the noble dragons, quick to come to the aid of needy kingdoms, quicker still to deliver justice to those who betray their trust.  These are like College Libraries.  They come in many shapes and sizes, but most are light-filled and shiny, always being renovated and repaired, full of bustling students and sleepy sunshine.  If you’re not careful with them, they’ll suck you away and you’ll never be seen again.

Then you’ve your Common Dragons – your Public Libraries.  They come in all shapes, sizes, textures, and colors, each full of their own magic.  First there’s the fast-growing White Dragon, which is full size in six months, and eats only vegetation.  These are the shiny new public libraries, such as you’ll find in any suburbia: spacious and brimming, with smiling librarians and fast wi-fi.  Second, you have the Blue Gypsies – these smaller dragons are known for speaking in verse and giving directions (usually in rhyming couplets) to those who have lost their way.  These are represented by those quaint, compact little libraries you’ll find in small towns. Candles of light and knowledge for the weary traveler come home.

Finally, we come to the Hound Dragons, named for their small size and dog-like trainability.  These are the most popular species to keep as pets, as they are quite happy to nest indoors, and also will follow humans with unwavering devotion if they are treated fairly.  The males are deep purple and the females are scarlet, and they have clever faces, bright eyes, and nimble talons.  Their smaller wings are only practical for short-distance flying, and they prefer climbing, hoping, and bounding with short bursts of flight, unmistakably like large grasshoppers.  These dragons are like Home Libraries.  Some are quite small, some are more impressive; some are old, and some are filled with crisp new spines.  Like the Hound Dragons, home libraries tend to reflect the nature of their owners, and one can learn a great deal about what sort of house one is in simply by examining either the dragon or the library.  If a house is missing one or both, it is recommended that you exit the premises as soon as possible, as the home may be prone to Nargle infestation.

There you have it: hopefully this discussion will help you in the future, either when dealing with the winged beasts or the book-filled creatures.

Write Whatever

I’ve had a lot of trouble writing my current WIP.  I feel like I’ve been working on it forever, but I don’t know where the plot is going.  I don’t know how to write a contemporary, I don’t know what the stakes are, and I just feel burned-out when I try to work on it.  I’ve just felt blehhhh every time I sat down to write.  I’d open the world document and just stare at the screen, unable to lift a finger.

So.  That’s fine.  Sometimes, stories do that to us.  Sometimes, they are just persnickety and don’t want to be written.

The important, thing however, is to not stop writing.  If one story isn’t working, and you’ve taken some time off to read and think, and you come back to it, and it’s still not working, (and you’ve repeated this ad nauseum) then it’s time to write something else.

Write something different for a while.  Have another novel you’re writing?  Work on that.  Have something you should be editing?  Work on that.  Want to play around with poetry?  Do it!  Have a song you want to write?  Write it!  It doesn’t matter.  Write short stories, write blog posts, write poetry – heck, if you want to, even write fanfiction.  Do whatever it takes to get your creative-gears moving again.

Sometimes when I hit a wall in a project, my instinct is to just sit and stare at the wall.  And complain about the wall.  And study the wall.  And write blog posts about the wall.  But maybe what I need to be doing instead is writing a different project for a while.

Does that mean I’m totally abandoning this project that I’ve spent so much time working on?  Probably not.  But I’m just not going anywhere with it right now.  So let’s go somewhere else instead.

Which leads me to my other point for today: write what excites you.  I write to escape, to go to a world that I love, to meet people that only exist in my head.  I write for fun, for adventure.  And the novel I was trying to write doesn’t have any adventures.

So, I’m writing other stuff.  I’ve written some really fun fanfiction.  I’ve written some short blurbs and beginnings of stories.  And now I’m working on re-writing/ finishing/ installing a plot into an old novel that I adore and want to breathe life into.  And for the first time in many weeks, I’m excited about writing.  I’m excited to be returning to this other story, to this other world.  It’s a bit daunting, but it’s also the most fun I’ve had with a WIP in a long time.

Let your imagination run wild.  Write whatever the heck you want to.  Adventure awaits.

adventure is out there!

 

Always Learning

Hello my dear lovely writers,

I’ve just got a couple thoughts for you today.  It’s some things that I’m learning as a writer, and hopefully some things that I can share with you.  Sometimes I think of myself as a Great Master Writer, someone who has learned All The Things.

But when I hush that pride and open my mind to learning again, I am always rewarded.

So, here are some things that I’ve been learning recently:

1) Write for FUN.

I started writing because I enjoyed it.  I started writing because it felt like reading, it felt like an escape.  It was a place to let my imagination run wild, to play in my own world.

Somewhere along the way, sometimes, I forgot why I write.  I think it’s so important – especially as an unpublished author – to write for myself first.  If I’m not having fun writing, it’s not worth it.  (Not to say that every day of writing is fun – some writing days are hard and awful.  But the overall process of writing should be fun.)

Write about things you like.  I’m writing about a bookstore right now and it’s literally my favorite thing ever.  My characters are bookish characters, and they’re so cool to get to know.

2) Write Everywhere.

Sooooo, I’ve started writing in class.  Shhh, don’t tell my mom.  I have two classes this semester that are “I-don’t-need-to-pay-attention” classes.  You know the ones where you’ve already read the textbook, and the professor talks SO SLOWLY, and you’re counting the minutes as they drag by?  Turns out those classes are a perfect place to write.

My Chemistry notebook is now full of story snippets.  I’ll start a scene during class and I’ll come back to my laptop and dorm and type it up and expand it.  It’s so much easier to start a scene ahead of time and have something ready to type when you sit down at the laptop.

3) Prioritize.

I only have a certain number of hours in a day.  If I spend them all on Facebook and Netflix, I’m not going to have any time left to write.  Sometimes I just have to be stubborn with myself and make myself take the first step of sitting down to type.  Then the words start flowing from my fingertips like magic, and I’m so glad I forced myself to do it.

Leave a comment and let me know what you’ve been learning lately.  It always warms my heart to be reminded that I’m not the only writer in the universe.

Sometimes

Today’s post is gonna be a bit stream-of-consciousness.  I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

Sometimes, as a writer, you reach a moment when you go, “This story that I’ve spent three years on?  Maybe I don’t want to publish it.  Not because it’s bad, but because I can do  so much better.”  And that realization might feel like a knife in your heart.  It might cripple you for a while.  And that’s okay.

Sometimes, you need to rest and grieve and read read read so many books.  The reading is the fuel for the writing.  Never forget that.

Sometimes, then, you have another story in your brain that wants to be written, AND YOU FEEL THAT BUZZ IN YOUR CHEST OF IT SAYING, “WRITE ME,” so you sit down to write, and you start typing, and-

-and it turns out to be horrible.  It’s not the story you want to tell.  So you say, “Nope to that,” and move on.  And next time you get that dinging in your brain of “hey, go write!” you sit down, and you type, and YOU STILL WRITE THE WRONG STORY.

Sometimes, you have to write the wrong story before you can write the right one.  Sometimes you have to go through 4 or 5 different “wrong” versions before you finally find the right way into your story.  And it’s so discouraging to try and try to write the story that’s looming before you, but it just. keeps. going. the. wrong. way.

But then, when the moons are aligned and the writing gods are kind, you try once more and suddenly, click.  You’ve found your way into your story.

Sometimes, being a writer is really, really hard.  It’s like walking around in iron boots all day, because why can’t my story just GO THE WAY I WANT IT TO?

But those days aren’t endless.  And sometimes, sometimes, writing is the most rewarding thing in the universe.  When you find your way into your story, it is the best feeling.

“Sometimes, writing is running downhill, your fingers jerking behind you on the keyboard the way your legs do when they can’t quite keep up with gravity.”  -Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl

I am a writer for the days when the words come on their own.  When it feels like I am discovering a story instead of creating it.  When my fingers fly on the keyboard, trying to keep up with my brain.  When I write 1,500 words without breaking a sweat, and feel like a weight just dropped off my shoulders.  I write for the feeling of being lost in a world that belongs to me, for the glorious rhythm of letters and words and sentences being punched out by my fingers.

So I’ll push through the rough days, because they give way to the good ones.

Truth and Lies

I’ve been struggling with writing lately.  Am I really cut out for this?  Should I just give up and do something else with my life?  Is this all just a waste of my time?

There’s a lot of voices in my head. (That’s why I’m a writer, right?)  Today’s post is to put them into writing, and then set them straight.  Time to sort out the truth from the lies.

Lie: My writing is no good.

Truth: Some of my writing is bad, but most of my writing is decent and has potential.  And some of my writing is actually really, really good.

Lie: My work isn’t good enough to get published.

Truth: Even if my current WIP doesn’t have publishing potential, that doesn’t mean that I can’t get published.  Hard work and perseverance pay off.

Lie: If my First Finished Novel isn’t good enough to publish, then it’s been a waste of time.

Truth: If that WIP never gets published, it still has taught me so much about writing (and publishing).  It was still an amazing project and I am so grateful for its impact on my life.

Lie: Writing isn’t fun anymore.

Truth: Writing really is fun.  Not-writing-but-thinking-about-writing is awful.  Also, sometimes working for too long on one project makes it dull and boring, but writing itself is something I really enjoy.

Lie: If I don’t have good plot ideas, I can’t write.

Truth: Most of my plot ideas come to me as I write.  The act of writing generates ideas, and the more I write, the more I’ll be able to.

Lie: Sitting down to write is a waste of time.

Truth: Sometimes, I don’t get anything done when I sit down to write.  But most of the time, if I start writing, the Muses will meet me at my laptop.  Sometimes they don’t, but the more I pursue them, the more likely they are to show up.

Lie: I have to wait for inspiration to be able to write.

Truth: Writing produces inspiration.  Writing is hard, but it’s worth it.  Put in the hard work, and it pays off.

Don’t listen to the lies your brain wants to tell you.  When it lies to you, just say “that’s enough of that.”  Get on with your writing and make 2017 a good writing year.

thats-enough-of-that

Moving Forward

How about a NaNo Wordcount update?

nano-wordcount

So.  I’m, uh, quite a bit behind.  I’ve written over 13,000 words, which is still amazing.  And I’m so proud of what I’ve written.  I have fun new characters, a plot that I’m really liking, and I’ve been having a lot of fun.  I feel like what I’m writing has the potential to become an actual story someday, which is what I was going for.

I’m not beating myself up for being behind.  I had a 10-page paper due this morning, and college life is just busy.  And that’s okay.  But also, like, I’m definitely blaming the election for knocking me off track.  Literally I was doing great until November 8th.  Ahahaha oh well.

nano-wordcount-election

So I did some more writing today.  But I also spent several hours online, creating a map for my fictional world.  It was something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time, and today I finally found software that would do what I wanted.  Here was my end result:

map-1

I’m super happy with how it turned out.  It’s not quite put-in-the-front-of-the-book quality, but it looks amazing and it will work perfectly for my purposes.  (Basically, I needed to plot out where things were in my world so that I could accurately write about scenery/ direction of travel/ travel time from one location to another.)  The world isn’t necessarily finished, but I can always go back and edit more later.

The website I used was http://inkarnate.com/ and I highly recommend it.  It’s currently in Beta testing, but it works really smoothly, and it’s free.  You can save your maps online to return to later, and you can download them as Jpeg images.

Back to NaNo.  I will probably not end up writing 50,000 words this month.  But that’s completely okay.  I am doing other things that I need to do, like homework assignments, and creating maps, and re-reading The Sound of Color.  NaNoWriMo simply served as the jump-start I needed to get my creative cogs spinning again.

And let’s be honest.  Ideally, someday, I will be a published author.  Ideally, someday, I will be able to quit my day job and sit at home all day long spinning stories and sipping coffee.  And at that point, 50,000 words in a month (or something equivalent) is a reasonable amount of work.  (Or the editing/ whatever equivalent to that pace).  But I’m not there right now.  Right now, I’m a full-time student.  And I will probably have a full-time job for a while before I ever get to be a full-time writer.  And that’s okay.  So while last year’s NaNo was about proving to myself that I could do this crazy thing – achieve this lofty and improbably goal – this year’s NaNo is about starting again.  Picking up the creative threads that I had largely abandoned for a while.  And you know what?  It feels really good.