Hitting the Sweet Spot in Writing

I can be a serious weirdo sometimes, you know that? For reals, peeps, there are times when I can be Mr. Nutjob. Take, for example, when I’m writing. Sometimes when I’m on a roll with some passage or piece of writing I have a tendency to get a little spooked with the prospect of stopping. It’s like I’m afraid I’ll jinx the process–as if there’s some kind of writerly magic going down that I’m going to throw a wrench into, you know?

Perfect example: writing. When I get on one–I mean really get trucking on a good bout of storytelling–I’m always worried about breaking whatever habit I’m in at the moment that is producing that great stuff. I will get totally wacked with it too, hitting the same coffee shop at the exact same time and ordering whatever I had the last time I was on a roll. And if someone is in my chair–and by “my chair” I just mean the one I was sitting in yesterday when I hit the word count lotto–they better look out because I’m about to toss a whole box of stink eye across the room at them. Things are about to get loco up in this piece! Anything goes when I’m trying to keep writing like a boss.

So what about you? Do you get all schizo when it comes to your “special place” or are you the type who can plop your cakes in a chair and tap out some genius no matter where you are?


Embarrass Your Way Into Better Writing

You know when you do something wicked stupid and you wish there was a way to wave a wand and obliviate the memory from everyone who saw it? For some people it might just be one dumb thing, you know? For instance, after sucking back one too many wine coolers, one of my high school friends decided a strip-tease rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” was what a party needed.

Okay, that didn’t happen. But you’re tracking on what I mean, right?

While everybody has a natural tendency to push these sorts of memories into the never-see-daylight parts of their brains, there are the silly fools like me who capitalize on those moments of crippling shame (as evidenced here). See, I’m of the mind that experience with shame and embarrassment are just as vital to creating genuine characters as experience with love and happiness. When I write about a character getting smashed by a bully, I draw from my own feelings with the same thing–being the smashee, not the smasher–and throw them onto the page like I just went through it. That’s the only way I can roll, otherwise I end up with a manuscript full phonies.

How do you feel about this? Do you dump your feelings onto the page or are you the type to hold back?

Why Daily Word Count Goals Sucked For Me

I don’t know about you, but I’m the sort of dude who can’t shake an idea once it worms its way into my brain. Take last year for instance, when I had the totally insane idea of going back into the Army. I’d hit the Twinkies a little too hard after getting discharged and had packed on some chubbiness as a result (in Army-Speak they call it being a “fat body”). Those pounds meant I was way outside weight standards so I needed to get back into fighting trim if I wanted to re-enlist. So, I made a decision to burn the fatness and set out to do the deal.

Zip forward about five months from that point–I’d lost seventy pounds, was hitting the gym seven days a week, and could run eight miles in about an hour and fifteen minutes. Not too shabby, right?

When I decided to write a book in September of 2011 I took to it the same way I did with losing weight. I set down a jam plan to plot for a month, write for three, and have the thing done by January 1, 2012. I broke out the TI-83 (my super awesome calculator) and figured out that I’d need to tap out about 1,100 words every day to hit my 100,000 word goal. Totally doable, right? You know it. I figured it was going to be easy as lying in Confession.

Well, a couple things happened as a result of my plan. I got the writing done–way to go, me!–but most of it sucked worse than an episode of Ghost Whisperer. See, I had worried so much about my word count tally that I stopped focusing on the quality of what I was putting on the page and just focused on the number of words. I kept telling myself, “Get the thing written and worry about the rest of it later,” but that was so totally stupid. By the time I finished I had a giant manuscript with a crappy plot and more things wrong than I knew how to fix. But can you bet your sweet cakes that thing was done on time. Oh, yeah. I meet my deadlines.

My experience with the first draft showed me that writing a book is something I need to take my time with. That’s not to say I don’t work on it everyday, because I definitely do. But I try to work to time nowadays rather than word count. Setting a goal for how many hours I’m going to work is the method I’m digging right now, and it seems to be working. My pace is slower, but I feel like what I’m putting down is better.

What’s your method? Do you slam out the story as quick as you can and sort the mess later? Or are you the plodder, writing the way my grandpa used to eat a slice of denture-unfriendly pie?

It’s Comic Book Convention Time!

Dood, I’m in the middle of a total nerdgasm because in less than one week I’m going to the Emerald City Comicon. Let me explain how ridiculously awesome this is going to be, okay?

Firefly veterans Adam Baldwin and Summer Glau are going to be there, along with Jon Bernthal and Laurie Holden from The Walking Dead. And if that wasn’t enough, James and Oliver Phelps (the Weasley twins), and Edward James Olmos (Commander Adama from BSG) are going to be up in that shiznit too!

At this point you might be thinking, “WTF does this have to do with writing?” Well, Doubtful Reader, let me drop some super sweet knowledge for your brain meats. There are going to be a whole bunch of panels with comic book creators and writers on how they do things. The panel I’m most looking forward to is called “Building Your Fortress of Solitude: Creative Habits in the Face of Isolation” which is all about how professional creative folk have hammered out their own style of getting things done. Are you with me on how awesome that is? I hope so.

My excitement level can be expressed through the following mathematical equation:

excitement = AWESOME x ∞

I don’t even think that equation makes sense, but whatever. I think you get that things are going to be epic.

Even though I’m soooo looking forward to seeing all the big stars from shows and movies that I’m into, I’m especially stoked for that panel. Hearing how other creative people have been successful in their work is a seriously dope way to steal their ideas and incorporate it into my own master plans (MUAHAHA!). I’m going to be in the front row with a pen, paper, audio recorder, and maybe a digital camera to catch every word coming out of their mouths.

Have any of you been to any kind of convention before? If so, which one? I was thinking about hitting Norwescon–a Northwest sci-fi and fantasy convention–this year but decided Comicon and Sakura-con–a Northwest anime convention–would offer more fanboy/cosplay shenanigans.

Last, I want to do my usual “THANKS!” to some new followers. Thank you, Meagan Mac and Yu. Meagan’s blog nails it with some dope book reviews and insights into writing, while Yu’s blog is packed with pictures of Japanese cosplay. Check them out!

Blog Tours: Shouting Your Name From Mount Internets

I’m like a lot of writers in that I alternate between confidence in my writing and total horror at how much I blow. The low points are a total bummer–“I honestly think my writing might cause more pain than polio.”–while the high points, like when I actually get something published, are the sweetest of sweet.

I’ve been on sort of a high point lately, plowing through good chunks of my book and getting some positive feedback from all of you wonderful people in the blogosphere. During times like this I tend to fantasize about publishing and all the amazing things I’ll get to do once someone buys my book. So it’s in the spirit of this high time that I want to show you writer folk a pretty cool blog post from Marie Lamba, a writer of YA awesomeness.

The post is all about doing a blog tour–a way to get your words onto more of the internets through guest blogging and the like. Before reading this post I didn’t have a clue what a blog tour was, but Marie breaks it down like amylase breaking down starch (Yes, that was a nerdy science joke. Don’t judge me.). What’s really cool is that the instructions are based on her own experience making the thing happen, and not just something she thinks might work. Very cool.

So that’s it for tonight. I want to say, “YOU RULE!” to Kelsey for following my bloggity blog. She’s got a bunch of sweet reviews of books and pics from libraries and bookstores all over the world so you should def check her out. That’s right, go on over yonder and give that link the clickeroo.

I Am Hungry For Some Games!

Okay people, don’t get jelly on me, but I am going to the midnight showing of the Hunger Games tonight. That’s right, dude! I’m so super stoked that I could punch President Snow right in the face. Me, the wifey, and two of our friends bought our tickets last week. I guess you could say we didn’t like the odds of trying to get tickets on the night of the premier (AMIRITE?).

There’s one other slice of Hunger Games awesomeness I want to share with you guys. I know that soundtracks can be a little, “Meh” sometimes, but the Hunger Games soundtrack has got a track from Neko Case on it. Some of you probably don’t know who Neko is–being from Tacoma doesn’t do much for putting a body on the map–but trust me when I say she has some serious talent. Here’s a link to her last.fm page where you can peep a few of her songs. I recommend the song Deep Red Bells as a starter.

Now that I’ve worked all the fanboy shenanigans out of my system I want to tap out a few words about writing. For the past few days my writing has been on some next level suckiness, but I finally started pulling out of the funk yesterday after working through a few writing prompts. I’m not usually too pumped on writing prompts as a way to generate actual stories, but they’re definitely useful when it comes to juicing my brain grapes. I used one of the prompts to write a scene starring my book’s protagonist (not something I’m going to include in the draft, but still pretty fun to write) and then kicked down almost 1,000 words of chapter eight. It felt good, dude. Real good.

Lastly, I want to say “THANK YOU!” to Young Adult Book Madness, Ellie Mack at Quotidian Dose, Stef A at StefaWrites, and Thelma C. Cunningham for following my bloggity blog. I am stoked as all get-out that they decided to follow this old e-rag.

Do any of you have a way to get over writer’s block? A nice cup of tea, maybe? How about a large brandy?


Author Videos: Motivation for Those Slow Times

Hey there, folks. I was out poking around the internets tonight and I found this sweet video of Beth Revis talking about Across the Universe. I’ve been hitting a bit of a slow patch with my book so it’s good to hear a writer with a positive message. I was trying to dig up something about A Million Suns but there wasn’t a dang thang out there. Check it out, peeps. It’s sweet. Also, I want to say thanks to Robotic Rhetoric for following my blog. It. Is. Funny.