Taking A Breath

This post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. The awesome co-hosts for the April 4 posting of the IWSG are Olga Godim, Chemist Ken, Renee Scattergood, and Tamara Narayan!

Spring is finally in the air! Our snow has given way to rain, which to me is much better–and also means the sunshine is coming up behind it, hopefully. I’m obsessed with decorating and I can’t wait to make my balcony all cute for spring. I will have to share some pictures when I get it done.

This month my insecurity is what it always seems to be: I don’t feel like I’m doing enough, fast enough. I have a new book coming out next week! And that’s awesome. But I’m chewing my nails about what comes after it…even though I already have the next book in the series written, I’m just working on editing it right now. But then I’m like what about after THAT? I gotta start getting the NEXT book written! The truth is I actually have THREE books fully written right now (not in the same series) in various stages of revision/editing. Surely that should be enough to calm my writer anxiety, right???

Nope. I’m still fretting over what comes next, what will I write next, how will I keep the ball rolling? I exhaust myself like this, honestly. I’ve decided with the turn of the season, I’m going to try to make a turn in how much I beat myself up and whip myself into further work when I’ve already got plenty on my plate–time to dial it back! I’m not sure what on earth I’m so anxious about, or exactly what number of finished books is supposed to be “enough,” I’m just obsessive, and I already suffer mental health-wise with anxiety, so I’m sure it all stems from that.

Spring is time to BREATHE, and I’m going to try to.

April 4 question – When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?

Honestly, when I don’t want to write but I need to write–I just have to make myself do it. It sucks at first, and I whine and balk, but once I get into it, I really get into it and then when I’m finished, I feel really good about having done it. Sometimes it’s a matter of just grumbling and pushing ahead–like most work!

Is your spring off to a good start? Did you have a good Easter?

Not so bad after all.

From time to time on this blog, in addition to sharing, teaching, pulling my hair out, and bemoaning the hardships of writing, I’m also going to talk about the things I love. Those things I HEART about writing. When you stop by and just want a little inspiration, hit up the I Heart Writing category!

What I HEART ❤ About Writing…

Finding out what you wrote isn’t so bad after all.

We all know the first draft can be unwieldy and clunky, and definitely in my case, it needs a lot of fixing up in the revision stage. However, I usually blast my way through the first draft, wincing, feeling like all of it will probably be crap when I go back and read it and I’ll have to do A LOT of work. Sometimes, I don’t even feel like I conveyed the emotion and point I wanted to get across. It’s like trying to paint a beautiful picture in your head, only you can barely draw stick figures in real life.

But then, when I do a read-through and start the process of alteration, I often find that some of what I wrote is really good! Or at least, most of it isn’t nearly as bad as I imagined. That’s always a pleasant surprise. What’s more, I find I did convey what I wanted to get across–it just didn’t feel that way at the time I was writing it, for some reason or another. The more this happens, the more I try to make myself trust the process while I’m actually writing. After all, it’s probably going to turn out better than I expect, so I should let go of the anxiety surrounding it.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have to cut, chop, and rearrange as well. I certainly don’t produce perfect manuscripts every time. Some things just don’t work, and often I can be too wordy and repetitive. Sometimes the writing makes me wince. But at least there’s the bright spots as well, and I generally seem to be on track, so I’m not too disheartened. And at least I have the editing and revision stage to make it ever better.

Today I heart…finding out I’m a better writer than I believed!

Happy Monday!

A bit of exciting news for me today. I just got the first round of edits for The Marrying Type, my upcoming novel from Evernight Publishing. In addition to some glowing comments from my editor, they’ve decided to make the book an Editor’s Pick when it comes out!

Aaaah! It’s so exciting, and I’m rather humbled. I don’t have a cover yet, but I’m hoping soon I’ll be able to show it off and give you a publication date. I guess I better do those edits if I want to get things going, huh?

It’s a good Monday. How is your Monday going?

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

Right now I’m doing a whole lot of revising/editing on a book I recently finished. Sometimes this is the best part of the process for me–the first draft is down, the story is told, and now I’m in the process of fixing it up and making it shine. It’s a time for clipping and adding and rearranging, and honestly, I like it a lot. Probably because in most aspects of my life I like to organize and sort things. This is the stage where I get to work on putting everything in order. It’s funny because when I initially started writing  years ago, I HATED doing edits and revision. I don’t know what led me to love it, but I’m glad I do now.

I’m finding, as I often do when I revise, that I have a bad habit of repeating myself. Thankfully, I can spot it and eliminate it as I edit, but I still get irritated at myself that I do this. To clarify: for some reason, as I write, I feel the need to keep bringing up the “point” of the story–whatever the main character’s struggle and main issue is, they keep circling back and focusing on it. I know this isn’t needed, because you really only need to say it once, and then reinforce it with the events as they unfold. Yet, I keep doing it!

I usually feel when I’m writing if I don’t occasionally remind the reader “x character feels y about this situation” that I’m either not giving the situation enough gravity, or the reader will forget. The funny part is when I revise I see these things sticking out as the unnecessary bells and whistles they are and quickly pluck them out. So why write them in the first place?! I could save myself so much time if I left them out to begin with!

I think the reasons I do this may be one of two, or a combination of both:

  1. It’s part of the process of talking myself through the story. Even though it’s a lot of useless repeating, I’m mostly talking to myself and reminding myself of plot points when I do this. It helps me stay on the path. When I revise, I can take these markers out, but during the first draft they help me stay on course.
  2. Anxiety. I feel if my character doesn’t think about the problem enough, then their journey isn’t going to seem realistic. I mean, when something big is happening to you, isn’t it all you can think about? Doesn’t it consume most of your life? If my characters don’t keep circling back to the problem, it’s not REAL.

Number one is useful, but I end up overwriting when I lean on it too much. Number two really isn’t true, because telling a story isn’t the same as living real life. The reader doesn’t need to be told every other page that the character is focused on the situation they’re dealing with, because we’re watching them deal with it. The fact it weighs heavy on their mind can be just as easily, and much less invasively, merely implied. In both cases, I need to trust myself–and the reader! I don’t need to beat anyone over the head with plot points.

Despite the fact I know and understand these things, I still catch it during revisions on every book I write. It’s almost like filler and it annoys me when I see it–even though when I was writing it, it seemed like the right thing to do. Going forward, I’m going to try to be more mindful while I’m writing. If I catch myself repeating, I’ll try to ask myself instead how I can remind the reader with actions instead. I give anyone who’s editing right now this piece of advice: look for what you constantly repeat, or draw attention to, and ask yourself why. Also pluck it out, even if it seems more “realistic” to keep bringing it up, because I assure you the story is already keeping these things in the reader’s mind.

Do you find yourself circling the same points when you go back and do your revisions? Have you managed to spot it while you’re writing and stop yourself?

Time Flies

This post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. The awesome co-hosts for the March 7 posting of the IWSG are Mary Aalgaard, Bish Denham, Jennifer Hawes, Diane Burton, and Gwen Gardner!

Happy March! I can’t believe it’s the third month of the year already. In my part of the world, spring is slowly approaching and I’m ready for it–no more snow! Of course, around here we still get snow in spring so it’s more like summer I’m waiting for and that’s a long way off. If the time keeps flying like it has been though, it’s going to get here faster than I expect.

Right now in my writing world, I’m playing the waiting game. Waiting for the first round of edits for my upcoming book, waiting to hear back on a submission to another publisher. Waiting to have the next book sorted out enough in my head that I can start writing it–and I think it’ll be soon, thankfully. I tend to fear I’m being lazy when I’m just “waiting,” even though that’s just the writer neurosis talking. The best way to fill up waiting time is by doing something, though. You’re far less likely to make yourself crazy if you’re busy–or so I hear!

Frantically checking your email every hour doesn’t seem to help much either. Anybody else more anxious than insecure this month?

March 7 question – How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal/ finish a story?

This is a great time for this question because I JUST finished writing a book. It still needs tons of revision and editing, but I finished the first draft. The funny thing is, every time I do this, I think bells and whistles should go off and someone should throw a party in my honor, but in reality I just heave a deep, satisfied sigh, save the document, save a backup, and then get on with the day. It’s so anticlimactic!

Of course it’s not really the end until you finish editing, and then if it gets accepted by a publisher it’s not the end once again until it actually comes out for sale. I feel like that should be a much more dramatic event in my life too, but it never is.

Speaking of that, March 3rd was the three year anniversary of my first book THE WICKED CITY being published! I can’t believe it’s been that long, and at the same time, I can’t believe it was only three years ago. Funny how that is, huh?