Sunday, 24 May 2015

Writers' block

I was chatting to a reviewer on fanfiction this week. They told me that they were struggling with writers' block and I replied at some length - because I can’t help myself… and then I thought… hey, that might make a good blog post.
So, here it is.

I am a firm believer that there is no such thing. The plumber who comes to your house doesn't say that he doesn't feel like fixing your toilet today. But I know what you mean - some days the words come hard. And you know what? Ages later when I read through the text I can't tell which bits were written on days when I had to force words out like the last bit of toothpaste left in the tube. No-one else can tell either.
Some hints:
*have a routine - write at the same time/place
*block out your writing time and DO it. Butt in chair at 6pm or whatever
*playlists - music - spotify or 8 track - people have readymade playlists. Pick one that matches your world. Spooky, southern style? look up True Detective playlists. DON'T get distracted. Some authors make their own. Maggie Stiefvater shares her’s.
*record your word count - when do you write the most? I do well late at night, others prefer early morning
*turn off or mute social media - I'll just check Twitter, or tumblr, and an hour later my writing time is gone
*have something with you to record ideas - I carry a notebook & pens in my handbag, but other people write messages in their phone or record it in their phone. (One friend puffs as he is jogging - and then *puff puff* she said...) I write in waiting rooms, on public transport and because it is a notebook I can't look up twitter
*write about how hard it is to write. Just getting words down on anything is a start
*free write - you kind of meditate and just type out anything
*change the colour of your white blank page - I set the default in Google Drive to a nice pale green - weird but it works for me
*writing prompts - photos or sentences writeworld on tumblr has several a day - problem is, I want to write them all :( and I keep writing short stories that beg to be extended
*give yourself a gold star - put one on the calendar for each 500 or 1,000 words you write.

If you are stuck on a storyline:
*plot it out - super rough but it makes you think about where it is going. A boy is asked to help find a girl lost in the woods, when he meets her again she doesn't notice him, but then when she shouts at him he turns into a wolf, and his wolf likes her etc... It is easier to write towards an endpoint when you know what it is. It doesn't matter if it changes as you write it, and it is much better to waste a small amount of time to think about issues rather than write 30k words and find it can't work. I used to just make it up as I went along but the more I write, the more I realise I need a plan; even a really rough one. Think of it as your directions to a place - you wouldn't drive to somewhere without them, even if you take a detour or two on the way.
*write the WORST things that could happen in the next scene - play the ‘what if’ game. Be as nuts as you want - one might be useful. The ones you reject - at least you are thinking about the characters and how they would behave and then the right way to do it will appear
*write a different scene or pov - I switch to a pack scene - I love writing funny pack dialogue. I make myself laugh and then I am back on track
*write the last scene - JK Rowling did this. Wrote the last scene of the last book
*write out of order - do the scene that excites you and then fill in the gap to get them there
*interview your character - pretend you are doing 'press' for the book - so Adam, what made you like Eve?
*finish what you start - There is no better feeling. I'll admit that I am crap at this. I am constantly leaving stories to write another one and then I just end up with a huge pile of unfinished things. And those characters shout at me; they want their story told. Now, I try to rough plot out the new idea and then put it aside. If I have that 'map' I can write it later; even add a photo of an actor that looks like the main character or the image that inspired me. When I finish the one I am writing, that story is waiting for me. I want to write it and it’s all there. No stress about what to do next. And I can't forget what the story idea was; it's written down.

You can do it. I know you can.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

2 million hits

Last night as I was sleeping in my warm bed, Best Friends Share Everything crashed through another milestone. You can read it here at fanfiction.
And I'm just… speechless. I can’t believe how far an incredibly rare pairing has gone and how much people love that story. They tell me almost every day.

My total hits are 8,015,828
And now I need to go have a lie down or maybe a skip around the block. So proud of my odd threesome.

*Banner made by GoldenGirl 

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Camp nanowrimo 2015

Phew… I did it.

I am trashed. I wrote 43,000 words in the last eight days. The last day on that graph is an anomaly. The site knows I am in Australia but insisted that I had time left. Not sure where it thinks I am.
According to my own word count at 11:30pm on the 30th, I was under by about 4k. 
Heavy sigh - only 4k?
But on the 1st it said I still had ten hours to go (honestly nano where do you think I am?) So - just to check - I collated and exported my scrivener file to Word; cut out the chapters that I had written before the camp started and voila! 81,427 in 30 days. Average of 2,700 per day.
I am a winner.
Yay. *throws confetti - waves pompoms*
It was hard to check my word count as I was working on a section of a much, much larger project. And I am honest. I could have pasted it all in and said I finished 110k words. But that would be cheating.
Plus scrivener counts any words I type in each day, so fact files and research info counted as part of my daily word count goal, but not part of my project word count, so my spreadsheets didn’t match. I can probably fix that somewhere but Scrivener is a very deep pool and I am still treading water on the surface of what it can do. Hey, I did well to NOT get all that stuff included in the final draft.
And I kept writing things in sections that were not part of the Camp project. I also tend to edit; I can’t help myself. There is a kind of nanowrimo dread you feel when a word count goes backwards. So it is only in the last few desperate days that I stopped deleting things I am not sure about and just used strikethrough on them. They still count in the word total even if they really do get deleted later. But in 80k words, it’s not a big difference.
But my cabin was a bit of a loss. We were put in a ‘cabin’; a little group of twelve so that we could cheer each other on. Four of us did that. The figures on the right are the cabin stats. Four members set their word counts and never wrote a single word or left a single message for others. ZERO. And one had a 100k target. Another wrote 1,700. So pretty much half the cabin were no-showers. There is an option to NOT be in a cabin, so I don’t understand why they did this. I get that disasters happen but surely you can see a problem early? So, as a cabin we hit a third of our target and failed miserably.
You know me, I tried to help people. But I know me, too. I was right about tricking my brain into hitting an external deadline however arbitrary. You’re weird, brain.
Now I have to clean it up, edit a little and send it all off and see if it is ‘yes’ to more.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Book Hoarding

I’ve been busily watching videos from the IndieReCon2015. It was run by ALLI and there was so much information that it will take me a while to absorb it all.
One person in a Q&A asked the head of Bookbub about e-book hoarding.
And I confess to being kind of guilty of this. I subscribe to both bookbub and buckbooks. They are not publishers but are companies that have found a niche doing the searching for people and letting them know what books are reduced, or free this week, or offered in a bundle. Amazon is huge. You cannot possibly spend the hours on searching through it all yourself. So you let these guys know what genres you like and they will send you a message every day. As an author, a promo with either will catapult your book into the bestseller list. But if it is just downloaded and never read, how does that affect the author?
I reckon its good all round. As people have often said, you can’t tell people what to do with your book once you have published it. They will love it or hate it, or leave it in their kindle unread. They may recommend it to all their friends, or they may write a scathing review. Or carve it into mountains.
It’s out of your control. And getting upset about it isn’t doing you any favours. If they download it, and it shoots up in the charts then other people may find it and read it. And then it shows up in the ‘also bought’ tables and the search algorithms, and that’s where you really want to be; on the page as people shop for other stuff. That’s why people beg these companies to promote their books.
I saw a book that I was inclined to read and it was free. I didn’t download it. And the next time I saw it, it was back to full price. Dammit. So now I will hit that one click button. And I will hoard ALL the books. It’s so out of character *snorts sarcastically*
BUT, I also add it to my Goodreads list. And that means that everyone who follows me there sees that book scroll past on their timeline. And maybe they think about reading it and go click on it, too? How is this a bad thing?
So now I have two years’ worth of books in my to-read list.
How many do you have?


Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Kid extra

I have to type quietly. I have acquired an extra kid. I know right, at my age? Who would have thought it? I had this pipe dream that as my children got older they would move out, but clearly it is not to be. But it does squish my muse quite a lot. Hard to write or research sex for my writing if I have an audience. (… what? Porn IS research.) 
He’s not really a kid; old enough (just) to be a legal adult in Australia, and he was thrown out of home. Kid 2 asked me to pick him up and he has been sleeping on our sofa since then. He has nowhere else to go. I didn’t hesitate to offer him a bed; even if it was only a sofa-bed. He’s a good kid. He attends uni, has found himself a job, or two, and he’s really trying not to be a burden on the house.
His mother is trying to charge him to ‘store’ his things at her house, but if we try to go and collect them, she threatens to call the police and have him charged with trespass as he is ‘no longer her son’. Sigh.
Kid 1 likes him because they have a lot of similar interests. This is important because kid 1 is autistic and any change to his routine or home life is a big issue for him - and thereby for all of us. Kid 3 likes him because he fixed her PC.
I was talking to a friend on twitter and I joked that this is the second time that something I wrote ended up happening in my life. Life imitating art, eh? I suggested that any minute now Paul ought to be showing up. I wrote him; he’s mine… where is he?
But if I see kid extra’s mother I know just the speech to say to her.
“Where is he going to go?” Sam asked Quil.
“He can come with us,” stated Charlie.
“You collect strays now?” Tiffany snarked. “He sneaks out at night you know… he’s in a gang with them.” She waved a hand at Sam and Quil. Charlie looked at them. It wasn’t the first time he had heard about Sam’s ‘gang’ but as far as he could tell, they did good things; even chased off a drug dealer on the rez, he had heard. In his opinion, the world needed more gangs like Sam’s.
Charlie managed to look menacing without actually moving. “For the record, that hokwat your son is with would be MY daughter. If he has nowhere else to go, he is welcome in my home.”
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” she spat at him.
“And if he is a nice kid, I won’t be complimenting you either,” Charlie told her. “Doubt you had much to do with it.”

Friday, 10 April 2015

Lifeline book fairs

There was a flyer in my letter box for the Lifeline Book fair. Lifeline is an Aussie charity.
I emitted an excited squeal. I love books. And I still love actual physical paper books. I have embraced e-reading with a Kindle app on my PC but I still haven’t quite got to the e-reader stage. There is something about holding a book in my hand while I am reading that adds to the experience. Turning the pages, feeling the paper, smelling that new book smell, smelling that old book smell… I don’t know. Maybe it’s just that I move away from my PC to do it? It’s a kind of location break and feels like a real break. Curled up in a chair with a mug of coffee, or snuggled under my quilt in bed.
But others, who have whole heartedly embraced the e-reader revolution, are getting rid of their paper books. And they give them to charities like Lifeline.
Years ago a charity bookshop was full of bad Reader’s Digest expurgated editions or ten copies of whatever book was big that year and turned out to be rubbish. But these days that is not the case. I have picked up entire series for one dollar a book.
So on that date I’ll be there with my cash and my granny trolley - you know the pull along shopping carts. Voice of experience here… man, I can pack some books into that thing.
And if I have to pile them high on top of my already full bookshelves, I don’t mind. I might need a bigger house, though.


Saturday, 4 April 2015

Pinterest secret boards

I am currently doing camp nanowrimo. I have set myself a total of 80k words for the month. It’s a big project and that is only part of it. It is also a very visual project. In scrivener (my writing program) I can load in pictures and I can have a split screen open. So that as I write, I can see the photo I have as inspiration for my lover, or a sexy image, or a travel photo of where they are, or whatever.
You get the idea.
I have been searching for a program that would allow me to make a kind of scrapbook of inspirational images that help me to write. Most of my photo websites didn't really do that and the last thing I needed when I am pushed for time was to start trying to learn Gimp again to make my own collages. Really… I've tried and it is too hard for me. *lip wobble*
I knew of Pinterest but I avoided it because I imagined that I would just get caught up in pretty images or feel guilty about all the fabulous house projects I would ‘pin’ and then never make. Also some of the images I need may not be final things. I might have three options for my love interest and change them as I write.
And then I read an article. (link below**)
And then I saw another article.***
And then I gave up and joined Pinterest.
And I think I am sold.
And the secret is… well, it’s a secret. Pinterest lets me keep a ‘board’ of images secret. I am the only person who can look at them unless I specifically invite other people to see them. I can make as many boards as I like. I can make them public, but obviously, can’t undo that action once I have done it.
If I can’t find things on the site, I can google search normally and pin them very easily with a tool added to my browser. Almost too easily.
If this project gets off the ground, I can share my board with a cover-maker and they can see exactly what inspired me, or where my characters visited. And maybe, one day, I can make my boards public and readers can see what inspired me.
As I write, I can open a pinned image, and the program keeps the link attached. If I want to check how tall my model is, I click on the picture and go to the original website. What do the bathrooms look like in this hotel? Click. And I'm there. It is very easy to remove pinned items from a board if I change my mind.
And it is really working for me.
Now all I need to do is stay away from the public boards and those craft projects.
Yeah right… that can’t be hard?
Ooh… quilts…