Procrastination is a sneaky bugger, often trying to disguise itself as “usefulness.” Maybe you’re sitting down to write, and you think, “oh, a picture of a setting like this will really get the creative juices flowing!” Or perhaps your mind tells you that NOW is the time to mop the floor (even if you somehow haven’t mopped in weeks, because isn’t that all the more reason to do so?) Hours later, you’ve bunnytrailed from scenery pics to weird news articles, to bizarre dictionary definitions; or your floor is sparkling and you’ve moved on to vacuuming everything—even the cold air returns and the corners of the ceiling. And although you were sure you’d be focusing on your plot while you scrubbed, really you ended up pondering possible new cleaning product scents and daydreaming about what they could be called.
When I met Douglas Adams, he said that his procrastinating sometimes took the form of “getting acquainted with the furry things in the back of the fridge.” I, too, have felt the call to unburden my fridge (often to learn with dismay that the few things left in my shining fortress of frostiness were technically condiments.) But I digress.
One of the best ways to combat procrastination is to practice AIS, or Ass in Seat. Seriously, getting your butt in the chair is half the battle. The next step is to open your writing program and NOT
that amazing portal to the fantasy realm the internet. As Mary Heaton Vorse told Sinclair Lewis, “The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.”
That said, I’m off to bulk up my word count. Let me just grab a glass of water first. . .
My blog has been dormant this last week while I was visiting my mom. It was a mixed blessing having no internet there. On the one hand, I’d have liked to keep the flow going here on my blog, but on the other, it was wonderful having uninterrupted time with my mom.
I did take a laptop with me, and while I didn’t use it at my mom’s house, I did use it on the train rides on the way there and back to work on my middle grades novel, Golem! Boy, did I get a lot of writing in! 🙂
It occurred to me yesterday, as the words were flowing oh so freely, how much a change of scenery can help the writing process. It may not always be the answer for unblocking your writing chakras, but sometimes it’s just the ticket! Get it? Ticket. Because. . . trains. OK, sorry. I’ll go now.
I used to think that NaNoWriMo only happened in November, but on the 4th of this month, I learned about Camp NaNoWriMo. To be honest, I’ve never taken NaNoWriMo too seriously, because I’m always writing, aren’t I? But I’m really glad that I took the time to explore and learn more this month. I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to update my word count and follow the arrow’s progress towards the bulls-eye. And that’s just the beginning. I’m in a “cabin” with other writers, where we can share our progress and encourage each other (though you have to option to be a solo camper as well), and there are daily inspirations from author Heidi Heilig to spark our creative juices. That’s just a small part of it, though. I highly encourage you to check it out for yourself.
As for me, I’m off to keep working on my project. I want to see that arrow move some more! 😀
PHOTO PROMPT © Jellico’s Stationhouse
“Try it now,” she said, wiping a droplet of sweat from her forehead. Her hand left a black smear of grease.
Head down, he worked the pedals, pushing hard against the resistance. A spark. Was it his imagination? No, it was growing, blossoming into radiance.
“It’s ON!” he cried. “It’s working!”
With a whoop, she jumped to her feet, throwing her arms around him. The light died out, but they paid no attention. They could do it again.
It had been one hundred and seventy-six days since the lights had gone out. One hundred and seventy-six days since The Bomb.
Fiction Friday is the brainchild of Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Grab the photo prompt and write a complete story in 100 words.
Many thanks to Ida Astero of IdaAsteroAtelier for granting me permission to use her incredible photo!
Show, don’t tell.
You’ve heard it countless times, but it can be hard to really get to the bottom of how it’s done. This is something I’m constantly working on. Telling with a profusion of adjectives doesn’t magically turn it into showing, nor does adding verbs. Consider the following:
The beast lunged for her, talons raking the air just inches from her skin. She felt her stomach twist and plunge.
The beast lunged for her, talons raking the air just inches from her skin. Her scream burned her throat, bringing with it the bitter taste of bile.
In the first, I tell you what she feels, while in the second, I try to show it.
I’m no master of this, yet, nor do I claim to be, but I did find some pretty cool sources of advice. One is Chuck Palahniuk’s very instructive article on “thought verbs.” The other is a book called The Emotional Craft of Fiction: How to Write the Story Beneath the Surface, which is free on Kindle Unlimited (for now anyway.) I’m only 14% into the book (thank you, Kindle, for your handy precision!) and already I’m in love.
But to make things more confusing, there is a time and a place for telling. And lest you think I hate adjectives, let me assure you that those delightfully rambunctious creatures are among my favorite creations. I mean, most of us are in this not just because we love imagining things, but also because we adore words.
In light of that, I’ll leave you with two excellent posts from novelist Emma Darwin:
Showing and Telling: the Basics and Psychic Distance: What It Is And How To Use It.
I’d love to hear about other resources you’d like to share on this topic!
She ties the brightly-patterned strip of paper in a loose knot, practiced fingers tugging on the end just so. Outside, a low roll of thunder jostles the clouds, shaking loose a cascade of raindrops to rattle against the pane by her desk.
Basso profondo, she thinks. It’s how he would have described it. Even as his body had betrayed him, his mind had remained sharp.
It doesn’t take long to wrap the strip around the little pentagon formed by the knot, and then she’s tucking away the loose end, securing it where it won’t be seen. This one has been easy. Some days are like that. She turns it over, inspecting it for flaws, then pinches the corners, and just like that, another star is born.
She glances at the clock, puts on the right boots, the right coat, the right expression. The glass container by the door is over half full, a jumble of cheery color and design: one for every day he’s been gone. She releases the new star into the collection, and it tumbles down to rustle into place amongst the others. She doesn’t have to count them to know that there are seven hundred and thirty tiny puffs of paper mounded inside the jar. Maybe when it’s full she’ll feel again.
Today I have a writing challenge for you! Use the word paper, stars, or both in a piece of short fiction or a poem. Have fun, and be creative! And yes, it’s fine to use papers or star as well.
Please share your work, too! 🙂
Rejections are never fun to receive. I got one yesterday. It was a nice one, but it still had me basically rethinking all I’ve ever written. OK, that was a bit dramatic. It only had me rethinking about half. 😉
Although it stinks to have your work rejected, the good thing is that it’s not the same as failing. Failing is when you don’t succeed and you never try again. Rejection just means you haven’t succeeded yet. Maybe you need to tighten things up, or give it another sparkly polish (there’s always room for improvement, right?) Or the solution may be as simple as finding a better fit with a different publisher. But rejection is not a death blow.
Did you know that A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle was rejected twenty-six times before it was finally picked up by Farrar, Straus & Giroux? Or that Harry Potter was rejected twelve times before being accepted? And even after her stellar success with the Harry Potter series, J. K. Rowling faced further rejection when she submitted a novel under her pseudonym, Robert Galbreath.
For me, the hardest part about rejections is not knowing why my work was rejected. It’s always easier to fix something if you know what the problem is in the first place. For me, the whole publishing process is fraught with mystery: did the editor get her morning cup of coffee? Has he just had a nasty breakup? Does she hate my writing style? Is my story just that bad? But since I have no way of knowing, the best I can do is to keep polishing and keep submitting.
Finally, though, there is at least one positive thing about every single rejection you receive, and that is that you tried. That might sound stupid, but think about it for a moment. Not only have you already written a book (I mean, good grief, how cool is that??), but you have girded your loins and actually sent it out to a real-life publisher. Consider how many people have never done that, and never will. See? Chin up. You’re gonna be fine. In the meantime, author Beck McDowell has a wonderfully cathartic method for dealing with rejection. I might have to go check my cupboard for extra dishes. 😉