Friday, December 28, 2012

My writing space.

British-themed lamp: I'm a total Anglophile, and I like being surrounded by all things British.  This also explains...

Muse, Muse, everywhere: Matt Bellamy on my computer.  Muse mug to the left.  Muse poster (although you can't really see it here) above the desk.  When it comes to writing, this band has inspired me more than anything else, so it's no surprise that I surround myself with Muse paraphernalia when I write...even though I can't listen to them when I write (I need total silence when I write).

Caffeine: Turkey Hill diet iced tea is my drug of choice.

Bobcats mug: These saucy cats from a comic on The Oatmeal always make me smile.

Writing books: This is the book haul I got for Christmas (thank you, Santa!).  I got books on writing query letters, understanding police procedures (since this is essential for my current work-in-progress), how to write more in my spare time...oh, and a couple of Project Runway/Tim Gunn-related books, because I'm a total Runway junkie.  I always keep Tim Gunn's famous quote in my mind as I write: "Make it work!"

Fancy notepad: This Carolina Herrera notepad (part of the Neiman Marcus for Target collection) feels uber-luxe.  Heavy ivory paper edged in gold, cloth cover...when I write story-related notes on these pages, somehow it feels like my ideas are worth a million bucks.

Steinbeck quote: As a recovering perfectionist, this quote--"And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good"--is absolutely vital for me to keep in mind while I write.

Quick hits.

I'm currently battling a case of the sads.  I have no idea why.

OK, I have some idea, but it doesn't account for all the sad.  I'm trying to figure out if I want it to work its way into a short story.  I'm wondering if I can handle that.  (Maybe with a Woodchuck in hand.  Or maybe not.)

I've also been in a very macabre mood lately.  A leftover Halloween decoration, which I hadn't even put up for Halloween, is now a permanent decoration in my home.  Bloody handprints that affix to the mirror.  They look great at my vanity.  (Nobody would ever guess that I write about monsters...)

I started listening to Alkaline Trio again, which I only do when I'm in very specific moods.  Translation: Watch the fuck out.

I feel like there are things in my brain, the makings of a short story or several, gently clawing to get out.  I don't have a sense of what exactly they're like yet--just that they're there.  Stay tuned.

For the new year, I need more/better routine for my writing.  I need to do less that isn't writing-related.  I want my head to feel like it's going to explode from the sheer amount of creativity/characters inside, not because the daily mundane chores are all heaped upon me and making me feel like I'm thisclose to a massive freak-out.

I need to daydream less and do more.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Goals and lessons.

To sum up my writing vacation: Got some great stuff written--just not enough of it.

I want to pour the next 2 months into finishing draft 1 of the first Emerson book.  The way I think I can do that is by doing it in smaller chunks that will add up over the next 7 weeks.  I'll need to write 4,200 words per week to meet my goal of just over 75,000 total words.  This is doable, but to do this:

* I will write every day.  Even if only for 10 minutes.  I can crank out 200 words in 10 minutes; I've done it plenty of times before.  If I do that every workday, that's already a minimum of 1,000 words a week.
* Some days I'll need to write for an hour to hour and a half.  I will make that time on at least 3 weeknights (or weekend days) per week.
* Some days, due to holidays/work/gym/etc, I may not be able to write more than 200 words.  That's OK.  I will give myself permission to have a life outside of writing, and I will stop beating myself up over every moment I am not writing.
* I will also balance my writing (and work, and other commitments) with healthy activities.  On a daily basis, I will do brief exercise (10 minutes) on days that I am not already working out, I will reach out to one friend or family member that I do not talk to regularly, and I will give myself at least one treat (examples: trying out a new lip gloss/eyeliner/etc I've had hanging out on the vanity, eating a healthy but decadent snack, wearing a favorite item of clothing, collaging, a quick at-home spa/body treatment, etc).

I cannot expect the book to get done on a vacation away from work.  I did it one year ago--with a book that I'm significantly revamping, but not until Emerson's done--but I cannot count on always being able to do that.  Not when work has me insanely busy and stressed.  No, I need a good portion of that time to relax and recharge (or hopefully, in the future, go to writers' conferences, etc); I cannot spend all my time away from work working on writing.  But I can make my writing time more consistent so that I don't have to attack it in large chunks.

So there are my goals and what I've learned--and I'm gonna stick to 'em.  Consider them my New Year's resolutions several days early.  By the time January 1 rolls around, these things should already be habits for me.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Quality over quantity.

I've been writing during my writing holiday.  The problem is, I can't seem to write enough.  The quality's not the issue--the quantity is.  I'm not near my goal word count for the first half of the week--not even close.  Yet I feel like I've made a couple pretty major breakthroughs and wrote some pretty good stuff.  (Not perfect stuff--that's another battle I'm fighting.  I cant aim for perfect in the first draft or I'll lose my mind.  I'm trying to aim for writing a solid foundation that I give some TLC to the second time around, during the rewrite, which can't happen until the full first draft is written.)

The other issue is that I'm all like OMG OFF FROM WORK, OFF FROM WORK!!!!!! and I just want to nap/read/internet fuckery/etc.  It's so tough to concentrate.  Today I'm doing some writing, then going to a spa appointment, and hoping I come back feeling a bit more centered and focused.  Then tomorrow and Friday, I'll plow through writing as much as I can...without sacrificing quality.  And I'll try to keep telling myself that if it takes me a little longer to write it well, it's worth it.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Time well spent...?

I entered into today with such lofty expectations.  "Six thousand words today!  And every other weekday this week except for Wednesday!"  (That's my spa day, so I'm being nice to myself and cutting my goal down to 3,000 words for that day.)

Here's what really happened.

I was kept awake way too late last night.  Then I was awakened early, and I hate early o'clock.  But once I was alone in the house (that's when I write best), I padded out of bed, made myself some breakfast (BACON--the breakfast of writing champions!), sat down, and wrote 1,000 words in an hour.  Great start, right?

Yes and no.

Because I was, not surprisingly, fucking exhausted, I decided to take the siesta I'd planned for the afternoon a little earlier.  Like, say, 10:30 AM.  And somehow the 1.5-hour siesta turned into a 4-hour marathon nap.


I got up, showered, ate.  Read the baseball trade rumors.  Cooked dinner.  Cleaned up after dinner.  Then bonked myself on the head while putting something away, giving myself a nice little goose egg on my forehead.  WONDERFUL.

But maybe it actually knocked a little sense into me.

I didn't feel OK to write right away (I wasn't in the right frame of mind), so instead I did some writing-related things that I felt OK to do.  I joined a local writers' meetup.  I signed up for a free webinar, happening tomorrow, which can help me build me author website (which is on my to-do list).  I added a bunch of interesting writing-related blogs to my Google Reader.  I read an article about how breaking up work into 90-minute intervals (and no more than 3 of those intervals per day) can be really helpful when said work is writing.  I also found this article, which was really, really helpful and gave me a ton of good ideas for better handling my writing/work balance once I'm back in the office next week.  I painted my nails--watching chipped blue nails fly across the keyboard was irritating me, so I painted them a lovely shade of grayish lavender (Essie's "Chinchilly," if you wanna get specific).

I feel a little bit better about things.  (Except for my head--that's still throbbing.)

Tonight I'm going to try one 90-minute writing interval.  Tomorrow I want to do 2 to 3 of them.

But between tonight's writing interval and tomorrow's writing interval, I really need some freakin' sleep.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Some days I have the most incredible bursts of clarity.  This week has been full of those days.  I've had some big stuff on my mind, and I worked through a lot of it; I feel a little more settled and have gained a lot of important and interesting perspective.  I won't bore you with the details, but trust me when I tell you it's good for my writer brain to have this sort of clarity, to be able to move past things that would have ordinarily gotten under my skin--or worse, into my head.

I wrote a good chapter.  The best ones are the ones that write themselves.  That happened the other night, and it's a good sign.

Two more work days left until my next writer vacation.  Goal word count for vacation: 25,000.  That's if I make it to vacation without going insane (my workload's just a wee bit ginormous lately).  I ahve a lot of work ahead of get to the other lot of work I have ahead of me.  But it'll all be worth it when I have a finished first draft that I'm totally stoked to revise.  (Finishing may not happen until the end of December.  I may wait a couple weeks to write the final chapters of the book.  It would be a fantastic way to end the year...)

Saturday, December 1, 2012


I've been in a Mood lately.  With a capital M.

I know most of what's causing it.  Some of those causes are less irksome than others, although the way I handle them seems to be the same, and by that I mean that no matter what the cause, I'm not necessarily handling my Mood well.

I wish I could be as unaffected as I'd like to be.  But I can't, and for my writing, that's probably a good thing.  I need emotion to write.  Luckily, I'm full of emotion.

I am not always full of writing, though.  This week I've gotten down some real gems.  Solidified and fleshed out some new ideas.  Gotten a better sense of who some characters are, and how Emerson relates to them and is affected by them.

But I have not written a chapter this week.  I haven't been able to.  I need that to change.  I can carve out some writing time tomorrow, for sure, but will I feel solid enough to use it?  Will I be too tired, too cranky, too interested in reading, too tempted to lay in bed or the bathtub and daydream?

It's a good news/bad news thing when I daydream a lot.  It means my brain is fully engaged in the process of creating stories, and for a writer, that's a good thing.  But I need to focus on Emerson's story right now.  And when the life in my head sometimes seems more attractive than the life outside of my head, that's a red flag that something's not as right as it could be.

I'm an Aquarius.  Dreaming comes naturally to me.  But I've gotta find a break in the clouds big enough to allow me to write.