Here’s an undeniable truth: sometimes writing isn’t fun. It’s the foundation for the reason Begin Again has taken so long to finish.
I find that the #1 way to combat ‘writing isn’t fun’ is to reward yourself. In my case, if I write a thousand new words, at least half of them will suck, but it means that I can write a thousand words in a project that I’m enjoying more. Or maybe I won’t write anymore at all.
For all the cliches that authors have been telling budding writers for years, it actually is that simple.
- Find a way to reward yourself.
- Write every day.
- The majority of what you write will suck. You just need to continue writing.
Yesterday, I wrote about a thousand words that I know suck. I might only keep 500 words of it. Now, today I might write a thousand more words, hopefully, better than yesterday, but the point is to just keep going. Not to give up.
In the last post, I talked about how I weighed my desire to finish the story as more than the frustration of writing it. That major motivation keeps me writing even when I don’t know what to say.
Alternative resources for helping write every day include:
- Writeometer – an app that helps keep track of and remind you to write.
- Fighter’s Block – a game that pits your word count against a monster. The closer you get to your goal, the closer to vanquishing the monster. Unfortunately, there’s no fireworks or anything when you win. I was a bit disappointed.
Ps. no clue what I’m going to write about next. Any suggestions?
I have a secret. My motivation sucks. have hundreds of “good ideas” sitting in a Scrivener project waiting for the day my motivation drives me to do something with it. Mostly they just sit in a folder gathering digital dust.
Which is why NANOWRIMO is so difficult. I can literally count on one hand the number of stories I have finished. Many, when I just started writing, languished because I didn’t know what I was doing. Terrible and inconsistent characterization, little to no plot, and plot holes wide enough to challenge the Grand Canyon.
I like to think I’ve gotten better.
Now my problem appears that I spend so much time pre-writing that by the time I sit down to write I have lost my excitement for the story.
Take Begin Again for instance, have been working and writing this story for nearing 2 years. I am sick of it. I’m not even sure the story was worth it. More than once I wanted to quit. Hell, I did quit, several times. The difference between Begin Again and the many mostly abandoned Stories on my hard drive was I thought Begin Again could be worth something. I thought it would touch readers, make them second guess their expectations, bring them to the edge of their seat.
The biggest difference though was that it hurt me more to leave it unfinished than the frustration it left in me when I was writing
That’s my gauge for whether I continue writing, am I disappointed'” myself for not finishing it? If the answer is no, I let it gather dust. I might return to it someday. If the answer is yes, I go back to the drawing board: where’s the obstacle? What am I stuck on? What isn’t working?
Occasionally that means 2 years re-plotting, re-writing, re-working, and more editing. I think it’ll be worth it.
Tomorrow: motivation methods.
Let’s be honest. These blog posts have kind of sucked. But, since no one is really reading them it should be fine. This is just supposed to be a journal; as every ‘Dear Journal’ writer ever knows, writing to someone is more helpful than attempting to keep in mind that you are writing to yourself. Awesome, right?
Regardless, today I am tackling dialogue. Mine kind of sucks. Not always, but often times I write a scene and more than one character is in it, and they end up talking because that is what people do. Apart from awkward silences.
Which just means that even when my characters have something to say, it often comes out stilted and weird.
1st resource: Now Novel’s 7 Dialogue Rules for Writing Fantastic Conversations.
Was it helpful? Not particularly. It seemed very basic. While bad dialogue punctuation can mean that a good story can lose their audience, I think I need more than just to keep in mind motivation and conflict for my characters when they speak. Maybe not.
2nd resource: well-storied.’s 19 Ways to Write Better Dialogue
Was it helpful? Maybe. This post repeated many of the same elements, though it did mention that real people don’t all sound the same and that syntax varies with personality. Which is something I know, but could always use a reminder on. The most difficult aspect of writing minor characters is writing their dialogue. They all need to sound different (unless making them sound the same is going to be helpful), but I, at least, don’t dive into their characters with the same type of in-depth analysis I use for main characters.
3rd resource: K.M. Weiland’s Get Rid of On-The-Nose Dialogue Once and for All
Was it helpful? I think it was the most helpful. Possibly because it gave an example of ‘On-the-Nose’ or flat dialogue and then a series of subtext-infusing ways to fix it. The examples were also very nice.
This is a great place to end. These three weren’t all I read to work on Dialogue but I think that they were the ones that best covered the topic.
Tomorrow: Characterization? Or maybe motivation. Anyone who follows through with any version of the NANOWRIMO knows that motivation is the crux of finishing out the month with anything close to their goals.
So you sign up for Camp NANOWRIMO or the November extreme addition, and you’ve got a title, maybe you added a synopsis, and you have at least one character. What do you do next?
MY next step is to tape my whiteboard paper to the wall and get out my vis-a-vis markers. It’s brainstorming time.
I put on the playlist I’ve dedicated to this project, and I start with my biggest problem. Who’s the bad guy? Literally, my go-to question for brainstorming.
If I don’t know who the villain is then I’m missing at least half, if not more, of the story. I need to know who’s initiating the conflict. Do they have something against my main character, or are they inciting conflict on a more global scale?
*Spoiler* In Hope Chest, the excerpt from Evil Author Day 2017, the villain was always going to be Molly and Ginny Weasley. Ginny Weasley is a greedy little girl who never matured enough to realize that Harry Potter was more than just her Prince Charming. For all that he has a magical lineage unlike any other, Harry was a person with feelings and opinions of his own.
In Hope Chest, the story was focused on a Hermione/Harry romance where the villain needed to be just as personal.
*Spoiler #2* In HeartSick (Alternatively, The Distance Between You & Me), the villain is portrayed by Alexander Pierce and he doesn’t care one wit about Joss Carter personally. What he cares about is the fact that she is ruining his chances of getting away with stealing from the SGC.
The way these two types of villains interact with the story changes who the story progresses and what types of challenges I can put in front of my main character.
Do you have any questions about my brainstorming?
Alright, so I lied. Obviously, this didn’t get out yesterday. Great way to start, right? Only two days in and already missing a deadline. Well, in that case, the bar is set pretty low. Gotta go up from here.
I am trying out a new system for writing. I created a Trello board (Trello is a free web-based task management system) for all the steps I should have in place before writing. It includes all of the elements from the Leviathan worldbuilding tool (you can find that here) and a compiled list of character traits for character development taken from WritingGeekery. As well as a bunch of cards for things that I usually skip to jump right into the writing portion.
Which usually means that have to go back and figure these things out later.
That is the most difficult part for me, making sure that all of the pieces fit together and make sense. Frequently, I will look back on half finished projects from years ago and realize that one of the reasons I ran out of motivation was that I didn’t know where the characters were going. I didn’t know what I was doing.
The point here is not to convince anyone that this method of organization is best. Hell, I’m not even convinced that this is worth the work. It’s just one option to express that anything that helps keep you organized is a good idea.
What sorts of systems do you use for writing organization? Don’t forget to subscribe for updates!
So, I think I overdid it a little.
My Camp Project for July is a Walking Dead piece called Begin Again.
He’d been given a second chance. Another chance to get it right, to save his family from the walking dead. But it didn’t come without strings attached.
There were genies who regularly possessed him.
A pack of Werewolves up for six counts of murder.
And a Detective Dixon in Atlanta who knew a startling amount about the magical world he’d just entered.
Let me be honest here: this fic is kicking my ass. I started it back in the Fall of 2015 and it currently rests at 96k words. That’s a lot, right? And I know what you’re thinking: why isn’t it done?
See, when I started the project I didn’t know much about the different elements of the story, from a writer’s perspective. I could locate them in other people’s writing but I couldn’t figure out how to convey it in my own. When I re-drafted the plot to include pieces I figured would help convey the character development that I wanted I ended up adding something like 26 scenes to round the project out to around 139k words.
I imagine at least 15k words will be lost in editing.
Want an excerpt?
“You’re thinking small, Rick Grimes, and you’re only playing with some of the rules.” She sat up from her indolent lounge and pinned him where he stood with mismatched unaligned eyes. “You’re right and you’re wrong at the same time. The Game is simple; the Genie must survive. To survive they have to get stronger and you can only get stronger two ways. The first is to gain more …tenants, I suppose, and the other is to absorb the power of other Genies. My territory is far enough away that I don’t have to worry about Dgpemostfgish for awhile yet, if ever. However, it benefits my long term plan to screw with hers.” She lightly hopped from her seat to circle him. “So I ask again, do you know what they call you, Rick Grimes?”
“No.” He eyed her, twisting to follow her fluid and seductive movements. “What do they call me?”
“They call you the Fate Breaker.” She leaned in close and sniffed at the bare skin of his neck. “By all accounts, you were supposed to die from a gunshot wound to the chest before the Game even began. And some of you, between the thousands of realities, do die of a gunshot to the chest on a primitive highway in the boondocks of Georgia. But most of you don’t.”
Tune in tomorrow to find out how I prepared for Camp NANOWRIMO and what the most difficult parts were.
Are you preparing for NANOWRIMO? What do you think the most difficult part of writing is?
Any opinions on the excerpt? Feel free to comment. Don’t forget to sign up for updates.
I started a new phase in my writing life, probably about a year ago. I wasn’t happy with what I was writing and how it was going, so I went back to the one thing I do exceptionally well. I researched.
I researched. And I researched some more.
Then I started over.
Welcome to “Something Witty”, the ongoing writing journal of a frustrated fan-writer without a life and too much stress.
July 1st marks the beginning of Camp NANOWRIMO. I will be journaling about the process here on “Something Witty” the entire month. Trying to use the process I’ve developed from research to enhance and focus my writing.
P.S. If you read the entire month you may find spoilers for upcoming stories. Just in case that’s something you like.