Writing Wednesday: On Getting Distracted and Getting to Work

Hello everyone, and happy Wednesday!

I just recently returned from a week-long vacation, but where I was staying had no internet access besides cellular data, so I fell behind on a lot of the bookish world. That being said, without social media and YouTube and Netflix to distract me, I managed to get through two and a half books and started outlining a novel.

Total 180 here: when I was in high school, I did a lot of writing. It’s true that I was in writing clubs and classes, so I had to write, but in my spare time I also wrote almost a whole trilogy between the ages of 14-17, including the millions of drafts and versions of the story that preceded the most recent one.

Unfortunately, when I started university I seem to have lost all the writing discipline I’d had before. When I’m not doing school work or other work, I find that I’m constantly refreshing my Twitter feed and YouTube subscription box, hoping to keep up with the latest buzz. I also just started the second season of Shadowhunters, when I totally did not need to! I often blame my lack of writing progress on my lack of creativity, because sometimes I’ll open a Word document but all I’ll do is stare at a blank page for ten minutes. But clearly my week without wi-fi was all I needed to get to work – the creativity is still there, but the discipline is not.

Now, it’s easy to say that all I need to do is delete my social media accounts, but that’s not very realistic for me. I am a social person, and I am really not down to disconnect from the world. There are, however, some tricks that I would like to try in order to get myself back on the writing track. Who knows, maybe someone reading this has the same problems, and could use some of these, too!

1. Decrease distractions.

While I am not okay with completely deleting myself off the internet, there are some methods of stopping myself from checking social media as obsessively as I do. On my phone I use the Forest app, which is a productivity app that grows a virtual tree for the time you tell it to, but if you ever leave the app then the tree dies. This is the kind of application that really hits my guilt strings, and it has worked wonders when I’m doing my school work.

I don’t have any applications on my laptop, but often when I’m doing school work I will sign out of Google/Youtube and Twitter, that way when I impulsively type their web addresses in the bar I won’t instantly have access to my feeds. Often seeing the sign-in page is enough of a reminder that I’m not supposed to be procrastinating, and that there is work to be done. I should probably do that with Netflix, too.

2. Track Progress.

A lot of authors have agendas or calendars that they use to not only schedule their lives, but also to track how much they’ve written. Some authors, like my friends Sarena and Sasha, write down the dates for when they hit certain word-count milestones, and when they finish. Others, like Victoria Schwab, use stickers to count how many words they wrote on a certain day. I think that if I adopt these methods of progress tracking, it will help keep me motivated to keep doing better than the day before, which will hopefully take me all the way to the end of a book, or at least a first draft.

3. Make a schedule, and stick to it.

I’ve always been a planner, but recently I’ve been trying to make a schedule for myself that incorporated many daily habits that I want to become routine, including working out, reading, and, of course, writing. Sticking to a schedule can be hard when spontaneous hangouts with friends happen, or you miss you bus. But I’ve realized that if writing is something I want to do, I can’t just do it whenever I please – I have to set aside time for it around my work and, in the Fall, my school. I’m hoping to be able to implement a schedule, now that my only constant obligation is work, and maybe I’ll be able to transition into a school-term schedule – but we’ll see about that!

4. Treat it like a job.

I’ve always been a hard worker when it comes to school and work – in fact, sometimes I wonder if I take them a little too seriously. I’ve noticed that I do not put the same intensity into my writing as I do with them, which may be why I do not prioritize writing. What I am coming to understand is that being a published author and having a book out in the world isn’t something that will just magically happen; it’s not just luck and good timing. I have to make the time, I have to put in the work, and I have to be committed to it. Dreams take work, and it’s about dang time I started putting that same work ethic I have for school and my job into my writing.

I’ve learned a lot about myself recently, about what I want in life and who I want to be. I’ve been making some lifestyle changes, and adding more writing to my life is one of them. The goal is to get my writing fire back, the same one I had as a teenager. It’s going to be a long, tough road, but if this is what I want, then I need to work for it.


Do you have trouble sitting down and writing? How do you deal with distractions or lost writing-sparks? Let’s chat about Writer’s Block down in the comments!

Thank you so much for reading this silly ramble, and I hope you have a fantastic day!

~Becca

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Writing Wednesday: What’s a Character Without a Plot?

Good morning, lovely blog viewers!

Today is the beginning of a new series that I hope will “WIP” (hehe get it?) my writing butt back into shape: Writing Wednesday! As you can see from my “My Writing History” page, I used to do a lot of writing a couple of years ago, but my time management has been lacklustre at best, and my writing has suffered because of it. By starting this series, which will range from discussions about the problems I have with writing to quickly-written prompts/writing exercises, I’m hoping to get my creative juices flowing and maybe solve some problems in the process, all the while hearing from you about your writing!

Today I’m going to discuss a problem I’ve always had, which is the habit of thinking up characters before I think of an actual story. Now, whenever I have thought of an actual plot before characters, the characters themselves have come to me pretty easily. The first trilogy I wrote was a plot first, but the characters came rushing out of my brain almost immediately.

Unfortunately, I have a bit of trouble when it goes the other way around.

That’s where I’m at right now with my soon-to-be WIP. There’s a character bouncing around my head, itching to be written on a page, but no story to put them in. I could tell you what they look like and what their personality is like, but right now they’re just floating in vast nothingness, waiting for gravity to pull them towards a purpose. I can’t even decide whether I want to put them in a contemporary or an action-adventure (possible sci-fi/fantasy). These are two very different genres, and my character could grow in two very different ways in both.

So, what’s a girl to do when she doesn’t have a story for a her character? Here’s my plan:

1. Think about the story you want to tell.

There’s likely a reason why I came up with this character, and so there must be a storyline that also fits this reason. What kind of message am I trying to get across with this character? What is this character supposed to represent? What kind of story will best showcase and develop the messages that I am trying to get across? This will probably take a lot of thinking and self-reflection, but if that’s what it takes to get me to the outlining stage, then so be it.

2. Be open to inspiration.

I should start reading more books and taking in more story-like content. I need to listen to more music and open my mind to the possibilities that lay ahead of me. You never know where inspiration may strike, but it may not have the opportunity to strike if I don’t expose myself to more creative works.

3. Write more.

On that creative note, maybe all I need is a good word-vomit, you know? Maybe if I can get my own creative juices flowing with short stories and ten-minute prompts, then more stories will spring forward and give me something to work with.

Whatever the solution, this is definitely a problem that is going to take some time and focus to fix. Luckily I’ll be going on a kind of retreat very soon, so hopefully inspiration will strike while I’m there!

Have you ever had this kind of character-without-plot writer’s block before? How did you solve it? If not, what kind of problems do you find you run into when writing? Let’s discuss them in the comments below!

Thank you so much for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Becca

Reading Slumps and Writer’s Block

Good morning everyone! I have a full work day ahead of me (11 hours!), so I’m actually writing this post from the past – hello!

Today I wanted to get some frustrations off of my chest. As you may or may not know, my top 2 goals for this summer were to read more and write more. To help with that, I decided to run a super, super casual daily writing challenge throughout August.

Well, things haven’t gone as planned.

First of all, I’ve been working a lot more because two of my coworkers have had to take time off for personal reasons. I have been covering a lot of their shifts, and today is my second full-day shift, which is rare.

Secondly, because it’s nearing the end of summer I’ve been going out more, spending time with my friends and boyfriend before we all head back to school in September. This also takes up a lot of my reading time (though I 100% do not regret it).

As for reading, I’m not sure if I’m just in a huge reading hangover from Six of Crows, or if I feel bad for reading because I know I’m supposed to be writing. My Goodreads says that I’m currently reading 3 books, but right now I don’t know if they’re necessarily the books I want to be reading. All of this adds up to one big reading slump.

And writing: I started out my own challenge strong, but it looks like I lost my inspiration during the second week – ain’t it sad? I just don’t feel like writing anymore, which is frustrating because during the school year all I wanted to do was write stories.

So, what have I decided to do about it?

For reading I think I’m going to duck out of Seize the Book’s choice for this month (Sorry, Adele!). I have wanted to read I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson for so long, but right now it’s not the book I want to be reading the most. I think I’ll also stop reading The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, because I haven’t picked it up for a while and it, too, is not a book I feel like reading right now (not sure if I’ll give it back to my aunt or if I’ll just keep it for a bit). I want to start focussing on what I want to read, especially the books I already own. I also want to go to some YA events that Indigo is hosting, so I should try to read the books by the attending authors.

For writing, I’m not going to try to push myself anymore, because it just leaves me frustrated and it’s wasted time. I’m going to write when I feel like it, because that’s when I’ll be the most productive. With that in mind, my daily writing updates are going to stop. So, I basically failed my own challenge. Sorry. I know, it’s really bad. If you want to see someone who’s doing really well with this challenge, check out my pal Wolfie’s stats! Wolfie’s been doing so much writing, and I wish I had that kind of creativity/inspiration! I’ll keep doing the prompts on Mondays (if I remember), but I definitely think the next writing challenge I do is going to be a week long – one month is too much!

Do you think this is a good idea? If you’ve got any suggestions or words of wisdom for me, I’d really appreciate it!

Talk to you all soon.

~Becca

 

Write Every Day in August Day 10 Stats

Number of Words Written: 0

Number of Words Written in Total: 3,019

Which Piece I Worked On: N/A

Important Events:

  • Cleaned the kitchen
  • Baked cookies
  • Hung out with my boyfriend

Overall Thoughts on the past 3 days: Look, I figure I’ve already failed the challenge (didn’t write Saturday), so there’s no point in me trying to write before I go to bed tonight. I just had a lot to get done today, between cooking for my brother and his friends to baking cookies for work to spending time with my boyfriend.

Honestly, right now I’m kind of regretting even having this challenge. I’ve wanted to improve my book blogging (and I was reminded about this today), but I’ve found that it’s hard to do that when I’ve got this challenge going on – I haven’t read for a few days! That being said, I’ve been wanting to get back to writing fiction for a long time, too, and that was the point of this challenge.

I just kind of feel stuck between two of the things I want to do, both of which take a lot of time and energy and commitment. Hopefully I can sort things out soon.

I hope you’re all doing all right! If you’ve got any words of encouragement, please sent them my way. I could really use them.

~Becca

Write Every Day in August Days 6-8 Stats

Number of Words Written: 843

Number of Words Written in Total: 2,920

Which Piece I Worked On: I gave up on the competition piece, and instead turned to the contemporary novel about a teenage competitive baker. I did an outline on Sunday, and did a bit of character sketching.

Important Events:

  • Spent a lot of time with family and friends
  • Work

Overall Thoughts on the past 3 days: So I pretty much failed the challenge because I didn’t write at all on Saturday. Even though I’m supposed to be working on my competition piece, I’m pretty glad I changed projects, if only because my creative juices were not flowing enough for the short story. I’d like to work on an outline for this novel tomorrow, but I’ve also got a lot of other stuff to do, so we’ll see!

How did you do this weekend?

~Becca

Write Every Day in August Day 5 Stats

Number of Words Written Today: 45

Number of Words Written in Total: 2,077

Which Piece I Worked On: Continued the competition piece. I feel like I should give y’all a name for it, but I really can’t think of one

Today’s Events:

  • Hung out with my boyfriend
  • Watched the Opening Ceremonies

Overall Thoughts on Today: This day definitely didn’t go as well as I was hoping it would, but I am a lot happier with what I did manage to write. Small victories!

Have a good weekend, everyone!

~Becca

Write Every Day in August Day 4 Stats

Number of Words Written Today: 29

Number of Words Written in Total: 2,032

Which Piece I Worked On: The same competition piece. I tried thinking of something else, but nothing came to mind.

Today’s Events:

  • Work
  • Did some book photography
  • Watched YouTube videos
  • Watched some TV

Overall Thoughts on Today: Oh man, this was pretty bad. The worst writing day so far, I think. I had meant to write during my break at work, but then I ended up watching a live broadcast on YouTube. Woops.

Hope today was better for all of you!

~Becca

Write Every Day in August Day 3 Stats

Number of Words Written Today: 543

Number of Words Written in Total: 2,003

Which Piece I Worked On: I continued on my competition story today. It’s still difficult to write, but I got pretty far. Honestly, I’m kind of hoping inspiration for a different story pops up, but it has yet to happen.

Today’s Events:

  • Work
  • Did a little bit of school prep and research

Overall Thoughts on Today: This was better! I’m going to have more time tomorrow, as well, so I’m looking forward to making the most of it.

How was day 3 for y’all?

Thanks for reading!

~Becca