A Prayer for the Lost.

Or, as I like to call it, National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo) fever strikes again.

I’ve taken part in NaNoWriMo for several years. The insane task of writing a 50k novel in 30 days calls to me like a siren. I’ve won it all but one of the times I’ve taken part. You definitely run the risk of completely losing your mind when you try it.

I’ll also admit that not every author works well under the pressure of it.  I certainly couldn’t do it every month–once a year is more than enough. All my other novels have taken anywhere from two to six months to write.

So, in honour of the impending doom, here’s a prayer for the battered muses of all who suffer through November madness.

Dear Goddess of NaNoWriMo,

May you keep our pens moving, our coffee cups full, and our ideas flowing.

Keep our foreheads safe from hard surfaces.

Allow our commas to wind up in the correct places.

May they’re, their, and there cease to torment us.

May our loved ones not give up on us.

Help our word counts to grow.

And when the clock strikes midnight on November 30th–let our novels have hit at least 50,000 words.

Ever yours,

Your thankful and fearful novelist. 

Are you taking part in NaNo this year? Have you plotted out your ideas or are you pantsing it? I’m going for a mix of pantsing and plotting. I wish you all luck.

 

*I may have played a little too much Assassin’s Creed: Origins this weekend and gotten a bit caught up in the prayers to Egyptian Gods and Goddesses. lol

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Sixteen going on seventeen.

If I could send my sixteen-year-old self a few pieces of advice,  here’s what I’d say to myself:

  1. It gets better. It truly does.
  2. You’re autistic. Not a weirdo, or a freak. All those ways you don’t seem to fit are because you’re autistic.
  3. Heartbreaks aren’t the end of the world.
  4. You can be a writer. Just keep writing.
  5. Everyone makes mistakes.
  6. Not everyone who claims to be your friend–is your friend.
  7. Practice the Spanish, Mandarin, and sign language that you learned. (Being multi lingual would’ve been so handy now lol.)
  8. One day, you’ll find your real family. It’ll be better than all the times you’ve imagined it.
  9. You are brilliant.
  10. You don’t owe abusive bastards anything–no matter who they are.

What would you tell your sixteen-year-old self if you could?

A Bridge for Sale in Brooklyn

A week has passed since the RT Convention. My thoughts have settled. Well, at the very least, I no longer want to hide from people forever. Large conferences aren’t the natural habitat of an autistic like myself.

I managed it, somehow, at the very least.

Workshops were a large aspect of the convention, many geared toward writers. It’s taken a week for my thoughts to clear. I’ve come to the conclusion that my opinion on advice on writing remains unchanged.

Whenever ask for my advice on the subject of writing, I usually say: “Take all advice on writing with a healthy grain of salt.

I might have to expand it ever so slightly.

Take all advice in general with a grain of salt.

Why?

I went to multiple workshops every day of the convention, barring maybe one day when I’d just reached my limit of sensory input. Just on the subject of series vs. serials vs. standalone, everyone had their opinions on what every author should do.

Author A believed writing a series to be a waste of time because no one read them anymore. Author B insisted that readers hate standalone novels and only want to read long series.  Author C suggested a serial worked much better than a series.

Then there was of course suggestions on how to write in general.

Write what you know.

Write what you don’t know.

Write what you love.

Write what you fear.

For fuck’s sake, just fucking write. I often wonder if the adage of ‘those who can’t, teach’ isn’t a tiny bit true with writing. I’m always wary though of people who try to sell me their tried and true method as the ‘God’s honest truth.’ All the sage experienced author wisdom can occasionally amount to nothing more than pissing in the wind, particular if you never actually put words on paper.

If you’ve got a story in you, all the writer tips from others won’t get your words out of you. They can’t put your pen on your manuscript and bleed for you. You have to do the work.

Is all advice on writing shit?

Of course not.

Should you listen to everyone?

Of course not.

There are brilliant resources out there if you want to be a better writer. I even learned a bunch from some of the RT workshops. The key, I believe, is to be selective on what you allow to influence you.

I’m a sceptic in the body of an optimist. Whenever someone has the best ever shiny new way to do something, I’m always immediately hopeful yet equally distrustful.  The trouble is, if you wait six months, someone’s going to have a new shiny to sell to you. It’s never ending.

So what to do?

Trust your gut instincts. Write what and how works best for you (not for someone else). Be open to advice, but not so open you begin to morph into someone else. Readers can sense inauthenticity (and they don’t like it.)

 

Neil Gaiman says it better than I do:

“The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.” — Neil Gaiman

 

Best Writing Advice I’ve Ever Received.

The word inspiration written on a vintage typewriter

Ask me on any given day, and I might give you varied answers to the question of what the best advice I’ve ever received might be. I’ll also likely tell you that all advice on the subject of writing should be taking with a massive grain of salt. Some of the best general advice I’ve ever been given was to never waste time living someone else’s idea of what my life should be. Solid advice, I think. The other important note on life I was told was always drink more water than you think you need and spend less money than you think you can afford. =)

But, on the subject of being an author, the best advice I’ve ever received is rather simple and concise.

Never be afraid to start over whether it’s a sentence, paragraph, chapter, or entire story.

Why do I find it so important? Stubbornness and fear can stagnant your muse. Sometimes you have to have the courage to start from scratch, even if it’s only one chapter.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received(in writing or life)?

Writing Advice.

TheEnd

When asked for writing advice, I usually say ‘take all writing advice with a grain of salt.’  The reason for this is that as a good friend of mine would say, ‘mileage may vary.’  As with just about everything in life, writing is not a one size fits all endeavor.  Watching the #writetip hashtag on twitter is always fascinating–insightful–humorous.  Within less than an hour, I was advised to:

  1. Write what I love.
  2. Write what I know.
  3. Write what scares me.
  4. Write what I don’t know.

Perhaps, the best advise boils down to one simple thing–just write.

Doesn’t matter how you do it (as long as you aren’t plagiarizing, because that’s bad–and also illegal), for who or why.  The words on paper (or keyboard) are what matter.  I’ve said this before I’m quite sure I have.  But it doesn’t hurt to repeat it.

If you want to be a writer…write.

Nothing more or less complicated than that to it.

There are a multitude of courses, books, retreats which will make you a better writer.  I have no doubts about it.  We can always learn something.

But it will..in the end…come back to one simple thing.

Words. On. Paper.

So…how do you become a writer?

You sit your arse in a chair and write until the story is finished.

NaNoWriMo: Day 9

Untitled-1

Perseverance.

November is often the worst month for month for me to write.  Family obligations and family -related stress are at a maximum during the last two months of the year.  And for three years running, I’ve tortured myself with NaNoWriMo on top of everything else.

It’s my  masochistic streak showing.

All that being said, I’m in love with my NaNo story this year.  I’m way behind in where I’d like to be, though I’m not drowning in lake of unused words just yet.  Here’s hoping I can get myself back on track though.

For all those others taking part in the madness this year.  How goes your NaNoWriMo?

 

Breaking The Wall

DSCF3178Maybe it’s the slow churning in your stomach when your mind goes blank.  Or perhaps the inability to cease fidgeting at your desk, or maybe you can’t avoid goofing off on Pinterest for hours at a time.  Or…do you simple stare blankly at a flickering cursor on an empty word document, typing and erasing the same words over and over?

Writer’s Block comes in a few different shapes and sizes.  Some authors never experience it others struggle with it on a daily basis to some degree or other.

So what’s the best way to deal with Writer’s Block?

I have no blood clue.

But you could try:

  • Changing POVs:  I’ve been amazed at how a difficult chapter has turned around simply by changing the perspective in it.
  • Avoid the internet:  We tend to have the attention span of a gnat most days as authors.  So try to avoid Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.  You’ll thank me.
  • Remove distractions: For me? My Kindle and phone have to be FAR away from me, along with my Xbox controller or I’ll be tempted to do something other than writing.
  • Skip ahead in the story: Chapter four not working out? Write chapter five or six.
  • Drown your sorrows in chocolate…or booze.  Or both?

So, do you experience Writer’s Block? If so, how do you break through the wall?