Tag Archive: Writing Blog

5 Tips to Help You Stick with a Writing Project

Sticking with one novel to completion is something I’m only just now learning this year. I know the struggle of losing steam and deciding to chase down a shiny new idea instead, thinking it’ll be easier. In the words of Rick Riordan, “DON’T! That new book won’t be any easier.” And it never is. As someone who has 70+ unfinished stories laying around, I can attest to that. If you keep chasing new ideas you’ll always chase after the new shiny and never finish anything. So, to help you combat that, here are five tips to overcoming “Ooh Shiny Syndrome.”

1 – Figure out what excites you about this project

It could be the characters, the setting, the plot, something more specific within these. Figure out why you want to write this story as soon as you start prewriting (or writing, if you’re a pantser). Write these things down if you need to. Keep them on a sticky note by your desk. Do something so that you can remind yourself of these things when – not if – the going gets tough.

If you’re already part of the way through the process and you don’t know what excites you about your project, you should probably give some deep thought to whether you really want to write this story or if maybe it’s actually a good idea to move on to that new shiny.

2 – Make a plan

Give yourself a schedule and a deadline. One of the things I love about NaNoWriMo is the deadline. It gives a sense of accountability if you tell yourself, “YES. I am going to finish this by this date.” And the nice thing is that you can set your own word count goal and time limit. It doesn’t have to be 50k in 30 days. You don’t necessarily have to be nuts.

You might not need a more specific schedule than a deadline, but it may help to have one, particularly considering my next point, which is…

3 – Make a habit

Figure out when you write best and, if possible, set your writing time accordingly. Whether that’s doable for you or not, try to write at the same time consistently. Eventually your brain will realize, “Oh. It’s writing time now.” As Ralph Keyes said, “Routine is a better friend than inspiration.”

4 – Don’t get too focused on the end goal

If you focus too much on publishing your book and seeing it on shelves and reading it in tangible book form, you’ll start to wish it was already finished and you’ll lose the joy of writing it. I learned this the hard way during NaNo. That said, don’t lose sight of your goal, and a little fantasizing could even be the push you need to keep going. Just don’t take it too far.

5 – Find an accountability partner

Find someone either in the same boat as you or more mature in their writing to keep you on track. Maybe check in each evening with your word count, maybe tell them where you’re at with your book at the end of each week, whatever works. Find someone to keep you writing. And if you share your book with them, they can even get you excited to keep updating by being a little tiny fandom. If you do that, though, make sure you get someone who will give you honest, constructive feedback and point out both the good and the bad. As much as compliments feel good, you don’t really want someone to tell you you’re great in an area if you’re not. If you get someone constructive in their feedback, you’ll learn your strengths and weaknesses and you’ll have an easier time growing in your skill as a writer.

 

Hopefully these tips will help you to stick with a project. Don’t forget those new shinies, though. Always make note of them for later. If one keeps nagging you, make a special note and prioritize it. Chances are it’s a good one. ;) Happy writing.

Clean Fantasy and Boring Cover Syndrome

Since recently subscribing to a number of clean fantasy authors’ newsletters, I’ve come across a disappointing trend. A lot of clean fantasy books have really unimpressive covers. You know the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover,” and that’s great in principle, but when it comes to books, readers really do judge books by their covers. As a reader myself I can attest to this. Heck, it’s why I’m writing this post.

I love finding clean fantasy books. They’re rare, and thus they’re hard to find. *thinks of all of the fantasy books she’s read that have been almost clean, but not quite* We need more authors of clean fantasy (or clean anything, for that matter), and we need those authors to step into the reader’s shoes and think about whether or not the cover they’ve chosen will draw someone’s attention or if it will just be overlooked on the bookshelf or as a reader’s scrolling through Amazon or whatever. If your goal as a clean fantasy author is to bless your readers with something they can easily trust to not have sex scenes or language or whatever else we don’t want to read, bless them by making your book stand out on a shelf, too, so that they can actually find it to read it. Maybe these books are fabulously written, but I’ll never know because the cover doesn’t make me interested enough to even look.

Now, this is not to say that all clean fantasy books have boring covers. I know several authors who write clean books and have wonderful covers (Wayne Thomas Batson, Miranda Marie, Jonathan Rogers, Evan Angler…), but it appears that as a general rule, clean fantasy has dull covers.

As a reader and author of clean fantasy, I just want to ask a simple favor of any other clean fantasy authors out there: Please pay attention to your covers. Please put effort into them. The Book Cover Designer has fairly affordable pre-made covers, if you want to start there. Since I’ve only ever bought one cover I can’t attest to anywhere else, unfortunately, but look around. Find something pre-made or get something custom made, just give thought to your cover.

Character Interview: Prynn Nemea

Prynn is one of the semi-main characters of The Shadow Raven. She’s Detren‘s cousin, and she does her best to keep him steady as he becomes king.

*****

Interviewer: Good morning, Prynn. How are you?

Prynn: I’m doing well. *smiles* How are you?

Interviewer: I’m doing all right. Shall we begin?

Prynn: *nods*

Interviewer: What is your name?

Prynn: Prynn Cantara Nemea.

Interviewer: How old are you?

Prynn: I’m sixteen.

Interviewer: Do you have any siblings?

Prynn: No. But Detren is something like a brother.

Interviewer: What is your job?

Prynn: I don’t particularly have one. I’m the daughter of a lord and lady and the cousin of a king. There’s no special title for me, and I’m still in school. So I guess the most fitting thing to say would be that I’m a student.

Interviewer: Do you enjoy school?

Prynn: *shrugs* It’s neither enjoyable nor awful. I tend to prefer reading on my own to reading about how mountains are formed.

Interviewer: *laughs* Well, reading is always good. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

Prynn: I’m an introvert, but I love people. I love talking to them, getting to know them, taking care of them when they need it, stuff like that.

Interviewer: What is your favorite food?

Prynn: Hmm. I like a lot of things. Freshly baked bread is always good. I also like plums.

Interviewer: And your favorite color?

Prynn: Dark purple.

Interviewer: You mentioned you like to read; what is your favorite book?

Prynn: Moon of Gold. It’s a more fantastical story set in the same world as Detren’s favorite, Soldiers of the East.

Interviewer: I’ve heard that one mentioned a lot around here. What is it about?

Prynn: It’s set in a desert with a lot of competing countries and divisions with opposing views and values. Soldiers of the East focuses on the Eilram and the Pastyna Regiment, the former of which works for a war-focused country and the latter of which works to preserve peace and justice against the Eilram’s rampages. There are others, though, that focus on other aspects of the world. Moon of Gold takes place in the theocratic country that’s at odds with the war-centered country. It’s hard to describe in short terms, but they’re really interesting.

Interviewer: They sound fascinating. They seem popular, too.

Prynn: They are fairly popular. I think it’s because the world is deep and you always feel like there’s always more to know.

Interviewer: Those are always the best worlds. I guess we should probably move on. Do you have any ideas of what job you might want to have after school?

Prynn: I’m considering becoming a healer, possibly specializing in childbirth.

Interviewer: You seem to really care about people, so I think you’d be good in that role.

Prynn: *smiles* Thank you.

Interviewer: What are your hobbies?

Prynn: Reading and piano, mostly. I also paint, on occasion, but those two are my main hobbies.

Interviewer: What traits do you look for in a potential husband?

Prynn: At the moment I don’t, but if I were looking… Someone kind and generous, a believer in Abba, and someone willing to stand up for what he believes in.

Interviewer: All good qualities. Which of these is most important to you, in general: Kindness, intelligence, or bravery?

Prynn: Bravery. All of them are excellent traits, but bravery is probably the most important.

Interviewer: And honesty or selflessness?

Prynn: That one’s a tougher choice. Probably honesty, but selflessness is a very close second.

Interviewer: What is something you can never leave the house without?

Prynn: Some sort of hairpiece. If I’m going out I don’t want my hair constantly in my face.

Interviewer: Thank you for your time. That was the last question. I enjoyed talking with you.

Prynn: You too. *smiles* Thank you for the interview. *heads out of the room*

Favorite Writing Quotes

So we’ve reached the middle of November, and for those of us doing NaNoWriMo, it’s quite possible we need some encouragement. I know I do. I’ve been slow all month, so I’m feeling kind of discouraged with my writing. Maybe you’re in a similar situation. If you’re still right on track and going strong, good for you! You’re awesome and I congratulate you. If you are a bit behind like I am, you’re still awesome, and you deserve commendation for persevering despite your discouragement. In case you need a bit of a writing pick-me-up, here are some of my favorite writing quotes.

“You might not write well everyday, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” – Jodi Picoult

“I think new writers are too worried that it has all been said before. Sure it has, but not by you.” – Asha Dornfest

“Writing a book is always hard work. It’s much easier to think of new ideas. You’ll get to the middle of the manuscript and you’ll think, ‘Oh, this is too hard. I’ll start another book instead and that will be easier.’ DON’T! That new book won’t be any easier.” – Rick Riordan

“Writing. Do not undertake this passion lightly. It is work, discipline, often the loneliness of duties. But if your spirit soars with the creative gift of the Father, Creator of all, then by all means have at it! ‘Cuz it’s a lot of fun!” – Wayne Thomas Batson.

“It doesn’t matter how slow you go as long as you don’t stop.” – Confucius

“Remember you love writing. It wouldn’t be worth it if you didn’t. If the love fades, do what you need to and get it back.” – A.L. Kennedy

“Serious writers write, inspired or not. Over time they discover that routine is a better friend than inspiration.” – Ralph Keyes

“A writer never has a vacation. For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.” – Eugene Ionesco

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining. Show me the glint of light on broken glass.” – Anton Chekhov

Hopefully some of these were encouraging. Whatever you do, don’t. stop. writing. Keep going. You may not win NaNoWriMo, you might not even come close, but whatever words you’ve written are more than you had before you started.

NaNoWriMo Weeks 1-2 Update

*bangs head on desk* I have fallen so far off the rails with blogging this month. I’m sorry. I’ve been too absorbed in NaNoWriMo to actually… write about NaNoWriMo. So I’ve missed seven excerpts, an update, a poem, and a character interview. Aren’t I just doing fabulously? I plan on getting back on track from this post onward, and this time I’ll work harder at keeping up despite NaNoWriMo.

November 1 – 6,583

Boom, things are off to a great start! I’m half a thousand words ahead of my goal and things are looking good. I saved a couple of favorite lines, too:

“She’d paid some attention in her history lessons, she realized. Or she’d taken them in through osmosis. She’s certainly fallen asleep on her books enough for that.”

“Before too long, the stars began to twinkle and the city lights came on, burning as if reflections of the starlight in a massive pool.”

In addition to my work on The Shadow Raven, I also got House of Mages back from the editor and started applying her edits.

November 2 – 1,325

And we’re already behind. Lovely. And in addition, I didn’t make any notes of what I wrote or my feelings about it or anything. The only thing in my bullet journal for that day is a list of three possible names for a new character who came in, a maid for Nissa. (Her name is Maria, by the way.)

November 3 – 3,393

Well, that’s a little bit better. I came up with a secret basement in the castle and decided what rooms it would hold. I also played around with some possible fonts for the final printed version of The Dark War Trilogy.

At least I was really happy with what I wrote on the third. In addition, a random character showed up, as did an ancient magical artifact.

November 4 – 3,293

Ah, wishing I could get to the “turning point” in the book. Yup. There was a week of story time between the beginning and the first huge plot point. A plot point which I was greatly looking forward to writing because I knew it would be a lot richer and deeper than when I first came up with it and wrote it months ago.

November 5 – 1,760

At two a.m. the morning of the fifth I was working on worldbuilding for a completely separate story, and once I got into the day I did very little. Little writing on The Shadow Raven and no editing on House of Mages.

November 6 – 2,673

More moaning that I’m not to the turning point yet.

November 7 – 7,026

Woah! An impressive word count for the first time since the beginning of the month! Ah, well that explains it; I got past the turning point, as well as past 25k. And I got to write that richer section, which turned out almost exactly like I imagined. I wonder… will readers be able to tell which POV is my favorite?

November 8 – 2,829

19k behind schedule. However, I (thought that I) solved the why behind my slow writing: I’ve been too focused on the end product to enjoy the here and now of the writing. Unfortunately, I’m still writing slowly…

November 9 – 3,797

Today I was more excited to write death scenes from The Last Assassin than to write The Shadow Raven. Which isn’t quite as bad as it sounds, because the death scenes in The Last Assassin are exciting. But still. I also put together character boards for Charette Audrian from The Last Assassin and Ammadeus Maste from The King’s Paladin, and made character profile cover pages for them, and Toril Valda from The King’s Paladin, in my story binder.

November 10 – 2,150

Up to 34k when I should be up to 60k. Nice. And I’d rather be worldbuilding for one of two entirely separate planets. Yeah, NaNoWriMo’s not going too well.

November 11 – 1,143(ish)

Yesterday was spent working on short stories, since I’ve decided that’s what I’m doing for Christmas presents this year. I put together two and a half full covers and started one of the stories, and that’s mostly what I did yesterday. I had a lot of fun putting together the covers. Here’s one of them (I can’t share the other one because I know the person it’s for follows my blog. ;) ):

Total word count so far: 35,189

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