Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Zounds!

So, I've been doing a lot of self-reflection this month. You know that old adage that you can't know what you think until you see what you write? Well, writing about myself all month--and some self-reflection on the side--has helped me realize a few things:
Sometimes Inspiration is Ugly
Realization #1: I'm not naturally gifted at this writing thing. 
Don't get me wrong--I think I can do a lot of it well. Putting words together into sentences. Knowing what elements to include to make things exciting. That sort of thing. But I'm not as good as I thought I was when I started out... and I'm not going to get better at it by wishing it was so. Or by staring off into space and daydreaming about how and why I got stuck in my most recent WIP. I read over a hundred books a year, but that doesn't make me an expert at plotting or at clearly expressing my ideas.

The related realization, of course, is that I need to get educated. Mostly, I want to learn how to outline--at least to do outline beats. You can expect to see me outlining the plots of some bestselling books here soon, as I try to figure it out. I'm also going to write several outlines for my WIP--I've been stuck because I know there's not just one right plot, and I haven't been able to choose the best alternates. I'm hoping that drawing out several different plots will give me the clear options I need to make a definite choice.

I'm also going to make a point of reading more books about writing. Recommendations are appreciated.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Realization #2: I'm not quitting anytime soon.
Not that I really thought about it. I've actually been bummed at times because so many authors talk about how their break came just after they decided it was never going to happen. It's going to be years before I reach that point. I've been doing this long enough and have tasted enough rejection that I know most of the pitfalls and heartaches (well, the pre-agent, pre-publication ones, anyway). I can take 'em. Pain don't hurt. At least, it don't hurt enough to abandon my dream before I've really given it a fair shot.

So, I'm going to write, polish, and query at least five books before I decide it's not going to happen for me. If Brandon Sanderson can write more than that many epic fantasy books before his day came, I can do at least five. Right now I have 1.4.

I've got some writing to do.

Realization #3: I've got some writing to do...
... and daily blogging takes more time than I can spare. It's not that I haven't enjoyed this challenge, but the hours and hours that I've spent on this challenge have made a huge dent in what I could have accomplished on my WIP. It's not that it was wasted time--I've had some important realizations, after all--but maybe if I'd spent that time writing instead of blogging, I'd have gotten there sooner.

So I'm going to try using blogging as a tool or as a carrot. If I can write a post using the exercises I do while I learn outlining, etc, I'll do that. Or, if I'm caught up on my writing goals, I can do a blog post. But no more using my only hour of writing to do a blog post. Writing has to come first--or what's the point of having a writing blog?

In other news, I'm going to be at LDStorymakers at the end of this week. Who's going to be there with me?

What do you have to change to become the writer you want to be?


  1. Besides the obvious The Writer's Journey by Vogler a couple of my favorite writing books are the Elements of Fiction Writing series (various authors)and The Weekend Novelist by Robert Ray which focuses on writing toward plot points (I have an older version and I think I remember seeing a mention in the reviews once that in some ways some people like it better than the new version.)I also have a DVD on structure that I liked, Blockbuster Plots by Martha Alderson, seems like I had a book to go with it too.

    Best of Luck! You'll get there with the determination you show!

  2. Your self-motivation and tenacity always amazes and inspires me. Don't give up.

    Oh, and I'll be at Storymakers (you're shocked, right?). Can't wait!

  3. Congrats on beating the challenge, Robin. I know what you mean about blogging taking so much time.

    Can't wait to see you!

  4. I hear you on most of those thoughts. I don't consider myself a 'natural' at this either but there is time and determination on our side :)


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  6. (Let's try this again.)

    I've read tons of books on craft and these are my favorites:

    The Fire in Fiction by lit agent Donald Maass
    Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass
    Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell
    The Plot Whisperer by Martha Alderson

    These books WILL make you a better writer. They WILL help you plot. Writing an outline is the vest way to tell if you truly have a workable story. You can measure up to the points in these books. It creates a roadmap easily followed. It's the very best way to write, IMHO. I write extensive outlines. I just started a new one for my current WIP. @ days in & I have 40 pages. Each page is worth probably 4 pages of written text & dialogue. I truly think it's the best way to go. Good luck!

  7. Congrats on meeting the writing challenge. Stay the course. See you at Storymakers.

  8. This is exactly why don't have a set time when I regularly blog. I try to make it at least once a week, but if I did it all the time, eery day, I'd never get any writing done.

  9. I enjoyed reading your A-Z posts! They took time to write but no writing is ever wasted. :-) I recommend James Scott Bell's books on craft, especially "The Art of War for Writers". James N. Frey has written a series of craft books for writers. "How to Write a Damn Good Novel" is the first. It's excellent. I also recommend "Self-Editing for Fiction Writers" by Browne and King. It has funny cartoons too.

  10. Congratulations on deciding to outline your WIP's. After you start you will wonder why you waited so long.