Arranging Furniture in My Head: How I Plan to Get My Writing Done

So… some of you have read my goals for the year. If you had, you might have realized that my writing goals alone are pretty nuts.

I did too. So to prove to myself that it’s theoretically possible, I made a visual timeline of my projects. This is what I came up with:

Yeah. It’s even more daunting in visual. Each of the colored blocks stand for when I should ideally be done with something. Except for the red. Submissions can take a year in themselves.

Still, in theory, it’s possible. In fact, it might even be likely. And this is how I plan to do it:

Prioritizing.

First priority is The Heir’s Choice, which is the first title on the list. It’s sequel is third, because I need to sort out editing on THC before I start rewriting. That way, I’ll cut down on some work. I also gave myself ample time in which I can do the rewriting.

Anyway. Birds vs Bastards is second at the moment. Second means that whenever I’m waiting for my editor, I’m editing BvB. And when I go down the list, my current rough drafts are the next things I want to work on this month. Last is a bit for an anthology, because I want to submit, but it’s not part of my goals this year. Also, I SUCK at short stories most of the time.

Really. I do. I’ve thought up three awesome ideas since reading the brief, and all of them are too big to fit into 5k words. :-/

But I digress.

The timeline I set isn’t set in stone. So if I want, I can put in another block for my rough drafts.  If I finish anything early or late, I can adjust the plan accordingly. At the moment, I’m feeling like BvB will be done ahead of schedules. I have some kick-ass crit partners who are reading through the chapters like fiends. (I’m saying this in the best possible way.)

Yesterday, I edited BvB and drafted 1000 words. So obviously, switching gears isn’t as tricky as it used to be. That will make things a ton easier. If I manage that every second day of a month, I’ll average 15k, which (to my timeline) adds up to 45k and more than enough words for me to finish all of my current rough drafts.

My only niggle is in the drafts I still have to start. (Light green blocks.) According to the current plan, I’ll be running multiple edits, at least one submission and a rewrite at any given time when I’m supposed to do a drafts.

Which brings me to my next point. This year won’t be one where I can spend too much time resting on my achievements. If I finish something, I need to get the next project going. It’s the only way I can make the timeline look more favorable.

Do you agree that this can be done?

I’ll update you regularly on how it’s going.

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When I say "Just Write"…

I’ve recently returned to social media with a vengeance and you might have noticed, because lately I’ve been writing quite a few posts inspired by events on other social media.

Mainly, the reason for this was that… well… Blogging really helps me when I have a lot to say.

Today is another one of these posts. Although a lot less angry because it wasn’t sparked by someone being an idiot.

This time, it was sparked by a lot of first time writers who are being (naturally) lacking in confidence or even down-right insecure. It might be a bit more direct, though, in the interest in helping the new kids see the light faster.

One of them got annoyed because her every writing question got answered by: “Write it first”, “Just write”‘s cousin.

Others commented that they also got annoyed by that answer, because it was a cop out. Instead of a “real answer” we veterans just pat new kids on the heads and tell them to write.

Honestly, I can’t say I blame them. But I do think the phrase is misunderstood.

So here I am, explaining my take on “Write it first” and “Just write”, real answer style:

1. This doesn’t encourage people to jump into a story unprepared. 

There are plotters, pantsers and hybrids out there, and my telling people in general to just write the damn story isn’t a way to tell them all to become pantsers. It does, however mean that once you’ve start, that you should try your absolute best to finish that story. There are reasons not to finish a story. But you’ll know them by the fact that you’ll have a reason to shelf it without having to ask anyone else.

2. Just write = Suck it up and keep going. 

We writers have three serious enemies that always fight our attempts to get writing done: fear, inner critics and inner censors.

If you’ve written past that initial thrill of new inspiration, you’ll know them well. What if I don’t have what it takes to write this story? I can’t possibly let that happen to my characters. This isn’t good enough. I shouldn’t want to be a writer. Who was I kidding? 

They never go away. And no amount of other people telling you you’re good enough and that your story will come out fine will make them leave. The only way to beat them is to keep on writing regardless of what those voices say. 

You’re welcome to complain about your doubts and insecurities, but all your true writer friends will tell you to suck it up, buttercup keep writing. This is, in fact, the strongest encouragement we have. We can’t promise you that you’ll get a million dollar book deal. Or that you’ll even get a deal. But we can promise that you can finish a story. And that in itself is a huge accomplishment.

3. Stop over-thinking. 

This is actually what got me into writing today’s post. I spent the past few weeks writing answers to questions like:

When is it okay to end a chapter? 

What are the pros and cons of writing in first person? 

I have this awesome idea about writing about this war people don’t really know about it, but I’m changing it into a spec fic. But is it a good idea? 

And my current personal favorite: How do I avoid info dumps? How do I discretely disperse information throughout the story? 

Oh and: What should I write to manipulate the maximum amount of readers into reading my book?

New kids, I love you. I really do. I do my utmost to give you the tools you need to get those stories written. But you’re never going to get that book done if you’re constantly worrying about doing things just right so other people (who you don’t even know) will think you’re an awesome writer.

Write until you feel the chapter is done.

There are no pros and cons to writing a certain way. Only ways of writing that do or don’t suit you.

If you love a story idea, it’s a good idea. Now go turn it into a book.

Avoid info dumps by either not writing them, or by writing them and cutting them out later. And then you discretely disperse information throughout your story. COME ON. YOU ALREADY KNEW THIS!!!

And for the love of all that is holy. Stop worrying about manipulating millions into reading your book. Firstly, writers have no power over readers until they’ve already decided to buy and read your book. If you think that writing a certain story in a certain way will win you readers, you’re wrong. If you’re writing, thinking that it’s the easy track to fame (as brought to my attention by your desire to manipulate millions into reading your book), you’re wrong. Seriously wrong. Not only that, you’re writing for the wrong reasons and therefore doomed to fail unless you change your thinking.

There is no one recipe for writing success. Only this: If you focus on your story and actually write what you love, in the way you love to write it, you’ll find at least some measure of success. Eventually. But know that money probably won’t be it. Face it. Love it. Write without worrying about it. Takes off a lot of pressure and makes writing a lot more fun.

If you can think of a best seller in our time, odds are there are a lot of people who didn’t think it would do well. Those books’ authors wrote them anyway. 

Go you and do the same.

Just write.

Perfection comes from editing anyway.

Writing veterans: what does “Just write” and “Write it first” mean when you use it?

Sometimes, I need to rearrange the furniture in my head.

Ever since I’ve gone and set my goal, I’ve realized that I needed to change my approach to writing.

I still pick what I want to do and when, but I pretty much always need to do something.

Fortunately, there’s a lot to do. To illustrate. This is a long term list of  everything I want to get done so far:

Concept
StW
Wo6C4
Wo6C5
ES2
ES3
ES4
ES5
ES6
ES7
ES8
ES9
BvB2
CiC
DD
CaA?
HM
SS1
SS2
Draft
VD
P
MDtS
RH

Rewrite
Wo6C3
BvB
ES
O

Edit
Submit
Publish
Wo6C1
Wo6C2

Every single one of those highlighted abbreviations stand for books I want to write, edit or publish. The red, yellow and green show me my priorities. Green’s what I’m doing at the moment, yellow’s what I want to do in the near future and red’s for things I want to do, but that can or must wait for a bit longer. Either way, my list is growing.

In the past six weeks, I’ve added three more ideas to the list of concepts: HM, SS1 and SS2. SS1 and SS2 are two books in a series. I dreamed something that’s kickstarted a concept the night before last. Usually I just ignore my dreams, but for some reason, the more I ignore this one, the less I can think of anything else. So I gave in and SS is now a concept I’m trying to actively work on. In between my rewrite to BvB.

At least, now that I’ve decided to put more thought into the concept right now, it feels like it’s letting up enough for me to finish the rewrites. Phew.

Since I know some of you will want to know what the abbreviations stand for:

Wo6C is for The War of Six Crowns. So Wo6C1 is in fact the book I’m in the process of editing for publishing. (Remember to help reveal the title! I even made it easy for you.)
BvB is for Birds vs Bastards, which is just a working title for my high concept urban fantasy.
O is for Otto, the main character in the dystopian I wrote for last year’s NaNoWriMo.

The others… well… Guess you’ll have to wait and see. 😉

Do you also keep track of what you’ve worked on/are working on? Do you also feel the need to shift some priorities around as you go?

In which I give my two cents on what makes a real writer.

I know I said I’d open up nominations today, but I decided this is a bit more important.

See there’s this little discussion going around on google plus about what makes someone a real writer.

Here’s the highlights of what people said that I’ve read before I decided to write this. And hey, maybe it’s completely unnecessary. I have no idea how many new writers come to my blog.

But I guess you all figured out that I have a heart for helping them. I love encouraging people to write. I love giving advice on stuff I’ve learnt that helps them to crack stuff that took me years. Because honestly, I know that the stuff I write on plot, structure, characterization etc. doesn’t really interest the veteran writers. They know all this already.

The thing is, being a writer, in its purest form, is dedication to writing.

It’s not about you writing like me. Or me writing like you.

It’s not about writing the perfect first draft.

It’s not about a deep knowledge of grammar. It’s not about having a huge and obscure vocabulary.

It’s about dedication to the craft. It’s about writing until you want to cry because you don’t think the story will end. And then, it’s about writing some more until you do get there. All that stuff about having a good manuscript, and fixing grammar, and picking the better word to say exactly what you mean, the way you mean it, come later.

All that stuff, even if you can write like Mark Twain or Ernest Hemingway or whoever, doesn’t make you a writer any more than putting icing over a brick turns it into a cake.

What makes you a writer, is wanting to write when you can’t. And writing whenever you can. Even if it means giving up t.v. time or sleeping an hour later.

Yes, there are some writers who are better than others. That is determined by the icing I mentioned. So I’m not saying that it’s wise to publish without editing. I am saying that you should learn how to build a story around a structure.

But don’t put off writing until after you’ve learnt. You’ll never learn the perfect amount of writing knowledge. There’s nothing that will qualify you as a writer.

Except. For. Writing.

Thanks for reading.