Writing is re-writing

May 2nd, 2018

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Good afternoon all!

Some of you may have heard this phrase before: writing is re-writing. A lot of the time, we look at the finished book in our hands and don’t realize the amount of drafts it took to get to the final copy. As a reader, I certainly didn’t know much about the process of writing a book.

When I first began writing more seriously in 2012, I was a newbie and didn’t know much about drafting and revising. I finished my first complete novel during NanoWrimo that fall and then in January took a look at the manuscript. It was awful. There were plot holes and two dimensional characters and hardly any description. The bits I did like I saved and then decided a re-write was in order. That was when I began researching how to re-write and revise.

Marissa Meyer has a great series about how she brings her story idea to a complete novel. She outlines what she does in each stage from brainstorming, research, first, second, third drafts, etc. I found that to be quite helpful when tackling my own first re-write.

https://www.marissameyer.com/blogtype/from-idea-to-finished-step-3-the-first-draft/

Presently: the continual learning curve 

I received feedback on my current fantasy WIP, THE LOST SAGES (formally titled EVREN) and am working on it now. There was so much helpful feedback that I’ve created a TO DO list and am tackling each one separately. Even though it feels like I have to climb a mountain, I know in my heart of hearts that I will be so proud of this book when I’m done.

The thing I am realizing too is, this book is one of the first projects I’ve taken on and I am learning SO much. I am receiving insight into myself as a writer and where my strengths and weaknesses lie. I am learning a lot about grammar and proper punctuation and the age old, show don’t tell rule as well as the infamous info dumping in fantasy novels 🙂 It is all good and encouraging. I know this is the path I need to take to grow as a writer. I want to feel confident in my ability to pen a story and have the proper tools in my toolbox, as Stephen King explains craft.

I am at the point in my writing career where I can sense a few things coming down the road. I want to write stories I am proud of and that have heart in them. I want people to to resonate with them and perhaps see themselves in the characters. I also want to write the best story possible. I don’t want to settle.

This week I have been thinking a lot about creativity and projects we take on. Sometimes if we take on too much, our writing suffers because of it. I’ve noticed that I haven’t been able to focus as much and find it hard to return and work on THE LOST SAGES. I sat down and wrote in my journal, trying to discern what was keeping me distracted. Too many projects on the go. I needed to narrow my focus and so I have. Now, I set myself a reachable goal for each week and hope to have this latest draft done by June.

What are you all working on? How many drafts do you write? I would love to hear below.

Until next time,

Loie xo

Staying motivated

April 18th, 2018

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Hi all *waves* How are you all making out? We are well over the halfway mark of April 😀 Today I am working on an edit letter for my critique partner and then plan to add some words to my Camp NaNoWriMo project later. After, household errands: clean the fridge, give Maggie May a bath, bake blueberry-banana muffins, and buy groceries.

Motivation and finishing projects 

Today, I thought I would talk about motivation. I have been thinking a lot about this lately. The never-ending energy I seemed to crackle with in November during National Novel Writing Month seems to have disappeared as of late.

I do notice a cycle with my creativity where in the fall, I find I can write thousands of words and my mind is simmering with new ideas. For some reason, the spring brings a new wave. I focus on edits and blog posts and research.

But I know that perhaps someday – if I am on a publishing schedule – I will need to switch the writing and editing hats effortlessly. So, how does one stay motivated? How does one focus on a project? Even if it may be the last thing you want to do?

1. Go for a walk 

Fresh air and pretty nature scenery tends to clear my mind and allow me to refocus. I can then usually come home and get to work.

2. Do something creative and different other than writing 

I like to bake or sew or make candles. My Mum is teaching me how to sew and it is a lot of fun to flex new creative muscles.

3. Magical cookies (from Susan Dennard) 

Write a list of the magical things or what Susan Dennard calls ‘magical cookies’ about your book, to try and generate that excitement again about WHY you wanted to write this particular story in the first place. Check out this link for more info about magical cookies:

http://susandennard.com/2013/10/how-i-plan-a-book-part-4-coaxing-out-the-magical-cookies/

4. Music

Listen to music that inspires you. Just breathe and be present with your project. Turn off Twitter, Facebook, and your phone. In this day and age, it is SO easy to get distracted. Try to have some quiet time with yourself and your story. Have a notebook nearby or your laptop so you can jot down any ideas that pop into your head!

5. Reward yourself

By making plans or marking events on my cute doggy calendar, I have a visual reminder of what is happening during the week. For instance, today I will be meeting a friend for lunch. That is something I am excited about so I will work extra hard this morning.

What motivates you and helps you stay on track? I would love to hear below in the comments 🙂

Until next time,

Loie xo

 

Spring cleaning and making space to create

April 12th, 2018 6:54 am

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Good morning, lovely people! How is your week going? I always find myself surprised when it is the middle of the month. I can’t seem to grasp where the first two weeks have gone and then begin realizing how much I need to get done before the end of the month. Alas, deep breathes. We will get there 🙂

Today I am embarking on a spring cleaning AKA decluttering of my little apartment. I have an attack plan: clean each room one by one and set aside items to donate and items to give to friends or family. Last night, my boyfriend and I gave the car a much needed cleaning and all of this got me thinking about cleaning and decluttering and the effects it has on creating.

For me, as a creative type, I find that when the space around me is chaotic, it is harder to write. I find my eyes wandering and thinking that I should put that item or away or wow, I have too many shoes that I don’t wear or look at all the dust on those book spines.

Whereas, when the space smells fresh like lavender or balsam fir, everything is put away in its proper space, and I have a cup of coffee nearby, then I find it easier to focus and write. This month is Camp National Novel Writing Month, so I have been attempting to write roughly 2500 words a day for my goal: 70,000 by the end of the month.

If there is something I have discovered this month, it is this: I would love to get in the flow of regular decluttering and keeping my space clear and minimal. I now know this goes hand in hand with my ability to create. I feel calmer and less anxious and find myself able to sync into the flow of writing more easily. Interesting, the different things we might need to help us create.

Do you have any thoughts on this? What do you need in your environment to help you create or focus on your work? Love to hear in the comments below.

Wish me luck 😉

Until next time,

Loie xo

Trust the process

April 7th, 2018 7:09 pm

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Hey guys!

I decided to participate in Camp National Novel Writing Month. If you can tell from the title, yes, you attempt to write a novel in ONE month 🙂 I decided to take a break from EVREN and KING BLUEBEARD, while they are with beta readers and editors, and instead write a new story about dragons and a young woman who has been imprisoned in a tower for the majority of her life. So far, I have about 10,000 words, and am enjoying this process. I am completely pantsing the project, meaning, I have no outline or previous brainstorming for it. I am literally opening the document and writing what comes in my head at the time.

I thought today I would talk a little bit about trusting the process. Trusting the process of drafting a new novel, brainstorming a new novel, or editing said novel, whatever spot you are at in this journey.

Trust 

Before I began pantsing this project, I’ll be honest, I was nervous. What if I couldn’t come up with characters that readers would follow for a novel? What if I just stared and nothing came together? What if the plot did a face plant?

I am happy to report that as I’ve begun drafting, the characters and world have revealed themselves to me. There have been parts where they have surprised me and made me laugh. This for me, is part of the joy of writing, when you are surprised by your own characters. It feels so magical.

However, if there is a part where you get stuck, there are some things you can do to unstick yourself 😉

-With a notepad and pen just scribble scene ideas down and circle some of your favorites to pen later

-Go for a walk or hike in nature and try to give your brain a chance to float and be quiet. Sometimes my best ideas pop up during these times.

-Research! Research often sparks plenty of ideas for me that gets me rolling again

Writing freely

Many better writers before me have spoken about this but they really recommend that the first draft of anything, to try and write freely without having that inner editor speaking too loudly in the background. The first draft tends to help you get a feel for your characters, world, and plot, but it does not have to be perfect! Try and silence that inner editor and write this draft for fun. That’s what I have been doing and its a liberating experience. I know oftentimes in rewriting and revising, that the magic occurs. That is where I can fix sentences and deepen character motivations, fix the plot and subplots if there are any gaping holes.

So, enjoy writing! Trust yourself that you can finish this draft. Give yourself permission to write a messy first draft, but have fun while doing so! Another note, everyone’s process is different. This is what works for me. 🙂 What may work for me, might not for you. I just hope you feel encouraged and excited with whatever you are working on.

What are you working on at the moment?

Until next time,

Loie xo

Encouragement is life giving

March 31st, 2018 10:33 am

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Good morning, all!

How are you making out? It’s been a little while since I last blogged. There was a picture book contest on Tuesday that I participated in. Turns out, picture books are a lot of fun to write but also super hard! I wrote an article for Wow Women that is going to be published on April 6th 🙂 Just found out two days ago and am so thrilled. I will post the link when it goes live.

Today I would like to talk about encouragement. Why encouraging others is so important and why receiving that encouragement is incredibly life giving, even when you have just received a rejection, slipped up, or have received terrible news.

Don’t give up.

I’m serious, please don’t let the darkness creep in and steal the light. Hold onto the promise that you will be okay, that there will be another opportunity coming your way. That even if you slipped up with whatever you are struggling with, it doesn’t mean the end for you, and it certainly does not define you. There is a new day. You will get through this.

I wanted to talk about encouragement because there have been so many contests lately and opportunities in the writing world. Some, I have managed to succeed in, and others, I was not chosen. The thing is – in writing and in life – this is going to happen all the time. What’s important is not letting this steal the joy of writing from you or knock the confidence from your core, but instead, you can learn how to gracefully accept the rejection and keep your head above the water. Allow yourself a moment to grieve or feel frustrated, but don’t stew in it.

My Mum always said, when one door closes, another will open.

Encourage others. In these moments when we feel dismay, a word of encouragement can mean the world to someone. I myself was on the receiving end of a word and it really lifted my spirits. I didn’t settle into a cloud of doubt and worry that I wasn’t good enough at writing and would never succeed.

You can do this ❤

What are you all doing this weekend? I can’t believe we are at the end of the month!

Also, just discovered a fun activity happening this April, for writers, if you would like to join, check this out:)

Until next time,

Loie xo

#1st5Pages of your novel

March 17th, 2018 –  12:23 pm 

Happy Saturday, everyone! I hope you are having a good week. We received tons of snow on Wednesday but today was quite sunny, as was the day before so the crusty snow is beginning to melt away. The powder blue sky hints of spring. Soon 😊

In the publishing industry, the first five pages can make or break it for a reader, potential agent, and editor. You want those first five pages to be intriguing, introducing readers to a character or characters that they will happily follow for the next 300-400 pages. The writing, tone, voice, setting, and characters are all integral. I feel like writing is a balancing act, sometimes. So, you ask, how do you make sure that your first five pages are stellar? I have a few ideas.

Critique Partners

 About six years ago when I first began pursuing writing seriously, I didn’t think about critique partners. I just wrote for myself with the hope that the book would be solid enough to send away at some point. Hahaha…oh naïve Loie. I can’t do it alone. Oftentimes, we are too close to our work to see  glaring mistakes, pacing issues, awkward wording, etc. There are many things a critique partner provides you.

They can be a cheerleader; encouraging you on as you embark on this wonderful and wild journey of writing with the hopes of eventual publication. They are the ones who you can turn to and scream/laugh with over the fact that an agent requested your full MS. Alternatively, they can be someone you can cry to when you receive a rejection from one of your top five agents.

They also can help point out things that aren’t working in your MS. They can give you an unbiased opinion of how the pages are working for them. If there were any places where it felt like they got confused or the dialogue was unrealistic.

So, critique partners are just wonderful, wonderful human beings. You really want to find yourself a critique partner, friends. Or a few critique partners!

Pitch consultations

Another avenue to see if your first five pages are working is to sign up for a pitch session or consultation with an agent or editor. This is costly but it is a great opportunity to see what an agent thinks about your opening pages.

Here is a link if you’re interested:

http://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/find-agentseditors/consultations/

#1st5Pages Workshop (COMPLETELY FREE!) 

 Finally, here is an amazing opportunity for you to enter a free workshop. You submit your first five pages and have them critiqued by four other workshop attendees, published authors, and in the final week of the revision, a literary agent!

It is first come first served and submissions open at 12 pm EST on Saturday of the month. The workshop runs every month except August and December.

For this month, I was lucky enough to have submitted on time and received a spot! It has been so amazing getting to read my fellow workshop participants work and critique their work. When you critique someone else’s work, you are also growing your writing brain so to speak, because you’re seeing what works and what doesn’t. This will inevitably help you with your own writing.

Thank you so much, Erin Cashman and all the other wonderful folks involved in making #1st5Pages workshop happen. It is an awesome opportunity for up and coming aspiring authors.

Link is here if you want to check it out:

http://www.1st5pageswritingworkshop.com/

Oh, and if you want to read my first five pages (lol shameless plug, eh) here is the link:

http://www.1st5pageswritingworkshop.com/2018/03/1st-5-pages-march-workshop-dunn-rev-1.html

I have one more revision to send in. It’s due by Sunday evening. That’s what I will be working on today, friends 🙂

Is there anything you are working on this weekend? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time,

Loie xo