[Fluff] Wooo 5k party!

I have been keeping track of my word count since the start of the year. I happen to be fond of tracking things, random OCD thing probably. I have a nifty excel sheet with graphs and averages and… and… and I digress. The point is: last week was the first week this year that I managed to write over 5k words. This is extremely exciting for me. I was very happy I finally hit my goal, only took me 3 months.

But this is only the start and I know it. I still need to do it consistently which will be harder than hitting it in the first place. The other problem is this word count is measured in most everything I write, stories, blog, personal journal, guided prompts. I figure any writing is words well spent and I shouldn’t sell myself short. This leads to me still feeling like I am not getting jack poo done.

Last weeks word count was mostly from personal journal entries and some guided prompts that I have been doing with the kid. No story writing done. Still. Always. I write, therefore I am a writer. I am just having issues being a fiction writer. Sometimes I really think about doing nonfiction, I am extremely good at research papers. I blame public schools but that rant is not the point today.

I have gone back to reading more tips for writers though. Except that I keep getting stuck in this loop of where outlining is the better option and what I want to do, but I can’t come up with ideas to outline. So I try to just wing it until I get a good enough idea, but I keep getting stuck not knowing where to go, thinking “Hey! I should have an outline!”. Going back and trying to outline and I feel like I have no ideas again. Rinse and repeat, anyone?

How the hell do I get past this? Mostly, I think it involves not thinking about it. For me, that’s like telling me not to breathe while I am at it. Extremely difficult to shut off my brain. Prompts are nice, they give me a base point. But prompts a story does not make. I have even tried a kind of prompt outline, building each scene on a prompt to try and trick myself into working. Nope, nada, I can see through my clever ruse and I reject it wholeheartedly.

So I still sit here and work on writing, writing anything to try and get something down. Read many tidbits lately that amount to “you have to write 1000 words of crap to get 50 words that work”. Hoping somewhere in my word upchucking something will click. I know it will just take practice to numb myself to my own writing and just let me get on with it already. But somehow running headfirst into a blank screen every day doesn’t seem to be doing much but giving me a headache.


[Fluff] Middle of nowhere

The middle of nowhere is really where I feel my writing is right now. I am getting some stuff done, not as much as I’d like, but more than I give myself credit for most of the time. Need to read more. Need to write more. Need to be more me and less everyone else.

With the kid being homeschooled, sometimes we get out of the house for lunch and a trip someplace else to work and focus a bit better. Except Starbucks was punctuated by loud annoying women complaining about their mothers so we grabbed our drinks and ditched work for a random drive to explore.

I love to explore, the kid is less fond of the it but he suffered well enough. Ended up in the middle of nowhere, upon the child’s suggestion we played the “lets drive straight” game. We drove straight as far as time would let us, then turning around decided to randomly hop out and take pictures of a partially snow covered field which led us to taking pictures of a stream that ran through it, previously unnoticed. It’s nice to stop long enough to see small beauties in the world. And depressing that I don’t more often.

On the way back we also grabbed pictures of Pewaukee lake, which was completely frozen over still. Reminded me of the small town in American Gods (Neil Gaiman). Half expected to see an old car out on the ice. Really itching to read it again now but afraid of the time spent not reading other things. In the end, anything is better than nothing. In ways, I am happy I read American Gods when I did though. Living in the Midwest has given me a different perspective on it than if I had read it while in Washington.

I the end, I didn’t get the work done that I meant to today, but I was creative. I did spend the time to stop and see things I wouldn’t have otherwise. I’m still in the middle of nowhere, but if I keep going straight I will hit somewhere worth being.


[Quote] I’m so screwed

If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.

— Stephen King



[Fluff] Bangs head on desk

I should really rename the [Fluff] category to [Too fucking hard on myself]. I have missed tons of posts again, mostly because I sit around not wanting to write about how I’m not writing again. So, of course, I finally sit down to write and complain about how I’m not writing again.

Plus side, I am reading more. Besides my random library grabs, I did pick up a P.G. Wodehouse collection on my kindle, thanks to my awesome mothers suggestion, so will be working through that this week. Have also acquired found someone to share books with back and forth, so I look forward to what that exposes me to, as well as revisiting old favorites. Unfortunately my normally calm weekend was punctuated with a very long birthday sleepover for the kid which resulted in too little sleep and too many distractions to get anything done.

My current goals for the week are to write. Write. Write. I know, I go through this every week, but it needs to be done. Reading is important, it helps me learn craft and flow better, but without writing it doesn’t do me much good. Any writing would do, even my personal journal, which I also neglect often. I have no time excuses, homeschooling the kid gives me great quiet time to work on things. I also know that writing every day, without worrying about inspiration, will help my writing overall. The trick is forcing myself to do it. I have magically ended up with a great support system, unfortunately I am also great at fighting back against others when they try and help. It has to come from me and even though I want to write, I can’t find a way to translate that to actually doing it. Unfortunately drive does not equal results in my world and never has.

But in the end, I have written a blog post for today, even if its ranting at myself again. May not be interesting for anyone else to read, but it’s writing and it does help me put things in perspective sometimes.


[Quotes] Wit and Wisdom

In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them.

— Mark Twain


[Writing] Coffee of doom

No relation to Questionable Content, but damn that is what I would have named my business if I opened a coffee shop.

I meant to get my blog post done yesterday, but got distracted with actual work. With the general inability to focus at home yesterday, me and the child went out to lunch and then sat working on our separate assignments over tea and tastiness at Starbucks. It was nice to relax and get out of the house. It was also very helpful in getting work done for us both; even the child noticed he could focus better not at home, which I generally attributed to brain associations with environment.

But the real point of this post is that I got work done. It was mostly brainstorming stuff, word associations, idea generation, boringness. But hey, work done! And I have stuff to pull ideas from for a story, I hope. My major problem is I still don’t know how to translate ideas into stories or even outlines. I always get stuck at people. Maybe its my insane anxiety and antisocial tendencies  but when the story gets to the point of having people, I feel like I am swimming through a treacle lake to get anything done. I wonder if you would float on treacle. Could I make a boat of scones and float across to make my writing easier? Have I been exposed to too much UK and Australian influences to think of saying treacle rather than molasses? Should I turn swimming across a treacle lake into a story.

I digress. People are hard for me. If I write a story about anthropomorphic rocks I do great. But I cannot even translate that back into people. Turn them into a person, even with all the same lines and everything, and it breaks for me. It seems flawed. Like rocks and animals and other things can be however I want them to be, it won’t matter. But people, people have to be a certain way. I am not sure if my OCD organization extends to people which is why I am antisocial, or if I am antisocial because people are so peopley so I try and organize them to deal better. Either way, it is hampering my fiction.

Not sure how to fix it though… Lots of pencil to paper and practice, practice, practice I suspect. Or a scone boat.


[Links] Link day goes back to work

Plus side to not writing for a while, I have more links to bore you all with! Well, probably not, been lax on reading as well as writing. Yay for a post anyways!

Post on OCD and writing — Ran into this blog post randomly one day, I am surprised I did not write similar yet. It is very difficult to work on things when you need them a certain way to work. I feel her pain about the same color ink, rewriting things that are messy or don’t match. Sometimes it feels like an avoidance time waster, other times I really can’t go on if things are not how they “should be”. I agree that writing without an outline is sometimes cathartic, helping me unwind. But I have thought for a while that outlining may help me write way better, giving me structure to build my emotional release around. Regardless, well written post.

Crows play on car — This made me smile when I found it. Nice little moment of peace, and snow.

The Slang Dictionary from 1874 — A look into how a words meaning changes throughout history. Also, a great reason to digitize older books making them available for all generations to read.

Depression Quest — It’s an interactive text based game (lots of reading and multiple choice) that is altogether too familiar for me and I am sure tons of other people. It’s an interesting way to bring awareness though. Warning, is very depressing.

In Which I Deny My Son An Xbox — An author talks about the ideals of Consumption vs Creation, in a nutshell. Having grown up with games, but still enjoyed creating things, I run into this problem a lot with 3 (step)kids. While I do not mind that they play games and expose themselves to things, I do wish I could explain to them how important creating things in the real world is. But they’re too busy playing the computer.

Adorable frog — To end the day: Squeee!! So cute and adorable!

Review, Software, Writing

[Review|Writing] Scrivener, novel draft program of awesome

I read way too many blogs and books on how to write. While I am not trying to find some secret formula for writing — though it would be quite nice — I am still trying to find my way of writing. Do I outline or not, make notes, index cards of scenes or characters. Do I flesh character and setting out before or as I go. When I write the first draft should I hand write or type or dictate to myself. Word processing program or remove distractions and go with a simple .txt file. How do I organize my writing, how hard will it to be to change large sections later in editing. Where do I store my research. It can get as overwhelming as actually coming up with 300 pages of story.

Here enters my latest nifty way to answer those questions: Scrivener. This program is more than I could have hoped for. It has amazing organization and versatility to customize and use what you want and ignore what you don’t use. It has a 30 day trail which is non-consecutive, it only ticks down days that you open it. The full program is $40 but somewhere in my meanderings I heard you can get a discount on it for NaNoWriMo. Either way, well worth the price I think.

While Scrivener is at heart a word processing program, it really shines in the way it breaks up your manuscript. You can make folders, that can also be text files, for chapters or scenes or characters. If you want to rearrange scenes around, it is a single drag and drop it into place. Each file and folder has a corkboard feature as well, allowing you to type up index cards for a quick look at what’s in that chunk of wordsmithery. View all index cards at once or view an outline with the notes in a neater format.

It’s search functionality is after my own OCD heart. Set up keywords and run searches for characters or places you note. Pull up all scenes with a single character and view them together, ensuring the character stays consistent. Or run a simple search for any word; want to cut out your use of “very”, Scrivener will find every instance for you and highlight them, pulling up only the pages that contain it. You can also save common searches as dynamic collections updating themselves as you go. Or you can make static collections, manually throwing chunks of work into a folder so you aren’t searching through the entire manuscript every time. Have parts that need more work? Make a to-do collection. Just throw pages in there and toss them out when you’re done. Don’t worry, it doesn’t move them in the manuscript.

On top of that, it has split panes. Need to work on one section while looking at another, no problem. You can even lock a pane to prevent accidentally moving it, while jumping around wherever you need in the other. Looks at notes, research, other parts of the manuscript, and never stop working.

For research, you can store picture, video and audio files very easily. Find pictures that remind you of your scene, people that look like your characters; throw them in there. Add them to your scene note cards and keep them up while working on writing. Audio files in split panes would work great for dictation.

Did I mention all the saving? Don’t worry about losing your work, it will save whenever you haven’t been typing for more than 2 seconds. Want to make major changes but worried about not liking them? Take a snapshot and come back to it later, its like a backup file of that moment. Want to look at another page, highlight a word and when you come back you will go directly to that spot. Spend less time finding where you were and more time actually doing what you need to.

Scrivener is definitely geared towards getting the first draft done in a manageable way. But really, half the work is done with the first draft. And your work is not locked away after that, simply use its export feature to send the compiled first draft off to a PDF file for beta reading on your e-reader or export into a more sophisticated word processor for further refinement.

I know I am missing features, there are just too many to recount all of. In the end, it is powerful, simplistic, and customization without being a time sync. Now if only I had a story idea to work on, I could justify spending all my time enjoying working on it in Scrivener.


[Quotes] Don’t be undone

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone”

— Pablo Picasso

This is my kick in the butt quote for the week. I want to write. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to write and right now, I am pretty pissed at myself that I haven’t written much yet.

I have never wanted to die famous. When I was younger, friends even got speeches about how I just wanted to be cremated and forgotten. That is still mostly true, though I understand better the need for the living to remember the dead for themselves, not for the dead. But if I still died tomorrow, I would not be happy in whatever after-life form I take.

I want to be forgotten, but that doesn’t mean I can’t contribute to the world first. There are thoughts, in my head, and in everyone else’s, and I think the world will be richer for those thoughts. That doesn’t mean that I need my name attached to them, that I need to be remembered for having shared them, just that they are out in the world making others think. Helping others cope with life and people and boredom and loneliness and whatever else they use my thoughts and stories to cope with.

We all have songs and stories, movies and random thoughts we heard someplace 20 years ago. We don’t always know who wrote it, who starred in the leading role or who said that little snippet of wisdom, but somehow they stuck with us and have become ingrained in who we are. I want my stories to add to the collection of things in this world that can make a difference, even if its just to make someone smile or make them stop and question the world around them in a profound way.

I need to stop procrastinating if I am going to do that. I may not die tomorrow, but every moment is fleeting. Every second I don’t write, another story is lost. A million ideas a minute running through 6 billion heads in the world right now. Humanity needs more people writing them down.


[Fluff] Let’s try this again

Okay, so I tried to have the drive last week. It didn’t work.

Take 2. I already have a post queued up for this week, so at least I am a little bit ahead.

I have nothing really exciting to talk about today. I know, this blog is dull and you want to gouge your eyes out every time you read it, except you probably don’t read it so your eyes remain intact.

So, I am supposed to be talking about writing and not writing. I am definitely good at the not writing part. Today at least I had decent reasons for not writing fiction. I won’t bore you with the details but at least I did get stuff done rather than waste time avoiding getting stuff done.

I have still been taking notes and doing research on things to blog about, which is good in its own way. Except that I am having issues translating that from notes into actual blog posts. My brain tends to process things concisely, expanding what can be said in 2-3 sentences to 200-300 words is difficult for my quite often. I have pages of notes sitting around but can’t conceptualize how to turn them into posts. I have a feeling my OCD and depression is creeping up on me more than I am consciously admitting, need to get some work done before it really kicks my butt.

I did spend a good chunk of the weekend checking out a very interesting writing program called Scrivener. I would tell you how awesome it is, but I will take any opportunity I can to make a blog post about something and no sense repeating myself when I plan to talk on it later. If you want the 10 second version, its best explained as a word processor enhanced for a novelists needs. It’s specifically intended to help you get the first draft down. I think it will be bloody awesome, when I can come up with ideas to write about.

Which leads me back to OCD and concise thinking and being unable to take 2-3 sentences and turn them into 200-300 pages — and I keep thinking blog posts are hard. Oy vey.

It’s a good thing I have nothing more to say for the night, I just had a puppy lay on my lap trying to oust the laptop and making typing difficult. With luck, I will have real posts this week.

Edit: Upon removing the puppy from my person, I manage to create 3 additional blog posts to this one and have scheduled them accordingly. I can smile and go to bed now, happy in the knowledge that I am doing awesome.