Scheduling Time to Write

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You know, this ‘not blogging everyday’ thing hasn’t worked out as much as I thought it would. Once I got lax with posting here, I found it bleeding into my fiction writing and that was not good at all. What was worse were the excuses I would constantly make to convince myself why I wasn’t writing and that those excuses weren’t worth hearing or believing.

Oh, it is too late to write tonight!

I’m (brainstorming/reading/listening to Writing Excuses). That counts for writing!

Mmmm… pie.

I keep getting bothered! Who can write like this!?

So, for myself and others out there, I’d like to say that scheduling time to write is integral to your success as a writer. This is another duh moment brought to you by Writing or Bust!, but it is worth stating over and over again. Slapping the reins on your life and training yourself to get things done in whatever way is best for you is something that all new writers should be focused on. Want to play that video game? Sure, but make sure you knock out your daily writing quota. Read a book? Write a little of yours first. Watch the latest CSI? Psst… did you write yet?

You get the picture. It is tough – and I know from experience of trying – but it is a tremendous help and will help you become a more efficient writer in the process. Your brain will be juiced up and ready for the moment, your muse will have finished eating all of those yummy dream snacks you left for her overnight, and your word processor/notepad eager to begin where you left off.

The point is that being a successful writer is like having a second job. If you want to be damn good at your job and be read by an audience, then make sure you put in the time and effort to get there. You certainly won’t regret it.

Now to practice what I preach and resume my own work.

Lessons from Outlining

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As promised, I decided to write today based on what I learned from the post I so desperately tried to force out last night. Why did I delete it? Not only did I initially feel forced to write something after reading another blog, but the topic I had in mind lost its focus near the end of the post. I was writing about working on Act IIĀ  in my outline and how it started to get difficult for me to come up with ideas, but the reason I put the blame to – a horrible ending – wasn’t at fault.

I’m not even sure if you could call my problem a plot-based one. The idea still feels solid and it is something that I’m going to stick with until it becomes an issue. The problem was the lack of substance in my plot and ignoring questions that began to form as I continued shaping the plot.

Why is the antagonist so bent on following through with their plans?

What drives the protagonist and prevents them from doing X, Y, or Z?

Where does the conflict go from the first clash and how can it stay interesting afterward?

When I found that these questions were subconsciously popping up and I ignored them, I felt the passion for my work melt away and the frustration mount higher and higher. If I couldn’t create a solid outline, what hope did I have for making the story interesting? So I did what most people would do around 2AM – I slept on it and let my ideas stew. Before I knew it, I had discovered things about my plot that I had no clue about when I first started writing the outline and these discoveries led to more questions that needed to be answered.

What does this tell me? You need to do some worldbuilding, dude!

Oh, the cities were there, the geography, while in need of work, existed, and the basic racial identities of the world’s inhabitants were there, but I completely ignored the most important – the culture! Without the mannerisms, religion (an integral part in this story), and the do’s and don’ts of this alien society, things just felt so flavorless. Even in our world, something that is done by children in the United States isn’t necessarily the norm in Africa, Iran, or China. This is quite obvious, but the subtleties make all the difference and help to add meat to the skeleton that is my plot.

So, for now, I think I’ll stop pretending that I’m some sort of discovery writer and jump into worldbuilding for a few days to see if I can fish out more answers to my questions.

Today’s Lesson…

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… is not to force yourself to write a blog post. I promise that there will be something interesting to read later today!

Possible topics? That Pesky Act II, Ending Poorly, and The Pitfalls of a Newbie Writer. Maybe I’ll throw them all in a pot and bring them together somehow, which is what my initial post turned into prior to me chucking it out of the window. Oh, trust me. It had an awful smell to it.

Brainstorming!

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Right, so I decided that I would step back from reading for a moment and focus on writing something – a story short, poem, song, something! Sorry, Ayn Rand, but I’ll have to pick up The Fountainhead sometime next week.

So why did I decide to stop reading for the time being? Honestly, it is probably just the ‘new book blues’ or some other excuse. Everything I have been reading up until now has been fantasy-based and the other books on my makeshift shelf (read: piled up on my desk) aren’t. I’m sure they are good books, but I’ll most likely procrastinate on reading them until I decide to pop one open and see where it goes.

Anyway, brainstorming! What else can I say? I’ve started, I’m writing ideas, and I’m having fun. Coming up with good ideas is more difficult than I thought, but when isn’t being creative a bit difficult? Once I have a decent list of ideas, I’m going to try writing a chapter or two from two of the ideas and see how well that goes. Whatever happens, I know it will be an experience to learn from and it will give me something to do while I wait for these books to come in from Amazon.

Plot & Structure still needs to be read, too, especially if I’m going to start writing stuff up. I, uh… really need to start scheduling out my day.

Whoops… disappeared for awhile, huh?

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It has been a while since my last post and there really hasn’t been too much of a reason for that. Well, not a good reason! Between playing Final Fantasy XIII, Resonance of Fate, and reading Raymond E. Feist’s Magician, I really haven’t had too much worth talking about. There have been a few important issues on my mind, but neither will get in the way of my goal of becoming a published author.

Speaking of Magician, I finished it and absolutely loved the first two books in what I have heard is The Rift Wars Saga. I loved reading them so much that I have ordered the next two in the saga, Silverthorn and A Darkness at Sethanon, though I’m a little sad that they won’t be the masterwork UK versions like my copy of Magician. Yeah, I’m picky about things not quite matching on my (future) bookshelf. I can see why the book is a bestseller around the world and it has taught me a bit about writing in little ways that these podcasts and books on writing haven’t touched on yet.

To break up the Feist reading that I’m about to embark upon, I have also ordered The Scar by China Mieville because I enjoyed Perdido Street Station earlier this year and I’m eager to see how this book fares. I hear it doesn’t have the same dark horror vibe of Perdido, but it still ends up being a ‘better novel.’ I also decided to take Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead from whatever dark corner of my closet it was hiding in to give it a read. I’ve owned the book since freshman year or so of high school, but now I think I can settle down and appreciate the philosophy in the story. That and I opted for Amazon’s saver shipping, and will have to wait a while for all of my books to come to me. I’ll explain why this is struck through in my next post.

I can’t say that I will be writing here everyday as I once mentioned. I mean, I most certainly could do so, but I’d exhaust all interesting topics or this would boil down to a day to day journal, which I’m not at all interested in writing. This is personal, but not that personal.

Feist’s Magician

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I’m a latecomer when it comes to reading books. I still haven’t touched a Harry Potter book, I’ve only recently heard about China Mieville, and I’m just now reading Magician by Raymond Feist. I’m not sure if playing catch up is entirely possible when great literature is popping up all over, but reading a few of the greats during my journey makes me feel a little better for stepping into things late.

So let’s talk briefly about Magician for a moment. So far, it is great. Being the first of Feist’s books, I’m especially inspired when reading it because it gives me somewhat of an example to what I should strive for as a writer. I’m not necessarily talking about the worldwide acclaim that eventually followed the success of his book. It is more so his ability to weave a great story and keep the reader engaged on his first book that spawned many more to come that I would like to develop.

As someone who hasn’t read as much as he should have, reading Magician gives me yet another angle of insight as an aspiring author. It might seem silly to someone else, but it is like a chef – or wannabe chef – watching Wolfgang Puck for the sheer enjoyment, but also taking note of his knife skills, pan technique, and etc on a subconscious level. Just as when I read Peridido Street Station for the thrill of the tale and learned much about using viewpoints before I even knew what a viewpoint was, I think Feist’s book is having similar effects when it comes to basic storytelling.

On another note, trying to find time for my learning books is getting a bit more difficult. Maybe I’ll have to read those earlier in the day, then do my enjoyment reading much later.

The Elements of Style by Strunk and White

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You know, anyone who owns this book probably would agree if I just wrote “Buy this book NOW!” and ended the post, but I’ll try to do better than that.

The Elements of Style by Strunk and White is an amazing book for any aspiring writer. I’ve never seen a book so small, yet so precise and packed full of knowledge. I have only read the first section of the book so far, but the usage rules and their examples are extremely helpful, especially if you are not an English major.

I could say more about the book, but trust me when I say it is worth every bit that you will spend on it. It will forever have a place in any writer’s library as a great learning tool and an irreplaceable reference piece.

You can purchase it from Amazon.com and various retailers. I have linked the fourth edition since many people declare it to be the “definite” edition, but you are more than welcome to try any edition that suits your needs and wallet.

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