WIP Wilderness

It’s dark.  It’s creepy.  It’s terrifying.  There are pitfalls around every bend, and gremlins lie in wait to attack when you hit a wall.  There are tears of frustration.  Sometimes you want to die.  But then, ah, then… other times, you see the sunlight peek through the shadows, and you know everything is going to be ok.

No one ever said being a writer was easy.  In fact, Ernest Hemingway said:

There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter & bleed.

As a writer, I can attest to the fact that sometimes (most definitely all the times) this is exactly what it feels like.  You sit down to write, and one of two things happens: either you write all the words, or you write none of the words.  So I end a writing session either exhausted, or discouraged.  Needless to say, this is not ideal. It’s not healthy to drain your tank dry so you have nothing left for tomorrow; neither is it healthy to admit defeat and give up. There must be a way to persist!

mordor

So, here you are, trying to make your way through Mordor the WIP Wilderness.  Many (way too many) writers make it halfway through, get discouraged, and give up.  I never want a fellow writer to get to that point.  So, how does one become a WIP Wilderness adventurer and navigator who laughs in the face of desolation and despair, and comes out victorious on the other side? Well.  I’ll be the first to say that I’m no expert.  However, I have picked up a few tricks along the way that may be of *some use* to *some of you*.  (No promises, though.) Here they are:

  1. Stay off the demon internet. If you’re anything like me, you’ll start out on Wikipedia with excellent intentions of learning all there is to know about the Orient Express, and six hours and thirty-seven link clicks later, you’ll find yourself learning all there is to know about Stevie Wonder’s glasses prescription.  And while Stevie Wonder is, indeed, worthy of research, it’s a pretty safe bet that he’s got absolutely nothing to do with the Orient Express.  So in six hours, you’ve made zero steps of progress on your WIP.
  2.   Don’t be intimidated by the blinking cursor.  You are the boss.  Make it move.  Make it type words.  Even if those words are crap.  You see, you can edit crap; you can’t edit nothing. Yes, writer’s block is a thing – but you don’t have to let it cripple you.  One thing I’ve found that works for me if I’m having a hard time getting words down is free association.  I start writing down random words that come to my mind when I think about my WIP.  Some of those words will inevitably lead to sentences and scene ideas.  Another thing I will try is asking questions about my WIP.  The answers will quite often help me solve problems, and put me back on my writing track.
  3. Don’t get discouraged if your plan changes.  I have two jobs, three kids, two dogs, and way too many horses.  I’m a busy girl.  So I guard my writing time with Anduril in one hand and Aegis in the other, and all who dare to venture near me during writing time do so at their peril. That said, things happen, and plans change.  Just roll with it.  If your hour’s worth of writing time turns into fifteen minutes, make the most of that fifteen minutes.  DO NOT JUST GIVE UP WRITING FOR THE DAY.  Use every minute you have at your disposal, even if all you accomplish is one sentence.  It’s one sentence you didn’t have written before.
  4. Keep your creative tank full.  I hear people say this all of the time.  But what does it actually mean??? Well, this is my interpretation.  Writers are artists of a sort. Art appreciates art, and all forms of art compliment each other.  So, as a self proclaimed writer-artist, I try to spend some time in the “art world”.  I read extensively, I listen to music of all sorts, I visit museums and galleries, I watch movies. You never know where inspiration will strike, so give yourself every opportunity to experience creative outlet.  Creativity begets inspiration, and vice-versa.
  5. Find a writing buddy (or two).  I used to think this was nonsense, that the only time a writer needed a pal was at edits time.  I was dead wrong. I naturally connected with two other writers, and we have formed a mini-group.  We meet twice a month, and share/critique work, have brainstorm sessions, and swap ideas.  I have never been so motivated/inspired to write. NEVER.  Having someone to hold me accountable, and to encourage me to stick with it, and just finish the project already has been the one thing missing from my writing. Bottom line is, you don’t have to fly solo all the time; find a wing man (or woman).

And though it doesn’t necessarily get a number, also coffee.

All methods don’t work for all people – that’s a fact.  But if you’re game to try new things, maybe one of these tips will work for you. And as you venture into the WIP Wilderness, know that you’re not alone.  Do you have any tips or suggestions that help you get through the WIP Wilderness?

Cheers!

 

Top 5 “Please, No More!” Books

Yes, I know it’s Top 10 Tuesday, but time and  life restrict me from spending as much time blogging as I’d like.  So, it is what it is.  And I bring you Top 5 Tuesday.  At least for this week.

Any reader worth her salt is aware that publishing works on a pendulum.  A particular “type” of book breaks all known conventions and the author sells a half-dozen million copies and buys a house in the Hamptons AND a house on Mackinac Island.  And then EVERY WRITER EVERYWHERE has to write the same book, only their lead character is named Mary Sue, rather than Katniss.  And publishers herald these new books as “Harry Potter meets The Hunger Games meets The Berenstain Bears” to try to get readers to part with their cash. We’ve all seen it; we’ve all been suckered bought into it.

Well, I say NO MORE!

Here are 5 types of books I refuse to read any more of.

  1. THE DYSTOPIAN

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The dystopian has literally been done to death.  Though I will acknowledge that The Hunger Games did all the heavy lifting to pave the way for this (sub)genre to flourish, I have never been even a casual fan of dystopian novels.  Why, you ask? That’s an excellent question.  Let me tell you.  For one thing, they’re all exactly the same similar. I mean, ok.  We get it – government sucks, the ruling class are all jerks, it’s hard to choose between two cute boys, and murdery girls are super-cool.  How many ways can you think of to write that?  Apparently, loads of ways.  Unfortunately.

2.  THE VAMPIRE

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So, there are some really, really good vampire books out there.  One of my personal favorites is Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot.  It’s subtle and terrifying in its simplicity.  The problem with there being a (very, very) few good ones means they are outnumbered 347893728187:1 by the terrible ones.  I’m not sure how all the authors missed the memo, but vampire ≠ gorgeous, angsty, teenage drama kings.  Also, just fyi, vampires don’t fall in love with spectacularly stupid girls, they suck their blood and leave them for dead.  Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

3. MEAN GIRLS

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Yes, we know – high school is terrible, teenage boys are tiny demons, and teenage girls are literally hell spawn.  Writers, take note: stop recycling this narrative.  Rather than vilifying high school girls and perpetuating “clique culture”, start focusing on healthy relationships.  Give YA readers examples of EDIFYING female relationships.  (Shout out to Leigh Bardugo @LBardugo for masterfully demonstrating this in her new Wonder Woman: Warbringer.)  Show girls that they don’t need to be intimidated by one another, and that other girls aren’t their competition; rather, they’re their support team.  No, not everyone is going to be nice; not everyone is going to get along.  But this different mindset would go a long way toward changing the trajectory of high school relationships.

4. LOVE TRIANGLES

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So. Many. Love triangles.  If I pick up another YA book with a love triangle, my eyes are going to bleed.  Seriously, it’s hard enough to find one “perfect” dude, but the odds of finding two within the same vicinity of each other?  No shot.  And have you ever noticed, it’s always a girl choosing between two guys, and never the other way around?  I mean, is there ever a legit question about who she’s going to end up with, anyway?  Of course Bella was going to choose Edward; Simon didn’t have a prayer with Clary once Jace stepped into the picture; and anyone who thought Mare was going to pick Maven when she could have Cal is out of their mind. Though I don’t object to the idea of a ❤ triangle, I have yet to find one that’s well done and actually leaves me wondering who our heroine will choose.

5. SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE

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You know the one.  (Cue movie trailer voice guy.) “In a special land where everyone is special and has special powers of speciality, SHE is born ordinary. With brown hair and brown eyes and nothing particularly attractive about her, she has no specialness.  UnTIL, ONE DAY, she discovers she is a Super Special Secret Princess and her destiny is to, in the most special way possible, SAVE THE WORLD!” Ugh.  Give me a break.  So over it.

Ha.  Top 10 5 Tuesday turned into a bit of a personal rant.  It happens.  But, as you loyal and brilliant readers know, this is just a drop in the bucket that dips into the magical wishing well full of books I ❤ and adore.

What types of books are you completely over?