Writing Madness

I’M BAAAACK!

Wow, it’s been a busy month! I’m excited to get back to writing and reading blogs. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

I finished self-editing my novel 😀

I’m now desperately scrambling for beta and sensitivity readers so I can have my novel to my (hopefully! She’s promised a contract!) agent by the end of August.

I hit the freakin’ Motherload

Honestly still in a daze. Check this out:

Not gonna lie, I freaked out. Squirrel-on-drugs type freaking out.

And then a week later…!!

This is for One Teen Story, which has been my dream publication for about two years now (it has a circulation of almost 15,000). It’s also going to be my first print publication for a short story…!!

Both of those contests together awarded $1,000, which is the honestly the most money I’ve seen since I had to pay for my braces. I’m going to the awards ceremony at Ole Miss tomorrow for the Eudora Welty Creative Writing Contest.

Moral of the story: don’t let all the rejections discourage you!!

I’m doing an online mentorship with the fantastically amazing Adroit Journal

…Which has also been a dream publication for a while. They haven’t accepted any of my stories, but they did accept me for a free mentorship, and the advice I’ve gotten has been invaluable. Speaking of which, I have a short story due Thursday that I haven’t started on… ouch…

-I attended a writing workshop in Jackson, Mississippi 

Just got back Friday, actually. I’m really proud of myself for going after having struggled with severe social anxiety this past year, getting therapy, etc. I forced myself to speak with some of the professors and actually didn’t regret it. One of them said he’d be willing to write recommendation letters/be an advanced reader for my novel :DDD (I freak out over everything, if you haven’t noticed. No chill.)

Here are some signed books I got:

Aren’t the covers gorgeous?!

Several of you have given me blogger awards (for which I am eternally grateful!!), and I’m going to get to those asap. 

See you in the comments 😀

-Lilly

Writer Quirks

We all have our quirks, but writers especially reserve the right to be a little eccentric. Here’s a few of my quirks when it comes to writing.

  • I write action scenes with shoes on.
  • Chocolate. All day. Every day.
  • For emotional scenes, I write in bed.
  • I write conversational scenes and plot in the chair in my room or on the living room couch.
  • I can’t write outside.
  • I can’t write longhand. 
  • Can’t write in public, either. Coffee shop would never work for me. I usually have to be at home.
  • If I’m having writer’s block and am frustrated, I have one of the main characters eat a poisoned Snickers bar and die (yes, in 16th century Europe).
  • I write my best when I have three tests that I really should be studying for. I’m not even kidding. I must be cursed. Writer’s high hit me exam week this year and it was the worst thing ever.
  • I also write really well between 11 pm and 2 am. 
  • Stuffed animals.
  • I have to be holding something when I write. I usually end up with a handful of clothes hangers.
  • I generally write better when I’m listening to music with lyrics than when I’m listening to instrumentals. I like listening to instrumentals when I have the mental freedom to concentrate on the music (I love me some Beethoven and Tchaikovsky!).
  • Cereal. Sweet cereal. Frosted flakes.
  • Also milk. But not in the cereal. Soggy cereal is the worst.
  • I don’t actually get any writing done when the previous two bullet points are involved. Pretty sure it’s just an excuse to eat on the couch.
  • I can’t edit unless I’m at least a little tired. If I try, it usually ends like this:

*opens laptop*

Me: LOL look at what this loser wrote. Such crap. Hahahahaha.

*closes laptop*

Or like this.

*opens laptop*

*delirious laughter*

*deletes entire book*

*defenestrates laptop*

So what are some of your writer quirks? Tell me in the comments!

-L

Starting a Novel: Part 2

Hey, guys! Here’s a continued list of tips on beginning a novel.


3. Not having a problem/goal

This will kill your motivation. I’ve tried to write scenes just for the fun of it (without all the work of figuring out why the scene is needed in the first place), and they always fell flat. Always. Great characters only make great characters if there’s an issue driving them, so be sure you know what the conflict is BEFORE you start writing.


4. …But I’m a pantser!

Sorry, my buddy, my pal, but yes. Even if you’re a pantser. Especially if you’re a panster. How are you going to be able to pants if you don’t know the thing that’s driving your character? Pants, but pants responsibly.


5. Not enough research

This one pains me. I write in the 16th century. When I started writing historical fiction when I was twelve years old, I knew nothing about the Renaissance, so I couldn’t visualize my story as I was reading it.

Luckily, I had the privelege of visiting Italy when I was fifteen, which helped me tremendously with my writing. I knew what the cobblestones felt like and absorbed the atmosphere of Venice. I also started researching extensively online; after that, I could write without getting stuck so much because I knew my topic. That’s not saying that you have to know everything before you start writing (only God knows how many hours I spent researching doorknobs when I should’ve been writing), but you do need to have a general idea of atmosphere before you start.
That’s that for today! Hopefully this advice is helpful 😀

–L

Starting a Novel: Part 1

So you’ve been writing short stories and poems since you were in kindergarten. Your laptop is littered with fifteen first chapters for fifteen different novel ideas. What’s the difference between you and those authors who have fifteen complete novels?

The writing process is different for everyone, of course, but here are a few things that made the difference for me:

 

1. Not knowing your characters

Your characters can (and will!) change over the course of the novel whether you mean for them to or not. That’s just how writing works. Don’t panic if your character starts the novel performing electric guitar solos in front of thousands of people and finishes curled up in bed, holding a cup of coffee and humming Vivaldi. (Not that those two things are mutually exclusive. I personally find anyone who can bang out Mozart on electric guitar disturbingly attractive.) That just means that you’re figuring out what character best fits your story.

However, that doesnt mean you can start a novel without having some idea of who your main character is. Not knowing your characters can lead to writer’s block very, very quickly. Writing becomes exhausting when you’re hitting a character with event after event who doesn’t have a fleshed out personality to anchor him or her to your story and to nudge him or her forward.

How to fix this? Write out a list of traits and quirks your character has. Write a short story in a different format than your novel will be in (first person instead of third, modern-day instead of 1912). Experiment with your character by hitting him or her with events and see how he or she reacts. Do you like your character? Is he or she interesting? Is there room for growth? Are you willing to spend the next 80,000 words with him or her? If not, fix it. If so, great! Let’s move on!

 

2. Obsessing over the first chapter

You want your first chapter to be perfect. And it can be perfect. Just not right now.

This got me the first few times I tried my hand at a novel. I don’t know how many times I rewrote the first chapter.

Repeat after me: STOP.

Your first chapter for your first draft is a placeholder. That is all. You don’t fully know your story or your characters or what the heck you’re supposed to foreshadow. It’s impossible for your first chapter to be perfect right now. In fact, it’s probably going to be downright trash.

And that’s okay.

Just go on to the second chapter.

 

To be continued. À plus tard!

–L