The other day I posted a meme on social media that said the following:
Expect nothing and appreciate everything
A short conversation ensued and at some point I said that “go with the flow” needed to be my daily manta.
I am an over-thinker, which inevitably creates problems that were never there in the first place. I also second guess myself…a lot. All of this leads to self-induced stress that throws my inner world into a state of chaos.
That’s kinda where I am with my writing at the current moment. It’s no secret I have major issues with getting a handle on my inner critic. I’m doing battle with her right now as I slog through writing the first draft of a novel. I haven’t gotten very far because I keep questioning what the hell I’m doing. Starting and stopping. Starting again, then stopping to outline because I’m not sure where the story’s going.
My over-thinking went into overdrive and I needed a break from the chaos, so I set the project aside. It’s been a week and a half since I last opened up the computer file. But I think I’m ready to go back to it now. I’m going to stop outlining and go back to the writing. Ultimately, the story will show itself in the writing. Outlining can be saved for those times when I’ve hit a brick wall and need to figure out how to get unstuck.
I think the best thing I can do as a writer is lower my expectations, appreciate that I have the ability to pursue something that I enjoy doing, and try going with the flow for once to see where it might take me.
Just a quickie:
I’m five days into Camp NaNoWriMo and my progress at this point has been at a slug’s pace. As of this writing, I’ve managed 1457 words of my 25K goal in the first four days (haven’t written yet today). That’s an average of about 365 words a day. If I keep up this not-so-breakneck pace, I should have my 25K words in a little over 2 months from now. The good news is that I am making the time to write, whether I feel like it or not. My true goal here is to get back into a regular daily writing habit, and so far that’s gone as planned.
For years I’ve had one goal and that’s to write a novel. Yet, I haven’t come close to reaching that goal. I have a pile of unfinished projects, notebooks filled with ideas, and computer files filled with even more ideas and outlines for projects.
But still, no finished novel.
I have had a few obstacles – crappy job, going back to school, dealing with cancer, quitting school, paying down debt, going back to school, getting laid off from crappy job, finding new crappy job. These are viable excuses to a degree. The reality is none of them are enough of an excuse to have kept me from writing.
As of today, I am committing to writing a book in one year. My goal is to finish a first draft, revise it and by the end of the year (preferably sooner) have a polished book to submit to agents and/or publishers. To help get me started, I’ve signed up for CampNanoWrimo, which begins July 1st.
The project I’ll be working on is the romance that I started last year during April’s CampNanoWrimo. I’d completed close to 30K words last year but was nowhere near finished. A few weeks ago I began rewriting it, but as I’m writing this blog post I think a better idea is to just continue adding to the manuscript I’ve already begun, rather than start all over with a new first draft. My goal for July is 25K words and I’ll be posting updates throughout the process.
There is never going to be a “right” time to write a book. There are always going to be excuses and obstacles, so you either have to commit to it or decide you’re never going to write a book and move on with your life.
I’m making the choice to put in the time and effort to get it done and my deadline is June 27, 2019.
No. More. Excuses.
image by _Zhang via Flickr
After spending the past week brainstorming ideas for my estranged sister story, I’ve hit a wall. I’ve come up with some possible ideas for this novel but nothing concrete. I need to know more about the characters. Who are they? What do they look like? What’s their backstory?
Knowing more about the characters will help me figure out the point of this story.
Character development is probably my favorite part of the story writing process. I usually start with figuring out the basics: General appearance, how old they are at the time of the story, occupation, marital status, do they have children, and who are the other family members.
After I have the basic character information, I’ll then write a biography starting from childhood and covering any major events that have happened up until the starting point of the story. These are usually three to five pages long, sometimes longer depending on the complexity of the character, where I let my mind wander and let the character tell their life story. The biography is where I learn the following details about my character:
- What their life was like growing up – chaotic, idyllic, impoverished, etc.
- Events that have influenced their choices in life.
- Their relationships with others.
- Their fears.
- Their flaws.
- Their secrets.
- Their dreams.
- Their disappointments in life.
It’s important to know what makes your characters tick. The biographical details you discover help to create believable and relatable characters. They also help with the plotting process. As you develop your story people, you’ll uncover what their goals are, both external and internal. This in turn helps you figure out what motivates them and what possible obstacles you can throw at them during the course of your story.
True-to-life characters have emotional baggage, and creating a character biography helps pinpoint what those issues are. That baggage will be a source of conflict, and conflict is what makes the story interesting. It keeps readers turning the page and coming back for more. And, as with most writers, keeping the reader engaged is my ultimate goal.
What methods do you use to develop your characters? Are you like me and try to figure them out during the planning process, or do you learn about them as you’re writing the story?