Illusions of Success
Note: This is a repost from my former blog, original post date 4/18/17.
My last post, I talked about how (sometimes) forcing creativity can yield good results. Or, at the very least, results. Words on paper. Since that post, I had an incredibly hot writing streak, and participating in Camp NaNoWriMo has helped fuel the fire. I've attempted the traditional November NaNo twice--and failed, twice. I'm making great headway on this WIP, but there's always the fear I'll fall into old habits, lose interest, or become stuck and frustrated. So I've been thinking a lot about what aids me in being successful or productive.
Note: Every writer writes differently. I cannot stress this enough. Be a plotter, a panster, or the plantser, everyone approaches a New Shiny in their own way. For me, half the fun in writing is discovering the story along the way, even if I'm laugh-crying at the end. Now, this is me. But after Pitch Wars, which was filled with plotters, I felt pressure to plot out all my projects. Also, there's undue pressure when I tell people about a project when it's early in development. Simply put, the lack of pressure sets me free.
So, let's do this. Here are some tips and advice I've collected...
1) Plotter or Panster: Which one are you?! Plotters, well, they plot. Pansters fly by the seat of their pants. There's the rare "planster" who is a bit of both, and I tricked myself into thinking I was like that. Nope. Figure out which method works best for you and run with it. Don't feel bad if your writing method isn't traditional. Mine is a hot mess, but as long as you're writing, who the hell cares?
2) Time Management: I don't have a job. Okay, writing is my full-time job and commitment, but I'm lucky enough not to have a day job, meaning, I have entire days where I literally have nothing to do. You'd think this would be great for writing. Often, it really is. Other times? You feel like shit for wasting days watching Netflix and painting your toenails when you could've been writing. Like I mentioned in my last post, I forced myself to sit down and write an hour a day. This quickly morphed into more. When I decided to do Camp NaNo, my goal became hitting my daily word count, which I can often do in 30-45 minutes if my brain is well-oiled (read: sleep, yoga, and a healthy dose of caffeine). But there's a caveat to this. I have ADD, legit ADD, not campy cute, oohh shiny ADD. When I get on the computer to write, I often step away from my words to look at Twitter, then my email, then Twitter, Google something random, look up a book on Goodreads, Twitter again, poke around on my dead Facebook, yada yada. You get the drift. SO. I use the Pomodoro Technique for time management, and it is the best kind of helpful. There are many apps you can use, or you can simple set an egg timer or a digital timer on your phone. I use this app on my Mac. The interface is super simple. You set it for either 25 minutes of work, or two different-length breaks, either 3 or 15 minutes. You can also customize these times. Using the Pomodoro method has helped me greatly. When I'm writing and I get the itch to check social media or my email, I tell myself I can check it when my 25 minutes are up. You'd be amazed at how well this works. This is also great if you're like me and sit at your computer for way too long; the breaks are a good reminder to get up and move.
3) Self-Care: Everyone says it. Do that self-care thing, you know? Er, what? I'm pretty self-loathing, and I do not take care of myself like I should. Starting in January I began exercising more to help with stress, and this past month I began going to yoga again. Sometimes when I'm really in deep on a project, it seems hard--wrong even--to take an hour or two to go to my yoga class. But it's worth it. Other self-care? Decompressing, whether it be watching Netflix, going to concerts, cleaning your shower, beekeeping, or international scavenger hunts (yep, I signed up again this year for GISWHES), is essential.
4) Word vs. Scrivener: Back in the day, I always used Word, then briefly tried Scrivener but it confused the hell out of me, and I went back to Word. Now I mainly use Scrivener. I think during the drafting process, Scrivener is unparalleled. The ability to track your daily word with a deadline alone is worth it. But during later editing phases, especially if you're trading your manuscript back and forth with betas or CPs, then Word is your friend. Word is eventually what format you'll send your MS out to agents, editors, etc., so I use both.
5) READ: I hear conflicting advice from other writers whether or not you should read in your genre during high-stress times when you might be receiving rejections, like querying for example. Personally, YA is all I enjoy reading. There's an outlier here or there, but generally, I'm ride or die with Young Adult fiction. While it can be disheartening to read a good book and feel inadequate (it happens) or read a bad book and grumble about how it got published (it happens), there's more to be gained than lost. Reading current YA releases and the ARCs I'm lucky enough to get my greedy paws on is a great insight into what's currently being published, read, and enjoyed. Know the market, know your readers.
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