“Just Show Up”

Training to Write

This will be a shorter blog post today–it is “Study Day” where there are no classes, but I want to use the day to catch up on reading and schoolwork.

“Just Show Up” is what Desiree Linden, the first American to win the women’s race in the Boston Marathon in 33 years, told a reporter in an NPR interview after the race.  Desiree tells how training wasn’t going well and that some days felt great and some days felt less great, and goes on to explain that she told herself to “just show up” and on the day of the race, to “just show up for one more mile.”  This is exactly the sentiment that we as writers and that myself in particular need to hear.

Writing to Train

One of the things that Desiree Linden said in the interview that really spoke to me as a writer was that her training phase was particularly brutal (as was the race with the poor weather conditions).  She said that some days the training “flowed” and went to plan, but that some days it was really difficult and arduous.  She, however, decided to stop thinking about it so much and to just “show up.”  She has a Twitter mantra that says that she makes a choice every day “show up” and that she needs to stop worrying about what the day gave her and to just “show up.”  This is so applicable to me and my writing life because too often, the writing doesn’t “flow” like I want it, or rejections come that are out of my control.  Like Desiree, I just need to “show up” for each writing project and enjoy the process.  Her crossing the finish line was an accomplishment and winning the race was a victory.  I need to make finishing projects my accomplishment and publication (which is out of my control except to write the best story I can) my victories.

Music Makes the Medicine Go Down

One thing that I noticed was that she had a strong love of music–it begins and ends the NPR story.  Finding a strong musical choice can help motivate you and give you the inner strength and energy to “show up.”  I’ve noticed that I don’t write to music as much as I use too (the room is silent right now even as I type these words).  I’m going to have to get back to giving myself a musical boost if I want to follow Desiree Linden’s example and “Just Show Up.”

Have a great day!

Sidney



 

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Getting It Done

Important Note:  This is the final week of school for me and then Final Exam Week occurs Friday through Thursday of the following week.  I have a final paper and final exam (and to be honest, I’m behind on other school work as well), so the blog entries may be a bit erratic for the next two weeks.  I’ll try to be consistent, but I may not always upload a daily entry during these two weeks.

Getting it Done

So, there is a screenwriting channel on YouTube that I recently found and it has reignited my passion for screenwriting and storytelling, in general.  One of the interviewees talked about working at several jobs and working tables as a waitress while writing in order to have steady income until writing became her primary occupation.  I really liked what she had to say–the problem is, she specifically referenced writing at night after the job was over.

I really like the idea of writing while working until writing becomes your primary job as this feels a lot like what I’m trying to do even while I’m in school.  However, I’ve found that writing after class is next to impossible for me.  I usually have to expend so much energy getting ready for class (reading, writing, papers, etc.), that by the time I get home, I’m usually mentally drained.

Adjusting to Make it Work for You

So, for me I really need to do my writing before going to class, to work, or wherever/whatever I need to do, otherwise I do a lot of thinking about writing, but I never actually seem to write.  Writing at the end of the day just doesn’t seem to work for me and since the writing process is so individual, you have to take whatever advice you think will work for you, try it, and then adjust it as you need to do so.  For me, writing before is better than writing at the end.  Just like for the interviewee in the above YouTube video, I really like writing and my projects.  I’m just not a “night-owl,” so I’ll need to adjust my way of thinking and incorporate her advice so that it works for a “bright-eyed, up-and-at-’em” type of morning person that I am.

Whatever works is a good motto to have if you’re a writer–you just need to make sure to adjust and apply (writing) advice to your own unique process and situation.  Something that I need to remember and be reminded of from time to time.

Sidney



Going Loud (but not Stupid)

Going Loud

I guess the theme is going to be mostly about characters this week. One of the things that I really want to do is to make my characters become more distinctive. I’m trying to address a concern that I have about my characters being too passive, not in that they do not act, but rather they’re too reserved and don’t emote. I need them to become more distinctive and to stand out more.

Being Stupid

So, I’m probably going to step on some toes here, but I hate stupidity in ALL its forms. There are people on YouTube/Twitch who do “drunk ” streams and I can’t click away from their content quick enough (and in some cases, block them entirely). So I have to make sure that as I’m creating my characters and trying to push them out more and give them more distinctive traits, that I don’t overdo it and push them into “stupid” territory. Hopefully, my beta readers will let me know if my characters become too farcical rather than the real emotive beings that I imagine them to be.

Sidney



250 Words a Day

Why 250 Words?

As I detailed in a different blog post, 250 words (using a serif font, like Courier, or the like), when typed out on the page and double spaced, equals about 1 page of manuscript draft.  So for instance, if you set the margins to about 1 inch/1.25 inches, double space, and set the font to Courier, then once you’ve typed your draft from top (ignoring headers) to the bottom (ignoring the footers), you should have approximately 250 words on that page.  This was a trick that typographers in the 1930s-1970s used when setting type from authors manuscripts during the heyday of popular fiction/reading in America. It was so ingrained that it was repeated in the writing handbooks of the day (I know because my local library used to have a fairly large selection of how to write books in the 800s that were fairly old when I was growing up and I often saw this advice–too bad that I really didn’t try to use this advice earlier in life–ah, the follies of youth).

By Any Means Necessary

Now that I know this and now that I know many prolific writers have word counts, I’ve started with the very basic–let’s try for 1 page a day (=250 words).  So far, I’ve been fairly consistent and I’ve managed to finish Project Skies and I’m on Scene 2 (of 3) for Project Poet.  The key is trying to get 250 words down by any means necessary.  Yesterday, I failed at it–I’m just going to be honest.  I only managed about 75 words on Project Poet because I left it too late in the day and by the time bedtime came around, I just didn’t feel like working it (Too tired–I was asleep minutes after going to bed).  This morning, when I awoke, and I tried to write while eating breakfast, but the words wouldn’t come.  I took a shower and then thought about all of the schoolwork that I have to do today and tomorrow and the words on the story came flowing out of me–I had to stop writing it so that I could work on the blog.  If I have other things to do (such as schoolwork), I stop putting off the writing, but if I don’t have other things to do, then its the writing that I put off.  As I always have plenty of schoolwork to do, maybe that’s the key–250 words before starting on the schoolwork

Now I just have to find a way to make sure that my schoolwork doesn’t suffer.  😉

Sidney



Two, Two, Two Writing Styles in One

AcademicWritingCreativeWriting_SheltechConsultants

Two Types of Writing: “Formal” (Academic) and Creative Writing.  Image Source: Sheltech Consultants

Academic Writer

One the things that I’ve learned over the past two years is that I have two different writing styles–and they are incompatible with each other.  The first type of writing style is my academic writing style.  This style is super strange in that I need to first find a “container” or “form” for me to be successful.  Once I find a form/container, I’m good.  I can basically write and finish a draft and that draft will be very strong and either may be the one I turn in or only needs to be edited in order to be turned in.  The real time consuming element is finding that “container”/”form”/”design” (or Thesis).  Once I have that, the rest is just putting words on paper.  Writing this blog is akin to academic writing for me: my container = the headings.  Once I put the headings down into the blog post, the rest of it is just writing the words underneath (and that’s the “secret sauce” to the writing of my blog posts).

Creative Writer

So, what I’ve learned during my time at MTSU, is that my academic writing style does NOT work for my creative writing style.  To write creatively, I (personally–may not be applicable to anyone else), need to “build” my stories draft by draft.  I have to take the time to outline (foundation), rough draft (framing), “working draft” (interiors & finishing construction), and submission draft (cleaning and landscaping).  I HAVE to go through all these stages, adding, refining, and generally making the project better at each stage of the process.  One draft will NOT suffice under any circumstances for me (even if I have the container/form.  Skipping through these stages doesn’t work for me–either I go through these stages, or I end up with incomplete drafts or abandoned projects.

Two in One

What I’ve learned is that I need to switch between the two as necessary.  Why have I continued to try to force my academic writing style on myself as my creative writing style is unknown to me.  However, if school is about learning, then I’ve at least found one great thing out about myself that I may be able to use to my advantage in my writing life.

Sidney



Project “Space Trucker”

Project Space Trucker

So this will be a short blog entry today.  I just wanted to let you know that I’ve started the “Rough Draft” of a new project: Project Space Trucker.  Yes, I know the title is inelegant, but it is what the story is about.  Well, not literally about Semi-Trucks in space, but about the future and how a “Trucker” in the future might be realized in terms of world/setting, characterization, plot, etc.

This project has no relation to the 1996 movie Space Truckers.  I’ve never seen that movie & didn’t even know it existed until I googled the words Space & Truck for the above image.  After seeing the trailer (see below), I’ve no real desire to see the movie as it is apparently B movie in every sense of the word (bikini-clad female co-pilot and ship that apparently has a semi-truck “trailer” attached to the back of the ship).  If I ever run across it on streaming (& I have a couple of hours to kill), I might watch it now that I know it exists, but its not something I’m going to go searching for as you can see for yourself from the Trailer posted on YouTube.

Inspiration

No, this project was inspired quite a bit by my commute to school.  I often pass by Semi-Trucks on the road and I started noticing the names of the shipping companies on the trailers or the names of the transport and logistic companies on the sides of the trucks and that started me to thinking about how these companies might exist in a space/science fiction environment.

Also, along the route to school, there is a truck “pull-off stop area.”  It isn’t a rest area per se, but a small set of lanes where trucks can pull off the highway safely and sleep/rest before making their way to a mandatory truck checking area that is a few miles up the road.  This way truckers can sleep/rest and not get fined or penalized for not having taken mandatory rest breaks as required by American law.  On one trip, I saw a couple of truckers conversing with each other outside their trucks and also began to wonder how that interaction might play out in a sci-fi universe.

What’s Next?

So, I really like the way this project is headed so far.  I have a fairly clear idea of the character.  I’m working on the Rough Draft this week and over the weekend, I hope to work on character sketches for the two main characters.  Right now, I’m plugging away on the “Working Draft” of Project Poet (Poet).  I’m not sure what’s on deck after Poet as I still need to go back and do another draft for Project Skye as well, but I’ll update you next week.

Well, looks like I’m out of time for today.  Have a great day!

Sidney



 

Potpourri: The Writing Life

potpourri_wikihow

Today’s blog will be a short one on a few things that happened over the weekend pertaining to my writing life.  These are mostly updates that I feel are important milestones, but each one isn’t really so important that it requires its own blog post.  So, in no particular order, here we go:

Submitted All Tomorrow’s Children

So I submitted All Tomorrow’s Children (ATC) to its first market over the weekend. The market is a “major” market in the Science Fiction and Fantasy short fiction landscape, but I doubt they’ll accept it.  While they say there never receive enough Sci-Fi (and ATC is Sci-Fi), their Acceptance rate is .09%.  That means they reject 99.91% percent of the stories that are sent to them.  Still, I had to try as they are one of the “new” big publishers of Sci-Fi/Fantasy stories.  If the market doesn’t take ATC, I have two more publishers that I consider “big” to send it to and then I’ll step down a tier to the mid-level markets.  You never know until you try.

“Blogging” My Way to 250 Words-a-Day

So, I have a confession to make.  I have several Word Processors–Pages, SimpleNote (Mac App & Website), Scrivener, IAWriter App, and a couple of lesser Word Processors (and have access to Word through my school account and on their computers).  However, I found over the past few weeks, that for fiction, I really just like the ease and simplicity of SimpleNote (which I’ve mentioned in the past), but also, just the WordPress Text Editor that I use to create my blog entries.  While I used to draft in SimpleNote, I’ve now switched to the WordPress blog editor because I can quickly see the word count and when I reach my 250 limit for the day, I then copy and paste the work over to SN.  One I have a completed draft, I then copy and paste that over to Scrivener and make my major edits there.  Scrivener makes compiling a submission draft a breeze and that’s the draft I use to submit.  It was this workflow that helped me to get All Tomorrow’s Children off my computer and out the door to a publisher.

Finished (FINALLY) the Rough Draft of “Project Skye”

I finished this over the weekend as well.  It clocks in at about 4,000 words, but really needs some substantial TLC.  This was an exploratory draft and written “by the seat of my pants” because 1) I wanted to get an idea of the character and 2) I thought I knew enough about the world in order to just write.  The draft is a “poster child” for why I don’t write without outlining.  There are plot threads that just drop out, there are character motivations that don’t work, there’s setting issues, there’s a storm that never develops, etc.  This draft is an absolute “mess” and I will most likely have to rewrite the entire story from beginning to end rather than what I did with All Tomorrow’s Children which was “build” the story from the ground up.  This illustrates the difference in my writing styles: ATC was fun to write for me, while Project Skye was an absolute slog.  I can’t even show it to the Writing Center consultant to illustrate Skye’s character (which is the reason I wrote the story) because it really isn’t a “story” yet (at least, not in the way I think of “story”).  But its done–that’s the best part.  And what do they say?  If you’re at the bottom, you can only go up from there–hopefully, by the summer, I can put together a draft that I feel proud to show off–because it isn’t there yet!

Sidney