Category: discipline

#05 – Beverley Lee – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode o5 with Beverley Lee – Writer 0f modern gothic

First drafts, Tea and Exploring the Shadowy Places

“The one thing a story hates is a nit-picky writer”

Episode 05 – Beverley Lee – Show Notes
  • Being a planster
  • Battling to find the right genre
  • Don’t compare your work effort to others
  • Lewis, King, Rice and Schwab
  • Always listen to your story even if you think it’s wrong
  • Madeleine’s tip: the Emotional Thesaurus

“With a global community, there’s always someone around to hold your hand or kick you in the pants.”

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Five things which distract me from my writing

I am boringly conscientious. It was always on my school report…Madeleine is a conscientious student. But stuff still distracts me from writing.

Noise, generally power tools

I live in an area filled with older homes under renovation. If the gentle roar of power tools isn’t coming from my own house, it’s one of my neighbours drilling, sawing or generally banging loudly.

Headphones are good.

drill-portable-and-electric

Social media & the internet

I’m not alone. I know the blasted internet and social media call to us all. Distract me. Validate me. Just check the weather. Maybe someone liked my tweet. A quick look at the news. Next thing I know, it’s thirty minutes later. Damned instant access to everything ever.

The day job

Unfortunately I’m not independently wealthy or a kept woman, so I have to work. This is a major distraction from writing. Although perhaps with more time on my hands to write, there’d be more opportunity for other distractions to creep in.

cubicle-farm

People – reminders I need to have a life too.

Note to self – occasionally stop writing and socialise. While Mr Madeleine and friends are a lovely distraction, if they interrupt at the wrong moment, they are in danger of encountering extreme grumpiness. As with many things, timing is important.

Resistance

I often talk about Resistance. The little evil man on my shoulder telling me I’m crap and I’m wasting my time with this writing stuff. He is the root cause of most of my writing distractions.Some days he is stronger than others. I try to ignore his little snarks and keep putting my fingers on the keyboard.

What distracts you from your writing (or other goals)?

How I “Finished” – Tip #7: Being Selfish & Competitive

Being Selfish & Competitive

Now being selfish and competitive is generally seen to be a bad thing, but these two negative traits helped me go from a lump of words to a “finished” manuscript.

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Books don’t write themselves. I work full time but I find time to write because I’m selfish. Writing is really important to me, so it takes priority over other stuff. I’ve learned to be comfortable saying “no”.

I’m also competitive. Now I’m associating with an online community of writers and every day, my fellow writers are launching books, getting agents, getting publishing deals and 5 star reviews. I’m happy for them, (I believe in abundance not scarcity) but I want what she’s having.

What have you given up for writing?

Tomorrow – Tip#8 Listening to my gut.

How I “finished” – Tip #1 Discipline

Discipline is not a dirty word

Discipline and routine isn’t sexy but it’s necessary. Books don’t write themselves. Unfortunately. But creating a daily writing habit really helped to finish my project.

With the help of the Monthly Writing Challenge, I developed a routine of writing or editing every day. Every single day. The Monthly Writing Challenge has a target of 500 words per day or 1 hour editing. (More about the Challenge in Tip#2). There’s an online spreadsheet to record your work efforts and a little bit of public accountability helps.

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Now, daily writing and editing has become a habit.

For example, I wrote this blog post while at the hairdresser in order to get my 500 words down for the day. I’ve written in parks at lunchtime, at airports, dictated while walking and other weirdo behaviours to get my words in.

Generally, I’m a boringly structured person anyway (I’m an Upholder according to Gretchen Rubin’s framework) but having regular accountability has made the habit stick. Then the word counts and drafts follow.

What helps you stay on track?

Tomorrow – Tip#2 Finding my Tribe

 

Why I write – a response

This post is inspired by Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Mind blog. He put out a flash fiction challenge to write about “why I write?”

Here’s my story of “Why I write”.

I was a kid into books. I love stories. I love to be lost in books and transported by words. But I used to think storytellers were other people. Not me. They were artists. Artistic, high lit, tortured poetic wordsmiths. When I dashed down some words on a page, they were plain old crap.

It took years to learn lesson#1.

The first draft of anything is shit – Ernest Hemingway

So I hid the shit in a drawer and went back to watching TV.

But the desire still ate away at me. Whenever I thought about my life goals – writing a book was always number one with a bullet. So I’d enrol in some writing courses. I’d dabble but never had the confidence to take myself seriously.

I’d get discouraged and distracted.

Then I found Nanowrimo. Nanowrimo helped me churn out three or four unfinished lumpy novels. I proved to myself I could sit down and write 50,000 words in a month but they didn’t work. They didn’t resonate with me. My urban fantasy felt too cheesy. When I tried to write crime, my skin crawled when I tried to get inside the heads of serial killers or murderers. I was an imposter, none of it felt truly like me.

So I put it away again and went back to post-grad study.

Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try – Yoda

I started to get all angsty, mid life crisis riddled. My life circumstances changed and I had a bit of time on my hands. I imagined dying tomorrow with this one ambition left unfulfilled. It would be my one regret.

So I sat down and did it.

This time, it’s war – Aliens (1987)

Now I realise I need it. Practising every day, I’m learning the craft and improving. I read and learn from others. I’m prepared. I know it’s a bumpy ride of “I suck. I rock.” I know that the vomit draft is the easy part, the hard part is the six months of Revise. Delete. Rewrite. Repeat. I know the odds are stacked against me, there are millions of books published every day competing for readers. I know all this and I do it anyway. Cos I love it and it makes me happy.

That’s why I write.

Michael Whelan’s Yours Truly

Three ways to kickstart a writing session

Sit down, open my laptop, crack my knuckles and go!

And then stare at the blank page…sometimes, it’s not that easy to get going.

Here’s a couple of other things I do before I start writing –

  • stretch my body to get the blood flowing,
  • invite the Muse to visit me and then
  • a few writing warm-ups.

Stretch

Whether a few yoga poses, some arm circles or a walk around the block, I need a bit of movement before I put fingers to keyboard.

Have you got a spare three minutes? Here’s a little three minute video of Japanese morning calisthenics (also known as raijo taiso). I do this every morning to knock out the kinks. Apparently, raijo taiso is broadcast across Japan every morning. Originally part of an insurance company campaign in the 1920s, it is still popular today. Some say, it is the secret to the spritely Japanese elders.

Ode to the Muse

Next, I invite the Muse to join me with my writing.

This is the beginning four lines of a beautiful poem Ode to the Muse written by Mary Darby Robinson from an anthology from 1791.

O, LET me seize thy pen sublime
That paints, in melting dulcet rhyme,
The glowing pow’r, the magic art,
Th’ extatic raptures of the Heart;

How could the Muse ignore such a delightful invitation?

Writing warm ups

Now to get the brain moving with a few quick writing warm ups. Something short and sharp, but a little bit hard.

  • the #6words challenges for 6 word stories on a particular topic thrown out on Twitter by Kelsye
  • Describe your main character in 5 words
  • Create a 6 word pitch for your writing

How do you kickstart your writing sessions?

Write on – why I love writing challenges

Tips on writing and quotes from famous writers are everywhere. I think most advice boils down to “sit there and write. Every day.”

But that’s easier than it sounds, it’s like “eat less, move more.” Easy in theory, but a different story when it’s chocolate o’clock. Writing challenges help me with discipline and build my daily writing habit.

I started with Nanowrimo – write a 50,000 word novel in November. This initially helped me to get into the habit of “vomit drafting”, just blurting it all out, writing without the inner critic and getting those words and thoughts down on the page. But a target of 1,667 per day is not sustainable in the long term for me. Nowadays Nanowrimo is not just for November, there are regular challenges throughout the year and for other forms. I’ve written four novels in Nanowrimos.

My current favourite is Monthly Writing Twitter Challenge with a target of 500 words per day or 1 hour editing. This is an achievable target without feeling overwhelming. And over the month, even with the minimum 500 words, I can amass at least 15,000 words. It’s a simple challenge with a great supportive community on Twitter and it was originally inspired by Dr Who! Join us and sign up for March!

The challenges keep me accountable, motivated and give me a sense of achievement.

What are your tips for building writing discipline?

www.iamerinbrown.com

What I learned about writing in 2014

Time for some self indulgent navel gazing about 2014.

2014 was a big year for me. I got serious about this writing malarkey. Writing and publishing a novel has been my life’s goal as long as I can remember, so it was time to stop tinkering around the edges and make a real go of it.

So what did I learn in 2014 and what inspired me.

There are loads of options in the publishing world

I love my podcasts and stumbled across So you want to be a writer. “Writer” comes from the Australian Writer’s Centre and is a valuable resource of information and inspiration. It alerted me to the booming world of self-publishing. Having read Hugh Howey’s Wool in paperback, I had no idea about his back story in super successful self publishing and the different options available to writers these days. Valerie and Allison are knowledgeable and entertaining, their advice on the importance of establishing an author platform inspired me to start this blog, join Twitter and come out as a writer. I look forward to each episode.

I can write hundreds of thousands of words a year and keep a day job

Having participated in Nanowrimo multiple times and won, this year I got serious about sitting down almost every day to write or edit. In 2014, I managed 4 drafts of a 75,000 novel #1, a Nanowrimo 50,000 word vomit draft of Novel#2 and 15,000 words of Novel #3. And I kept my day job! And still managed 8 hours sleep a night (well, many of those 8 hours tossing and turning but my sleep battles are a discussion for another day).

Although on the downside, I have fallen way behind in pop culture, if it’s not Dr Who or Games of Thrones, I haven’t seen it. Hey, I’m old now – it doesn’t matter if I don’t keep up with the cool kids anymore. Oh and the best thing, whilst some days writing is like cracking walnuts with my bare hands, I still enjoy the process.

My writing doesn’t suck

I put my work out there for the first time, seeking professional and beta reader feedback on my drafts. No one told me I sucked. In fact, people even said some complimentary stuff and more importantly, gave me pointers on what to improve. Onwards and upwards, friends!

My goal –  to have a completed (ready to publish) manuscript by 31/12/15. And I can’t wait to share it with the world!

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