Stupid Hurdle, Get Out of My Way

It turns out worldbuilding was my hurdle. The second I came up to this particular hurdle in writing my story, I did the equivalent of running around in circles in front of it Kermit flail style and shortly thereafter lying down in the dirt with my fingers in my ears shouting, “LALALA IT’S NOT THERE IF I CAN’T SEE IT!” Why my fingers are in my ears when I’m trying not to see something I’m really not sure, perhaps that’s just how my brain works when it shuts bits of itself off. But then I had a little rant within my writing group and people dragged me up and told me to just do it. Get it over with and get on with the rest of the race because let’s face it, if I don’t, I’ll never complete it.

I don’t know how you pushed my brain into activity again but somehow it worked, and I went off to my drawer and dug out my writing notebook which is full of random story ideas which I’m glad I wrote down because I’d completely forgotten about and perhaps one day I might revisit them. Within, there are ideas for a fantasy. There are the early ideas for my current project, a few more recent ideas, and some really really old ideas plonked in the back including “The World of Avalonia” which is incredibly naff but I love the idea of a table to go through things, and the little dragon doodle is quite cute.

It’s now 1am so I am off to bed but rest assured that tomorrow I will face down that hurdle and tell it that it is definitely not my problem and jump over it. Or in actual terms, I’m going to sort through my notes and make sure I have a naff map, a little history and culture for my world, and a skeleton of a story so that I have something to direct my characters towards. Then I shall start Eshne’s (my main female character) short story.

I-can-do (1)

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RoW80 Here I Go!

I heard about RoW80 (A Round of Words in 80 Days) during one of my NaNoWriMo stints. I love NaNo for the community, but I find the pressure a little too much. So I was told about RoW80 and how you set your own goals but you still get the community. That sounds more like it!

As I’m getting myself writing now, (I know July probably wasn’t the best month to do it in because of my preperation for the steampunk feature on my book blog, but I kept putting it off. No more!) I’m jumping in.

My Goals

These are up in my sidebar as well, but I’m aiming to get started. I’ve had vague ideas, characters, magic systems, cultures, and so on building in my head for a few years now and it’s time I put it all down on paper. I need to start with the worldbuilding before I can do anything else, however, as although I have some ideas, they are not solid yet and I need a world to explore, not a world in which my characters walk through a forest and bump into an unfinished blue box because suddenly my brain can’t think of what might possibly be there. So I shall build.

Then, when I’m comfortable with what I’ve built, I will outline a skeleton. I’ll need a few characters and areas to visit, the ending, basic ideas for bumps in the road and such. Mostly I like to pants it but I would like a direction to take. If I end up veering off road and changing my ending completely because I decide something else works better, great. I’ll roll with it. That is what rewrites are for, right?

Once I have the outlines, I want to start on a prequel. A short story to introduce my main female character and how she ended up in a completely different part of the world to where her people can usually be found. At the moment, I have no idea, so it’s something I need to explore and I’m interested to see how her story plays out.

If I get all of that finished before the end of RoW80, then I’ll start on the main story itself as that is the next step. No word goals, just things to get done. I like lists, they work for me.

Thanks to Zoe Trope for this one!

Thanks to Zoe Trope for this one!

Are any of you guys reading this taking part as well? Are these nice, gentle goals to get me started on a novel that’s going to drive me insane (and I know it will, but I’ll love it anyway)? I’m hoping to take a gradual approach to ease myself in, and gradually work on writing daily when I’m ready for it.

A Little Stuck on the Beginning Part

Wow, I really walked away from the writing a bit there, didn’t I? It was never my intention, I just stopped.

Well, I’m back. With the advent of the writer’s group starting up on Fantasy Faction, it’s given me a bit of a kick to get writing again. Only, now that I’m here, I’m not sure where to begin. I know I want to write fantasy, but I’m not sure where to branch off to.

Of course I have my NaNoWriMo 2010 manuscript that desperately needs a reboot, and I had my epic fantasy as well which was going to go along the lines of: “Twin’s brother attacks him in a world in which you gain unimaginable power from killing your twin, but he fails and twin gains this power. He didn’t want to kill his brother but he was left with no choice and now he’s on the run from the law with a strangely intoxicating (no, there’s no romance, in fact, I’m not sure she’s all that intoxicating after all) woman who is a fearsome fighter from one of the tribal countries in the North. They don’t exactly get along but together they set out to keep twin safe and find a way to either put his newfound powers to good use or dampen them so as he can live out his life in peace. But these powers are deeply sought after and incredibly rare, and their darkness seeks to consume..” So yeah, I’m reading that back and to me it sounds excellent but it’s hardly unique and I’m not entirely sure how to do it justice, but I know I’d love an excuse to explore their world. Any thoughts on this one?

Wherever I decide to go with this, whether I go back to NaNo10, Twin Power, or somewhere completely different, I need to sit down and do some serious world-building and plotting because as much as I enjoyed pantsing my fairy tale, I need a solid world with place names and cultures to explore when I come to actually write it. I have absolutely no clue where to begin though! And while I’m at it – any tips on naming? People I’m not so bad with, but places and items and creatures leave me stumped which really breaks the writing flow at times. Need to compile a bunch of names for everything before I get writing but where to start..

How do you go about world-building? Do you have a structure to follow or do you just map it out and let it flow that way? Or maybe you have other methods? Please leave your responses in the comments, I’ll much appreciate it!

Kicking Self Doubt in the Shins

Today I experienced my first real feeling of self doubt regarding my writing. Sure, I’ve felt it before. Felt as though I’m not good enough to do this, but still I plowed on because I can always fix it later, right? But today I read an amazing post at Fantasy Faction giving the advice: “show don’t tell” (read it if you’re getting into writing). It gave some fantastic writing tips and feeling spurred on I loaded up my epic fantasy in Scrivener, went back to the first line and how I could possibly change it to make it flow a lot better using this “show don’t tell” rule and whichever way I look at it, I just draw a blank. Self doubt. I’m not good enough to be a writer.

But never fear, I’m not giving up in the face of self doubt. Writing is my dream and I have too many stories to tell. I need to write them. I need them to be read. Even if only a handful of people read and enjoy them, I’ll have completed my life’s dream.

I’ve just got to take a new approach. See, all along I’ve been blogging to keep myself writing but I’ve come to realise how very different fiction writing and blog writing really is. When I blog, I talk to my readers as though I’m sending an email. Right now, this here, this is me emailing all of you who actually read this blog. Cool huh? But when I write… basically I just haven’t got the hang of it yet. I just try to write down my story even if I struggle with wording because I want to see it whole and complete and figure the rewrites will fix it.

So my new approach? I’m putting my epic fantasy aside. I’m not ready to write something so ambitious yet, and as such I’m picking up my manuscript from last year’s NaNoWriMo win – the so called “dark fairy tale” which is more like a young adult paranormal romance fairy tale. It’s a complete story but it desperately needs a rewrite and some fleshing out – what better way to practise and improve than by picking up a story I have previously put my heart and soul into and seeing where I can improve? And most of all, of course: practising my fiction writing.

How do you pull yourself through the self doubt? This time I’m taking the “it happens, keep going” approach but we can’t always be lucky enough to see it that way.

It’s Not Writer’s Block and a Few Tips

I’m struggling to write, but it’s not writer’s block. Actually, in my googling to rid myself of this stupid “I can’t write” disposition, I read somebody say that there’s no such thing as writer’s block and they have a point but that’s just a small aside.

See.. I know precisely what I want to write. When I’m sat writing I’ll think, “Well okay, how does X react to this? What might happen next? What obstacles can I throw into their paths?” And it’s quite easy to keep going this way. I know that right now, my characters don’t know each other but they are severely pissed at each other.. or.. one is pissed, the other is afraid. They’re going to sit down and finally talk to each other, find out enough about each other to trust each other on the journey they’re about to undertake together, and explain why they’ll be taking it together, but the words just won’t come! It’s not even a confidence thing. I read back what I’d already written and sure it needs a little spring cleaning but it’s not bad. So why can’t I write? Why do I sit down, manage a couple hundred words, and then find myself unable to continue?

I asked you guys on Twitter how to overcome this and you had some absolutely great tips which I absolutely have to post below, but you see.. I don’t need something different, I need the motivation to plow on. Perhaps it’s my depression. So how do I go about kicking depression in the shins, giving it the middle finger, and getting on with something I’m passionate about? I’m guessing the only answers are “try to write anyway” and “take a break and come back later”, but if there’s any advice, I’ll take it.

Anyway, some tips for folk who feel they’ve come to a road block in their writing and might find these tips useful!

Every writer I know has trouble writing. –Joseph Heller

Day One Realisations

I spent a large part of day one trying to convince myself to write. I’d woken up with a headache and I was growing more and more achey and my novel was staring me in the face, practically daring me to write it and the second I started it’d pull away from me, mocking. “Haha, can’t catch me!” I was a bit tired, you see. Every now and then I’d start stressing over it. “Oh but I need to write! I’ll fall behind on NaNoWriMo and I want to hit 3k words today.” I just happened to be staring at Scrivener, willing myself to plonk some words down when Dan reminded me that I didn’t need to hit 50k by the end of the month. That I am doing NaNoWriMo for fun and whatever I do write is a bonus so there’s really no need to panic over not writing lots of words in one day. This was exactly what I’d been saying beforehand, I just seemed to have forgotten about it in all of my excitement and tried to push myself too hard.

I’ll be taking it easy. I’ve got my epic fantasy on the go as my main story but I have also started a chick lit on the side for a bit of fun when my fantasy feels too much like treacle wading.

Remember guys: no matter how seriously you mean to take your writing, NaNoWriMo is fun and there’s no need to burn yourself out. Just because you don’t write as many words as some other people does not make you a failure, you’ll have still written more than the average human being and not “just ‘cus” but because you care about something. Don’t put too much pressure on yourselves this November!

Word Wars

I adore word wars. Adore. You get to write solidly in short bursts and then compare with friends who’s better.. AHEM.. who wrote the most. *competitive jeer*

This year I’m likely going to be using different IM clients and as such would love to word war with some peoples. Occasionally I’ll prod the NaNoWriMo hashtag and see who’s up for word wars on Twitter but let’s face it – it’s not as fun as when you do it with friends and can prod each other out of the writing zone.. remind me why I like these things again?

If you’d like to join me, just give me a prod and we’ll sort something out! At the moment I have MSN and GTalk but I really should get a one-size-fits-all IM client.

Do you guys like word wars or do you find the short bursts too short to really get into the writing?