Writing Resolutions

Hello, everyone! The combination of stress and joy that is the Holidays has passed. 2012 is gone and 2013 has begun.  New Year’s is always a time for goal setting and newfound optimism. This year isn’t any different.

New Year’s is also a time for resolutions. In addition to the usual personal improvement resolutions, involving work and social goals, I’ve also made a number of writing resolutions. I thought I’d share them.

  1. Write something every day: It doesn’t matter if it’s a character sketch or a random snatch of dialog, as long as it is something. There is no minimum word limit here, just to write something.
  2. Spend more time in character development: Let the characters speak their own minds to me. Let the plot develop organically from their personalities rather than trying to make them jump through hoops and fit into boxes I make for them.
  3. Set a writing schedule: Schedule time in the day that will be my writing time, and stick to that schedule.
  4. Read more: Nothing helps my writing like reading good writing. Also, I have a lot of craft books that I have not read yet. I resolve to read those before I acquire more.

I realize fully that these are fairly standard suggested resolutions that one will see in any given writing book or blog. None of this is original. But, I hope that publishing this here will help me keep my resolutions. I always believe that telling people about your resolutions makes you more accountable to them. Don’t you agree?

I would like to know what some of your writing resolutions are.

Have a great 2013!

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The First Draft

I remember the first time I finished “Nanowrimo.” My big moment, when I knew that I was going to complete my first novel-length project was when I was able to tell myself that I was only writing a first draft.

Loudly I proclaimed: “This is not my novel! It’s just a first of my draft! It’s not my novel!” A feeling of freedom set in. It was all right if something wasn’t the way I wanted it to be in the finished product, because it wasn’t the finished product. It was all right if I didn’t like that particular line of dialogue. It was all right if I knew that I was going to have to go back and change everything, because my original plotting ideas were not panning out.

Everything was all right, because what I was writing was not my novel.

It was the first draft of a novel!

There is no such thing as a novel that is written in one draft. Everything needs editing. And, when you give yourself permission to make mistakes and carry on, knowing that you’ll come back and clean up your literary mess later, writing feels a very different task. I realized that I was free to make mistakes. Not only that, but some of those mistakes I thought I made, turned out to yield wonderful things.

So, you’re going to re-write it. You can fix it later. Just keep writing.

If you wait until chapter 1 is perfect before you start writing chapter 2, chapter 2 will never get written.

I tend to speed through first drafts these days. If you read one of my first drafts, you’d find it hilarious, I think. They’re always full of lines like “And then I noticed the man I was talking to was actually a woman!” when I decided I had too many male characters and wanted to change a character’s gender. That’s just the way I write first drafts. It isn’t until the second draft that I start editing… anything really.

If you’re more meticulous than I am, and I’m sure most of you are, and think you might have difficulty letting yourself do this, here’s a tip: color code first drafts. If I know for a fact I’ve written something I need to go back and look at, I change the font color to red. If I’ve written something that I need to go back and research to make sure is right, I color it blue.

The color coding system is personal and best tailored to your own needs. Believe me, I know. But, if you find yourself having difficulty giving yourself permission to leave something you don’t like for the second draft, I find this very useful.

So many of my writer friends struggle with finishing long projects. They run out of steam or enthusiasm, become disenchanted, or run out of time.

But, I think once you get the first draft out, no matter how bad it is, it’s always easier to go back and edit. So remember:

You’re always allowed to be terrible on your first draft.

Happy Writing! Now, I’m back to my Camp Nanowrimo project!

I’ll write more about that when I’ve reached 50,000 words!

A New Project and Camp Nanowrimo

Badge courtesy of CampNanowrimo.org

Fifty thousand words in thirty days.

That feels like a lot to write in a short time.

Nanowrimo, or National Novel Writing Month, is something that I throw myself into every November. It’s always such an insane and wonderful month. It’s always full of creativity, joy, stress, character love, character hate, friends, competition, alcohol, and randomly deciding to write sex scenes until I figure out where I want my story to go next, because I used up all my plotting notes in the first twenty thousand words.

Yeah, it happens.

But, I really do love it. So, this month I have decided to embark on “Camp Nanowrimo.” For those of you who don’t know, it’s when they do the regular November insanity in the summer months.
This decision was made rather suddenly. My current project is one I’ve had in mind for some time, but it was the concept behind the novel that I’ve been thinking about. The plot and characters are much less solidified in my mind than they usually are when I start writing. So, this project has taken me from being a “Plotter” (someone who plots everything out before they write) to a “Pantser” (someone who flies by the seat of their pants.)

When it comes to the “Plotter” vs. “Pantser” debate, I don’t believe that there is a right or wrong way to write. It’s merely a matter of personal preference. The only advantage I think “Plotters” have is that “Pantsers” have to do more re-writes to make the finished project more cohesive. Although I’ve never had a “plotted” project where I didn’t deviate from the planned plot. So, maybe that’s not even true.

As I said, we’re all different.

But, be that as it may, “Pantsing” is a very different experience for me. And, maybe writing in a way that I’m not used to is good for me. I think I’m writing a lot of things that will get scrapped in the very next draft. But, that doesn’t matter. I feel like I’m stretching myself, and going outside of my comfort zone.

It’s stressing me out terribly, but I’m enjoying it. I’ll write more about my new project in the next blog entry.

Now, I wonder if I can count this entry towards my Camp Nanowrimo word count…

Birth of a New Blog!

“Oh look, another writing blog. They’re all the same. It’s all just the same stuff, rehashed over and over again. If you’ve read one you’ve read them all.”

Well, now you can read mine.

Hello there! I’m now starting the one-millionth writing blog on the internet. I’m looking forward to carving out my little place here. This is going to be fun for me.  If you’d like to keep reading, I hope it will be fun for you too.

My name is Georgette Graham, and I am a struggling writer. If you think those two words go together far too often, you’re right. It seems like all but a gilded few of us write either have a day job, or we’re struggling. I have a day job myself. Even still, I am a writer because I write; not because that’s how I make my living.

Writers are a strange breed. We live in a world of late nights, fights for inspiration, struggles with agents and publishers, and stretches of rejection interrupted by successes only occasionally. At least I do. It’s frustrating to me, but it’s also wonderful. I love writing. My characters and stories and the worlds they inhabit are very dear to me. I hope you’ll stick around and learn a little more about them.

I intend to use this blog to share, not only things that I have learned about the writing process through the years, but also to write about my own work towards my publication goals. There will be articles about writing and pre-writing, character creation and development, and tricks I have learned that help me to organize notes and research, as well as talk about my efforts both in traditional and internet self-publishing, and using social media to help generate readership.

So, a little more about me: I studied English in college, and focused on Victorian Literature.  I have a second major in Theater, and studied both acting and playwriting. As a writer, I have had a few minor short story sales and have worked locally writing for businesses and newsletters. You, as a reader, might have even had more success writing than I have. Good! Comment away and we’ll all help each other! I love books, both reading and writing. I love music of most any kind from Abba to Nirvana. I love my cats, Chinese food, and singing in the shower. I’ll be pretty open that yes, there is an element of self-promotion here.  I suppose I could try and be all self-righteous and deny that, but I don’t see the point.  Besides, that’s not the primary reason for my being here. My primary reason for being here is to connect with other authors, learn from their experiences, and hopefully offer some advice of my own to help other writers that are in the same boat as me.

With that, I send my best wishes to you all, keep writing and never give up.

Remember, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” was rejected over 100 times before it was ever published. Just think of that the next time you get a rejection notice.

Whatever Holiday you celebrate this time of year, may it be happy, blessed, and merry!