Procrastination: the dirtiest P word any writer knows

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I’ve plotted and outlined my story, I’m excited. Inciting incidents and an ending that will cause my readers to ugly cry are dancing in my head. I’ve spent hours curating the perfect writing playlist on Spotify and making inspirational pinboards on Pinterest. My desk is clean, I have a notebook at my side, ready to write down anything that may come to me when I’m in this heightened state of inspiration.

Then I stop.

I’ll do almost anything to avoid being productive, maybe not intentionally, but I will… I’ve cleaned my house top to bottom. Suddenly remembered that I need to clean out my closet or garage. I have chores, errands. Then I start binge-watching shows on Netflix and getting stuck for hours on Youtube watching other authors talk about writing. And then suddenly – it’s gone. I can’t write. The motivation deflated.

So how do we kick procrastination in the ass?

Procrastination is all in my head. It’s about my fear of failing and comparing myself to others. It’s about thinking that I need to be perfect, and re-reading my work and thinking that I’m a complete fraud who can’t write and my words suck and I become my own worst enemy. it’s obsessing over creating beautiful passages and similes, going back and correcting things before I can move on.

Writing isn’t pretty. First drafts aren’t pretty.

When I get stuck on certain passages and can’t move on, that isn’t writing. When I’m constantly re-reading my work and trying to perfect it before I can move on, that isn’t writing.  That interrupts the flow of my story and zaps my creativity.

Step one: TURN OFF THE INTERNET!!!

If you’re like me, you might head to Pinterest or whatever website inspires you, and then three hours later you’ve planned your cats birthday party in great detail, and you haven’t written a damn word. No, you don’t need it for research. No, you don’t need it to come up with a different word for arsenal because you’ve just written it four times in one chapter (true story – and there was never any weapons…). That comes later. Right now, you just need to get those words on paper.

Step two: Baby steps

Set a timer. Ten minutes. Twenty minutes. Thirty minutes. And tackle something SMALL. Tackle a small scene, not even an entire chapter. Are you trying to nail a fight scene, or a kissing scene or maybe an important internal monologue. Take a small amount of time and just write that one thing.

Step three: Stop self-editing before you move on

That’s what your second draft is for. That’s what a proofreader is for. You’re too close to your work at this point, it hasn’t had time to breathe and sit. If you continually take time to self-edit (especially AS you are writing, you aren’t doing yourself any favors) The focus on perfection is a doom spiral, trust me on this.

Step four: Allow yourself to take a break.

Take a ten-minute walk around the block. Pet your dog. Go outside and pull some weeds. Whatever it is that clears your head and allows you to stop thinking about your damn book for a minute – do it.

Step five: Bones

No, not like a dog. This has been the biggest a-ha moment in my writing. I just get the bones or the skeleton of a chapter or scene written. I worry about the meat later when I revise. So what does that mean? That means – maybe I have a pivotal conversation and I just write the dialogue. No tags, no action, no scene setting. Just the conversation. And I move on. Yep. I just move on. It’s ugly and anxiety producing at first and if anyone ever read my first drafts of certain chapters, they’d think a five-year-old wrote them. But I swear by it and it’s really helped me become more productive.

The final step: Be nice to yourself.

Stop beating yourself up for not hitting a word count goal. Stop focusing on everything wrong with your first draft and focus on the fact that you started the first draft. Reward yourself for the baby steps. Reward yourself for completing a chapter. STOP comparing yourself to other writers and how fast they write.

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…tap tap tap…is this thing still on?

Yes! I am alive.

I barely survived inventory at my “real” job and then got thrown into a massive project in my garden center. We basically had to flip the entire thing. Muscles in parts of my body I wasn’t even aware there were muscles hurt…Plus I’ve been dealing with some pretty intense family stress that is leaving me quite emotionally drained.

How We Fall is coming along nicely. I’ve hit a great stride and my WIP is sitting at 32k words. I have my early stage beta reader going through it and she’s already given it a thumbs up ♥

I will try and get back to actively blogging soon.

bon-appetit

Writers Monday: The Art of Junk Writing

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I’m often pressed for time writing-wise. I work full time outside of the home, and I’m a single parent of two. People ask me how I do it – the answer is, I have a schedule and I stick to it.

Writing time for me is between the hours of 7 pm and 9 pm on work nights and as much as I can on days off – sometimes if my mind is really spinning, I’ll write instead of brushing my hair for work (hello messy bun).

But so many of those work weeknights my mind is tired. I have the ideas, but I’m too exhausted for coming up with clever similes and metaphors. The words that come out onto my paper aren’t crisp, and they read juvenile. And I know I’m not alone here.

I hold myself accountable for writing a minimum of 1600 words a day. Which means, I’ve learned to embrace the junk writing. I have the base idea for a scene, or a conversation – I know it’s a good idea, but it all comes out like jumbled crap. WRITE THE JUMBLED CRAP.  Get the idea out of your head( see the picture above) It’s a first draft, a rough copy – whatever you want to call it. First drafts are never perfect. They are meant to be amended and edited.

The above picture is “junk writing”. I had just finished my final round of edits on The Space Between Us – but I had these scenes swirling around in my head. My brain was TIRED from the previous book – but this meet cute and intro scene were just too good. I would never publish that in a book, I would never send that to a beta reader – but the base idea for the scene was there, the core of it is something to go back and work with.

Here is the same text, after round one:

A woman can drive a sane man to do crazy things in the same way hunger, greed and lust can. A woman like this could cause me to go insane.

I could fire her. I should fire her. What I really should do is call Sean, the staff manager, and let him deal with her.

But one look inside those big green doe-shaped eyes, and I crumbled into specks of dust. And just one word falling from her bow-shaped lips, smooth and sweet like honey, tempted my ears in the hopes for more. I wondered what she sounded like when she was having sex. Did she moan? Whimper? Scream?

Christ, I needed to get laid. I blanked my face to hide any devious thought or emotion from showing.

Outside my office, the kitchen was picking up in speed. The closer it gets to dinner time, the wilder it gets back here. It’s a carefully calculated orchestra of skill and chaos. A faint perfume of butter and sautéed garlic wafted through the door, and my mouth watered much like it did when I saw her wandering around the market.

It’s my driving force in life. Food that is.

Again, still not perfect, but better. Round two, round three – you get the idea. It gets cleaner, tightens up and flows.

Next time you’re stuck, I challenge you to try it. Don’t worry about the words and flow. Don’t worry about dialogue tags and actions. Get your ideas out of your head and move on. Yes, you’ll be embarrassed if someone were to read over your shoulder. Yes, you’ll read it and think “this is a flaming pile of shit” – and it is – but you can fix it later. I’ve written entire chapters this way, thinking to myself – this is such crap, I’m going to have to delete this and start over – some of them wound up being my favorite chapters/scenes in my book.

Next week I’ll talk about my other trick I use for when I get stuck. I call it, the what if game.

So go on now. Write some junk and turn it into something glorious.

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Writing Tip Monday: Instantly Improve Your Writing by Removing Filter Words

No, that’s not a joke.

You can immediately improve your writing by removing filter words. So what are filter words?

Have you ever read a book and felt disconnected or jarred out of a scene? Have you ever read your own writing and felt like something was lacking or you don’t know how to be more descriptive and engaging? Before I learned about filter words, I didn’t know why I couldn’t connect with certain books or why it took me so long to read them when the story itself was good.

It was the writing flow that kicked me out of a character’s world and narrative.

Filter words are the difference between showing and telling. Our goal as fiction writers is to pull a reader in and have them feel like they are part of the story. They can see it in their heads, they can smell every smell and it’s like they’re one of the characters not just a voyeur to the action.

Filter words: (and variations of these words)

  • to see
  • to hear
  • to think
  • to touch
  • to wonder
  • to realize
  • to watch
  • to look
  • to seem
  • to feel (or feel like)
  • can
  • to decide
  • to sound (or sound like)

Filter words in action:

(with filter phrase) I see the rain falling on the roof.
(without filter phrase) Rain falls on the roof.

(with filter phrase) I feel cold.
(without filter phrase) I’m cold.

(with filter phrase) I hear the thundering music from the bar spilling onto the sidewalk.
(without filter phrase) Thundering music from the bar spills onto the sidewalk.

(with filter phrase)  I decide to go inside where it’s warmer.
(without filter phrase)  I go inside where it’s warmer.

(with filter phrase) She looks beautiful in her flowing white dress and veil.
(without filter phrase)  She’s beautiful in her flowing white dress and veil.

It’s a small change, with a big punch. One shows you, one tells you-drawing you into a deeper point of view.

I have certain words that I am apparently addicted to, and my first drafts are full of them. But now that I know what they are, they are easier to spot and even easier to fix!

That being said, absolutely it’s okay to use them sometimes. Just because filter words are weak, doesn’t mean they have no place in your writing. But if you cut the majority of them out, the others won’t stand out when you do use them. In a few scenes in my current  WIP I had to create that distance between my character and the action because that was how he processed that moment.

I hope you find this helpful and you can go back to your drafts and see and feel the difference in your manuscripts! I will be posting more writing tips every Monday.

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Vlog | Day in the Life | Rocking Autumn Release Weekend ♥

 

When I started my YouTube channel I talked about how I find balance between being a single mom, working full-time, finding personal time and writing! This video crams 15 hours of my day into a 14-minute video – and it’s a small glimpse into how I do it all!

Rocking Autumn is available HERE:

Amazon → US https://goo.gl/nNxvzK
Amazon → UK https://goo.gl/iC8hGK
Amazon → CAN https://goo.gl/7pSZrE
Amazon → DE https://goo.gl/AxgSAR
Amazon → FR https://goo.gl/ct7FzN
Amazon → AU https://goo.gl/tDJA8T
Paperback → https://goo.gl/V6FcXA

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