Tag Archives: the writing process

Embrace Rejection! Guest Post on Scarlett Van Dijk’s Writing Blog

Time to Get Back in the Saddle!

Time to Get Back in the Saddle!

Check out Scarlett Van Dijk’s wonderful and informative writing blog, where she spotlights writers and their tales of creativity, publishing, the creative process and much more.

I recently wrote a guest post for her titled ‘Embrace Failure’. Don’t let the rejections get you down, keep trying!

Scarlett is part of a strong writing community on Linkedin, where writers in all stages of their careers get together online to talk about their craft. Every month on her blog she features a guest writer and I look forward to these posts because, let’s face it; writing is a solitary profession and I enjoy being part of a community of like-minded people, who understand the challenges of turning words into stories.

For those of you who follow my blog, you’ll have noticed a distinct lack of content of late. When you’ve read my guest post, you’ll understand why. My thanks to Scarlett because that post has helped me to realized that it’s time to stop the self-pity party and start showing up at the page. And after all, isn’t that what writers do?

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Writing Tips: Breaking Your Novel Down Into Chunks

One of the most difficult things about writing a novel for the first time is the sheer size and magnitude of the project. Even a shorter novel, one between 40 and 60 thousand words can seem daunting to the beginner writer.

I was talking to a friend yesterday about her work-in-progress and she explained that she had stalled out after a few thousand words because she just couldn’t see her way through to the end of the book. “I have scenes and dialogues in my head, but it’s hard to write the whole thing down from the first chapter to the last chapter.”

If you think of your completed novel as a series of shorter, but linked stories based on a group of characters, it is much easier to write and complete your book. Every time you hear your characters talking or envision them in the middle of a conflict or just living their everyday lives, write it down.

Too often, writers make the mistake of not writing down their ideas as soon as they come. As my friend said, “Sometimes I get the most amazing ideas, so good that I’m sure I can’t possibly forget them, but then, when I go to write them down, they have somehow evaporated.”

Sometimes these great ideas arrive in the form of an overheard conversation, or something you’ve read in a newspaper or online. Write them down immediately, before it is too late.

Set a realistic word count and write every day. This accomplishes several things:

1. You will begin to really know your characters; their goals, their motivations, their fears and their beliefs
2. As you get to understand your characters, the story arc and continuity becomes much clearer
3. A good novel is character driven, and if you want to put your characters in the driver’s seat, you have to give them the room to show you who they are
4. Even if you only write 200 words a day, by the end of a month you will have 6000 words and by the end of a year, you will have 73,00 words!

Even if your goal is only 500 words, make sure that you reach it. Some days will be more challenging than others. Often those first couple of hundred words are all that you need to get your creativity flowing.

Don’t be afraid to use the delete button. A good writer views this tool as a best friend.

Don’t worry at first if your chunks of writing don’t seem to flow together. Just write it down. The time to look for continuity is after the ideas are on the page and the first draft is complete.

Break your novel into chunks – try it for a month and you will be happily surprised at the results.

As long as you can see a few feet ahead of you, you will get to the end of the journey

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One Week Today and Getting Lots of Writing Done

Wide Open Sky

Wide Open Sky

I didn´t see a soul today — a big shout out to skype — keeps me talking to the outside. I´m still not sleeping well, which means that I end up waking really late, and that cuts down on the hours of sunlight. Usually I go for a walk, but today, it just looked so cold outside that I didn´t bother — I regret that now, but it´s dark outside and no place does dark as well as Iceland. It´s an all encompassing blackness, where you can barely see your hand when you hold it out in front of you.

I´m not really sure where the time goes. I´ve been working on my new book for hours every day. Sometimes I feel that it is going really well, and at other times, I hate what I have written. This is, I know, every writer´s lament and I miss not having anyone to bounce my rough draft off. I guess I am working on blind faith, knowing that since I´ve done it before, perhaps, I can do it again.

I hit the 21,000 word mark. I am aiming to write at least 15,00 words per day, and then I begin each new day by re-reading and heavily editing yesterday´s work. My characters haven´t quite taken over yet, and this is a bit of a worry. I write well into the night, at least until I find an English language show on our one channel. I don´t miss TV at all — at least not our 160 stations with nothing on them that we have at home.

House from the road

House from the road

Today, because nobody was around in the afternoon, I played my ipod on full volume and danced around like a crazy person. It struck me how odd it would look if there were hidden cameras in the house, because I was shouting out the words and really having a great little dance session all on my own. And then it struck me as odd that I would even have that thought…

When Christmas celebrations start here, there will be an elf and a singer and I think maybe a clown in the house, so that will be refreshing company in the evenings. I am not afraid of clowns, like so many people are — thank god. I think I am pretty brave to be here on these dark days alone, and I am really enjoying my own company…I don´t know if that is a good thing or not :). Not to say that I don´t get lonely, but I am under the impression that I am quite good company. Of course, I am biased.

This is about as close to outward bound as I´d ever want to get…and I am very comfortable and warm in the house. I should mention, that the people, when I see them, are really super. They are kind and welcoming and fun to be with.

I am in Good Company

I am in Good Company

That´s all today.

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