Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Some Things I've Learned About Writing

It has been 4 weeks since the writer's conference, and I've got to say, I feel better than I have in years. For the first time since high school--maybe even junior high--I feel like a writer. I am a writer.

Here's some things I've learned about writing in the last 4 weeks or so.

1. You can write in 5-minute increments. With multiple interruptions.

2. The best way through writer's block is to write. If you keep writing, eventually things will start coming together and happening.

3. Writing has to be a priority in your life, or it's not going to happen.

4. You need confidence in yourself...the confidence to tell others "I am a writer" and to value your writing time and find it important enough to guard.

5. A word goal is key to success.

6. Stick with your word goal NO MATTER WHAT.

7. Pick a specific time of day you want to write and try to stick with it.

8. Outlining first helps. A lot.

9. The internet is a distraction while writing, not research.

10. It's okay to leave blanks that you will go back and fill in later.

11. It doesn't have to be perfect the first time.

12. It's okay to turn off your inner editor.

13. Time really is made, not found.

14. You can cut a lot of unnecessary crap out of your day if you just try.

15. As long as my kids are happy, my scriptures are read, and everyone is full, everything else can wait until my word goal is met.

My personal word goal is 2,000 words a day, and 10,000 words a week. Write or Die has been key in helping me meet those goals. I have gotten faster, and it now takes me about 40 minutes to write my 2k words. I write during my twins' morning nap, somewhere between 10 am - 1 pm. During my writing time I don't look at texts, answer the phone, or get online. In 22 days I have written just over 40k words. And I've gotta say, I'm proud of myself. If I, a mother of 9 month old twins, can find time to write, I think anyone can. Because two crawling babies pretty much define the word "busy."

Write now I'm smack in the middle of my WIP. This is the part of the book where traditionally I give up and stop writing. I feel somewhat bored with the project at the minute. Writing my 2k words a day has been painful this week. I'm not sure what needs to happen to get to the climax and how to keep everything interesting. But I still write my 2k words, every day, whether I want to or not. Last night that meant writing at 9 pm at night, when my brain was mush and my writing even worse. But that's what editing's for. Today I feel like I'm on the brink of a breakthrough. Things will get better soon, and I will finish this WIP. Not just the first draft. Not just a first edit. I will finish it, query it. Maybe even get it published.

It feels great to do something for myself every day. Those 40 minutes are all mine, free of distractions. For 40 minutes every day, I get to lose myself in a world I've created. Laundry does not invade, cleaning does not interrupt. (Okay, sometimes a whimpering baby does, but usually not.) And I think that those 40 minutes make me a better mom. Because when the boys wake up from their nap, I am ready to play. I am ready to focus on them. Because I've already focused on me and filled that need I have.

Writing is more than just a desire I have. It's a need. It's something I have to do. And for the first time in a long time, I'm doing it.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

New Project...I could really use some help!

The Hostage Heart continues to come along fantastically. I hit 100 pages a few days ago and I'm almost at 30,000 words so I am feeling great about that project! Another month and I'll be done with the first draft for sure.

Which has made me start thinking about my next project. I like to let a first draft sit for a time before starting in on the editing, and I want to start my next WIP while The Hostage Heart is in its waiting period.

So I have an idea and I've decided to run with it. I think most people are aware that I am infertile. "But Lindzee," you say, "you have twins!" I know. I love them, but their miraculous conception and birth doesn't mean I'm not still infertile.

And you know what? Infertility sucks. A lot. And one of the hardest things about it is feeling so alone.

So I've decided to write a women's fiction novel about infertility. The thing is, I need some help with the research end of things. I want this book to be a good representation of infertility, and therefore I want to have opinions and perceptions other than my own in this work. So here's my call to any and all infertiles! If you ever have or currently are struggling with infertility and wouldn't mind sharing your story with me, I would LOVE to talk to you. I have a questionnaire I want my fellow infertiles to fill out to aid me in this story. So if you are willing to share,  please either leave me your email address so I can get in contact with you, or email me at lindzeeDOTarmstrong AT yahoo DOT com. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Write or Die = Freaking Awesome

So after a day or so of trying the free Write or Die web app, I broke down and bought the desktop version. Best $10 I ever spent. I cannot believe how much this tool motivates me and keeps me on task! I have used this tool for 6 days so far, and have written 12,000 words in a little under 6 hours total writing timing. For those of you keeping track, that's about 2,000 words a day in 1 hour.

That might not seem like a lot to some, but for me, that's huge. It's something I don't think I ever would have been able to accomplish without this app. Those 12,000 words are about 11,500 more than I wrote the entirety of last year.

I am a very goal-oriented person, and so I think my favorite part of this app is the progress bar at the top of the screen that tells me how fast I'm typing in comparison to how much time I have left on the clock. It helps me know when to pick up the pace, and when I'm doing really well. This app has also helped me squash my inner editor. I don't edit when I write anymore because that flashing red screen gives me severe anxiety. Instead as I type, I keep reminding myself, "I can edit crap to sound good later but I can't do anything if I don't have something written down." As an interesting side-note, back in my hay-day of typing speed, I averaged 135 wpm. Now when I am transcribing something, I am a little bit slower, but I still can do about 90 wpm. My average speed while writing? 40 wpm.

Apparently it takes more effort to think and type than to just type. Who knew?

So here's my plug for Write or Die...GO BUY IT!!! Or at least check out the free web app and see how you like it. You can find it here: Best $10 you'll ever spend, promise. Geez, Dr. Wicked should be paying me for this endorsement or something.

But really, all I can do is thank him for helping me to finally write again.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

WWW: Writer's Worst Weapon

Every writer has an arsenal of tools in their writing belt, so to speak, which help them make their WIP great. One of the greatest tools a writer has at their disposal is the world wide web. It's great for researching, and the answers to almost all of life's questions are just a mouse click away.

The internet is possibly one of the worst things a writer can have access to. Writers are notorious procrastinators, and I myself am guilty of this sin more often than not. And what better way to procrastinate than by web surfing?

Sometimes I am a little slow on the uptake. At the writer's conference this past weekend, I had to manual connect to the internet. I didn't really want the distraction of the web while in the classes, and I realized something. I could eliminate the distraction by simply not connecting to the internet. This is possibly the first time in my life I realized it is possible to be on the computer without being online.

I told you I am a little slow. I attribute this to my children.

This realization--that you don't have to be online--has drastically changed my productivity. Now, when I get on my laptop to work on my WIP, I either disconnect the internet or pretend it's disconnected. I forbid myself from accessing the internet for anything, even a writing-related question. It's pretty much awesome.

I also learned about a writing app called Write or Die this weekend by Dr. Wicked. I am seriously considering buying it, because some writers whose opinions I value very highly swear by it. Time is something I don't have a ton of (who does, really?) and so anything to boost my productivity is worth a shot.


Monday, May 7, 2012

2012 LDStorymakers Conference

Just came off an amazing weekend! As always, the LDStorymakers Conference delivered, and delivered well.

This year when it came to classes, I focused a lot on plotting, time management, and sparking creativity. Those are the areas I feel like I struggle most with at the moment, and honestly, the presenters were answers to my prayers. For awhile now I've been feeling I'm more like a poser than a real writer, but some of the things I heard this weekend reminded me that's not true.

What it comes down to is this: cutting things. I'm a very type-A personality, and fairly OCD at times. I'm a control freak. And ultimately, in order to be able to find time to write, I need to let some things go. Not the important things. Not cooking dinner or playing with my kids or spending time with my husband. But time-wasters, like TV, internet, etc. I guess I also need to learn to be okay with a level of messiness. While it's acceptable to pick up J and H's toys at the end of the day, it is not necessary I pick them up every single time they switch rooms or interests.

I remember there was a time I would rather be curled up with a book or hunkered down at the computer than anything else. This isn't necessarily the case now. At the end of the day (or the middle of the day...or eight o'clock in the morning sometimes) I am so exhausted that the thought of actually using my brain is painful. My solution? Lets just say I've become a fan of multiple reality TV shows in the months since morning sickness first arrived. While I was pregnant, it was all I could do without feeling the need to pray to the Porcelain God. Since the boys arrived, it's been more a matter of sanity.

But the last few months things have slowly changed. Now I am more apt to pick up a book when the boys are down for the night, and I watch substantially less television (I attribute this to no longer being tied to my nursing pillow approximately 10 hours a day (no that number is not an exaggeration)). I am determined to find that path to my goals and set foot on it once again. It's been awhile since I've worked towards any writing goals, and I'm ready for that to change.

I've been wanting things to change for awhile now, but wasn't exactly sure how to go about it. Now, thanks to the conference, I finally know.

By next year's conference I'm actually going to have my WIP completed and ready to query. That will give me a goal to shoot for.