Tag: Dreamweaver

Unrealistic Goals and Rookie Mistakes

If you’ve been following my journey toward becoming a published author, you’ve probably noticed that my anticipated release for Dreamweaver didn’t quite happen and it wasn’t until I was staring down this impending deadline I had created that I realized I’d made a huge rookie mistake:

I set an anticipated publication time frame without understanding how long it’d actually take to research, outline, write, and polish my first novel.

The biggest eye-opener for me occurred when Spring came, and went, and I still wasn’t done writing my first draft. Like, not even remotely close. I’ve never written a book of any kind before, so everything I’ve done since ‘Day 1’ has been a part of my learning experience. How could I have known how long I’d need? I didn’t. And I set myself up for failure in that aspect because there is so much that goes into writing a novel. You don’t just sit and start with page one and write all the way to the end. It’s a labor of love, frustration, patience, and more coffee than any human should probably consume, and it is a chaotic, disorganized, daunting, and exhausting mess to navigate.

And then there was the extra stuff like learning my own unique style of organization, getting over how uncomfortable it feels to digitize everything for the sake of my poor hand, figuring out which program I’d use to compile my story in, and so much more. And on top of the learning curve I was already facing, I had to let an authentic, engaging story flow from a brain that was already rattled by other overwhelming details.

You know that dance of two steps forward and ten steps back? Yeah, that’s sort of what writing a novel is like. But in 20-inch stilettos…on ice.

This book requires more of me than I’ve ever given any other project and it’s terrifying to be under that kind of stress and pressure and know that you’re doing it to yourself. And then there’s the fact that being at home, especially with my kids, makes it so easy to just get lost in the day-to-day and let discipline slide. Sadly, the bank won’t do the same for my car loans…

Anyway, my takeaway from this has been pretty positive despite not hitting my original goal. I’ve come to understand what this process will actually entail and I have a great deal of newfound respect for those who have taken on this behemoth of a task and slayed it.

Coincidentally enough, I was scrolling through Facebook earlier and found an article titled, “10 Things Every Writer Should Do Before They Start Their First Book” and decided to give it a look since it aligned so perfectly with this post. It had some great information, but I found the first item to be especially important: manage your own expectations.

In it, the author stated, “Writing is a job, it’s a commitment. It involves long hours and painful moments, times where you feel as though you don’t know what you are doing, where you don’t feel like writing at all. You need to be realistic about what writing a book takes out of you – but then do it anyway because it’s still worth it in the end!”

And I think that will be what I leave you all with. Writing is a passion-driven and rewarding job, but it is still a job — one that requires fierce commitment and will probably provide you with some form of discomfort in one way or another.

But then you do it anyway because it’s worth it in the end.

 

Analysis Paralysis

Guys.

My characters aren’t talking to me…

I’ve hit a creative wall with Dreamweaver. The pivot point I experienced with my plot a few weeks ago, which was awesome when it occurred, completely paralyzed my progress.

I started to second guess myself and wasn’t feeling confident at all. I was wildly unsure of where the story was going and I was so worried that I had gone in the wrong direction…

…and they stopped talking.

…which means no progress, and my nerves are shot.

Throughout the process, I’ve felt like I was actually writing what could be two separate stories, and I think this plays into my concern quite a bit.

Another part of me, though, that little voice that says, “Hey, stop questioning things and just write!” has been pushing me to believe in the story, move forward, and see what happens.

I’m in this horrible cycle of optimism, panic, and doubt, and it stinks!

What if I push forward and it seems forced?

Do I write in the other direction instead and see if it helps?

Do I lay it all out and organize what I have to better see the places where these “two” stories are running into one another?

Or do I just push down all of these negative connotations and accept that at some point, these seemingly separate pieces will come together?

I think a large part of this is also my hesitation to make progress. I want to sit down and write, but I get so caught up in wanting to make sure I’m doing it “right” and it just increases the uncertainty. I want this story to be written so perfectly that I get in my own way. I would hate to write it, publish it, and think, “Damn, I should have done _______ differently.”

Like I said, it’s a horrible cycle — one I’m sure many other writers can understand.

And I think all of these conflicting feelings within me are what has caused my characters to fall silent. I used to walk around with them chatting up a storm in my head, creating scenes, and words would flow across the page when I sat down to type them out.

Now, it’s crickets.

I did find a helpful post on a blog called Out Loud titled What to Do When Your Characters Stop Talking and loved what the author had to say. I fit into her “None of the Above” category which is, you guessed it, self-doubt.

I suppose I have found the answer to my own problem…

I just need to believe in what I’m doing, and trust the process.

Has this happened to you before? What did you do? What would you do? I’d love some feedback, and maybe to know I’m not alone.

Publishing Dilemma

As I push forward on my journey with Dreamweaver, I’ve come across a few hard-pressed decisions in terms of publishing. Namely, whether I should attempt the traditional route or if I should give self-publishing a shot.

I’ve been torn on which path to take for a few different reasons, but mostly because I am not sure what would suite me better. I want to maintain some control over marketing and have a say in the process, but I also like the secure feeling of the traditional path as well.

I have some time – my manuscript is still a work in progress – but it’s never too soon to learn about and create a plan to move forward with.

The downside to submitting to a traditional publisher is the fact that they could reject me. As could the next one. And the next. And so on. They have resources and know-how that I lack, though, so despite the obvious drawback of potential rejection, I am drawn to the alluring qualities that are still present with this option.

Self-publishing terrifies me, though. I have seen many authors self-publish and succeed, and I have seen them fail as well. It takes a lot of time and dedication, which comes with the territory, but the idea of having some of those time-consuming aspects outsourced to a publishing house makes self-publishing a less opportunistic idea for me.

However…I would get to decide how things would move forward and who I would work with on design and editing, and I could publish immediately.

I definitely have a lot to think about.

In the meantime, if anyone else is in the same boat as I am, take a look at this little blurb on Writer’s Digest’s website by Brian Klems titled The Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing (& Traditional Publishing). It has some good, quick information and suggested articles at the end that may help as well.

For those who have published traditionally, self, or both, what route did you prefer and why? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

Music and Writing

I don’t think I could write without music.

Music plays such a large role in everything from background noise while I pour words onto a page to exploring and assigning key emotions for the scenes I write and without it, I don’t feel I would be able to write as compellingly. Whether it’s parts for Dreamweaver, jotting down personal pieces, or developing other storylines, all of my projects have music that I attribute to them in some way. It not only helps me to connect to my work, but helps me to understand it better as well.

Shockingly (or not for those who know me well, I suppose) I’ve never been good with emotions, especially when it comes to describing how I am feeling. And since I am good at explaining just about everything else, the fact that I struggle with conveying emotion leads to many episodes of writer’s block fueled by large amounts of frustration. I have a hard time with emotional attachment and vulnerability, and my rough exterior often inhibits my ability to properly construct an authentic emotional response or relationship within my characters. This is probably my biggest weakness as a writer.

I think a lot of people can relate, however, to the emotional response and relatability of music. I know that it has been a driving force in overcoming my weaker writing areas and I have found that using music to conjure the right way to attribute my own emotions as well as my characters has helped me strengthen this aspect of my craft.

My taste in music is rather eclectic, so I have a pretty wide variety to draw from depending on my mood or inspirational need.

Here’s my current playlist:

  • Pittsburgh – The Amity Affliction
  • Shine On – The Amity Affliction
  • Machines – Crown the Empire
  • Satellites (intro) – Crown the Empire
  • I’d Rather See Your Star Explode – Slaves
  • Broken vs. The Way We Were Born – Emarosa
  • I Still Feel Her Pt. 4 – Emarosa
  • Fear – Blue October
  • Stay – Blue October
  • Vaulted Ceilings – Memphis May Fire
  • Don’t Lose Your Heart – Dream On Dreamer
  • In Too Deep – The Sweeplings
  • Feed the Flames – Michael Malarkey
  • Clair de Lune – Debussy
  • The entire Skyrim soundrack

As you can see, there is quite a bit of diversity. Clair de Lune tends to be my go-to for general writing, as is the soundtrack to the game Skyrim, and they are permanent residents on my list. I have to have pieces without words in order to concentrate wholeheartedly, so the classical and instrumental scores work to keep me engaged without distracting me.

The rest are ones I’ve been listening to a lot in order to draw inspiration for certain scenes that require a particular tone, mood, or emotion. This is when I have a pen and paper and randomly scrawl notes to myself to look back on later when I switch gears and actually work on my stories.

I can’t recommend any of these enough, though, so if you’re looking for some good, deep tunes, give them a listen. And let me know what you’re listening to, or if there’s something you think I should add to my list! I’m always interested in sharing music and finding new tunes to aid in my writing endeavors.

A Little Update

Friends, I have a confession to make. And please don’t judge me too harshly for it.

Until this last week, I’d never sat and watched the Star Wars movies in order, in their entirety. I’d seen chunks of each movie out of order, but I never had the opportunity to sit and watch the entire saga up from its beginning up until The Force Awakens. I have yet to see Rogue One, I might add, but it’s on the to-do list.

That said, I’m feeling rather accomplished. I’ve always wanted to sit and follow the story from its beginning all the way through and now I can say that I have, minus RO.

I don’t know about any of my other writer friends, but storylines like Star Wars, Harry Potter, and yes, even Twilight are fascinating to me for a few reasons, the largest being that these epic gifts to our pop culture all came from someone’s imagination – someone who had an idea for a story and created a world, or galaxy/ies for that matter – and launched a global phenomenon based on it. I will always find it intriguing to trace such stories back to their origin and then reflect on where it started, where it’s been, and where it will go. It is absolutely fascinating to me to take the journey with the creator from a writer’s standpoint as well as that of a fan’s, and it’s motivating to say the least.

Another take away from my marathon came in a connection I made to Dreamweaver. The premonitions that Anakin (my favorite character, by the way) experienced had small, though present, similarities to some of my own ideas and I had fun using that influence to sort of amp up my story and then dig deeper into it. I realized I’d still only been scraping the surface until that point, and it has made a drastic impact on where I plan to take my characters. Or where they plan to take me, I should say.

I also realized over the weekend that the Academy Awards are right around the corner and I am pretty excited about sitting and watching this year. Last year was probably the first time I really sat and appreciated them for more than just finding out who won best actor/actress and such. Don’t get me wrong, though, I was absolutely over the moon that Leo finally won! Anyway, last year’s show set a certain tone for me as a writer and I felt an overwhelming sense of motivation and pride in my craft after witnessing the talented screenwriters win awards for the stories we came to know on the big screen in 2015. My exact thought? “Why not me?” And man, have I clung to that belief. I’m not one to set unattainable goals, but it definitely makes me want to work hard and have a certain amount of confidence in myself as a storyteller.

Honestly though, why not me? Why not you? Why not any of us? I was talking to my mom a couple of weeks ago about how I was really starting to ask myself that question more often because I don’t like the idea of anyone telling me I can’t do something. Not because I don’t respect authority – I do – but because who is anyone else to tell me I can’t dream big and set out to make it happen? I mean, even J.K. Rowling (a huge influence, I might add) was told “no” multiple times before HP was finally picked up and published, and look at how that turned out. Her perseverance paid off. And I plan to do the same – persevere. That’s not to sound arrogant, ignorant, naïve, or anything of that sort. I just don’t think letting someone else guide my dream is a good idea. It’s MY dream, after all. One door may close, but there are so many other doors to choose from, and knowing myself like I do, if the door I’m looking for isn’t there, I’ll build it myself!

I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a pretty good attitude to take into the new year. I want 2017 to be a year unlike any I’ve experienced before and I know that progression with my book so I can finalize and publish will be a huge aspect of making that come true.

Some of you might be wondering, since it’s been about a month and change since I’ve posted, if I’ll have that sneak peek for Dreamweaver ready by Christmas like I had hoped. At the moment, it’s a little up in the air. The plot shift I experienced over the past weekend changed a bit of what the story is doing and I don’t want to share something that will likely change as I work to solidify its course, but I do want to give you something, even if it’s small. Maybe main character names and backgrounds, maybe a scene that I know won’t change for any reason…I’m not sure yet. But I will try to make sure I have something to offer in the coming days.

In the meantime, I hope you all enjoy the days leading up to Christmas, and if you don’t celebrate the holiday, I hope you are still finding joy in the beautiful season that is winter.

I’ll catch up with you all soon!