Authortube Newbie Tag

Advertisements

Writing Through The Noise

Writing Through The Noise

So, you want to write. You’ve got your story line sorted, you have scenes planned, and you’re inspired. In fact, you’re raring to go, itching to get started. But, there’s a problem. A very big problem in fact. You’re surrounded by people who won’t stop talking to you, or have put the TV/radio on, or are doing noisy things. And now you can’t concentrate, and therefore can’t write. So what do you do?

I’m afraid I can’t help with that, because I don’t know, because I haven’t figured it out myself. Since I moved three weeks ago, I have so far only managed to have one good day of uninterrupted writing, the rest I have been plagued with non-stop noise. That’s the problem with moving in with other relatives who don’t yet understand how you work, and don’t go out often – they want to talk all the time, and continue in their normal routine, without realising that they’re disturbing yours.

For years, I have had about 40 hours a week of uninterrupted time to myself, while my Mum was at work, which I used to write and read to my hearts content. Now I’m down to 8 at most, and the rest of the time I’m in the company of someone who talks a lot, and has the TV on for most of the day. It’s something I am definitely not used to, and it’s something I am now struggling to adjust to.

You see, I find it very difficult to write while there’s any sort of distraction. I can deal with writing with musical accompaniment, as that can be inspiring, but everything else is pure distraction. If someone is talking to me, that means I have to reply and think about the conversation, therefore I cannot concentrate on my story line.

If the TV is on, I get distracted, even when it’s a show I’m not interested in. I end up getting sucked into watching whatever is on, or find myself wanting to work whatever is going on on the TV into the story I’m writing, which is obviously not a good idea.

It’s a nightmare, and one I’ve been living in for the past three weeks. I’ve yet to come up with a solution to the problem. The only thing I can try and do is crank up the volume on my headphones, and hope to God it drowns out the TV/puts people off talking to me. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But it’s all I’ve currently got. Until I can sort out my own ‘writing space’ I am stuck in with the noise. The noise that doesn’t seem to let up for a minute. Even with the new space, I don’t know how well it’s going to work. I’ll be away from the TV, but it doesn’t stop people coming in to talk to me.

I’m praying it will help my productivity a bit, but really, there is no catch all solution to the problem. If there was, that would be what this blog’s subject. But there isn’t. So the only advice I can give is to crank up the volume on the music if you’re in a similar situation. Crank up the volume and try to adjust the best you can.

If not, well, there’s always waiting for everybody to leave or go to sleep, and writing then.

Though if you have any ideas, leave me a comment and tell me, I’m dying to figure this out and stop the distractions!

Starting New Projects

First of all, I must apologise for the lack of updates recently, blame a 20th birthday, a tonne of assignments, preparing for a house move, and a new project, which is what I want to talk about in this blog.
Recently I started a new project, and by project, I mean a new story. I’d finished my old one (finally, after changing my self imposed finish date four times) and had had this idea in my head for a long time, so I had been excited to start it. The only problem was that I didn’t know where to start.
One of the worst parts of being a writer is finding a place to start. So often a project sounds perfect inside the mind, but when it gets put on paper, it falls to pieces, or holes start appearing, or sometimes the story logistics get changed round. What’s more, you have to get a feel for the characters again, find the voices of these people, possibly world build around them, and basically start from scratch. And that is difficult. We get so caught up in our projects that when we have to let go of them to start a new one, it’s hard to let go. I’ve been a victim of this time and time again.
Even when I have been writing a sequel, I find it quite hard to get into the new story, even when it is the same characters I’ve been writing for a long time. Keeping them consistent is hard, as is keeping their voice flowing, and I think it’s because it’s the daunting idea of the new story that causes it.
But new characters in new stories are the toughest offenders. Characters, plot, setting and everything has to be reintroduced. Old stories have to be forgotten about, everything is fresh. You can’t get into the plot and sink your teeth in because you have to establish things, and get a feel for what you’re writing. And it’s tough, so, so tough. To be perfectly honest, it’s one of the things I hate the most about writing, because it’s so hard to get things flowing in a new story. Of course I know I can rewrite later on, but I like to get everything going ASAP, and when I can’t get the details right, I can’t move forward. I get stuck, feeling desperate to just get on with it, but unable to until the details are right, especially when they’re essential to further the plot later on.
I need to learn to control this perfectionism, but at the moment, it feels impossible.
It’s murder on the brain, and can be a great one way ticket to the horrible land of Writers Block, something every writer wants to avoid. All I can do in this situation is push through, do my best, and tweak as needed later on. Book openings have to be written, characters need introductions, setting needs to be placed, and plot needs to be at least hinted at before anything else can happen. It’s the hardest thing, but it’s worth it. The time used writing introductions etc helps to introduce me as a writer to the characters, and everything else, to give me a feel for how this book (or draft at least) is going to turn out. From the introducing paragraphs, I can ascertain just how dark it’s going to be written in, what POV I’m writing from, as well as tense and everything else.
I like to view these hard first few paragraphs the testers, to where I can prepare myself for what I’m getting myself into, and know what kind of thing I’m subconsciously going for with the story. I can set out my tone and get a feel for my new story, so I know where I need to go from here. It also helps me figure out if I need to go back to the drawing board and plan out a few more things. I’ve found it’s so much harder to write myself out of a plot hole when writing the middle section of a book, than it is to write myself out when I’m at the beginning.
Basically, this long, winding post that probably doesn’t make sense (it’s late, straight after a bank holiday weekend, and I’m writing this after I melted my brain on assignments, don’t blame me) is trying to say that really, beginnings are a struggle, but a good thing. Beginnings are needed to introduce you the writer to the story, and gives you the chance to go back to the drawing board if needs be. It’s so hard to write, and sometimes you just want to jump the gun and get on with it, but it’s worth it. In fact, it’s a necessity. So don’t skip your beginnings, don’t leave them until the end of the book to write. Go and write them now, if they suck, you can tweak them later, but for now, get the testing ground going. You’ll thank me later.

Top 5 Most Important Editing Points

Hey, so here’s the start of my series of blogs/vlogs on editing your novels! I thought I’d start off with a check list of the most important things you need to check for in your work. It’s so important that you get these things right, as these are the basics of a novel that you have to get right in order to get anywhere else.
11)      Check for spelling and grammar mistakes. That’s an obvious one really, because spelling and grammar are very important things. Spelling should be relatively easy thanks to spell check, but grammar is a bit harder to deal with, but there’s a few things you can do to help yourself out. One is to read your work allowed to yourself, speaking and reading engages different parts of the brain, so you pick up more mistakes if you’re reading aloud. It sounds nuts, I know, but it actually works. I’ve done it before, and have had it recommended by several tutors so I know it works a treat.  And two, you can use a website called Hemingway, which checks through your work and clearly highlights sentences that need improving. I’ve used it loads and it works great.
22)      Check your story for coherency. Make sure that your story makes sense and that it is easy to understand. I’m not saying you can’t have a convoluted plot, if you want that, go for it, but you have to make it easy to understand, or you will lose your readers. Make sure that you’ve explained your plot fully in your story as you’ve gone along, and not suddenly including an important element with no explanation as to how it got there.
33)      Make sure you have tied up all loose ends. Unless you’re writing a series and are planning on tying up loose ends in a further book, all the fragments of the story have to come together to make sense by the end. Go through and make a list of all your plot points, and check off each thing you resolve and see if you have anything left over by the end. If you do, you’re probably going to have to go back and resolve that point somewhere. Obviously, if you’re planning a series out, you can resolve plot points in a further book, but make sure that by the end of the series you have actually done that. As for one off books, then you have to resolve all plot points or you’re going to anger a lot of readers, as they will want answers.
44)      Make sure you’re consistent. If you’ve started writing in first person, make sure you’ve stayed in first person throughout, unless you have a specific reason to change it. Check to make sure your characters physical attributes are consistent and haven’t suddenly changed for no reason, make sure you’ve kept to the same tense throughout (a flashback/memory is mostly where a change from present to past tense is allowed, everything else should be in the same tense). All of these things are really important, and you have to make sure you have kept everything like that the exact same way throughout the novel, unless there’s reason for things to change. If there’s no need for things to suddenly jump from present to past tense, then make sure you’ve stayed in the original tense.
55)      Keep your story line on the right track. You have to be certain that you’ve kept to your story line from the beginning until the end. A story is going to go nowhere if your character starts off trying to find their parents at the beginning, and ends up battling demons by the end, unless they have been drawn into doing that while on their original quest. If they’ve completed their original quest and have had to go on another straight away, fair enough, but you have to make sure that that original quest has come to completion by the end.
It’s all about consistency people; every single thing has to be consistent and kept on a similar path. And yes, editing is boring, I know. But it’s an incredibly important part of the writing process, and will be the thing that sharpens your story into the incredible epic it can be. The editing is so, so important, and you have to check for these things and change anything that is wrong, or your novel won’t go anywhere.

If you guys have anything else you check for when you’re editing your stories, please comment below, I’ll add anything to this main post, or start a new one, so we can create one massive checklist of editing! 

NANOWRIMO IS OVER

THAT’S IT! WE ARE DONE PEOPLE! IT’S THE FIRST OF DECEMBER, NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING IS DONE!
And if nobody minds, I’m going to go and pass out now, because DAMN, that was one hell of a month! Between uni work, distractions and a thousand and one different fandom explosions, I’m surprised I managed to get through this month.
Thing is, I didn’t just get through NaNoWriMo, I smashed it to pieces. As in, I went nine thousand words over target. Have a look yourself at this madness!

If you’re asking how I did that, the answer is that I have absolutely no idea whatsoever. Literally, I don’t have the faintest clue how I managed. I’m going to call it a complete fluke, considering for the rest of the year my average daily word count has been around 800. But this month I managed to double (some days triple) that. 
It was definitely a fluke, a complete fluke. One I’m very proud of, but still, FLUKE! 
There is also one person I’d like to shout out to this month, and that’s my best friend Charlie who also smashed it this year. She finished an entire week early this year, doubling (and then some) her last two NaNoWriMo word counts! I’m a very proud, and very, very jealous, best friend this year!
Anyway, I hope everybody who took part got the word count they wanted, or at least got some more words than normal done, because that’s what NaNo is all about. So I hope it all went swimmingly for you, and if not, hey there’s always next year, and nothing to stop you practicing throughout the year!
But now, I feel that the real hard bit has arrived. It’s time to decide what to do next with your project. There are three options for this, and it’s up to you to figure out what you want to do next. 
Number One: Pass out, ignore the novel until next year, possibly never open the file again, leaving it to gather dust.
Number Two: Finish the story off if it is not completed.
Or Number Three: Start editing this mammoth.
All options are scary (yes, even running away. Think of the missed opportunities if you leave it to gather dust for the rust of time!) but if I may, I’d like to suggest something. In my opinion, I think you should try all three options. 
Hear me out a minute when I say this, because I know that sounds mental, but trust me, I’ve done this before. It’s December, aka Holiday Season, and you’ve trapped yourself a way to write for a month. Go out and do that dreaded thing known as socialising for a bit, take a break from the writing and do something else for a bit. And when you’ve done refreshing yourself, come back to your novel, if you haven’t finished it yet, you’ll hopefully have a tonne of ideas and stamina to finish it off. If you need to start editing, it’ll be easier now that you’ve had a break. You’ve been staring at your screen for ages now, completely consumed by every word you’ve typed, editing will be near impossible under those circumstances. But if you take that break, you’ll be looking at the novel with fresher eyes, there will be bits you have forgotten about, things to surprise you, it makes it so much easier to look over things when you’re refreshed. 
If you’re stuck for ideas on how to edit things down, I will hopefully have some videos up soon to help you with that, for now, think about sorting out spelling/grammar mistakes, possibly start thinking up ways to solve anything that’s bugging you with your story. That’ll give you a good editing starting point. 
So in conclusion, YAY NaNo is over so we can breathe, I hope you all hit your word goal (if not, don’t be disappointed), take a break before you break your poor overworked fingers, and allow yourself some time to yourself! It’s been a great month, and I’m already looking forward to next year!