When Writing Takes Preeminence

Sometimes writing is about sneaking in sentences, paragraphs, and a page here and there as you flit about life making meals, scrubbing the floor, folding laundry, and washing the dishes.

And then sometimes writing is about being able to intentionally carve out time where you focus solely on writing and feel the rest of the world recede as your characters and worldbuilding take preeminence in your life for a glorious time period.

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Last year contained a lot of the former – somehow fitting writing in spite of everything else clamoring for my time. Often times I didn’t feel like much of an author. It was an uphill climb as I told myself over and over again that this was just a season and one day I’d be back to writing the way I wanted to.

During the year I was able to accomplish writingish tasks, but not with the aplomb and delight I was used to. Instead, it was like a scrubbing a burnt pot – a lot of work, a lot of time, and not much to show for my effort.

Then this year dawned. Life has slowed to a reasonable pace, rhythm has been established in my world, and writing has taken off.  It’s beautiful.

I work at a coffee shop that is forty-five minutes away, and although I really like my drive (hello thinking and processing time), it also bothers me to drive an hour and a half for a five-hour shift. So, I’ve begun going to work early to work on my writing.

My reasoning was that I’d be working on writing if I was at home anyway, and everyone seems to consider coffee shops to be great places to write, so why not? And guess what? As it turns out, coffee shops are amazing places to write.

At home even when I try to stay focused on writing I’m always hopping up to put a load of laundry in the washer, stick supper in the oven, or go for a walk. And that’s fine and necessary. But being able to write without those distractions? It’s amazing. 

Currently
Setting: Treadmill 
Listening to: Spotify on shuffle (currently the Narnia soundtrack)
Random Fact: The weather dropped over twenty degrees while I slept 
Question of the Day: What’s your favorite hot drink? 

When The Professionalism​ of Writing Meets Reality

The corkboard sits in front of me, the six index cards tacked to it looking pristine and organized. They’re labeled Act 1, Act 2, Act 3…and color coded. It feels very professional and like my writing life is pretty much perfect.

There’s a vague sort of plot written on the first row of cards: What’s the crime? Who’s the sleuth? Who are the suspects? What’s happening? The second row of cards focuses on the inner turmoil: What makes the main character feel incomplete? Why is she unsettled? What’s she resistant to?

My desk has approximately seventeen more index cards and pieces of scrap paper with random jottings on them. Setting: A multimillionaire built a castle way out in the country of Ohio. His family donated it to an NPO who wanted to have a camp for TCKs. 

The notebook to my right has even more information and character sketches. What’s my main character’s Dark Story Moment? What Lie does she believe? What Wound did she suffer, and what Flaw came from that wound? IMG_4192.JPG

For all intents and purposes, I’m a pro at this writing thing. I have it under control. I’ve learned a lot over the years and should be producing a bestseller in no time at all. And yet, reality sets in and I have to laugh at myself.

See, when I was beginning this post I sat here staring at my corkboard for a good twenty seconds trying to remember what it was called. A chalkboard? No, no, that’s not it. It’s not a blackboard, or a whiteboard either. Nope, nope. It starts with a “c” for sure… Ah yes, a corkboard.

Next came when I was trying to describe the pieces of paper I have tacked to it. They’re kinda like three-by-five cards, but they’re bigger – like the next size up. But is there a name for that? Because no one goes around talking about a five-by-seven-card. Google comes to the rescue with the words index card and I sigh with relief.

A minute later I sit at my desk trying six different combos to spell the word turmoil. Does it start with a “to” or “tr” or “tu”…? My brain often confuses the order of letters so Siri jumps to my aid this time with the correct spelling, then Grammarly hops on the train by highlighting my grammatical errors.

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My writing world is something I’m very happy for. I get to explore, learn, stretch, and reach. Sometimes it’s overwhelming. Sometimes it’s rewarding. Sometimes I literally roll my eyes and shake my head at myself.

Writing, like nearly any venture in life, isn’t always easy. Sometimes it feels like I have far too much work to try and accomplish to keep going, and yet I know in reality that learning to be a writer is like basically any skill. It takes a lot of work, a lot of time, a lot of patience, and a lot of do-overs.

See, failing isn’t a problem. Needing help isn’t out of the ordinary. Messing up and making mistakes and having to start over again are all important elements that make up so many aspects of life. Just because I can’t remember how to spell a simple word or have atrocious grammar or feel my mind slide into the absolute blank mode when it comes to putting together a plot doesn’t mean I should give up.

Today, I’m choosing to keep going one step at a time. Today, I’m choosing to celebrate the little victories and laugh at the mistakes. Today, I’m stealing the little moments to write. And guess what? Today I’m having a lot of fun.

Currently
Setting: My desk with snow splattered fields outside 

Listening to: This is Home by Switchfoot 
Random Fact: For years I asked if I could have gravel, sand, or brick as my bedroom floor. For some reason, my mother deemed it a bad idea (And we’re talking about when I was a teenager, not a kid. Apparently this isn’t what everyone dreams of?)
Question of the Day: Do you like corkboards or chalkboards better? 

A Glimpse Into My Writingish World

I had a story idea tumbling around in my head for most of the last year. It would pop up at random times, beg me to give it attention, and then fade to the background when I shushed it with words of “Not now, not yet.”

All along though, I knew that someday the timing would be correct, and I’d be able to embrace the tantalizing new idea and give it my full writerly attention.

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Thankfully, that day came yesterday. I’d decided for various reasons that I needed to put my current WIP on hold. After that I had several options I could go with: Re-write Echoes, work on a story concept I’d been developing for a while, or finally delve into the world I’d been imagining for the last while. Obviously, I chose the shiny new project.

I was rather amazed by how much I actually knew about the setting since I’d never really sat down and thought about it. All the ideas, first lines, plot twists, and stories that had randomly fallen into my mind as I went about daily work were now falling into place.

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One of my biggest flaws of a writer is having a plot that really doesn’t flow well. My timing is incredibly off and the character arches always need a ton of help. Everything seems to happen in a random few chapters and then the rest of the book is filled with loveliness, but loveliness that not many people will really care about.

So, this time around I’ve decided to do it right. Have a solid plot. Know exactly what’s going to happen when and why and probably even where. It’s a daunting task, really, but I’m sure it will be good for me.

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My desk is now full of resource books, lined cards, colorful pens, corkboards, and every other item that a writer could possibly need. (Aka, washi tape, because that pretty much makes everything better.)

My computer is now full of taps like “Go Teen Writers” and “Pinterest Plot Diagrams” and Google searches to figure out how to spell various words.

My brain is now full of how I’m going to make it work, and goodness, doesn’t that character have the cutest name? And why would so-and-so ever do that? And what’s the lie such-and-such a character believes?

And that, my friends, is a little glimpse into my writingish world.

Currently:
Setting: My desk

Listening to: Whimsy hop around in his cage behind me
To-Do Today: Go to work at the coffee shop 
Random Fact: I’m taking rice and broccoli stir-fry to work for lunch today