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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Do: Make Yourself Accountable


Oh man! What can I say about accountability? Well, I guess I can say this, IT WORKS! For years (and YEARS) I would lock myself in my bedroom for hours and hours and write in secret, not wanting to get people pumped and then fail and let them all down. Well, needless to say, I never finished a manuscript during those days and it fed my fear of people knowing what I was doing. Finally, one day, I told my family and all 200+ of my Facebook friends, that I was going to write a book. Scared the ever living crap out of me. The first time someone “liked” that status, I almost cried. Then the comments and “likes” started pouring in and suddenly I had all of these people, whom I care deeply for, supporting me and cheering me on. Suddenly, it wasn’t about me being afraid of letting them down. Instead, it was about making damn sure that it didn’t happen. I began posting my daily word counts on Facebook (sometimes it was more like an hourly word count) and people couldn’t get me to stop talking about the crazy stuff my characters were doing without my permission.

Not only did I finally finish an entire first draft of a novel, but I did it in 30 days. Yup! A whole first draft in a measly 30 days (thanks in large part to NaNoWriMo). It was the most intense experience I have ever had in my life. The next year, I did the very same thing. Massive amounts of Facebook posts, crazy amounts of avoiding the real world and LOTS of coffee later, I suddenly had the first draft of the second book in my series. Now, I don’t even have to post about it on Facebook and people ask me when they will be published and when they will get to read my work. That interest and support from my friends forced me to take the next terrifying step in this adventure: Editing. Suddenly I realized that I had only kept half of my promise to myself to not let them down. I wrote the first draft and then, knowing full well that the first draft was VERY rough, I dug in my heels, closed my eyes, covered my ears and screamed at the top of my lungs (metaphorically speaking, of course) as soon as the thought of editing entered my mind. However, I had a promise to keep.

Off to Office Depot I went. Palms sweating, heart racing and jump drive in hand, I walked up to the print counter, paid my $13 and my book became a reality. As the printer monkey handed over the giant stack of paper, I had to fight the urge not to vomit. I was terrified of the creature that I had brought to life. I was ecstatic over the fact that I had officially created something. I was proud of myself for having the courage to bring my baby into the light and one step closer to being available for public scrutiny. I sped home, dug up a three ring binder, a hole punch and a red pen and got to work.

For most of the first chapter, I cringed at some of the stuff I had written, but by the end of it, I had finally convinced myself that it really wasn’t bad considering it was not only my first novel, but that it had been written in 30 days. By the end of the third chapter, my writing had improved IMMENSELY and more than once, my characters made me actually laugh out loud (not always at the most opportune times!). By the end of the first round of edits, I was biting at the bit to get a second draft printed off so I could do it again, all the while, keeping Facebook posted on how the process was coming along and letting the comments and “likes” drive me to continue. And continue I did. I am now preparing to begin the process of searching for a prospective lit agent and mailing off inquiries. All because of one little Facebook post.

As you can see, accountability did WONDERS for me. It’s what finally broke the bonds of the fear that were holding me back and let me move forward with my dream. Not only am I on the verge of taking a very big step forward in that dream, but I’m doing it without fear. The reason I’m not afraid is because I know that no matter how bumpy the road is, I have to see it through to the end. Not for me, though. I’ve got to do it for my friends, family and fans. My personal accomplishment is just an added bonus.

I leave you with this: If you’re still in the metaphorical closet with your writing, reach up, grab the door knob and kick that door off of its hinges. Your passion should NOT be kept a secret! Share it with those you love! Let THEM carry you to that finish line, whether it be having an entire first draft of a manuscript written just so you can say you did it, or having a novel published and sitting on the shelves of book stores around the country or world. Your friends and family will help you, even if they don’t know that that’s what they are doing. Even the naysayers (if you’re like me) will just make you want to prove them wrong!

Happy writing!

D

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2012 in Literary Dos and Don'ts

 

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The 24 Hour Meltdown


With a few exceptions, most budding authors will, at one time or another, be faced with scheduling crises. There really is no getting around it. I am not immune to it either. With so much to do every day and a measly 24 hours to do it in, it takes a master multitasker to fit it all in. The two most time consuming parts of our days are generally work and sleep. At the recommended 8 hours each, that leaves us 8 hours to fill with things like shopping, kids, significant others, friends, family and hobbies.

Tell me, who has time to put the whole world on hold and write on top of all of that? Well, not many. I’m pretty sure that scheduling is the number two killer of new manuscripts (number one being our inner editors. See Do: Self Edit). We all get busy and SOMETHING needs to be put on the back burner and more often than not, I fear it just sits there until it is completely forgotten. Sadly, writing is the most likely to be cut off. We need to shop. Can’t live without food. We can’t put our kids on the back burner (as much as we’d love to some days). Putting relationships on the back burner tends to end in divorce (an NOBODY wants to try to get divorced and write at the same time!). That leaves writing, friends and extended family. Most are forced to say goodbye to their writing aspirations in favor of one of the many other time suckers swirling around us all day every day.

So we need to get to the root of this problem and find a solution. Without throwing our entire lives out of whack, what can we do to make time to do what we love? Well, I have good news! You have options.

First: Put down the Facebook games! Yes, it’s a nice way to unwind. We all want to sit at the computer, zone out and surf the web at the end of a long day. The average person spends 8 hours a month on Facebook (personally, I spend WAY more time than that on Facebook. Mainly because I have a job that allows me to do so, so I can maintain my author page on Facebook while I work.). For those of you short on time in your day, that’s an average of 15 minutes per day. If you type only 35 words per minute, that’s 525 words per day. On average, you’ll have about 300 words per page in your standard paperback book. So yes, it might take you a year or two to write an entire book 15 minutes at a time, but that doesn’t make you any less of a writer.

Second: Learn to multitask! We can’t miss that new episode of Glee! Or that rerun of Desperate Housewives! Or the network premier of the latest Harry Potter! Well, I hate to break it to you, but nothing is stopping you from setting that laptop on your lap and writing while you watch. If you don’t own a laptop, there are a couple of super cool inventions that have aided in the writing of thousands and thousands of books throughout history: Pen and Paper. I’ve even managed to crank out 3,000+ words on my smart phone (Google Docs) while sitting in the lobby of the dentist’s office! There ARE ways that it can be done without sacrificing your Facebook time or missing your TV shows or soccer games or cheerleading competitions or dance recitals. You can still be supermom/dad AND an author.

Third: If you’re one of the lucky few who have even a couple hours ONE DAY PER WEEK that are open and free of engagements all the time, schedule a half an hour of that specifically for writing. Find a quiet place, go through your writing rituals and close out the world. Make that time WRITING time. It takes a while to form a habit, but once that habit is formed, it’s not easy to break. Even if you only have a half an hour a week, as long as you are spending that time writing, you’re still an author.

By no means is this the end all list of ways to make time for writing, but it’s a start! I could write an entire book on time management (I’m the manager of a group home for people with disabilities… You would not BELIEVE the scheduling issues that I have due to my job!), but I don’t feel that that’s appropriate for a blog post. So give these things a shot and I think you’ll be surprised at how much you can actually get done with a few minutes here and a handful of minutes there!

If you would like to share how you overcome scheduling dilemmas,  PLEASE feel free to leave a comment! I like to hear from other people who face the same things I do and hear from the people just taking that first step who find my words and the words of my readers helpful!

Happy Writing!

D

 
 

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Guest Post: Koda Boo


Happy Monday!

Here’s another guest post for you guys to enjoy! Koda is a personal friend of mine who is preparing to launch his own blog (stay tuned) and I asked him to share some of the troubles that he has as a blogger and let you in on his hints and tricks for overcoming them! At the very least, I hope you walk away from this blog thinking, “Oh! I’m NOT alone in this!”. Enjoy!

OH MY BLOG!!!

Hello everyone!

I’m Koda Boo. I’m a blogger, media whore, and most of all, I’m pretty bad ass (humble, aren’t I?)! I decided to write this article to help all of you other bloggers and creative professionals. I’m letting you get a little peek of what It’s like for me, venturing out into the word of blogging.

Let’s begin with some of the challenges I face as a writer, some of you can relate and I hope that this can help: 1) I am bat-shit crazy. I’m sure your thinking, “We gathered that much Koda, we’re not idiots.” Well I never! How dare all of you! There are millions of little voices and thoughts shooting through my brain at any given moment with virtually no organizational system! Focusing is clearly my main challenge. It’s probably from all the drugs. You know the ones, coffee and cigarettes.

More often than not, when I’m writing, my computer screen looks like Google exploded all over it! I’m pulling reference material, checking information, and really, just plowing my way through web pages just looking for something that inspires me. Keeping my head focused requires me to take a lot of breaks. Some you must be thinking, “BREAKS???? It must be nice to have the luxury of taking breaks!”! Well let me tell you kids… It’s not all roller coasters and rainbows, okay? I must take breaks to prevent me from literally throwing my computer across the room. At which point I would undoubtedly scuttle after it, picking up keys and body parts and screaming “Why!!!!! What have I done?!”. This is an important thing to remember: Unless you are up against a deadline, finding that you have procrastinated the week away and now find yourself rushing to the finish, BREAKS ARE OKAY! Keeping them to five minutes (no more) will allow you to keep your focus. I myself have ADHD (“We can see that.”) …rude. I must constantly refocus. I usually have two blank pages open. On one I have ramblings and nothingness; dialogues, snippets, facts, basically just whatever bull-shit I can spill out onto paper. I have these things because if I get stuck I can read that page and pull from it things that actually might work in the article I’m working on, or purge things that are flapping around in my brain that have nothing to do with it. On the other page I, of course, have the article. I try not to deconstruct from the first draft too much, usually if you keep tinkering with something you end up breaking it. IF IT’S NOT BROKEN, DON’T FIX IT!

2) Coming up with a concept isn’t really that difficult in theory. To me, it is akin to climbing Everest in a bikini. (“Why would you do that?!” you ask yourself.)

One thing I have learned from a dear friend is: Just throw it against the wall and go with whatever sticks.

Start off by typing out a list of random thoughts or titles for an article or story, just keep typing. Once you’ve managed a pretty lengthy list, re-read it and highlight the ones that stick out. Once you have a few highlighted items, you should define YOUR voice. What is it about you that makes you stand out above all the other bloggers out there? Personally, I have TERRIBLE grammar skills, and my punctuation (or lack thereof) has had me sent to the kilns on more than one occasion (sorry dears). BUT, comedy is something that I have a bit of a knack for, so naturally, I type the way that I would speak to a friend. Doesn’t work for everyone, but hey, that’s why you need to find out what your best foot is and step on it!

You know, many of my millions of adoring fans (hey, a girl can dream) often ask me how to really punch up their content. My answer is always the same and comes without pause: Visual content. Remember, there are those of us who can simply understand a concept from written word, and there are those of us that need shiny things that attract us to actually READ it. Which is why, of course, I’ve provided you with the stunning photo at the top (of who? Well me of course!)! Media is an important tool, and with all the free websites that allow you to make a collage, or customize an image, there really is no excuse other than laziness to take advantage and spruce things up a bit! Pages that are visually interesting and have a clear image of what it is you’re exploring in your piece tend to do much better than those that aren’t. It also helps to fill in those gaping, clinical white spaces filled with little black letters with a little pizzazz (Call me tacky…..I dare you! I’m only kidding of course!)!

My last three tips, I feel, are my most important little gems.

We’ll begin with: Constant content updates! Consistently updating your blog will keep readers engaged. I cannot even begin to tell you how irritating it is, to be captivated by a blogger and then three weeks go by and, nothing! Eventually, though it saddens me to do so, I must damn them to the trash can on my Google reader (tears). It’s not that I don’t love their content, it’s the laziness! Much like kids on leashes (let’s be honest: Children in general) bother me.

Next we must check in with our audience! Have them write in, keep them updated, provide them with a cute lil calendar of your posts (and for the love of god stick to your deadlines) anything that says “Hey there! I’m here for ya! Let me braid your hair!”

LASTLY: If you can engage your audience, get them involved and let them help to shape your content, you will be that much more successful. You can do this in many ways: Use social media outlets like Twitter, you can have them email in, you can create a poll, basically just get creative and get involved with who is driving your blog.

Well kids, that’s all I can give you for now! I’m just exhausted. I hope you found this informative!

Tah-tah for now.

Koda Boo.

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Guest Posts

 

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