Creating Logically

This sunny Saturday morning brings us halfway through January. How can that be? The beings that co-reside with me are doing their usual things, and I’m sitting at my kitchen table, trying to make this thing one of mine. Hubby’s playing video games, one cat is sitting in a box, another sleeping on the couch, and the third meowing at the door to go out. Note: when I say meowing, I mean yowling like he has the worst life ever, and is being tortured (I promise he’s not). I mean, I know I just said January is half over, but we’re far enough north that there’s still snow on the ground, for crying out loud. And he HATES snow.

January also bring that lovely time at work called “year end”. Oh sorry, did I say ‘lovely’? I meant dreaded. Must have been a typo. It’s definitely not a boring time in the office, that’s for sure, but it does suck up a lot of time and energy. I’m blaming that for this post being a few days late (definitely not my procrastination skills at work). Seriously though, it’s taken a toll on my creative energy, and desire to write. Rather than shirk that responsibility entirely, I’ve turned to working on the story structure, including character development, outlining, scene pacing, etc. It keeps my brain connected with my novel, and makes use of the logical side that raring full speed ahead from all the detail oriented going-ons at work.

I’ve been relying heavily on a few different resources, and have fallen in love with them. In a totally platonic way, of course. Anything else would just be creepy. I love them so much, I’m sharing them with you (one at a time, mind you. Don’t get greedy.). New Year’s resolution to lend humanity a helping hand ? Check 😉

K.M. Weiland is the author of a number of resource books, including Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel. I’m in the juicy middle of Outlining Your Novel at the moment, and it’s been invaluable for getting my mind stuck out of the rut it’s been wallowing in with The Rogue Saint. It’s refreshing, as it talks about a task that authors know is essential, but approaches it with just a slightly different twist. Rather than plowing through the usual suspects of Inciting Incident, First Plot Point, Climax, and so on, it talks about asking the ‘what if’ questions, brainstorming, and general scene sketches. Don’t get me wrong; it’s almost impossible to have an outline book without discussing the aforementioned Inciting Incident, etc., however the book doesn’t make them the focal point. She discusses the advantages to writing your prep work and initial outline by hand, which I’ve found to be a super useful exercise. The main novel will still be written electronically (if you so desire), however there’s something freeing about have pages filled with your own chicken scratch. Three cheers for tangible progress! Plus then you can pick up your handwritten outline, and plunk it into a useful tool like Scrivener (note: not a sponsored post, I just freaking love the program), and not go wandering off into the electronic void with your story.

She also has an amazing resource website, http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com, which cheerfully carries along in the same vein as her books. It approaches well-known topics such as creating conflict, and where to start your story, but from a place a step, or five, to the side, discussing the topics in a new way. Her novel approach (see what I did there?) to tired material makes it fresh again, automatically stimulating all that grey matter in your brain. It’s amazing – learning about the logical pieces of a book, yet feeling a stirring in that beautiful, dark mess of your inspiration, from which your novel is given life.

Unfortunately, my giant lotto win has yet to come in, and I can’t finance a copy of her books for everyone just yet, but if you’re stuck and grinding your gears, please; do yourself a favour and check her out. This little dose of inspiration may be just what you need. You’re welcome.

“Creativity is a wild mind, and a disciplined eye.” – Dorothy Parker

Welcome to Midnight

“Change takes more than a moment, but maybe there’s also something to this celebration of a moment, something to the way it speaks to us, something to the way we fear it, and dream it to be true. Maybe it’s the most honest moment of the year.

It’s possible to change.

Welcome to Midnight.

Here’s to the possibilities.”

Credit: To Write Love On Her Arms blog (https://twloha.com/blog/welcome-midnight/)

I’ve never really made New Years resolutions. Ok, I lied. I’ve made them, but only quietly in my head, and never firmly. That way when (yes, I mean ‘when’, not ‘if’) I failed at them, I could say, “well, I didn’t really make one.” I think it’s pretty obvious that this method was doomed from the start. Ergo, I’ve decided to do it a little different this year – I’m making a public statement so the internet can hold me accountable (yikes, I’m already having second thoughts about this).

But before we get to my goals, first things first: I can’t take credit for the awesome title. It’s from the To Write Love On Her Arms blog. TWLOHA is an amazing non-profit “dedicated to presenting hope & finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, & suicide.”(https://twloha.com/). The blog post talks about change, possibilities, and the idea that midnight, especially on New Years, wipes the slate clean. It explains so well how I feel about this starting over on the first day of a new year. It doesn’t matter what I’ve tried and failed at – what matters is that I can try again.

Health

  1. Do yoga regularly: Ideally I’d like develop a home practice, and have a session at least 6/7 days a week. To kick things off the right way, I’ve signed up for a 30 Day Yoga challenge. A new video will be posted daily for the next 30 days. So far I’m 1/1 😉
    Want to join me? https://www.doyogawithme.com/30-day-challenge
  2. Cut back on drinking: I did this last year too, but January 2017 will be dry. No booze until February. I’ll need a metric to measure against after January, so throw any ideas you may have my way (note: zero drinks is not a valid suggestion)
  3. Complete strength 30 day challenges monthly: I’m trying for two in January; a wall-sit, and a plank challenge.
  4. Run 3x a week: to be fair, we got like 10cm of snow today, so this one may be on the back burner until the sidewalks are clear-ish.

Writing

  1. Blog: In January 2016, one of my quasi-pretend NY resolutions was to start a blog. I did manage to get this up and running, but s-u-c-k-e-d at posting regularly. My goal is to make posts at least 2x per month – I’m currently eyeing the 10th and 25th of the month as my due dates.
  2. Create more balance: I sit on the couch, and spend hours on my computer/phone (I’m looking at you Candy Crush). In an attempt to waste less time, for every 30 minutes of non-productive screen time (Facebook, Pinterest, games, etc.), I have to have an equal amount of time writing or editing.
  3. Finish my novel: it’s becoming increasingly embarrassing to admit that I still haven’t finished  The Rogue Saint. 2017 is going to be the year. I am going to schedule writing time, and make a daily habit of it, even if it’s only a few words. I’ll start small, and build. For example, January’s daily word count goal will be 200 words per day. February will be…umm…ok I haven’t gotten that far yet. 300 words? maybe 400? Anyways, that’s the general idea. Again, please feel free to make (reasonable) suggestions. Anyone who says something ridiculous like 5000 words to start is asking for it. What is ‘it’? Not sure, but be assured that I’ll come up with something suitably diabolical & fiendish.

Miscellaneous

  1. Develop a budget (and stick to it of course)
  2. De-Clutter: I HAVE to stop buying stuff (0bvs this will help with #1). I also have to work on my early hoarder tendencies. Hubby has set me a goal to get rid of one bag of stuff a week, and truly, it needs to happen. I kind of want to just empty my house on to the lawn, and start over (other than hubby, kitties, and at least one pair of clean underwear).

Whew. Glad to have that all off my chest, and into cyberspace. I’m going to update y’all regularly (i.e. quarterly) on how I’m progressing with all of this, so please feel free to harass me about it. The world is a scary place, and I know there’s a lot of uncertainty as to whether or not we’ll even still be in existence at the end of this year, but there’s not a lot I can do about that. What I CAN do, is work on being a better me. Change is hard, but at least how I change is something I have control over. Why not change for the better? Be kind, love more, and be a more authentic me.

Welcome to my midnight.