What Really Hinders My Writing Progress

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, poetry, short stories, journals. Those are the places where my love of writing really took birth. I’ve always been scared to let people read my work, not because of self-doubt but because of bullying. Me, writing diligently to get my story out appears as a joke to many people in my personal life. I don’t hold it against them as many people don’t understand why some of us love to write things, they don’t understand the pride we take in creating a story.

These are some of the things that puts me in a bind me as a writer:

Finding My Voice

It took me a while to finally figure out what finding my voice as a writer really means, and I’m not sure I understand the full dynamics but I think I have a better handle on it than I did on it before. Like I mentioned before, I started writing from a very early age in a particular way. It wasn’t just writing for writing’s sake. My story was also structured in my own way. My language flowed freely as my own. Somewhere along the lines, in the bigger world, I felt intimidated to be true to myself as a writer. As someone who has touched on poetry to be able to combat feelings of depression and self-doubt, I found myself beginning to write like a robot. He said, she said, and I failed to stay true to my characters’ personalities and also my own. Having grown up in the Caribbean, we share similar slangs to that of England as well as our spelling. I’m now based in the US and it does make me feel strangely about how my voice may be received. It’s not that much different but readers may notice and that’s something I always take into consideration. I’ve had to learn how to consciously omit certain ways of speaking as well as the “u” in words like favor and color among others.

Point of View

This has been very tricky for me, even now. I began writing in third person, past tense. I write as a narrator on the outside but still in my character’s head, so I don’t head hop. This is my comfort zone, always has been. In the last few years, I became more aware of first person POV as a writer. I’ve always read first person and it didn’t bother me but I’d never written in first person except for my journal and a few very short essays. To create an entire plot and world from one character’s point of view was a challenge for me. I kept thinking that I had to join that bandwagon if I want my work to be read. Readers will think my third person is heavily outdated. It sounds stupid, I know, but all of these things go on in a writer’s head especially when you listen to other bookish people talk about their preference for this kind of writing. It stuck me the whole of last month writing one chapter back and forth in third and first person POVs. I had to take a break and reconnect with my voice as a storyteller.

Writing as A Reader

All writers began as readers, that’s something I believe. And when I read over my work, I don’t read it as myself as a reader. I read it as hundreds of others readers and critique myself from that. It sticks my story to the point of “Where the heck do I go with this?” I don’t expect everyone to love my work but I do want to feel like a credible storyteller at the end of the day.

My Own Worst Critic

With my teaching experience in English and learning to find mistakes where there really aren’t due to teachers making us find things wrong with a classmate’s essay, I always feel like every line of my first draft needs to be rewritten in a better way. And believe it or not, I spend more time than I should just rewriting things. 2017 has been the year of rewrites for me.

My Stories Might Be Crap

I appreciate all kinds of storytelling, the good and the not so good. A story comes from an author’s head or heart, someone who thought it worth writing, and for that I won’t bash anyone’s process, or manner of storytelling. But I tend to bash my own. There’s something sinister about reaching 30,000 words into a novel and just thinking, “What the heck am I doing?” At that point I shelf the story until further notice and begin working on another. I should get a “Work in Progress” medal.

How Do I Keep Writing?

Because I can’t stop. Writing has been my secret for a long time, a way that I’ve dealt with the harshness of the world and the people around me. It remains my greatest form of therapy. And more than wanting to get published, I write for myself so there’ll always be that.

Last week I sat down and had a long mental chat with myself about how I lost sight of the one thing I know I can do. It’s tough, it’s nerve-wrecking but nothing gets completed without perseverance. I came across a video of Hank Green(John Green’s brother) talking about how he doesn’t go for 100% because his 80% is good enough. And that resonated with me. If we keep thinking perfection all of the time, then we’ll always finds errors. I’m learning, slowly that writing comes with all of the above and not just writing.

What are your major problematic areas as a writer and how do you combat them? Have a great week all.

xo Kat

 

Writing Hiatus and What I Did Wrong As a Writer

pencil-1486278_1920This January(2017) makes it a year since I started my eBook writing project. I completed two contemporary romance novellas sometime during the first half of last year. I knew they weren’t good, or even readable even but it’s something I just wanted to complete. I self published on Amazon Kindle and since then I’ve taken down one of them for rewrites. I think I left the second one up as not to hurt my small ego.

After those two books which were the first and third part of a series, I started another writing project, and then another and then another. Here’s where I went wrong.

Impatience. I think this was the main thing that flopped my entire project as a self published writer. I read a lot of books published with Kindle Unlimited and when I say a lot, I mean I can knock off a book in one sitting. It rarely ever takes me more than two days to complete a Kindle book. A lot of what I read on Kindle are contemporary/erotic/dark romances and historical romances. I just love stories set in the past especially in places such as England and France. I do enjoy a good highlander romance as well, and most recently, Viking stories.

Back to my point, I read a lot and I see other authors releasing books like crazy and I get impatient. I know I have my ideas and plots, my characters thought out and I just want to get it out as fast as possible. In doing that I skip loads of the outline and planning process, and I get stuck. I’m left with chunks of the story and plot holes.

Bad planning. The first story that I decided to go with wasn’t a very interesting one, however I took time and care in plotting my scenes and characters. The same with the second. And it kinda worked. But on reading some of these Kindle books which I thought were written well but didn’t take a whole lot of planning, I decided on short cuts. Instead of following my own style and principles in carving a story, I was trying to do what other authors did, books that I left negative reviews on. I thought if people could love and review a not so well written piece, they might read mine. My introductions are usually well detailed but I started jumping right into the story where the two main characters met. I felt as if a lengthy and informative introduction might bore readers. I made shortcuts in my story and it had an effect on my characters and overall plot.

Time management. If you’ve read some of my previous posts or even the about section, you’ll see that I have a preschooler and a toddler, and my days are often booked and busy. Some women do it with grace but I’m not one of those. I do it with coffee and I’m often overwhelmed. I’m not a very focused person all of the time and it’s a downfall of mine. When I first started writing, my husband was supportive and still is but at that time I literally sat by my laptop and worked on my book day and night. He handled the kids and things around the house. As the year progressed, I realized that my life can’t be this way. At some point in time I have to revert to my duties as mother, wife and errand runner. I also study which should be taking up most of my time as well. In my head I thought I’d take a month or two, write my eBook as quickly as possible and then take a rest period to catch up on everyday life, but I soon found out it doesn’t work like that. So I thought I’d write for a couple hours after I put the kids to bed but I’m so exhausted by that time that nothing worth reading ever gets written. I just can’t keep up with everything. I’m not a quitter though, writing is my passion. I just need to revise my schedule and try to fit everything in as best as I could. Currently, that’s not happening.

Can’t decide on a genre. I love reading all genres, from romances to thrillers, fantasy to crime fiction…I love it all…and I love to write it all. An idea doesn’t come in the form of a genre to me, it just comes. Sometimes I’m having a hard time with a script and I feel the need to change the initial story and cross genres. For example if I feel like I don’t have enough for a plain romance, I’d try to make it a suspense or dark romance. It all really comes down to properly outlining your story, and that’s where I’ve failed drastically.

Can’t stick to one story. I do get stuck in the middle of a story most of the time even when the climax and resolution are clear to me so what do I do? I have all of these ideas in my head so I get started on another project and think to myself I’d just get back to the first project when I’m not so blocked up anymore. What happens is, by the time I get back to the first one, I’ve lost momentum. The story sounds ridiculous to me. I wonder what on earth was I even thinking? It sounds like a preschooler wrote it and then I feel like I can’t even finish that project.

Not staying true to myself. I do struggle with staying true to my story and characters. Organically a lot of my characters are flawed and they do very wrong and absurd things but I tend to rewrite and sugarcoat it thinking I’ll be judged for how dark I write my characters. I soften them up and then they become like pieces of furniture. This is something I have to stop doing altogether. I need to stop thinking of what kind of readers I will attract and just write my darn story.

To close this off, I’d just like to say I’m a novice writer. I call myself a writer because I write. A lot of work needs to be done before I can put out a book to my satisfaction, hence I’m taking a writing break(from eBooks). I need to become more organized in my craft and evolve as someone who can really believe they’re a writer. I wish to focus on my blog a little more as it’s something I’m also passionate about and have been putting on the back burner.

xo Coffee Doll

Image: pixabay.com

Tips to Overcome Writer’s Block

macbook-336704_1920Let me just start by saying these tips are what works for me and it may not work for you. I’m not going to use a textbook approach for writer’s block as you can find that almost anywhere on the web. This is what works for me and my lifestyle and I’m sharing it because it may be found to be useful at some point.

As I was ranting in my previous post about experiencing bouts of writer’s block, it dawned on me that I do have little ways of dealing with it.

Sleep. First and foremost sleep is essential. My days are so busy that when all is said and done, I can’t even manage to sit down and function in front of my laptop. I feel like I do write better when I get a good night’s rest, however far and few that may be.

Coffee. You know of coffee breaks, don’t you? Well I have coffee starts. A piping hot cup of energy elixir is what I need to put me in the right mind frame. It gives a burst of energy, a satisfied stomach and helps me to collect my thoughts.

Physical Activity. This is a given. Any form of physical activity whether it be walking, yoga or going to the gym will be beneficial. Getting your body worked up releases endorphins, that happy hormone. It reduces stress and you feel better about your life. I simply do walking, I just do a lot of it and random dancing in the kitchen with my kids.

Do not worry about the end product. This is a problem I faced early on. I felt like everything had to be perfect in one shot and then I ended up proof reading for a longer period that it took me writing the actual story. Just write, don’t worry about grammar or perfecting your format. You’ll get to that later. It’s important to just finish your first draft.

Leave the introduction until later. This is one of the bigger contributions to my writer’s block. I know what I want the story to be about and by the time I’ve figured out the ending, almost all of the book is completed in my head. But I do have issues with my introductions. I always feel like it’s not sounding right, nobody will be interested in reading the rest and I get stuck. I can get stuck for months at a time so I tried a different approach. Whatever I’m already sure of, I write. And leave the rest for later.

Write freely. This is similar to what I’ve said earlier. Just write without worrying about grammar, spelling or the story you’re working on. You’ll be able to produce raw material that’d be useful later on as well as gear yourself up for continuing to write your book. I write freely on this blog. Much of it makes no sense, it’s like a journal. It’s like a little break in between life to offload thoughts an ideas.

Do not write for readers. I am still struggling with this one. I read reviews of other books in my genre of writing, looking for ways that readers criticize stories. Whenever I write an organic piece, I sometimes feel as if a reader might not appreciate it, maybe laugh about it and I tend to rewrite a lot and get stuck of course. This takes away from your creativity, your uniqueness. Just write what you know, what you feel. It doesn’t matter if people aren’t hopping to get to your work. Self satisfaction is key. Getting your story done according to your eyes is key.

Get rid of distractions. In other words, get rid of your kids. Just kidding! On a serious note, when you do decide to sit and write, do not be distracted. If your thoughts are elsewhere, you won’t do your best work. You need to stay focused. My children distract me a lot hence I mostly write when they’re asleep at night. Another distraction is social media. The time really flies when you’re scrolling and scrolling, losing all thoughts, just looking at memes and laughing. So when you’re about to write, stay away from your phone.

Write on pen and paper. I can really stare at a screen and get nothing done, for hours. What helps sometimes is to revert to our traditional methods of pen and paper. You’d be surprised at how your thoughts flow.

Timing. Some of us think better on mornings, some at night. Figure out when you write at your best and utilize it.

Don’t over plan. I thrive on not over planning. It creates pressure and I cave. I never get anything done on time anyway. Your story speaks to you. Write it with flow as it comes.

Leave it. When you’re stuck, just get up and walk away for a minute. I can walk away for weeks at a time to catch my bearings. Sometimes you need to reconnect with what inspired the story initially to be able to write it in a flow.

Sleep/Dream Writing. So this is something I do. Before I sleep is one of the times I really plot my story and put together dialogues for my characters. I often dream of my characters and even if I don’t, I wake up with a refreshing realization of where my story should go next.

Read. Not reviews as I mentioned before. Every writer is a reader first. It’s where we first connected with our passion to tell stories. So read. The language of different authors helps your words to flow freely.

xo Coffee Doll

Image: Pixabay.com

 

Bouts of Writer’s Block and Incomplete Novels

journal-1577764_1280.pngSo it’s been almost a year since I started working on novellas(short novels). Till date I haven’t been able to publish much, and I feel like crap about it. It seems like I’m not working or I’m lazy but the truth is, I lose sleep over this. Despite not being able to self publish more than a few books on kindle, I am always working. My brain never stops and it’s exhausting.

My writing gets put on the back burner because I have parental priorities and other family type stuff to do. I know I should demand time to work, but I really can’t as I have absolutely no one to help me with the kids, and I cannot afford a babysitter or child care. So yes, my writing suffers due to being tired all the time, physically and mentally.

I often call it writer’s block but it’s just plain old exhaustion. I have many ideas and I’m always brainstorming them. I’m writing in my head all the time and sometimes it’s so intense that I leave it in a voice note on my phone or just write it down wherever I can find a piece of paper and pen. I am dedicated, and very passionate about telling my stories, unfolding the characters that came to life in my mind but….and there’s always a but…I need more time in a day.

I leave my house unattended at times and let the kids go wild in front of the TV just to get some work done and then I get stuck. I sit and stare at a blank page on my screen, typing out a few words then backspacing it. And I feel so horrible about myself. I keep saying I know I can do this, I have to be able to do this. All jobs are taxing and challenging and I view my writing as that. Challenge is good, it means I’ll learn something. What pisses me off the most is the fact that I’m always in a hurry to get things done around the house and with the kids so I can sit and let my thoughts flow through my fingers as I type away but when the time comes for me to do it…I am so damned tired.

I try to be as organized as I can be, truly but how do I keep up?

I think I’m very bad at plotting a good story. My stories usually gets sparked by an idea or a character that I’ve shaped in my head and from there it grows. Obviously the characters will have a story to tell and also there are always specific dialogues or situations that needs to be put into a story of mine. Without that particular thing, the story wouldn’t work, at least not the way I’m telling it.

So I know the beginning and I know the ending. I also know the conflicting and resolving parts, however while writing the novel, ideas about the story or characters begin to change. And then I have to change something, and then another thing needs to change. I completely loathe this about myself. Last night I reviewed two half written scripts of mine and decided I’m going to fix them and finish them once and for all and do you know what happened? Well for one I got tired and wanted to sleep and secondly, it appeared to be too much to fix. I forgot why I wanted to tell those stories anyway.

I don’t know if this is really block or not but it’s definitely something. Today is a new day, it’s also a long weekend. I wish myself luck on what I’m going to work on. Right now I’m going to start with a cup of coffee. Aahh! The best way to start anything right?

xo Coffee Doll

Image: pixabay.com