Monday, 28 November 2011

Confucius Says

A few days ago I was looking at a few quotes from Confucius, a thinker and social philosopher* from ancient China. Confucius said some pretty interesting things, and as I was reading through them, I realised a lot of what he says could apply to writing. The following quotes are all from the Goodreads website.

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
This is my favourite Confucius quote, and I think of it regularly. If you enjoy your job, then it’s not really “work”, is it? When it comes to writing, remembering this quote spurs me on to work harder. If I can eventually get published, and earn enough to live off of royalties, then… success!

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
The world of publishing is tough, and it’s easy to fall over and never get back up again. I mean, why would you get up again if you thought that all you were going to get was another stinging rejection? But if we continue to keep going after every rejection and harsh critique, eventually we’ll get there. Stephen King was rejected 30 times before his first novel was published, and Harry Potter was turned down 9 times. But, King and Rowling persisted, and eventually made it to where they are today.

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”
It doesn’t matter if you write 1,000 words a day, or only 100. As long as we write consistently every day, we’re making progress and growing as writers. This is important to do.


“No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.”
Even Confucius knew it. Reading is important.

 
* Thank you Wikipedia.

Friday, 25 November 2011

I FINISHED MY NOVEL!

So.

I FINISHED MY NOVEL!

I’m so happy and excited to have finished, but at the same time I feel kind of numb, like it hasn’t fully sunk in what I’ve achieved. I suspect that’ll change the next time I sit down to write and realised I don’t have anything to write!

I don’t know about you guys, but I love looking at statistics (strange for a kid who dislikes numbers), so I thought I’d share a few:

Total number of words: 80,857
Total number of chapters: 54
Average words per chapter: 1,497.35
First word: Lily
Last word: Sight
Total writing days: 185 days.

I’ve been saying these past few weeks that today (Friday 25 November) would have been six months since I started writing… but then I realised I started writing on the 24th of May, not the 25th. This means that yesterday was actually the six month anniversary since I started writing! So, I didn’t end up writing a novel in under six months, but rather exactly six months. Still cool, and now I have something to aim for with my next novel!

As for the future, I have a short story to edit over the Christmas period, which I’ll probably start work on today. Early next year I’ll start the edits for my novel, EXCALIBUR, which seems a little daunting. It’s going to be a massive task. I’ll have to work hard at sticking with it, and not allow myself to run off with another novel (as I do every time…). I also have a whole bunch of half-written short stories I might look at to keep me sane during the torture editing period.

For the comments, how is your WIP coming along? NaNoers, are you nearly done, or have you begun to fall behind?

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Live Blogging! 2K, 1 Day

I started my WIP back in late May this year, and recently I realised that this Friday, 25 November, marks the six month anniversary since I started writing my WIP. I’m so close to finishing, and I really want to have my novel finished before Friday. With a fraction over 2K remaining before I hit 80K, I’m using today to write a massive chunk out of the remaining few chapters!

To keep myself accountable today, I’m doing a live blog, Beth Revis-style. Stop by during the day to check out my progress, and don’t forget to give lots of encouragement!

---

8:00: Doing nothing. Great start to the day. My laptop isn't even turned on yet.

8:07: Still doing nothing. Laptop is at least turned on.

8:24: Latest chapter document is open. Start writing... now!

8:36: Twelve minutes, and 94 words written... I probably would be more productive if I wasn't checking emails, Facebook, Twitter, and practically anything else there is to check on the internet.

9:01: Word count: 313 words. Closing Twitter definitely helps.

9:24: One hour in. Word count: 583 words. Not as fast as some people, but this is definitely good for me. At this rate, I could be finished by lunch time!!

9:26: Note to self: You will not be done by lunch time if you keep surfing the internet.

9:39: I'm grimacing at all the stuff I'm putting my protagonist through. This is good, right?

9:55: Word count: 825 words. I've totally earned a quick break, right? Right?

10:13: Did I say "quick break"? I really just meant "break". Now, back to work.

10:16: I'm stuck. Trying to figure out how to kill my (unarmed) antagonist without making my protag a cold-blooded killer. Thing is, they're both deep underwater with no guns in sight. Only a sword and an empty spear gun.

10:22: Okay, I think I've figured it out.

10:41: Antagonist dead, protagonist has Excalibur, and the climax is complete! Word count for today: 1,051 words.

11:03: Procrastinating instead of figuring out how to conclude the WIP. I have decided to add another chapter... but that's about it. Going to take a quick break to allow me to figure it out.

11:28: I think I've got the next chapter figured out: "just write and see where it goes".

11:44: Word count: 1,257. 63% of the way through to my 2K goal. Have to run some errands, so I'll take a break now.


Who actually says "errands"?

12:33: Back from my errands, but now I'm hungry. Lunch time, methinks.

1:56: Lunch: check. Christmas-present wrapping: check. Other miscellaneous jobs: check.

2:31: Today's word count so far: 1,569 words. I have roughly 700 words until I hit 80K, and only a little over 400 to hit today's goal of 2K. The rest is going to be tough though, I'm quickly running out of steam, and without this live blog, I probably would have thrown in the towel by now.

2:56: I JUST CROSSED THE 2,000 WORD MARK!!

3:10: Finished off the latest scene and, I think, chapter. Going to take a much earned break now. Total word count for today: 2,250 words.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Keep it Believable

Between studying and writing, there hasn’t been a lot of time for me to blog this week. But I’m reading a book which I think has a lesson for all of us. The book I’m reading at the moment is an explosive action thriller. I’m loving it… except for some of the action scenes.

In one action scene, the protagonist drove up a tunnel wall onto the roof, shot an enemy sniper while speeding along in a car, and managed to skid a car along a small concrete wall while keeping the car perfectly balanced.

It’s all a bit of a stretch.

In our writing, it’s important to make sure things stay believable. Sure, it’s okay to ask readers to suspend disbelief, but being a good enough shot to hit a sniper while speeding along a winding road?

*groan*

So, as I get back to going over lecture notes, tell me: have you ever read a book which was simply too unbelievable? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, 14 November 2011

70K and Counting


If you follow me on Twitter you might have seen me tweeting late last week about it: I’VE HIT 70K!

I’m ultra-excited about this milestone because it means I only have 10K left on my WIP’s estimated word count of 80K. With my personal goal of 500+ words a day, the end is finally in sight and I’m racing towards it!

I’m entering exam block this week, and I have three exams over the next fortnight. In previous years, my writing has always ended up on hold during the busy period, but this time I’m hoping I’ll be able to write something, even if it’s not 500 words. I’d be happy to get 100 words down, because even if it isn’t much it’s still progress, and progress is good. Besides, once I start writing I get into the flow, so I’ll probably be able to write something substantial each day. I just need to lie to my muse promise my muse I only need 100 words.

In my last writing update, I said my estimate was to be finished writing by Christmas, but now I’ve revised that to the end of November! (I also said that my WIP would be 78K… I don’t know where that figure came from! I might have added a chapter in, or something.) This means I’ll be able to celebrate with all the NaNoers!

It’s actually coming up to the six month mark since I started writing my WIP. 24 November will be exactly six months since I started writing… and that’s a week and a half away. I’d love have finished writing by that time! Wish me luck!

For the comments: how’s your writing going? If you’re doing NaNo, what’s your word count at? Are you nearly halfway yet?

Friday, 11 November 2011

It's Nothing Personal

Yesterday I posted a short story up on Write On! Teens for some feedback, and so I’ve been thinking about writing feedback, and how some people take it personally.

About a year and a half ago I entered a short story in a writing competition. I came up with an idea, wrote the story, and then sent it off to someone who offered to critique it for me. The results? She guessed my twist about halfway through, skipped to the end, and told me that it was a crappy idea, and I should start again. She offered to send her a new story if I was up to it.

To be honest, I was really annoyed with her. I raged to myself for a bit about how “she didn’t even read the whole thing – how could she tell me it was crap?” A mild-depression stage set in, and I decided not to enter the comp, because clearly I wasn’t meant to be a writer. The third stage was defiance: I was a good writer, even if she said I wasn’t! I was going to write a new story and not show it to her!

Finally, I had a realisation. It was nothing personal. Sure, she told me my story was no good… but reading back on it, I realised it was a pretty bad story. She was spot on with her advice. I could do better! And she invited me to send her another story: if that wasn’t a sign of her faith in my writing, what was? So I wrote a new short story, sent it off… and she loved it!

The moral of my story is this: when you get bad feedback, you need to realise that it’s nothing personal. It’s not a personal attack on you as a person or a writer… heck, it’s not an attack at all. It’s helpful. I think all new writers should learn this. The sooner they do, the better they’ll be. This is a good reminder for more seasoned writers too.

So, when we get a critique we don’t like, my advice is to let it sit for a few days. Don’t email a reply straight away, even if you think you’re okay. Wait a few days to clear your head, then send a polite email thanking your critique partner for their feedback.

What are your thoughts on all this? If you’ve ever had a bad critique, how did you deal with it? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Twitter Killing Spiders

Today’s post brought to you by Constance… well, kind of. After having nothing to blog about, I put out a plea to Twitter, and Constance responded, telling me to blog about “Twitter. Or… spiders. Blog about Twitter killing spiders!”

Challenge accepted*.

In my quest to write this post, I started thinking about how Twitter could kill spiders, and I had some fun with it. It was almost an exercise in creativity, which got me thinking about a creativity exercise I did in class (I know, I do everything in class).

We were each given a paperclip and told to come up with as many different uses for it. Some of the popular ones ones that I can remember were: joining several to make a necklace, prosthetic limb for an insect, and unlocking a door.

So, the best results from the Twitter Killing Spiders creativity exercise:

1. Open Twitter on your laptop, place spider on keyboard, slam laptop closed. Twitter has (in a way) killed the spider (or at least, Twitter was the last thing the spider saw).

2. Twitter could expand its business to make spider-killing bots which chase around and kill spiders. With lasers. Definitely lasers.

3. People could catch spiders and send them off to Twitter HQ. The spiders could be put on a conveyor belt, and a giant boot could stomp them all.

4. We let Garfield be the new CEO of Twitter.

For the comments, do you have anything to add to my list? How else could Twitter kill those damn arachnids?

* That’s a How I Met Your Mother reference. Does anyone else love that show?