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Yes, another absence from this blog. It was completely unintentional this time around.  After I finished NaNoWriMo in two weeks (I’m still amazed I actually “won” after a couple of years of trying..), my creativity just shut down.  The last thing I wanted to do was write.  I had these great plans to get back to the w.i.p I set aside for NaNoWriMo and finally finish the sucker. Has it happened? Nope.  I have worked on it a bit, but it’s still sitting at a lovely 55,000 words. Not bad really. I’m almost there, but the idea of finishing that right now just wasn’t on my radar.

Neither was blogging, to be perfectly honest. I guess I had to take a step back and take a “vacation” from writing completely.  For anyone who hasn’t done NaNoWriMo, you can’t really understand how much it takes out of you.  For me, all I did was write. I think I took two days off in the two week span that it took for me to get to 50k words., and that wasn’t even because I wanted to. I just had other things to do.  Did I end up wearing myself out during that time? Probably. Do I regret it? Absolutely not.

Yes, NaNoWriMo caused me  to take some time out to take a break from writing afterwards.   But I’ve also learned new things about me as a writer and that’s the most important lesson I could ever take away from something like that. I wouldn’t trade that in for anything.

It’s okay to take a step back and collect your thoughts. It’s okay to take a break from your writing when you feel like you can’t write anymore.  Don’t push it. Just let it flow naturally. If your brain is tired and is screaming for relaxation, do what it says.  You will thank me later. 🙂

Oh, and congratulations to all of the fellow NaNoWriMo “winners” out there! Great job on getting to that glorious 50k finish line!  I’ll also say great job to everyone who participated. Whether you won or didn’t, pat yourself on the back for at least trying!

In other “news”, it’s come to my attention that I have received a few blog awards. Thanks to those who have given them to me. I’ll start handing them out to others in tomorrow’s post! If I don’t forget… Knowing me, that may happen. 🙂

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Before we get into the guest post, I just wanted to remind everyone that if you have a guest post you want to share here on this blog, please e-mail it to me at thestoryinme@gmail.com. Keep in mind that the posts should be either writing or literature related. Check my previous post on more guest post guidelines.   This guest post is kicking off my NaNoWriMo preparation posts for all of you. The other day I decided to participate again this year (hopefully I’ll be more successful than last year..) so keep checking back for those posts. Now, onto Panda’s guest post (btw, she’s one of my NaNoWriMo writing buddies lol)

The Power of Speech

This year I’m participating in NaNoWriMo. I’d heard of it many times in the past before, but was always under the impression that writing a novel just wasn’t my gig – I always found myself much more drawn towards poetry (I was rather successful on allpoetry.com in years gone by!)

However, as I’ve grown up (probably not actually, just in terms of years) I’ve found myself wanting to… well… get my ideas out there. I want to get into the open the thoughts and opinions that float around my mind on a daily basis. This is virtually impossible through poetry, there’s so much restrictions and rules, and I’m not one for “writing my thoughts in a poetic manner” – there’s just too much floating about in there to put into poetic terms.

So that’s how I ended up here, guest posting on a blog, writing about NaNoWriMo 2011 and why I’m participating.

But that’s not what I actually want to talk to you about. No, what I want to talk about is the power of speech within a novel.

I mentioned above that poetry has a lot of restrictions. If you think about it, so do novels. There’s definitely a “way” to put across a narrative to someone. A narrative can’t possibly be your own exact words, thoughts and opinions, because there’s no personification. No, where your ideas come into it is through the art of speech.

Speech, in a novel, is key to subliminally getting across to the reader what you, the author, are thinking about whilst writing the novel. You can personalize speech to make it fit your character, who could, in turn, be based on you, and thus compelling the reader to indulge in YOUR thoughts and ideas, and not that of the character alone.

For example, when it comes to narrative, you generally have to write using proper English. This is standard across the board really, after all, it needs to be easily understood. However, with speech, you can bring in accents, dialect, made up words, “in-joke” words, whatever you want really.

As a narrative, “She held on to the street light for dear life as the tank rolled through the quiet town” sounds quite, well, boring really, doesn’t it?

However, if you transfer that to speech, you can put it across whichever way you fancy. Whichever way suits you, as well as the character.

“Well I was walkin’ ‘cross the street an’ this bloody massive tank was thunderin’ towards me! So I held ont’ the street light and, lordy lordy, I could feel the ground ‘neath my feet shakin’!”

It just makes it more… personal, more interesting to read. Some would say that the former is better because you can add imagery to it. Flickering street lights and quivering pavements are fantastic, but when I personally read the two together, the first-person spoken description is much more visually pleasing when you imagine the scene in your mind.

NEVER underestimate the power of speech in your novel. A novel with too much speech is destined for disaster, this is true. But likewise, a novel with far too much narrative will bore your reader into a mid-afternoon nap if you’re not careful.

Finding the right balance is key to creating an enthralling novel. But try not to convey all of your imagery through narrative. Speech can be one of the most powerful visualising tools available to an author, so use it wisely!

If you’d like to read my blog, you can do so here -> http://procrastinauthor.blogspot.com/ J

And if you’re doing NaNoWriMo, best of luck!

Panda

xxx

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I’ve been writing stories since I was five years old. Ever since then, I knew I wanted to be a writer. Of course, when I was a kid, those stories were always pretty innocent. I wrote about family, animals, etc. One time, I even wrote a story about dinosaurs taking over my school and my friend, Monica, had to save the day.  When I got into high school, that’s when my stories became a bit more dark. I wrote about troubled teens and family issues.

Basically, my stories involved people. I liked to focus my stories on the inner struggles of people and society… maybe a part of society some may not understand.  They involved people struggling with addiction, mental illness, dark secrets they couldn’t tell anyone. I felt that where I needed to be in the literary world.

Until last year, when I realized I had another story to tell……. and it didn’t fit where I thought I was needed.

I had to write a story about zombies.

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile (or on twitter..) you already know about my love for the zombie culture.  I’m a huge fan of zombie flicks and novels. So, of course, when I thought of my current zombie apocalyptic novel, I had to stop what I was doing and start working on it.  And you know what? I think I really found my genre.

I never really thought I’d feel comfortable writing horror/paranormal literature. I loved to read it but I wasn’t sure I could write it. But, since working on my book, I feel like that’s my place. I feel more comfortable there amongst the creepy stuff and the zombies feasting on people (morbid? Probably..) . It’s almost like I was meant to be there.

Of course my book deals with the struggles of my main characters as they make choices and keep secrets. It’s not all about annihilating zombies. That’s just the fun part haha.

You should always write what you want to even if you think people you know maybe won’t like it. I live in a very conservative area who believe zombies are crap and they don’t want to read about it. They think I’m weird for what I want to write because it’s not what they like. Who cares? For every person who doesn’t want to read your book, there will be another one who does.

If you have a story that keeps invading your head, you should write it. Even if it’s out of what you think your genre is, write it. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone because you never know the story you could come up with.

I mean, look at me. I went from writing about my favorite pet when I was five years old to now writing about a zombie apocalypse. I bet my family didn’t see that one coming…. 🙂  I’m full of surprises.

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D io you even know what it “sounds” like? It’s really an important question for all writers to consider. Your writing voice is something that can set you apart from every other writer out there. It is distinct and tells who you are.  It isn’t something that can be taught. You just have to write and figure out what it sounds like.

I have known what my writing voice  was when I was in high school. My English teachers always told me that I had a “great writers voice” and that I should “embrace it.” I had no idea what they were talking about until I read over some of my stories and compared them to others.   It’s hard for me to really describe what my writers voice sounds like, but to me (and my English college professor..), it sounds very “personal”. I guess I have a way of making people feel relaxed and comfortable with my writing. I take that as a great compliment because that’s how I want people to feel. Well, except for when I’m writing about zombie attacks and how they are feasting on people. (Memo to self: I need to insert that sort of scene in my book later..). But that’s a completely different story… completely.

So what I’m trying to say is this: if you are having trouble with your writing and defining yourself as a writer, maybe you should get to know your writers voice. Don’t let anyone try to take it away whether it be editors, beta readers, friends, family. Yeah, make your edits, but make sure who you are as a writer is still evident within those pages. Listen to your writers voice.  It can tell you amazing things.

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I’ve been asked a few times if I have a writing schedule. The answer is always the same. No. I understand that some people love having a strict schedule because it keeps thing organized and ready to go. For me, it just never works out. When I feel like I HAVE to write at a certain time, I freeze up and start to procrastinate (one of those nasty writing killers, remember?). Then, no words will come out and I have made no progress whatsoever. So I gave up my writing schedule and went for a more relaxed approach.

And it worked. A lot.

Here’s what I do. When I wake up in the morning, I sit down and write down my goals for the day, concerning my writing. I write down what task I want to achieve (whether it be starting or finishing a chapter, hitting a certain word count, or even doing some writing research..) and how long I want to do that task for. I work best when I work in small intervals. I have an anxiety disorder so I tend to get pretty anxious if I sit in one spot for too long. So, I’ll usually work on the task for 15-30 minutes and then do something else for awhile. If I feel like I can do more, then I will. I never force myself to write. Nothing good ever comes from that.

What happens after you accomplish a certain task? I usually try to “reward” myself afterwards. Maybe I’ll watch some television for a bit or get some ice cream.  It could be some quality reading time with another good book. It usually varies, but it should always feel rewarding in some way.  It’s a nice treat for making progress.

I feel like if I write down my daily goals each day, it’s there for me to see and think: “okay, I can do this. Not a problem.” If it doesn’t happen, I don’t beat myself up over it. I encounter writers all the time on Twitter who berate themselves for not writing or not making a certain goal. Take a step back and breathe. Writing isn’t as easy as people think it is. It’s a long process and there will be days when you either can’t or don’t feel like writing. And that’s okay. Trust me.

There’s a quote in a writers reference book that I like to read when I feel writer’s block hitting me. It goes:

“Finish each day and be done with it…. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in… Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

That quote keeps me going. It tells me to go day by day. Don’t worry about the editing or publishing issues just yet. Work on the book for that day and if you don’t, it’s okay. Tomorrow is a new day and a new start.

 

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It happens all too often. Writers get great ideas for new stories, start on their projects and then find themselves faced with a killer. Something that stands in their way and tries to destroy any sort of creativity we have.

Writing killers. I’m sure you’ve met at least one writer who has experienced such a tragedy. Maybe you have encountered it yourself. I know I have. Several times. Where’s the writing police when you need them??

Here are some of the writing killers you may find yourself defending your story from:

  • Procrastination (The whole “I’ll do it later” excuse)
  • Laziness (“I don’t feel like doing it right now. “)
  • Hectic Schedule (“I don’t have time to do it right now.”)
  • Lack of confidence (“I’m not talented enough for people to read this anyways.”)
  • Lack of organization (“I have no idea where I’m even at in this story”)

Of course, there are lots more, but those are the most common that I hear from. Remember, my friend from the other day who had an idea for a story but could only think of the beginning and the end? Once I gave him some advice to help him get the middle, it seemed like he pretty much threw up his hands and threw in the towel before he even got started. The lack of confidence killed his writing spirit.

Personally, I encounter most of what I listed. I am a horrible procrastinator. Sometimes I put things off for later especially when it comes to my writing. Granted, at times, my lack of confidence in my writing abilities causes this procrastination. There are times when I get those nagging thoughts of  “who would read this anyways?” “What if I’m not good enough?” How do I deal with this?  I take a step back and take a few deep breaths. You have to realize that you can’t compare yourself to other writers. That will get you nowhere. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by your own project, embrace it. Surround yourself with encouraging writers who also want you to succeed.

That’s all you can do. That is until we can actually find that writing police to arrest those writing killers.  Let’s work on that, shall we? 🙂

What sort of writing killers have you experienced? How did you get over it? Discuss it in the comments.

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Yesterday, I was talking to someone and they asked what I’ve been up to. I told him I was working on a book and this is what  he said next:

“I have a story idea that I want to do, but the problem is, I can only think of the beginning and the end. The middle part completely escapes me. What do you think I should do? Do I just start writing anyways or do I work out the story some more in my head?”

I must admit that it’s always nice when someone comes to me for writing advice.  It makes me feel like people see that I’m a good enough writer to give out such advice.  Anyways, back to my response.

It took me a while to really answer his questions. The writing process is different for everyone.  Some writers love to methodically plan out every step of the book while others write out some basic notes, do some character sketches, and then just go for it (like myself, I guess.) Of course, I usually know how the middle will look like before I start the book, but I can understand this guy’s issue. 

I told  him he could write the beginning and the end like saw it, read over it, and then see if the middle came into view after that. Sometimes actually writing down what you see will help the other pieces fit into place. I also said that he could try and plot it out to see where it went from there.   I’m not sure if he really wanted my advice to begin with because he claimed all of that was too hard and he “didn’t think he had it in him anyways.”   He gave up before he even tried to begin. It’s the typical writing killer.  More about that tomorrow.

So, tell me. Has there ever been a time when you were asked to give out some advice to other writers?

Also, don’t forget about my upcoming blog fest. Check out the details in the previous post (sorry, it wouldn’t let me link to it here…)  and sign up!

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