Best Practices: Going Analog to Get The Story

I absolutely love my Moleskines. I have three: My “home” journal that keeps all of my various notes and things regarding running life as a family of four. My “project” journal, which contains most of my major projects (including my blog organization and sometimes story outlining). I recently discovered a larger 8×10 Moleskine of mine that had been buried in a box and it is perfect for just dedicating to story writing. Super portable, it fits in my diaper bag and my purse, so now I can take it with me when I’m walking around with the boys. They play, I write. It’s perfect!

I’m currently writing a prequel for Before Her Time, and I’m having a hard time not being distracted by technology. The main character, Tori, is a fictional duchess, and I want to make sure that I get enough details regarding English peerage right so as to not take readers out of the story. Her nobility isn’t central to the story, but people will make enough assumptions that they’ll have certain expectations about behavior, language, location and so forth. Well, I don’t live in England and I’m not schooled on nobility (I actually find it distasteful), so I have to go looking for just the right detail to make it work.

Being lost in Wiki/Google doing research cane sometimes be exhausted. While I’m certainly learning, I’m not writing, and writing is the goal.

So I’ve turned to my trusty story Moleskine to help, even when I’m at home. No research, no google, no wondering…just writing. It is very satisfying to see a few pages full of my chicken scratch in this notebook. I also like having an analog record of my thoughts and inspirations.

I am by no means abandoning my computer. Writing digitally has its own satisfaction, but going old-school has a lot of perks. My Moleskine doesn’t crash….though it can get lost, or blend in with all of the other notebooks in the universe. I love the color Black, I really do, but I wish that had different and more rad colors! I also have a thing about ink stains on my fingers. I know, that’s silly.

I have 2,000 words more of this story to write. Then I have to perform a preliminary edit before I can think about submitting it for critique. I have two little boys that really need to get out and run around this week, though it’s hot at balls outside. This is the life of a woman trying to do it all.

What do you do to “get the story”? What are your favorite tools of the trade?

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Getting in the Habit: How Blogging has Helped My Writing

Of course, I had every intention to write this post earlier in the day…but my eldest son has decided to boycott the daily nap, so now I’m trying to sneak in a post between “oh my God, you’re making a mess” and “would you please get out from under my feet as I cook dinner!?!?!” I’m looking forward to exploring this more in my Thursday “vexation” post.

I had three story ideas come to me while I was in the shower this morning. I was able to email them to myself and I must say, I’m extremely excited. So excited, in fact, that I’m going to add another item to my task list! The ideas came to me while I was trying to come up with something else to write about–namely, this blog post. I write this blog, I have a mommy blog that I post on three times a week, and now I blog for a website that is for bi-racial families. On average, I’m writing 2,000 words a day. Coming up with ideas to keep these three blogs interesting, relevant and visit-worthy takes a lot of my creative thinking, and now that I’ve got the creative area of my brain regularly active, it’s spitting out all sorts of interesting ideas!

I started blogging after complaining to a friend about how dissatisfied I was about mommyhood. I spend my days changing diapers and watching Sesame Street, and my brain was turning to mush. Among the other things he told me to do, he told me I needed to “get involved” in my community. Well, I decided that I could start that right away…so I created my mommy blog and just started writing. I also decided that I was going to take the first step in a very long journey into become a paid writer. A novelist, specifically, though I’ve written not one word toward a novel since last November. Thus this blog was born. What started as a device for “having a platform” and getting my “author’s name out there,” has actually turned into an important tool for my craft. I have to sit here, every day, and reflect about my craft. I refuse to censor my successes or my failures, my confusions and my triumphs. As I build a community of writing allies and potential readers, I think that you should know what I’m going through. I want my publication successes to be just as satisfying for you, my community, as they will be fore me. I want to share my failures with you not just to garner the support to try again, but also to teach and learn alongside you.

The best part about blogging, in my point of view, is the accountability behind it. You have to press “publish” and the words go out into the ether. The Googles gets it and makes it available for everyone. Some people will come and see your words, most people won’t, but you pressed “publish” and the words travel from there. Pressing “Publish” is a big deal for me every time I’m done with a post or I plug in a flash fiction work. I’m always just a little bit terrified about putting my thoughts out into the universe. While with each post (105 on the mommy blog, 61 on this blog) makes the action just a little bit easier, my self-doubt always manages to creep in. “How many typos do you have there, Kay?” “Are you sure that you have proper sentence structure? Do you even know what sentence structure is?” “Do you know why nobody views your work, Kay? It’s because it isn’t very good!” “Shouldn’t you be watching the news or something? You majored in political science, not creative writing! What are you doing!?!?!”—my inner self is pretty mean. I really should talk to someone about that.

Blogging makes me brave. Blogging trains me to be courageous. Blogging forces me to make writing a responsibility  and not just a hobby. I turned around a week ago and realized that I’ve been writing every weekday since January, along with a few weekends along the way. Suddenly, I’m writing until I’ve run out of words for the week. I’m averaging 5,000 words a week between my fiction and blogging.  More importantly, I created a habit of writing that I cannot shake–I feel anxious when I haven’t written a blog post or contributed to a short story. I feel accomplished on Friday after all of my blog posts are done and I check off my lists.

I’ve been reading a lot about the “butt in chair” advice for writing–some people think that this is too simple of an answer. It can’t be so easy as putting your ass in a chair and putting words to paper. And yet, I’m finding, after 7 months of doing just that, that the advice is ever so sound. Writing isn’t a chore for me now. It’s a habit, a need–like oxygen. So when my eldest son takes away my writing time in the afternoon, the only thing I can think about it “what can I do to get back to writing? What can I do to get back to writing? Oh my God, what can I do to get back to writing!?!?!?!”

So there you have it, from a fledgling wannabe indie-writer: If you want to write, you should write. And I strong suggest starting with blogging. The strongest voice that you have is your own internal narrator. You’ve been honing it all of your life, so why not unleash it in blog form?

I’m hoping to post some excerpts this week of my super-cool ideas. Of course, as we know, first drafts suck, so I’m not saying that they’ll be excellent, but I’m saying that they will exist. One of them might turn into a series of stories… and a series of stories could be a novel…right? Am I right? I’m so right, right?

I absolutely have to get back to world building for the novel that I’ve been trying to write for months! One novel at a time, Kay!