Dipping a Toe in Social Media

For years I’ve avoided most social media, because, well, it is the devil.

The most engaged I’ve been with it is Facebook, and that is just for friends and family I know. Even that has its myriad of downsides, and the more engaged I am in the real world, the less I’m interested in Facebook.

I have a Twitter account, but for years I mainly followed breaking news, celebrities, and friends. It was also an excellent place to vent my anger or frustration at a variety of companies that failed in putting the customer first. I never cared about gaining followers, and in fact, was more comfortable having few people listening to what I said.

I have an Instagram account. Can’t tell you the last time I posted.

However, all that is changing. It has to. There is a wonderful podcast called Write or Die, and many of the guests talk about the supportive writing community they discovered online. Twitter seems to be the hangout for the literary set – agents, editors, writers, publishers, all hanging out around the #writingcommunity water cooler.

I started following a few writers and agents, attempting to jump into conversations here or there, but never really connecting. I continued as a Twitter wallflower.

Last year, I discovered a mentoring contest called PitchWars, just before it began. There was time to enter, but I missed out on the socializing that went on beforehand. This year I’m using PitchWars as an excuse to finally dip my toe in the social media pool.

Downside: It is a time sucker, and I hate that I’m spending more time in front of a screen.

Upsides: I am connecting with other authors pursuing publication, as well as published authors, editors, and agents. In the last month I’ve gained 30 followers, which I know isn’t many, but for me it’s a lot. Quality over quantity. Not only am I following authors and agents, a few are following me. I’ve met a new CP (critique partner). It’s starting to feel like I’m finding my community.

Writers have vibrant worlds and stories in their heads, but we alone can see them. Then we spend years alone, putting them on paper not knowing if anyone will join us and fall in love with them too. Writing is a very lonely and often disheartening endeavor. Social media can help. Struggling with writer’s block? Tweet your frustration and you’ll have a chorus of suggestions and encouragement. Confused about the query process? Ask the #writingcommunity and get advice from industry professionals. Search #MSWL to see which agents would love to see a book just like yours. Social media can bring you inside the #writingcommunity and out of the wannabe cold.

Even if it’s not your thing, make it your thing. At least try it.

You can follow me at @LynnieDN I’ll give you a follow back.

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Adapting and Evolving

Writing my first book turned out to be easier than I had expected. You so often hear about the agonies of writer’s block, and hours spent staring at the ceiling, looking for inspiration. I did not experience that. Sometimes I didn’t feel inspired to write, but I always had words to put on the page.

That stems from the fact that despite it being my first book, this is not my first time at the rodeo. I’ve been writing for most of my life and learning along the way. One book that made a huge difference was The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I never made it through the book, but I made it far enough to benefit. One exercise has you write three pages of stream-of-consciousness every morning. It might be, “There is nothing in my brain. Oh, I need eggs. Shoot, I don’t have time to go to the grocery store. I can wait. Look at that cute guying walking his dog.” It really didn’t matter what you wrote, you were to just write. That exercise teaches you one main thing. Your words aren’t that precious. They flow constantly in a never-ending stream. Just put them on paper, they can always be fixed later.

As a writer, that was eye-opening. I had agonized over words in the past, and often stopped writing because I couldn’t find the right ones. No more! My method became to spit it out the best you can and fix it later.

The other book that helped me was On Writing by Stephen King. With 25 years of writing screenplays, I had become a slave of the outline. When you have to cram an entire story into just two hours, getting all the beats right is not only difficult, but crucial. It’s like doing a Rubik’s cube. But, for me, the outline took all the joy out of writing.

Stephen King taught me to let go of the outline and let the story tell itself. Don’t worry about where it’s going. Don’t worry about structure. Just let the story unwind. Let it sit, then when you come back to read it, you will see obvious themes. Rewrite everything to those themes and voila… you have a really good, well-crafted story. Now working in novels, and not tightly structured screenplays, I can more easily follow his advice.

Cameron and King were the foundation of the easy flow of my first book. It was great, but the editing process showed me the cracks in my foundation.

With book one I did not edit. I didn’t want to slow down the flow. However, when I got to the end of a 75,000 word novel, I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of editing needed. I didn’t know where to start. I was too impatient to get it to an agent and publisher and couldn’t seem to take the time I needed to really evaluate and fix the manuscript… especially since my “just dump it on the page” method left a lot to be fixed. Thankfully I have a miracle worker of an editor who did all my heavy lifting for me this time around.

Last weekend, with the major editing behind me on book one, it felt like it was time to turn my mind to book two. I sat down and started to let the story flow again. Oh, what joy! Much to my surprise, I discovered that once again, my process is adapting and evolving. In the past it was common to write 2000 words a day. This time around, 1000 words seems to be the mark to hit. Now, I actually catch myself writing in the passive voice. I see where a verb could be more active. Or dialog can have more impact. I stop, consider my sentence, and rework it. My editor had warned me about this, but so far I don’t feel like it’s a problem. It slows me down, yes, but it doesn’t stop the flow. In some ways, it makes it far more enjoyable. Like savoring the scene instead of racing to put it down.

And this time I will set aside some time each writing day to go back and edit the previous day’s work. That way when I get to the end, I won’t be quite so overwhelmed. My first draft will be a much more polished, ready-to-publish, work.

Everything in life is a process. Just because you’re good at something today doesn’t mean you can’t be better at it if you adapt and evolve. Even this old dog is learning a few new tricks.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Creator of History

Another week where I’m posting late. To be honest, I wouldn’t be posting at all if I weren’t procrastinating.

Last weekend I put the finishing touches on my first two chapters and fired them off to the writer’s group. Of course, once I’d done that I found several glaring errors I wish I had caught. It was the same way with my college papers. So, in a week and a half I will sit quietly and with the appearance of calm, while inside I am a quivering pile of fear at the feedback my fellow writers will give me. Yet, I am also excited to hear what works. Perhaps it will be well received? Who knows!

The current chapter has been a real struggle for me. Nothing has flowed. I’ve struggled to make progress. I spend as much time as I can, playing the chapter in my head like a movie, but there’s one downside to my new life here. I fall asleep quickly. Insomnia used to play an important role in story development. That means I now need to allocate more time for daydreaming. For this reason I spent $30 of my precious budgeted money on some resin adirondack chairs for my sun porch. Now I can sit out there and let my mind wander, and yesterday I discovered this is a pleasant way to spend an hour or two.

My struggles with the chapter had me doubting the entire book. It is a YA novel, which like so many others, has a boy wizard protagonist. Ho hum. Who cares? There are a gazillion of those out there, most of them poorly written. I know the other stories that have inspired some of my story. Is mine just derivative of theirs? Is there any point? Then again, there are really only 7 stories in the world. We’re all just retelling the same thing with different details.

In reworking the first few chapters, and strengthening the theme in those chapters I was reminded that my story has depth. The characters are good. The underlying themes are unique for the genre. The setting is an entirely new setting of my creation. I am a Creator of Worlds! So yes, there is a point. Yes, some people will surely care.

Last night the rest of the struggle with this chapter was finally revealed. The fact that this is an entirely new world, means I am woefully short of background material. Yes, fantasy is incredibly freeing because there’s nothing to really research. You, the writer, make it all up. But that’s just really a trap. The writer has to make it ALL up. Every last detail. I hint at events that have occurred during their history, but I don’t even know what I’m hinting at. I haven’t created some of the in-depth history that needs to be created. Foolish! Of course it’s difficult to write a scene set in a museum when I don’t even know what history that museum is displaying.

So today I have my work set before me. I need to write a few things that I landed on yesterday, and then I need to spend a few more hours in my adirondack chair, dreaming up history.

And now, I guess I have run the course of my procrastination attempt. Though it is lunch time, so there’s that.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather