You Probably Shouldn’t Be Here

 

I’ll start with an explanation. You probably won’t understand if you don’t write on a day-to-day basis.

If you’re like me, you love characters. You love stories. You cry when you run the ink out of your favorite pen. You come up with an idea that can propel the motion of a story.

But you hate planting your butt in the chair and actually typing it up.

So what do we do? We procrastinate! Mostly by Pinterest, reading blogs on how to write better, examining that cool thing on the desk, and making unnecessary trips to the fridge.

So, considering you’re probably here because you’re currently procrastinating, I want to make it halfway worth it. (Nothing’s really worth actually writing your story, though. Hence, the halfway.)

This blog will most likely contain tips, weird stories about my writing life, writing prompts of some sort, coffee/tea recommendations, and an absurd amount of sarcastic comments. And inspiration (AKA, me e-shoving you into a Word/Scrivener document to finish the crap you started.).

So get out there (AKA, your desk) and write your dang book.

But visit again! (Actually, no. Write your book instead.)

Sarah

(Insert Sarcastic Title Here)

This post is different.

The years that have passed since I first got serious about writing have changed me dramatically. Writing has been a huge part of me. Heck, it changed me, too. I wrote five full manuscripts and several unfinished ones. In all, that’s approximately 430,000 words.

I don’t regret those 430,000 words. Sure, some of those drafts were a little cruddy (okay, more than a little), but they were real. And I worked hard on them. They’ve revealed things inside of me that I might’ve never found otherwise.

I’d planned on becoming a full time writer for years. It’s all I’d ever wanted. In fact, it felt like the only thing I could rely on.

Then I went to summer camp, where my earth was shaken. Sure, I’d been to this camp before. I’d experienced God in crazy ways at this camp. However, I’ve always tried to run from what He was telling me. A couple weeks after returning home, we had a conversation that went something like this—

Him: Yeah, you should totally stop writing novels. You’re going crazy.

Me: *pretends to not hear* *starts new novel*

Him: Stoooooooooooppppppppp.

Me: Grrrrreeeeeeeeehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh wwhhyyyyy.

Him: But I—

Me: But this is the only thing I like! What will I do with my life?

Him: But do you really like it?

Me: …

Him: Do you really think this is the only thing you can do with writing?

Me: …

Him: There are so much bigger things than being published.

 

So yes. This is it. I’m not going to write novels anymore.

Writing slowly became an obsession. Then, as my obsession progressed, I was no longer able to focus on my sole reason for existence.

I AM NOT TRYING TO TELL YOU TO STOP WRITING.

 

Writing is an incredible thing. Writing is magic. Writing is therapeutic.

I love creating things out of nothing more than prior knowledge of the universe and imagination. I even love writing about my creations. I love the title of “Writer”.

If you love writing, then keep on writing. If it works for you, then keep working.

But don’t let your creations overshadow your Creator.

A week ago, I would’ve never dreamed I’d be doing this or admitting these things. There are so much bigger things than becoming a published author. I can’t base my life on fear of financial instability. I need to base my life on the one thing I can trust.

I’ll probably keep this blog up (since people seem to like it), but I’m putting my writing to a new cause. You can find me at www.knowingthepower.com, where I’ll probably be talking more about this.

Thank you for viewing this blog. Thank you for reading my posts. (Actually no; you were supposed to be writing.) You guys have made my writing life an even more adventurous one.

But I’m ready for the next adventure—whatever that may be.

Sarah

sarahclay.work@gmail.com

www.knowingthepower.com

100 Reasons I Hate Writing

Tell me about the day your character learned to ride a bike. (Or a dragon, if you write fantasy.)

(Okay, I think we’ve established that I’m a bad blogger.)

I don’t even know why I continue to write.

Oh wait, yes I do.

Life is obnoxious and I like making beta readers squeal. (Tis a passion of mine.)

So yes. One hundred reasons I hate writing. (And for some reason, I still do it…?)

  1. Writing beginnings is like trying to drink broth with a fork.
  2. Sleeping is life but my characters are dying.
  3. Carpal tunnel.
  4. When I sit for so long that I can’t walk right.
  5. My legs aren’t long enough to reach the ground in any chair, so I’m so focused on not falling over that I can’t write. (I think that’s more of a short problem.)
  6. I require coffee to write at all.
  7. One can only drink so much coffee before one’s hands shake so badly they can’t press the keys.
  8. Or focus eyes on screen.
  9. Or sit still.
  10. Internet is fun.
  11. When writing in bed, one cannot position head in comfortable way.
  12. No time to read other books.
  13. Staring at walls instead of actually writing.
  14. Characters cannot develop quick enough.
  15. Ending had already happened in your mind, but it hasn’t been written yet.
  16. Writer’s block.
  17. Back pain.
  18. Neck strain.
  19. Multiple drafts.
  20. Coffee stains teeth. Writer needs coffee.
  21. I own more sweat pants than regular pants.
  22. It’s too hot to drink coffee in the summer, so I have to crank up the air conditioning. (Desperation)
  23. I only want to write when I’m away from my computer.
  24. Netflix has lots of thingsss.
  25. Deadlines accomplish nothing but added stress.
  26. My blinds do not block the sunshine. I must write at night.
  27. Or crammed into the tiny corner of my closet.
  28. Everyone thinks I’m antisocial.
  29. Actually, I’m asocial. Get your terms right, people.
  30. Plot holes are inevitable.
  31. Plotting is gross.
  32. My keyboards get worn out quickly. New keyboards are expensive.
  33. Consistency in my writing is not a thing.
  34. The dang red squiggly lines under my made up towns and words.
  35. Researching.
  36. Spending more time on Google Maps street view than Microsoft Word.
  37. Pinterest. Pinterest Pinterest Pinterest Pin—
  38. I cannot write with music nor can I write without it. (It’s really a problem.)
  39. Focusatwill.com makes me pay money, now.
  40. I am broke.
  41. I made the mistake of telling other people that I write books and now everyone in my school knows.
  42. And asks me about it.
  43. And asks to be in my book.
  44. And asks to read my book.
  45. And asks me to edit their essays.
  46. And do all the writing in the group project.
  47. Plot cannot be solved unless contemporary suddenly becomes sci-fi.
  48. Headaches from staring at the screen.
  49. All of my writing friends are online.
  50. People do not understand that I AM WRITING A NOVEL AND SHOULD NOT BE DISTURBED.
  51. My Google history often includes the words “profuse bleeding”, “guns”, and “brunette girl + blue eyes + freckles”.
  52. I can only write well one out of eight times.
  53. Editing.
  54. Fear of editing.
  55. The after editing stage of “Oh, this actually isn’t so bad.”
  56. BUT IT IS.
  57. Rewrites.
  58. I either have too many ideas or none at all.
  59. Social life is no longer a thing.
  60. Researching dialogue instead of actually talking to other human beings.
  61. Naming characters.
  62. Making characters.
  63. Dealing with characters.
  64. Adding character quirks.
  65. Shipping ships that can’t ship.
  66. Mid-book decisions that change everything.
  67. “Yeah, I’m going to write a book when I’m older.”
  68. “Okay. I have this idea for your book.”
  69. Losing important sticky notes.
  70. Forgetting important character/plot element until end of book.
  71. Fight scenes.
  72. Cute coffee shops are expensive.
  73. If I want to write outside, I have to wear bug spray.
  74. Losing my favorite pens.
  75. Lending favorite pens and never seeing them again.
  76. Book does not seem to fit into a genre.
  77. Book has no significant theme or life lesson.
  78. “Oh my gosh, remember me when you’re famous!”
  79. Non-writers do not understand the writing life.
  80. They think they do.
  81. Writer’s block? Eat.
  82. Staring at wall? Eat.
  83. Standing in general vicinity of fridge while on mental break? Eat.
  84. Writing going well? Eat.
  85. I will never master the art of character death.
  86. People stare when I type fast.
  87. Staring at people when they read my work in front of me.
  88. Busy weeks equal no writing.
  89. Stressing about not writing.
  90. Desk indents on wrists.
  91. Yes, I need this leather-bound notebook.
  92. And matching pen.
  93. It is expensive to print manuscripts.
  94. Querying.
  95. Realizing the book you’re querying is complete trash.
  96. When critique-ers lie.
  97. “What’s your book about?”
  98. I do not know what my book is even about.
  99. Elevator pitches.
  100. Despite everything, continuing to write.

 

*Long, exasperated sigh* I hate writing.

But I’m still going to do it.

NOW GET OUT OF HERE AND WRITE.

The Plotting Adventures of a Hardcore Pantser

Your babies are sitting around in a document all alone and possibly dying because you’re reading this post.

(*nervous laugh* Okay, okay, it’s been a while. Don’t throw rocks.)

I am a pantser.

I get a new idea and flip off of whatever chair I was probably eating cereal in to grab my laptop. And I write. Then I get stuck in an hour and I bang my head into a wall.

I have written five full length, finished manuscripts and pantsed every one of them. Why did I constantly put myself through the torture of hitting walls so quickly? Because I like the characters driving the story, I like to tell myself. And I like not knowing, in a way, how thing are going to turn out.

As you may remember (after such a long time), the last novel I wrote was exhausting when I finally made it to the macro editing stage because of the changes that occurred throughout the writing of the actual story. This happened in every single draft of every story I’ve ever written. At about the midway point of my stories, my writing style changed. I’m not sure why it happens, but it almost always does. And as my next project approached, I was struck with an idea:

Why if I get my crap together and plot?

Having previously failed at plotting, I researched new ways to do so. Outlining doesn’t work for me. The Three Act Structure isn’t good for me. Then I discovered the Snowflake Method.

I went about the method somewhat optimistically (“You? Optimistic?” I know), and it ended up being spectacular. For the first time ever, I knew what I was going to do with my story.

Then I hit step six. In step six of the Snowflake Method, you’re supposed to expand your story into a five-page synopsis. I absolutely could no do this. From this point on, it felt repetitive and unnecessary. But I had what I needed: an image of the basic flow and events of the story. So I moved on to something else: index cards. Oh, glorious index cards.

I debated on whether or not to use sticky notes (because I love them so very much), but…handwriting. I need the lines on the index cards. I sat and meticulously wrote out all of the scenes I could think of and the transitions between. Then I pinned them all up on a cork board.

AND GUESS WHAT.

IT. MAKES. SENSE.

By planning out the characters’ changing emotions as the story goes on, I can write out of order and do whatever the heck I want. And it is lovely.

I’ve had approximately seven cups of coffee in the last twenty-four hours. And it is lovely.

I must go now, mostly because my cat thinks that “kitten” is synonymous with “piranha” and I need a Band-Aid.

SO GO WRITE YOURSELF A NOVEL WITH BEAUTIFUL AND/OR DEAD/DYING CHARACTERS WITH EMOTIONAL SCARS AND FEELS.

Sarah

My Novel, The Dementor

Once upon a time, you started a novel. Once upon a NOW you wrote said novel.

(Okay, okay, okay–*catches rock aimed at face*–it’s been 5 billion weeks. Sorr–quit it! *dodges small truck* You know what? Not even sorry. You should be writing, anyway.)

I’ve been writing the same novel for four years. I went through five drafts of my beloved, adorable, cuddly, happy, usually dying charries. And I loved that book; I still do. But I made a decision to stop writing it a week ago.

Why? Because it sucked the happiness out of me.

And even now, a week after quitting, it’s still attacking me. It has so, so much potential. But despite everything, I’m stopping. I’d much rather be happy than published.

It made me unbearably unhappy for a number of reasons, which I will not disclose, and having distance from it is so alleviating that I’m not really sure why I didn’t drop it sooner.

Now, writer who should be writing, I want you to sit back and think about your thoughts concerning your current WIP (the glistening baby child on your laptop). Does it make you ache over your past failures? Does it make you want to rip your hair out? Does it cause more emotional damage than good? If so, then do yourself a favor and quit.

If the fight isn’t worth it, then stop writing and dive into a kiddie pool of melted chocolate. Paint your walls yellow. Take a trip to Barnes & Nobles. Go to a secluded island off the coast of Canada and sing Queen at the top of your lungs. For a couple days or weeks, separate yourself from the novel. Then make your decision: Do you want to go back to it, or leave it behind?

If it makes you unhappy beyond comprehension and haunts your harmless thoughts, then please leave it behind. Take a couple weeks of break from writing, and then, if you want, come back with a new story. (And go to Staples for new cute notebooks and pens, because I’m pretty sure you can’t start a new WIP without a new set of cutesy notebooks and pens.) But make sure it’s a story that makes you happy.

There is a level of annoyance that yopur novel brings you, which is normal. But you cannot allow your novel control your happiness.

There are a billion other ways to order the twenty-six letter of the alphabet. Find one that makes you happy.

What am I writing now? Something awesome. Something cute. Something slightly terrifying with lots of murder.

And I’m finally excited to write again. I get to torture new innocent charries *cackles*. I get to stare at walls with different questions. I get to freak out in front of my family with new ideas. I get to buy overly expensive coffee for new babies. I get to research drowning and stab wounds instead of gun shot wounds. I have an excuse to go to Staples and spend every dime I own.

Ah, the writer life.

Oh–and I’m *ahem* plotting. *car brakes screech* …Yeah.

Now go write me a novel, for the writing fairies frown upon your procrastination. And buy me chocolate.

Sarah

The GTW Twitter Frenzy

YOU can be unproductive, but so can a sack of potatoes.

DON’T BE A SACK OF POTATOES AND LEAVE RIGHT NOW.

Last night was the most unproductive night of my life.

I was about to start writing, but I thought, “Oh, let’s check the Go Teen Writers FB group! What a GRAND idea.” And I saw a post about starting a viral hashtag.

Six hours later, I was still tweeting. And favoriting. And retweeting.

I’ve written 85 tweets in the last twelve hours.

If you were on Twitter last night, you probably saw the #BeingAWriterIsLike floating around like a glorious disease. Here are some honorable mentions:

@brianawrites: #BeingAWriterIsLike All the fun of killing people, minus the jail time.

@NCWolfpuck: #BeingAWriterIsLike Why can’t my characters have the same sleep schedule as I do?

@sarah_ulery: #BeingAWriterIsLike researching TRAINS for the past twenty minutes. TRAINS. I didn’t think I signed up for this.

@carmelelizabeth: #BeingAWriterIsLike “So what is your book about?” *cricket chirps* *vase falls* *building explodes*

@scatteredwhims: #BeingAWriterIsLike Tweeting with countless other writers about writing instead of writing.

@bethyhope96: #BeingAWriterIsLike Creating higher expectations for your future significant other thanks to fictional characters. #comeonboys

@bethyhope96: #BeingAWriterIsLike…Having your browser look like a serial killer’s search engine. #Forresearch

@Naomihdowning: #BeingAWriterIsLike spending so much time on Google trying to find the answer to a question, you forget the question.

@theAimeeMeester: #BeingAWriterIsLike Slamming your head repeatedly against a brick wall because SURELY SOMETHING IS IN THERE.

So yes, a glorious night, indeed. Fellow Tweet warriors, I applaud thee for thy valiance. If you’re interested in procrastinating further, I recommend checking some more out.

AND KEEP THE HASHTAG GOING.

But otherwise, WRITE BECAUSE TWITTER IS THE KILLER OF ALL PRODUCTIVITY.

Sarah

@sarah_whw

When Your Head Explodes

You write because you’re a writer. SO WRITE.

(Okay, even longer post gap, but my life is crazy.)

So I organized my rabbits.

And wrote two essays.

And exquisitely grafted a trifold.

And got a new desk.

And Rosetta Stone.

(But my toes don’t even reach the ground anymore at my desk.)

And grades are due.

Stress?

th47KOND92

And PAPER TOWNS TRAILER AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHRGRJKHSDKJLFDHALHDZKJFGHGKJHSFKJG.

So yeah, post gap.

But anyway, time management. Yay. Struggling to fit writing/editing into your nasty schedule without collapsing every five minutes into a stress-induced anxiety attack.

It’s almost impossible to sneak even a hundred words in because you can’t “get in the zone.”

So here’s a solution: don’t.

If your head is about to explode, you need to take a break from writing. I hate to say it.

But this does not mean you can stop writing for good. When things calm down, you WILL keep going.

You started for a reason, so don’t quit.

But you’re allowed a break.

Panic attacks are not worth it.

So get your work done. And then get back to your charries.

(But if you are not taking a break, SHAME SHAME SHAME for coming here and wasting your time not writing.)

Sarah

The Cursed Cream

Make yourself a cup of coffee/tea and get writing because YOU ARE AMAZING AND YOU CAN DO IT.

(By the way, sorry about the post gap but I got sidetracked drawing an 18×24 of a wrinkly person this week.)

The middle.

Oh, the painful, crappy, obnoxious middle of a story.

It’s so important.

It’s SOO boring. To write, at least. This is the part where I want to stop writing the most.

So whhhhhhhhhhyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy do I have to do it? Gaaahhhh.

Here’s an image: Writer gets fabulous idea. Writer avoids stroke and grabs pen and paper. Writer babbles on an on about his/her wonderful new charries. Writer types the beginning so fast he/she gets carpal tunnel within the first hour. Writer finishes beginning. Writer draws a blank 5k into the middle. Writer bangs head against wall repeatedly and trashes document.

You might know the feeling.

There are obvious reason why you should keep going and why it’s important, but hearing those thing will only stress you out, so I’m going to trust you already know.

Here are some motivators:

1.) Eventually, you’re going to get past the middle. And you’re going to click the last ley of your story and scream and burn your papers and smile smile smile because you did it. But that won’t happen if you don’t push on.

2.) If you don’t keep going, your characters are going to be annoying, whiny babies in your head. Well, at least mine would.

3.) It’s okay if it’s junk. Fix it later. Just get it done.

4.) An Oreo without cream is just two crumbly chocolate crackers. A lot of people enjoy the cream the most.

5.) No one else can write it for you.

6.) Walls can be broken. Don’t throw away hard work and talent because you hit a wall. A wall didn’t stop Gaston from stabbing his lady’s (he wishes) true love. So grab some pitchforks and fire and tree trunks and GET IN THE DANG CASTLE!

I’ve nearly quit being a writer all together in the middle of every single book I’ve written. But somehow, I’m still here. And heck, if I can do it, you can do it, considering my motivation only includes sitting around watching Supernatural and eating eggs.

Open up your document and get some momentum going.

BECAUSE THE CREAM OF THE OREO IS LITERALLY THE BEST PART.

Sarah

The Writer: A Nature Documentary (Part I)

You’re a writer. So write, you lazy. *Military voice* NOW DROP AND GIVE ME AT LEAST 600, PANSIES.

*clears voice* *nature documentary voice* Here, we have The Writer: a strange little creature.

[Camera pans to a hunched over person at a desk, the room only lit by the light of a laptop.] The Writer gets most of his/her work done at night, but is forced to function in the daytime as well. Therefore, The Writer is neither nocturnal nor diurnal, but lurking painfully in between.

[The gurgle of a coffee maker dramatically fills the speakers, and a close up of dark roast dripping to a pot slowly comes into view.] These long periods of consciousness are usually fueled by boundless cups of coffee and random food. In fact, The Writer’s electric bill tends to go up because they’re usually either making coffee or standing with the fridge open. The second breed of Writer, the tea-drinkers, spends the majority of their time microwaving water and procrastinating on throwing away the used tea bags. [Person pressing their face against the microwave in complete darkness.] Many Writers are victims to caffeinism. [Shot of Writer spinning around in circles in front of the computer screen.] This is a serious addiction that comes into full swing around 3 in the morning.

[The Writer clacking on a keyboard.] The Writer seldom comes out of its home or coffee shop to converse with real-life people. They prefer to speculate over the lives of various fictional characters or ask for writing advice over the web. [Zoom in on a Writer’s face frozen in horror as another human asks it a question.] Here, we have a Writer who has been confronted by the regular humans. The human asks The Writer if he can read its book. Let’s watch its reaction. [Writer jumps on a table an hisses.] This Writer, like many others, takes on a defensive stance to this question. [Writer promptly returns home where it curls under the blankets.]

Writers do not specifically enjoy meeting people, but when they meet one of their own–[Two Writers high-five and dance around the circumference of the earth.]–the results are almost as spontaneous as ending a work in progress.

*Theme music fades into frame* Tune in next week for the next installment of “The Writer”. All your questions will be answered–what do they really do in their free time? What is the Myers-Briggs Personality Test? Why do semicolon and comma misusage upset them so?

[“TO BE CONTINUED” flashes across a black screen.]

That was literally a waste of time. LEAVE.

Sarah

You Are the Mechanic

If your character was to die at this exact moment in your book, what is the most logical cause of his/her death?

Then go do your most favorite thing. (I’m not talking about eating, Netflix, or staring at the ceiling.)

Okay, so I’m a hypocrite, but Supernatural is painful and aahhh.

So I’m literally one chapter into editing and I’m like:

imagesCFS8TSYC

I’ve ripped apart the entire first chapter and kept, like, six words.

But it’s all great, because its 1000x better than it was before, and I can already tell my characters are less stupid, the emotion is killer (Oh man, that was a terrible joke for the chapter in question…), my plot is more balanced, and my metaphors don’t talk about “mental winter times” and weird stuff like that.

So this is a little post for those of you in the painful, exciting, heart-breaking, alleviating editing phase. Keep on going, because that finished product is going to gleam. AND IMAGINE YOUR BABY IN BOOKSTORES. That shiny new cover, crisp pages. And it’ll have the book smell in stead of laptop screen smell! Geez Louise, that should be motivation enough.

BUT YOU, YOU LAZY WRITER, ARE THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN FIX IT.

No matter how bad it hurts, you’re never going to regret fixing your book. Like me, it may take five drafts, but that day when you click the last key of the final, polished draft will be a great day indeed (with lots of confetti and socially unacceptable dancing and singing and sleep. Lots of sleep.)

YOU CAN DO IT. But not if you don’t get to it.

Sarah

Change Your Brain

Write a 200-word story in a universe without any dimension of time. Then go and hash out your novel because YOU CAN AND WILL DO IT.

But really, go away.

What did I tell you?

Sorry for the gap in posts, but the American education system’s got me overloaded with work, and my characters are writhing in pain because their story is so awful and I HAVE TO FIX IT BECAUSE I LOVE THEM and…yeah.

So the editing versus writing process.

I have a system for productivity in writing my book, and a system for ripping it apart and gluing it back together. You should develop your own according to whatever works for you, but I find that this is the best way for me.

The two systems should be completely different. Opposite, if you can manage it. In doing this, your brain changes it gears in between writing and editing. You switch from loving your book and feeling for it to being ruthless and picking out the nitty-gritty details that need to go (even if you love them).

Writing: I listen to soft music (indie folk, usually). Editing: Rock. Classic, alternative, and heavy metal.

I listen to softie stuff while writing to get out emotions in writing. I edit with rock so I can be like, “Woo, editing! I am /horrible/ and /awesome/ and I’m going to make this /awesome/. Did you hear me, Queen? Fall Out Boy? Skillet? I am a /writer/.” But yeah, that’s just me.

Writing: Deadlines and priorities. Editing: Whenever I can.

I write as a priority to ensure I get it done. When I edit, I’m very relaxed because it makes me want to actually edit. Plus, it allows me to slow down and see more things that need to be fixed.

Writing: General ideas. Editing: Mostly concrete ideas.

I’m naturally a pantser. I’ve tried my hand at outlining, and it never works out. This makes my plotline inconsistent and weirdly broken up, but editing makes up for it. When I’m editing, I know what the story is, and I know more or less exactly what I want it to be as a finished product. This is why I write down the exact sequence of events in my first draft as I’m writing the story. I can go from there.

Writing: Coffee. Editing: Tea (Okay, just kidding. Coffee.)

*Sighs* Coffee. I mean, I drink tea a little more when I’m editing, but coffee, coffee, coffee. Coffeee. (I have a problem.)

So there’s my process. I’m a weird kind of thinker, so these may or may not work for you. Changing the way you see your (most likely) sucky first draft will make all the difference.

But you can’t edit a blank page. So GOOOOO write.

Sarah