Do You Have The First Draft Blues?

It’s a phenomenon that occurs more often than not with many writers out there.  Sometimes, it sprouts up during the first few pages, chapters, or even near the end of the material that they’ve been pouring their hearts into.  They want to go back and perfect what they have already written, rewrite that opening scene and reimagine their main characters before they have even finished the material.

This is what I call the First Draft Blues.

It isn’t fun, by any means, and it certainly makes your book/story take an eternity to complete.  Here are some simple guidelines to help pull you out of that funk, and like dropping a pebble in a pond, help you to develop the ability to keep moving, one word after another.

Don’t Agonize Over Getting It Right The First Time!

Every writer out there has to edit or revise their work, and nothing comes out perfectly the first time through.  A general rule of thumb is that when you’ve poured your heart out into that first draft and completed it, set it aside for a couple of weeks.  Come back after the allotted period of time and re-examine the material.  This will give you the opportunity to look at your creation with fresh eyes.

Have Fun With It

Writing is a very personal experience.  The first draft is no exception, but that doesn’t meant that you should think of it as a chore.  You will dread sitting down to it everyday , and that will reflect in your piece.  Instead, allow yourself free reign, let loose, and don’t give two thoughts about what anyone else will think of your little masterpiece during the first draft stages.  What’s the most important is that you write it out, get the idea out there and completed, and have fun doing so.

Be At Peace

Atmosphere is everything to some writers.  When you are at peace, you are open to creative energy.  Creative blocks are enough to make you anxious and in an all around bad mood, but loud and busy surroundings can take that single block and build a house with it.  Set your area up for success, perhaps with music.  Remember that writing is a solitary practice.  When you are beginning to feel at peace, or in the zone, you will begin to relax and the words will spill over the pages before you know it.

How Do You Measure Success As A Writer?

   What makes a successful writer?  One person stated on Twitter that a writer is successful when he emerges onto the best sellers list.  To me, this didn’t quite settle.  As a matter of fact, it festered.  There are so many talented writers that I have read or met that are not on any such list.  Their respected works are nothing short of genius, but perhaps they were not really the most common trending thing at the time.  That doesn’t make them any less successful in my opinion. Am I crazy?  Writers, to me, are storytellers.  They weave magic with words.  Some can make us laugh. Others can make us cry, and some can even make us afraid to turn out the lights at night.  These things are measures of success.  The writing process is a huge undertaking as well.  For many, simply being able to finish the story is, of itself, something to be very proud of.  By the time it reaches the reader, after numerous edits and sleepless nights, if they were able to capture a moment or stir an emotion then an immense accomplishment has been made. There are millions of storytellers out there, and many more that don’t carry the name of King or Rowling.  In my response to the tweet, I stated that: “If a writer finishes a tale, then he has already succeeded. Money is not always a #writers measure of success.” Image

Atmosphere

Whenever I write, there generally has to be a specific mood and atmosphere that I have to settle into.  As a parent, that comes with a bit more difficulty.  It amazes me how set in our ways we can become sometimes, and it was pretty apparent when my six year old daughter decided that she wanted my attention for the entire day…again. 

I realized that she didn’t actually want me to play with her, but that she just wanted to be around me.  So, I let her play in my office.  It wasn’t difficult to get into the swing of things when I decided to be brave enough to write with all of her distractions.  The thing is, however, is that I wasn’t distracted at all.  As a matter of fact, I spat out two thousand words while she carefully arranged a puzzle into something resembling an elephant near my chair.  It was something that I had to think about.  Is all of the preparation, mood, atmosphere, etc. just a myth?  Is it a crutch or an excuse?  Is any of it necessary at all?  

I wonder.

Back To It

It was a long weekend, and a struggle to get back on track.  Today, I plan on following a criminal character that the FBI has been observing.  He’s a smart guy, with OCD quirks that somehow lend to his likable nature.  It’s good that the people who have read the story enjoy this character, and I have a particular fondness for him myself because he’s technically a “bad guy” but yet there is a sympathetic quality to him.  My goal is to have him as a man who exists in that gray area.  Those type of characters have always fascinated me.

In other news, I hooked up a portable 500 gigabyte hard drive to my mac to back up all of my files.  Sure, Drop box is great, but I need my work in more than one place.  It’s sort of like a security blanket that will help me sleep at night.

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping Busy

There has been quite a bit going on lately that has kept me from writing.  These things are commonly referred to as “excuses” and trust me, I have plenty.  Michelle is eight months pregnant, so things have been a bit crazy around the house.  Also, summer courses are proving to be rather hectic, even if they are quite interesting.  The thing that amazes me the most is how sometimes life simply gets in the way of things.  I am certain that this is something that plagues every other writer out there, and even if it doesn’t, what do I care?  I am not every other writer. 

In a span of just under a month, I spilled out close to twelve thousand words.  That put my new novel at over twenty thousand words so far.  The reaction from various people, and yes even the occasional stranger, has not only been positive, but surprising. 

I plan on diving back into the book tonight, for the first time in about two weeks.  In those two weeks, I wasn’t just sitting on my hands watching the clock.  During my designated “creative thinking” time (that’s the term that I use because sometimes I write and sometimes I do not, but what’s important is that I do SOMETHING during the allotted time) I have made plenty of notes and even created synopsis’s for the coming chapters using the all powerful and knowing software – Scrivener.  

Well, I suppose that I should get to it then.

Time Travelling

We are governed by the apparatus of the tyranny of time.  Clocks, schedules, and deadlines rule every year of our lives.  These things dictate our actions, but how accurate are they?  Take birthdays for instance.  Theoretically, wouldn’t any day do?  Why celebrate your birthday on that particular day?  It isn’t the actual day that you were born.  It is the date in which you were born on a calendar.  So, we have acquired a notion that the same day keeps coming back around.

If the past becomes present because of this cycle, then wouldn’t that be some form of time-travel?  As an author of science fiction, I tend to ramble.  For that, I apologize, but sometimes it’s the simplest things that get me started creatively for the day.  One such thing, or “apparatus” would be the infamous alarm clock that set these thoughts into motion.

Somebody once told me that he wishes he could travel back in time and murder the man that invented such a cruel machine as the alarm clock.  Couldn’t the same hateful wishes be said for calendars, or planners?  Our lives function off of these things.  Indeed, they keep us on track.  Sometimes, however, it’s good to forget them altogether.  Only then can you truly relish a day (not a date) that is literally new.

-Top Five Despised Novels-

Okay, so I know that you guys have read books that proved to be disappointing.  I’m going to share with you my top five that were not only terrible but most of which are immense commercial successes.  Beware of spoilers below!

What are your top five?

5.  Under the Dome Written by the infamous Stephen King, I admit that the science fiction element he implemented into this book is what drew me in, and no, I disregarded the relations to the Simpson’s Movie.  The characters were a bit bland, and just when you thought you were gaining an attatchment to a particular one or two, Mr. King would kill that person off. One of the main characters, a reporter, started out strong, but much like the story line, she wound up going nowhere.  To read a mammoth sized story that was over a thousand pages, I expected a stronger ending than simply asking for the Dome to be lifted.  Why didn’t they try that to begin with when they first encountered the box????

4.   The Outer Fleet Written by M. Matzkin is a novel fresh off of the heels of Star Wars that lacked any amount of driving force and dramatic affects of said film.  The story reads like a Scholastic book, but was clearly targeted at adults.  It was cheesy, riddled with misspellings, and ultimately failed beyond comprehension by the climax.  This book, thankfully, happens to be out of print now.

3.    300 Written by Frank Miller.  Although the artwork greatly surpasses that of the feature film, and being carried by a very strong idea, the story simply disappoints.

2.  Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone by J.K. Rowling.  Wow.  The writing is horrible, the characters are about as mundane as watching grass grow, and it was of course a huge commercial success.  Luckily, I read it before the entire world started dressing like dorky wizards and puking quotes from this miserable mass of garbage.

1.   Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.  The constant, strangely erotic descriptions of how beautiful the glittery little vampire teen is… well, kinda gross.  This book, it’s story, and the way in which it is told, leads to this one conclusion.  FAIL.  Although, it doesn’t really fail, does it?  While novels that are actually well written works of art get trampled by the success of Twilight, it makes me wonder if the reader is simply less intelligent, which would of course result in a severe drought of great novels because, at some point, even great authors would turn towards the almighty dollar by producing mass quantities of purely torturous, poorly written, mind-numbing rubbish.

Novel Writing Made Easy

JesseJamesAvatar-1As an author, I admittedly started off with a typewriter.  I hated the damned thing, too.  Then I moved on to the PC.  It was very nice, and quite an upgrade from the frustrating machine before it.  Then, I made my favorite purchase: A new laptop.  It’s fully equiped with Microsoft Office 2007 as well as a nifty little program called One Note.  One note is great for storing little notes and things of that nature.

However, I recently came across a program, which I purchased by the way, called MyNovel.  It is far superior to Office and One note as far as writers are concerned, because of the simple fact that everything you need and would want when writing your novel is right there in front of your face.

Sure, when you first open the program it looks kinda like Office.  Don’t be deceived, however.  One of the most fascinating aspects of this software is the ability to make a story template, change the details of your novel, add diagrams, events, characters, places, objects and even check progress/completion like the little tracker thing on my site.  You can find inspiration for characters and places, change the color scheme, view a list of publishers and agents (in the UK mind you), and best of all… you never have to stare at a blank page.  It keeps track of all of your characters to the left of the screen with detailed descriptions of them, and clicking another tab will do the same for individual chapters with ease of access.

Mynovel has a very easy to use interface, and you will find yourself planning and mapping out your book with diagrams that will make you look at every aspect of your novel in more detail.  You guys should check it out!  There’s a free demo of it at www.mynovel.biz

MyNovelMenu4 - Workspace4 - Workspace

I know I sound like some lame advertiser Merilee, but I find that the software is very useful for novelists.  I apologize to you guys for not being around in a while, but now that things are wrapping up in my new book I am going to attempt to make at least two posts here a week.

Milton Be Damned

JesseJamesAvatar-1So, I had an incredibly vivid nightmare, one that only a fever could produce.  Some people say that it’s simply your subconscious attempting to speak to you, or a reflection of emotions surfacing.  Well, I’m not one to serve in Heaven or rule the depths of Hell, Milton be damned.

Sigmund Freud and William James would undoubtedly debate with me concerning the importance of the unconscious mind in understanding conscious thought and behavior.  Dreams, at least for me, are reflections of imagination.  Creativity is a powerful thing.  Everything mankind has built in life is a reflection of his imagination.  The Empire State Building was first conceived before it was physically built, just as my novel is already written in my mind, and I have only to dictate it onto paper.  However, if a horrific murder occurs in one of my dreams, that does not tell me that I have murderous tendencies or even thoughts concerning such.