Tag Archives: blogging

How To Tell If You Are a Writer

25 Jan

You read this blog and other musings that are similar, knowing these experiences and reflections to be true and that they are shared by the majority of writers. You are painfully aware that the world, time, your family, your job, school, the dishes, the laundry, the dog, and everything else in your life should take priority in your life, but you cannot deny the itch to write. You know that writing will more than likely fail to feed your family, pay the bills, and put your kids through college. But you do it anyway. Despite everything, you still write. There is no doubt about it. YOU are a Writer.

C. L. Parson

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Killing My Darlings Part Deux

11 Jan

Time for a mini rant, y’all.

I don’t mind taking an editing machete to my zombie pages. No problem whatsoever. But those suckers won’t stay dead! I have a few pages that are shambling along slower than a brain biter with broken ankles. Every time I go for a head shot and try to kill the pages, they get right back up again.

So what’s the deal? I think the pages are feeding off my fear that killing the pages will hurt the timeline of my novel. My fear is keeping these damn pages alive. No matter what I do, I can’t figure out a way to cut the pages and make it work.

There is only one solution. Completely rewriting that whole section of the book and altering the timeline. *Slams head on desk*

Why does revising have to be so painful? I have no problem cutting pages, but when it means completely revamping my timeline, scheme, and maybe even my character development, it causes me serious anxiety problems. Not because I am so devoted to the original work as it stands. That isn’t it at all. It is because I am lazy and a total face lift of that part of my novel feels like so much work.

Yet it must be done. Crap.

C. L. Parson

EDITING

I fucking love editing!

 

Using Podcasts for Inspiration

12 Oct

I am a podcast fiend. They help me get through the monotony that is my day job. But they have started to serve a much more important purpose other than just a mental escape to help me keep my sanity. To my surprise, podcasts have become wonderful inspirational tools for my writing.

First, I started to just browse around for podcasts that interested me. I am a huge fan of “We’re Alive”, a radio drama podcast about survivors of the “zombie” apocalypse. As I waited for new episodes of “We’re Alive”, I explored the realm of podcasts a little deeper. I am big into paranormal experiences, legends, etc, so I found a few podcasts about those subjects. These podcasts were like a match to a keg of gun powder. My mind exploded with ideas for my next novel. Though the podcasts don’t include all of the information I will need for the new plot lines, they provided a great springboard from where I can start my real research.

Podcasts are also useful in other ways. There are podcasts for everything. There are even podcasts about podcasts (shout out to “We’re Not Dead”). Even the most off the wall podcast has plenty to offer. There are some podcasts whose hosts make me cringe with embarrassment for them. They are obviously not cut out for radio. But that doesn’t mean they are boring. Far from it. The less polished the podcaster, the more I am able to “see” the personality of that person as they really are. I am talking about characters, people. I note their speaking patterns, the phrases they use over and over again but always in the wrong context, whether or not they have a slight wheeze to their voice, etc.

These subtle character traits help me develop dialogue that feels more true to life. Think of it as people-watching, only you don’t get those ugly glares back from the strangers you are staring at. And you wouldn’t believe what kind of personal information a perfect stranger will tell a microphone for millions to hear yet won’t tell a curious writer on the street.

I’m telling you, podcasts are a never-ending goldmine of plot and character ideas. Give it a shot and see for yourself. No need to thank me.

C. L. Parson

Numbers Game

2 Oct

This post goes hand in hand with my post “Making Time”. Once I made the time for my writing, an amazing thing happened. My writing actually got somewhere. Color me surprised. And I actually was!

For each hour I wrote, my word count went up. A word count goal to a writer is like heroine to a junkie. Picture me, disheveled, sitting in my car and eagerly scratching at a note pad. Every five minutes, I pick up the note pad and begin to count the words I wrote. Shy of my goal, I grab my pen and feverishly scratch at the pad once more. Finally, I reach my goal. I throw my arms in the air, “Success!” I am sated until the next day when my fix is due.

Word count goals can also be my downfall. If I set them too high, I am doomed to fail every time. I have to be realistic. It is much more satisfying to set a modest goal and succeed than to set a ridiculous goal and fail.

Another risk I face is the temptation to stop and count my words every other minute. This can halt any real progress I am making, and my poor muse ends up with a serious case of whiplash. Instead, I try to guesstimate as I write. I know I write somewhere around 250-300 words per page. It is a lot easier to keep a page count straight in my head without having to stop writing. At the end of my session, I know about how much I wrote.

That doesn’t mean I don’t count each word after my session. Hell yeah, I do! But, at least I have the willpower and the grits to wait until my writing session is finished to count. Most of the time, I find myself within 20-50 words of the figure I ball-parked.

But the ultimate ecstasy is reserved for when I add a day’s word count to the word count total for my novel. At that point, angels sing from the heavens, the lion lays down with the lamb, and everything is right with the world. I go about my day, a stupid grin on my face. If I glowed any more, I would be radioactive. I may get strange looks from passersby, but it doesn’t matter. On these days, I’m the victor fit to wear the title “Writer”.

This is what I look like when I meet my word count goal.

Making Time

26 Sep

I was out to dinner with my mentor and we were both complaining about not having the time to write. We asked ourselves the reason for putting our art on the back burner. We came up with a spectrum of reasons from guilt to America’s puritan heritage. Would it be considered selfish to spend my time writing a fictional novel that has not made me one red cent or washed one dirty dish instead of doing something else that others may deem “more productive”? How could I battle my guilt and self-loathing for locking myself in a room with my computer when I could be spending more time with my family?

For me, it was about making the time for my writing when and where I could avoid the guilt and distraction. After looking at how I spent my time during the day, I decided that my lunch break would be perfect. It would give me an hour where I’m away from everyone and everything and I could just write.

Easier said than done. There are days where I am lazy, and I rather spend my mid-day break watching stupid YouTube videos than write. To be honest, there have been times where I skipped my hour-long writing session. However, these days are few and far between.

It is much easier to write once you have the momentum going. It is like brushing your teeth or your daily BM. Your mind knows what is coming next, so it transitions into writing mode much faster and easier than it would if you hadn’t been writing everyday.

Once I made the time for my writing, I was able to finally finish my book. Maybe it will work for you too.

 

C. L. Parson

Killing My Darlings and Disposing of the Bodies

20 Sep

Yesterday, I did some hardcore rewriting. It left me drained and oddly excited. Below are all the grisly details. Viewer discretion is advised.

Let’s start with the murders, shall we?

And by murder, I am talking about the twenty pages I completely trashed. I debated with myself about throwing away so much work, but in the end, the murdering of those pages helped make a stronger manuscript.

What about the bodies?

The twenty pages included some important information I still needed in order make my novel work. I shifted through all of the shit to find the bare essentials. I wrote them down on note cards to remind myself that these “bodies” needed to be relocated. Then on the back of the cards, I jotted down some ideas about where the “bodies” can go in the novel without it feeling like an info overload while still contributing to the natural flow of the dialogue. Below is one example.

The front of the card AKA the corpse

Back of the card

Seeing RED

After I had a few ideas about where to dispose of the bodies, I began to rewrite the manuscript. It began innocently enough. I told myself I was just going to read through it and make a few notes if I didn’t like something. I ended up doing more slashing than Freddy Krueger at a sleep study clinic. Below is a picture of the carnage. Oh, the humanity!

Avert your eyes!

In the words of Catherine Scully, a friend of mine, “that, my friend, is a lot of red ink.” (You can find Mrs. Scully on twitter @CatMScully. She also has an awesome blog: cscullywriter.wordpress.com.)

Instead of cowering in fear, I find myself rubbing my hands together, sharpening my knives (red pen) for round two. Muahahahaha! Manuscripts beware. There is a killer on the loose.

C. L. Parson

No Time for Reading? Try Listening.

18 Sep

Stephen King once gave this advice to budding writers,

“Read a lot and write a lot.”

I know I am not the only one who thought, “Yeah right, easier said than done.” We all have other things that require our attention and may be considered to be of higher priority than reading. For example, I have to stay on top of the dirty dishes in the sink, or they will just keep multiplying like a bunch of frisky rabbits. And of course, there are the day jobs most of us must trudge to everyday.

What is a writer to do? We know we need to read to help improve our writing, but when?

How does, “Whenever you want,” sound?

I am one busy bee. I am always being pulled this or that direction. You know what I always have on me? My phone and my iPod. When I’m at work, I search through the podcasts to find public domain books that others have read aloud and uploaded. Librivox (librivox.org) is a great resource for this. I am currently listening to Charles Dickens. I have also listened to the works of Thomas Hardy and Charlotte Bronte this way. It is a win-win for me. I am a writer, and an English major. So many of the assigned works I have to read for class are public domain, allowing me to download them for free in most cases.

Libraries are often times overlooked when it comes to audiobooks. My local library allows me to “check out” audiobooks online. I recently listened to Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 for free via an MP3 download from my library’s website. Do you know the best part? No late fees! I am pretty sure I paid for at least one librarian’s yearly salary with my late fees before discovering the internet downloads page on their website.

So break out those earbuds and give listening a try. But I’ll warn you, it is addictive.

C. L. Parson

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