Tag Archives: editing

Balancing Act: Wire Walking for Writers

I am, by far, not the most coordinated gal. I have a tendency to take on too much, get overwhelmed, and find it impossible to accomplish anything. Back in May, I tried the “sticker thing,” where you assign a task/goal to a sticker and then you get a sticker for doing it. Easy, right?

I promised myself a red star for every thousand words written, a orange star for 500, and a yellow start for going to the gym.

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11.5k in two weeks isn’t half bad. Over all, I wrote over 20k, which isn’t NaNoWriMo level word counts, but I was impressed with myself. There’s even a 2k day on there! I advanced the WIP from 15k to 40K. I wish I still had a photo of the completed month, but alas, it is gone.

Sadly, June went up in smoke. I didn’t follow the star pattern, even though I really enjoyed doing it and I liked how glittery my day planner was. The WIP hit a wall and I couldn’t see my way around, through, or over it. If you read my Whatcha Reading post, you know my creative well ran dry and I was effectively beached. In fact, in a moment of self-doubt, I quit. Forever lasted about six days this times, but I was spent.

I bought a new planner, and I swore up and down that I’d try again. And would you look a that:

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So sparkly.

If you can’t read the guide, the red stars are 500 words, the yellow are gym days, and the orange is two chapters edited. Part of my learning to balance is making time to write AND revise. If I hit 500 words, I’d switch and edit. Two chapters down, and (if time) I’d go back to writing.

As you can see, I work a varied schedule at The Day Job, running anywhere from 6am to 11pm. Some days, it’s difficult to find time, and clearly, I didn’t write every day. I feel like “not finding time” is a poor excuse, but remember what I said about being overwhelmed? It doesn’t help when your Day Job involves dealing with the public. I find people draining, especially when my work week is 4+ days long. I can’t always find time in between to recharge, and that effects everything else.

In the interim, I’ve been dealing with my autoimmune disorder and an unfortunate allergic reaction to one of the medications. Being itchy for three weeks was not really what I wanted. Being sick is also very tiring, and I often feel limited when my symptoms flare. I want to use that “sick time” to write, catch up on blog posts, but 9 times out of 10, it’s me watching YouTube tutorials and contemplating peeling my skin off with a potato slicer.

In assigning “tasks” to stars, I felt more in control of what I could manage and when, and damn is it nice to see what I’ve accomplished. Writing is kinda of like exercise in that you don’t necessarily see your progress because you’re staring at yourself the whole time. The stars let me step back and gain a different view.

They also told me I need to hit the gym more.

I wrote 13.5k this month, with a 2.5k day in which I finished the draft. It’s now tucked away, resting. In a little less than two weeks, I did the first revision pass on my YA. While that, too, gains some space, I’m picking at a new idea, code name: Black Magic Book, and going back for another round of revision on my adult novel.

I feel balanced, which is something I haven’t felt since I started multiple projects. Learning to write and edit is step one. I’m not particularly fast regarding either task, and that’s perfectly fine. At the moment, I have to space and time to work at my own pace. No deadlines (unless it’s a review or something for one of the two sites I freelance for), no pressure except that I place on myself.

The big lesson is that I really do need to be nicer to me. Take myself out for a chai and relax and pick away at a new book or an old chapter. Don’t berate myself for being run down, but replenish my energy.

Finally watch Deadpool five months later.

Hopefully, I stay on the high-wire. My goal is to get ahead with a couple of blog posts, some LONG over due, prepare to take the YA out for querying (which I’d intended to start in May and the LIFE happened), and maybe even rack up a couple of scripts for my poorly treated podcast. Research is another thing I need to make time for.

My tendency to jump into things isn’t always rewarded.

And with this, that’s one blue star for me, and we sally forth into August.

…How the hell is it August?

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Adventures in Editing

I am crap at editing my own work. Part of it is a lack of distance; I don’t give myself (or have) a lot of time to let drafts rest between completion and the revision phase. Distance is important. The story is so wound up in your head, it’s almost impossible to look at it objectively. I’m terrified of the editing phase because without fail, I will miss something. Human error, right?

Cat had some great suggestions last time we talked shop:

  • Change the font.
  • Change the color.

Both suggestions disrupt the visual of Times New Roman dragging down 500+ pages of document. Spelling errors or missing words stand out more.

Of course, there’s always the standard Read it Out Loud. Nothing quite nails those awkward phrases like a full-blown one-woman (or man) show. My problem is a lack of alone time in which is enact this rendition of THE KILLING TYPE–LIVE! and the fact that my brain tends to override any missing words or errors by filling in the correct words.

Not exactly helpful, brain.

Then I remembered one of Scrivener’s weird features: IT TALKS.

I stumbled across this feature one day by mashing who knows what command code, and I could not figure out how to turn it off. Under EDIT, way at the bottom, there’s a tab reading SPEECH. It drops out into two options: Start and Stop.

Scrivener will read back in monotone whatever text you select. It’s boring as hell, but listening to my book was far easier than trying to read it aloud to myself. I caught numerous missing words and spelling errors, places where I’d changed an event and forgot to alter it elsewhere, found awkward sentences. It’s probably one of the best accidental discoveries I’ve ever made.

I finished listening almost 94k  in two days. She might have been monotone, but there is nothing more hilarious than Scrivener attempting to read French (I guess foreign languages are not her strong suit.) Equally hilarious and deeply mortifying is Scrivener reading the NSFW bits. I’m a little horrified with myself at the moment, but I survived.

I’m definitely going to remember this tool for future use. Maybe revisions won’t be so terrible after all.

Speaking of, I’m getting back to work on The Other Book, and I have a New Project I’m still chipping away at in addition to a Super Secret Project. You know I mean business when ordinary words get capital letters.

In the meantime, THE DARK CARNIVAL anthology is out and FREE for download on Smashwords. Here’s the link! My story “Sleight of Hand” appears in this collection, and I think it’s pretty nifty. It’s also free. There are bunch of stories by some of my favorite fellow writers, as well as illustrations. Did I mention it’s free? Because it is. Totally free.

It’s also available on Amazon.com, but is listed as $.99. If you wish to purchase it, the money will be donated to charity. Hopefully soon it will be free on Amazon as well.

I’m going to go drown in a book that isn’t my own. Come back Sunday for a review and giveaway of Delilah S. Dawson’s SERVANTS OF THE STORM.

Tis the season. Give the gift of demons.

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Grammatical Addictions and Editing: A 12-Step Program

Step One: Admitting you have a problem

Recognizing your addiction and admitting that you’re overuse of fragments/semi-colons/ellipses have become unmanageable in your writing.

Step Two: Recognizing that a higher power can give you strength

The Dictionary and Thesaurus are your guides. Put your faith in them and you will find ways of restructuring your writing.

Step Three: Make the choice to turn your draft to an Editor

Seek constructive criticism–the editing oracles are there for you to strengthen your writing and help you polish your skill.

Step Four: Make a searching and fearless inventory of your plot.

Is your timeline askew? Do your characters speak in colloquial phrasing or anachronistic dialect? Does anything make sense outside your head? Consider which elements are providing obstacles to completing your work.

Step Five: Admit to yourself, your beta-readers, your editor, the nature of your wrongs.

Bringing your addiction to your friends and partner’s attentions will help you identify what needs to change and create a support system to prevent you falling back into old habits.

Step Six: Be entirely ready to have your Editor pinpoint these defects.

Because he/she will. Usually in red.

Step Seven: Humbly ask advice on how to remove or restructure your sentences.

Write by writing. Learn to avoid using the same punctuation by changing up your structure and asking for advice.

Step Eight: Make a list of things that need correcting.

Note where there is an overabundance of the punctuation in question, time gaps, misused words, or whatever else needs to be adjusted.

Step Nine: Forgive yourself those mistakes.

You are human, you make mistakes. Spell-check is likewise not always reliable.

Step Ten: Continue to take personal inventory, and when wrong, admit it.

You will slip a hyphen or colon somewhere it isn’t needed. Acknowledge that the structure can be changed and do so.

Step Eleven: Seek meditation with your world to improve contact with your characters.

Always be open to new possibilities for your work. Spend a little time each day thinking about the story itself, not the revision process.

Step Twelve: Literary awakening as the result of the program.

Edits are not the all-shattering hammer. They build up and strengthen your writing foundation. Carry this message to fellow writers and practice these principles in all your affairs.

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