Rewriting Process

<whine> Rewriting is haaaaarrrd! </end whine>

For me, rewriting is the hardest part of the writing process.  This is why I have so many first drafts and very few finished products! When I’m writing,  I’m  not judging or worrying about being published, especially when I’m doing the NaNoWriMo challenge.  It’s all about creating and letting my imagination loose.  Rewriting, on the other hand, is about looking over what I’ve created and trying to make it publishable.  I am finding a lot of resistance to the process, I think my subconscious thinks that if I never finish, I will never be rejected.  I’m fighting low self esteem, fear of failure, despair, frustration and self-sabotage.  No wonder I keep finding myself procrastinating and distracted during my writing time!

My writing is brief and spare.  The first step in rewriting a draft is to plump it up.  I have the 50K seed from doing NaNoWriMo.  Most publishers want manuscripts from 80-100k for fantasy/sci-fi.  I’m studying the works of Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss and Robert Jordan to learn the ways of being wordy.  I can’t and shouldn’t change my style, which is more like Douglas Adams, but I can get ideas.

The next step is to look at the work as a whole and examine the plot, characters and story arc.  Does it work?  Does the main character have enough conflict and change by the end of the story?  Does she solve her problems or do they just fade away?  Are there things that don’t make sense?  Are there boring bits that need to be cut?

Then we go to line editing.  Spelling.  Grammar.  Using concrete verbs and active voice.

Finally, a last re-read and tweaking of this and that.

In this process, it’s good to have a trusted reader who can tell you their honest opinion.  Don’t pick someone who will say either “it’s nice” or “eh, it didn’t work for me”.  Neither one is helpful.

Then, send it in to a publisher or editor, and start another project immediately.

That makes it look easy.  But what if you do all that and never get published?  Sigh.  Following my new motto- “do it anyway.”




Music is for Muses, strangely enough

A lot of people use music as a way of setting mood, sparking imagination, and helping them create.  Gamers play movie soundtracks while they run tabletop roleplaying adventures.  Artists, crafters and writers have playlists of just the right music.  I have playlists for stories I’m working on, as well as workout playlists, playlists for friends, playlists for thinking, playlists for cleaning. I even have playlists for being angry.

I would sometimes work on selecting just the  right song in the right order for my writing, then berate myself for “wasting time” when I should be creating.  Hello!  Selecting songs to make playlists is creative, albeit derivative.  It is like being a music director for a play or movie.  The wrong song can change everything- make a comedy out of horror, or horror out of comedy.  I made a creative project picking everyone’s theme song- what song represented them to me.  It was fun and definitely creative.  I also pick out “songs of the day” and theme songs of the moment.

If you are writing, crafting or otherwise making art, take some time to think about what songs are playing while you work, if any.  Some people like silence, or nature sounds.  If you are playing music, think about the tempo, whether there are lyrics or it’s instrumental, and what genre of music.  Are you writing a medieval fantasy and playing heavy metal?  That’s going to effect what you create.

I like to have songs playing that have deep meaning to me in the lyrics when I’m coming up with ideas, and instrumental soundtrack music when I’m writing scenes.  I like folk songs when I’m writing epic fantasy and pop when I’m writing urban fantasy.

Creativity planning

Every January I get out my notebook and write out my goals.  I keep most of my notebooks and flipping back through them for years upon years, it was the same thing with some slight variation:

  • lose weight
  • get published
  • improve work/life balance and take care of my family
Sooooo, let’s just take that as a given, right?  Do I even need to write that down?  Yes.  yes I do.  It’s reaffirming the direction I want to go.  But it does not help me get there.  A plan is much more useful.  How do I lose weight? What do I need to do to get published?  Setting out actions to take and scheduling to do them, daily, is the best way to get those goals.
This year I want to get out of that 3 goal rut.  I’ve been charging along with my head down for a while.  I need to create, learn and grow.  I need to nurture my inner artist, taking the time to play and enjoy life.
What I want to do in 2012 (the year of the Dragon!) Brainstorm
  • develop Jane’s Folly – blog at least weekly, if not more
  • learn about Twitter
  • revise a manuscript for publication and send it out
  • read a lot of books about creativity, writing and motivation
  • take “artist dates”
  • take classes?
  • go to conferences about writing, gaming and my profession
  • make connections with friends and other creative people
  • start drawing and painting again
  • make a zine of my friend’s work?
  • make family videos
  • collaborate on a project
  • find ways to be creative at work- kids crafts, programs, displays
  • knit, sew and craft
This may seem overwhelming, or not enough.  To me, it is both!  The next step is time management.  I’m a mom of 2 with a full time job.  When will I do this stuff?  I need to schedule it.  Write in my calendar- or  something else will take its place.  I’m currently listening to the audiobook “Time Management From the Inside Out” by Julie Morgenstern, and I recommend  it.
So, go ahead, make your list.  What creative, nurturing things will you do this year that will help you grow as a person?

Creativity without “purpose”

Sometimes I struggle with myself about creative endeavors.  Writing in hopes of publication, crafting useful items and hand made presents, that is acceptable, but playing around creatively?  I shouldn’t, some boring old practical part of me says. I’ve convinced that inner editor that this blog is a practical thing to set up my platform as a writer, never mind that no one is going to read it.

Yesterday I took a list of all my friends on Facebook and gave them all their own theme songs.  I actually took a few days, grabbing a few minutes here and there, on this project, listening to songs, thinking about how I felt about each person.  I found the songs that represented them in my mind at the present moment.  I took into consideration the type of music, the lyrics and the associations I had with the songs.  There were a few where I realized that I really didn’t know much about the person at all, and had to fudge a little.  It helped me see who was on my list.  Everybody “made the cut”, though.  All that were on the list were either people I knew well or wanted to know better.  So even though this will never gain me fame, it was not purposeless.  I need to open myself up for creative play, it will always have benefit, even though it might not be obvious.  Creative play is good for mental health.

Jane’s Folly

Imagine a tower, seven stories tall, standing crookedly in a field.  Inside the tower, a spiral staircase goes up, leading off into many little rooms, odd little spaces and cozy corners.  It looks like an ancient ruin, but it was just created, a folly.  Writers, poets, artists, crafters and musicians, there is room for you here.  Create something.  Talk about the process of creativity.

Welcome to Jane’s Folly.