Idle Thoughts

Rants, Raves, and Revelations . . . oh my!

Lists of Learning October 28, 2010

Filed under: NaNoWriMo,Writing — idlethoughtsblog @ 12:30 am
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OK, the most recent process blog for my novel class was two lists of ten.  They could be pretty much anything regarding writing or NaNoWriMo and, after filling my brain for the past, oh, ten years with writing advice and books on craft, I’ve compiled my list of things to think about while writing.  These don’t just apply to novels, but to whatever you want to write, poetry included.  The second list is a list of what I keep in my writing space and a brief explanation of why.  A lot of successful writers have mentioned what they keep on their desks for whatever reasons, and maybe one day, when I’m not such a disorganized mess, I’ll have a better list, but for now, this is what I’ve got and I’m going to make it work for this project.  Another thing I guess we were supposed to do, judging by other process blog entries, was outline our plot points.  If it weren’t 12:30 in the morning and I didn’t have an 8 a.m. class later, I’d go through that right now, but I guess we have to have things to look forward to . . .


Ten Things to Keep in Mind While Writing a Novel:
1.  Let your characters surprise you.  Admit you don’t know everything, hang out with them for a while, and let them tell their story, you control freak, you.
2.  Verbs are a matter of opinion.  Don’t be afraid to think outside that box.
3.  Stephen King once said, “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”  They may pave the road but passive verbs support the weak infrastructure.  Kick ’em out.
4.  Silence the internal editor . . . with duct tape if necessary.  You don’t have time for such shenanigans.
5.  There is no such thing as writer’s block.  Keep writing until you know what you’re talking about.

6.  NO UNSEEN HANDS!!  Everything must be explainable.  Even fiction must make sense.

7.  Claim a space and time and inform people that for that time in that place you will be unavailable.  Hide your cell phone if you have to.

8.  “You have to be willing to write badly.”  — Monica Wood (TOUGH ONE!!)

9.  “Leave out the part that readers tend to skip.” — Elmore Leonard

10.  Be grateful you love words. (I forget where this came from, but I can’t take credit.)


Ten Things I Keep in My Writer’s Space (at all times)

1.  Notebook.
This is for those little epiphanies that crop up while I’m deep in thought about what I’m currently writing about.  If I interrupt myself to run with that other thought, I’ll lose the epiphanies I was having about the thing I was writing about first.  This way, I ensure I won’t forget this new idea while not getting enough out of my writing flow to lose my original thought.

2.  Printer
Sometimes you need a hard copy to look at and mark up to understand it a little better.  And it’s always nice to see something you’ve written published, even if it’s only by you.

3.  The Writer’s Muse books by Monica Wood
Writing can be discouraging and it’s great to get a dose of inspiration or encouragement.  These books are really great for this.  They’re full of writing prompts, photos, advice, and the feeling that you’re definitely not the only one going through what  you are with your book.

4.  My Little Stuffed Schnauzer
He’s a stuffed animal who used to sit in the back windshield of my car and is suitably faded to look something like my dog looked like, just better groomed and certainly better-smelling (the real version smelled like a porch).  There’s no real writing reason for him being there, but it’s his place and he’s always there.  Don’t judge me.

5.  3x5s and Post-Its
Hi, my name’s Kate and I’m a Post-It addict.  Deal with it.

6.  Water bottle
If I have an excuse to get up for anything, I will.  I will tell myself I’m thirsty so I can get out of the chair unless the water’s right next to me.  I keep tissues and Tylenol at the desk for the same reasons.  I know, I’m weak.

7.  Nothing with a clock or anything that *dings* unexpectedly (unless I am timing myself or have to leave to do something soon and need the reminder)
I think this is self-explanatory.  If you really need more clarification, come find me.

8.  A Writer’s Guide to Places by Prues and Heffron
When I’m writing about places I don’t know (as usual), sometimes I need some extra information about that city to help shove me into something else that might help me along with my writing.  As long as you’re writing about a location in the US and, I believe, certain places in Canada, this book can help.

9.  My iPod (or a playlist on my computer)
If I’m writing long-hand (usually in order to avoid Facebook), I use my iPod to give me my writing soundtrack, but if I’m on my laptop (most often), I’ve got iTunes pulled up and I’m listening to something to keep me in that mindspace required for me to write.  The music has to be mostly the same or my writing style will change according to the music.  As far as I’m concerned, Howard Shore and Hans Zimmer are musical gods among men.  Amazing stuff for writing — no words for the most part and music that, depending on which tracks you use, holds a great deal of emotion that you can tailor to fit the needs of what you need to write that day.

10.  Colored pencils and paper
If I’m having trouble describing a person, I might try to think of a celebrity who looks like my character that I can find pictures of or that I can tailor to my own needs.  Other times, my character is a person only I have seen and doesn’t remind me of anyone else, so my best bet is to draw that person.  Recently, I’ve begun considering having someone else draw these characters, as my drawing abilities are abysmal.  But it’s an idea.


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