Browsing Tag

making up stuff is hard yo

writing

The weird stuff I have googled while writing this book

September 25, 2015

So one of the fun things about writing sci-fi and fantasy is making stuff up. And one of the annoying things about writing sci-fi and fantasy is making stuff up…! because stuff must be based in realism. I always write with browser windows open on Google, Etymology Online and Thesaurus.com – and I’m constantly checking things.

I kept track of a few of the searches I made while writing Rukan… gives you an idea of what weird & wonderful stuff I have read about!

  • How soon after death should someone be buried (ugh, right?)
  • Climate where forest fires are common
  • Words that end in -mancy
  • How does police corruption typically start
  • Composition of bronze
  • When do linden trees flower
  • Symbols and colours of death
  • How fast do pigeons fly
  • End of summer harvest crops
  • Harvest seasons of ancient Israel
  • How ceramic stoves work
  • Economic sanctions
  • Animal symbols and totems
  • How long do moths live
  • How long does it take to sail Sydney to Auckland (to gauge relative distances between my book’s countries)
  • Climate types
  • Who cleans up a crime scene
  • How do you make yellow laundry soap
  • History of traffic control
  • History of kohl
  • Metals in meteorites
  • Yams (apparently most of the world call a sweet potato a yam…?! what I call a yam is actually an “oca” from South America…)
  • Early mail systems
writing

Tricks for sustaining momentum

July 30, 2015

Writing is great when I know where I’m going, and when I love what I’m producing. But it’s freakin.hard.work when I can’t see the path I’m following and/or I’m bored with my WIP. It’s difficult to sit down in front of the screen sometimes… even though I know I need to. My writer self is this unruly immature child who must be cajoled, begged and/or bribed into doing the work sometimes.

The writing (and editing) must still be done. Often, the greatest hurdle is simply starting for the day. Sometimes it’s more about overcoming a deep sense of THIS-IS-ALL-SHITE-WHY-AM-I-BOTHERING-NESS. Or about just pulling on my big girl pants and cracking on with it.

I’ve come up with this toolbag of tricks. For tricking myself into writing. Yes. I know that’s a bit strange. Me & myself & I & whatnot. Here’s what’s in my arsenal:

Candy & snacks. Tangible delicious rewards for writing & editing. Totally falls in the ‘bribery’ camp. Also sweet treats make me feel better while I look at my WIP and want to weep in despair. Coffee is also good – oh yeah, and wine if it’s a night-time session. (Sometimes I can catch this great creative high at night, which is awesome. Othertimes I am smooshing my hands into my face & wishing I was watching reality TV instead, in such cases, wine definitely does not help.)

Setting up a user profile on my laptop with no access to the internet. I am very very very good at procrastinating. Doing this stops me from randomly sifting through the entire interwebs instead of writing, and literally forces me to focus. Good for when I’m on a deathmarch to finishing something.

Reading what writers say about writing. Books and blogs about plotting & characters & the writing lifestyle – all of these things are motivating for me. Especially the ones where they talk about how awful it is, how much they hate writing, or how SLOW they are. I’m like YESSSS that is ME. Solidarity. Fistbump. I am just like this Real Author (TM).

Picking up a favourite book. Those stories and words that inspire me, the things I wish I had written, or just love to read. They make me WANT to write a great story. Good for when I need a pick-me-up, a hit of creative energy.

Going elsewhere. I’ve found that going to a cafe is a great way for me to reset & focus. I really don’t procrastinate in a cafe as much as when I’m at home. If I need to dive into a story & do some good thinking, this can be just the thing.

Routine. Writing every day makes it a habit. It takes a long time to get there (I once read it takes on average 66 days to create a habit) but once I am in one, it’s that little bit harder to stop. And so I get forward momentum simply from showing up day after day. This is probably the most simple and important ‘trick’ and conversely, the hardest one. Reminding myself of the benefits of showing up doesn’t always prompt me to get on with it. But hey, on such occasions, there’s always candy…

writing

Writing Rukan, so far

July 22, 2015

I started working on Rukan (working title; I’m still flailing to find a betterer one) in earnest in March 2014, when my son was 3 months old. He became more settled at that age, and his naptimes became my time to write. It was kind of like going back to work… except my desk was now the kitchen table, I could wear leggings & tramping socks, and a small dictator kept interrupting me. But it worked out. The beauty of being a writer while being a SAHM was how flexible it could be. I loved it.

At least, it worked out while there were naps.

The napping/writing routine went really well for about a year. It’s a bit harder now: he doesn’t sleep as much during the day, and so I just don’t have as much time. His one nap in the middle of the day is now my time to do everything, with priority given to eating lunch and writing (and sometimes blogging…) When he dropped to one nap a day, I put him into occasional childcare a couple of mornings a week, which has been a godsend. Those 3 hours literally fly by. I try to squeeze in All The Things: grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry, gym… and writing. I constantly feel like I’m not maximising that time. (I constantly feel guilty every second I don’t spend of it writing. Screw you, guilt monkey.)

One day soon my boy is going to drop that one nap & then I’ll have even less time! I’m not sure what I’ll do when that happens – work harder to FIND time I guess – but I do hope that Rukan will be finished by then, and I can start trying to send it out into the big wide world.

I am incredibly lucky to have the support of an awesome partner giving me the opportunity to stay at home with my boy & have a massive go at this writing gig at the same time. I know not every yearning wannabe author gets this chance. It’s been a remarkable experience and I have learned a lot about writing & how I write (& how I would LIKE to write) in the last little while. Even if nothing eventually becomes of Rukan, this book has been a massive leap forward in my development as a writer.

I’m really looking forward to finally finishing the thing (OMG can’t it just finish itself by now?!) so I can start working on the next one and apply all that I’ve learned. I have this – probably totally batshit crazy – idea that it’ll be easier, the next one…

writing

Wednesday writing: mini Nanowrimo

November 5, 2014

OK, I’m doing my own mini version of Nanowrimo this year. I decided on 1st November. Hey, that’s better than deciding on 2nd November.

There is no way I could manage 1,667 words a day right now – snatching writing during naptimes is hard enough, particularly with the currently disturbed naptimes that require a lot of help with this crazy sleep thing. (So hard! learning how to go to sleep!)

So my goal is 580 words a day for November. That will mean writing every evening as well as naptimes. (I shouldn’t be blogging right now…)

That’ll bring me to ~90,000 words and my big goal: end of a zero draft.

I’m excited about that reaching that goal. Also kind of terrified. See, vomiting new words can be done mindlessly. You can deathmarch a story into existence. But the fixing of those words? That comes next and that is difficult. That requires actual mental effort. Sheesh.

I have a huuuuuuge amount of [square brackets] in my zero draft so far. Places where things must be explained. Historical events and persons that must be conjured. Pretty setting that must come to life. Names that must be invented. NAMES FOR EVERYTHING. (Fantasy. The making up of shit is both fun and tiring.) And I want those names to be consistent. I want names in other languages to seem like they fit together. I want a nice selection of names that have different beats and rolls and patterns – names that aren’t all double-syllable-ending-in-A (I do that.)

The naming of things takes me a long time. I flit and ponder. Bang my head on the desk. Drink coffee. Pootle around thesaurus.com and etymonline.com. This is why I shove stuff in square brackets as I write: rather than stop & think, I can keep the flow of words alive and come back to it later.

As well as my story file, I have a separate doc where I have every single made-up name listed, including the yet-to-be-determined square bracketed names…

[Blahblah] bazaar

Lake [Name]

[Somethinghouse]

[Wifey]

[Suspectosuspect]

[2ndnortherncountry]

etc…

So when my zero draft is complete, one of the things I have to do to turn it into a first draft is invent a LOT of things. En passant, my distinction is that nobody can read a zero draft – it wouldn’t make sense, there are too many holes & things missing – but a first draft could be read from start to finish. (Although still requires a lot of editing & fixing.)

I feel like it could take me another year just to move from zero to first.

It’s daunting.

But I just gotta get on with it.