RSS

Category Archives: Writing Process

My Writer’s Bible, Bullet Journal, and Notebook

My Camp NaNoWriMo Spread, including a word count tracker, April's calendar, tasks, and some inspiration.

My Camp NaNoWriMo Spread, including a word count tracker, April’s calendar, tasks, and some inspiration.

Back in April,  I started my Writer’s Bullet Journal in a large (well, it’s the Master) Leuchtturm 1917, but it was just too big to handle easily. Forget taking it anywhere. And it didn’t fit in my Writer’s Bible, which is a custom Jonelifish TN (traveler’s notebook). I tried the softcover Leuchtturm 1917 and loved it, but it became harder and harder to find, so when I got down to the last few pages of it I decided to use a Midori A5 grid notebook I had, since it could also be housed in my Writer’s Bible and replace the filled softcover Leuchtturm1917.

get shit done

Self Explanatory

With NaNoWriMo quickly approaching, I needed to get things together. I had 6 weeks to prepare for November 1st and when I really thought about it–that just didn’t feel like enough time, but HEY! a writer’s gotta do what a writer’s gotta do. So I got my butt in gear and started preparing. My husband said, “It’s not November yet, why are you doing Nano stuff now?” I looked up at him with my serious face. “It’s almost the end of September. I’ve got to get things ready…” I said.  And then I looked down at my Writer’s Bible and said, “I’m excited and there’s a lot of work to do.” And like Jake at the end of the Gunslinger, my husband nodded and said, “Well go on and do your NaNo stuff then.” It’s not as good as “there are other worlds than this,” but it made me happy. And since I’m using Arwen’s 33 Days to Finish Your Novel course again I knew I’d need to start at least 33 days before NaNoWriMo. I really do love using Tarot and the Hero’s Journey to outline.

amwriting april 22

Camp NaNo April 2015 (?) Writer’s Bible, Laptop, and Starbucks’s White Chocolate Mocha

So here I am, preparing for NaNoWriMo once again. Only this year, I know so much more than I did the previous years… with each passing year I learn more about myself as a writer. I’ve learned more about writing, outlining, pantsing, branding oneself, the writing community, editing videos, taking pictures, planning and using a bullet journal, what works best in my Writer’s Bible, and what I need in order to survive NaNoWriMo. Not that I don’t aim to write between 1000-2000 words per day during the rest of the year, but there is something about NaNoWriMo and the various writing communities that pushes you do do more, to try new things, to expand your horizons, and to get your ass in the chair every day and WRITE! And the planning community, especially the bullet journal community has given me such great ideas for how to plan out things in my Writer’s Bible and Writer Bullet Journal.

p1000417

NaNoWriMo 2016: Writer’s Bible, which includes my Writer Bullet Journal, my Writer Notebook, a few supplies, Tarot Cards

When I first talked to Jonel Imutan about making me a Writer’s Bible, a TN specifically for my writer stuff, I knew I wanted something unique, functional, and that fit me. I told her what I wanted, and left it up to her which style of typewriter to engrave on the front, and how to coordinate the colors, and once it was done I got to name it–Shakespeare. Thought I’d have named it something from a Stephen King novel, huh? Nope. Though I love King’s works, and he’ll always be my favorite and he’s a genius, there’s something about Shakespeare that has always spoken to me.

I have done numerous videos that have featured Shakespeare (my Writer’s Bible), and over time it has become even more supple and pliable, more functionable because I’ve learned what works best for me, and it’s always subject to change if I find that something isn’t working.

Midori A5 Grid Notebook that I'm using as my Writer Bullet Journal

Midori A5 Grid Notebook that I’m using as my Writer Bullet Journal

Inside my Writer’s Bible, the first notebook is the Midori A5 Grid Notebook that I’m using for my Writer Bullet Journal. I printed what you see on the cover, which I found on Pinterest. I love what it says: Punch Today in the Face. Some days you just have to do that… and I know there will definitely be days during November when I am going to feel like punching something in the face. 😀 Don’t get me wrong, NaNoWriMo is awesome, but it’s chaotic. I’ve tried pantsing during NaNoWriMo, writing by the seat of my pants, and I failed. I love the idea of pantsing…of writing intuitively with no outline, just writing, but I was flailing around like a fish on land by the middle of November when I did that. Since then I’ve been working on the method of planning that works best for me. It feels like I’ve found it–using Tarot and the Hero’s Journey, Arwen’s method specifically, has really helped me find my groove with outlining. I used it last year and I’m using it again this year. I’ve also tried the Save the Cat method, along with a few others.

p1000420

On the inside, the cover page, I pasted a picture that I got from NaNoWriMo 2015 for inspiration… it reminds me of what I’m supposed to be doing… WRITING, plus it has fun things in the picture like Coffee, Pens, Ink, a Notebook…and let’s not forget my Coffee magnet bookmark. I love how this picture makes me feel. So below is a gallery I created of the rest of the inside of my Writer Bullet Journal. I hope you enjoy looking at the pictures. It’s still a work in progress though.. and I made a few boo boo’s…  but overall I like it. I can live with the mistakes, it just gives my Writer Bullet Journal character. 😀

 

Next is the Index, and then the Future log. Nothing complicated about either of those. I have been working on this new Writer Bullet Journal since September 20th and so far I’ve gotten a few things done, but there’s still much more that I need to work on. I’m trying to stay organized. There’s so much to keep up with that I had to get organized if I want to get things done, especially if I want to be efficient. It’s about working smarter not harder.

The next notebook in my Writer’s Bible is the “new shiny ideas” notebook for writing. If I get an idea about a character, a novel, a scene but I’m not sure it goes in the current WIP then I write it down in this notebook.

Shiny New Ideas Notebook

Shiny New Ideas Notebook

And here is the third notebook in my Writer’s Bible.

NaNo YT and Blog Insert

NaNo YT and Blog Insert

The first page is my NaNo Prep YT video list

NaNo Prep YT Video List

NaNo Prep YT Video List

And the next page is the NaNo Prep Blog Post List:

NaNo Prep Blog Post List

NaNo Prep Blog Post List

And the last notebook in my Writer’s Bible. Its a Clairefontaine notebook and I use it as my Writer Journal. I write down how my writing or outlining is going. What I think, etc.. The pages are wonderful for fountain pens. 😀

Clairefontaine Notebook

Clairefontaine Notebook

And last but not least, is my Writer Notebook. It is where I write out what I’ve learned from using the outlining method. I am not sure of where I got this notebook. I believe it might have been Walmart. I love the paper for writing. And I love that the pages are sectioned by different colors, and that at the top it has a little section where you can either write the date or the page number. I’ve chosen to write the page numbers.

And that’s it… at least for now. I have a lot of work to do this afternoon and this evening to write down what I learned about the Call to Adventure. I go back through my notes from my Writer Bullet Journal and then summarize it in the Writer Notebook.

Links to some of the things I’ve mentioned are below. Note:

**This post contains  some affiliate links. In plain English, this means that I might receive a small commission (this doesn’t cost you anything) if you subscribe or purchase something through some of the links I’ve provided. You will never see me post a link to a product or service that I haven’t used myself and love!**

Arwen’s YT video using Tarot for writing: https://youtu.be/V90tAWykxVY

Arwen’s Course Info: http://tarotbyarwen.com/17242-2/

Tarot for Writer’s by Corrine Kenner : http://amzn.to/2cnPEJx

Wizards’ Tarot Deck by Corrine Kenner: http://amzn.to/2cC5xI2

Rider Waite Tarot Deck: http://amzn.to/2dfPRvb

My Writer’s Bible: http://jonelifish.com

 

 

 

 

Advertisements
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

NaNoWriMo Preparations Have Begun

Hello all. Welcome to NaNoWriMo Preparations… Last year I stumbled upon Arwen’s 33 Days to Finish Your Novel. I wanted to try something different and outlining my novel via Tarot and the Hero’s Journey sounded interesting, creative, and fun. I watched a couple of her videos, read her information about the course, and signed up. It’s one of the best things I’ve done for my writing.

Thanks to Arwen, I outlined my novel Witchy Business for NaNoWriMo last year, and I went on to outline yet another novel, both of those are works-in-progress. And now it’s time to prepare for this year’s novel. Out came my notebook with everything from Arwen’s course, along with Corrine Kenner’s book Tarot for Writer’s, two or three of my tarot decks, a notebook, my writer’s bullet journal, and my Writer’s Bible, pens and highlighters, colored index cards. And what do you know… I’m ready. Oh, and the coffee–that’s a must.

And away I go with the start of my outline. I’ve been busy the past two days. I have gotten my supplies together, started my character sketch, started the first part of my outline. Tomorrow I start working on my MC’s GMC (goal, motivation, conflict). After that it’s the Antagonist and his GMC.  First index card with tarot card (a copy of it) is pinned on my tri-fold board–my storyboard no longer looks like a blank canvas.

I feel like I accomplished something today, even though it took me friggin’ forever to get the second part of my NaNoWriMo Prep Pt 2/Beginning of my Outline edited. Grrrr! I really need to figure out the editing software that I purchased so I can quit using Movie Maker. That, or I need to win the lottery so I can afford an iMac. 😀

I’m really excited. My outlining is going well so far. 😀

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Writer’s Life

Most days I write. I get up in the morning, usually after 4-6 hours of sleep, still groggy and make coffee. While the coffee is brewing, which doesn’t take long since I have a Bunn coffeemaker, I start my morning pages–my ego is still asleep. I’m usually wishing I were still sleeping.

Once I take the first sip of coffee, I immediately feel better. Yes, I know it’s a mind thing at that point, but it’s a win for me because not only do I like the smell and taste of coffee, but various studies have proven that coffee is good for us…helps prevent cancer, etc.–I will take it as a win.

I head for my writing room. Here is a quick peak of my writing room:

I wish I could say that the first thing I do, after I’ve written my morning pages, is start writing, but most days I check my email, FB, and YT first. I respond to various messages, posts, comments…(I’m now on my second cup of coffee) and if someone posts a video that I can listen to while I work on my journal pages I’ll do that, unless I’ve already prepared my pages the night before.

Lately though, thanks to changing things up because of Project Me and Jenny Penton’s Planner Perfect method I’ve started on my top 3 things for the day. Mine are usually stretches, which I can do while I watch a video (or two, depending on how long the videos are, because I have to do 15 minutes worth of stretching–it helps keep my shoulders mobile, otherwise I’ll lose mobility again); start laundry; dishes and/or shower and get ready for the day.

Once I’m dressed for the day, I sit back down at my desk, open Scrivener, and read the last 2 paragraphs I wrote. Once my head is back in my novel I start writing. Big deal, right? So I’m writing. I’m a writer, that’s what writer’s do. Not as easy as it seems though. I get distracted by the sun shining through my window, by the beeps and buzzes of notifications from my tablet or phone, by the lack of coffee in my cup (I’m usually on my 3rd cup or about to get my 3rd cup, though somewhere in the middle of those cups of coffee I try to drink a bottle of water).

Butt in chair and write! I try to get back to the work at hand. Writing. For a few years now, I’ve been trying to establish a routine. A ritual. The thing about writing a novel is consistency, determination, passion…AND getting your butt in the chair and doing the work. Since I started planning my day differently, less “to do’s” and more “scripting my life,” I’ve realized that scripting my life is helpful for me personally, but not so much for my writing, which is what I consider to be my job. So, I’ve gone back to my writer bullet journal.

However, I’m not doing things the same way anymore. No more monthly calendar, and no more dailies. Not for my writing. I have a monthly log for my wordcount set up for August, and the weekly spread set up. I’ve got the wordcount goals set up so that I know about where I am, and I’ve pushed up my daily wordcount for August. During July I’ve been aiming for 1000 words a day every day, but for August I’m pushing for 2K a day during the week, and 1K on the weekends. That might change, but I am pretty sure if I devote 4-6 hours per day during the week, with breaks in between, and 2-4 hours on the weekends, I should be able to at least write 1500-2500 words a day during the week. I might end up lowering the wordcount on the weekends to 500 per day. We’ll see.

And so I can stay on top of things and and finish my novel… I’ve changed things in my writer’s bible and August is going to rock. I’m hoping to keep the blogs rolling with the videos, and my video schedule is set up for a Coffee Chat on Monday’s, Writer Wednesday, Journaling on Friday’s, and then something or other on Sunday’s… Not sure about that yet.

Here’s the video for that:

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Ways to get Inspired, stay motivated, and Get Shit Done

get shit doneOver the course of several years, I’ve been refining my writing process, which includes ways to get inspired, stay motivated, and get shit done (productivity). Here are some of the things I’ve found that help me.

  • Clean up your work area, as well as other areas that bother you and/or need cleaning. A 15 minute clean in your work area, a quick clean of your living areas. A 30 minute clean for important areas. Sometimes it’s hard to work when there is clutter, especially if the clutter distracts you. So taking fifteen minutes to clean really helps.Writing Desk
  • Books that help inspire and motivate you to be creative have really helped me lately. Books like “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron, or the one I’m working on right now, “Finding Water,” also by Julia Cameron. Another book that’s extremely helpful with productivity is “Getting Things Done” by David Allen.artist's way
  • Morning Pages are a great way to start your day. They help with clarity, are a great tool to get you in the mood to write, and are overall a great way to put those negative things that are rolling around in your brain down and then let them go–after a while you’ll see that what you write is less negative and more positive.
  • Music. Music is a great way to help you get in the mood to be creative, to write, clean, create (art, etc) and to keep you motivated. I often listen to classic rock while I clean, instrumental music or Rainymoods.com when I’m writing, and various kinds of music when I’m creating art.
  • An artist date. An artist date, as defined by Julia Cameron, is a solo adventure, that includes something fun, playful and are aimed at romancing or wooing our artist within. I like going for a walk in a park, swinging on a swing at a playground, going to for a cup of coffee and reading or writing or drawing, as well as going to lunch by myself and taking a book along with me. Most of my artist dates include coffee and a book or notebook and/or my camera.june 3rd and 4th
  • Candles, Incense…I use these things to help get me in the mood to write, to help cleanse my work area of any negativity, and because they smell good.
  • Journal. I often write a few lines down here and there about what I want to do, as well as use my bullet journal to make a list of tasks for the day, week, month. I jot down projects, and then break them down so that I know what I should start with, as well as making sure that I have smaller goals to start with (which helps me feel better, more positive and less fearful–less self-doubt).june 1st and 2nd
  • Vision board. This can be a physical vision board, one on Pinterest, in your journal using collage, or whatever works for you.
  • Read a book for fun. I often take a break when I feel a bit burned out with writing and read for fun. I now have a goal to read for at least 30 minutes each day just for fun, not for homework or for “working on my self,” but for FUN!
  • Don’t compare yourself to others.
  • Space for Writing/creating Art/etc. Whether it’s a corner somewhere, or an actual room, having your own space, a space that is for your creativity  helps.amwriting april 22
  • Limit Distractions. Block out a certain amount of time that is just for writing. That means no Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google searching, etc. You and the page (and my cup of coffee or glass of wine.)
  • Get dressed. Get out of those pajamas, those sweatpants,  and get dressed. It doesn’t have to be “dress” clothes, but it does need to at least something that you’d wear to the grocery store, to the craft store, the bookstore… It’s a mindset thing. I’m dressed and now I’m ready to go to work.
  • Writing buddies, or “Co-conspirators” as Ms. Cameron calls them. Find others with like interests so you can talk about those interests. For me it’s the #writestuff community, #writetube, FB…I have quite a few writer buddies and it really does help knowing that you’re not alone in your struggles (whether it’s with procrastination, self-doubt, editing woe’s, or trying to figure out whether your book should be in 1st or 3rd POV).Camp nano 2016
  • (and last but not least) Schedule. This has been the hardest for me, yet it really is one of the top things I should be doing, should stick to so that I’d be more productive. I know this. I do, but the struggle has been real y’all. I know that I should block out specific chunks of time for writing, for art, for… and cut the distractions, and Just Write, but honestly, outside forces like Mr. Rockstar’s crazy schedule, which changes at the end of this week finally (he goes back to having a regular schedule instead of rotating shifts), or family, or things that happen, or staying up too late because I had insomnia or was in pain and then I don’t wake up until mid-day (or later)… But today is the start of brand new week, and last week I did better than the week before, and this week I’ll do even better than last week, and before long I should be back into my routine.2nd week of june

One last thing, if you’re striving for perfection then you’re bound to be disappointed, so instead of striving for perfection, especially with that first draft, remember this:

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” ~Marilyn Monroe

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Using the Tarot for Writing

Write Faster with TarotIn 2014, I purchased an ebook called “WRITE FASTER With Tarot: Structuring Plots” by Diana Castle. I read it, tried it with the Enchanted Deck of Tarot cards I have by Amy Zerner and Monte Farber (I’ve had that deck since 1990, y’all). The ebook wasn’t expensive, and it was worth the read, but it really didn’t have enough information for me, and as a pantser I really didn’t want to structure my novel, what I really wanted was to use the tarot to inspire me, help feed my creative muse, and for the characters.

Then, in September of 2015 I saw a video by Arwen Lynch on YT about her ecourse for using Tarot and the Hero’s Journey to write your novel in 30 days. I debated over it for a bit, and then decided I’d try it. The ecourse is $33, or at least it was when I took it, and well worth that price and more….My only wish was that she’d done a few more videos about it. (HINT< HINT if you happen to be reading this Arwen, lol!). eCourseTitleGraphicWebPageOnly

I began my journey in October, planning my novel for NaNoWriMo, and had a blast. I made videos on YT, I had a journal specifically for my ideas and my journey through the course, and I made a binder to put copies of the emails I printed out. I even kept up with all of it. (Insert pat on the back here because sometimes I lose focus, get distracted, and don’t always follow through with some projects.) Read the rest of this entry »

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Worst Parts of Writing a Novel (or the Writing Process)

snoopy-good-writing-is-hard-work.jpegWriting a novel, especially once you’ve finished the first draft (especially if it’s your first book), is rewarding, but it’s also hard work.

Once you’ve come up with the idea, and finished your outline (if you’re a plotter), and you’ve started writing there are definitely things about the writing process that suck. Things like self-doubt, procrastination, time management, anxiety, writer’s block, distractions, and stress. Not to mention the naysayer’s out there who question your intentions, talent, and/or sanity–sometimes you’re one of those naysayer’s. its impossible

For me, the worst parts about writing a novel, other than figuring out what my actual writing process is, like trial and error with outlining, going from a pantser to a plotter, or finding my voice, are these things:

Anxiety and Stress. I have anxiety, not just when it comes to my writing, but in general, so it’s amplified when I’m doing something that causes me stress. On the good days, when I feel like I’m a good writer, maybe even a great writer, and I’m in what I like to call the “writer zone” I can write anywhere from 1000-3000 words a day. I feel good about my writing, about my novel. But on the bad days when I’m filled with anxiety or stressed out over a chapter, scene, or the novel itself I let the SELF-DOUBT in and then I feel like the worst writer ever, I question whether I should even be writing, I wonder why I am bothering when it’s evident that I’m never going to finish, or never going to accomplish my dream of finishing my novel and getting it published.

Found Picture on absolutewrite.com

Found Picture on absolutewrite.com

The Ups and Downs/Roller Coaster (Mood Swings). Like I just said, some days I feel like a good writer, or maybe even a great writer, but there those days when I feel like the worst writer ever. The ups and downs, or the roller coaster of emotions (mood swings), seem to be common for creative types. On the bad days, I question whether or not I should just give up and find something else to do with my time, but on the good days I know that it’s worth my time. Nobody said writing a novel was going to be easy, or that there weren’t going to be bad days, I have to remind myself on the bad days not to give up. Not to quit. To keep at it. And I remind myself that I’m not alone in this, that there are many  writer’s out there who feel the same way I do, whose first draft was a piece of shit, who went through all of this or who are going through it now. Within a few hours, I’ve gone from “Hey! I can do this!” to “OMG! I’m really doing this! Damn this is good!” to “OMG! What the hell was I thinking? Why am I even trying to write a novel?”  I know that there is evidence, that there is a correlation between creativity and mood swings/mental illness (depression, anxiety, bipolar, etc), which makes me wonder if this is normal. Okay, so I know, from what I hear, that many other writer’s have these ups and downs when writing, therefore, I don’t feel so alone.bonafide writer mug

Taking yourself seriously as a writer. Over the course of the past year, but especially the last few months (maybe six months or so), I’ve gone from feeling like I couldn’t or shouldn’t call myself a writer because I didn’t have anything (recent) published, that I’d never been paid for my creative writing (though I have been paid as a tutor and to (help) write or edit papers–that’s for a whole different post) to officially calling myself a writer. I’ve gone from shying away from saying I’m a writer, to proudly proclaiming it. I’m a bona fide writer, y’all.

My daughter and my husband, have both told me, and I’ve told myself, that if I don’t take my writing seriously then no one else will. That’s the truth, and I know, it but for a good while there was something blocking me from taking myself seriously as a writer because I didn’t feel secure enough to actually call myself a writer. Once I got past that point, and it’s been recently, I realized how much better I felt about my writing. How proud, and courageous it made me feel to say it out loud. I’m a writer! There’s something about proclaiming it to others out loud that makes you feel more confident as a writer, but until I got to that point it was one of the worst parts about the writing process for me. People would ask me what I do and I’d lower my head and say, “I’m a housewife,” or “I work from home,” or I’d just say “nothing.” Now, I say, “I’m a writer.”

The worst thing about writing a novel, is not being able to write–writer’s block. Some people say that writer’s block isn’t real, other’s say it’s actually, more or less, when you allow self-doubt, anxiety, stress, and/or insecurity to cripple you mentally. Perhaps that’s true, but I know when I procrastinate it is usually because I’m filled with anxiety, stress, insecurity, and/or self-doubt about my writing, a certain scene or chapter, or my ability to write–talent, creativity, etc. I’ve struggled with this for years, but over the past year, thanks to being part of a great community of other writer’s (#writestuff, #writetube) the struggle has lessened. I won’t say I don’t still struggle, I do, but at least now I don’t feel so alone. I don’t feel like I’m the only one out there struggling. And there are times when the kind words of motivation, inspiration, generosity, compassion, and/or constructive criticism are exactly what I need to push myself–to get my ass in the chair and write.

 

Tags: , , , , ,