Thursday, December 14, 2017

Hit Google With All You Have

Well. Apparently Tuesday’s post went up and then came down and is now up again. I apologize for that. Not entirely sure what happened, but I’m trying to figure it out so I can make sure it never happens again.

For now… you’ve made it past the hump! Good for you! Me, I only barely made it… but today should be fun. We’ll see how it goes. There’s always so much to do, you know how it is.

That’s how I picked this month’s topic. I wanted to talk about something that we tend to forget about, this time of year. For me, and for a lot of the writers I know, writing (and everything to do with it) goes out the window during the month of December. There are so many other things going on this month that we generally have to push something to the backburner, and unfortunately, writing tends to be that thing. That’s what I’m trying to fight, with this series. And I have two topics left! Next week, our series ends with the final thing I want to remind you to do, before the holidays hit my house in full swing.

But for today…

Research Day

Yeah, I know, it’s not the most glamorous part of writing, but you know what? It can be one of the most fun parts, and it is the part that I can sit and do for an entire day, without realizing how much time I’ve spent on it. I love it. It’s also the part that can make you wonder if the FBI is watching you, because you’re researching how to kill people and get away with it… but we’ll leave that for another day.

Today, I want to remind you to take the time to do your research, even in one of the busiest months of the year. As a writer, it’s important that you know what you’re doing. You can’t just go off writing all willy-nilly. Find out the things you need to do. Do some research into the things you might need to know for your story. If it takes place on Earth, research the area where it’s taking place. If it takes place on a planet we know about, put the time in to research that planet (yes, I’ve done this).

Point is, you can’t just write. You need to know what you’re talking about. Both your writing and your readers will thank you for putting in this time and effort.

So, take some time to do the research.

Sit down in a quiet place, or maybe a loud one if you’re into that, and hit google with all you’ve got. Research, research, research.

Take notes, save your links, work with your outline and your edits to find out what else you might need to know, what you might need to check on, and put the time in. Don’t rush it: go slow, be methodical.

This is the one time when I am indeed suggesting that you take at least half a day for this. I don’t know about you, but once I start researching, I have a really hard time stopping—so make sure you have plenty of time, when you plan to do this.

But definitely make sure that you do it.

It’ll be a treat. It’ll be a lot of fun. And both you and your writing will benefit from it.

[love and Merry Christmas]

{Rani Divine}

Do the Works

Afternoon, everybody! This month, as you well know, we’re talking about ways to treat yourself and your writing this holiday season. I’m doing my best to take my own advice, too. Actually, this past Friday I (finally) finished reading World War Z, and now I’m knee deep in a reread of Dekker’s Adam. And I’ve gone to the store and people watched for a while—let me tell you, that was fun.

But for today, there’s something really important I want to talk to you about, a day that you should never ignore, whether you’re a seasoned vet or a newbie, whether you’re an outliner or a seat-of-your-pantser.

Editing/Outlining Day

Everybody’s gotta edit. Yes, I know "gotta" isn’t a word. Roll with me here.

Everybody’s also gotta outline, whether you’re an outliner or not.

So, take a day for it. I’ve given you both options, so if you’re in the middle of a work, you’ll take some time to outline what you have left, and if you’re at the end, you’ll take some time to refine what you’ve already done.

Especially during the holidays, it’s important that we don’t forget any of the steps involved with writing. There’s a lot we have to do, be it writing, reading, researching, outlining, or editing—and we cannot allow ourselves to let any of it go by the wayside, even during a time of year where we rarely have time for anything.

Treat yourself.

Take a day, or an afternoon, or just a couple hours, and do what needs doing. Treat your writing to what it needs. Sit down in a quiet room (or a loud one, if that’s your thing) and figure out where your story is going. Determine what’s really going on in the story, what you need, what you don’t need. If there’s editing that needs doing, do it. If you need to figure out what’s going on in the story, sit down and plot it out.

The point is, you can’t let this stuff slide, and if you set aside some time for it, you can have some fun with it. Play around with your story, figure out what you can and cannot do with it. There are a million options, so explore them. Try out a few different outlines, see if they suck or if they’d make your story better. Work out some editing kinks, see if you have any extra characters that could be cut out without altering the story (I’ll be honest with you, I’ve had a few of those in my day).

But, make sure you think of it as a treat. Don’t think of it as a chore you have to do, a thing that you don’t want to do but that you have to. Keep it in your head, that this is a treat. This is time you’re taking, during the holidays, to make sure you’re still doing the things your writing needs you to do.

Yeah, I’ll take a day this week. Pinky promise.

[love and merry Christmas!]

{Rani Divine}

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Don't forget to read

Hey guys! How’s your week going? Hopefully it’s grand. I had a bunch of stuff going on on Monday, and now I have no idea what day of the week it is… but I think I’m still on track for everything. I hope.

And that’s what makes this month’s series so special, to me. Because it’s a list of ways that I can treat myself too—and yes, I will be taking part in all of them. In fact, I may take tomorrow for this one.

Number Two:

Reading Day

Just like people watching, reading is a way for us to get better at what we do. It’s how we learn about craft, how we develop new ideas and come up with better ways to word and vary our sentences. If we’re not reading, that probably means our writing hasn’t changed in a very long time, and probably means people will be getting bored with our style by now. So! We’d better be reading then, shouldn’t we?

But December is one of the busiest months on the planet, and taking a full day to read isn’t always as easy as it sounds. So, that’s not what I’m asking you to do.

Remember, this month is all about ways to treat yourself.

So, I want you to make sure you treat yourself, and your writing, by taking a day and making sure you read. Otherwise, I know how it is. We don’t read when we get busy. Unfortunately, it’s frequently one of the first things that goes on the backburner. I don’t like that that happens, but sometimes there’s not much way around it.

Right now though, we’re still early in the month. This is the first full week of December. Now’s the time to make sure you fit in some good reading time. Take a day, and read every single chance you get. Read before you get ready in the morning, read on the bus on the way to work, read on your lunch break, and read when you’re done with dinner. Read every single chance you get—and take some notes while you’re at it.

That’s the thing a lot of us forget to do. We think of writing as a treat for us, but we forget that it’s also the way we get better at what we do.

So, take notes.

While you’re having your amazing writing day, write down a few things that you liked (or didn’t like) about the craft in the book your reading. Maybe there’s a sentence you absolutely love. Write that down, analyze why you like it so much. Or, maybe there’s a character who falls flat but stays in the story the whole time. Write that down too, and maybe try to pinpoint what you don’t like about them.

The point is, this day isn’t just about reading. It’s also about writing.

This month, let’s all take a day to read—and to get better at what we do, along the way.

[love and Merry Christmas]

{Rani Divine}