Reading as a Writer

Most writers will tell you that they grew up as avid readers. Not all, of course, but a lot of them. I am one of these writers. My parents were diligent. They’d read to me before bed, and I’d spend Saturday mornings wandering the stacks of the Hawaii State Library before my weekly ballet class.

Reading has always been a touchstone for me. The Harry Potter series was my first true love. I’d devour Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, and Ray Bradbury to soothe the anxieties that made it difficult for me to go to class or try new things. When something hard happened, I’d find a story that could help me feel my emotions and sort through them. The 9/11 Attacks, death, disappointment, broken hearts, every difficult thing that I went through, I had words to help me figure it out.

But when you decide to be a writer, it’s a good idea to sometimes approach reading with a slightly different mindset. It’s not that you should stop immersing yourself in books or stop enjoying your books, but you should think about them, too. Pay attention to books, especially books you enjoy and authors that you admire.

Keeping Track Continue reading

Advertisements

What’s in a Name?

Many writers use pen names. Sometimes they started writing in a different genre from the one they’d started in. Maybe they’re disguising their gender (especially in genres like romance). It could be something as simple as not liking the name they were born into or the name they took on marriage. In the age of internet, it’s something that has even more consequences.

I started writing with a pseudonym of sorts. Everything connects to who I am, and I’ve been consistent, but I started at a very young age and I wanted to make sure that it wouldn’t affect looking for a job or getting into college (I was also a precocious child). The thing is: I don’t know if I want to keep writing under a pseudonym, not when I (hopefully) get published.

Many cultures hold strong beliefs about names, but Hawaiians believe that a given name is what a child becomes as an adult. In fact, Hawaiians traditionally didn’t give names until the child’s first birthday (which is one reason first birthday parties are such a big deal here), and a lot of thought and meditation goes into it. An equal amount of thought would have to go into choosing a pen name for me to feel comfortable with it.

This name does have certain connotations for me. I like it, even, but it’s not the name I inherited from my father or the name my parents gave me. I’m mixed-race, as well, and I wonder if I should try to pull in more of my heritage in a pen name (Spanish isn’t too unusual for readers, but Hawaiian might raise eyebrows).

 

Then there’s my fandom dealings. The reason I have a pen name to begin with is that I was heavily involved in the Potter fandom. I’ve even written fanfiction and essays, and I’m currently blogging about my newest re-reads. That’s another reason why I’m not sure if I should write original fiction under my fandom name, or if I should branch out. I have what may be a surprisingly large following for my fanworks.

It’s all very confusing. This isn’t even something I really have to think about until I get an agent or a publishing deal, to be honest, but it does bother me.

Right… so, I’m worrying about something I really don’t have to worry about now (I have a tendency to do that). Do any of you write under a pseudonym? Do you think it’s worth the trouble?

Heartbruises and Black Ink

An absolutely brilliant look at another type of writer — one who need inspiration more than planning. Highly recommended blog that doesn’t have enough followers.

Oh, The Blinking Cursor:

Today’s post wasn’t on the blog schedule.  I want that out and understood, because it’s going to be a weird one.

We can call it motivation, I suppose.  But in a very real sense, at least for me, and I would assume for most people who write emotionally, who write poetry, their motivation is… emotion.  It’s what fuels a writer like me, fuels me.  If I don’t feel anything for what I write, its like there’s no soul to my piece.

It seems that writers of my ilk seem to thrive on heart-bruises.  A double edged sword, to be sure, because it means there’s constantly conflict.  In order to craft, we need it, and that means there is… rarely peace in our lives.

…an old writer friend of mine wrote a poem, and the following stanza is from it [see it here].

“…give me something to write about

won’t…

View original post 158 more words

What Do You Mean, “How Do You Write”?

The idea for this post didn’t come easily. I hadn’t yet started writing anything regular (a buffer is a good idea when it comes to me), so I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go with the post. Should I write more about pre-writing, or maybe how to deal with the inevitable question of whether I can call myself a writer? It all seemed too contrived and, frankly, rather boring.

To try to figure it out, I was talking with a close friend, and the conversation went something like this (it’s paraphrased):

Her: Hm. How you write. How it makes you feel.

Me: I just… write. I don’t know how to explain it.

Her: Hm.

Me: I mainly just… write.

Her: Okay, how do you prepare to write?

Me: What do you mean?

Her: You really do just sit down and write, don’t you?

Me: …I think so.

It sounds like less work than it is. I do a lot of pre-writing or I have the story set up in my head when I sit down to write. So… when I do write, I am just putting pen to paper or fingers to keys, and the words usually flow easily. My notes and outlines are next to me so I can refer to them, and I’m constantly re-reading what I’ve just written. If I’m having trouble with a word or phrase, or I’m unsure about a fact, I highlight it or circle it and work on the issue later. It doesn’t usually slow me down.

Unlike others, there is no specific place or set-up needed for me to write. I don’t need music or a sunny day in the park; I need a computer or my notebook and a pen. I never had the luxury of choosing the place when I had time or the level of noise, so I can write as easily at a party as I can alone in the library.

My writing habit is that I never had the opportunity to form a habit. A part of me needed to write, to tell a story, so I wrote when I had the opportunity. I’ve been known to stop mid-conversation so I could scrawl something in my notebook or on a napkin or (a few times) on my arm. Yes, I’m that odd.

So, when people ask how I write, I don’t have a response that doesn’t sound obnoxious, but it is honest. All I do is write.

What do you do? Do you have specific set-up that’s needed to write? Do you need music or your desk or can you write anytime, anywhere? When you can’t get what you want, can you still write?

 

Trying to Wrangle My Ideas

Earlier in this blog, I spoke about where I get my ideas. As important as getting ideas is, you also need to be able to keep track of them. You wouldn’t believe (unless you’re a writer as well) how often I’ve lost an idea because it was right as I was falling asleep or my pen ran out of ink when I most needed it. It’s frustrating to remember how much I liked an idea only to not have a cohesive memory of what the idea was.

Herding My Ideas

I have methods. Anyone who knows you will tell you that I have methods, and they only serve to highlight my personal brand of insanity. Either I’m crazily disorganized or everything is in a very particular place and woe be to those who disturb my system. To try to capture all of my roaming ideas, I have three methods. Continue reading

The Plan

Jo (my good friend — check out her blog here) will tell you that I love plans. I love plans and lists and schedules. Carrying them out is a completely different story, but I do much better when I know what I still have to do. For one thing, I actually finish things every once in a while.

Like I mentioned in my last post, my first major rejection led me to create a set of goals and lists. To help with my accountability, I thought I’d share them all with you.

Short Stories

My ability with short fiction is really surprisingly poor. When I have an assignment or it’s fanfiction (yes, I know) I do fine. For an assignment, I know exactly what I’m trying to say and how long it needs to be, and with fanfiction I have a set of books and movies and other canon to support what is usually an unseen part of the story. But when it comes to my writing, I tend to think in long-term stories, in novels. This is an attempt to write more short fiction and work on it afterward.

  • Write 250 words/day for 5 days a week.
  • Write based off of a prompt once a week.
  • Editing a story for at least 30 minutes instead of writing.

Novels

Novels, I think, are more my speed. I have at least one major series, and several other books waiting to be written. What I need to work on here is actually writing out those ideas. For the series, I need to outline it fully as it’s a little complicated and needs to be planned before I start writing.

  • Write 250 words/day for 5 days a week.
  • Work on an outline for  30 minutes at least once a week (or instead of writing if I don’t have anything in the wings — like now).
  • Editing a story for at least 30 minutes once a week (also instead of writing).

Blogs

Writing for the blogs is a way to force myself to… well, write. This is pretty straightforward.

  • 1 post/week for this blog
  • 3 posts/week for my Harry Potter blog
  • At this point I’m planning the LBL blog, and trying to decide whether I’m going to keep it or not.

Reading

For someone who spent her childhood reading a stack of books a week, I haven’t been reading a lot lately. It’s mostly depression and exhaustion, but I need to get over it.

  • Read 30 minutes/day
  • Keep a reading journal
  • Write a review after each book (don’t know if I’ll be posting this or just keeping it for myself)

That’s everything. It might seem like a lot, but it’ll only come out to… three hours a day, maybe a bit longer. We’ll see how it goes, and I’ll reevaluate at the end of May. Hopefully, I won’t flop too badly.