Defiance Or Exorcism: Why Do You Write?

i know what i'm doing

I don’t think any of us even know what day it is anymore. I certainly don’t. JARVIS informed me sniffily that it was my turn to write a post, so I wrote one. If it’s the wrong day, then blame JARVIS, who gave me the reminder, or Pepper, who probably programmed the date in the calendar in the first place. I, however, am totally 100% blame-free and will remain that way until I choose to admit that I get things wrong which is, to be perfectly honest, never going to happen. Certainly not where my hair’s involved.

(You thought the hair jokes were gone. You thought they were never coming back. You were WRONG.)

I thought, for lack of advice to give about the writing process, I’d talk about some of the motivations you might have for writing. See, when I started, there were really only two options, as far as I could see. Either you were writing because you wanted to be famous, to make money, and see your books turned into a film franchise that spawned terrifying bobbleheads and other inane toys, or you were writing because you took pleasure in emotional and mental anguish and were going to be spending your life in an attic somewhere anyway, so it might as well involve writing novels.

I think there were probably other reasons, like wanting to be hailed as a literary genius or have your work analysed to death by schoolchildren or have teenagers write incredibly inappropriate fan fiction about the eight-hundred-year-old supernatural creatures in your novel. But the other two were the main ones.

Don’t ask which was mine. Just don’t even go there.

It turns out there are hundreds of reasons for choosing to take up writing, and all of them are just as valid as each other. Radical, I know, but hey, that’s how things are.

Loneliness

Personally I’d always combat that with building artificial intelligence to keep me company and make sassy comments as necessary, but I understand that not everyone is a genius or has access to tech like mine, so I guess writing’s a good substitute. I mean, characters are basically like AI, except infinitely less cool. It’s a way of dealing with having no friends.

Boredom

This can be because you’ve genuinely nothing better to do or because you just moved to a new town, new school, and they’ve put you in classes you already took a couple of years back because you’re slightly more than averagely intelligent for a high schooler (nothing on me, though), and your brainpower’s gotta go somewhere, right? So you start writing. Or drinking immoderately and taking recreational drugs. People deal with things differently.

Defiance

I knew a girl who started writing because everybody told her she didn’t have time to write novels, she’d never get it all done, she was too young to be a writer … etc. I mean, she loved stories already, but she wanted to prove them wrong about novels. And she did. Last time I looked she’d written an inordinately high number and way too many blog posts, so she’s probably pretty lonely as well. And bored. I hear there was even poetry involved, which is taking the ‘teen loner’ thing to a whole new level. Wow. We-ird.

Creativity

There’s always one who contradicts everyone saying, “You don’t have to be the stereotypical ‘creative type’! Writing’s not about inspiration, it’s about perspiration!” Whatever. They have creativity coming out of their ears. They’re struck by ideas continuously and they’ll scrawl them anywhere: on exam papers, in fancy notebooks, on their arms, on your arms. They stare distantly into space, dress like they raided three different people’s closets, and hum if you get too close. The creative type. Be wary of them. If you are one of them, refer to the section on “exorcism”.

Aspiration

Some people do want to be a famous writer. And that’s actually okay. Writing is a business, and while the Romantic idea of a starving writer living in a garret and writing solely for their love of words might be appealing, just remember that most Romantic writers were actually aristocrats and the reason they were malnourished was because they had too much sex. Or maybe that was just Lord Byron. (Yes, that actually happened. Click the link if you don’t believe me.) Anyway, the point is, you’re allowed to want to be famous. You need to realise that it’s unlikely and you’re just a hack like the rest of us, but then keep shooting for the stars. If you want to make money and a living and hit the papers because of the books you wrote then man, get on and write the books. If your aspirations lie more in the direction of literary greatness, awards, and incomprehensible (but very beautiful) prose, then go for it. I guess. Though if you can write lit fic involving superheroes, I’d be far more interested in all that introspective navel-gazing.

Exorcism

I don’t mean actual literal demon-exorcism. I mean that bad stuff happens to everyone, and sooner or later you’ll realise it’s haunting you, hanging over you like a personal raincloud. Writing can be a great way of forcing the cloud to burst: you might be temporarily drenched, but then the sun can come out. But writing isn’t a substitute for therapy. So if you need help, get help. (Counsellors often recommend keeping a journal, but keeping a journal =/= counselling.)

As you can see, people start writing for all sorts of reasons. No one is more valuable than any other, and anybody who tells you that your reasons are no good is probably a terrible person and you should maybe actually exorcise them. Or don’t. Whatever you do, don’t say I told you to do it, because Pepper will kill me.

Do you think I’ve missed anything off this list? Did you start writing for another reason? Let me know in the comments, because nobody ever talks to me, and soon I’ll be the lonely one.

-- Iron Man

peace

PS: in case you missed my not-so-subtle self promo up there, my alter ego just released a poetry collection, because she’s actually the female teetotal virgin reincarnation of Lord Byron (they share a birthday and a love of melodrama and poetry, but on reflection, not a lot else). She’d be really thrilled if you could check it out.

The Fine Line Between Laziness and a Lack of Motivation

It's been a while since I posted on here. Unfortunately, I can't use 'fighting bad guys' as an excuse, because frankly, I wasn't. I wasn't writing, I wasn't reading, I wasn't doing anything besides sulking. It was beyond writer's block. It was a life block.

I called myself lazy.

Then I realized that was a lie.

That's when I learned something: there's a fine line between laziness and lack of motivation, and I had just discovered it.

By definition, laziness is the quality of being unwilling to work or use energy.
And lack of motivation is the lack reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.

So what does this have to do with writing?

Writing is work. But not just physical work, where you pick up a pen and write words. Writing is emotional, maybe even spiritual. And if you're lazy, well, you can't call yourself a writer. But if you're lacking the motivation, then yes, you can still be a writer. My point? If someone—and this someone can be yourself—calls you lazy, don't take it to heart, unless you know with utmost certainty that it's true. If it's true, then I don't even want to talk to you.

If it isn't? Don't let the word destroy you. Because a word can destroy a writer. Every time you pick up your pen/pencil or plug-in your computer to those outlets that deliver electricity, you'll hear that word in your mind. It will hinder your muse, it will hurt your emotions. Your writing won't be the same.

But now you're saying: what's the difference? Whether I call it a lack of motivation or laziness, it's still a form of writer's block, or living block, if you will. It's still THERE.

But it isn't. A lack of motivation is something you can fix. Find a way to get motivated. Read some of your favorite novels, read author success stories. Get your head back in the game, or your lack of motivation will turn into laziness.

And always remember: there's a fine line between laziness and a lack of motivation. Stay on the right side.

From Pantsing to Plotting

In my last post, just a couple weeks ago, I talked about setting goals for the New Year. Well in regards to my own writing I’ve set some of my own goals. And the one I want to talk about is this: 

To outline a novel and then write that novel.

Previously on YAvengers there hasn’t been much talk about Plotting vs. Pantsing, except for Hulk’s post about it. However, it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about it recently in regards to my own writing. I’ve always been a Panster (aka, someone who writes by the seat of their pants). I get an idea and I GO. And so far I’ve written three novels this way! Of course, one was slightly outlined due to it being part of a course. But Pantsing has worked for me for the most part. I pantsed Nanowrimo (am I the only one who thinks this sounds funny?) and it worked! It CAN be done.

I’ll be honest I’ve never given much thought to being a Plotter. Sure it’s crossed my mind but generally when
I get an idea I jot it down, write a couple sentences and any other main things I know and then try to write. If I want to rewrite a novel, I read my first draft, Gag a lot, write down a couple notes and try to write. 

Emphasis on TRY to write.

Lately I’ve been feeling a lack of creativity and direction when it comes to my writing. I love to discover these new stories in my brain. I love to build them up in my head and even spend lots of time visualizing on Pinterest. (Lots of time) But when I try to sit down and write it, out comes nothing. Nothing but crap that is.

I’ve decided that I don’t have enough direction. I know and love the idea, but I don’t know where I want that to take me. I don’t know the first steps to take to get to that nowhere. I don’t really know anything about my story. And so I’ve decided to try an outline. Truth be told I’ve considered it for the LONGEST time. Never seriously though, because outlines have always scared me.

The one experience I had with outlines was a bad one. I felt like I was sitting there forcing my brain to come up with content when really I should be “building and creating” my story. I didn’t know what I’d done wrong! So I gave up the idea behind the Outline.

Until now.

My lack of writing recently pushed me to ask for help. Help in books. [Where else would I turn to?] So I asked and got three fantastic writing books for Christmas. I’m very excited to use these in the my writing process. However the first one I’m reading and very much planning to implement is Outlining Your Novel; Map Your Way to Success. I’ve only just begun to read it, but I already feel so much better and excited to outline my book. It’s going to be a new experience and one that will probably stretch my brain and take lots of work, but I know that my story is going to be better and I am going to be a better writer because of it.

So in sharing my story I guess I just have one piece of advice, don’t get set on your ways of writing. Try new things. You might be doing awesome in your writing now, but the might find that one trick to your system that makes you fantastic!

And good luck with your writing! Whatever goals you set for yourself they are going to be awesome. Whether it’s to write a novel, to write two, or try something totally different like me! Just don’t let the Humbugs get you down. You hold the pen, you’re in control.

Later Days, 
Hawkeye

If you’re looking for some good writing books here are links to the ones I received that are totally fantastic:

Outlining Your Novel by K. M. Weiland
Structuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland
Self- Editing For Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King

Thor's Thoughts: Tenacity and Grit

Good day fellow writers!

It is Monday, and that means the beginning of a new week. It is January, which means the beginning of a new year. And will not 2014 be a great year for us all? Doctor Banner and the Archer were kind enough to review 2013 and give sage advice on looking forward into the coming year. I would like to offer my own bit of encouragement in the area of reaching goals.

1. BE TENACIOUS.

SuperAgent Janet Reid wrote about this back in November. Aspiring writers tend to question every little thing when they are starting out. How important is a platform? How long should my chapters be? How much should I tweet? what should I blog about? Should I blog at all?

The answer is, success is so much more than any of that.

For us in YA, the market is very saturated, and tough to break into. But it is not impossible. The key to success -- in any aspect of life, but particularly in publishing -- is TENACITY. Determination. Long-term faith in the goals you have set for yourself. It's not about getting published tomorrow, or next week, or even this year. But if we devote ourselves to the little steps -- writing a certain word count each day/week/month -- we will gradually grow and our goals will become reality. Never give up. If you have a goal to be published, continue to do what it takes to make that a reality, no matter how long it takes.



2. GRIT

This video is by Angela Lee Duckworth, a researcher with the University of Pennsylvania where they study such abstract things as GRIT to try and determine the keys to success. Her conclusions are that the main factor in success is -- as we said above -- a resolute determination to succeed no matter the challenges.

Writers, our road is not an easy one. Especially in YA, we have the constantly new audience base, the challenge of pleasing not only young people but the adults who also read YA, then there are the parents who want their children reading certain things but we want to be real to the teens, yet what is real? Do we even know?

My only advice to you, here at the beginning of 2014 is this:

decide what you want to do, and do it.

And may the Gods of Asgard watch over your progress.
I know I will.

-THOR



Hello 2014!

Well as of right now 2013 is officially history. Two thousand and fourteen has arrived bringing fresh starts, new opportunities and another year to accomplish writing!


It's pretty common around this time for people to take into account all these things and set those New Years Resolutions. Be it in regards to personal life or hobbies. Which also makes this a great time to asses your writing and what you want to accomplish for the new year.

As far as this goes for writing, I'm going to leave it up to you. Everyone writes and does things differently. Everyone considers progress made differently! So all I have to suggest is this;

Take a step back,
set your writing down 

Assess your work,
refresh yourself

And set some new goals.  
and get pumped up for the awesome to come! 

THEN GO PARTY OUT THE NEW YEAR!
to balance it all out.

Here's to a new year to be filled with books; written and unwritten! May it rock!

Hawkeye