Things I’m Doing

I recently finished a new draft of Book 2 in my SHADE series and now that I’m done I’m getting that, “so now what?” kind of feeling. I’m trying to decide whether the book needs to go into cold storage for future editing or if I should try and fix things I think may need fixing. But I go through this with every novel, every major draft.

Book 2 got split into Book 2 and Book 3, which means Book 3 is practically finished already. Woot! I think I’ve discussed this before, but have you ever had to do that? It was a super hard decision I fought for a month or two. This must be the outliner/plotter in me that when a draft has been completed, it’s completed! Luckily I’ve done enough revisions over the last couple of years the logic side of my brain comes out to remind me all the goodness that awaits in revising.

But there can be too much revising, or rather too much at the wrong time. I’m a firm believer that drafts need to rest. The cache needs to be cleared.

The odd thing was when I started new draft, I had no motivation to write it. I was still fighting that old splitting decision. Now that it’s come to an end, my motivation demands more writing. It’s a nice feeling.

So I’m turning to project codename CLEMMINGS. Originally I’d only planned it as a novelette at best. Now I’m trying to figure out a novel’s worth of plot. Sometimes it’s tough in the beginning. For me it always seems to help if I ask myself a bunch of questions.

  • Who is the apparent villain?
  • Who is the true villain?
  • What’s the main goal?
  • Can I make characters that seem like they are good guys be bad guys and vice versa?
  • What’s the point of the whole story?
  • How would I like for the main character to arc?
  • If this person is the villain, what does that mean for everyone else?
  • What do my characters believe about their world and how does that move the story forward?

Stuff like that. Sometimes I type it, sometimes I write it in a notebook. The nice thing about physically writing things like this down is you can see the progression of your thoughts. It is possible to see that digitally, it’s just more apparent physically. Many an outline has started that way, though I organize all those thoughts digitally in the end. It’s hard to keep my notes straight after a point, the way I write them.

OTHER THINGS I’M DOING

I decided to save on gas and improve health I wanted to purchase and use more often a bicycle. It takes around 45 minutes to bike into work (mostly depending on me) and it’s not super easy, but I’ve noticed my happiness factor has increased since doing it. That doesn’t mean I never have bad days, but they certainly seem easier to cope with.

Yesterday I went out to a trail that’s an old railroad route. Utah’s natural state isn’t typically much more than prairie grass and sagebrush in the valley. And while there is that along this trail, there was also lots of trees, marshland, wildflowersβ€”even a tunnel and a couple of creeks. And though several cyclists passed me by frequently (we have a high concentration of legit cyclists, both of the road and mountain persuasion), I kept reminding myself to enjoy the ride rather than keep the pace.

It really helps clear the cache. I’ve been trying to walk, too, in order to keep my feet conditioned for tour guiding. I feel like it’s making me a better writer, all this exercise, for how much it alleviates stress. Sometimes I think about my stories, sometimes I don’t.

It just seems stopping and smelling the roses so to speak has helped me maintain some balance.

MY OTHER DISTRACTIONS

Candy Crush Saga and the farm one (most of you know what I’m talking about) have also occasionally been pushing their way into the horizon. But I think it’s important to know yourself. And while there are times when I probably play a little too much of these games, I find them also to be good cache-clearers while I’m writing. Sometimes when I was stuck on a certain scene, all it took was a game or two and I had clarity again. And if that didn’t work, the walk or the bike ride.

Curse those stinkin’ jellies!

Whether games, exercise, TV shows/movies (and I consume plenty of these as well), I think if done in good measure can be helpful to our mental health and our writer health.

So, with all that being said, what are some things you do to keep up mental/physical/writer health? Are there things you definitely can’t do? Anything you’d recommend that has worked well in your life? What things help you through difficult scenes? What things help you through difficult moments of life?

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17 thoughts on “Things I’m Doing

  1. I’ve been dodging the Candy Crush invites for months. πŸ™‚ As for relaxing and clearing my head, I use a stationary bike every morning. Without having to worry about traffic and lights, I can drift off and ponder the writing sections that I have to tackle that day. If not that then I go over all the errands I have to do, which is not as much fun.

  2. Hi Jae! I’m happy to see that you’ve been getting lots of writing in. I also find that exercise (particularly when it’s outdoors) clears my mind and encourages creativity. Lately, I’ve been working on final edits to one of my WIPs. I had to put it away for more than 6 months before I could finish it up.

    • Ooh! Final edits sounds exciting. I hope it’s becoming what you wanted it to be. I love it when a WIP is nearing the end. 6 months eh? Makes me wonder if it’s time to dig out some old WIPs. πŸ˜‰ thanks for stopping by!

  3. I get what you mean about the exercise and relieving stress. Now that the weather is better, I’ve been walking my dogs a lot.

    Regarding games, I remember that JK Rowling used to play Mine Sweeper while writing Harry. She started after she quit smoking, using it the way she used to use cigarette breaks.

    Congrats on all that work on book 2/3! Keep up the good work. πŸ™‚

      • It was a small kerfuffle. Lots of fans got mad at her for posting that she beat the most difficult level in a new for her record time. They were like “If you have time to play that, you should be writing.”

        This was before the advent of social media games. So for all we know Candy Crush could be her new thing. πŸ˜‰

        • Fans. I’m sure it’s a love/hate relationship. If only they knew the pain in writing a story… I’m sure she’s played Candy Crush at least once. πŸ˜‰

  4. Oh, the wonders of games that take up just enough brain power to get your mind moving, but not enough to fully distract you. These are double-edged swords, great for getting ideas to come, but difficult to lay aside to write those ideas.
    I recently went through a Candy Crush addiction. I’m just glad there’s a five life limit. It’s taken me a bit, but now I’m back to moderation.

  5. So APPARENTLY WordPress thinks I don’t need to see your posts in my feed. I’ll have to check back more often. But just so you know, I think of you every time I see a puffin souvenir in a shop.

    And I see a LOT of them.

    I find that exercise helps me, too. Lets my mind wander to other things, and walking seems to be working for me as an antidepressant. So yay!

    • Aww, what are you doing WordPress? I’ve been absent from the blog scene lately, so posts probably won’t happen more than once a week, but I do appreciate you stopping by. πŸ™‚ I’m determined to buy myself a puffin when I come visit you someday.

  6. Congrats on finishing your draft! Such a great feeling. πŸ™‚ And I used to bike to work, too – it definitely made me much happier. It was just far enough that I was actually happy to get to work, and then I’d bike home and be done with both work and my exercise for the day, which is always nice. πŸ™‚

    Good luck with your new project! I just started a new project, too, and the questions you shared are super helpful to think about. Happy writing! πŸ™‚

    • Ooh, another new project? Sounds like fun! I’m glad the questions were helpful. I think sometimes just asking the question is enough. If I can’t think of the answer right away, I feel like my brain will keep searching.

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