Random Writing Tip #2 – Paper

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I don’t really like writing tips. I find them to be mostly the same regurgitated crap all over the internet. But after being stuck in a total editing rut for weeks I decided to take action and put into practice some of the editing tips I’ve heard about, but completely ignored previously. 

And I feel a bit stupid because one of them actually really helped. 

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I have no idea where this gif is from but I love this girl’s style.

OK, so what’s the tip? It’s freaking PAPER you guys! I know right? It’s just paper. 

I printed out my first nine chapters…

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Then went to bed with all the bits of paper, a cup of tea, some tea light candles,  my iPhone speakers which are awesome and in the shape of a cat, and a metallic purple pen. I like this one from Paperchase. And I sat there, in bed. And I read the first four chapters in one sitting, purple penning as I went. 

And most of it wasn’t so bad. I didn’t hate it nearly as much as I thought I was going to! 

Everything looks different on paper. It looks real. It looks like a real manuscript. Real words on real paper. It’s almost like it’s parts of a book! 

If you don’t do this already, get yourself some printed pages and get to bed immediately! x

 

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Hi, I’m Vicci and I’m a Procrastinator

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I’m sitting here looking at my to do list for this wintry Sunday. It’s 11:27am and I’ve only crossed off email and Facebook. During the week I listened to some podcasts about procrastinating to help me break this vicious cycle which were actually pretty cool. They said make to do lists. So I went out and bought a note pad of pretty multicoloured papers and a horse pen – Happy year of the wooden horse! – thinking it would motivate me. It has motivated me, but only to make the list. Not to actually do the things on the list.

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So now I’m Google searching “how to stop procrastinating” even though I know the way to stop procrastinating is to stop Googling.

Let’s examine Lifehack’s 11 Practical Ways to Stop Procrastination and try to put them into action.

1. Break work into little steps. Yep, I’ve done that. I’ve made the to do list outlining what I want to achieve today. What chapters I’m going to work on and for how long. I just haven’t opened Scrivener yet.

2. Change your environment. I can’t go anywhere or I’ll get even more distracted. I’ve tried it before. Starbucks? No. Library? No. I can’t move rooms because I get serious RSI from Facebooking, I mean writing, in bed. So I have to sit at the dining table. I cleaned and so it’s actually quite nice in here. Maybe I can switch to the other chair. Nope, can’t be bothered.

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3. Create a detailed timeline with specific deadlines. I’ve tried this before too. Unless my deadline comes with a screaming boss, disappointed lecturer or no pay-check I find it hard to stick to my own deadlines when I’m the only one I’m accountable to.

4. Eliminate your procrastination pit-stops. It says stop using the internet. That’s a good one. I actually downloaded Nanny for Google Chrome but I’m yet to add any blocks to it. I had a good intention with that one, but then the fear of not being able to use websites was just plain scary.

5. Hang out with people who inspire you to take action. It says here I should hang out with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates for 10 minutes, or some people I know who are similar to those guys. How about Miley? She’s so inspirational right now.

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6. Get a buddy. I’ve got lots of buddies!

7. Tell others about your goals. Doing that right now…

8. Seek out someone who has already achieved the outcome. I’m trying but JK Rowling doesn’t return my calls

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9. Re-clarify your goals.This ones suggests getting away from your work. I like this one. Perhaps I’ll just have the whole day off to think about my goals.

10. Stop over-complicating things. A suggestion here that I’m a perfectionist and that’s why I’m procrastinating. Probably.

11. Get a grip and just do it. Yeah OK. That’s totally worked. I’m going to go do it right now.

Is it just me or does most of the advice that exists about how to stop procrastinating total BS? If I could just do it, I would just do it. The problem for me is not that I have no passion or goals, I just struggle with that first bit where you have to open the file you are working on and then look at it, and then read it, and then write something. Once I’ve started writing I’m fine, I can go for days, I love it, I become completely immersed in my story and my characters and I forget about the whole rest of the Universe. I just. can’t. get. started.

Please, please people of the internet stop with these lists of practical advice strategies and just tell me how to open my file when it’s not open yet. What I really need is someone to open it for me and then point to the bit I need to work on and then give me a hug and tell me I’m going to be the next Stephanie Meyer and then bring me a tea and some biscuits.

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I dream of John Green

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I am a huge fan of John Green. I can’t say I’ve read all his books, because Paper Towns is still sitting on my bedside table in the gigantor pile of books to read. But I kinda like that it’s there. It makes me feel like a little bit of John Green magic is still out there waiting for me if I ever finish Outlander/Cross Stitch. I’m on page 68 so I’m making pretty terrible progress. I was really getting into it until the sex scene a couple pages back. Is it just me or are sex scenes in books almost always really cringey and not that hot? I gave up on the Sookie Stackhouse books, although I do very much enjoy True Blood, because of the awful sex scenes. I mean really? Can’t we just elude to these things? I’m not a prude especially, but we’re already in the protagonist’s head and know their every thought, can we give them just a little privacy?

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Nice segue into my John Green Dream.

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No, it wasn’t that kind of dream.

So I’m somewhere in America, it’s very green (ha!) and there is a river. I go off to teach my writing class and I happen upon John Green. He’s like Hi. I’m like Hi, John Green. Then he says he’d love to give me some writing tips and I’m about to hear them and then my alarm goes off and wakes me the hell up. This is like my version of those dreams where you are about to make out with your celebrity crush or something and then…

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So when I got home from work I looked up a bunch of John Green memes and quotes on Pinterest, just to check if he’d left my message somewhere, but no. It was just the usual John Green quotes like this one:

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But I think I actually like the above pizza version better. You can totally write your own version of this that you can put in your YA novels so that people can make cool pictures for Pinterest based on your book later. Here’s an example of what I’m thinking…

“So she walked through time and space and collapsed onto the red leather couch, thinking that if people were drinks she was an old flat bottle of 7-up and he was a shot of vintage whiskey.”

Could I write my whole novel based on a John Green novel?!

And so I continue to live my life with no actual personal writing advice from John Green, but I live in hope that I will have the dream again tonight, or tomorrow night, or one night soon, and he will tell me all the secrets to the YA novel writing universe.

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Procrastination by casting

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I’ve been working on this novel for like 5 years on and off and editing is pretty heavy going sometimes. Especially when you are trying to work on the scenes that don’t work. I know I should just delete them, but I did that once in a fit of rage and lost huge parts of my plot. So now I just leave notes all over Scrivener saying “BIG MESS SORT OUT”, “EDIT THIS PROPERLY”, “WTF” etc. while I re-read and re-edit occasional odd words in the chapters I really like.

Casting my characters out of celebrities is just one of my many favourite ways to procrastinate. Pinterest and scrapbooking are a really great way to do “research” for your novel when you just can not write words. It kind of feels like a bludge looking at pretty pictures but it really helps me to see my story come alive. It gives me something constructive and creative to do when I have writer’s block and makes me feel like even though I didn’t really write, I still spent a lot of time working on characterisation. Or something like that.

Most of my characters are a mash-up of a bunch of celebrities. I never started out writing characters based on anyone, it’s just kind of happened over time.

And over time John Cusack became Jack. Hey hang on… J (ohn, Cus) ack. Wow. I never noticed that until RIGHT THEN! #Destiny

So in the interest of procrastination today I would like to introduce you to Jack. Jack is the only hipster in town and he’s so far off the chain that he wears brown converse chucks to school when he should be wearing brown leather dress shoes. He’s totally ridiculous! In the movie Jack will be played by a young John Cusack. #reasonsweneedtimetravel. I guess actual John Cusack could play old Jack if I wrote a scene for that. Ha, my writer’s block is over! I’m going to go write that scene right now. Someone get me @JohnCusack’s address and I’ll send him my manuscript immediately!

Here’s a bunch of reasons in gifs why young John Cusack shall be invited onto my casting couch when he works out how to time travel to the present.

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ImageWhat Jack thinks about wearing the correct school shoes

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ImageJack’s great because he’s always got spare pens

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And here’s a Halloween costume that is really good.

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Random Writing Tip #1 – Headphones

If you like writing to a soundtrack like I do, you might enjoy it even more whilst wearing headphones. I’ve started doing this even when no one else is home and I’m totally digging it. My purple headphones are really comfy and make my ears feel happy. There’s something about the sound of the 1980’s pumping straight into my brain that makes it even easier to block out reality and get into my story world.

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