The amazing time management trick for YA time travel novelists who don’t have enough time!

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So for those of you playing at home, you’ll know that this blog goes with my YA time travel 1980’s novel that I’m trying to get finished. But I’ve spent way too much time playing on my blog and not enough time playing on my novel. I’m also really busy. OK, everyone says they are busy, but I really am busy! I was about to go on a total rant about how busy I am, but I’ll spare you. I’ll just say I have a pretty full life and writing my novel, as much as I love it, is not the only thing I live for.

I’ve been really trying to kick my own butt though, because I’m so close to it being ‘finished’ (i.e. in a state that one could read it and maybe point out some plot holes, inconsistencies and boring bits)! So I’ve developed an awesome new (OK, probably loads of people do this) time management trick.

I call it; The amazing time management trick for YA time travel novelists who don’t have enough time! 

It basically creates time. Hello.

So you start on day 1 and you use your phone or whatever you time stuff on and you type in 30 mins (or whatever amount of time you think is the MOST time you could possibly spend writing that day). Then the next day guess what? You type in 31 mins. And then 32 mins on the next day, do you get it? It’s not rocket science.

And the best bit is that because you only add one minute on a day, it’s like you don’t even notice it! It’s like magical made-up time! 

You’ll be writing all day in no time and still be able to go to work! :-O

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Sixteen Candles

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Yesterday was 30 years since Sixteen Candles was released. What a freaking awesome movie! If you’ve never seen it your life is not complete.

I thought I’d celebrate by posting an excerpt from chapter 3. How very exciting!!

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“Nope, I look exactly the same as I have since summer. Utterly forgettable,” said Molly Ringwald as Magz stuffed a spring roll in her mouth.

“Chinese is so good,” said Jack loading his fork with sweet and sour pork and swinging his legs up onto the coffee table.

“How’s the pork?” Magz asked through a mouth full of spring roll.

“Awesome,” said Jack. “Thanks for dinner.”

“Thank the parentals. Thank Mastercard.”

“Priceless.” Jack slurped on his Pepsi.

“You know, my parents forgot my birthday one year,” said Magz as Molly Ringwald stood downstairs waiting for someone to say Happy Birthday.

“Shut up,” said Jack taking a spring roll off her plate.

“I was twelve. That night they came home at nearly midnight with a cake and presents, pretended they hadn’t forgotten. Like it was all just a joke and it was meant to be a surprise, but it was so obvious. I sat here all night watching the Back to the Future trilogy. Alone. On my birthday. Doc Brown was just about to turn up with the steam train.”

“You were just a kid,” said Jack shaking his head. “But still, there are worse ways to spend a birthday.”

“Oh, I’ve definitely had worse birthdays.”

Vicci Scrunchie 2014 x

 

I should write chic-lit

I’ve been sitting at my desk (ha! it’s the dining table, I don’t have a desk!) all day editing my ‘manuscript’ after wanting to tear it into teeny tiny pieces last night. I got a headache from too much scowling about it.

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I’m busting my butt here. I could’ve spent my day off watching trashy TV or finishing Allegiant (why is it taking me sooooo loooong to finish?) or reading one of about a gazillion and six awesome books on my book shelf that keep on coming through the letter box from Amazon faster than I can finish reading Allegiant. I could’ve cleaned the bathroom. I could have had a really productive day on Pinterest. Or vacuumed.

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But instead I slaved away at my words. Trying to make this awesome story that lives in my head come out and live on the white glowing pages of my computer screen. Time travel, nuns, historical facts, gay kids, straight kids, 1983 kids, more historical facts, facts about deserts, it’s not easy you guys and it’s not like it’ll all be worth it because it’ll go mass production paperback. It’ll be a cult classic at best, or I’ll just post it on here for free. I’ll probably never make a dollar from it.

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I poured my heart and soul out of my body through my hands and into the computer all day long. Which was great, it was really fun. But then, while on an email break I look at an email from a literary agency, just a general mail out, what they’re up to, what books have been published etc. So I click on the latest book they’ve published. It’s a chic-lit. Not something I usually choose to read myself. It’s got that whole ‘you’ll never be complete without a man and the perfect pair of Jimmy Choos’ thing going on and that’s not really my scene. I’m more feminist in half price Converse. Chic-lit is so far away from anything I want to write. Ever. But I am going to write a chic-lit one day because I quite like the idea of writing a good one. Anyway, so I click on this book and it takes me to Amazon and so I read the first page and I was like – really?

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I don’t ever want to like, slam another author’s work, because hell I know how hard it is. And I totally get that everyone has different tastes and likes different books and for God’s sake I’m writing a teen fiction about time travelling to the 80’s! But this book could not have been worse. It was like reading paragraphs of all the stuff I’ve just edited out of my own writing because it was so meaningless, nothingness, extra words, bad dialogue, filler, just people talking about nothing, long descriptions about nothing.

I should seriously write chic-lit. I could have one done in about an hour.

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I shouldn’t blame publishers, I should blame the chics reading chic-lit. Put your chic-lit down ladies! If you want real romance and adventure pick up some YA.

Time Out

 

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“How can I find time to write?” You may have found yourself asking the internet. 

“Write every day!” The internet replies. “Make time before work, after work, late at night, weekends. If you want to be a writer you have to write every day! Do a John Grisham and get up at 4 am and write for two hours. If you don’t find time to write every day you clearly don’t really want to be a writer, do you? You have no passion and no motivation, and if you can’t help yourself then I can’t help you.”

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Urgh! I had such a crazy week last week I didn’t even wash my hair for 3 days. But according to the writer’s theory of the internet this means I have no motivation to pursue my dreams, no passion for what I’m doing and I should probably just go back to the couch and continue watching the box set of Misfits on 4OD – the only thing I’ve really done this past week, apart from either be at work or be freaking out about work. 

I get up at about 5 am every morning. Not to write, but to go to my day job. Where I stay all day. When I come home I quite often write for a couple of hours, but I also do other things. Like cook my dinner, put on laundry, or even spend time with actual humans! I do not write every day. There, I said it. Now you all know. I’m a failure at being an aspiring novelist!

My advice is this; totally write as much as you can! But on those days when you just need to veg out, hang out with your bf/gf or bff, finally finish reading a book, go to the pub or whatever else you do in your life – just go do it and don’t beat yourself up! Don’t let Pinterest quotes or other random writing advice sites make you feel like you aren’t passionate or good enough to write just because you don’t do it every day. Giving up the entirety of your minuscule moments of spare time and missing social occasions and ignoring your girlfriend so you can stay home and write your Zombie Apocalypse novel won’t make you the next Isaac Marion. Probably. Maybe it will. I don’t know. 

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All I can do is drag myself out of bed and go to work all day and then hope that listening to a Whitesnake playlist really loud on the 65 minute commute home keeps me energized enough to write when I get there. Because I do want to write. I want to write so bad. I want to write more than anything! I just also really like having food on the table and right now those two things don’t go together. But I will get there and I will finish my first readable draft by Easter weekend! I just might not do it by writing every single day, because some days I just want to sit on the couch with a pizza and a couple of beers. 

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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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Writer’s funk

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I’m in a total writer’s funk. Everything I write is crap. Everything I’ve already written is crap. Everything I edit is crap. Everything I have ever written in my whole entire life – crap. It’s not even writer’s block. Writer’s block is like you have nothing, writer’s funk is like you have SO MUCH but it’s all trash. I could sit here and type for days but nothing good is going to come out.

So I’ve written this whole YA novel, like a second draft. It’s totally rough as guts and most of it doesn’t make sense (time travel is HARD!). I got to the point where I couldn’t do it on my own any more, and because I’m not super rich or anything I recruited a couple of friends to help out, you know, just reading what I have and giving me some first impressions, what works for them, what doesn’t, you know the deal.

You might think that my funk is due to the feedback I’ve gotten and I’m all sad and crying because everyone thinks my novel is crap. But actually, the feedback has been really positive and helpful and I probably don’t deserve any of the nice things they have said because it’s SO BAD.

Every time I open a chapter to send it to someone as an email I’m re-reading it because it’s been a while since I looked at the first few chapters and everything I read is TERRIBLE!

I was reading a chapter this morning, the bit where my protagonist goes back in time, I mean that’s meant to be a big part of the story right? And as I read it I was like – OMG this is so boring. Nothing is interesting, my character sucks, my setting sucks and my story sucks.

MY WHOLE BOOK SUCKS!

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But does it really suck? Or do I just think it sucks? Am I just having a bad day? Because sometimes I re-read chapters and I giggle to myself and I think – tee hee, that’s really good!

But not today.

Am I just in a funk or should I give up all my dreams of ever being a published YA author?

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Of course I know I won’t give my dreams away. I know I’m just having a bad day but I also know I need to put in a hell of a lot more work. But is all this hard work worth it?!

I guess this is when you start asking yourself – why am I doing this?! Why do I put myself through weekends and evenings and sunny Fridays off work to sit at a laptop and want to throw it out the window because I can’t even make time travel exciting.

So why am I doing this? I could be spending my free time doing something else, like reading Insurgent, continuing my Tru Calling marathon from yesterday (OMG have you seen that show? I LOVE IT!), going outside, I mean the sun is out for the first time since October, or I could sleep, or clean, or I could do some knitting.

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So why do I do it? Why do I have these super shitty days where I think I’m the worst writer on the face of the planet and it’s all for nothing and KEEP DOING IT?

*Shrugs*

Because I love it. Even when I hate it. I don’t really hate it. I hate that I don’t think I’m good enough, but I’ll just have to get good enough.

Finding Shakespeare

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Love him or loathe him (I love him!), you’ve got to admit Shakespeare is kind of a legend in the writing biz (let’s not get into whether or not he really wrote this stuff because it will make the rest of this post much less exciting). So when destiny led me to Stratford Upon Avon a couple of weeks ago I had to go pay my respects to the man.

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The sign outside the church made him pretty easy to find. It costs £2 to go into the church and have a look. Seems a fair price to pay considering they’ve been looking after him for all these years.

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So here he was, and here I was. It was quite a moment. I felt totally connected, not only to Shakespeare himself but to like, everything. Here he was, the man who accomplished so much with his writing, not only in his own time, but for all time to come. He is a household name all over the world, generations of people have known and loved his work, and you know what, he was just a man.  Just like you and me (I’m not actually a man). He lived and he died, and in-between he wrote some pretty cool stories.

I’m not counting on this level of success for myself, in fact I don’t really want it, that’s like way too much responsibility. But I do really hope that one day people read my stories, and that they like them, and that when I die at least a couple of people on this planet come to see me because my stories made them happy.

And then, just when I thought I was about to explode from so much inspiration I decided to take a little detour on the way home and go and see some stone circles – the Rollright Stones. I tried to time travel through them, but it didn’t work for me on this particular day. Perhaps I needed a full moon, or a new moon, or to be there on a specific day and time and to walk around clockwise 9 times. I’m not sure, but I’m pretty sure there’s a way. Stone circles are definitely time machines.

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

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