Monday, July 14, 2014

Manifesto: Binge Writing Is Bad --or-- 100 Days to Getting a Life

Saturday was an extreme writing day.  The kind that gives writing caves a bad name.  My only act reminiscent of actual human life was making a fruit salad to go with the lox and bagels my husband brought in.  And, oh yeah, I ate this at a table. (A table with a three foot stack of magazines and books at one end, but nevertheless, a table.)

At 9:30 that night, there I was.  Wearing the same orange tee shirt I'd slept in.  Sitting in the same spot on the family room sofa where I'd dropped after breakfast.  And I passed 60,000 words.


Except that I was wearing the same tee shirt I'd slept in and was sitting on the same spot on the sofa with only my laptop (which overheats) to keep me warm.  Even my dog, who is 17 and cuddles indiscriminately with throw pillows and table legs, had abandoned me in favor of an unmade bed.

I picked my way through our kitchen -- which, courtesy of binge writing, had bacteria colonies so large you could watch them slither along the counter in the darkness -- turned on the light, and made dinner.  Which we did not eat at the table.  Husband and I were so exhausted by our days of sitting in one place working that we hunkered down in front of a BBC historical.  Our primary conversation was that our brains were so fried, we couldn't follow what the hell the characters were saying.

A successful writing day.  A completely crap day from any other perspective.

Anyway, I've had it.  Yesterday I went to a housewarming, a bookstore, and a birthday dinner wearing an actual outfit with cute shoes.  I banged out 500 words.  I cuddled my dog.

And I'm here to say, I'm out of the cave.  This is the manifesto.  I'm spending the next 100 days balancing my life.  And finishing the WIP.  And just generally having more connection with other people and the world beyond my laptop.  And moving parts of my body not involved in the physical act of writing.  And -- did I mention? -- finishing the WIP.

I'm not sure if embracing this philosophy is going to turn out to be Really Bad Writing Advice, as promised on this blog.  Who knows, I could end up abandoning the laptop in favor of admiring butterfly wings, freezing in place for hours at a time smelling the roses.  But I suspect it's going to be a good thing all around.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Really Bad Writing Advice: The Writers' New Years Resolutions From Hell

Well, this is Afterparty's official pub date, and I'm all over the internet spouting my favorite writing tips.  As well as revealing all kinds of things about myself that it really does feel like massive hubris to think anyone other than my husband would find fascinating.  And I'm not even all that sure about him.

Anyway, while I am profoundly grateful to the bloggers who are hosting me, I do feel that as a proponent of Really Bad Writing Advice, I need to speak up quickly and decisively to support the cause and the inevitable Really Bad Writing that follows.

I am therefore sharing New Years resolution sure to bring your writing career to a grinding halt.

1.) I shall improve my social media presence by blogging, vlogging, tweeting, pinning, and posting adorable selfies on Facebook incessantly.

This is because dancing around in your twitter feed continuously day and night is so conducive to finishing your novel.

2.) I shall ponder each and every person who unfriends or unfollows me to try to determine how and where I went wrong.  Even if said people communicate exclusively in unfamiliar alphabets and post only photos of what appear to be picturesque brothels in Slovinia.

I mean, you want to have universal appeal, right?  Ask yourself, am I putting enough time and energy into contemplating the fact that several Turkish pornographers -- or maybe they're actually Finnish real estate agents who like lingerie,  hard to tell -- don't like me anymore?  

3.) I will read 365 novels in my genre so that I'll have something beyond my fun-fact-challenged life to write guest posts about.

This will not in any way interfere with your writing due to the fact that in the new year, there will be 50 or 60 hours per day.  Trust me on this one.  Would I be up at 1:39 a.m. blogging my little heart out if there wasn't time for me to crank out Part II of my novel and get 8 hours of sleep between now and sunrise?

4.) I will regularly check out what people are saying about my book on Goodreads, Amazon, Google Plus, Jacket Flap, all blogs known to man and whatever other sites pop up where people slash books. Thus, everything everyone anywhere every said about the old book can be taken into consideration in guiding he writing of the new book.

This is because while your own voice might still hold some inexplicable charm for you even after you've read everything everyone has ever said about your book, we all know that majority rules.

5.) I will keep abreast of the market by checking everything written about the market by everyone else trying to stay abreast of the market.  Hourly.

This is because while uniquely told tales of wonder are nice, the market rules.

Happy New Year!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Five Brilliant Writing Tips From Paul Harding

All right, I have a lot of fun sharing the worst possible writing advice.  But occasionally I stumble upon writing advice that is actually brilliant, and this is it.  Five tips from Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Harding.  And against my better judgment as a purveyor of dreadfulness,  I am sharing the link.

This is the URL in case you have to cut and paste:


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Really Bad Writing Advice: How To Be A Writer While Not Writing Your Book

Those of us whose efforts to write an entire novel during the month of November have met with the same success as our efforts to write an entire novel during any other month -- which is to say, um, limited success -- are now grappling with a new challenge to our credibility as writers.  Which is to say, if I am not actually writing, if I am, say turning out a grand total of 6,000 meh words in three weeks, what can I do that will allow me to announce to the world that I'm writing a novel with a straight face (Footnote #1)? 

Apart from writing.

I have culled the best-ever hints from a cyber-world replete with splendid suggestions, and here they are:

1.) Immediately term your failure to produce this novel "writer's block."  This is completely credible and writeresque as long as you're angsty enough about it.  Hence, you cannot spend the time you're not writing zipping around Bloomingdale's with a smile on your face or doing lunch unless you also bang your head on the table and drink a lot during said lunch.  Indeed, you get to spend inordinate amounts of time with friends and family calling yourself a writer's blocked writer as long as you whine a lot.  

2.) Writing exercises.  Just google "writer's block" and "jump start" and you will find enough writing exercises to keep you not writing your novel for years, or possibly a lifetime.  

3.) Writer's conferences.  Consider the cognitive dissonance factor.  You pay the enormous enrollment fee.  You get a name tag.  You gossip about agents and editors and the collapse of publishing as we know it.  You're too busy being a writer to write. 

4.) Research.  This is especially good for YA writers who might actually die if they don't get to Bloomingdale's, assuming they are willing to stalk young adults up and down the escalators, eavesdropping assiduously the whole time they're (Footnote #2) loading up on new sweaters.  Also, who can claim to possess even a passing familiarity with popular culture if she hasn't watched TV for four or five days straight?

5.) Study grammar.  This is tedious and extremely time-consuming, but it could permit you -- should you ever get around to writing -- to produce prose that doesn't require footnotes with Grammatical Hints.

(Footnote #1) Grammatical Hint: The announcement would entail the straight face.  The writer can have any kind of face she wants due to the fact that she's supposedly sitting alone in a room writing so nobody knows what kind of face she has.

(Footnote #2) Other Grammatical Hint: The so-called writer loads up on the sweaters; it doesn't matter what the young adults load up on as long as you're creeping around behind them analyzing their sentence structure.