Beautiful People: Writerly Resolutions and Goals

10928109_595959117172101_1450331761_n 1_zpsw3b8il6sI have a day left to join the link-up for Beautiful People, hosted by Paper Fury and Further Up and Further In. Last month they had questions for writers on their resolutions for the new year! Considering I’m taking a very different approach to my writing this year than I did last year, I thought I’d join in and attempt to pin down my thoughts for 2016 and my fictional writing!

What were your writing achievements last year?

They were nothing that I originally wanted, at least in terms of “finishing first drafts and publishing”, but I still broke a wall last year that I’m happy a bout

I wrote completely for myself last summer. I was hit by a strange form of inspiration, for the continuation for an old saga that’d I’d been stuck on for years. After being scared of following that character route due its nontraditional elements, I decided to challenge myself to break the walls in my head and write completely for myself. I didn’t tell anyone but my sister about it, for the entire summer, and wrote completely for me.

Honestly, it was the best thing to happen to me as a writer last year…learning to write for myself. I wrote like I was mad (I felt mad too,) and I got to know my longtime favorite characters like I never had been able to, just by being experimental and brave! So, I consider that the best achievement of 2015 when it comes to my writing.

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Tell us about your top priority writing project for this year?

I have decided to do something different this year and not make any one book a top priority project. I did that last year and when I realized I needed to do something different, I almost felt guilty for changing my goal. I want to avoid that feeling this year. I’d like to give myself a more open path. I want to follow my heart and the words in my head without feeling the need to “reach a goal.” For one year, we’ll see how that works.

List 5 areas you’d like to work the hardest to improve this year.

I have actually only 1 area I want to work on this year, and its to stop stopping at the “boundaries” in my mind. Basically, to grow on what I learned last year. I learned last year that experimenting for myself leads to amazing breakthroughs, so this year I want to stop holding back on things I want to write. Especially when it’s completely personal anyway. I want to give myself permission to freely express what I need and thinkig in my fictional writing. I hope to bring that into what I blog as well!

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Are you participating in any writing challenges?

Noooooo, sadly. I’d love to think I could start writing every single day, but I won’t even pretend that I could give that an honest go right now. XD But since I took this past NaNoWriMo off, I would love to do it this year for sure! Every other year seems to work best for me when it comes to NaNoWriMo. XD

What’s your critique partner/beta reader situation like and do you have plans to expand this year?

While I let my best friend and my sister read things when they can before I publish them, I currently don’t have anything else set up at the moment. I don’t have anything in particular that I need beta readers for, since I’m focusing on a lot of short stories at the moment. XD But…then again. I always need help with those too. I over think my wording too much. XD

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Do you have plans to read any writer-related books this year? Or are there specific books you want to read for research?

Last year I bought several writing books cheap and I’d love to put a dent in them! I would like to read the book “Writer with a Day Job” and really use my copies of “The Pocket Muse” and it’s sequel (excellent books for inspiration!) “The Little Red Writing Book” is slim, looks extremely promising and should be easy to read as well!

Pick one character you want to get to know better, and how are you going to achieve this?

If I had to get to know a character better this year, it would be my villain-turned-anti-hero, Kyle. I created Kyle when I was fourteen and for years he’s remained the bland, two-dimensional baddie whom I didn’t understand personally or know how to use properly. But last year when I got to know my lead hero better, I also realized that as Kyle’s role expanded, I began to understand why he felt the way he did. After seven years, we finally began to click.

So, if I had to get to know one character better this year, it would be him. He’s the angry, grieving, screaming sound in my head that’s slowly mellowing and releasing and changing when I reflect on him. I want to get to know him even better!

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Do you plan to edit or query, and what’s your plan of attack?

Oh no, I can’t make any serious promises for that this year, like I did last year. I’m going to just write and follow my gut this year. XD

Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”  What are the books that you want to see more of, and what “holes” do you think need filling in the literary world?

I desperately wish there were more books that followed a guy and girl friendship that didn’t have any real romantic tension or didn’t develop into romance. I’m determined to write stories like this myself.  It just would be refreshing! Also you then completely bypass all those annoying love triangles. XD

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What do you hope to have achieved by the end of 2016?

I hope to have achieved a stronger sense of freedom in my writing, to be less terrified of exploring my own consciousness and writing inspirations. Right now, I think the most I want to ask of myself is to become a better writer than the writer that I am in this moment. Continuing self-improvement, at my pace and in my way, will be all that I’ll demand of myself this year.

And quite honestly, that's a tall order all on its own anyway.

Are you a writer? What are your goals for the year? Did you accomplish something you’re proud of in 2015, whether in blogging or novel-writing? 

~Jamie

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For My Fellow Writers /// 05

It’s time for another addition to this series! I just found this specific link the other day and it kinda blew my mind as a writer! I’m determined to starting using it in my writing sessions starting today.

The link I have for you my fellow writers today is:

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I highly recommend you all read the short, original article above for full examples of what this means. But basically: instead of bogging down your writing pace by trying to come up with everything all at once, you use brackets with reminders in the places you get stuck at, to keep up your writing pace. When you’ve finished, you can then look back over your writing for the brackets and beef up your sentences as needed!

See article of an before-and-after examples of what this might look like.

I find this incredibly ingenious. I’ve lost track of the times my writing has slowed because I got stuck trying to find the exact wording for a minor detail. This trick will allow me to simply get the flow of the story out without those awful brain freeze moments!

Have you used this trick in writing before?

~Jamie

For My Fellow Writers /// 03

My mind has been very preoccupied the past couple weeks, but thankfully I have this series to remind me to come back and post something. XD So far I’m glad I decided to pass on NaNo this year, since the first week is always important when it comes to starting a consistent habit of writing everyday. However I’ve been much too distracted by family to have much mental energy left. So…I’m glad I avoided all the unnecessary guilt, lol. XD

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My link for you all today is for ambiance atmospheres from a website called Tabletop Audio. The site was made for tabletop players, but I use this to disappear into my book’s world! I’ve used many of these for my most current book, using the sounds I hear to trigger smells, sounds, and possible sights to describe. It also just helps me get lost in the world and write more. The ambiences are about ten minutes long, so it sounds pretty natural without a bunch of ten second loops.

While most of the ambiences are fantasy/sci-fi related, there are several historical tracks as well, and you can make others work for real life situations too. So hopefully there is something for everyone. 🙂

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I hope everyone who’s doing NaNo has had a good first week! What are your word counts so far? Is everything going as planned so far, or are some of your characters already taking you down unexpected plot twist trails? XD Mine are like that; they always smack me upside the head with big bricks of writers block and say “you idiot, why don’t you know that we don’t want to do that. We’re not going to let you write anything till you follow us down the rabbit hole.” It’s a blessing…and a curse. XD

~Jamie

The Behind The Scenes Tag

My long time blogging friend Maribeth at Formidable Courage awesomely tagged me to do this extremely tag about the behind the scenes of my writing! Considering I feel pressed for time to do much blogging this week (and probably the upcoming week as well) this is perfect!

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Is there a certain snack you like to eat while writing?

I chew gum instead of eating when I write. It feels like eating but I’m not actually making myself fat. XD I love 5’s wintermint gum, I always keep a pack on my desk. 🙂

When do you normally write? Night, afternoon, or morning?

If we’re talking fiction…I almost exclusively write at night. My confidence and focus is higher when I know people aren’t going to walk in on me, so some days I’ll be up very late thinking and writing while everyone else is sleeping. Plus I’m a night person. XD

Where do you write?

In my room, at my little desk in front of my white board. The white board is there for note taking, but its covered in stickers and Disney trading cards and my fandom magnets. I have a Tardis magnet that I just love! XD

How often do you write a new novel?

I start a new one about once a year and continue fiddling with the earlier years’ books as well. I’ve been doing this since I was twelve, starting a book and writing it for a year before continuing with a different one the next (although the early books were all sequels with the same characters, so that was easy. XD )

Do you listen to music while you write?

Oh yes. Music is my caffeine and my ink. My characters sometimes speak through lyrics to communicate to me how they’re feeling, and sometimes I loop those lyrics so I can sink into their emotions and thoughts. Soundtracks from films and anime bring moments and scenes to life in my head and if I listen closely enough, sometimes I can get what I hear on to the page.

My latest musical find: I see raindrops…or glittering fish…or sparkling sunlight…or the condensation created by someone breathing winter air…. IT’S JUST SO HAUNTING AND BREATHY AND PERFECT ASDJFKLA;DKS

Here are a couple of my YouTube playlists if you guys are looking for fresh writing music. (Technically for studying.) (This one is very diverse, have fun! XD )

What do you write on? Laptop or paper?

I’ll go ahead and say it: I can only write on my laptop. I learned to type at an early age, so I have never been fond of clutching a pencil and keeping my rows of words on lines on paper. I love how fast my fingers on the keys can get my thoughts to screen before I loose them. And editing, rereading, storing, and making copies is really easy.

Is there a special ritual you have before or after you write?

Well, I wouldn’t call it a “ritual” but I do try to turn on my rain effects when I know I’ll be writing so my mind will start drifting into the depths of my story or the soul of a particular character I want to write as. Since I work at night, I don’t really use it to shut out noise, but more to shut out silence. Silence is super distracting to me.

What do you do to get into the mood to write?

Like I said, I turn on my rain effects and then I might start playing a certain song that might have helped with the last scene I wrote. I’ll look over what I last wrote too. That helps a lot. 🙂

What is always near the place you write?

My lip balm and hand lotion. Floss is always around my desk for some reason; when I get stuck I floss my teeth and glare at the screen–TMI? XD I generally have a glass of water on my Chewbacca coaster  too (or a soda, if it’s late and I want to stay up till one in the morning.)

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Do you have a reward system for your word count?

No, I don’t! I’d never even thought of doing that for myself, probably because word count doesn’t motivate me outside of NaNoWriMo. I sit, I peck at the keys some nights, mostly thinking, and then other nights I’ll pound out pages and pages of words. Generally I just don’t think to look at how much I write.

Is there anything about your writing process that others might not know about?

Sometimes my entire body is moving if I get absorbed in my writing; I’ll rock about in my desk chair if I fall into a good rhythm with the characters and rain effects and music. Sometimes the music is so relevant to a character’s emotion that I’ll stop writing completely and let myself move to sounds I hear. I don’t know why I do that and its only something I noticed about myself recently. It sounds weird, but I’m probably not the only fidgety writer out there. XD

I’m going to tag Emily at Camo and Pearls and Tara at Moonstonemaiden! Have fun girl-friends! ❤

What does your behind the scenes look like?

~Jamie

4 Things My Writing Career Has Taught Me

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So, an awesome thing happened. TheLadders.com are currently running a project where they seek out specific career advice, and they asked me to share my own advice for people looking into writing as their career. I thought, sure why the heck not?!

I’m still pretty new to my writing career, even though I’ve been blogging for four years and writing fiction for over ten; I have SO MUCH to learn! However, here are a few big things I have learned.

1. Helpful criticism is your best friend.

Everybody thinks they know this, but it’s another thing to have your work returned to you with more than just a few glowing remarks on your genius. Generally, unless they’re anonymous internet trolls, people simply want to be honest. If you’ve asked specific people for their feedback, trust that they’re wanting to help you. Even if you don’t change or do every single thing people suggest, it is smart to hear a reader’s perspective on your work.

I learned several years ago that my writing improved when I swallowed my pride and listened to the feedback people had to give. If you can take helpful criticism, you and your writing will improve quicker than if you didn’t.

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2. Go out of your way to learn more about writing.

I’ve exhausted my library’s creative writing section for a couple of months now, looking for books that talk about building characters, plots, worlds, grammar, story flow, ect. On can learn so much from doing this, especially if you’re going out of your way to find. Finding online articles about writing strong and better is even more convenient! Find anything that could expand my knowledge as a writer and give it a try.

I’m currently reading six different books on writing at the moment and they’ve already changed the way I view my craft. I strongly suggest all writers should learn from others shared mistakes and success to see what might help your individual needs and weaknesses as a writer.

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3. Unless you dare to try or to take risks, nothing will happen.

To be a writer is to take risks, to move forward when you want to move backward, to be open, to be insecure, to have gnawed finger nails. I hit these crossroads a couple of years ago myself. I discovered a platform for self-publishing but became scared people wouldn’t like what I wanted to publish; that it stunk; even worse, that people wouldn’t be interested to even try reading it. I saw two choices: keep rewriting till the story turned to mush out of fear that my work wasn’t good enough… OR take a risk to move past my insecurities and publish despite my inner voice of doom.

I realized that if I didn’t at least try I would never know either way if my work was good or bad. So in the end I hit publish and the response to my first short story was encouraging and kind: And people wanted more of it! I’m always thankfully I took that jump because it has led some wonderful success!

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4. WRITE. Everybody says this, but that’s because it’s important.

I don’t care what you write, but the more you write the better you get. This is the simplest piece of advice I’ve learned yet and hopefully most of you seriously considering writing already know and do this as often as possible.

These some the most valuable lessons that I’ve learned the past four or five years. If a writer’s career is the life for you, well, welcome aboard. Tighten your seat belts since the goings usually rough…just remember that the view is worth it.

~Jamie