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Plotting

Of Course It Makes No Sense. Just Go With It.

You know that crazy person on TV (or maybe in your life) whose office/home/room/laboratory is an absolute disaster? You walk in and have to pause because the sheer chaos makes your skin crawl?

And yet, ask them for anything, and chances are that they can reach into that mess and pull it out in a minute or less?

It makes no sense. It’s inefficient. It shouldn’t work. But for them, it does. So you go with it.

That’s my writing process.

Not really, but that’s how it feels sometimes, especially when I try to explain it to hardcore plotters. I’m what I charitably refer to as a “plotser”. I start with a concept, usually an idea for a character or a snapshot vision in my head of a scene that speaks to me for some reason. I play with it in the back of my mind for a while. I do some quick plotting, typically referring to a simplified beat sheet to make sure I have a beginning, middle and end in mind. I try to get a basic sketch of my characters done. All told, my pre-writing adds up to maybe one page of hand-written scribbles.

And then I draft.

The upside of this method of working is that I have enough structure to write the book but enough flexibility that I get to discover my characters as I go. If there weren’t any surprises, I’d get terribly bored. For me, this keeps the writing process lively and fun.

The downside is that my characters often wait until awfully late in the game to reveal some key information that I would have really liked to have had earlier. This means I have to go back and sew things in. Usually, I pause at about the 20-25k mark to reevaluate. By then some gaping hole has probably revealed itself. I notice there’s not enough conflict or that one of my characters needs a better motivation or that I don’t have a plot after all. I’m not going to pretend it’s fun to go back and fix these things, but after I’ve done it, I’m usually clear to go with drafting the rest of the book. Once the manuscript is finished, I’ll likely have to add another element or two in revisions. All the back and forth and revising used to scare me when I first started, but at this point I’ve come to accept it as just how I work.

My process is a mess. It makes no sense. It’s inefficient chaos that makes more organized people cringe.

But it works. So I trust it. I trust myself.

Just go with it.

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Where, oh where, did my little plot go?

Last cycle’s topic was plot bunnies and I ended up posting something else, but since this is an open slot, I thought I go for a re-do…

‘Where do you come up with your plots/characters?’ is a question I often hear. Mostly from non-writers, but I know some writers struggle coming up with plots as well. Sometimes it can feel like *everything* has been done so many times there’s no way to make it new and fresh. Keep in mind that two people can write similarly themed books, but they will end up completely different. A writer will always bring their own experiences into the story.

Personally, I get many of my ideas from music. I’ll be toodling down the road taking my kids to school or soccer or gymnastics and my mind will start to wander as it does when I’m driving the same route for the millionth time. A song will come on. And, if the storm is perfect, a story seed will be planted. For me, the characters and plot emerge simultaneously and are dependent on one another. I keep a notebook in the car (or your phone’s notes section works well too) and jot down the idea before I lose it. I have notebooks full of book ideas, some quite well developed, that I have no time to write. (Good problem!)

The other place chock full of ideas is the news or special interest stories. I’m going to scan the current headlines….brb… See, here’s a story about Beau Biden’s widow, who is now dating his brother, Hunter. Stepping back, the premise and conflict would make for a great romance, historical or contemporary.  One of my favorite recent clips is of two 5th graders, Zoe and Noah, on Ellen who have a love-hate relationship. I want someone to write their story all grown up! Childhood frenemies to lovers is a great trope. And don’t get me started on all the political stuff going on…a political thriller about a CNN journalist (*ahem* Jake Tapper) who uncovers a Russian conspiracy and has to go on the run from bad guys? Yes, please!

I also want to mention something authors don’t talk about too much…It’s called writing ‘On Spec.’ It’s where a publishing house has a concept in mind and they tap a writer to make it happen. My Cottonbloom series was supposed to be a spec project, except I couldn’t write the idea my editor suggested (for reasons I won’t go into here.) So my editor told me to brainstorm some new ideas. But, there were constraints. It had to be a “summer themed” series with an overarching plot to tie the books together. The release dates were set before the story had been conceived. I pitched what came to be the Cottonbloom series to my editor. She loved it and the rest is history.

I’m currently writing another spec project for my editor. This one was a little different in that my editor handed over a high-level synopsis of what she wanted. Now, some authors might consider this as constraining to their ‘muse.’ But, I thought the concept was interesting and am taking it and running with it. Plus, a good author/editor relationship means you can change things as the story develops. Which I already have. If the opportunity to write on spec presents itself to you, don’t dismiss it out of hand, you might find it interesting. (By the way, Entangled is always looking for spec writers. Check out their Wishlist page.)

If you’re still having a block coming up with something that excites you, go through #MSWL (Manuscript Wish List) on Twitter. Editors and agents detail in general terms the kind of manuscripts they’re interested in. It might just get your creative juices flowing. The downside is that by the time you actually have written it, the agent/editor might have moved on, but that doesn’t matter if you’re excited about it!

Where do you get your plot/character ideas?

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The Right Plot Bunny At The Right Time…

I’ve already written at some length about my weirdest plot bunny. So for this month’s theme, I’m going to focus instead on what has, thus far, been my most important plot bunny.

The beginning of 2014 found me at a pretty low point in my life. I was struggling with fertility issues, with the loneliness that follows an interstate move, and ultimately, with my career. I’d released a number of short books, but I wasn’t getting a lot of sales traction, and try as I might, I couldn’t seem to finish anything. This was compounded by my fixation on completing a full-length novel and my refusal to do anything that resembled plotting.

Finally, in what at the time felt like a Hail Mary pass, I scrapped everything and started one more manuscript—one I was determined to finish. I threw everything I loved at this project. Paris. Art. Museums. Sex. Sex toys. A dude who looked like Sebastian Stan. An art student grappling with her own self-worth, and perhaps more importantly, the worthiness of her ambitions to make it in a creative field. (No, there’s no deeper meaning there. Why do you ask??)

While actual plotting remained a hard limit, I took the time to at least map out the basics. I decided I didn’t care if it sold. It was all stuff I loved, and it was stuff I wanted to write about. Sure, I threw in a billionaire plot line, but that was incidental, at least in my mind.

Then I sat down. And I wrote.

I wrote and wrote and wrote. My usual stalling-out point of 25,000 words flew by, and then 50, and even 75. Finally, at 90,000 words, I typed The End, and for the first time in so long, I sat back in my chair and I felt good about what I had written.

Good enough that when, by a lucky confluence of events, the opportunity to get my work in front of an agent’s eyes came my way a few weeks later, I was ready. I sent it off. I signed with that agent. And before I knew it, I had a three book deal with a New York house. Seven Nights To Surrender hit shelves about a year later, making one of the greatest dreams of my life come true, and the third book in the series, Nine Kinds Of Naughty, comes out next month.

Many people will tell you to write the book of your heart, and that your passion will show in your work, propelling you to success beyond your wildest dreams. I don’t know that that’s necessarily true. But for me, pursuing my own passions in my writing was a key to achieving my goal of finishing a novel, and eventually, to reinvigorating my career. I hold on to that every time I hit a rough patch.

Sometimes, all it takes is the right plot bunny at the right time.

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My Plot Bunny is a Poodle!

For this cycle’s theme of weirdest plot bunnies, I’m sort of at a loss: all of my bunnies are weird! I write about what I love, and that includes a few things that are fairly niche. Semi-obscure middle aged musicians as romantic leads, 1950’s tourist traps, muscle cars, the nobility of rescuing a rundown motel, and a marine invertebrate or two have all inspired my stories. Not usually all in the same one, but hey, the rich tapestry and all that…

But one element has always found it’s way into my story: the dog–usually a poodle. It might not be a main character (or it might be), but he or she is always there. Why? Because every word I’ve written this past 20 years for school, work, or this insane journey called writing fiction for publication, has been supported and accompanied by a fluffy friend curled up at my feet or right by my side, including these words I’m typing today. Sometimes life may be hard, stressful and sucky, and every word may feel like a hard-earned failure. But all along, no matter what, I’ve had the uncomplicated love of a fluffy little friend. So, to Rosebud and Busco in Doggie Heaven, and Leonidas (pictured below), I dedicate this post to you.

Do you have a special pet you’ve written into a story, or one who’s just a writing buddy? I’d love to hear about them!

S Carroll Lee Selfie

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If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em – or How I Learned To Embrace The Beat Sheet

Hi. My name is Jeanette. And for the first three years of my writing career, I was a die-hard pantser.

So what the hell am I doing writing a blog post about embracing beat sheets?

Back at the beginning of my writer life, I found a lot of the joy of writing came from discovering my characters and my story along the way. I’d begin a book with the barest of sketches for my characters, some vague sense of how the story would begin and where it would all fall apart, and that was pretty much it. When I was writing short and novellas, it worked really well for me.

And then I decided to get serious and try writing full length novels.

It…did not go well. Two of my three first books that crossed the 70k mark have never seen the light of day, and those are just the ones I actually managed to finish. In 2012, I had a whole series of disasters where I wrote the first 25k words or so of a manuscript and then abandoned it. There just wasn’t enough there to drive the story – nowhere to go after the first kiss or—let’s be honest—the first fuck. My stories needed more structure. More conflict. Just more to keep them going past that opening act.

So in 2013, attending my first RWA National conference, I made a point of going to every plotting workshop on the schedule. Plotting intimidated me on a basic level. I loved the improvisation of pantsing. I loved the freedom. Would getting everything figured out ahead of time kill the magic?

In the end, what probably most effectively changed my process was a workshop on Save The Cat.

For those who aren’t familiar, Save The Cat is one of many beat sheets, or lists of major plot points that tend to happen in most successful stories. It has its origin in screenwriting, and as the presenter made clear, you can see its structure in a huge range of different popular movies, from Harry Potter to Legally Blonde to Midnight In Paris. How could this singular structure lead to such a wide variety of films?

Because it doesn’t dictate the story itself. It just keeps it moving along. It helps give the story resonance.

It helps make sure you have that more to drive a story along to its satisfying conclusion.

The first novel I plotted using a beat sheet from the get go was the one I eventually sold on. Did it kill the magic? Not at all.

Now, to be clear, I was not slavish in following every single note of the beat sheet. I approached the setup of the novel much the way I always had in the past. But before I set any words to paper, I looked ahead and used the beat sheet as an informal checklist to make sure I had turning points in mind. To ensure there was enough conflict driving the plot to get us to those turning points. To look ahead at the story’s end to make sure it would satisfy the questions set out on page one.

To my surprise and delight, this sort of flexible story structure still left me with plenty room for discovery and improvisation. I still learn things about the characters on page two hundred that I could never have foreseen before page one. But I fit the things I learn along the way into a well-rounded story that has enough there there to see it through to the end.

If you’ve never tried plotting with a beat sheet, I’d consider looking into it. See if it fits into your process. I never would have expected it to be a good fit for mine, but it’s now a tried and tested tool, helping me continue to write fresh stories.

And to feel confident I’ll actually finish them.

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Oops, Plot Screwed Me Again

Our current theme here at the Bad Girlz blog is an element of writing that we habitually screw up. In that spirit, I have a confession to make: Hello, my name is Tanya Michaels and I can’t plot worth a damn.

Plot is a verb (planning out your story) and a noun (the events that drive your story). I suck at both of them. When it comes to “planning,” I’m not so much linear as reactive.
Tanya vs. Plotting:

plot giphy

Part of my problem is that I have never written a book where events truly drive the story , although they may be a catalyst. What drives my stories are the characters and their relationships with each other. My books are not full of plot twists no one saw coming or fast-paced action sequences. A definition on my daughter’s recent homework called plot “the interrelated events that make up the backbone of a story.” Interrelated sounds so much more purposeful than “this scene seemed like a good idea at three in the morning, so I went with it.”

Now the good news is, after forty-plus books I am getting better, but plotting is still my vulnerable spot. There comes a point in the middle of every single book where I think, “There’s no way I can possibly meet the publisher’s word count because this book has no plot.” I am working to improve the plot element. But in the meantime, I also have interesting characters, relatable situations, great dialogue, a sense of humor and, in my Harlequin Blazes/Lila Bell novellas, very hot love scenes. (Weirdly, Lila is a better plotter than Tanya, with stories including assassins and magic and vengeance, but she cheats because writing in a paranormal world gives a writer so many more options. Plus, Lila’s stories are shorter.)

On the bright side, I think many romance readers are specifically looking for stories of emotional journey (and, often, sexual chemistry). But plenty of talented romance authors balance both relationship and plot. My favorite Jennifer Crusie novel Faking It has secret identities, art forgery and at least two romantic subplots besides the main characters. Arson! Murder! Con jobs! A drag show! In contrast, the plot of my Harlequin American Romance novel Her Cowboy Hero is: widowed man with bad people skills is hired by a single mom to make an inherited ranch habitable. That’s it. That’s the whole plot. (You don’t even want to know about my book Mother To Be, in which the entire story is a forty-year-old woman discovers she’s pregnant and spends nine months trying to adjust to the idea of motherhood. Riveting, isn’t it? And, yet, both my critique partner and my agent say that it was one of my best books. Go figure.)

In the twelve years since my first book was released, I’ve learned a few things, which I now share with you in the hopes that they help you with plot or whatever other writing demon you’re wrestling.

First, make friends with your skillset. This does not mean settle or stop trying to improve. But why shoot yourself in the foot? I am not a natural-born plotter, which hasn’t hindered me from selling more than forty books…but it might have if I’d spent all these years trying to write romantic suspense with complicated storylines. Try to find a market/audience that suits your natural voice and talents. If, for instance, you’re uncomfortable writing love scenes, don’t target an erotic romance imprint. If you struggle to finish any manuscript over 50,000 words without losing momentum, maybe don’t try to sell a 120,000 epic fantasy. (This might sound intuitive, but you’d be surprised. Some people will attempt a certain type of story because they have a misconception of what they should be writing or because they’ve heard that type of story will sell faster.)

The inverse of acknowledging your writing weaknesses is, exploit the hell of your strengths. I love creating characters, so my plan of attack is to shape plots that emerge from who the hero and heroine are. In my October Blaze If She Dares (:cough: available for pre-order now! :cough:), there’s a totally logical sequence of escalating events that resemble a plot. Go, me! The heroine, who was held at gunpoint in her own home months before the story started, has become a nervous, fearful person and she hates feeling that way. She wants to rediscover the bold, free-spirited person she used to be…and her sexy next door neighbor wants to help. They start an ongoing game of double-dare that starts off innocently enough but progresses to nude portraits and semi-public sexual encounters. It was great fun to write and the momentum of their dares (and their escalating relationship) kept the story moving forward. In addition to characters, I usually do a good job with dialogue, so while the events that take place in my books are rarely gasp-inducing, the characters’ observations about said events are usually pretty entertaining.

In addition to understanding your strengths and weaknesses, one of the most important things you can do to hone your craft is read. Read, read, read. Then go write some stuff, then read some more. I don’t think all the how-to writing books in the world can take the place of reading authors who handle an element really well (be it plot, sexual tension, pacing, etc.) I particularly advocate re-reading a book you loved so that you can analyze what worked. (The first time I read a Kresley Cole romance novel, for instance, I am 100% swept up in the awesomeness of the story. It’s not until I read it a second or third time that I can start to deconstruct why it’s so awesome. And she’s a great study in balancing emotion with action sequences. Her paranormal beings are often falling in love while escaping prisons, traveling through dimensions, and battling ghouls. )

Maybe one day I’ll get so good at plot that I’ll write an epic action sequence worthy of starring a Chris.

photo 1 (1)

Honorable mention:

photo 2 (2)

What? No, you’re just posting gratuitous pics.

ANYWAY. For now, I’m going to keep writing the best quiet action scenes I can—a physical therapist helping a patient relearn how to walk, a man who lost his son building a treehouse for a little boy who’s worked his way into the grieving father’s heart, a woman looking at a pregnancy test and trying to balance joyful awe and sheer terror. Maybe I can’t plot worth a damn, but I can still do my best to write damn good books.

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Just Get to the Point, Already!!

pirate-treasure-map-23094030This series of posts about things we always screw up as writers was eerie to read. I’ve freaked out and messed up in all of those ways, and then some. So when it came time to write my own take on the subject, I wondered where in the world to start. Then it hit me–knowing where to start is my thing!

I am getting better at this, I swear. But it’s a struggle. I ramble. I enjoy setting the stage. I want to work in descriptions of the clothing, as well as a good dick joke or three. And oh, Lord, how I love my characters’ back stories! Actually getting my book distilled into an elevator pitch is about as traumatizing for me as being trapped in the elevator as it plummets from the penthouse. Here are a few highlights of my guilty past. At some point in my writing career, I have:

  1. Written a (supposedly steamy) rock star romance where the hero and heroine don’t meet until around page 100.
  2. Written a story so chronologically, it literally left nothing out. Including the character getting ready for bed, falling asleep, waking up, and having breakfast. Each day.
  3. Begun a story with the heroine packing her suitcases, and then driving to the destination where the story will actually take place, at some point in the near future. After she checks in to the hotel down there, of course.
  4. Wondered if a prologue might be a good place to sneak in another awesome flashback.
  5. Lamented the demise of the sweeping, 800 page sagas that I used to check out from the library in high school. Why can’t I write something that takes a good fifty years or so to really get going?

It hasn’t come easy, but I’ve learned. And am still learning. And when I forget and let my natural tendencies take over, I have my wonderful Bad Girlz to nudge me back on the path to find my story… or at least take a look at the freaking map 🙂

Happy writing,

 

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That Slippery Synopsis!

sumner 4No, it’s not Man-Candy Monday. Though I believe he totally qualifies, Bernard Sumner has joined me today because of his creative process. A founding member of Joy Division and the somewhat reluctant frontman of New Order, the finest band of the 80s, nay, OF ALL TIME, Bernard Sumner has said that writing lyrics is a struggle akin to breaking a horse.  Well, sweetie, I get it. That’s exactly how I feel about writing a synopsis.

And shall I say it’s been awhile? The last time I had a project in the synopsis/submission-ready stage was….well, longer ago than that last time I Googled shirtless pictures of Bernard Sumner–and that’s been way too long! Sheesh, sometimes we get so busy, we neglect the really important things in life.

But anyhoo…the synopsis. I’ve read so many advice blogs, so many “magic” formulas. Some of it not-so-great (write a one-sentence summary of each chapter et voila), some of it very good, and usable–if I wasn’t hopeless at the whole process. All of this just increased the dread. I spent half a day writing and deleting the same opening sentence. My wild horse stood in the corner, snorting, stomping, and glaring fire.

Since I was getting nowhere, I was forced to return to my notebook. While not to the extent of a couple of fellow Bad Girlz (ahem, Jenna P and E. Michels), I’m a plotter. Before I write, I begin with a loose outline of the plot, including as many scenes as I can visualize at that point, and a definite direction of my story arc. I also do some fairly detailed character descriptions, with a focus on each one’s GMC. Each character sheet includes back story, the romance arc, and his/her individual character arc, referenced back to the events in the outline. All of this is hand-written, semi-stream of consciousness, and a total mess with arrows, doodles, and crap written everywhere.

And then, a funny thing happened. I realized my synopsis was already there. I had the loose plot, and my characters’ motivations, and their turning points. I only had to put them together in an interesting way, and not make it too damn long. That’s where the best internet advice came in. I found these pointers here and here.

  1.  I used third person, present tense, active voice.
  2. I hit the highlights, and left out most of the details. Just a general summary of the beginning, middle, and end, including resolution of conflict.
  3. What I did spend precious word count on was the emotional aspect of my story. I made sure I gave my characters a little background, and gave an impression of their motivation.
  4. One of the best pieces of advice I read was to tell the story in a conversational style. Before, I either fell into dry summary, or resorted to “In a world where…” Both were hard to do, felt unnatural, and produced sucky results. I even added a quote and a joke or two.

And you know what, I think it worked! There are a lot of great articles online for synopsis help. If some of the things you find strike a chord, but you still don’t know where to start, my advice is to return to your outline, or character sheets, or your beautiful color-coded plot board as the case may be. If you’re an incurable pantser, and you don’t have anything like that, it’s worth it to try. By investing the time beforehand in my story arc and my characters’ GMC, the advice gelled.

I may not have Mr. Sumner’s lyrical chops (it takes years of experience to get away with rhyming things with stinks), but do I have a synopsis!

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Do You Really Know Your Characters?

A couple of years ago, I stumbled upon a character questionnaire, and I felt like I hit the lottery. I can’t remember where I found the first one, or how I came about using it, but since that fateful encounter, I have come to depend on them.

Within the Bad Girl ranks, we have several plotters, several pantsers, and several plotsters (is that what you’re calling yourselves? Idk idk idk). I am solidly in the former category, hardcore like. If I don’t plot out every detail—every chapter, every scene—I hit a brick wall. It’s inevitable.

I’ve attempted writing without my roadmap and, while I can do it, it generally takes me three to four times longer than if I’d just sat down and mapped it out in the first place.

See how his face is hidden behind that hood and you can’t really tell who he is? That’s why I put this here. Totally the only reason. *shifty eyes*

 

I know a lot of authors feel the first 10-20k words they write of a book could, potentially, be throw-away because they’re getting to know their characters in that time. A character questionnaire does the same thing for me, but I do it upfront and pre-story instead of within my writing. It shows me exactly who that character is who’s sort of foggy in my mind…allows me to flesh them out completely.

A quick search on google will turn up quite a few options for questionnaires. Over the years, I’ve amassed several, and because I was flying from one project to the next, I didn’t have time to really sit down and consolidate or figure out which questions are the most important and which questions are the ones my characters always skip over (thus the ones I don’t need).

Well, after a year of going gangbusters, I had a little break in December, and I set out to do this. I compiled all my questions, printed them out, then color coded them based on the type of questions they are. Then I went to good old Scrivener and created a section in my template sheets for character questionnaires. Instead of filling out question after question with no rhyme or reason (and thus having a hell of a time trying to find an answer when I’m on chapter 20 and need to know right now what that traumatic event was that happened when the character was five), I broke them up into twelve (yes, twelve!) sub categories, each containing multiple questions—as few as ten all the way up to 105). Some of you totally just groaned and rolled your eyes, while others had a mini orgasm, amirite?

Some of the sub-categories are:

  • Basic info (things like name, birthdate, hometown, etc)
    You’re probably not going to find out much useful information in this section, but it’s good to have for facts later on in the book.
  • Physical description (besides the standards here, there’s also questions asking about scars or tattoos, how the character feels about his/her body, if they have any nervous physical habits/gestures, etc)
    This is a surprisingly eye-opening set of questions. Sometimes something as simple as “How do you feel about your body?” can bring about something that shapes your character—say a history of an eating disorder, or maybe a parent who has one and has pushed his/her beliefs on their child.
  • Personality Traits (what’s their biggest fear, street smart or book smart, etc)
    This was really a catch-all for me, because so much of how we view things make up our personalities. This section has, I would say, the biggest opportunity for specifically helping with storyline.
  • Childhood/History (everything from what kind of childhood did they have, to how many siblings, to are they keeping any deep, dark secrets)
    This is another great section for digging deep and getting answers you might not have thought about otherwise.

That was a very minimal snapshot of what kinds of questions I answer before I start any project. In the end, I generally end up with roughly 10k words worth of questions and answers (in total from both characters). And I’ve never once done the questionnaire and had it be completely useless. There has always, always been something that’s been incorporated into the storyline based on something the character’s told me during the questionnaires.

I take some time before I sit down to plot my outline and fill these in for the two main characters, and I do so as if I were the character. If my character is a forty-year-old plumber named Bob, I answer those questions just as Bob would, so I’m already putting myself into the head of the character. It’s a great way to get a sense of what kind of personality your character has, what kind of sense of humor they have, and their general disposition.

One other thing to consider when filling these out: not only do you get great information from what your character answers, but you might also find you get insight on them from what they don’t answer, so pay attention to that, too!

Do I have any other plotters out there who love questionnaires like I do? Or maybe you’re not a plotter, but you do this anyway? Or maybe these make your left eye twitch… Tell me how you connect with your characters and figure out who they are!

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Getting My Game Face On!

woman-helmetI’m so excited to be gearing up for the Badgirlz Summer Blitz! My challenge is going to be to expand a novella I’ve recently written and get it ready for submission by August 1st. I’m enthusiastic! I have a plan! Bring it on! But in the middle of night last night, I came to a realization: this summer, my writing isn’t the only thing that needs a blitz. I’ve got a lot of things I want to kill with awesomeness this summer, and none of them are going to happen on their own! Of course, abject failure at potty training the Sunshine Boy doesn’t count. That’s coming along just fine, thank you very much.

 

The sleepless night that followed my realization led me to an unfamiliar conclusion: I have got to get organized. Seriously. If I want to kick ass in the Blitz AND de-clutter, de-stress, be an awesome mama, eat more veggies, get more sleep, and all the other great summer possibilities, I need a plan.

 

So, I bought a planner. A big one, with daily, weekly, and monthly pages, plus a whole bunch of room for notes and a lot of corporate-slash-new-age goals pages, too. I’m going to use this to plot my manuscript changes and plan my writing time, and keep track of the rest of my life, too. I’m going to write down my next day’s to-do list so I can get it out of my mind and get some damn sleep. Plan healthy meals. All that stuff–and it’s all going to be in one place.

 

For some people, angst and stress can fuel their craft, but I’m the opposite. For the most part, I write happy, so it’s hard for me to get in a creative frame of mind when I’m feeling jumbled up–and I’m not the most organized person in the world, so you can imagine where that leaves my writing at the end of a hectic day. Already, knowing that I have a system in place is helping the plotting wheels turn more smoothly.

 

When the official kickoff begins, I’ll be checking in with my progress and details of what I’m working on. In the meantime, I’d like to know your tips and tricks to help get you focused and stay organized in your writing and other endeavors.

 

As always, Happy writing!

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