On the Importance of Deadlines

There have been quite a few new faces visiting the blog recently, so welcome!  I’m glad that you’ve found my sporadic and slightly uneducated advice helpful.

Whether this is your first visit or your fifth, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been posting, uh, infrequently let’s say.  But I promise I have a great excuse!

I am almost halfway through my senior spring at this point, so I have been busy finishing my thesis and interviewing for post-graduation jobs.

it's always sunny jobs gif

I’m trying not to feel too guilty about not keeping up with this blog, because

a) this is my last chance to enjoy being an undergrad, and

b) this blog isn’t going anywhere.  I anticipate I’ll have more time to write to you all, and indeed, share my thoughts on the transition from writing in college to writing on top of a full-time job-having “adult” soon enough!

But in the meantime, I wanted to share with you what has probably been my most important realization so far as I’ve worked on my creative writing thesis:

Deadlines are terrifying and awesome.

I have finally gotten to this point where I’m writing regularly (i.e. almost daily), and it’s not because of my internal fortitude or love for putting words on the page day in and day out.  To be honest, I don’t always like that part of writing.  It kind of sucks.

No, I’m writing regularly because I have to.  Because I need to show something to someone in a week.

Part of this has been figuring out my own writing process.  I’ve written eight short stories for this collection now, so I know about how much time it takes me to complete a draft, and how much more to edit that mess.

Short story revision: the arts & crafts method.

Short story revision: the arts & crafts method.

The thing about this process is that it’s long.  There are a lot of steps.  That means if I procrastinate on one step, it’s going to throw off the whole process.  And here’s the thing: it’s a lot harder to force yourself to keep moving through this process if you don’t have a hard deadline.

Over the next few months, I’ll be thinking a lot about how to hold myself accountable when I’m not producing work for a grade.  As always, I would love to hear your thoughts!  I think having a community of other writers to chat (and commiserate) with is something that can hold us accountable and motivate us to keep doing our own things.

Now go write something.  Jeez.

Should I Outline My Novel?

First of all, yes. You probably should.

Second, YOU GUYS.  Chuck Wendig did an excellent and super-thorough post about outlining over at his blog.  Here’s a little preview–I can’t post the whole thing here because it’s so long and wonderful.

25 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT OUTLINING

1. PANTSER VERSUS PLOTTER: THE CAGE MATCH

The story goes that most writers are either pantsers (which regrettably has nothing to do with writing sans pants) or plotters (which has nothing to do with plotting the fictional in-narrative demises of those who have offended you). We either jump into the story by the so-called seat of our pants, or we rigorously plot and scheme every detail of the story before we ever pen the first sentence. It’s a bit of a false dichotomy, as many writers fall somewhere in the middle. Even a “pantser” can make use of an outline without still feeling pantsless and fancy-free. Continue reading

Motivation Pep Talk

I got inspired by this little blurb on the Writers Helpers tumblr, and thought I’d do something similar.  I’ll return to this whenever I need a kick in the pants (i.e. always).

Find Your Inspiration Sign

(Not sure who originally created this lovely image, but you can find it here.)

Continue reading

3 Reasons Writers Feel Self-Doubt (and How to Overcome It)

My favorite Creative Writing professor just agreed to do an independent study with me this summer while I’m on campus taking classes.  We’ll grab coffee or sit on the docks by the river once a week and discuss a piece of my writing, probably a chapter, each week.

I find writing to be so much easier when I work toward a deadline, and when I know that someone will be reading my work.  I think most writers, regardless of their ages or experience levels, can relate to that.

But a confession: within 24 hours of seeing my summer plans start to unfold the way I hoped they would, I began to get anxious.  You see, my ultimate goal is to finish my monstrous work-in-progress, which I’ve literally been working on for YEARS.

An actual photo of my work-in-progress. Terrifying, right?

Continue reading

12 Ways to Start Writing Again

More than two weeks ago, I finished up a one-act play–I did the final edit, hit the deadline, then heartily congratulated myself.
12 Ways to Start Writing Again

In the days leading up to the deadline, I was writing 3+ hours each day in order to get the thing done (yes, I procrastinated a bit).  Once the piece was complete, a short reprieve from writing seemed to be in order.  My current internship started the following day, and now that few days has grown into nearly 3 weeks.  Not cool. Continue reading