Rhymes With Smash!

The musings of Megan Paasch, and other stuff.

Archive for the tag “blogging”

Writing With Discipline: Forming New Habits

I was supposed to write this blog post last night. I was supposed to have it all set up and scheduled to post first thing this morning. That’s what I’d intended when I’d planned to blog every Monday. But then Sunday was long and busy, and I was tired, and my brain wouldn’t cooperate with me, and I couldn’t think of a single thing to blog about.

“I’ll do it in the morning,” I finally told myself, right around 11:30pm. “It doesn’t have to be up first thing, as long as it’s up sometime on Monday.” But I’d rather not make a habit of that.

That’s the point of this after all: forming a habit. Having some discipline. A routine. Getting myself to write something, anything, even if I don’t feel like it. That’s how writers become authors–through hard work even when they aren’t in the mood. Through persistence. That’s what I’m trying to teach myself.

My first book took six or so years of trial and error to write. I started it, then set it aside, then brought it back out and started it over, then set it aside, and so on until one day I told myself if I kept putting my draft away, then starting it over again, it would be decades before I ever finished it. So I buckled down and wrote and wrote, and revised and revised, and edited and edited, until finally I finished. That process, from the moment I buckled down until I was ready to query, still took about two years.

My second book, which I started during NaNoWriMo one year while my first book was “resting” between drafting and revising, also took about two years, and that was just the draft. Two years for a very rough draft. Part of that was because I hadn’t made it a priority. My first book came first–it was my baby. My second book was for fun. And that’s okay. However, when I started querying my first book, I took a look back at that second one and decided there was something there worth pursuing more seriously. So I started it over. Aaaaand then I got stuck. Aaaaand then a plot bunny bounced across the street in front of my car one day as I was driving to the store and I knew I had to pursue it.

That second book’s rewrite wasn’t gelling, and I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. As I said, that one had originally been written for fun. When it was no longer fun, I dropped it for something I felt more passionate about. That second book was my rebound book. Not to say I won’t ever revisit it. But when I do, it will be on different terms. It will be with the understanding that if I’m to pick it up again, I must have the tools and discipline in place to be able to see it through to the end.

And that’s what I’m working on right now with my third book–that plot bunny that bounced across the road. I went into this one with the clear intention that I will finish it, and I will do so in a timely manner. That’s not to say that I will rush it to the point where I end up with something that is such a mess, fixing it will be too daunting, and dropping it like I did with my second will be too tempting. Nope. I wanted to rush in and start writing, but I made myself take the time to plan and plot and outline first–those are the tools I’m talking about. If I know where I’m headed, if I know what events must take place, and in what order, and in what way, I’ll be able to write the draft quickly because I’ll know where I’m going. I won’t write myself into a corner, or veer down the wrong path and have to double back. And if I understand my characters before I start to write, I’ll have an easier time making their dialogue, their actions, and their reactions authentic.

So that’s done, and now that I know what to write, the next step is to make myself sit down everyday and write it. No more wasting time because I’m “not in the mood,” or “I’m not sure how to write this part perfectly, so I won’t get started writing it at all.” Those are habits that I’ve formed over time and I need to push them aside with new habits.

One of those habits is keeping up this blog. “But Megan, that’s not working on your third book. That’s another distraction.” Nope, no it’s not. Because consistent blogging forces me to find something to write about every week even when I’m not feeling inspired, and that habit, that kind of discipline, will carry over into all of my writing projects, third book included. That’s my hope anyway.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d better be off. I have a novel to write.

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Waking Up

This post is kind of personal. I’m not sure why I feel so nervous writing it, but I do. But I also feel like I should. So here we go.

I want to talk about why this blog has been a dead zone for the last seven months. Until recently, I thought it was just because I couldn’t think of anything to say. But that’s not really it. I have lots of things to say. It’s why I write novels. It’s why I take part on social media. It’s why I talk to myself when I think no one’s listening . . . I mean, that’s totally normal right? Yeah, totally normal.

But lately, it feels like I’ve been in a fog. Like I have things to say, but I can’t articulate them. A brain fog. And I’ve been tired. Super, ridiculously tired. Tired to the point where I got concerned and thought for several months about maybe going to the doctor, and then finally actually went, and spilled my guts out about everything I was worried could be wrong with me. This is not something that I do. And it was especially hard, because it was a brand new doctor. My old one, who I was sort of used to (if you can say that going to see someone once in a blue moon when I felt like I might have a sinus infection is enough to get used to someone) moved away a few years ago, and yeah . . . I hadn’t found a replacement since. I don’t like to go to the doctor unless I’m dying. Not the best philosophy, I know, but I’m working on being better about that.

So anyway, I went to the doctor. I said I thought maybe it was my thyroid. Or I thought maybe it was Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Or I thought maybe I was just depressed. Or maybe all of the above. I did not tell her that I thought maybe it was cancer, but of course I thought maybe it was cancer. Everybody always thinks maybe it’s cancer. Even WebMD always thinks maybe it’s cancer. (Spoiler: it’s not cancer.)

I’m not a hypochondriac, but it really was getting ridiculous how tired I was. It was interfering with daily life. I couldn’t keep up with the house, I couldn’t keep up with the kids, I certainly couldn’t exercise. And I couldn’t write. Not very much anyway. I could write more than I could do the other things, because I could do that while sprawled on the couch. But with the physical fatigue came mental fatigue, and so any writing time that I had, I used for working on the bigger “more important” stuff: the novels and my monthly blog post for Thinking Through Our Fingers. Short stories, flash fiction, and personal blogs fell to the wayside.

I know there are some of you who know me outside the realm of the internet who might read this and be surprised. If we’ve hung out, I’ve probably seemed fine. And I mean, I do have good days too. Some days I’ll wake up and have tons of energy, and I’ll feel awesome, and so I’ll want to take advantage of that and spend time with friends and/or get a bunch of stuff done while I can. And I usually overdo it because I know that for the next day or two or three, I’ll be wiped no matter what. Happens every time. And sometimes I just force myself to get out despite how tired I am, because hello, I want to hang out with you. But not here. Over at your house please, or somewhere in the middle, because I’m too exhausted to tidy everything up. And though each and every one of you has told me it’s okay and it’s probably not that bad, I’m embarrassed. Because I’m a perfectionist too. Exhaustion and perfectionism do not make good bedfellows.

So anyway, it turns out my thyroid is awesome (yay!) but my iron and vitamin D levels are super duper low. In other words, I should have 1) been taking my Flintstones everyday like a good little girl, and 2) gone to the doctor a hell of a lot earlier. Now I’m on some mega-dose vitamins and after a month or so of taking them, I’m just now–like, within the last week–starting to wake up.

I feel like I’ve been sleepwalking for the last year or so. And as I’ve been getting some energy back, I’ve been remembering things that I used to do, that I’d stopped doing, that I want to do again. I’ve been remembering what I was like before I got so tired. I didn’t remember any of that while I was tired. I was just tired. I just didn’t want to do anything. I was depressed, but I didn’t know if I was depressed because I was tired, or if I was tired because I was depressed.

Seems like maybe I was depressed because I was tired, because I’m feeling a lot better now.

So what is the point of this post? I don’t know. I guess I just wanted to explain where old me has been the last year or so. Probably longer than that. It’s been slowly building for quite a while, and I think maybe it’s been more obvious to other people that I’m not like I used to be than it has to me. And I guess the other point of this post is to say that I’m trying. I’m working on it, and things are getting better. I’ve been exercising every day. I’ve been getting out more, communicating more, being more…present? I guess? I’ve felt more present anyway. I’ve been in a better mood. And I feel like my brain is starting to work again–I’m feeling creative again, I’m feeling smart, and I’m feeling much more focused. It’s amazing what the lack of one little mineral and one little vitamin can do to you.

The old me isn’t back yet. But she is on her way. And she’s looking forward to whipping life back into shape.

See you next Monday.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes!

Forgive me reader, for I have slacked. It has been seven months since my last confess–er, blog post. And this post doesn’t really count, because its only purpose is to tell you that changes are coming to this blog.

That’s right. Changes.

For one, I’ve decided on a schedule. A weekly schedule even. Imagine that. Every Monday, in fact. (Yes, I realize today isn’t a Monday, but as I said, this post doesn’t count.) That means that two days from now, when you wake up in the morning, I will have a blog post waiting just for you. Whether you want one or not. You’re welcome!

For two, (because I started a pattern when I said “for one,” so I suppose that means there needs to be a “for two,”) I’m considering upgrading my WordPress account so that “WordPress” no longer appears in the URL. That’s right, things are getting serious up in here. I’m going to have my own domain name, yo. Maybe. Probably. I haven’t actually looked at what that entails yet so I might change my mind. But there’s a chance that you’ll need to adjust your bookmarks, if you actually have me bookmarked, I mean, I flatter myself to think so, and you probably don’t really, and that’s okay, because why would you, but if you do, thank you, and anyway I’ll just shut up about that now.

For three . . . well I don’t really have a third thing. I’ve pretty much said everything I need to say.

So that’s it! I’ll see you here bright and early Monday morning! TTFN! Toodle-oo! Au revoir! Laters!

Stuff and Things

Hey! Well look at you! *squints through the screen* It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

My blog posts have been kind of sparse as of late, but there’s a reason for that. You see, I spent the bulk of the summer working on revisions (more revisions, always revisions, constant revisions, argh) for my contemporary fantasy, “Charlotte Elemental,” so that I could enter it in Brenda Drake’s Pitch Wars. If you don’t know what that is, you can read all about it here.

And I did it! I finished! And you know what else? Julie Sondra Decker chose me to be her mentee! And all the !!!!!!

No really. This was my tweet when I saw my name on the list:

(Umm…”Slaash” was my Halloween Twitter handle. Don’t judge.) And everything after that was just one exciting blur. Within a few days though, I calmed down, and together, Julie and I got to work. For the last two months I’ve been going through more revisions. And more revisions. And polishing up my pitch. And my query. And, and, and soon–as in, a week soon–my pitch and excerpt will go up on Brenda’s blog for all the participating agents to take a look at and decide whether they’d like to request more material.

No, I’m not nervous or anything. Why would I be nervous? *twitch* Nope, perfect picture of tranquility here. Heh. Eheh. Eheheh. ANYWAY, carrying on. . . .

I may be less busy soon, or even if I’m not, I want to be sure to set aside more time to blog. I want to make blogging a regular habit. It may be once a week or once a month–we’ll have to see what ends up working. But I definitely don’t want to let another three months go by with nothing here for you to read. No, don’t tell me it’s ok. You want to read my things. Yes you do.

That’s right. You’re welcome.

Oh hey, and before you go, take a look at the bar at the top of this blog. See how there are new page linky thingies up there? “Shorts” sends you to a list of (surprise!) my short stories and flash fiction, and “Interviews” sends you to . . . okay, you get it. I also updated my bio. But you don’t need to look at that. (You should go look at that too. I mean, if you want to.)

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