Friday, December 08, 2017

Writer's Block

One question I hear thrown around the writing community a lot is "What do you do when you get writer's block?" Here are my top 5 pieces of advice (and 5 that I don't fancy):

1. Read a book
It sounds counter-intuitive but sometimes reading another book can get you out of a funk, give you inspiration, or just give you a break. Reading more also helps you become a better writer. Try it - you'll be surprised.

2. Listen to music
I pretty much always listen to music while I write. Each of my books has its own personalized playlist. I find if I play it soft enough, it's just enough to stimulate my brain without distracting me.

3. Push through it
This is hard one, especially when the easiest thing to do when you have writer's block is to just stop. Sometimes, the thing holding you back is that you just don't know how to write what you want to say. At those times, you just kind of have to grit you teeth and do it. It's important to remember that even if it's garbage, you can edit later.

4. Step away and do anything creative
There are other times when it is a good idea to step away and take a break. But you can still keep yourself inspired by doing something else that is creative. Do you like to paint or draw? Maybe you like to sing or you play an instrument? Keeping the creative juices flowing doesn't necessarily mean you have to be sitting in front of a blank page.

5. Clean up your space
I never feel better than when my place is clean and everything is in its place. Sometimes even just the act of cleaning is enough to kick me into the right gear, but certainly having a nice tidy home helps me clear my mind enough to write.

Now here are a few things I don't personally like, but they may still help other people:

1. Freewriting
I'm just not a big fan of freewriting. I've tried it a few times, but for me, the fact that it doesn't go anywhere, that it doesn't contribute to any of the dozen or so books that I'm working just doesn't help me. However, some people do find freewriting helps them to get over a block that they're dealing with.

2. Create a schedule
Some people love this. They get up every day at 5am and write for an hour, or they carve out a certain time every day or week to write. I think that's great! But it doesn't work for me and I can't schedule writing around my family. So I pretty much write whenever I feel like it/get a chance. I should add though writing frequently will make you a better writer, whether you stick to a set schedule or not.

3. Get your body moving
Again - this is great for some people. Exercise makes people feel energized, so they're more in the right mindset to do things like write. But I don't exercise much and I don't think I've ever said to myself, "I can't write this. maybe I'll go for a jog." The closest I've come to this is pacing, but that's about it.

4. Drink coffee
All this does for me is keep me awake at night, to be honest. But I get where this advice is coming from. If coffee can wake you up and give you a clear mind, then you might be more set up to actually write something.

5. Go on social media 
Hahahahaha. No. I don't even remember where I read this advice, but the only reason I go on social media is to procrastinate and distract myself. It certainly does not help me get over writer's block. But you do you, random person who suggested this.

Not matter what works for you, the most important thing to remember is that in the end, you won't get over your block unless you actually write something. As the marketing folks at Nike like to say: Just. Do. It.

- Natasja

Monday, December 04, 2017

Me, Myself, And All The Other People In My Head

A post about character creation and how good characters will take over an entire project.

First off, let me just say that I do not "base my characters on people I know." To do so would inevitably land me in a great deal of trouble, especially if I kill the character you thought was written after you. If a character happens to share a certain trait with you, this is either coincidence or I might just like that thing about you. This applies to everything I write, with the exception of two short stories I wrote for two very special people in my life.

Now that I've finished my disclaimer, I can say that, yes, of course you're in my stories! Because you're a part of me, and I'm a part of each and every one of my characters. In order for you to properly enjoy a book, the characters have to feel like real people. Which means they have to have real emotions, reactions, traits, mannerisms, etc. And who better to base those things on than you?

Anyone who knows me and my writing knows that I don't write books. I write characters who happen to do interesting things. Almost all of my stories have started with at least a couple characters with interesting personalities and histories. Sometimes they become so realistic that they start doing things on their own and the next thing I know, I'm in the middle of a plot without a paddle!

 If you love a good character-based story and have a little extra time on your hands, I'm now in the midst of having Knockout Girl beta read and you are welcome to do so as well. Just click here to let me know!

- Natasja

Friday, December 01, 2017

Hello and Other Things

As you can see from my last blog post, two years ago I joined nanowrimo. I did actually win in 2015, then in 2016, and again this year. I've had a few questions about what I've been writing the last couple of years and the answer is:

The Onepian Chronicles

I call the genre of this series "light sci-fi," or a space soap if you will, because it centres around real human beings doing real things, except they have space ships, live on different planets, and it's set far into the future. It's a little like Star Trek, but without alien races and a little less technical. Each book focuses on the story of a new set of characters that have been previously introduced, so they read well as stand-alones but are part of a bigger overall story arch. The series is nowhere near ready to be published (or even read by people who don't love me unconditionally). I mean, one of the books isn't even finished and two or them don't have titles. (Contact me if you want to take a crack at that.)

Other than that, I've been working on perfecting another young adult novel called Knockout Girl. This book is very dear to me as it's one of my favourite books I've ever written. Elli, the first person narrator, is witty and sarcastic and at least half-full of teenage angst. But she's got a good heart and genuinely wants to see her friends succeed. Currently Knockout Girl is going through some rounds of beta reading and last touches, after which I plan on self-publishing again.

Of course, none of this is possible without the help and support of my amazing friends! Writing a manuscript is one thing. But having it edited and read over and over again and then publishing it requires a lot of work and is hard to do with a small group of people, let alone by yourself. So just know that I appreciate each and everyone one of you lovely people.

- Natasja

Friday, October 16, 2015

Nanowrimo News

It's been almost three months since my last post, but fret not! I have actually been writing a more than normal amount lately and I've decided to channel my rediscovered penchant for over-writing by joining Nanowrimo 2015! This will be my fourth time trying it and I'm very excited. Last year, I didn't do it. With a months-old baby and absolutely no motivation to speak of, it was just not happening. But this year, I've got a plan.

Those of you who know me know that I am a complete pantser. Normally, I let my characters run the story and I kind of just record whatever they do and say. But this year, my characters and I have planned the story ahead of time. I decided that I didn't want to get lost fumbling around looking for something else to write. Which is also why I'm going to do something I very rarely do - write out of order. I know that's how most books are written, but believe it or not, most of my books are written in order. 

Hopefully with the changes to my own personal process for writing, I will be able to complete my challenge. Feel free to:
- Go to my Nano page and keep track of how I'm doing starting November 1st
- Sign up and write alongside me
- Ask me for a detailed synopsis and then suggest book titles

Cheers to a great Nanowrimo 2015!
- Natasja 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Here's to Making Up Words

I haven't posted in a while, mostly because of reasons,* but I do apologize. To make up for that, I would like to share about how I recently have been introduced to the concept of listicles. What is a listicle? It is an article made up of a list (or lists), solely for the purpose of posting something easy, light, and entertaining. Supposedly, I should write a listicle if I'm having trouble coming up with things to post. (Oops. Was I not supposed to mention that?) So, without further ado, here are some lists for you!

Things I have been reading lately:
1. Overqualified by Joey Comeau (A hilarious set of overly truthful cover letters)
2. Personal Days by Ed Park (A novel about a bunch of people who work in an office)
3. Call Me Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber (Yes, it's a Christmas book and I'm not even ashamed that I watched the movie afterwards)
4. City Love by Susane Colasanti (Yes, I do read a number of books at the same time)
5. The Cage by Megan Shepherd (Come on now, no one said I couldn't do that)
6. The Accidents of Style by Charles Harrington Elster (Everyone in every vocation should read this)

Things I have been writing lately:
4. This list.

It's true. I've spent much more time reading than writing. I mean, that list would be at least twice, if not three times as long if I included all the books I read to my son on a daily basis. But I'm not discouraged. Sometimes I need to do a good clean sweep by reading a lot of outside writing and then I can get back into my own stuff with a fresh mind. Anyway, there we have it. A listicle!

- Natasja

*Reasons include: being a bookaholic mommy and librarian.