Sleep

I’ve been dealing with some (mild) sleep issues recently. It’s been strange only realizing you’ve been asleep when you figure out that what you JUST remembered doing wasn’t reality…

So – back in college we did a creative writing exercise where you wrote one long sentence for five (I think) minutes. You didn’t worry about punctuation or grammar or spelling or anything like that (you can have it, but it’s okay if it’s wrong).  You repeated the last word your wrote until you could think of something more to write. I feel like my sleep has been a lot like that exercise, so I thought that’d be what I do as my activity today.

Here we go:

Sleep evades me as nothing else has – or has it? That’s a strange thing to hink about baout baout the covers are never enough and sometimes they are too much much much the air in the room is shockingly cold and stifflingly hot all at the same time. Is laying here better than not? My eyes are closed and i think the things i’m thinking are real and true things, but they might just be dream thoughts. did i really have a car accident or was that in my mind – what all can i do but lie here in the dark. don’t move too much. don’t wake up Husband – he needs to sleep sleep sleep i wish i could be a sleep like him. why does it work for him and not me? me me me me me me me me my skin loves the sheets and my head the pillow. why is it that sometimes it feels comfortable to lie on my side and then moments later its uncomfortable. did we really have that conversation? is there time enough that if i fall asleep it will help? am I asleep now? how can i tell? the times i can’t tell what’s real and what’s not are getting harder and harder to figure out when i’m in the dark. this doesn’t happen in the day – why didn’t the little white pill help? help help help help my eyes feel bruised under my lids and the night is getting less dark so does that mean its almost morning? what will i do? did i get enough sleep to function today – the days where i don’t get enough sleep are the days my head feels as if it’s full of cotton of fog of thick ether that i can’t navigate navigate and i feel stupid broken and some how less of me

Well – there it is. In all it’s glory with typos and everything. I think I like doing this exercise better with pen and paper and not the computer.

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Day 2: The Database

One of the first activities in “The Imaginary World of ______” is creating the Database. It’s a collection of items in various categories that you’re drawn to. I’ve actually been working on my database for the last 3 or so days, but today I finished it.

It was fun. It was a good way to tap into happy memories and exercise my brain in a different way. Part of me wanted to rush through it so I could get to “the good stuff” but I didn’t let myself. I took my time and savored creating this database. I think that’s another resolution of mine: to take my time and enjoy things.
Like with reading – usually I devour books but not the one I’m reading now.

Alright – two days in and going strong. Hopefully the pattern holds 😜

Day One

Have you ever heard of Reedsy? I found them via an add on Instagram (I think). Anyway, every Friday writing prompts are delivered to your inbox with the opportunity of winning $50 if you write a short story based on one of the prompts. I have no delusions of winning anything, or even completing a short story from one of the prompts; however, it’s a good place to get the ball rolling.

Here’s the prompt:

By law, everyone must make a New Year’s resolution, and they must have it approved by the government.

So – here goes.

Edith started blankly at the government form she’d downloaded from http://resolutionapproval.gov. It was her first year to officially have to submit a resolution for approval, and to say she was pushing it – well, she still had an hour to upload the form.

She’d heard it got easier each year. The day after Christmas, the government would issue you your official Resolution Report where it graded you on how much you’d improved over the last year – as well as give you suggestions on your upcoming resolution. Getting approval on a suggested resolution was supposed to take no time at all. However, since Edith had just turned thirty, not even two full days ago, she was supposed to come up with one all on her own.

Edith resisted the urge to bang her head on the kitchen table, and instead got up and wondered into the TV room where her roommate – Katie – was wrapped up in a blanket watching some trashy reality show.

“Did you already submit your resolution?” Edit asked as she flopped down next to Katie and stole a handful of buttery popcorn.

“Yep – last week.” Katie pushed the bowl so it was wedged between the two of them.

“And?” Edith prompted.

In response Katie unlocked her phone and opened an e-mail before handing it to Edith.

Your resolution to “spend 40 hours a month volunteering with underprivileged children” has been approved. Please report to the North Street Education Center on January 1st at 10:00am to pick up your welcome packet and undergo orientation. 

We wish you a productive and fulfilling New Year.

Sincerely, 

The Department of National Resolution Approvals

Edith scowled and handed the phone back to Katie.

“That’s a good one,” she grumbled. “How do you know you’ll be able to make the hours though?”

“Part of my internship is working with kids. I just figured I could try and piggyback the two.”

“And you still got approval?”

“Yeah. There’s this pamphlet I picked up at the store the other day. Hold on.” Katie got up and disappeared into her bedroom. She came out a few minutes later with a glossy pamphlet in hand and gave it to Edith. “This helped me figure out the best way to get something approved and work it into my schedule. There’s even tips about getting official approval for stuff you already do. That way you don’t have to worry about the fine if you don’t make your quarterly quota check-in.”

Edith looked down at the pamphlet in her hand. Stuff she already did? She doubted there was a way to get approval for anything related to her secretary job OR any of her “hobbies.” It’s not like watching copious amounts of science-fiction TV was really a benefit to society.

Edith just groaned.

“I don’t know why you’re making this into such a big deal. Just volunteer at the pet shelter or something like that. You love dogs.”

“Yes – and you know if I spend ANY time around them I’ll bring them home. All of them.”

“Hm – I see your point. Well, read the pamphlet. I think they’ve got an online quiz component that might generate some ideas for you. Now go,” Katie gave Edith a friendly shove. “Sarah and Jacob are about to go on this super romantic date and she’s a raging bitch. I want to see if he figured it out this episode or not.”

Edith rolled her eyes and got off the sofa. Katie was right. She was making it far more difficult than it needed to be.

* * *

Well – there we go. Day one, over and done.

Writing Prompt 1: Breaking Up with Writer’s Block

While checking out some different writing prompts on Writer’s Digest I found this awesome free guide that they off. They call it, The Writing Prompt Boot Camp. It’s a free download and you can get it here. I thought, that for my beginning of this weekly writing prompt challenge I’ve set for myself, that this guide would be a good place to start.

If you’ve been having some of the same problems as me, then I really encourage you to join me! I’d love for anyone who wants to to post their responses in the comments below.

Anyway… here’s the first one:

Breaking Up With Writer’s Block
It’s time for you and Writer’s Block to part ways. Write a letter breaking up with Writer’s
Block, starting out with, “Dear Writer’s Block, it’s not you, it’s me …”

There we go. So, you mission, whether you choose to accept it or not, is to break-up with your writer’s block. We all know that it’s an unhealthy relationship. Just pull the plug already.

So. Ready…..

Set….

Go!

Making Time to Write

Well, I’m doing it. I’m getting back to my writing.

One piece of advice that I hear all the time from people on how to be a good writer is to write something everyday. Which doesn’t really sound all that hard now does it? Just sit down, with pen and paper, and just put some words down. It doesn’t have to be the beginnings of amazing literature. It just has to be something.

Yeah, it’s not that easy. Maybe for some people it is, but not for me. I do this thing where I psych myself out. I over think my writing all the time and don’t allow it to be crappy. I mean, no matter what, when you write something you need to allow yourself to write that shitty first draft.

I don’t do that. I put too much pressure on myself and I know it’s stupid, but I do.

Then, on top of all that, I have to make time for writing. Again, not that hard, right?

And again, for me it is. I work a full time job now, I’m married and (call me crazy) but I like to spend quality time with Husband, I have friends that I already don’t spend as much time with as I should, family, reading, blogging, and I joined a gym. By the time I get everything done in a day that I need to do, there’s not a ton of time or energy left over for writing.

I suppose that’s what self discipline is for, but even that comes in limited quantities.

So how do I go about making time to write and making sure I have energy?

I don’t know really. I’m still trying to figure it out. It would make sense to set time aside everyday for writing, but I’ve tried that before.

Really, I’m just making excuses. I’m going to try different strategies and we’ll see what happens.

My first plan is to participate in the weekly writing prompt that Writer’s Digest has on their webpage. My plan is to post the prompt (and others that I come across) at the beginning(ish) of each week, and then post what I write on it by the time I post the next prompt. We’ll see how this works. I’d love it for anyone to join me and in the comment section leave some of what they wrote in response 🙂

What about you? How to you make sure that you have time to write?

Step 1: Follow Up

Alright, so Tuesday I shared with you the first step on how to become a better writer. It’s easy for me to sit here and tell you what to do, but harder for me to actually do it. So, I took my own advice, because if I don’t who will? And did one of the writing prompts.

Describe a “first” (first apartment, first kiss, first time driving a car, first lie, first big success, first roller coaster ride, first time in this setting). Include as many details as possible, being sure to include an aspect relating to each of the five senses.
Okay, this is the first time Liam (the main man in my YA fantasy novel sees Brea, the narrator of the WIP) I know I didn’t included as many sensory details as I could, but I was just happy to write this scene. Writing prompts don’t have to follow all the rules/ directions… as long as you get something written.
Liam closed his eyes and took a deep breath, which he almost choked on. The metallic sent was heavy in the air and made his lungs feel as if they were full of smoke and ash. He understood why Rowan insisted meeting in the city, there was less of a chance that Ash’s spies would follow them into the heart of a city full of iron. However, it was still painful. Even though the medicine the court alchemist made for them kept Liam from getting iron-sickness, he couldn’t help but imagine the poison that surrounded him seeping into his body.

He hated the city. However, Rowan was his King and there was next to nothing Liam could do about it.
They reached a small café, The Village Cup. Lo had scouted it out earlier in the day for their meeting. It was out of the way, small, and deep enough into the city that wandering fey wouldn’t dare come close.

Lo opened the door. A string a bells that hung on the inside of the door jingled merrily as the three stepped into the coffee house. It was empty apart from the young mortal girl that was behind the counter. She glanced up at them and her mouth hung open slightly. They tended to have that effect on mortals. Liam wanted to smile but didn’t. Rowan didn’t understand Liam’s interest with mortals. To Rowan, they were playthings, exotic pets of sorts. But to Liam, they were simply fascinating.

The sound of ceramic shattering on tiles seemed to snap the girl out of her daze. She glanced down at her feet and winced. Yes, she had dropped her coffee cup. Liam imagined that her feet were now soaked with the bitter, dark liquid.

Rowan scoffed and glanced over at Liam.

“Liam, take care of our orders.” Not even telling Liam what he wanted, Rowan strode over to the back corner, and fell into one of the overstuffed chairs. Somehow, Rowan still managed to exert an air of authority even when he was sprawled out in a chair.

Lo made eye contact and slightly rolled his eyes. That was more of a reaction than Liam had hoped for. Lo was a fey of few words and even fewer readable expressions of emotion. His eye roll was Lo speak for “He’s our king, what can you do?” He then glanced at the chalkboard that was propped up on the counter advertising the new pumpkin spice latte. He nodded his head toward it and then went and joined Rowan in the corner.

Liam walked up to the counter. The strong smell of coffee was almost powerful enough to cover the stench of iron that hung in the air. The girl at the counter smiled at him. He wanted to smile back, but didn’t. His track record with mortals wasn’t very good. As much as he found them interesting and amazing creatures, they had a habit of dying when they spent too much time with him. No need to encourage this one.

But he so very much wanted to. She was beautiful in only the way a mortal can be. She had brown hair that was the color of chocolate and eyes that were the color of Forget-Me-Nots. And she had the subtle perfume of coffee and baked goods that clung to her.

“Hi,” her voice was a bit shaky and she tried to smile a bit bigger. It was downright adorable how nervous she was. “What can I get for you?”

Liam glanced down behind the counter and saw the pieces of the shattered mug and a puddle of coffee on the floor. Her dark blue tennis shoes were soaked as well as the hem of her jeans. She visibly shifted her weight and attempted to hide her feet under the counter. He bit back a smile.

“What were you drinking before we rudely took you by surprise?”
Her cheeks turned a pink color and she glanced down at the puddle on the ground. “Well, usually I drink whatever coffee is oldest and we can’t sell. Uh, but that was, that was a snicker-doodle flavored blend. It’s been a rough day so I treated myself. But I’m not really supposed to…” She trailed off and then bit her bottom lip.

“Is there any more?”

“Uhh…” She glanced over her shoulder back toward various coffee making machines that Liam didn’t even try to pretend to know anything about. “Let me check. I think so…” She started walking and slipped a bit in the coffee puddle. Liam finally let himself smile as she froze and kept her balance. She didn’t turn around but Liam could bet his sword on her blush growing deeper. She then proceeded to slide her feet across the floor almost as if she was ice-skating. She fiddled around with a machine and then skate/slid back across the floor.

“I’ve got enough for one more. Not enough for you and your friends.”

“Well, I know that they would each like one of those lovely sounding pumpkin spiced drinks you have here on the board.” Liam rested his elbows on the counter and leaned forward a bit. “How about you save that last mug for yourself and fix me a cup of tea?”

“Okay.” She avoided his gaze and punched buttons on the cash register. “Your total is six fifty seven.” Finally she looked up at him. He flashed her his best smile, and she bit her lip and looked down at the counter again.

Liam dug in the pocket of his pants, a pair of mortal jeans he kept for when Rowan required them to venture into the city, and produced a crumpled ten-dollar bill. Usually, he simply glamoured some leaves to look like mortal money, but he liked this girl too much.

“Keep the rest.” He smiled at her once again and then crossed the coffee shop to take his seat on Rowan’s right side. He half listened to Rowan drone on about the increasing tension between the Dark Court and his brother, Ash’s court, the Unseelie Court. Liam was too busy watching the mortal fix their drinks.
Liam settled into his seat more comfortably once she brought out their drinks and handed them out before muttering a thank you and scooting back to the counter. She then proceeded to sit on a stool behind the counter and plop her head down. Liam took a short sip of his herbal tea and grinned. Not only was she cute, but she knew what she was doing.

Liam decided, as he turned his attention to his King, that maybe he could get used to the city after all.            

How To Map Your Story

As promised a few posts ago I am getting back to the Creative Writing business. Also, as promised is the post on How To Map Your Story.

There is a strong possibility that you already know how to map a story. I was forced to learn all about it in high school. Rising Action. Climax. Falling Action. But I never really considered using it as an outline for my own stories. Duh right?

But, there is also a strong possibility that you haven’t really heard about how to map a story (yours or others) or maybe you did learn in school but forgot. Never fear! I have drawn you an awesome diagram!

Awesome right? I can’t take all the credit though. I do want to mention that this awesome diagram is heavily based on the one that Nancy Dodd did in the January 2012 issue of Writer’s Digest (my new favorite magazine). I like to think that the diagram is pretty self explanatory. The only issue is that you might not be able to read my handwriting. If that’s the case then, I’m sorry!
So, how can this help you map out your own story? Well, it shows that any story (short or long) is made up of certain elements. You need to have these elements in order to have a story that takes a solid shape and keeps readers interested (however, like everything in writing I’m sure there are exceptions to this rule — like the resolution doesn’t always have to have a pretty little bow tied up but you do need something). Here’s my advice: Either join the Writer’s Digest webpage for free and download your own blank worksheet OR use my beautiful diagram above as a rough outline and draw your own map. 
Even if you don’t like outlining I think it’s a good way to get the barebones of your story down. Sometimes that’s all you really need.