Recharging Days

Writers write everyday is a common adage among the author crowd. I’m not so sure it’s true for the rest of the creative world. Surely, an actor is no less an actor if he doesn’t act in a movie every day of his life. Nature photographers can’t photograph beautiful flowers on days the weather is all thunderstorms and hail.

I think the true statement is this: when on deadlines, a writer writes every day.

Deadlines aside, it’s important, I think, to take a break from the project you’re working on sometimes. Even more important if you’ve been working on it for a long time, and you’re hitting a huge stumbling block.

Maybe you’ve sent out 280 queries and haven’t heard from a single agent.

Maybe you’ve been trying to fix a plot hole for six months and your betas are still getting lost in your story’s confusing narrative.

Maybe you’ve totally lost the idea of the story and every word seems like gobbleygook.

This need for space and time away from your art isn’t just a creative person problem. Many professionals tout the benefits of a mental heath day, like in this article from INC.com and this one, from the Huffington Post, provides clear examples of signs you need a break.

So, take a day to clean the house, or go for a run, or knit. At least, that’s how I spend my days off. You might have different hobbies. Clear your mind, and tackle some non-creative pesky tasks on your to-do list. I keep a tab of “worn-out day activities” on my to-do list app, (the incredible 2Do app if you’re curious) so that on mentally rainy days, I can still feel productive by completing little tasks.

But.

Here’s my warning. It’s very easy to let one recharging day become a recharging week. Or a month. And then, suddenly, you’ve lost your flow on your project, and you have no interest in ever putting your butt back in a chair. So, the minute you decide it’s a recharging day, grab your phone or computer, and add a couple timers scheduled for tomorrow and the next day. If you have the functionality, add little reminders about how much you love your creative endeavors. You can even add reminders of what you need to work on next.

Here’s a screenshot of my phone for tomorrow, since I took a break today.

Motivation!

Motivation!

So, that’s my plan to give my brain a break, without losing my place in my writing. What about you? When do you know it’s time for a break? How do you get back to work?

A Thank You to the Writing Community

I’ve always been a writer, but aside from classes, I’ve never shared my writing with anyone other than my long-suffering best friend.Then, a little over a year ago, I realized the story I’d been drafting was something I really, really loved, and wanted to share with other people, maybe even see in print someday. It had been years since I’d declared myself “a writer” to anyone, but, it was time.

So, I hit up Google  for writing sites. Absolute Write, Ladies Who Critique, and Maggie Stiefvater’s annual CP love connection. I met amazing critique partners, who encouraged me to keep writing. They saw potential in the messy, plot-less draft I’d created.

As summer turned to fall, my writing picked up steam, and I was selected for the Pitch Wars mentoring contest, and gave me a whole new network of awesome writing friends. Between that, joining SCBWI, spending (too much?) time on twitter, and crashing in on Nanowrimo meetups, I met even more awesome writers. Seriously, if you’ve ever considered doing any of those things, try it out. You never know who you might meet.

Then an amazing thing happened. The more I interacted with the writing community, the stronger my writing grew. Even more valuable than the editing and writing tips is the sense of fellowship, that bolsters  me on rough days, and cheers with me on great days.  I ‘m not alone anymore, writing stories for only me  and my cat.

This is a thank you to all the writers and creative folk I’ve met so far. Loyal critique partners who will brainstorm plot twists and listen to my rambling tangents, incredible beta readers who offer feedback on the manuscript as a whole, and the hundreds of people I’ve interacted with on Twitter and Tumblr.

I’ve even been lucky enough to meet a few of you in real life.

Your kind encouragement helps me through days when writing a novel seems impossible. Your thoughtful feedback sharpens the story from the vague draft it was into something sparkling. The way you fangirl (or fanboy )over my characters re-ignites my own enthusiasm for them. Your sympathetic ear when real life explodes and writing seems impossible makes the struggle to get words on the page easier. Your joy at my success makes it ten times more awesome.

You have no idea how much you matter.

What I’m Working On

In the last few days, my to-do list and email accounts have been on fire with all sorts of cool things. If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I’m happiest when I’ve got a few different projects going on.

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DYS-PUNK-TIONAL

This has been my baby for over a year now, although it used to be called FATHERS, FENDER GUITARS, & OTHER F-WORDS. It’s my young adult contemporary novel,  and it totally rocks. If you’re curious to learn more about it, click on the link above.

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(art of DYS-PUNK-TIONAL characters by Giles)

PROGRESSION: a feature-length narrative film, set in Lawrenceville, the hispter-est neighborhood in Pittsburgh.

From the Website: Dubbed “a gentrification farce,” this film features arty young professionals colliding with the fourth-generation locals who watch bemusedly as their neighborhood transforms under their noses.  This film features three soups, two salads, and culminates in a raucous single entree where secrets are revealed, true love is conceived or destroyed, and a baby is delivered on the dining room table. The filmmakers pay stylistic homage to the great screwball comedies of 1930s American cinema, as well as the mannered farces perfected by French New Wave auteurs.

I am the Marketing and Social Media intern for Progression, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to work on such a cool project! Stay tuned for more!

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BROODING YA HERO

photo 2 What began as a procrastinating silly twitter account has morphed into… a silly twitter account used by many people to procrastinate. He’s a cool guy, and far funnier than me. Check him out above, (he’s already been gazing at you with his cerulean, vivid, intense gaze, so you might as well) or find his broken-hearted, lovelorn tweets on @broodingYAhero

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Hail to Pitt! Hail to Grad School! Hail to Coffee!

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So, those are all the things keeping me busy and mostly out of trouble. What about you, folks? What are you working on?

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Let’s Get Down To Business

Is the song from Mulan stuck in your head now? If so, you’re welcome.

This won’t ever be a blog where I post nitty-gritty writing tips. Commas and I fight enough as it is, without me dragging new people into our battles. However, as a person with a business background, and in the process of my Masters with a concentration in marketing, I will occasionally share my thoughts on the business of art.

I love picking apart data, so expect posts where I flip percentages and ratios into handy facts for querying writers.

I’m also a wizard in excel, so I often run pricing comparisons for various freelancers, or help people re-organize their data into something more accessible. If you ever have an excel question or want a pricing comparison run to check your freelancing costs against others, I’d love to share my knowledge.

Plus, my background is specifically in finance, so I’m a huge proponent of budgeting, and teaching people to understand financial lingo. Eventually, I’d like to get a sample budget sheet set up for free use. I see budgeting as a way of achieving freedom from stress, fear and confusion. Everyone, from a part-time worker student to a lawyer can benefit from understanding their cash flows.

For all you I’ve put to sleep, I apologize. Here’s a picture of a cat who is equally amused by my spreadsheets.

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Storytellers

I love books. Obviously. But what I love more than books, are stories. It’s in my blood. My grandpa could weave a story better than anyone else. As a little kid, I’d love when he’d sit down, his brown eyes sparkling with mirth, and launch into a story of the time he threw fireworks in the river, or the time he won the island of Guam in a card game, or the day he met my grandmother by almost running her over.

The stories, of course, like all the best stories, had a hint of exaggeration, of larger than life details, but only to enhance the emotions of the already wonder-filled parts of life.

And I’d tell stories too. I’d spin little tales of days at school, retellings of books I’d read, adventures I’d had.  Once I learned to write, in grade school, and we were given prompts, I was ecstatic. A new avenue for me to tell my stories. Fantastic.

A week of prompts, focusing on our summer vacations. Day one, Packing for our Trip to Scotland. Day two. Arriving at Loch Ness. Day Three. Meeting Nessie. Day four, bringing Nessie home, letting him swim free in the Allegheny river.

Day five, a stern lecture from the teachers about things like “Lying” “Journals are Nonfiction” and other very boring things.

Truth doesn’t come naturally to me. Not because I’m malicious, but because I want to entertain. If you ask me, “What happened on your flight?” and I said, “Nothing, I slept the whole time,” Well, that’s boring. Can’t I paint a new tale, combining half-experienced moments from the past into one interesting story?

Well. No. That’s lying.


But, I can write stories.

Things I Love

We may have out-grown (well, some of us) may have out-grown running around asking, “What’s your favorite color?” like Buddy the Elf. However, favorite things can be a fun way to get to know someone. There’s few things better than realizing you and a stranger have a fandom in common, and the resulting forty-minute geek-out session.
So, in no particular order, here are some things I love. (Note, not books, that’s another post)

MUSIC:

The Clash. If you’ve known me for five minutes, you know this about me. I love their range of work, the complicated four personalities that boiled down into one volatile band, their songs emotional impact.

Florence + The Machine. Powerful vocals, amazing imagery in songs, plus I totally rocked her blunt bang haircut for most of college

The Avett Brothers. Perfect mood music for a chill weekend morning.

PLACES:

Pittsburgh. The Steel City. The City That Thinks It’s a Small Town. A friendly, always interesting, unique city that I’m proud to call home.

Western New York. My hometown area. Rochester, Buffalo… beef on wecks and skiing at Holiday Valley. I miss those places a lot

New York City. My favorite place to visit.

Alaska, specifically Skagway. The prettiest place I’ve ever been

Many, many more places I dream of visiting soon.

TV:

Once Upon A Time: The show I just can’t quit, because it’s just too full of good actors! Even when the plot makes zero sense, I always come back to it

Vampire Diaries: Although my heart shall never recover from the Klaroline that never was

Buffy, Sherlock and Doctor Who. ‘Nuff said about these. They’re awesome. As you probably know.

Welcome!

Fact: I never write in the first page of any notebook. Superstition.

Writing here feels a bit like breaking that superstition, like I’m supposed to have brilliant words to welcome anyone who comes to this page.

So, welcome. That’s all I’ve got.

If you’d like to know more about me, please explore the blog. In short, see below.

I’m a writer and a grad student, and a huge fan of the Clash, coffee and my cat.

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Find me on twitter here and tumblr here

If you’d like to learn more about my novel-in-progress, DYS-PUNK-TIONAL, check out the link on the menu above.