03 November 2014

On writing habits

I'm fascinated to hear my friends discuss their writing habits because no two people have the same ones. I will try new methods I hear about but ultimately fall back to my old, ingrained ways.

I don't outline much. I'll have sketchy road maps in my mind and occasionally jotted down, but between the landmarks is a lot of open space. I usually don't know how the story will end when I begin writing it, and this is undoubtedly a weakness and not a method I would recommend. Writing definitely gets easier once I can see what the ending will be.

That being said, I love being surprised when I write. In the last 6000 words I wrote for my next project, my protagonist met several characters I didn't know existed and did things I never saw coming. Even if these 6000 words change or disappear in the final version, the surprise gave me an energy that will drive the story forward. That's exciting.

I envy writers who can design a strict writing schedule and timetable and stick with it. For me, it tends to be feast or famine:  a lot of writing all at once or a lot of procrastination and no discernible progress.

One tip I got from a friend has helped a lot: spend at least one hour a week on the story. Even if I only open the file and read it or do minor tweaks, it's spending time with it. It's easy to underestimate the importance of just spending time with what you're writing and to beat yourself up for not getting more words written down. But the more time you spend with what you're writing, the more familiar and comfortable you are with it. It establishes a place in your mind and claims some territory your imagination will keep wandering into until you're thinking about it then writing it.

I make lots of short, cryptic notes. Many of them are on paper because if something comes to mind while I'm away from home, I need to write it down. I learned the hard way that if I didn't, the next time I opened the file, I wouldn't remember that great idea I had.

Lots of times I open the file, look at the notes, and the ideas aren't great anymore. That's fine. The note serves its purpose, though: it reminds me of what I was thinking about. I have to review it. Was it a problem I thought I had solved? Was it a solution to a problem I didn't have? Was it an upcoming scene I've changed my mind about? Was it a revision to an existing scene that I should consider?

A lot of the notes are ideas for character names. Names are difficult, no matter the genre. I need to like a character's name if I'm going to be writing about that character a lot.

What I said earlier about procrastination? As in, updating the blog...

18 June 2014

Book rec

Compelling look at the football programs at Grambling and Florida A&M from prewar origins to the late 1960s. Straightforward about the effects of segregation on college academics, sports, facilities, and on the post-college prospects of the players. It really wasn't that long ago. A fascinating, sobering read.

08 March 2014

Newly published: Extra Points

Extra Points is now available from Amazon.com (Kindle format) and from Smashwords (a variety of formats including ePub). Extra Points contains two short stories about the characters from Safety Net. If you enjoyed Safety Net and wondered what the future held for Lowell and Erick or were curious about Erick's past, Extra Points tells all! (Okay, maybe not all.)

And I'm writing (slowly) something new, unrelated to football (gasp!). Can't promise any ETA, but I feel good about this one.

30 December 2013

Postseason musings

The regular NFL and college seasons are already over. It's still frustrating not to see my favorite teams' games because I don't live in a particular area, and the highlights on NFL Network recaps aren't good enough. I can't predict who will make it to the Super Bowl, although there are definitely some frontrunners in the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks. But anything can happen during the playoffs!

An interesting link: Gay players on the 1993 Houston Oilers.

A current read: Death Below Zero by Richard Anderson. I love mystery novels, and the unusual setting intrigued me.

An upcoming read: Fair Catch by Del Darcy.

Manuscript watch: I hope to have a little something released in the winter/spring of 2014. The first draft is in revision, and I've reached out to the same wonderful artist who designed the cover of Safety Net and hope to get another beautiful cover.

I have another story in mind, entirely new. It's in the "gel" stage: the elements need to come together and I can start writing. Once I get at least one scene clearly mapped out, I can start -- even if that scene ultimately never makes it into the story.

Happy New Year! Best wishes for 2014.