Finding the motivation to write

Pretty much my attitude to writers block or being unmotivated is simply ‘write the damn thing!’

When I am having that spark of creativity and the words flow easily and reading my prose back it feels entertaining, witty and on point… other times it feels dry, stagnant, and uninspired. It’s painful to have to write in those moments. Sometimes I’m lucky to get a paragraph down before I feel like bighting a bullet.

The thing is, editing is much easier. Adding to something feels like a more possible task. So filling the blank page with the mechanics of your story, or article is the hard part. But if you can get it down, then improving your piece becomes infinitely easier. Well, in my process it does.

I cannot ever recall a time where I wrote something straight from my head and it was instantly a masterpiece. I’ve had to edit, improve, embellish everything I’ve ever written. So why do writers have this hang up of writers block.

There is always something for me to do – jump ahead in the timeline and write a scene in a future chapter. Explore my characters motivations in dialogue, write about the world, put on some music to inspire some words, switch to another project altogether, edit, design some marketing activities, read something in a similar genre and take note in the writing style and how that reflects on your own.

Stick to a schedule. Whether it’s every day, or on the weekends, make a set time for your writing and get the thing done. I have to say that has been the most helpful thing to impact my career – forming a habit of writing. I started small, and eventually it grew to a point where I can put in a ten hour day if I needed to. I don’t do that now if I don’t have to. I like to end the day with something to look forward to tomorrow. Like teasing myself with a little cliff-hanger that I need to write. I get to mull it over in my head overnight so the next day I have a semi-formed plan and am excited to get to work.

So most of the time, lack of motivation, or writers block, does not hit me because I’m always inspired. Whenever I get new ideas, I write them down and file them away for later. I have literally so many book and article ideas stored away I couldn’t get them all written in my lifetime. So when my flow for a certain project dries up, and I have exhausted all the ways to move it forward, I can take a few days break to work on something else with ease.

I have a friend who had a massive cork board that they collect ideas, snippets of dialogue, pictures to inspire character profiles, places, mantras, etc as a source of inspiration to write – a board that is constantly changing and evolving so it never runs dry. You just have to find a system that works for you. Mine’s digital, and I like to work on a few projects at the same time. A fellow writer buddy I know can only write one book at a time and in sequential order (a pantser) and when she gets stuck tends to daydream a little with what-if scenarios, flesh out character profiles, go out to shopping centres and cafes and eaves drop on conversations and take note of peoples mannerisms for things that she could use. Or if the block is really bad, she will re-write her chapter and take it in a different direction.

Inspiration can come from anywhere, art, music, reading, movies and television, or simply switching off for a moment. It’s important to refill your well of creativity just as it is to create a habit of writing to offer longevity in your career.

If your sitting at your keyboard and nothing is coming, start asking why? Is the scene you’re currently trying to wright, not right for the overall plot of the novel? Is it a boring topic? Is there another more interesting way to approach the subject matter? Can you switch perspectives or tense? Are you just not into this whole writing thing? Maybe the content is not relevant to you, so you are not connecting with it? Like any job, you have to find ways to get things done. Make writing comfortable, methodical, entertaining and inspiring for you. If you are constantly having to struggle to fill a blank page and you can’t work out what is wrong, maybe writing isn’t for you? Try changing up your process – write the ending first and work your way backwards. Write the key scenes to your story first and then fill in the gaps later. Create mood boards for each scene/chapter to keep the emotion or tone of the writing present in your mind.

The whole thing about writer’s block is that it is all in your head. And we are wired to think, to be creative, so if you are genuinely blocked take a serious look at yourself… is writing really a vocation for you? Writers deal with fact and imagination for entertainment, information, or discussions. Maybe look at how you are delivering your prose and switch up that tone? There is literally thousands of way to re-ignite that passion. You just need to momentarily step back, re-orientate your thoughts, and get back to work.

I’m generally in the field that if I’m ‘blocked’ it’s because the scene or article isn’t working. Something is missing. It’s irrelevant in the bigger picture; so stepping back to get a fresh perspective always illuminates some solution. And if not, there is plenty of other projects to get on with, so I am always writing something.

Do you suffer writers block? What are some of the ways that you have overcome a slump in your writing habits?

© Casey Carlisle 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Down a dark path…

Dwelling briefly on the bad things that happen to us in life, can also bring out the good.

Down a Dark Path Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpg

I like to think I look at the brighter side of life. Stay positive and always aim for happiness and positivity. Though, you can’t have the light without the dark, and, as an exercise I wanted to explore some of the things that have greatly impacted on my life that I wish I could change – but that said, those difficult times have shaped me into a stronger person and taught me valuable lessons…

down-a-dark-path-pic-02-by-casey-carlisle – I want those ten years back I spent in hospital beds, visiting clinics and specialists for treatment and becoming a human pincushion. There is a chunk of growing up I missed. Things that you only get to experience when you’re young. I hear stories from my friends and wish I’d had similar experiences to go wild or be silly. I have always had to remain focused, never knowing how much time I have left. Some reckless abandon and teen milestones would have been nice.

down-a-dark-path-pic-03-by-casey-carlisle – Losing my mother destroyed any sense of family and security I had. It left me alone in this world and hammered home the fact that we are all alone, many people we call friends are untrustworthy and are out for what they can get. People I counted as friends turned and started grabbing for money and possessions. I stopped seeing the best in others for a while.  Losing my cherished pooches devastated me in an unexpected way. That loss of unconditional love fills your life with joy and happiness, and when it is gone you feel lost and empty. I know death is an inevitable part of life – we all have to deal. But I’d love to skip the pain and emptiness part. It’s debilitating and hangs around for years. After finally getting cancer into remission, I only had a short space of time before facing the Grim Reaper. It’s just another thing that has made me appreciate the present and live in the moment. Making life happy, going for your dreams and sharing the love has never been more important to me.

down-a-dark-path-pic-04-by-casey-carlisle – why is so much of our lives and happiness dependent on how much money we have? People steal it, owe it, try and trick you to get it. One of the most troubling times in my life and relationships has been over money. I wish it never existed sometimes. I worry about it less now, but there were times when I was seriously concerned about losing my home, having the electricity shut off and wondering when I could afford to buy food next. If anything it taught me to save, budget, live within my means and never be too prideful to ask for help.

down-a-dark-path-pic-05-by-casey-carlisle – how people treat and judge each other. I had my fair share of bullying growing up. And then rejection. From my family, the ones who are supposed to love you no matter what. It left me thinking everyone is insincere and vindictive. I never let anyone know my true self. There is always a big chunk of me that I hide. But nothing is more empowering than living out loud. At times, it’s hard to ignore the negativity and scowls around you, but the more you stop thinking about other people’s opinions and focus on your happiness, the more fulfilling your life will be.

down-a-dark-path-pic-06-by-casey-carlisle – At least a couple of times a week I get a flash in my head about something I’ve done, or said, that I wish I could change or erase. Why can’t I just accept that it is in the past and move on? Many of these events are small and trivial and don’t affect anyone. Some are over what impressions I felt I made on other people… and others have me wondering if I hurt someone else with words or actions… It makes me wonder if I’m wired differently, or I have a mental illness at times. I guess it’s a sign of compassion and caring for others, so I just have to accept I’m one of these people who wants to share the joy. It keeps me accountable for what I do, keeps my morals and standards high. Though is gives me worry at times, it keeps me aware of those around me that I love and appreciate.

page-border-by-casey-carlisle

So, while all of the good times in my life far outweigh the bad, and some of these events, though difficult and life changing and haven’t come without a cost, I don’t think I would change them because I wouldn’t be the person I am today. But the whole ‘what if’ question leaves me imagining how life would have turned out if I’d managed to avoid these difficulties… hmm might be an idea for another novel 😉

uppercase-lowercase-banner-by-casey-carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Fit for Writing

Ever since I took the plunge and started taking my writing seriously, long hours at the keyboard have resulted in an expanding waistline. Now, the imaginative prose I churn out have thickened into a spare tyre around my mid-section.

Fit for Writing Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpg

So I started exercising, not only to keep my body fit, but my mind fresh and pumped full of endorphins – only it didn’t work. The pounds kept creeping on. I was starting to feel like I had been cursed. *shakes fist at the sky*

I eat healthy, exercise regularly and felt I was doing everything to keep that trim body, but it just wasn’t happening. The same thing I used to do in my 20’s and 30’s has stopped working. After speaking to a doctor and then a fitness trainer, I discovered women of a certain age (I hate that phrase) go through a major hormonal shift, and weight gain happens to be a consequence.

Great. But what if I don’t feel comfortable with the extra weight, what if I’m concerned about an increased risk of diabetes or other health issues? I can learn to love jiggly bits, as long as it is not at the cost of my health and lifestyle.

All is not lost. With this shift in metabolism and body chemistry, I’ve been told I need to change tactics – cardio will no longer help shed the pounds alone. I need to be doing some weight training. It works, but be warned – it’s much harder to achieve.

fit-for-writing-pic-02-by-casey-carlisle

So I’ve begun the new regimen… it’s still too early to see results, but I can tell you, those aching muscles during the two days after a workout are a killer. I mean it. I hobble around like an old woman in pain moaning and groaning. Having to sit down and get up is particularly challenging…and don’t get me started on climbing the stairs. I went to the toilet and felt like I was going to have to call for a crane to lift me up and down. I’m really starting to hate exercise. How long will this pain go on? I think I’d rather keep my added padding and forgo the torture. That is, until I get dressed and my clothes are hugging a bit too tightly.

I swing from depressed, to feeling ugly, to determined and motivated at the flip of a coin lately. It’s hard to write when your belly hits the table, constantly reminding you that it’s time to trade in your wardrobe for the next size up. Or your friends are worried you’ve fallen pregnant ‘at your age.’

Sheesh. When did I get so worried about the way I looked? Where is my female empowerment?

fit-for-writing-pic-03-by-casey-carlisleIt’s really got nothing to do with other people finding me attractive, or fitting into a certain dress size, or hitting a particular number on the scale. It’s about being able to bend over and tie my shoe, being able to step easily into my nickers, and not have them ride up uncomfortably to unmentionable places, wedged in by slabs of cellulite. It’s about feeling vital and young, about that headspace that is clear of doubt and a nasty voice calling you fat and ugly. It’s about me.

That’s half the challenge –getting over your own crap. Finding the motivation to keep going. Even though it’s getting harder, bit by bit you can get there. Soon the clothes will fit, you’ll feel better and productivity will rise because you are happier. But you could be happy as you are without losing the weight, if you can change your attitude. Though it is hard when society’s beauty standards are thrown in our face every second in a modicum of ways.

There is so much wrapped in my head in trying to shed these pounds.

The other part is time. If I am a writer, I should be spending the bulk of my day writing. But daily chores, marketing, blogging, socialising, and of course, now exercising, keep demanding attention. It adds further frustration and impacts on my frame of mind when I stare at a blank page. Who needs this typhoon of detritus spinning in their mind when they are trying to focus on their manuscript? Not me. No sir. It’s enough to turn me to drink. Another champagne thank you!

I’ve written a few articles on health and fitness, and a few about time management – all focused around my headspace, wellbeing, and time for following my passion. And let’s face it, I’ll probably still drop an article here and there on the same topic, because the problem will still be here. It’s a part of life, and we can’t write it away. Though writing about it does help release some negativity, remind me what is important, and keep the issue in perspective. I choose to never give up, keep striving for that balance. For that fulfillment. Sometimes it’s hard work, but I’d rather keep my eyes on the horizon than stare at the ground around my feet and go nowhere.

So, to all of my fellow writers out there who stumble across roadblocks, stay strong!

Stay Calm and Keep Writing!

UPPERCASE lowercase banner by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Small minds

Small minds Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle.jpg

Antagonists in the making – The disappointing realisation of what people do when they are threatened, and how it can provide gold for your writing.

I was out celebrating a family member’s birthday recently. It was a big deal for me – I’ve been living on the opposite side of the country for most of my life, out of reach from extended family, so getting to share a special event like this was close to my heart.

We celebrated in a small country town – and consequently the people attending were also from small towns… and a few things that had been said about me (behind my back) got back during the night. Which was confusing because everyone was so lovely. Well, to my face anyway.

Small minds Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleThe things they had said were by no means true; and managed to upset my family to the point of tears. I was a little urked, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t register what some twenty or thirty something thought of me, especially when their idea of a great time was going out on the weekend to get so wasted they could barely stand. It says a lot for their integrity, and frankly I couldn’t be bothered putting stock in the opinions of people who are destructive and do little with their lives. As I’ve stated before a brush with cancer has taught me to value the time I have left on this world, and follow my passion…

(Unleash my inner bitch for a mini rant! My feelings were hurt and I feel protective over my family, so be prepared for my wrath… over-dramatic much?)

But what a great character study for my writing – those two-faced gossip mongers.

We’ve all experienced the passive aggressive nature of others. How someone is inevitably threatened by you in some manner: maybe you are closer to their friend than they are, or have a better body shape, or appear to be genuinely happy or successful. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t matter – you have no control over what triggers these types of people to turn nasty. It’s the mean girl syndrome. Gender doesn’t play a part in this type of behaviour, but I’ve seen it a lot in the female of our species – what is it that make girls want to tear other girls down?

Most of the time they are probably not even aware they are doing it. An underhanded way of manipulating things to place them in the centre of attention and cast you in a bad light.

It has given me renewed vigour with a story arc I was having trouble with. I needed something to amp up the motivations of a certain character, and now I have it. Granted it wasn’t the most pleasant thing to experience, especially at my age – I left high school behind 30 years ago. But I continue to find inspiration in real life for my writing all the time. Snippets of overheard conversations, personalities, physical descriptors… people watching can be a valuable tool to offer relief to writers block.

From a party that was straight from the script of a CW television show, it has reminded me why I sometimes prefer fictional characters over real ones. And how little patience I have for fakers.

Experiences, both good and bad are fantastic tools for your arsenal. Be vigilant writers and make that manuscript gold!

Small minds Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

UPPERCASE lowercase banner by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

How to you say politely ‘you missed the point’ to an author?

How to say you missed the point Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleI read a review copy for a fellow writer on his novel recently, and was horrified to find he’d not even paid attention to the basics of writing a book… So what key elements do you need to make your manuscript successful?

This author is semi successful, he has a number of books self-published, and I have to admit, the premise of his story is very intriguing. His writing style is easy to read and his pacing and action scenes are up there with the best of them. But I found myself continually frustrated. Some essential aspects to writing a novel had been ignored… and I was like, why? WHY!

How to say you missed the point Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Apologies if this post has started off as a little bit of a rant, but it leads us to an important question:

How to say you missed the point Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

How to say you missed the point Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle – yeah, I know, how could you miss this one? In the first chapter (maybe two) it’s important to build the world in which your protagonist lives. Introduce the main cast. Make your protagonist relatable in some respect so the reader invests their time in reading you book and the challenges he/she faces. Set up the challenges/quest/problem/whatever it is your character is about to set upon for the course of your novel… and show the stakes for failure.

How to say you missed the point Pic 06 by Casey CarlislePlace your protagonist through their paces. Set them challenges, have them fail, risk losing something important. This gives your character the chance to develop their motive, and develop as a person. All your characters should have a motive – a reason they are there, why they do what they do, and some objective they want to achieve. The more difficult you make it to achieve that goal, generally the more interesting the story.

Build the pace and tension (or angst). Put more and more pressure on your protagonist, each chapter should drive the story forward and increase the stakes for your main character. A series of cool action scenes does not a good book make.

The whole point of this is to lead up to a turning point for the character. A place in the story where the events of the novel have changed him/her in some significant way. This may or may not coincide with the climax of your story.

How to say you missed the point Pic 07 by Casey Carlisle – This is where all the really cool stuff goes down. It should be the most engaging part of you novel. It’s an all stakes battle, the part where your protagonist risks everything. Declaring their love for someone they are not sure will return the feelings, leaping from that cliff hoping their psychic abilities will finally help them fly, you get the picture. It should be epic. The quest, plot points resolved so that the reader is satisfied your protagonist has achieved what they set out to do: it doesn’t have to be a physical thing, like getting to the top of that mountain, it could be a spiritual journey, like a woman has finally accepted that it’s okay to be alone and that she doesn’t need a man to make her feel whole. Anything as long as you have made it clear in the beginning that this was your protagonists reason to start the journey in the first place.

You can leave some plot points open ended depending on your writing style, or if you are planning to write a series, but you need to resolve it enough to give the reader a  decent pay-off for investing their time in reading your book.

How to say you missed the point Pic 08 by Casey Carlisle

Now all of this may sound pretty obvious in writing a story – well, to me it does. But then I’ve studied Literature, read tons of books, and love to then discuss and critique what I read. Some authors don’t have that background and decide to write a novel with a view to self-publish. I say go for it! But please take the time to have a professional in the Literary or Publishing Industry look at your work.

Not all the points mentioned above apply to your manuscript, and there is still a plethora of points I’ve skipped. But it was this core basic concept that had been overlooked in the abovementioned review copy, and let’s face it, you read one bad novel and that author is going to look unprofessional, and you’re unlikely to revisit any of his/her titles again.

Professionals will help identify clearly the big issues around plot, content, character development, etc. so why not use them? There are plenty of writing groups online and fellow authors who would extend a helping hand, why not take advantage that resource?

I love positivity and encouraging other writers – it’s important to have a nurturing space in order to hone our craft. But I think the biggest lesson from this experience was, not only to address the basics of storytelling, but not to rush into publishing your novel without it having gone through a decent editing/feedback process.

We all want to leave our mark on the world, share out story, so let’s give it the best possible chance to succeed.

We are okey!

UPPERCASE lowercase banner by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Am I good enough?

Frustrated Reading Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle.jpg

Helping writers deal with anxiety.

Pretty much everyone in the literary world when creating a piece of work has a moment of doubt (or many). For some it can be crippling. For others, its a moment that is easy to push past and get on with the job.

Frustrated Reading Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

A writer friend of mine gets so worried about their work and what others might think about it, that even after coming up on ten years of writing, not a single manuscript has seen the light of day. Constantly re-writing or scrapping parts to start over. Emotions run high, depression and mood swings from moments of being sure that this is ‘the’ vocation – to calling it a hobby, and nothing about that is good or serious.

That would seriously drive me crazy!

Frustrated Reading Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

I’m lucky enough that I had to deal with constructive criticism early in life. I was a dancer. Ballroom and Latin. I even went on to win two Australian titles in the 90’s. With that, hours of rehearsal under the speculative gaze of my peers and adjudicators, all judging me on my appearance, movement, technique… and at first it felt personal. It’s hard not to. You are being judged on how you look, your facial expressions, body shape, how you walk, raise your arm… it’s very intimate. So you have to learn when someone says “that’s ugly” they aren’t calling you ugly: it’s the combination of all the little parts that go into your presentation that aren’t meshing well.

It took some time to grow a thick skin and learn that sort of criticism can be gold if handled well.

Frustrated Reading Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle.gif

Comparatively, writing rings a very similar note. It’s also intimate. We put our blood, sweat and tears into the whole thing. We live it. It is an extension of our own being. So negative comments – or fear of them – is debilitating.

Frustrated Reading Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

We need to get that into the frame of mind that criticism, reviews, input from others is only going to help us improve the manuscript. And also let us know what parts we were torturing ourselves over, is in fact, relevant.

Critical writing partners and beta readers have helped me wheedle out parts of a manuscript that weren’t working, elements which are derivative, and other parts that are great. It also let me know about some things I wasn’t sure of – many times my consternation was completely unwarranted.

Yes, I got that ice cold weight in the pit of my stomach when handing over pages for my colleagues to read. But once you do it a few times it becomes easier. Especially when you see how your writing evolves into a much more fantastic creature.

It’s easier to say, push through it. Everybody is different and handles criticism with varying degrees of emotional attachment. But if you can start viewing your completed manuscript as something you can improve (through market research, using critique partners and beta readers) and develop that critical eye, you are setting yourself up to stay the distance as a writer.

No one wants to be crippled by fear. You’re not writing all those pages to forever remain in a box under your bed.

Frustrated Reading Pic 06 by Casey Carlisle.jpg

UPPERCASE lowercase banner by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

WORD COUNT : Are you a numbers fanatic or measure your writing in stages?

Are you a Numbers Fanatic Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle.gif

Many of my writer friends measure their daily progress by scribing a certain number of words to deem the day productive… and a few concentrate on finishing a scene or chapter – which one are you?

Personally I hybridize both of these concepts – I have a minimum of what I want to see written each day – 1,000 words (and that’s quality writing), but I aim to try and finish a chapter or scene each day. If you’ve read any of my blog articles on writing before, you’ll know I set ridiculously high goals for myself. Yes, rarely do I achieve the large volume of work I schedule – but when I do, it is a real rush.

But in this manner, I personally, achieve more than I would with lower goals. Smaller, more realistic goals lead to procrastination with me… I can catch up tomorrow, missing just one day is not too bad… and it just snowballs until a month passes and my performance is dismal. So I set huge tasks and take each day as it comes.

Are you a Numbers Fanatic Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.gifA word count goal works on days of low creativity, or when I’m doing re-writes works well. Mainly because that way I can always count on a certain amount of progress on my manuscript; and in turn keep to a deadline. I feel it is important, so that publishers can have confidence in me delivering a completed book on time.

Plus, sometimes it just takes putting words on paper for inspiration to strike and I push past the creative glut and end up exceeding my goal for the day.

Alternatively, when my writing is really flowing, aiming to complete a scene or chapter works better. It’s a small bite of the novel that has a start, finish, and needs to hit certain plot points somewhere in between. Having that overall view and see it all come together gets me excited and keeps fuelling my enthusiasm. It also leaves me jazzed to tackle the next part in the story.

Are you a Numbers Fanatic Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleI try to end my day on a high note too. Leaving excitement about what I’m going to write next. When I first started writing, I’d sit down whenever inspiration strikes; but ended up typing like a maniac for days and emerging out the other end like I’d been drip fed coffee while locked inside a tumble drier to write. And crash. For days.

It taught me the valuable lesson to pace myself. To not disappear for a week or so just because I had an idea. Many of these ‘episodes’ is what lead me to setting daily goals and scheduling my time appropriately. A writing hangover is not fun. I’m like a bear mid-hibernation with hunger pains and PMT. Totally not cute.

Plus, there were times towards the end of the writing sprint that I entered a delirium, and upon re-reading had me questioning my sanity.

The most important thing about having a goal, be it weekly or daily, is the fact that it makes you accountable for your writing – but – and I can’t stress this enough – don’t let it pile on any pressure if you are not getting there. Stress. Anxiety. Pressure. None of these helps in a creative situation (usually). It can kick off a downward spiral of ‘I’m not good enough.’ Or feed the frustration that you are unable to string words together. Not meeting a word count is not going to end your career or doom your novel to Hades. It’s merely a tool for you to measure progress and for publishers to categorize your finished product. A guide. So use it as such and let your mind free. Writing can be an emotional enough journey without adding another layer of expectation to it.

This whole activity is about tricking the brain into flexing its imagination on a daily basis so I can create a lifelong passion and habit of writing novels. And I’m forever learning and training. That attitude has let me handle critique and daily word counts with ease. It’s a concept as fluid and ever-changing as creativity is itself. But once you find that sweet spot, stick to it!

Happy writing 🙂

 

What tools do you use for meeting a word count or writing goal?

UPPERCASE lowercase banner by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The “AHH” Factor

The AHH Factor 01 by Casey Carlisle

It’s coming up on two years since I traded in my stilettoes for gum boots: and how am I fairing?

Walking into spider webs, getting attacked by mites and ants when gardening, dodging cane toads in the wet season after dark. Trying to keep bats, parrots, possums and rats off my vegetable garden. Keeping a keen eye out for snakes in spring – even stepping in between my dog and a small brown snake newly out of hibernation. Seeing spiders the size of my hand and cockroaches the size of matchbox cars… all the things that crawl, skitter, skuttle, slide and bite have me screaming ‘Ahh!’ and wishing for the paved streets of suburbia with a deep yearning. But I love the peace and quiet, the fresh air and the rainforest just outside the back door. A recent trip to the city helped me put my move to the country into perspective…

House-sitting a friends place for a week seemed like a welcome chance to fulfil my withdrawals from city life. I got to wear nice clothes and wasn’t covered in mud and dirt, and caught up with friends over café lunches. I went shopping and indulged in cell phone reception and fast internet speeds. It was all so wonderful. But the maddening traffic with idiot drivers having me in a state of panic with near misses every second day. The sound of the neighbours cooking, eating, chewing… I mean, I heard everything… from both sides! I did not get much sleep.

So I guess there are pros and cons for both locales, but I think for the sake of my nerves, and my writing, my mountain top home is for the win. While it is isolated and comes with all manner of wildlife to combat and shriek at, it feeds my imagination and keeps me calm. All those things I love about city life can be a distraction to my goals this year with writing, blogging and reading. Not to mention the added little expenses of spotting a bargain, some coffee and cake there, and petrol consumption. I save a lot of money living in the wilderness.

The AHH Factor 02 by Casey Carlisle

So, I’m thinking with limiting my trips to the metropolis solely for a fix and catching up with friends is something I should have done long ago… but that was when I needed to be in the city for work and cancer treatment. Now I get to chase my dream of being an author and have the Zen of mountain top rainforest to keep me inspired as I release a relaxing breath… ‘ahhhh…’ How that word captures what I love and hate about this place, but I think this is the perfect place for me right now.

Plus, my friend’s just love hearing all the anecdotes about me combatting the denizens here – something about me in a state of panic amuses them to no end…

What is your ideal writing retreat?

UPPERCASE lowercase banner by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

When writing just… won’t!

When Writing just wont Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpg

Combating brain-fry, an author’s biggest frustration.

This isn’t about writer’s block necessarily, because I’m always creating something on paper – but more about how, if you are trying to complete a project and not feeling it.

I’ve was racing to the finish line with another Work In Progress for May, but the wind went out of my sails. I know I could’ve soldiered on and laid down the structure and embellish later, but I write to escape and enjoy, and tap into something intangible that creates a special magic – so when those things aren’t there, I’d rather not.

When Writing just wont Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle.gifSo I’ve found that I generally have two or three projects I work on simultaneously. When the creativity dries up on one story, I give another go. It’s like being an actor and stepping into a different role. The characters and situation are different so it feels new. Plus, I believe your brain continues to subliminally work on things when you aren’t consciously staring at it. I get some of my best ideas for stories in this manner. Once your imagination sputters to life again over your main project, you can jump back.

 

Another avenue is writing a blog post or book review – their quick and easy, get the flow of words pouring out of the ol’ noggin, and you recieve the feeling of a job well done on completion (not to mention feedback – hopefully positive – from fellow readers).

When Writing just wont Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle.gif

If none of that works, I relax with a movie, a book or listen to music; really indulging in the experience. Even a spot of gardening or window shopping helps snap the brain out of its continual task of stringing words together, and stimulate some other senses. Again it takes a small amount of time before I feel fresh and recharged, ready to tackle my manuscript again.

When Writing just wont Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.gif

What do you do when you start to fizzle out? I’d love to hear about your stories, tips and tricks to keep the excitement at a sustainable level. Comment below…

And as always, happy writing!

UPPERCASE lowercase banner by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

In for the long haul?

Writing a stand-alone or beginning a series… what do you picture at the starting point?

In for the long haul by Casey Carlisle

With NaNoWriMo in full swing, I wondered how many of us writers sit down and have full intention of composing a series, or is it merely a case of the story growing larger that we first intended, leading us to subsequent volumes?

It is a bit of a mix with me (as art and the creative process always is). I remember starting my Smoulder series with every intention of it being a trilogy. I had the story of my Firestarter mapped out. But upon reviewing, I completely changed the direction of the plot and added in a whole lot more, afraid it was being too generic… and a four book story line emerged. You could put all of that down to a little self-doubt and exposure to countless reading hours of YA. I think my reading habits (market research) helped me identify major plot problems before I got too deep into the writing process.

The For keeps duology was initially one book, but fears that it would end up being a mammoth book and not lucrative for a budding author, I split it in to two volumes. It was fairly easy – There is definitely a break in the middle of the story where things change in context and was perfect tone for a GLBT contemporary novel to end (and pick up with a second instalment). As it was my first attempt at a completed novel (there had been MANY different books written beforehand but abandoned after 30 or so pages in), it needed the most work. It’s been re-written and edited to death! I’ve found that leaving it for 6 months and coming back with fresh eyes for a final edit to be the saving grace.

A science fiction series (LONERS) I started early last year popped into my head fully formed as a four-book series. It is structured a little differently to a traditional series, where either of the first three books can be read as stand-alone, companions, or out of order. That’s the beauty of sci-fi – you can mix things up a little. This experience has really flipped my attitude towards writing and made me realise that finishing a novel can be a quick, easy and rewarding experience. Or maybe that’s be buying into my own insanity :p

In for the long haul 03 by Casey Carlisle

And finally, the re-boot trilogy started from a few scenes in my head, and evolved into three books… and I’ve yet to decide between one of two different directions this series could take.

And so… I had books that have grown into a series, and those I plotted that way from the outset. Additionally I have some titles which could quite easily become a series, but none of the characters have raised their voices with a desire to continue their adventure as yet.

I’m always amazed at creativity and how it just shows up.

Most of the time I simply just sit and write, no planning, just me and a blank page where I’ll scribe away for hours. Then, if it feels like something, I’ll go back, tidy it up, add to it, and eventually plot out a novel, or series. So, out of 23 concepted works in progress, only two were forecasted as a more than one book franchise.

I’m really great at organising things, and could quite easily plot out everything I write before a letter appears on the page, but find I lose my characters voice that way – and consequently, my passion for writing. Plus I like to keep the work malleable, open to change or exploring other arcs. The debut in the For keeps duology deviated into a major arc that added so much to the story (and how it came about to be a duology) that I’m greatful I let the story stray from my initial imagining.

Who knows if what I’m writing is any good or makes any sense – but the point is: I have to write. I write for me. To be entertained, to escape, to laugh, to vent (and the list goes on…)

In for the long haul 04 by Casey Carlisle

And I’ve committed to the decision to give this writing thing a professional go.

In for the long haul 05 by Casey Carlisle

I guess everyone’s process is different, but I simply wanted to share mine and am interested to learn of other author’s process. How do you write a series? Do you need some major brainstorming before beginning, or does it just happen?

Smoulder series by Casey Carlisle

re-boot trilogy by Casey Carlisle

LONERS series by Casey Carlisle

For keeps duology by Casey Carlisle

Stand alone titles by Casey Carlisle

UPPERCASE lowercase banner by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.