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.

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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.

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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!

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© 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.

Writing Prompts and Getting the Job Done

I’ve never had a problem with writer’s block – I’m quite capable of getting words on paper. What I struggle with is completing projects…

Whether it’s a blessing or a curse, I get bombarded with ideas for other books or writing projects. So much so I have an extensive back catalogue of things to write, manuscripts to finish off. But my list of completed projects is dismally low. So I try and find ways to keep the momentum and inspiration going to get to the point where I can finally type “The End” but it’s not always easy.

Here are the top ten ways that have helped:

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Basically re-immersing yourself into the story.

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This also helps me in developing plot, character and arcs… I like to think of it as dotting my i’s and crossing my t’s.

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In the past on a certain W.I.P, the creative flow just stopped. I could have kept on writing to the scripted plot, but the narrative was becoming uninteresting, and I was finding it hard to keep the motivation going for the project. So I daydreamed about a number of what-ifs, and ended up with a major story arc that added the zing I was looking for to complete the story. So sometimes it pays to step back from your plot and ‘pants’ it for a while – you may turn up storytelling gold.

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I always have a collection of things for a writing project. Pictures of people for the cast, high school timetables to track the passing of time in the YA novel, snapshots of places, rooms, a collection of dialogue and quotes… I like the tactile experience in world building before I even start to plot out my story. Live in that headspace for a while, that way penning out my story comes very easy. And when I need to re-visit that place to stir up my creative juices, or think through a roadblock, it is easy to step back in to my characters’ world and tap in to some mojo.

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Some of my best ideas have come out of a conversation on my W.I.P. – even at the conceptual stage. You need to stimulate your creativity, and bouncing ideas of others is a great way to gauge if you are on to something or not. Plus, if you’re talking to the type of person who is your demographic, it’s a double whammy of goodness – market research and inspiration in the same place!

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This always gets me going. Designing an interim book cover and promotional material helps to build realism that the manuscript is drawing to a close. It also helps switch your brain into marketing mode. A sentence that would be a great quote with a picture, or a tag line for your book. Eye-catching images or graphics for websites or title pages. It also helps you to view your manuscript objectively – identifying the key components that are great hooks for selling your book – a ballsy heroine, an underwater seascape, a new magic system, an epic love story… these will become very important when you are getting to the stage of pitching and publishing your work.

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I suffer from an all-too-fast brain, and slow fingers. I can never type fast enough. And often skip parts of the narrative that put my story in context so it all makes sense. Like I was talking about the landscape whizzing by my main character in one scene, but neglected to state she was driving in a car – otherwise someone could have assumed she’d suddenly developed the ability to fly… most of the time it’s little obvious things like that you pick up after taking a hiatus from your manuscript. Beta readers can also provide this kind of feedback, but I like to have my work as polished as I can get it before handing it over for critique, so I can focus on flow, pace, character development, relatability, engagement, and predictability.

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I get a buzz when I can tick off a box. And with a novel being such a massive project that can last (in some cases) years, getting that high from a small milestone in the process is invaluable to keep the motivation going. Plus, I am always working on more than one project at a time, and it helps me to track where I am on each manuscript at a glance.

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Many, many times I’ve seen that glazed look fall over people’s faces when they ask me what I’m writing. I’m so excited, I just keep rabbiting on and on… So a succinct, attention-grabbing pitch – A SHORT ONE – is key! Working on it early gives you time to fine tune it and test it out on family and friends, because when you start to deal with the public (potential customers) and industry professionals (agents and publishers) you know you’ll have it down pat and can speak with confidence. It also helps to stop you from veering off on tangents with your plot if you ‘pants.’

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For some, this can feel like being dragged over broken glass. It’s foreign and scary. But if you want to be a career writer it is imperative that you educate yourself about the industry. Look into how a book is made, the types of finishes, what end pages are; What agents you could contact for representation and what their guidelines for submission are. Publishing houses that market books similar to what you are writing, and what they do to promote them. Send out samples to editors to find the one that works best with you (and in a price range you can afford). Collect promotion and marketing ideas – there’s a lot of things you can do yourself that cost nothing but your time. You NEED to have your own marketing plan; a publisher will not do all the work for you. Check out local resources, writers’ groups, bookstore launches… the list is only as limited as your research.  It’s important for you to know what sells, how it sells, and how to navigate the professional landscape you’ll be entering once you’ve completed your manuscript. Handing over your novel to a publisher, or self-publishing online alone will not return many sales. You’ve put all that work into writing a masterpiece, do it some justice and make sure you give it the best opportunity to shine.

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Every little bit helps 🙂

Happy writing and all the best on your journey!

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© 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.

I think I have a problem

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I’m getting to the point where there is so much going on in life, I’m starting to feel resentful that I don’t have enough time to read and write.

Thoughts like ‘I could finish writing a chapter in the time it takes me to do the grocery shopping’ or ‘I’d rather be reading a novel’ weigh against my day’s activities. It’s very anti-social and I find myself measuring units of time in word count, or pitting my chores (as they now feel like chores) against my favourite pastime.

Do I really need food? I could go a few more days on the measly scraps in the pantry…

Why are my friends having so many birthday parties!

Do I have to head out for just one thing? I’ll save all my running around for one trip. Time management will give me more sacred moments with my book. Mwha ha ha.

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Which gives me more satisfaction – catching up on all the gossip over coffee with my friend, or getting another 3,000 words down?

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And if I do go out, that means showering, finding some nice clothes, doing my hair and make-up, driving around for ages!

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Ugh! I could be writing… I think I have a problem.

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© 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

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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!

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© 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!

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

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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.

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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!

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© 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?

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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© 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?

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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?

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© 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.

A double whammy of chocolatey goodness

Easter eggs + Triple-choc birthday cake = Heaven… and other reading/writing dilemmas

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I always love it when my birthday falls in the Easter holidays – when I was younger, it meant family holidays across Australia, or a big birthday bash with just about everyone I knew, which always evolved into a massive pool party. (We may have jumped off the roof into the pool – I admit nothing)

Maybe it is time for another blowout – but, with my oldest furbaby passing days earlier, all the party spirit vanished. Guess I’ll save the big celebration to next year? So this year it was a sombre affair full of chocolate and binge watching ‘The Walking Dead.’

I am also a big believer that birthdays should last a week long – so there is more fun activities in store… shopping, dinners, presents. So it’s not going to be a depressing ‘I’m so old!’ mess.

So consequently this blog was a little quiet over the past week. No apologies. I was mourning and taking a break to celebrate another year I’ve managed to cling to this rock hurtling through space. And enjoying chocolate in its various forms. It’s a wonder I don’t have diabetes.

So now it’s back to business as usual. Before my short hiatus I was enforcing some writing sprints. I really want to finish off some projects this year. In 2015 it was all about ideas and planning, so I didn’t feel like I was achieving much. But this year I want to have at least 5 novels off to the publisher. It’s not an unrealistic goal, with 2 in the final edit stage, and 2 near completion, and another 7 plotted and over 20,000 words, I know I’ll hit the mark. Just have to stay motivated and stick to that schedule. Make sure the time I’ve blocked out to write, I actually write.

Same with editing. I just need to get it done!

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I love it all. Writing, Editing. Blogging. Reading. Reviewing. It’s sometimes a challenge not to get distracted by any one thing and stick to the guide I’ve set for myself. On top of that, I am really interested in creating a Youtube channel around my experiences with literature. But it’s finding the type of content I want to create. I curl my lip at producing the same kind of thing that is already out there… boring. I’m not a “personality” and would like to do something that is entertaining and informative. I have a few ideas, but am stalled by perfectionism and the fact that the whole process is time consuming. At the end of the day I am an author, so the bulk of my time needs to go to writing rather than social media. Why can’t I have both my chocolate eggs and cake? I need more time in my day to achieve everything I want to. Progress always feels so slow because my expectations always exceed my ability. Grrrr!

There was no reading over the break either. Actually, I’m not too far off catching up on my reviews and being able to drop back to posting 1 or 2 a week; well, until I have another reading sprint…

Now maybe I’m still buzzing on my sugar high, but it’s forward at full speed, back to reviewing and writing feeling refreshed. Thank you chocolate. It has also made me aware of how important it is to take an occasional short mental break from writing. In the past I’d hit a wall and turn to a reading binge. Not that it’s bad, but I’m attempting to keep everything in balance and gauge my productivity. That way I will be certain of my writing habits and know how much material I can safely turn out in a given period of time. I feel it’s important to a career author to know how long it takes to write a novel. Publishers work to a timetable and like reliable artists to invest in.

A double whammy of chocolatey goodness Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

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© 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.

 

Spring Clean Your Office – Spring Clean Your Brain

My workstation was starting to become overgrown with work and novels, and it was hard to concentrate on my writing. However after de-cluttering my work area my concentration was suddenly razor sharp.

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I wasn’t getting writers block, just feeling a little stunted and claustrophobic while working due to the piles of books and scattered piles from the many projects currently on the go.

Maybe my biggest problem is tackling too many projects at once – but that is something I’ve always done and not a trait that will ever change, so I simply need to create a space and method to maximise my need to multitask.

That means, a very organised diary, and a bookshelf full of folders.

About once or twice a year the organising gene must slip into remission and everything becomes cluttered. So it becomes time to spring clean…

An added heath benefit means you eliminated dust particles and any possibility for mould to develop (not to mention sneaky little spiders and other insects that love to hide in your papers). I know that makes me sound like a slob, believe me I’m not. It’s just that if I wiped down every book, every bookshelf, moved furniture about to get in the hard to read spots; and wiped over electrical cables… well it would take all day.

Spring Clean Your Office Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleThe psychological benefits are infinitely better. It creates a sense of a job well done after the effort I expended to beautify my place of work. The elimination of clutter also removes distraction and gives me the room to think.

So last week I undertook the bi-annual declutter event. And the results are as expected – I’m back on the productive train again!

This event has become even more important recently – only because since moving from Melbourne, where I had a custom built workspace and library, to a small cottage while building a new home. My workspace consists of a small table (dominated by a computer) and one small bookshelf. The rest of my bookish belongings are in storage or organised in easy to get to containers and boxes. Believe me, I can’t wait to get a decent sized room again and set up a library.

Sometimes organised chaos works for me, but when I hit a point where I couldn’t type another word because of that claustrophobic sensation, I revel in the task to make the place feel brand new again.

How do you work best when writing? Do you have a clean and clear spot, devoid of distractions; or love the action around you and work in a coffee shop? Do you surround yourself with inspiration or face a blank wall?

I’d love to hear all of your methods to coax prose from your grey matter…

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© 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.