AH: 5 Truths Your Old Writing Tells You

Hullo, world!

I feel a little at loss today as I sit writing this because…*whispers* my mental health has been going down. My energy’s been kind of low even though a lot of great things have been happening. 

I took a hit-outs on IG, planned a writing retreat for myself, and in general, am hoping to slow things down a little. But I won’t be taking a hit-outs on blogging since this is one of the “slowing down” things I do. 😉

Also, this is completely random, but I am officially in love with Jujutsu Kaisen. (I mean, who wouldn’t like Gojo-sensei???) And the vibes of old Japanese things are just amazing. Not to mention it’s MAPPA. Plus, the first op. is Eve, who I’ve been following from the start…

Honestly, I just want Yuji & co to be happy…

*End rant*

Okay, let’s get into today’s topic. I often re-read my old works, and I realised there’s a lot of negativity concerning one’s old writings–I mean, I get it. My first major WIP’s protagonist was named Abigail Chemingstunn. But then again, there’s so much more to your old writings than cringey prose and annoyingly cliché characters. 

Me re-reading my old writing…”I have no recollection of this place!”

So, without further ado, let me present to you…AH: 5 Truths Your Old Writing Tells You.

1. It’s not that bad.

I know, it’s kind of obvious, but it’s true! Your old writing isn’t that bad. When I first started writing, I had a lot of ideas. I didn’t really know novels were a thing, so I wrote a lot of short stories and novellas instead. As I re-read some of them this morning, I was reminded how much I actually loved those stories. Some of them got accepted for magazine publication, others didn’t. While still others, I gave as birthday presents to my friends and families, who didn’t complain about this. (Thank you to everyone who read my stories!!) Any story I write, I care about in my heart. And that’s what counts by far. 

2. You’ve come this far.

Another thing I always think of when I go to dig up my old writing is that I’ve written a lot. Last week I talked a bit about my total fictional work’s word count which is almost 600K. If you haven’t done this already, I would totally recommend going back and calculating how many words you’ve written so far. Even if it doesn’t look like much, you’ll probably be surprised at how far you’ve come

3. You’re always getting better at this

And obviously, not just the amount of words or WIPs you’ve written, but the quality of them matters. This kind of reminds me of the “oh, look how terrible my prose and overall writing used to be” syndrome so I don’t want it to sound like it…But what I mean is this. 

Each WIP you write teaches you something vital about storytelling you couldn’t have known if you didn’t write that story. Even if you do make mistakes along the way, or feel like your writing is trashy, it just tells you how much better you’ve gotten since then.

4. Every word counts

I really like the Japanese saying, Senri no michi mo ippo kara, which means Even a road of a thousand miles begins with a single step

When I first began writing, I didn’t know what I was doing. If you know at all about my earlier blog posts, it’s that I have no idea. What helped me through all of the floundering was the words that I’ve compiled. Words build up and become a part of you. 

5. You’re a writer.

In the end, the fact that you have old writings to read back (and critique) means you’re a writer. When writing gets tough and you start to think that maybe writing isn’t your thing, reflect on your old writings. 

And, you realise that your old writing is what makes your current writing

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Thank you for reading! How has your week been? Do you read your old writings? What are some things you like about your old writing? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

5 Steps to Recharge After A Major WIP

Hullo, world!

I’m back again with another Author Health blog post. *inserts fanfare* Today is a kind of special post for me, since it’s officially December…the month after NaNoWriMo! (Or Meno-WriMo in my case.) Although I didn’t reach my goal of 50K this year (I wrote 28K), I’m glad with what I did get down on paper…literally. 

And if you did win NaNo, or even if you didn’t, I know that December can be that weird month where you’re wondering if you want to keep writing or take a break or do something else. If you know what you’re doing this month, great! But if not, and you’re super conflicted (like me), let’s take a look at the 5 Steps to Recharge After A Major WIP and decide from there. 

Are you ready? 

Here we go…

1: Rest (Don’t write anything!!) 

Yes, you heard that right. No matter how many words you’ve written last month, now is actually a really good time to take a break. Be that one or two days or a week, take a break. Writing is an exacting business. No matter how you wrote (easy as a breeze or shoveling horse feces, & c.) taking some time to rest is vital when recharging. I recommend checking out my previous Author Health post, 5 Self Care I Like to Do, for ideas to rest. 

People should follow Zenitsu’s style.

2: Read books (Ones that you love)

And of course, as writing is exhaling, we read to inhale. Reading books is a vital activity to supplement the creativity and energy you used up. What often happens for me is that  I tend to avoid reading in the genre I’m writing, so I end up having to stick to books that are outside my commitment. This is good for when I’m writing, since I don’t get distracted with stories that are more polished than mine. 

However.

I can only go for so long without reading dark academia or fantasy or YA. So now that I’ve gotten the complete Harry Potter box set for my birthday, I’ll indulge in that and dense academia books I’ve been placing on hold. (Plus there is that thing where I have a stack of books overdue…)

3: Review Ideas (Re-reads and excavations)

And here comes the part I dearly love: reviewing ideas! This is where I drag out incomplete drafts and old ideas collecting dust bunnies on the shelf and excavate them. I might re-read the drafts or expand ideas I already have to see if they “spark joy”. I might even come up with completely new ideas that keep me awake at night. 

Here, you shouldn’t let your logical side into the equation, meaning you stop thinking about deadlines or the order you were planning to move forward in your writing. 

I personally struggle with this a lot, since I have this idea that I should have some kind of schedule in a year to finish certain WIPs by a certain month. But instead of mustering up strength to plow through a story that’s not clicking with you emotionally, you should write one that weighs on your heart. Because, you never know which work might be your last. (I know, I always lean into the morbid side of  things.) 

I know, I love this guy too much.

4. Examine.

This is the stage you can let your logic decide things. After you find a project that speaks to your soul, stop a moment and figure out where you are in your life. 

For example, last year’s NaNoWriMo, I made the mistake of listening to my heart more than my head. *shudders* I was applying to Ivy Leagues and similar schools, trying to balance my school load, getting a perfect ACT score, and applying for scholarships and financial aids. (Spoiler Alert: I didn’t get any of those things done!) In the midst of this, I felt like I really needed to write my story…you know, it was like I had to write it at that  time or else I won’t be able to say the same things with the same intensity of feelings. Insane, right?

Well, my mental health took a nosedive, and I was a wreck. All because I didn’t properly examine my priorities. 

Me last year.

Once I decided to place it on hold, though, it helped me realise that there was something more important I should be focusing my energy on.

Okay, that was kind of a long analogy, but it’s really important you stop for a moment and examine your priorities. You’ve already done a great job showing up to write last month. Do you have something you can only do right now other than writing? If  yes, you shouldn’t be writing now. As much as it might pain you to do so (and believe me, I understand), take a break for writing. Finish whatever you need to do first, then come back to writing next year. That way, you can have a fresher start. 

If no, then you are ready to take up your pen again! (Or keyboard.)

5. Restart!

And that’s basically it. You can go back to the all-time adrenaline high of plotting and worldbuilding and sabotage. I’m still undecided on which project to tackle at the moment, but I know I’ll be drinking Earl Grey and hot chocolate like water while listening to heist music!  

Because, in the end, that’s what authors do. 

By now, you might have figured out I’m using these GiFs as an excuse to promote Kimetsu-no-Yaiba…

What did you think? Do you think you’ll be writing this month? Or not? What are  some of the projects you’re interested in tackling? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

5 Ways to Write (Without Actually Writing)

Hullo, world!

I must convey to you how happy I am to be writing this post. In the month I took a rest from blogging, I realised just how much I missed it. I’ve actually been blogging for almost five years counting my Japanese and science blogs, and blogging is one thing that sparks joy inside me. 

Anyhow.

Today, I’ll be talking about the 5 Ways to Write (Without Actually Writing). I think a lot of times as writers, we’re pressured to be constantly putting in that word count for your WIP. “Writers write”, right? 

Well, not entirely.

I mean, I’ve done my share of the “writers write” routine where I was writing every day, no matter what. But sometimes, you can’t really “write”. Maybe you’ve started a new WIP, and the ideas are all kind of floating in the air. Maybe you’re suffering from a mild writer’s block. Or a little stuck. 

In these cases, there are 5 things you can do to “write”…without writing.

1: Outlining 

Yup, you heard that right. Regardless of whether you’re a planner or pantser or plantser, you can always work on writing by outlining. Outlining is a great way to sort through the direction of your story. There are also many different ways you can outline, but I would specifically recommend looking at K. M. Weiland’s various outlining methods. A detailed outline can help you work towards your “writing” phase when you are putting in your wordcounts, and also help you not to write incessantly. (Like I did for Woodstone…) It’s like creating a map of words to help you “write” better. 

2: Journalling 

Didn’t see this one coming, did you? I started bujo-ing last May, and the habit has been creeping into other areas of my life. I resumed my diary, began a book review journal, and began journaling for my WIPs. 

Yes, that’s right. I journal for my WIP. There isn’t a direct way I do it, but I usually start with leaving the first two pages for the table of contents, then letting my mind wander the pages and write down any inspirations that come to my mind. This has been a singularly useful way to sort my thoughts (and keep them), as well as figuring out characters and worldbuilding. Which happens to be the next thing on the list…

3: Worldbuilding 

When you are less inclined to write, the one fun thing you can do is to build the world. There are various ways you can go about this regardless of the genre. One thing I love to do is to create a Pinterest board. I like to look for “keyword” + “aesthetic” to get the feeling of the story. Establishing the mood and atmosphere of the story is vital. It’s an important part of your author voice as well. 

Then, I transfer the images to words. I create locations of importance with detailed descriptions. I shift through the “normal world” of the WIP–modern or old, with magic or not–and establish that  “normal world” as a reality in that story. 

Because the more real the story is, the easier it is to write about it. 

I also create a detailed timeline of the story, whether the story spans a month or eighty years. By creating a solid world, you get a better sense of what the story is going to be about. Plus, you get to write while you do it. 

4: Character Sketches

As I mention various parts of writing that do not include direct “writing”, one of the most important things to do is Character Sketches. (And undoubtedly the most exciting thing to do other than actual “writing”.) 

You start with an empty head, a character, and a blank page. Then you write whatever comes to your head. This way, you get to rediscover the person you thought you knew. It works especially well with the antagonists of the story. 

For Juliet, I wrote a short story from the main antagonist’s pov. It helped me deepen his character and understand where he was coming from. It also solved a bunch of plot holes and blank spaces of worldbuilding. 

5: Other WIPs

And lastly, let me just say this: When you can’t “write” your current WIP, it’s perfectly fine to switch to another WIP. 

I was one of those people who resolutely refused to work on another WIP if I was not finished with at least the first draft. 

Me with most WIPs

But sometimes, it doesn’t work that way. And you actually need to switch to another story when the one in front of you isn’t working. Maybe you need to go back to the plotting stage. Or perchance you’re missing an important thematic truth. Whatever the problem may be, sometimes switching to a different genre, a different scene, simply something different, can change your perspective. Then, you can come back to your writing with a fresh eye, and “write”. 

So that’s my perspective on not writing (but kind of writing). 

I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day! 

What do you think? Do you have periods of your writing life when you’re writing (but actually not)? Or vice-versa? What are some other ways you keep writing when you’re not working on you WIP? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!