Tag Archives: editing

Recognition and Acceptance

It’s not you, Megan. It’s me.

We’ve started writing the sequel to Love at First Plight, and I am finding the process to be both easy and a challenge at the same time. I love writing my character, Megan Wynters. I really do. Slipping into her character is like sliding my feet into my favourite and most comfortable pair of shoes or like wrapping myself in a warm blanket.

Working on Book 2

At the same time, writing Megan can sometimes be a challenge. It’s fun challenge, mind you, but it’s a challenge all the same. The reason isn’t because I find her difficult to write, because that couldn’t be further from the truth. The trouble is that my personal writing technique can frustrate me, at times.

I am the type of writer who is in a continual state of self-analysis and who relies on structure to tell a story and to bring my character to life. While this does have its advantages, where it puts me at a disadvantage is that I tend to have a difficult time getting started.

In other words, I get ready to write, but instead of hitting the keys, my fingers remain poised above the keyboard as my mind processes the steps that I will take. Finally, I begin to type slowly, but steadily, as I figure out how I want to form the first sentence and build the first paragraph. Eventually, my fingers will fly across the keyboard as I let my imagination flow, but I’ve always been slow to start.

Even though writing Megan comes naturally to me, I have never sat down at my computer with the intention of writing her character and immediately typed full speed ahead. I build up speed over time.

While this usually isn’t a problem for me, when there are time constraints, I don’t always feel like I have the luxury to take the time I need to comfortably write as much as I want to complete.

This is the main challenge I am facing right now, as I write Book 2 in the Perspective series. It isn’t that I don’t know how to write my main character or that I don’t know how to get inside her head. It is that it takes me a surprising amount of time to get into the groove of storytelling, especially at the start.

After years of writing, I’ve learned that my particular creative writing skill requires a great deal of focus, structure, and organization. I need to write in a distraction-free zone, I need to channel my character, and I edit while I create. Yes, I’m guilty of editing while I work, which is something that most writers warn other writers not to do. Ideally, when writing creatively, you should write first and edit later, so you don’t disrupt your creative flow; a process that should look like this: Write. Edit. My writing pattern, on the other hand, functions more like this: Write-edit-write-edit. Edit. As you have likely guessed, writing this way can significantly slow me down.

That being said, what I’ve come to realize is that even though others might cringe at my writing technique, I can’t change the way that I write and I don’t want to change the way that I write; it works for me. I have developed my own style and my own creative method and it’s not wrong; it’s simply mine. It may not be the fastest process around, which can really frustrate me, especially when I’m pressed for time, but I’ve recognized and accepted that that’s how my creativity flows.

Unfortunately, all too often I’ve compared my writing style and speed to Julie’s and to other writers and this, in my opinion, has been my most self-destructive habit as a writer. I should never compare my skill to someone else’s; no writer should. You can appreciate another’s talents, but you shouldn’t judge your own talents against theirs or feel that because you don’t possess certain skills that the ones you do have are somehow less significant or have less value.Getting started is the hardest part

The bottom line is that comparing how I write and how I create to how someone else does it, serves no positive purpose. On the contrary, it makes me doubt my abilities as a writer. It makes my self-confidence shrink and my self-criticism swell. It makes me think illogically that I can’t write the story of a character that I’ve written dozens of times before, which is ridiculous.

Thankfully, this is an issue with which I am struggling less and less. However, I would be a liar if I told you that I don’t doubt my abilities as a writer and storyteller from time to time. Nevertheless, at the moment, I’m pleased to say that Megan’s side of the story is progressing well and I’m immensely enjoying the creative writing process as I always do.

So you see, any time I think I won’t be able to write Megan, it has nothing to do with her character and everything to do with my suddenly becoming ludicrous and losing my nerve as a writer. All I have to do is write her to realize that I haven’t lost my touch.

Therefore, if you ever find yourself doubting your abilities as a writer, try slipping into the role of one of the characters that you’ve created, and hopefully they will remind you of your incredible talents as you bring this character to life with every word that you write.

That is exactly what Megan does for me every time that I slip into her character.

Thanks, Megs 🙂

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How to Replace Marilyn Manson

Everything around a writer impacts what he or she produces. I have heard this in interviews with some of my favourite authors and I know that it is true of my own works, too. What’s funny, is that I always thought that this simply referred to the experiences that a writer has undergone in his or her lifetime. Nope! Julie Campbell writer - art affects moodAt least, that hasn’t been the case with me.

Some of the editing of the Book has, of course, involved the rewriting of certain sections that just don’t seem to work in one way or another. I try to keep that to a minimum because I want to be able to maintain the original style and intention of the Book, but at the same time, some rewrites are unavoidable.

My most recent discovery about this process, however, is that I need to be very careful about my writing environment as I rewrite. I can clearly remember what I was doing as I was writing the sections/chapters for the first time.

I was still in university and parts of the story were dreamed up on a public transit bus (I had a two-and-a-half hour commute in each direction so that gave me a lot of time to come up with sections of the book while I was trying to escape the nightmare that is a transit bus), parts that were written as soon as I arrived home (when I could play very loud music because no one else had arrived home, yet), and parts that were created in the middle of the night during one of many bouts of insomnia (bleh).

On the bus, I came up with the intricate parts of the plot. I was sinking so far out of reality and into the world of the Book that I was able to interact with its people and scenes very effectively. I could see what was possible and come up with branching storylines that were rich with juicy complexity. At home, with loud music playing, I would be able to create specific situations with great depth and detail. I would choose the music to reflect the character and the moment.  Everyone from Mozart to Marilyn Manson would blare from my “Optimus” store brand mini-stereo (which produced pretty good sound for a cheap piece of plastic!). In the middle of a sleepless night, the characters could dive into their own thoughts. They would examine their dreams, worries, and predictions of their futures.

Now, as I rewrite the work, I am living a completely different life, but I still hope to be able to seamlessly add the reworked pieces into the original story. I certainly won’t be riding the bus or blasting music to try to recreate the same mental state, but I have found that certain tricks have worked for specific circumstances.  At the same time, I have yet to discover everything that I need. It will certainly be an important part of the journey.

Insomnia is still a problem for me, so recreating that experience isn’t hard. I have found that listening to meditation/yoga music can help me to achieve the same feeling of dream and escape that I used to find while mentally distancing myself from the reality of the bus (only at a much lower anxiety level and without the unique aromas that only an overcrowded public transit bus can provide). That technique is particularly effective on rainy or foggy days, when it’s easy for the mind to step away from reality.

Julie Campbell writer - musicHowever, the effect of Marilyn Manson just can’t seem to be replicated. Some of the most intense and thrilling scenes that I wrote in the first Book were due to my emotional state when listening to those songs. It wasn’t anger or rage. That’s not what I associate with his music. Instead, it was empowerment, confidence, and the will to do what is right and not simply what is typical. That was how I always saw Marilyn Manson’s lyrics. If you can get past the gratuitous swearing and deliberate statements meant to shock adults so that those in the adolescent rebellion phase would automatically gravitate toward CD/MP3 purchases, the raw, grotesque, and rather tongue-in-cheek poetry and profound message within his words are quite stunning…anyhoo.

As I have no intention of having my neighbours bang on my door or call the police due to the noise, Marilyn and Manson and I won’t be writing in the same way throughout the editing process. You might wonder why I don’t just wear headphones and play the music loudly, that way. The answer is simple: it’s not the same and I don’t wanna. Mature, aren’t I? The truth is that the experience of blaring headphones is not the same as having the sound fill a room. Since it is a writing atmosphere that I am trying to create and not just the ability to listen to the music, it’s just enough to make a difference.

Until I figure it out, I suppose I will just have to hope that I will be able to edit effectively without actually “being there” in the story in the same way that I was when I wrote it over ten years ago.

I welcome your suggestions for using music and other forms of art to inspire writing in different moods. Please share in the comments below. Heck, if I try your suggestion and it works, I’ll be sure to give you honourable mention in one of my blog posts and add link to your blog (if you have one) as a “thank you” 🙂 After all, writers need to stick together!

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How’s My Driving…Er…Posting?

Three whole weeks!  How time has flown.

Julie Campbell writer surveyI know that my co-author, Amanda, and I are both enjoying sharing our thoughts with you as we struggle through the battles and celebrate the victories of turning our Book’s rough draft into something worth publishing (and turning us into bajillionaires), but I’m also wondering what you think of the experience.

Fortunately, I just found out how to use the “add poll” feature on this blog.  What does that mean?  We just got interactive!

Please let us know what you think about the experience so far.  If you have additional thoughts that aren’t covered by the little survey, below, please add them to the “Comments” for this post.

That was fun, wasn’t it?  Alright, you twisted my arm, here’s another one:

Addictive, aren’t they?  Okay, one more, since you insisted:

Thanks so much for reading, following, sharing, and overall sticking around.  More blog posts are on their way from both me and Amanda.

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I’ve Been Doing This All Wrong!

As you can tell by my continual posting (a.k.a. rambling) on this blog, I am learning a great deal from the entire process of going back over the Book with Amanda and revisiting our old work. It is teaching me a surprising amount about writing, as well as about myself. The problem is, after all this thinking, I’ve come to discover that I’ve been looking at this step of the process from the wrong angle!

Julie Campbell writer editing processI have always been told to pay attention, think before I act or speak, and that learning is one of the most important parts of life. I live by these rules (most of the time…), but what I am finding in the writing and editing process is that thinking too hard – unless done strategically – won’t accomplish anything except to cause cartoon-like clouds of smoke to billow from my ears.

Thinking the wrong way can hurt both my writing and my editing, and here’s why:

• Writing – if I think too hard, it inhibits the creative flow. Fiction writing takes a huge amount of imagination. When I write too deliberately, it holds back my ability to simply open my mind and let a story pour out (that sounds disturbingly gory to me, now that I’ve said it). Therefore, when it comes to writing, I’d rather just write as fast as my fingers can type and deal with the “details” later.

• Editing – if I think the wrong way, I lose my perspective. I become overly focused on all of the little details so that I can’t see the bigger picture anymore. I’ve only edited a few pages of the Book, so far, and I have already caught myself obsessing over insignificant details when I should be working out the larger issues and then narrowing my focus.

What have I learned? To stop thinking too hard and to think smart, instead. Not very original, I know, but we all learn at our own pace, and this was my time for discovery.

I’ve taken something important from it, though, and that’s all that matters to me. It is as follows: I write from start to finish, but I need to edit from big picture to small picture.

Writing is a process in which I start the story, build it, and bring it to a conclusion (or, in the case of the Book, bring it to a soft-ending since it’s going to be the first of a series).

When I’m editing, I can’t work in the same straight line. First, I need to read it over and remember what I created in the first place. Once I’m very familiar with it, I need to make sure that the main plot line makes sense, develops as it should, and accomplishes all of its goals. Then, I need to work out the sub-plots to ensure that they also make sense and align properly. Once that’s under control, I can start the proofing, to begin my obsession over phrasing, word selection and the dreaded grammar check. See?  It’s not a straight line!

If there are any book editors out there – really great ones who know all this already (and then some, I should hope) – I’d just like to take this opportunity to tell you that you have one tough job and you don’t receive nearly enough credit for what you do.

Although I will certainly not be the last editor’s eyes to see the Book before it is published – especially because I’m co-authoring it, so it will need to pass Amanda’s tests, as well – I’m doing my best to make this work as flawless as possible, right from the start. I gotta say, writing is, by far, the easy part…

Note – I found a smiley from my original set that works here.  Is it odd that I already feel nostalgic after a few weeks?

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