We’re on Facebook!

There is now an official Paper Beats World Facebook Page!  To compliment the Paper Beats World Pintrest page, and the twitter feed.  I’m also going to start doing more with said twitter feed, but not much more.

So, what’s going to be on the facebook page that you can’t find here?  Lot’s, eventually.  I’m going to be doing geek reviews, contests and agent opportunities, even more writing prompts, and conversations.  I might even run some contests of my own at some point.

This is a chance to have a conversation.  Feel free to go over any time and see what I’m talking about.  Because, let’s face it, I talk a lot.  I want to hear what you have to say, too.

So, let’s here it. 

Check This Out- The Pomodoro Method

If you’re getting into the thick of your editing process, you’re in danger of running into one of two walls. Maybe you’re getting immersed in the process and forget about other things, like eating or personal hygiene. Or, you’re so daunted by the whole process that you’re waiting until you’ve got ‘real time’, to get into it.

Here’s the thing. You don’t need more than a small snippet of time, so long as you take it every day. And you shouldn’t even try to devote too much time on it, or you’ll burn out.

I recently found a new tool to help with both of those things. Actually, I’ve got pretty bad adult ADD, and this is helping me with literally everything in my life. It’s called the Pomodoro method.

Here are the basics. You set a timer for twenty five minutes, and work like hell on whatever your project is for those twenty five minutes. You do this with a pad of paper next to you, to write down anything that might pop into your head while you’re working. I mean things like random story ideas, ‘oh, I have to do this soon,’ to do lists, and whatever . The website suggests keeping a journal, but I just use a legal pad, and transition stuff into my bullet journal.

After twenty five minutes you take a five minute break. Stretch, get some coffee, use the potty. After four 25 minute sessions, take a longer fifteen to twenty minute break. Keep track of how many sessions you get in.

So, the names a little crazy. It’s the Spanish word for tomato. The creator started this out by using a tomato shaped timer.

I love this method. I’ve been getting so much more work done since I’ve started using it. As already stated, I have ADD. It’s very hard for me to focus on one thing for long. My brain just starts racing if I’m only doing one thing at a time, and this helps. Instead of telling myself ‘you must focus until this project is over’, or worse, ‘I’ll just go and fill the dishwasher real quick’, I work for the whole session. If I think of something I need to do, on this list it goes, to be dealt with after I’m done with whatever I’m doing.

Check out pomodoro this week. And let me know what you’re doing with your sessions in the comment section below.

The Writing Life- Editing Shopping List

Don’t lie, you’re going to love this part even if you hate editing.  I’ve never met a writer that didn’t walk into Staples and hear the Halleluiah chorus in their head.

Editing is an intensive process, and it requires special tools.  While it’s true that you only need a pen and a notepad to start your rough draft, you need a little more than that now.  That’s okay, you’re worth it and so is your story.  Besides, if you sat your ass in your chair long enough to produce a first draft, you’ve earned a shopping trip.

So, here’s my suggested editing shopping list.

1. Printer paper and at least two new ink cartridges.  Or, you can do what I do and have your manuscripts printed at a local printer.  It saves me time and money.  It also prevents me from trying to replace the ink cartridge, which I seem to have some sort of mental block over.  Personally, I write out my first draft long hand, then print out my second draft in preperation for the third.

2. Red pens.  As always, I’ve got a great red le pen that I use.

3. sticky notes, to add notes to the manuscript itself while you’re reading it.

4. A legal pad.  I get ideas while I’m editing that I want to address in later parts of my book.  That’s why I keep a legal pad right at my side for stream of conscious note taking.

5. Highlighters.  All sorts of uses for highlighters, and I suggest a five color pack.  I use them for poor dialog, bad phrasing, plot holes, characters acting out of character, grammar mess ups and spelling mistakes.  Some people use them to track plotlines, but I’ve usually got so many of those that I’d need more colors than they make.  Though I will use them to track ploteline importance with the next tool.

6. Index cards.  I use these to make plotline maps, because I can make it bigger as I go along.  What I do, is write the chapter title in the color ink I used for that character’s pov. (one of my org tips for keeping povs in order in draft one.)  Then, I’ll write any plot lines discussed on the index card, higlighted by order of series plot, book plot, sub plot, or character development.  I also make a little note of the last chapter we talked about this plotline in.

7. One big plastic crate, to corral all of my drafts as I go.  I’ll separate them in the boxes I get from the printer, but if you’re printing at home, I advise shoe boxes, or any other box that’s the right size.  No need to get fancy unless you really want to.

8. Coffee, obviously.  At least for me.  But really, I’ll use any excuse to buy coffee.

9. Binder clips.  I use these to hold my pages together in later drafts so I can flip them like a book.

10. Treats.  Editing is hard.  Even for crazy people like me who like it.  I feel better if I’ve got a piece of chocolate after each chapter.

Editing is a big job, and you need the tools to get through it.  I didn’t add any specifics about these tools, because there are a hundred different kinds of high lighters, and you should pick out the ones you like best.

Take some time to pick these things up, and let’s get started.

Plans For February 2015

Here we are, another month, another theme.  This month, we’re talking about a writing topic you either love or hate.  It’s editing.  Like I said…

I really enjoy editing.  It gives m a chance to combine some of my favorite things, organization, creativity, and anal retentiveness.  It can also be terrifyingly intimidating if you don’t have too much practice, and when you’re looking at a huge project like a novel.

There’s a lot that goes into editing.  You write your first draft all by yourself, with no external input.  Editing is when you start letting other people in.  You do the research, get other people to read your work.  You run through red pens and coffee.  You think over, and re-think every word you wrote.  I often think of editing as taking my rough draft, which is a giant lump of wood, and using a chainsaw to cut it into shape.  I’ll use smaller tools to get it closer and closer to what I want, until finally I’m going over the whole damn thing with sandpaper.

This month we’ll break down step by step how to edit your novel, what you’ll need, and go over some of the trickiest parts of editing fiction.  Stick with us this month as we take our work and rip it down so that we can build it back up again, better than it ever was.

By the way, I don’t think I’ll mention this anywhere else, so let me say it here.  One of the best tips I ever learned about editing is from Steven King’s On Writing.  Don’t start editing your work right away.  Give yourself some time, at least six weeks.  Work on something entirely different, so when you come back to it, your manuscript feels like someone else’s work.  This makes it easier to edit clinically, not emotionally.

So buy some red pens, print out your manuscript, and get ready to make it better than it’s ever been.

Market- Escape Pod

If you write Science Fiction, this is the one for you. Escape Pod’s been around for awhile, but they took some time off from accepting new submissions. They’re back now, though, and ready for your work.

Genres- Science Fiction

Submission Dates- They take submissions year round.

Word count- 2,000 to 6,000 words. So no flash fiction, but nothing too lengthy either.

Payout- Six cents a word

Wait time- It’s not specified on the website, so the rule of thumb is generally three months.

Check This Out- Special Edition to say Goodbye To Girls with Slingshots

I found out something sad today.  One of my favorite web comics, Girls With Slingshots, is coming to an end on the next few months.

It’s actually the second web comic I read that’s coming to an end.  The other one is called ‘Shortpacked’, but that one’s not about writing, so I’ve never featured it on this blog.  But GWS is one that I’ve had on my list for awhile, and somehow never got around to telling you about.  Now, it’s almost too late, but there is still time.

The main character is a girl named Hazel.  She’s a writer, and at the start of the strip she’s an unemployed writer.  Eventually she gets a job at a newspaper, then a magazine.  One of the most touching moments early in the strip is a conversation she’s having with a friend on the phone.  He’s telling her not to be discouraged, that she’s a great writer and she’s going to make it.  “But,” she says, laying in a field under a star filled sky, “What am I going to write about?”

Which one of us hasn’t felt that way, at some point in our writing lives?

Don’t think it’s all serious, though.  Hazel’s got a talking cactus, a crew of insane friends that includes a dominatrix librarian, and a slight substance abuse problem.

So, check out Girls With Slingshots.  It’s a great time to get started, because the creator, Danielle Corsetto, is keeping the site updated by reposting the story from the start with new color and fun additions.  Even though it’s ending, it’s a great read.

The Writing Life- The Writer’s Planner

Do you have a planner? It’s the start of a new year, so you might have just gotten a new one. If you haven’t, you’ve at least seen them all over the damn place.

Planners are either something basic that everyone needs, or a really unhealthy scrap booking obsession, depending on your outlook on life. I’m sort of part of the second group, but I’m working on it. You need it to remember appointments, class and work schedules, due dates, the whole thing. The more chaotic your life, the more you need a planner. And if you’re trying to fit a writing career into your life, it’s chaotic.

Personally, I use two planners. My fiance and I keep a google calendar that we both add to, so we’re not planning things that overlap each other. I’ve also got my personal weekly planner that’s on paper, journal style that comes with me everywhere. I use this to keep track of work and school and appointments, but chances are you don’t give a damn about that. More importantly, I use my planner to keep track of my writing.

Here are some things I do with my planner that makes me a better writer.

Deadlines

First thing, of course. I like to try to enter contests when I’m not working on rough drafts. Contests have deadlines. I write the deadlines on my planner as soon as I decide I’m going to enter a contest. Because it’s me, I also put a little bomb sticker next to them, so they stick out when I’m flipping through pages. This not only helps me keep in mind deadlines, it lets me know if I’m about to over commit myself. If I flip to February and see I’ve got two deadlines that month, that’s a big red stop sign telling me to not enter any more contests with deadlines in that month unless I’m ready to sacrifice one of the others or have already submitted a piece for it.

Writing dates

I make a date with myself, at least once a week, to go out and write somewhere that isn’t home. I write better then, and can focus more when I’m not at home with the kids, cat and dishes. Not to mention this great new smart tv that’s got Netflix. My goodness, nothing is more distracting than knowing I can sit down and watch all of Firefly any time I want.

I also block out writing time the same way I’d block out time to take kids to the doctor or work. I have to do that thing then, there’s no getting around it. Seeing it on paper makes me feel committed to it.

Projected final dates for big projects

Once you’ve been writing awhile, you’ll get a rough estimate in your head of how long it takes you to do stuff. Take a really big project like writing a book. I know it will take me about fifteen pages to write a chapter, I can write about ten pages a day, so in a week I write about three, maybe four chapters. Because I outlined my book before I started, I know how many chapters are in my rough draft, 60. So, it should take me about fifteen weeks to write my rough draft. So far it’s been eight. Then I know it should take me about six months to edit it, three to write the third draft, three to write the fourth draft after my beta readers read it, another two for a final polish, and then about three weeks to get together an agent packet and start looking for an agent. So, giving some time in there for your beta readers to read it and some cushion, it takes me about two years to finish a book.

Your time will be different, so take some time to consider habits and productivity levels.

Once I have an idea of when my milestone moments will be, like finishing a draft, I write these moments on small sticky notes and put them on estimated dates. Now, this is something I highly advise. I call it a rolling deadline. These are the dates that I think I should be done. But things happen. For example, when I was writing the first draft of my last book, I realized halfway through that I’d deviated so much from my outline that the rest of the book didn’t make sense anymore. The changes were great, so I threw out the rest of my outline, and spend three days rewriting it. That set the end day back a bit.

Daily and weekly check ins

I try to have my days pretty planned. So, once a week I sit down with my planner, bullet journal and binder. (We’ll talk about binders later.) I put my day job schedule down for three weeks in advance, then factor in any obligations like deadlines, birthdays, holidays or things like that.

Then I look at the time I’ve got, and write in my bullet journal what needs done that week. I have to take that calendar into consideration. If I’ve got five appointments that week, I’ve got to know that I’m not going to have time to also write blog updates, work on Woven and still have time to edit my latest short story. Somethings not getting done, probably the short story, so I know it needs to go on next weeks to do list not this week.

I check in with my planner daily, too. Every morning, I glance over what’s still to come this week, and do a quick review of the next three weeks to come as well. That helps me keep in mind that if that contest deadline’s in three weeks, and I don’t have a rough draft done yet, I need some extra ass in the chair time.

I heard a great quote the other day. It’s not mine, but I’ve been saying it to myself ever since. “Your brain is for processing, not storing.” Don’t expect yourself to remember everything. You can’t, you won’t, and something will fall through the cracks. So keep a planner, and see how much more productive you are at the end of a year using one.