Natasha Raulerson

Back To The Future – On Writer’s Block & Editing

Sometimes finding that next word or that next sentence isn’t so easy. This can happen 10k or 50k words into that work-in-progress. If you’re lucky, it never happens, but for the majority, there is always that moment that catches us. That makes it hard for fingers to brush over the keyboard in fluid movements. Instead, it’s jagged tap-a-taps before hitting the backspace key–and somewhere in between is usually the overwhelming urge to throw said keyboard out the window. Not that the sudden block is the keyboards fault, but let’s face it, keyboards probably get more abuse from writers than anyone else. Mine has so much wear and tear that the letters have worn off the keys, and honestly, I’m surprised I haven’t cracked the damn thing. The keyboard is the medium from which we transport our thoughts to the screen–and sometimes, we’re very, very mean to it when we can’t make the correlation.

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So, what can we do to not only keep the words flowing, but to maybe not beat up the poor, innocent, and too-often abused keyboard?

Well there are some tactics. Maybe pushing forward works for you. Writing crap upon crap until finally it gives way to the diamonds in the rough that make the story flow again. Most times those original craptastic words are deleted and rewritten later, but if that’s the method that works, then that’s the method that works.

I tend to be the person who stares and stares and stares and wonders why my fingers aren’t moving. Then I note twenty-minutes have passed and the most I’ve achieved is three words and being mesmerized by the cursor blinking on the page.

Realizing that this method is not helping me get any work done, I’ve opted to try something new.

GOING BACK TO THE FUTURE!

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So what does that mean in writer terms exactly? Well, I was listening to K.M. Weiland’s podcast and she mentioned that about every third of her manuscript she goes back and edits. She also mentioned that some authors get caught in a sort of loophole where they forever edit what they already have and never continue on. I used to be that writer, so going back to edit while writing makes me reluctant. I don’t want to fall in that loophole again.

However, when I can’t push forward, it makes me wonder if something has gone wrong in what I already wrote, or rather, in the past of my manuscript. How have I wound up struggling so hard to write that next line? Well, the only way to figure that out is to go to the past–or what I’ve already written in the world I’m working on. To read over what I already have and see if I need to change something, or, what’s more likely, I may have forgotten a detail that’s meant to push the plot forward. Weaving together a plot is pretty damn hard. So by going back and rereading what’s already there, details that are forgotten in the whirlwind of the rough draft pop back out, and things are remembered, thus I can change the future of my manuscript. Making notes in the sidebar (I have Scrivener) can definitely help the process of not over editing–something that may keep you stuck in the past.

Instead of adding the actual detail that may be needed to enhance a scene, jot a note down so when you’re going through your first round of revisions, you remember what you need to do. Sure, fix a misspelled word, or maybe add a bit of dialogue if it comes to you, but don’t DO all the actual editing–at least if you’re like me and will get caught in that forever-editing-loop instead of finishing the manuscript.

By reading through the past, new ideas pop to mind. New avenues to take, paths to carves, 10_21_15_alison_greatscottcharacters to enhance or create. You may get through one chapter or four before that “GREAT SCOTT!” moment hits and you’re jumping back to the future of your manuscript to work on that scene with renewed vigor–and a safely intact keyboard.

I’ve learned this method keeps my mind in the manuscript, makes the gears spin in regards to the what has happened as well as what needs to happen, and helps me come up with ideas of where to take it based on where I’ve already been–and just like Marty and Doc, sometimes I wind up finding a nugget that with a little tweaking, lets me change the future into something much better than I originally imagined.

At the very least, I’ve got some notes jotted for when I actually start the full editing process.

Give it a shot. If nothing else, your keyboard will thank you.

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Natasha Raulerson

It’s An Author Thing: Mood Swings

Writing a novel is not easy. It comes with many parts, layers, plot, characterization, pacing, and more. It can come naturally, or it can be frustrating as hell. The layers may fall into

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Sometimes we might get the urge to print part or all of the story just so we can destroy it. 

place, or they might decide that they don’t fit into this particular jigsaw puzzle and opt to be a pain in the ass. Authors not only have to deal with problems in real life, but with the problems in the world they’re creating. So, yes, from time to time we might lose our shit.

 

It’s an author thing.

There may be days where we’re smiling, whistling, giddy even, because we’ve managed to write 2,000 plus words to finish a scene. A scene that we absolutely love. We celebrate with coffee or wine, maybe add some chocolate in there. It could be on Friday, so we break out the booze early, because it’s five o’clock somewhere. We celebrate, because it’s an accomplishment.

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Cheers to the days when writing comes easy and the characters do exactly what they’re supposed to do. 

It’s an author thing.

Saturday rolls around and when you wake up, the first thing you notice is your possible hangover. Try not to celebrate too hard next time.

There’s another problem though. As your brain was relaxing from the copious amounts of alcohol, you realize that the scene you wrote, may not actually be what the book needs. A thought dribbles in that there’s a better way to do it, or if you do it all the crazy consequences that could shift the entire plot of the book taking it in a direction you don’t want it to go.

Damn it!

That’s never fun. The two choices are to scrap the scene then and there or continue writing to see where it goes. Neither of which you want to do because it was time tumblr_lsx4ddf9ar1qafrh6consuming and yesterday it was perfect, but today–the problems have shown themselves.

It’s frustrating, and you’ve gone from happy-go-lucky to “disturb me while I’m trying to
fix this and I will end you.”

Staring, chin holding, hair pulling, eye rolling, and so many more things happen as you analyze the text, desperately trying to figure out what to do next. Your emotions are fluctuating up and down. When you think you’ve got an idea, victory is in sight, but then, you realize crying-gif-2the five different reasons it won’t work.

So, essentially, in less than 24 hours you’ve gone from happy, to hungover, to annoyed, to angry, to flabbergasted, to sad. All your confidence as a writer is gone. You wonder if you can make it in this business. It’s a roller coaster of tumultuous emotions from being overwhelmed, just because one scene is ruining the whole book.

Oh no, I’m not exaggerating. This happens. To multiple authors. Readers don’t get emotions from novels because we’re cold, uncaring robots. They get it because it took all those emotions just to write the book.

Just as all hope seems to be lost, and you’re hiding under your desk rocking back and forth, hair wild–and maybe just a little drool dribbling down your chin–epiphany strikes. You know just want to do to make the ()#&%#(*$&#( scene work. To make the story work.

You get up, clean up, and sit at your keyboard, fingers going to work. All the previous confidence you lost has now returned. You got this.

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It’s an author thing.

Natasha Raulerson

It’s An Author Thing: Writing In Between

I’m visiting my parents in the middle of nowhere. When visiting family, it can be hard to find time to yourself–I mean, well maybe you’re lucky and have that family that actually leaves you alone when you tell them you’re going to be writing for X amount of time. Yeah, that doesn’t work with my family, as my CP group, the Walrus Writer’s can attest to.

Me: “Ma, I have my CP group at 1:30 on Skype. Just so you know.”

Mom: “Okay, no one will bother you.”

I head off to set up. Get comfortable. Dad decides to pressure wash the pool deck–and latest-loud-noises-gif-323that pressure washer can be heard clear from the back to the front, and we had the windows open because it’s been cool. I know, cool weather in Florida in May. So freakin’ weird.

Okay, so I find the quietest spot I can, which is still pretty damn loud. I start to write before group starts.

Mom takes over pressure washing to give dad’s hands a break.

1:25 p.m.

Dad: “Tasha, where you at?”

I poke my head out.

Dad: “I want you to go grab them two pork butts and that rack of ribs out the fridge and 6928d1f7-6cd0-4204-8c5a-e9ee7f842a00season em’ up for me. I’ll throw them on the grill when we’re done with the pool.”

Me: …..

When your family says they’ll leave you alone so you can write, but then magically forget about that promise and give you a list of stuff to do.

It’s an author thing.

So, if you’re anything like me, you learn to write in between the ‘I needs’ and the ‘do me a favor’ and the phone ringing.

A hundred words here. A thousand words there when you get a blissful hour of peace. It adds up. Even if it’s fifteen words or half a blog post before your OCD mom walks out looking for one of the five portable phones she keeps in the house.

Mom: “How many phones do you have?” ea365359jw1epg61d41y1g208w06okjl

Me: “One?”

Mom: “Which one?”

Cause she has them labeled.

Me: “Kitchen.”

She walks away. I continue to write.

Interruptions suck and sometimes they can throw off a rythm. When there’s a lot going on, you have to learn to adapt, being able to stop and start as many times as is needed to hit that deadline.

Then, ya know, when it’s down to twenty-four hours before deadline, you just threaten everyone not to disturb you unless someone is dead, dying, or rising from the grave–under penalty of their own possible death if they don’t adhere to said guidelines. Then you have less than 24 hours to complete the manuscript and get it ready to go.

Yeah. That’s how we roll.

It’s an author thing.

Natasha Raulerson

It’s An Author Thing: Part Two

Remember that dreading of the manuscript thing we talked about in the last post? Yeah. That It's An Author Thinghappens. We all know it.

It’s an author thing.

I opened Scrivener, with the full intent of not touching my current WIP today and instead plotting something new that’s been bouncing around in my head for a while. Those little plot bunnies are devious sometimes and will not stop hippity hopping until you flesh them out. Doesn’t mean I’d write it quick, fast, and in a hurry, but it would give me a break from my current MS and let my brain decompress.

When you open Scrivener, your most recent project opens with it. In my case, my current WIP. I noticed, not only did I leave off in the middle of a paragraph, but in the middle of a sentence. I don’t usually do that.

It's An Author ThingMy eye twitched. A compulsion hit. I just wanted to finish the sentence.

Then the paragraph.

Then the next thing I know I’ve written 600 words in this scene.

When you don’t want to write, but the compulsion forces you to write, and then you’re happy because not only do you want to write more, but the words are actually flowing really, really well.

It’s an author thing.

Natasha Raulerson

It’s An Author Thing

Sometimes, right in the middle of a manuscript, the Muse will pack up her suitcase and book it on the first flight out. It’s annoying, tedious, and now you’re stuck, staring at a manuscript that you not only have no idea what to do with, but also the urge to write it is just gone.

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To be blunt–it’s a pain in the ass.

It’s an author thing.

All the negative thoughts start rolling out.

“This manuscript sucks.”

“Ugh, I hate writing it!”

“I should just start over.”

“I should scrap the whole damn thing.”

It's An Author ThingWell no, don’t do that. Writing is hard. Sometimes we all get to the point where we want to find a way to dismantle the manuscript, burn it, and scatter it’s ashes far away where we’ll never be reminded of it again. That doesn’t mean we should do it.

Part of being an author means working through the stuff that has us going to an extra kickboxing class just to punch something. Sure, half the time we’re imagining the bag as a character’s face, but hey, at least it’s good cardio. Hopefully, it will also help you clear your head to get past that hurdle.

Sometimes we do have to scrap part or the whole and start over, but don’t give up on it. The words don’t always come easy. We have to fight for them. Make them work for our story.  Part of the author life is crying about how the manuscript isn’t coming together when the deadline is looming large and oppressing right over there on the horizon. Tears plop into a large glass of whiskey while your significant other gives you sidelong glances and awkward pats because they have no idea how to console you.

It’s an author thing.

It's An Author Thing

Most people who aren’t author’s don’t understand.

You can’t give up when it gets hard, or you’ll never finish a manuscript. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments when the words just flow. The manuscript is doing great, and it’s clear the Muse has popped up again. Sometimes though, we just can’t rely on that muse sitting next to us channeling all the creative juices through us. Sometimes we have to bust our ass.

So when that happens, don’t get too frustrated. Know that we all go through it. Vent to another author. Kick something. Write something down and tear it up. Don’t set anything on fire because I’m so not responsible if you burn your house down.

Just remember, we get it. It sucks. It’s hard.–but we got your back.

It’s an author thing.

Natasha Raulerson

Raulerson Editorial

Well hello everyone! I hope that your Monday is being an awesome one! This post is to announce the grand opening of RAULERSON EDITORIAL. That’s right, I’ve started up my freelance editing business. I’ve had plenty of experience being a CP, Beta Reader, a Pitch Wars Mentor, Agented Author, Query Kombat Judge, Fiction Editor, and more. So, now I’m branching out and putting all that experience to good use.

GrandOpening

I have several different packages and if you sign up for my NEWSLETTER you’ll get promotional material from time to time, as well of updates on my own work. As you can see right now, there is a Grand Opening Special for this week only. I’m happy to talk with you about your expectations and goals. Click on the image above for more information.

I hope to hear from you soon! Happy Monday everyone!

Natasha Raulerson

Elitism In Training

This semester I was in a Fiction II Workshop, which I found to be very informative and fun. Did I know some of what the teacher tought? Yes, I did. Did I learn new stuff or gather new ideas as the class went a long? You betcha. Now, granted I’m older than most of these kids. They are in their early 20s, I’m in my early 30s, so I get our mentalities are a little different. We see the world through different lenses and more than likely, we learn in various ways.

Cool.

What’s not cool? There’s some kids in the class who think they are God’s gift to the writing world. They don’t need critiques, they don’t need to edit, and they don’t need to get better. They are perfect as is.

For instance, today is the second to last day before the semester ends. We had to set up a revision plan for our second short story. Much of the conversation between these same students went something like:

“This is fucking bullshit. Why do I need a plan. We workshopped my piece, you told me what was wrong. I’ll fix it. I don’t need a second round of revisions, I’m a writer.”

At which point, I looked up, and raised a brow. I pointed out that in the real publishing world, there are multiple rounds of revisions, and you do need a plan on how to tackle them. Now, the Professor of course, wanted us to make a plan a certain way–which was to pick three things from the book and apply to how we want to revise. Not that difficult. Seriously, they were throwing a FIT.

Sure, there are multiple ways of revising, but they don’t seem to understand that they aren’t perfect writers. They have literally said things like:

“I’m not a fucking beginning writer.”

Sorry to burst your bubble there, sweetheart, but you kinda are. I’ve written several novels, have an agent, I’m on submission, (none of which they know about) and I STILL consider myself a beginning writer. There is so much I don’t know, and the reason I take these writing workshops is to learn upon the things I’m weak at or learn new tidbits and tricks on how to make my writing stronger.

I am absolutely just gobsmacked that these kids think they are so great. We all have things wrong with our pieces, which is why we get feedback. One round of revisions doesn’t make a piece perfect. That’s why we get MORE feedback.

The point is, I can’t believe at such a young age, they think they know everything there is to know about writing and no one can tell them different. They have talent, that’s not in question. The point is they have so much room to improve and just don’t seem to want to.

As an author I’ve seen many forms of elitism, and watching these kids just throw these tantrums, I can’t help but wonder. What happens if they do land a publishing deal? Are they going to become one of those smug, elite, jerks that we read about? The ones that attack people who give them a bad review, or turn around and every chance they get say, “As a published author myself…..” as if that makes them somehow better than everyone else.

Again, this isn’t all the kids in the workshop. Some of them are truly striving to better their craft, but some of them don’t realize that writing is always going to be a learning endeavor. They will never know everything. Yes, you may be a writer, but that doesn’t mean you are superior, that doesn’t mean you write well, and it certainly doesn’t mean you don’t have room for improvement.

I think the writers who are always striving to improve, who can listen to feedback, and realize that no one is a perfect writer, are going to be the ones who become great. The ones who think they’re already good enough, well…I have a feeling they’re going to find themselves stuck in the muck of a deep trench that they created for themselves.

Here’s to hoping they realize it sooner rather than later.