Using Pinterest In Your Writing

It is honestly too hot and uncomfortable to do any “serious” writing, so I’m filling the void with fun.

Writers, especially lazy ones like me, need all the help they can get. Believe me, I’m a huge fan of tools in the writer’s toolbox, the more the better. I’m inspired by pretty little notebooks, pens in peacock and pink, and color-coordinated 3″ x 5″ index cards. I’ve tried spreadsheets, graphs, and time lines. I’m a pantser, but I know my best work does not come from the top of my head; the more it rumbles around, the better. And I’m tactile. I can’t outline, not until after the first draft is complete. I need to see; I need to pick up and move my scenes, which is why color coordination and cards work best for me.

It was in April when I received an email from the BookBaby web site, extolling the virtues of Pinterest as a writing tool. At first, I shook my head. Pinterest?

Now, I am very slow to warm up to anything Internet. I was once an inhabitant of an Orange Bubble social media network, which was hard to navigate.  It was by sheer luck that I made any friends there at all. It took me forever to figure out Facebook, and once I had, the format changed, so it took even longer to figure out the new Facebook. And let’s not even talk about Twitter. I get it now, but I was a Twitter bumpkin for a year or so, before careful coaching by one of Twitterati’s most famous felines (@littlefluffycat). On the information superhighway, I’m driving around blind and in the dark, which is both dangerous and stupid.

I’d received an invitation to Pinterest months before, took a quick look,  couldn’t figure it out, and beat a hasty retreat. My friends love the place. I like pictures of my favorite things as well as anyone else does; I just couldn’t get into it. Boards? Why?

After the BookBaby article, I gave Pinterest another spin around the block. A light immediately flashed above my head, just like in the cartoons. I could use the pin boards to map out my novels!

What has happened in the last few months (because I’m so busy, who has time to devote more than a minute a week to this project?) is that I’ve created boards for each of the two books I’m working on now, plus the book (Virtually Yours) that has already hit the virtual bookshelf. I’ve populated the boards with the actors I’d love to see play my characters, the settings of the novels, and anything else I can think of.

What I’ve found is that just by visiting my boards, I’m motivated to write. I can see parts of my novels playing out before my eyes. My WIP is not just thousands of random words – which, incidentally, is really hard to keep track of in your head – but the stories I’ve felt a need to tell.

I don’t have hundreds of boards, just twelve. In addition to the writing boards, there is a travel board, one for food, and two for novels I’ve read and/or loved. And a vision board, because I’ve been meaning to do that for years, using photographs and poster board (it’s in my sewing room, waiting for me to buy rubber cement), but just never got around to it.

In case you want to check out my boards:

My Pinterest.

Another Successful 30 Days

Do you hear the celebratory cheering? The hoorays? The clink of champagne glasses?

No? Then you must not be in tune with the results of this year’s NaNoWriMo, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month.

See?

At about 10:30 a.m. Eastern, I decided to test my Word’s word count feature and try to validate my NaNo novel, the sequel to Virtually Yours – NaNo winner of 2009. (Also known as Virtually Yours, a Love Story in Thirty Days.) I call the new book VY2. (The new working title is Virtually Ours, a Wedding in Thirty Days, but I don’t know how that’s going to play out once I finish the book. Things can change.) As writers know, the word count feature can be flawed, so I wrote more than I thought was necessary. To my pleasant surprise, my official total was more than what was necessary: 50,149.

As I pointed out in the previous post, I’m most successful with NaNoWriMo when I have a plan, and this year I had a dilly of a plan. In fact, I began plotting this book back in the summer. I was also infused with a swell of ambition, not something this ordinarily lazy person has most of the time. I wrote nearly every day, and found myself feeling awful if I didn’t make time to write. I hope I can carry this work ethic beyond today.

While the book is far from finished, I’ve managed to formulate the story lines, strengthened the characters, and added the requisite twists and turns. There are several Big Reveals, none as big as the original, but I hope they’ll do. I tried something new this year; I wrote each POV separately and merged them all together this morning. I found that I could keep the separate stories more separate that way, and wasn’t as apt to repeat myself.

The next step is to print everything out, cut the scenes apart, and rearrange them in the order I want them to appear in the final book, fill in the color, correct my mistakes. And add the rest of the ending. 🙂

For a preview hint of what’s in this one, there’s the upcoming wedding of the decade between a NYC socialite and a romance novelist, their Internet friends (the Virtual Moms), an impossibly too small Vera Wang gown and an antique corset, reminiscing, a death, a runaway, a sex kitten next door who means to take one of the husbands, a sex-cort job offer, a hyper-self-conscious heavy woman who won’t say yes, a wildly popular talk show, the snowstorm of the century and displaced travelers, and the Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas. Oh, and a mad blogger.

Whee! I’m so happy. You really can’t hear that celebration? or are you deaf? 😛

“I Suck!” and Other Naggy Negatives

Wow, what a busy last couple of weeks!

First a trip to Colorado for my brother-in-law’s memorial and interment at Ft. Logan National Cemetery in Denver. This might have been a quick trip back to see the old home town, except for one thing: a tornado hit Dallas last Tuesday which caused my plane to circle for what seemed like hours (turns out it had been) until we were forced to land in Austin, thankfully before we ran out jet fuel. There we parked on the tarmac for an hour – along with a dozen other diverted planes – before it was determined that we were going nowhere fast. After the deplaning of thousands of zombie travelers, the trip to a local Holiday Inn (loved that hour and a half of rest), and many phone calls to American Airlines, I surmised that I would not be flying out of Austin any time soon. In fact, not until SATURDAY of last week, meaning I would miss the services and get into Colorado Springs with just enough time to return to Detroit.

Thirteen hours and an immensely sore butt later, and after renting a car and driving through the panhandle of Texas (one big-ass state, to be sure), I arrived at my final destination only 24 hours late. Unfortunately, my bags were still in transit.

I have learned three things on this trip: 1. West Texas is beautiful – even with the preponderance of armadillo road kill, which is why I’m writing it into my next tome, 2. it’s good to be nice and keep your cool, and 3. I can finish reading a book and a half in six hours on a plane.

Usually, my trips out of town are a gold mine for writing, but this time, I could only jot down a few things in my trusty (manually operated) notebook. After the Trip from Hell, the final service at Ft. Logan (which I made by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin, and with my own clothes that arrived in CoS at 6 a.m.), and my sister’s sadness, I found I couldn’t write anything.

It’s not that I had a lack of information or inspiration. I was just plain B-E-A-T. I couldn’t even answer email. So I took a day to trim the bonsai tree located at my mother’s grave, which after 18 years of my neglect had morphed into the juniper who ate a headstone. It was relaxing to sit in the sun, listen to the traffic on I-25, to snip and trim, and now the Thing looks more like a bonsai.

But back to “I SUCK!” I found myself kicking and yelling (at myself) for my total lack of motivation. Yes, I have stories in my head yearning to be set free. Yes, I have something I’m shopping around and more than a few things I’m working on which languish in various states of disrepair. But to actually unpack my laptop and start moving in the right direction? I couldn’t. I was too exhausted/frustrated/sad.

But wait! There’s more! After the last email rejection letter (yesterday),

 

Although I thought your partial was well-written, it didn’t ring as perfectly right for our list as I’d hoped and for the moment we need fiction that sounds exactly right for us in order to be able to sell it as well as we all would like.

I was ready to throw in the the towel and hang out my “I SUCK” shingle. Life is hard enough without having rejection pummel your inbox every couple of weeks. I mean really…what am I doing? Wasting my time? Do you know how many talented writers there are out there? I am but a teeny-tiny wannabe with big honking flaws. I started late in life (for everything, job, marriage, kids, hobbies, you name it). When Real Writers talk about story arcs and character development, I rush to Barnes and Noble to find a reference book that can explain the concept, and even then I’m lost.

Well, after my pity party (yes, I know it was a pity party), I emailed (hurriedly) Mr. Ed for help. (He did. What a stellar guy!) This morning I read this, and began to feel better.

I even wrote over 500 words on my West Texas character.

I even finished this blog post!

The thing about “sucking” is that such a negative frame of mind lasts only a moment with most positive people, and I like to think of myself as being more positive than negative. This temporary self-doubt goes for people other than writers. I can remember my son thinking the same thing about himself, and he’s a very talented pianist. And while it would be ultra-fabuloso to be picked up by an agent, and maybe even have my work published (using the pulp material of your local forest), it’s more important to write because you have a passion to put your words together to make a story, and to make the story intriguing enough to read.

Perhaps I should seek to be read, not to be published.

At any case, I am back on the bus, and the wheels are going ’round and ’round.

🙂

What’s Worse? Too Much? or Too Little?

Stored in my computer are five works in progress in various stages of dress. (I will call them ‘works in progress’ until one of them is printed.) Some need to be dressed up, while one in particular needs to shed almost all its clothes.

My first novel took me just over two years to write. True, I am a lackadaiscal, lazy writer with a Real World life crammed full of too many Things to Do, and in such an environment, it is difficult if not impossible to find three or more hours of uninterrupted peace and quiet. If a person wants to attach blame to anything, it’s fairly easy to do. Looking back, my biggest problem was an attachment to the work. The first book was a labor of love.

Writers can be personally attached to their work. In the creative world, what flows from minds and fingers is the birthing of your very own baby. I get that. I have witnessed writers, artists, actors and others who take themselves and their craft with seriousness. They are dismayed at bad reviews and critique.

I view writing (and any creativity) with the same outlook that I have on life: I am doing the best I can, and I won’t turn away any advice. If you are so wrapped up in your work that you believe it to be perfection, you may miss a jewel coming from a fresh pair of eyes.

My first novel was excruciatingly long. At 175K words, it might be considered an epic tome. During the first pass-through edit, I managed to eliminate 8K words just by taking out adverbs. Still, it’s not enough. The story is still good, I just need to tell it with far fewer words.

On the other hand, my current piece was completed during NaNoWriMo and topped out at just over 50K. Too short — I would prefer the finished work-in-progress to end up between 75K- 90K, the desired word count for a chick-lit romance. I know I was writing as fast as I could, with storylines and ideas stored in the brain while I pumped out the bones in thirty days. December was spent editing and adding. I am currently through the fourth edit, and still a bit shy of the target, although the story is strengthening with each pass.

Which brings us to the question of the day: Is it better to have too much or too little?

From personal experience (and I’m sure other writers will agree), I’m thinking too little is easier to bear. Performing major surgery such as the type I need to do on WIP #1 is going to be brutal. This is why I’ve been able to look at it only a few times in the last year.

I’m going to force myself to wield the knife. Soon. As soon as I finish adding to my current work. I’ll remember for the next project that less is definitely more.