Rediscover Reading

Do you go through reading droughts like me? Sometimes I just can’t find the motivation to read a single thing. When it’s just too tempting to watch tv or be on my phone, and reading feels like a mental strain? I only recently came out of such a rut, and I don’t want to slip out of the habit again because reading has been lifegiving to me in this past season! I’ve felt more relaxed, like I find it is easier to slow down and disconnect, and more inspired, easily finding new story ideas and an excitement to write each day.

Are you stuck in a reading drought or looking to refresh your love of reading? Here are some things that have helped me climb out of the rut and rediscover reading:

  1. The Library. Sometimes, the problem is that I don’t have any books on hand that I’m interested in reading, and I tend to have shopping anxiety so buying a book when I don’t know if I will like it or not is never easy for me. I also don’t want to waste time on a book I’m not enjoying, but I feel guilty if I don’t finish a book I spent money on. That’s why I love the library! I can check out three or four books at a time that catch my interest with no strings attached! If I don’t like a book, I don’t have to finish it; I can just return it to the library and start on the next one until something hooks me in.
  2. Book Club. Last year, my cousin and fellow author, Valerie Cotnoir, started a casual book club, which has been a big motivator for me to finish reading books. We don’t have to read the same book, but every month we gather to share about what we had finished reading and what we thought about it. It is really rewarding to be able to tell someone about a book rather than just write a review on Goodreads, and it’s also a great way to discover new books!
    • If you don’t know of any book clubs that interest you, start your own with friends you know who love reading!
  3. Readathon Day. This was my latest discover and it was a gamechanger, not only for my reading goals, but for my self-care! I dedicated two full days just to reading (although even just one day or one morning would be helpful, I think) and told my husband I was just reading for those two days. I got a book I was very excited about, cleared my schedule, gathered my favorite coffee and snacks, and snuggled down for a good read. I not only felt free to relax and just read (after all, it was in my planner), but it made me so excited to sink into the story that I’m writing.

You hear it all the time: writers are readers. And it sounds like a chore, like you have to read in order to grow in the very concrete skill of ‘good writing’. But I have found that reading grows so much more than a critical eye for good writing technique, it has grown my imagination, it has grown my ability to rest, and it has grown my love for storytelling.

My goal this year is to read 12 books – one a month, just in time for book club – and have had readathon day every 1-3 months. You can follow my reading journey on Goodreads.com – and you can review my books if you have read them there as well!

Another NaNo Done, What’s Next?

I finished NaNoWriMo strong with 50,963 words, and found time to write for at least 30 minutes almost every single day in November! It was good to get the gears turning again, especially since the last couple years for me have been spent focusing on producing theatre and not writing novels.

I learned a lot this past month, and gained a lot of lost confidence too. I choose a project that was solely for fun, and that gave me a lot of freedom to write without needing the story or characters or scenes to be good in any way! Rather, I was giving myself the freedom to write a bad scene, or change something on the fly just so I could experiment with writing styles. After all, I wouldn’t have to go back and edit it later!

I did get my first ever Winner T-Shirt this year after 7 winning years!

At the end, I got about half-way through the novel I had plotted for NaNoWriMo, but along the way had finally gotten the inspiration to figure out the details for the big novel I have been building in my brain since finishing Polarity. Here’s a little teaser.

There is a story that I am quite passionate about, but I feel like it always gets told wrong. Horrible situations are romanticized; ambigious characters are glorified; fear is flattened where it should be terrifying. I waited and waited for someone to tell this story right, or even historically correct. Finally, I decided that I would just try to do it myself.

Now, I didn’t want people to come in with their expectations. This isn’t a love story. It isn’t simple. And it certainly isn’t a kid’s story. So I had to find ways to mix it up, to subvert those expectations so that they can see the story that I see. A story about political intrigue. A story about slavery and manipulation. A story about great fear and good reason for it. A story where a young woman defies the men who try to control her and finds the courage to fight for what is right.

That’s all the clues I’m going to drop for now. I have been working hard on worldbuilding, pinteresting, and writing some short story excercises to get to know my setting and characters before I dive into writing in a couple weeks. I’ll be sure to share more tidbits with you as I go and I look forward to sharing this novel with you in the future. I hope you will see the amazing story that I see when you do.

Moving Forward, Letting Go

I just finished Act 1 of Colors to Stars and I’tm already in analyzing mode. There might not be enough words. Should it be longer? Hmm. I can add a scene here and here without slowing down the pacing too much. Might even help it build better.

The only problem is, I have experienced time and time again, and heard from others over and over, that the priority of a first draft is not word counts or the perfect outline or seamless pacing: it’s to finish. So I have to do the hard thing and not go back. I have to keep writing, moving foward.

The nice thing is that my outline, while complete and leads between plot points smoothly (I hope!), leaves plenty of room for discovery. In fact, almost every single scene I’ve plotted has evolved much differently than I originally pictured. The start and finish lines are the same, but how the characters move from one to the other is a whole new adventure.Read More »