Writing Break

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I graduated!

I now officially have my Paralegal Certificate. In the making since the fall of 2015 (1 1/2 weeks after getting back from my tropical island honeymoon nonetheless). With the classes and what I learned still fresh in my mind, I updated my resume a few weeks ago and I realized how much I actually learned and know – it’s kinda cool!

But this post isn’t about paralegal studies, it’s about how I’ve had so much more time on my hands to write, now that I don’t have homework looming over my head every week and classes to attend on Saturday afternoon and Wednesday night.

I’ve recently been forcing myself to write a little bit at lunchtime every day. I found a smallish notebook that fits perfectly in my bag that I bring to work. I decided to see if I could concentrate on writing a page or two at work during lunchtime. Surprisingly, I got right in the zone despite sitting at my desk with work and deadlines looming just a foot away on my computer.

Side note: since posting last, I did not get a paralegal job, but got a new job at the company I’ve worked at for 6 years. It’s in a compliance related area. I still want to be a paralegal (who writes novels on the side of course!) but for now I’m happy where I’m at – and it’s only been 7 months. The point is, the pace is very different from my old job that I had for 5 ½ years. When the pace picks up it moves extremely fast, leaving almost no time to breathe (good practice for paralegal work though). Whereas at my old job, the pace was fast BUT more constant and not as rushed.

So that being said, I often find myself working through lunch more often than not and it’s difficult to pull away sometimes. I’ll admit, I’ve become more of a perfectionist over the years and find myself wanting to do everything and anything and all of it RIGHT the first time. And if I don’t get it right, I’m unnecessarily hard on myself and it eats away at me. Not the healthiest, I know, but that’s where writing comes in.

These past few weeks I’ve taken more time away from work at lunchtime than not. I turn my seat around to the non-computer portion of my desk, munch on my food and write a few pages in my notebook. I finally feel like I’m getting somewhere with that manuscript I’ve been wanting to write for years. The only way to get it done is make yourself write. I recently read in a writing magazine that you need to make time rather than find time. It’s forcing yourself to do it regardless of life’s circumstances rather than sitting and waiting to see if a good moment comes your way.

Now, if only I could keep up regularly with this writing blog… until next time whenever that may be.

Peace out.

Did the Story Come Before the Character?

Alright, I realize I haven’t been present since the beginning of the year, but for good reason: I’ve been writing!

Well, more like a jumble of writerly things along with school work and normal day to day things, and there’s been busy times where I’ve worked at home more often than I have in the past. But the important thing that’s been happening is that I’ve been writing and developing my character.

I haven’t been working on the same story since January, I started one, then flipped to another idea, but when that one didn’t hold my interest I decided to go back to the first one and that’s where I’m at. I’ve been developing the main character more than writing the story, which is something I’ve struggled with what to do first:

Did the character come before the story? Or the story come before the character?

One can’t exist without the other, but it’s essential to have a story in order for the character to survive and thrive in, but it’s also essential to have a character somewhat developed in order for a story to be present.

I’ve always struggled with what to do first, should I thoroughly develop my character before even starting the story at all, despite the fact I have an idea, or should I just dive into my idea for a story and let the character develop out of that?

I started to just develop the character, which got me nowhere – hence the non-writing for so long – and so I decided to start writing. But then I realized shortly after even starting to write, I couldn’t go too far in because I didn’t know my character well enough. So I went back to character development.

Side note: this story I’m working on, I’ve had this idea in my head for over 2 years, so it’s come a long way and I need to get it out!

So right now I think I’m doing a bit of character development along with writing the story itself instead of doing one before the other. I know some writers do one before the other, and that may work for them, but I’m finding out it might not work for me.

Up next time: a look at my progress?

I Finally Did It!

I did it! I finally started writing a story!

I know this sounds odd to someone who probably writes regularly, but this is a huge accomplishment for me! 

Remember yesterday when I said I had a story idea and started writing down thoughts during my lunch break? Well, I got so bored towards the end of the day (even though I actually had work to do but decided to ignore it for a bit) I decided to take 15 minutes and start writing from the perspective of one of my characters. After writing for about 20 minutes or so, I had to force myself to put it away since I was at work and really needed to get work done (end of year nonsense). 

(I had also gotten fed up with a few things at work too. Is it just me, or is a communication about a communication about a communication nonsense?) 

Anyway, when I got home last night, after working out, cleaning, folding laundry, sending a quick email to a friend, clipping my dog’s nails, playing with my dog, and then showering, I sat down and decided NOT to turn on the TV with my glass of wine. Instead, I got a notebook and continued to write where I left off earlier. Also with my glass of wine.  

I wrote for about an hour until I started to get crazy sleepy. I really wanted to fight through it but I decided to throw in the towel, take my dog out to do his business one last time, and go to bed. I tried to read a bit before falling asleep, but only got through a page or two until I couldn’t keep my eyes open for more than a few words. 

I really really REALLY want to keep writing tonight, but I’ve REALLY got to start doing that homework I’ve put off the last week. I only have about a week and a half to read and analyze a case (which takes WAY more time than anticipated), answer 25 questions or so about a citation book, read 3 chapters (and make sure I actually know the material because I’m quizzed on it), and then finish up about 5 Connecticut Statutes research questions. And then probably start on one of the 5 independent research assignments that are due at the end of the term (in February). 

And this is only ONE class! I honestly don’t know how I managed 4 classes when I was getting my undergraduate degree.  

Well, depending on how quickly I can get some homework done tonight, maybe I’ll write for a bit. 

I’m going to get my story down this time, I really am.

 

Hand write things more often.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Handwritten.”

I really like writing by hand, so much so that it’s close to love. I believe that writing by hand forces your brain to slow down since you are not getting the ideas out as fast as you would typing. And from this, I believe this opens up the mind to a larger scope of creativity. You’re forced to think about the words on the page a little more carefully, being slightly more intricate with sentence structure and the formation of ideas. It really is the best way to write. We don’t call ourselves “typers”, do we?

The last thing I wrote by hand was a short story I wanted to submit to a small literary magazine a few years ago.

It was the first story I had ever even considered submitting to a literary magazine and was not sure how it was going to end up. I was very doubtful if I should even submit.

So I decided NOT to submit.

I continued thinking about the story though. At work, I wrote down all my ideas on little sticky notes as they popped into my mind and took them home with me at the end of the day.

Being extremely excited about my ideas, when I got home I decided to write some things down and see where it went on paper. I had let my partial story sit for a few days after deciding not to submit, giving it time to breathe and open up. I wrote a page here, a page there, not in any sort of order, just getting my ideas down.

But the more I wrote, the more my excitement grew, and the happier I became with what was forming on the page. Some pages had large portions crossed out entirely, while others had arrows drawing to sidelines with additional sentences. I felt like I was a kid again when I used to hand write ALL my stories, and as a moody teenager when I used to sit up in my room for hours at a time, filling up notebooks. It was pretty awesome to be back there.

The next few days I obsessed over writing because I felt like I was getting somewhere. It was the end of the year, New Year’s Eve was approaching, which was also the deadline for the magazine I’d wanted to submit to.

Needless to say, the next few days at work I did NOT get very much done. Instead, I secretly worked on my story, revising and editing it to perfection, or at least the best revising and editing I could do with less than a week IF I wanted to submit it.

I thought about what it would be like to submit a story, and I figured I would never know what would happen if I didn’t try. I recalled a handful of times in my life where I was doubtful of myself over small, silly reasons, and then thought about the few times I actually took a chance and did something I was uncomfortable doing. I never regretted doing the things I felt uncomfortable doing because it never left me wondering, what if?

So when New Year’s Eve approached, I got my story as ready as it would be and submitted it, re-reading my email to the editor and checking to see if I had all my materials attached about a hundred times before clicking send.

And as I hit the send button, I immediately remembered I didn’t put page numbers on my document.

I crumbled and exclaimed, “NOOOOOOooooooo……”, and shut my laptop. I had myself convinced my story would not be chosen based upon the fact I did not follow guidelines.

I had a great time ringing in 2014 though.

Funny ending to this story however: the editor picked my story for publishing in early January, the next week I got engaged, and the following week my adorable pug came into my life.

I guess those missing page numbers didn’t matter.

Getting It Done.

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So today after two weeks of not really writing at all, I picked it up again. I’m behind on my planned word count per day, but I’m really happy with what I’ve done so far. And that’s because I don’t think I’ve ever written so much on one story for years! I feel like I’m finally committing and getting somewhere, even if it’s slowly.

Who won the race? The slow tortoise or turtle… right? I believe “slow and steady wins the race” is the phrase. Or something like that.

But it’s not really about winning for me (if that’s what you’d call it). It’s more about getting something done I’ve always wanted to do. Some would say that’s winning for them. But for me, it’s getting it done.

Being proactive.

Taking charge.

Doing what makes me happy.

All I really want to do at this point in time is get this particular story that’s been brewing in my mind for the past 4 years OUT and see what it turns into.

That’s my update for now. Back to writing!