My Wonky Writing Procedure… Or Lack Thereof

After a week off, we now resume our regular programming…

How many of you remember the dreaded research papers you had to write in high school?  Raise your hand.  Better off, don’t raise your hand.  That’s too reminiscent of being back in school.  But anyway, I’ll tell you this: if I never have to write another research paper in my life, I won’t complain.

What I hated the most about the process was how formal and rigid it was.  When I was in school, the Internet was still pretty new, so we, the unfortunate victims, spent hours in libraries using dusty reference books that served better as paper weights and taking notes from pages with tiny print.  We had to write on 3×5 notecards in pencil.  We needed to come up with an outline, and this was to be done the proper way with the numbers, letters, Roman numerals, and I don’t even know what.  The rough draft was written in pencil, and yes, written by hand.  The final draft was then typed up.  I used my mom’s electric typewriter, as we didn’t have a computer with that now-antique Windows 95 on it.

At the end of it all, we turned the bulk of it in.  Of course, along the way, there were deadlines for each step of the process.  It was like pulling an absessed tooth.writing

Not only was there a process, but the whole thing was laid out in a certain way, the quotes cited correctly, and the works cited at the end.  Who remembers when this was called a bibliography?  It was never okay to use “I” when writing a formal paper.

Much of this process has faded into the past like the Grunge look and slap bracelets, being twenty years ago for me, but I still cringe when I think about writing research papers.  When it comes to creative writing, I am of the mindset that while there should be some guidelines for how to write a book, it makes about as much sense to force people to all follow the same rules as it does for everyone to wear the same size shoes.  We have different sized feet.  We have different methods that work for us when we write.

There are many writers who sit down and plan out (outline in depth) their novels before they even take up the pen…or, more likely, tap away at the keyboard.  They write up every character in excruciating detail.  They cannot write until they know every scene in that novel.

For me, this process would be hell.  Plain and utter torture.  Talk about tooth-pulling again.

I always know my beginning and my ending.  I do draft a basic outline and character profiles, but I am not afraid to waver from the path.  It’s fun and exciting to me to see how I will get to my destination.  My characters usually seem to direct a large portion of the story for me, so forcing them into a mould that doesn’t fit them is just plain idiotic.

I often have scenes play out in my head of a dialogue exchange between two characters.  When I start writing a scene like this, I just write.  The conversation between character A and character B flows naturally, as if I were listening to real chitchat.

For me, to just sit down and start writing is how I operate.  I may not write the story in order, but it comes together in the end.  The way I figure, the first draft is going to go through many edits before it’s published, anyway.  Getting the story down is my first priority, and then I go back and clean it up a lot.  With the help of others, the finished product is ready.

I’ve had enough experience over the years to know that my ability to tell a story is good.  My writing is far from perfect, but by doing it a little every day (even if it’s just for ten minutes), I stick to my goals.  Because writing is so important to me, I use a few minutes here or there to compose a half a page or even just a couple of lines.

So, I guess what I’m saying is that if you’re new to writing, don’t be discouraged, feeling that you must follow some sort of formula, set of rules, or incant some magic words.  Many other writers and authors I’ve spoken with operate in the same zany manner that I do.  I don’t know if we’re in the majority, but we do what we do because we love it, not because we wish to suffer writing another research paper.

Like what you’ve read?  Want to read more of my stuff?  Please follow this blog!

Also, check out my novel, Hannah’s Rainbow: Every Color Beautiful, now available for only $2.99 on Amazon: Hannah’s Rainbow: Every Color Beautiful

The Value of Fan Fiction

My story has over a million reads and over six thousand reviews.  Wow.  Impressive, right?


Notice that I said “story” and not “book.”


That’s because what I’m referring to here isn’t an original story written by me that’s been published as a book.  Rather, what I’m talking about is a work of fan fiction.  Yes, I wrote this novel-length fan fic that I’ve been kind of bragging about, but the characters and the world aren’t mine.  They belong to the imaginative, wonderful J.K. Rowling.


I’ve dabbled and dove deep into the world of fan fiction on and off for twenty years.  I started writing it back in 1995 at the age of 15, before sites like even existed and when the internet was still very much in its infancy.  My parents didn’t even have a computer, so I was basically writing the stuff for myself, re-imagining ways that the characters I loved would behave in different scenarios than had happened in their canon world.  For me at age 15, this was Disney’s Aladdin.


Before I continue, for the uninformed, which I don’t think is many, fan fiction is writing fiction using someone else’s characters.  The possibilities are endless.  You may choose to write them in a different world or do a crossover with characters from another universe (meaning story/movie/book).  You may have two characters fall in love who never did so in canon.  There are really no rules for fan fiction.


Why am I writing about fan fiction now?  Because, for me, it’s been a vital part of my writing history, and I don’t believe I would have gotten where I am today as a writer of original works of fiction without it.


Because of fan fiction, I also met many friends online and got to make connections with other writers, even if what they wrote was fan fiction.  Not only did I write my own stories, but I spent hours and hours reading the works of others and leaving my thoughts and even beta-reading for a few people.


Writing fan fiction was usually easy for me.  Using someone else’s characters and world they’ve already crafted is, of course, more simple than having to come up with everything from scratch for something original.  I was already in love with these characters, so I felt like I knew them inside and out and loved the endless possibilities that fan fiction posed.


I was one of the first to join the community when it opened its doors in 2001.  To this day, I have an account there under the internet pen name of “Sindie.”  It’s funny the fame that my most popular fic (The Moment It Began) got, because to these readers, I was “Sindie,” a faceless writer of Harry Potter fan fiction.  I never expected anything I wrote to gain that much popularity, but what it did tell me was that I was capable of writing something novel-length that most of my readers would enjoy.


For any writer, I think, while we first write for our own pleasure, it’s also a wonderful thing to be able to share our stories with others.  Just knowing that there are people out there who read something by me and that they actually liked it is all the more rewarding and compels me to write further.


writingWhile I’ll be forever thankful for my history in fan fiction, I must admit that it held me back from writing original fiction for a long time.  The very thought of writing something original was downright daunting for many years, despite I first had the idea for what would become my first original story back in 2006.  In March 2015, I finally began to seriously work on my story instead of writing fan fiction.  Now, I wouldn’t turn back.  I’ve self-published it on Amazon after a year and a half of writing, editing, sharing it with friends, and editing more.  I’m now working on two more original stories.


All this got me to thinking: Do other authors and writers create fan fiction or did they write it at one time?  Did they find value in it?  Did they think it helped them become better writers?  So I asked.


The vast majority of them said they love fan fiction and have written it.  They agreed with me that there is value in it for many reasons: improving their own writing, practice at coming up with original ideas (even if those involved someone else’s characters), making connections, getting useful feedback, and bolstering their confidence as writers.  And it’s just plain fun.


A few said they’d never written fan fiction, but they had read it and could see how writing it could be beneficial for the reasons listed above.


There was a small group who thought it a waste of time to dedicate so much to using other people’s characters, but this was a very small group.


There is a general consensus that some fan fiction is just downright awful, but the same could be said of original stories, too.


Overall, it would seem that many writers are of a mindset like mine when it comes to fan fiction.  That’s good to know, for it validates what I already believed: that fan fiction adds value to our experiences as writers in a number of ways, the best of which is probably the practice it gives us by just doing what we love.  Write.

Like what you’ve read?  Want to read more of my stuff?  Please follow this blog!

Also, check out my novel, Hannah’s Rainbow: Every Color Beautiful, now available for only 99 cents on Amazon: Hannah’s Rainbow: Every Color Beautiful

#writing #fanfiction


Seeking Contentment in Life

I am putting this up front as a disclaimer: I’m 36 years old and certainly don’t feel like “I’ve figured life out” yet. In fact, I think if we ever reach the point where we think we’ve figured “it” all out, that’s when we’re in trouble, for in that moment, we’ve stopped learning. We can always strive to do better; that whole journey versus the destination thing.
So, below are just a few thoughts I’ve come to the conclusion to over the years as to what leads to a content life, at least for me. I can only speak for myself, after all, and my journey. I just thought I’d share them with you.
(And trust me, I often don’t follow my own advice!)
1. Lower your expectations, both of yourself and of others.
Don’t beat yourself up because you didn’t accomplish everything you wanted to in a day. We often have unrealistic expectations of what we can accomplish in a day, but perhaps underestimate just how much we do, in fact, accomplish in a lifetime. Accomplishment is not measured by the huge successes that draw in everyone’s attention. It’s often the little moments that add up to meaning much more.
The expectations you hold of yourself you will often hold on others, but this is ridiculous to do when you really stop and think about it. Not everyone is like you. Everyone has their own unique talents and gifts to bring to the world. Not expecting much from others can, in turn, lead to some really pleasant surprises when someone does do something you weren’t expecting!
2. Let go of bitterness, anger, worry, or any type of negativity.
It will eat you alive if you let it. That’s the key: You are letting it. You are choosing to allow negativity to live rent free in your head. Worrying about something doesn’t change it. Choosing to focus on everything that’s going wrong forces you to miss many things that are going right.
3. Don’t live your life trying to please others or trying to get them to like you.
Simple fact: Not everyone will like you, and no matter how hard you try, you won’t please everyone. You can choose to surround yourself with people who will lift you up, instead of tear you down. The sooner you realize that you cannot please everyone, the better. Getting angry and holding onto it because you feel someone has wronged you does not allow you to move on. Be yourself, and if someone really loves you, they will love you for who you are, not who you pretend to be. Fake people have fake relationships.contentment
4. Don’t compare yourself to others.
This is the source of so much unhappiness. There is nothing to be gained from this and only so much to lose. Ask yourself what you’re doing with what you already have, instead of trying to acquire more.
5. Pray.
Have a relationship with a Higher Power. You don’t have to be religious, but I do believe that faith battles fear.
6. Create your own family with who you choose to be friends with.
If you’re blessed with a wonderful family, consider that a bonus, but not everyone has this. Your close friends can be your family you weren’t born into, if nothing else. You don’t get to choose your family, but do can choose your friends. Make them good ones.
7. Have an open mind in regards to those who are different from you.
Much animosity between people comes from not truly understanding the other party. Try to learn why they believe differently, and even if you can’t agree, realize that there is never a need for hatred. Wish them well on their way and in life. Choose to live your life by your standards and try not to judge someone who may choose to live differently. We don’t all find meaning in the same things, and I believe God has the power to use what’s given to each person in a unique way for the greater good.
8. Give people the benefit of the doubt.
Choose kindness whenever you can and keep your mouth shut. Criticize and nagging only tears down. You don’t know what’s going on in someone else’s life, and often those who shut others out the most are the ones who need a friend the most.
9. Forgive.
Do this for your benefit as much as for the other person.
10. Laugh and have a sense of humor.
Don’t take life too seriously, and never lose the child within you. Things don’t have to be perfect, but they can be wonderful.
11. Look at every opportunity as a chance to learn something.
Even the bad experiences can teach us something, even if it’s not to make the same mistake!
12. Love.
It speaks for itself. True love is unselfish, unconditional, and from God. Strive for that.

Like what you’ve read?  Want to read more of my stuff?  Please follow this blog!

Also, check out my novel, Hannah’s Rainbow: Every Color Beautiful, now available for only 99 cents on Amazon:

#contentment #happiness #seeking #life