Adventures in Editing

I have a confession to make. I love editing my novel. Yep, I love ripping scenes apart, uncovering what works or doesn't, discarding whole chapters (and random fluffy bits), and then rewriting it all over so that makes sense and matches the story in my mind. It's a freeing feeling to be able to do this: Take 50,000 words, scrap most of it, and then build it all up again with clarity and a tighter sense of what really matters to telling the story I want to say.

Last year I had the goal of editing one of my NaNoWriMo novels and self-publishing it. I figured that If I gave myself a deadline, then maybe I'd actually do something with it. After all, if you schedule a deadline, you must stick to that goal, right? Boy was I wrong. I sat on it. The most I did with it was to admire it from afar, in its Circa-bound glory. I then focused on everything else surrounding my book's eventual publication, like buying books on self-publication (none of which I've read yet) and keeping up with the latest print on demand news. Not once during all that time did I sit down to re-craft my draft so the story was worthy of publication. Seeing that it's 2009, I can assure you that my "setting a deadline" plan did not work for me at all.

So how did I get from doing nothing to loving it? What drove me to make the dreaded leap from first draft to better draft? Two words: Collaborative Editing.

2009 Hand-drawn & Typed

Hand-drawn & typed:
Year at-a-glance, the 12 months of 2009 and a blank notes page -

Very minimal and light to inspire creativity and leave room for your own notes and doodles to shine! :)

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Resolve to Learn

Every now and then (usually when I get bored), I open my email's spam folder. I scan the messages for anything that looks legit, and then push the button that dumps everything else into the trash. While I didn't catch anything this time, my eye did stop across the most interesting subject line: "Resolve to Learn".

What a great line and way to ring in the new year, I thought to myself. Resolve to learn. Since August, I've been in a stuff purging mode. I have been clearing out the clutter and trying to re-align my priorities and self with all the things that matter to me most. This mode always gets me thinking about the new things: projects, classes, or techniques I'd like to try. I suddenly found myself drifting away from wanting things to thirsting for knowledge.

So, when I read that subject line, naturally it got me thinking and listing all the knowledge-based things I wanted to spend my time (and cash) on in the new year. At the top of the list comes my desire to get tarot certified. I've been wanting to do this for years and I figure 2009 is the time. Next comes a small list of conventions, festivals, and retreats that will feed my literary, artsy, and spiritual lives. Finally, there's some classes and writing groups to participate and maybe teach. Of course, all this is in addition to the goals I have set out for myself this year.

I'm excited that the new year is finally upon us and that there's 364 days to pursuit these new knowledge-focused items. Tell me, what sorts of things do you resolve to learn in 2009?

Review: Developing Story Ideas

Developing Story Ideas, by Michael Rabiger, tackles the question that plagues most writers today: where do you get your ideas. This book is his valiant attempt at an answer. It's also a textbook, aimed for use in screenwriting classrooms. I saw it on the textbook shelves for the Art Institute of Portland while perusing books at Powell's. The title was enough to intrigue me and I knew that I needed a copy. Despite the book's goal to provide exercises and structure to fit a classroom setting, Rabiger recognizes that the work could be read and used by the solo writer. He also recognizes that the text can be used to apply to all sorts of storytelling formats: screenplays, novels, short stories, memoirs.

Rabiger's premise is that you can use your life, the situations you've been in, the people that have come into contact with you, your dreams (both goal based and night time meanderings), and your imagination to create amazing stories. The chapters are structured similarly: introducing a topic and then diving straight into three or four exercises (that you can do on your own or in a classroom setting) that show you how to use or develop the concept being discussed. Concepts in later chapters build off and use elements of earlier ones. Developing Story Ideas also includes chapters dedicated to the tools of the trade, reviewing current/past works of others, and revising your works into standard formats.

Upcoming Telecourse: Letting Go of Your Writing and Getting it Published

Editor's Note: Taylor is a contributing writer to D*I*Y Planner and I have asked him to post this message regarding his latest teleclass. I've worked with him personally with my own writing and can vouch for his integrity. Taylor is energetic about helping people write and break into the publication industry. If you're free this night, I encourage those of you who are interested to join in on the phone discussion! Looking forward to hearing what everyone has to say. /innowen

NaNoWrimo is done. You've written 50,000 words, and got your first draft done. Now what? As a writing coach, this is a question I recently posted to several of my clients. While writing a 50,000 word novel is quite an accomplishment, many writers stop with that task and don't do anything to pursue it further. Or if they do pursue it further, many writers get caught up in an endless cycle of writing, editing, and revision, with no clear goal in sight for when the work will be submitted to a publisher.

While NaNoWrimo is an excellent motivation for getting people to write and edit each others' works, the next step of submitting the book for publishing is just as crucial, because it takes those 50,000 words and turns them into a novel.

On December 8th from 5:30 to 6:30 PST I am offering a free teleclass "When you know it's time to publish: How to let go of your writing". In this class I will discuss how to know when it's time to let go of your writing and trust yourself to send it off to a publisher.

For more details about the class, please visit

To register for the class visit

TGIO: My Post NaNoWriMo Recap

Well, it's the end of November and I achieved what I set out to do. This year, I gone and done crazy (and it was crazy, believe me!). I wrote 50,768 words by hand. It took me 17 days; with an average of 3,000 words a day. If you go to my domain, you can check out the daily log that I kept through it all. It details my progress through the month: the good, the bad, and the whining.

TGIO, or Thank God It's Over, happened twice for me this year. The short and sweet point of it happened when I turned in the novel and got official approval of being a winner. However, the earlier and more bittersweet moment happened when I penned the words "The End" onto the last signature of my writing journal. That moment is the hardest, because I I had to say goodbye to the world I've created. Seventeen days is quite a long time to live in the world of my protagonist. A world where magic lives and good triumphs over evil--with nothing more than the power of intellect. I loved writing about the lives of my characters, their journey of uncovering information, and exposing the darker side of what could exist in our world. After spending all that time in this world, it's hard to let it go. This year, when I closed the leather cover, it made the transition from that world back to my world seem very real. I went to bed that night and cried. I wasn't ready to let go. Is any writer really ready for that moment?

But it's all over for me now. Seeing that I've had a week or so to think it all over, I wanted to share some final thoughts on what I learned from the experience of writing longhand.

Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty of Ideas

Blog Action Day 2008: PovertyWelcome to Blog Action Day 2008. Last year D*I*Y Planner participated with a post on recycling planners as a way to help out the environment. This year's topic revolves around poverty. Talk about a tough topic to write about. While I know many blogs are posting ideas about what poverty means to them; or ways to donate time, money, or energy to help those in need; my mind wanted to take a different turn on this topic. This isn't to say that human poverty is not important-- I do believe that it's important to do what we can to fight poverty in our own countries and help each other out. It's just my mind, and my muse, want to discuss something a bit different.

I want to briefly speak about the poverty of ideas. If poverty means, "the state of being poor," then I think we're currently in the midst of idea poverty. All around me I see ideas that are not thought out, poorly executed, or just don't seem to raise the quality of life or entertainment of our societies. Many ideas today aren't always the best ideas. Look at Hollywood, where movies are churned out based on the same old ideas (sequels and remakes), or based on someone else's ideas (graphic novels and books). To me, this is rehashing what has come before and while it may be a bit lucrative, it doesn't show our society pushing the edges of creativity. It's stifling and damaging to our creativity.

So what can we do to get over idea poverty? Well, as normal human beings we can stop falling into mass media for one thing. We spend too much time attached to our televisions or the internet (and believe me I'm guilty of this one a lot). They're feeding us patterns of belief and attainment that we can never really attain. We can also do the following:

NaNoWriMo 2008, or The Year I Decided to Do Crazy

NaNoWriMo 2008 ParticipantThe leaves on the trees outside have begun to change color and drop off their branches. The air has grown extremely cold this year and I'm shivering inside again. I keep a trusty notebook near me as I worry and fret and push my mind into thinking mode. What do all these things have in common? It's October and I have less than 30 days to come up with a plot for NaNoWriMo 2008. Welcome to NaNo season!

This year is a special NaNo. It's the 10th anniversary of Chris Baty's madcap escapade into the novel writing life; it's also my 7th year doing it. This year, I've decided to break from my own NaNoWriMo traditions. Usually this means that I schlep my computer around to write my novel. I've gotten good at it but this year I felt I needed to shake things up a bit. This year, I'm going analogue. That's right, you heard me. I'm going to write all 50,000 words by hand. Am I crazy or what?

Of course, I've got friends (like iScribe) who have have done this year after year, writing their novels longhand. And I know that authors like Neal Stephenson and Neil Gaiman write their first drafts longhand so I know I'm in good company. Ever since I made this pact though, I've been doubting the little sanity I DO have and wonder how on earth I am going to pull this off. So, for this year's annual NaNo article, I've decided to share what I currently know about surviving NaNoWriMo longhand.

The Writing's on the Wall

Owning a home is fun. I get to hang curtains up (in a color of my choosing), I get to modify the house in any way that benefits my lifestyle, and most importantly, I get to paint the walls with color and patterns.

One of the things I plan on doing to my home, when I get my library, is to stencil and paint some of my favorite quotes on the wall as a top border. This has been one of my dreams for almost 10 years now. I thought that was a good idea and then I read about Charlie Kratzer and how he took a Sharpie (or 10) to his basement walls and hand-sketched murals all over every available wall.

I'm amazed at how wonderful it all looks! Maybe one day I'll draw in some effects for some of my walls. Once I overcome the fear of being a "bad" sketch artist.