Tag Archives: editing

On failure

I’ve been recently told that I need to slow down on my projects or I’ll burn myself out. This is a valid concern (given my New Years pushups and running resolutions) however with writing and my side projects, I feel like slowing down will burn myself out. I am enjoying creating content for others to read. I can only hope it’s entertaining, but the goal here is to create something worthy of just two minutes of someone’s time. Just a year ago around this time I heavily started writing. I’ve always written, but I wouldn’t have called myself a writer until then.

Back then, I was terrified of criticism. I would worry about each piece I was thinking of showing to people, and then show them only to select groups from where I knew I would get positive feedback. I would never dare put my writing up online for fear that someone wouldn’t like it. Just getting one negative review would be enough to throw me into a shame spiral. But you know what? Now I don’t really care about that.

I just started on YouTube working on my podcast. It has been a long time in the making, and my friend Graham is lending his amazing sound mastering experience to help supplement my writing. We’ve gotten pretty positive responses, but also something that I’m not used to. Now, for the first time I’ve received visibly negative feedback.

I got my first dislike, my friends.

What would originally have destroyed me has actually inspired me. I try and think of what I can do differently for the next video instead of beating myself up about it. When I look at my project’s failings, it’s not out of self-pity, but to continue to improve and thrive.

A few posts ago I mentioned that I had scrapped the work on my novel. People I know, to put it simply, politely freaked out. They worried about all the time I put in to the current drafts. What they didn’t realize was that I was already on my third attempt at the same story that just wasn’t working. I had invested all told about 40,000 words on writing that I was trying to force to work. Now I don’t believe that all writing is inspiration and magically flows through you or some such. Writing is work, in some cases harder than other things. But when you can’t shake an idea and keep it as a sacred cow, you can’t improve on it.

So, I scrapped it. There are still copies of it on my hard drive so I can’t say I dramatically burned the thing to the ground, but I no longer consult them. I started writing fresh and shed the plot elements I was so concerned were needed, and ended up having my characters take me to where I needed them to be. Yes, writing is work, but sometimes there are those moments when the words talk back to you. You just put them to paper and they glow. Other times you stare out the windows wracking your brain for the next big step.

The dislike on my video was more puzzling than disheartening, but I get it. A week ago I sent Graham a new cut of recordings I did for the next episode of the podcast. I waited for a response because I wanted to get in to it, and he replied that I had made my voice so gravelly and stuttered that I sounded like a barely literate Batman. I thought I had sounded creepy, he thought that me being ‘creepy’ sounded like I didn’t know how to pronounce the word ‘exercises.’ He was brutally honest about it, and I loved it. I learned more about recording in that 5 minute conversation than spending time trying to figure out what I think people would like. It’s been one of the most helpful criticisms I’ve gotten in my career.

Like any other blooming YouTube sensation, I tend to exaggerate but I also watch my click-through-rate and advertising statistics. They make sense to me now. They ebb and flow just like everything else and the goal to getting views isn’t just good marketing, but also providing great content. I had run ad campaigns that shot up my views, but did little to keep people except for a dedicated core of viewers and readers around. I was getting my 15 minutes without any of the benefits.

Moving forward, I’m working on making myself better in all ways. I’ve started doing my pushups again, and now I’m learning how to use video editing software in addition to the sound aspect of the project. Graham has his own projects to worry about, so the more I can help him with the mundane aspects of the editing the better. But I need to start considering my technical skills in addition to my creative ones. Graham is awesome with sound because not only is he a skilled musician, but he’s also passionate about all aspects of recording music. Thanks to this podcast, he’s transitioning into Foley work as well. It is as new a field to him as recording and video making is to me.

That’s what I need to learn how to do. Not just focus on the technical or creative aspect, but both. They can live together in harmony and don’t need to be mutually exclusive. I can watch CTR’s and also not compromise myself as an artist or whatever pretentious spin you want to put on it. People will like things, people will hate things, but if you want to be successful you need to keep putting out work, and scrap your sacred cows when they aren’t working for you.

I was so afraid of failure with the podcast initially that we had the episode recorded for months before it actually hit the internet. It was my first foray into the audio arena of the internet, and while it isn’t perfect, it was a start. Scrapping my novel and starting over has been the best decision I’ve made yet, as I’ve written more in two days based around the same general elements than I have in the last month on this project. It all comes down to not being afraid to admit failure, but not letting that failure stop you or slow you down. That’s how we learn and that’s how we prosper. If I hadn’t gotten rid of my flawed progress on my story, I would be rewriting the same 40,000 words. Just spinning my wheels unhappy with everything, but since I had already gotten that far, there was nothing I was able to do.

Getting that far is only part of the trip, the other is making sure the journey is worth it. If Wally World is closed, savor the journey, but also turn the damn car around and go to Disneyland.

Scrapping your work

I’ve done it. I’ve scrapped all the work I’ve done on my novel so far. As I mentioned here, I’m having all kinds of trouble actually getting started. I don’t mean like putting words on paper, I was 15,000 words in when I scrapped it. I mean I’m having trouble being happy with my set-up, which set the basis for the rest of the novel, so I spent weeks trying to figure out how to fix it.

You know what? I scrapped it completely, and I feel so relieved. I feel like I’m so much better off, and can be more creative with the story than I ever could be before. I can refine my characters again, and have them feel a little more fresh. Before they were hemmed in a bit by the amateur beginning, but now I feel they can breathe and explore.

I’ve always been so hesitant to start something new again, just because I worry I’ll never finish. So, I plow ahead on a bad course, just trying to get through it. A first draft doesn’t mean anything if it requires rewriting the entire book.

So, my question for all of you. Have you scrapped a heavily worked on project and restarted it? How did it work out? I’m optimistically excited, but also interested to here from all the writers out there. Did you keep the same characters and basic plot?

Thanks y’all!

Write or Die

Oh I had too much fun with this site. Write or Die is a website and writing program that force you to write. Just keeps you on task to make sure you hit out those 500 words in 15 minutes or whatever other goal you set for yourself. The program is $20 to buy, and can be tried on their site with limited settings for free.

Write or Die forces you to keep pace with your chosen WPM by flashing color whenever you slow down too much, and playing startling sounds once you’ve breached the barrier. It forced me to just write. I had to free form as quickly as possible, and it did actually get my heart rate up. I’m not sure if I’ll buy the software or not yet, but I recommend everyone give at least the trial a try (no download, straight through your browser.) Unfortunately I lost my first attempt, but it was amazing how much it kept me on task. Give it a shot and let me know what you think! I’ll try and write another entry on a stricter time frame and see how the results work.

On Editing

I was recently hired by a friend to do a quick first editing of their novel. Find awkward phrasing, spelling mistakes, the normal. I don’t have to go too far into detail with the actual editing, however I cannot believe how interesting it has been. Make no mistake, it is WORK, and I have a new found respect for editors, but seeing the good and the bad of a first draft is really interesting.

The story works, and most of the issues I find are with phrasing or the repetition of words. The latter of which I have struggled with in my own writing. It’s also nice to see how a first draft looks in person that isn’t mine.

What I like about it is that it is actually really good. The characters feel real, with the exception of a little too perfect protagonist, but I feel almost like every first time writer is guilty of that. God knows I have been. Otherwise, with the exception of struggling to remember if a rule of grammar has been broken, I’m having a pretty good time with it!

Have any of you done any long form freelance editing? Any suggestions for me?

Quick pop in… (and a recommended link)

Working on some projects but should have a for-real-big-boy update in the next day or so, so thanks for holding in there. I didn’t just want to come on here to be all like ‘oh it has been two days they might be worried, better reassure my fans.’ But instead to tout a post I found awesome. I found it through the WordPress ‘Freshly Pressed’ section so others may have read it already, but wanted to re-link it.

http://blottheskrip.wordpress.com/2014/09/27/top-ten-writing-mistakes/

One of the groups I’ve been following closely in addition to other writer’s and other interesting people, are editors. It has been greatly helpful to see what the common complaints are on their end, and the advice they give to improve an author’s chance of getting accepted. Most of them are also funny as hell and come across as charming, so that helps swing my assessment a bit.

I’m going to re-link this blog post I read today which is an awesome no-bullshit look at what not to do during the creation of a novel. Maybe I like it because it’s one of those ‘knowing the mechanics of writing is great, but you also have to be good at the story part too’ kind of vibe. It helps validate my ‘focus on story instead of rules’ attitude. So I’m linking it, because I don’t know how WordPress works for someone else’s site views if you re-blog them. Does it just count on mine? Do they still get credit? I want the traffic to go to the original source. I have no idea what happens, so I figure the safest thing is to post a link.

http://blottheskrip.wordpress.com/2014/09/27/top-ten-writing-mistakes/

So check it out, and let me know in the comments if you know how the hell this thing works re: re-blogging.

Oh, also, I’m okay. I know that many of you are probably F5’ing my blog desperately waiting to see when I’ll pop up again, so be strong! Not too much longer!