The Avoidance Method

The Avoidance Method:

When you avoid all forms of writing because you are terrified to begin revision on you novel.

Yes, this is my excuse for not posting.  The six weeks I’ve allotted for leaving my novel alone are up, and I must begin revising.  Actually I should have begun a while ago, but I slipped into an awful habit of mine.  The Avoidance Method.

It’s a terrible, ugly thing that only grips me when I absolutely have to get work done.  That’s not even the problem, though.  Once you’ve identified that you’re avoiding your writing, it’s a simple fix and your back on track.  By simple fix, I mean that you kick yourself in the pants (doable) and get to work.  That novel isn’t going to write itself!  For me, it’s no different.

What is different is that I’m an expert at the Avoidance Method.  I’m so good at it that I can convince myself that I’m not avoiding anything.  Nope.  I’m cleaning up the house because it’s a mess.  I’m reading three books at once because I love to read.  I’m making brownies because I deserve them.  I’m making more brownies because I deserve those, too.  I’m making even more brownies because–

No.  I do not deserve brownies.

This is a dangerous cycle to fall into, and it can hamper your writing in major ways.  I’m lucky that I found my way out.  But… there’s still a problem.  I’m still scared to begin revision.  So, I’m gong to give myself an extra week (because sometimes that’s all you need).  I’m going to order a book about revision, and when it shows up on my doorstep, I’m going to crack the spine and begin revising.  Just like that.  Even if I begin avoiding all writing again, getting that book will snap me back into reality.

Wish me luck!

Katarina Madden

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Posted by on April 6, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Writing Sprees

I apologize for my lack of posting this past week, and also that I can only provide this brief post today!

One of the most crucial things I’ve learned from writing is the value of writing in sprees.  If you set your mind on writing and don’t give into distractions, you can add thousands of words to your work in progress over the course of a single day.  If you don’t have time to hole up in your room hunched over your laptop, sprees can still be a great way to add to your word count.

Just in case you don’t know what a writing spree is, I’ll give you the steps.  It’s super easy, trust me.

  1. Find a couple of hours (twenty minutes at least) in your day or over a weekend that you can devote to a writing spree.  
  2. Set a timer for twenty minutes and allow yourself to do nothing but write for that entire time.
  3. Once you’ve finished your twenty minutes, spend ten minutes doing something you’d like to do.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 twice more, and then give yourself at least an hour-long break.
  5. You can come back and repeat the whole process again after your break to add even more words to your work in progress.
  6. Once again, if you don’t have a lot of time to spare for writing, just dedicate yourself to writing for as long as you can.  Once again, do not give in to distractions!  That is the key to succeeding.

Over one weekend I’ve used writing sprees to add around 10,000 words to my novel.  You might find that you can write a lot more than that, or maybe you don’t even come close.  What matters is that you’re dedicated and adding words to your work in progress.

Writing in sprees,
Katarina Madden <– I find that using this website can help you keep track of your writing.  It also helps keep you on track.  Instead of twenty minutes, which I find that I prefer, it gives you 25 and 5 minutes for a break.  You can adjust the break time, but I think the work time isn’t so flexible.

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Posted by on March 24, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Characters: When They Won’t Leave You Alone…

Picture this: You’re driving to work in your car, sitting on your sofa flipping through the channels on your television, or surfing the internet.  Suddenly, a character trait pops into your mind.  All it might be is a good sense of humor, but it grows into a character.  And then you’re swerving out of the way to avoid a car, you’ve left the television on a soap opera to grab your laptop, or you’ve hastily opened a Word document to type up a description.

You close the Word document.  You leave it be, but it’s not that simple.  The character that you thought up yesterday is keeping you up at night now.  It pops up whenever you have a second to ponder.  The more you try to put it out of your head the more it refuses to budge.  Even though it’s driving you crazy, this is a wonderful thing that doesn’t happen every day.

It might seem obvious, but the only way to get the character out of your head is to write his/her story.  Oh, you don’t have a plot?  Write the story anyways.  If the character won’t leave you alone, there’s got to be a story that needs telling.  Just because you don’t know what it is yet doesn’t mean that it isn’t there.  You’re just the silly author.  You think the story is yours?  Think again.  Your story belongs to your character.  You simply write it down.

If you start to write your character’s story, a plot will develop.  When you’ve gotten several thousand words into the story and you still don’t see a plot, try rereading what you’ve written– it might have been staring you in the face.  If you still can’t find the plot that goes with your character, have someone else, someone you trust, read it.  Maybe they’ll be able to see what you couldn’t.  If this still fails to uproot a possible plot, write a little more to try to fish it out of the muck in your brain.  It could be that you just started at the wrong point in your characters life.

Just to let you know, if anyone has a topic they would like me to elaborate on or write a post about, I’d be very willing to do so.

Writing for my characters,
Katarina Madden

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Posted by on March 15, 2013 in Characters


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Writing What You Want

You should always be writing what you want to write.  I’m a big believer that you should never write for something or someone other than yourself.  Your should be writing because you want to, not someone else.  That being said, I think that sometimes while we’re writing for ourselves, we forget what it really means to just write.

For me, this works like a miracle when I’m dealing with writer’s block.  I take a story idea that I don’t have plotted out, and I just write.  I don’t think ahead at all.  I don’t worry about plot holes or explaining things.  I write what I want to write because I know that no one else will ever look at this piece of writing.  Now, that might not be true.  I could decide that I love what I’m writing, but I still probably wouldn’t share it until I’ve fixed the plot holes and explained the character’s background.

When you’re just writing what you want to, it’s okay to stop at any time.  This is a piece of writing that you shouldn’t feel obligated to continue after the first couple of paragraphs.  You can, but you don’t have to.  It’s like vomiting words onto the computer screen: no one expects anything to come of vomit.  But, unlike vomit, writing for yourself is fun!

You can make a character completely crazy.  You can add magical ninjas into a previously realistic piece.  Want to throw in a wedding?  Go ahead.  Try it!  It’s so much fun, and it also doubles as an idea generator.  When you can do anything, you’re bound to come up with something for your current work in progress, or maybe an idea for something completely new.

Writing freely,
Katarina Madden

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Posted by on March 12, 2013 in Uncategorized


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How to Organize Your Writing Life

Whether finding time to write is easy for you or difficult, sometimes having a guide or reference to where you want to be at in your writing is nice.  It’s up to you to decide whether you want a loose set of goals or a strict schedule.  I’m going to share how I’ve decided to organize my writing life.

The first thing I did was decide everything I want to get done this year.  By the end of 2013 I want to have an agent to represent my book, have the rest of the books in that series rewritten, have the first draft of a YA novel completed, and to continue posting at least weekly on this blog.  I realized that I needed a pretty strict schedule if I wanted to get this all done, so I started breaking down my goals into months.

Just like for the year, the first thing I did was write down what I want to accomplish for the month.  For March I’ve decided that I want to completely plot out the second book in my series and start rewriting it.  Those are pretty simple goals for this month, so I didn’t have to break it down into weekly or daily goals.  But for May my goals are a bit more overwhelming.  I want to finish my revisions of the first book in my series, start revisions of the third book, draft a few queries, draft a synopsis or two and gather a list of agents.


By the time May first comes I would likely take one look at that list of goals, laugh and then eat some nachos.  This is where you’d have to organize your goals into weeks.  In my case, I would give myself daily goals because the smaller the chunks of work I have to do, the more likely I’d be to knuckle under and do it.

The last thing I’ll leave you with is a reminder to give yourself reasonable goals and time off.  If you give yourself ridiculous goals, you’ll look at them and decide that you’d rather eat nachos. Don’t overwork yourself, either.  I’ve practically given myself the whole month of June off.  I have a lot of things going on that month to begin with, and I don’t want to burden myself with strict writing goals.  Also, if you receive unexpected time off, use it for what you think is best.  If you’re too busy to write, then don’t.  If you have plenty of time, don’t just sit on your bottom and surf the internet!  Get some of tomorrow’s goals done.

Writing with structure,
Katarina Madden

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Posted by on March 5, 2013 in Uncategorized


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How to Deal With People and Rejection

In my previous post, How to Deal With People When You’re Writing, I mentioned that you should keep people around when rejection happens.  And it’s true.  If you’ve never experienced someone rejecting your writing before, you can’t get through it alone.  Trust me.

How does one define rejection?

It can be anything from a literally rejected query by the agent of your dreams (or just an agent), a bad review/negative critique about how clunky your dialogue is or not meeting a goal you set for yourself.

When this happens, I want you to surround yourself with the most awesome people you know, even if all you feel like doing is hiding in bed all day.  These awesome people should be the ones that compliment you the moment you walk into the room.  They should tell you how wonderful you are before you leave.  They should stand up for you when someone puts you down.

This really helps — I promise.

Another thing is to shy away from your more nitpick-y friends.  Remember, you’re in a fragile state (at least, I always am).  Even the slightest allusion to something wrong with you could push you over the edge into a mess of tears and snot.  These people have their uses.  They’re awesome to have around when you need someone to read your revised story and point out the plot-holes and mistakes.  But they aren’t so awesome when someone just rejected your writing and then they just rejected your clothing style. (Sweatpants are totally appropriate just-got-rejected attire!)

When you’ve been rejected, you need to be reminded that it’s not always you.  Sometimes the agent you queried wasn’t looking for your genre.  The person who left a negative review might just be having a bad day.  That being said, sometimes it is your fault.  You might need to revise your query letter or first chapters.  Your dialogue could actually be as awkward as they said it was.  There’s still no need to become a hermit and never show your face again!  Revise a little bit, surround yourself with the mentioned awesome people in your life, and then stick your head out there again.

After all, if you don’t, you’ll never know if your query will get accepted by your other dream agent.  You’ll never discover if your going to get a good review.  So never give up when you’re rejected.

Just use the valuable, awesome people in your life to keep you from becoming a hermit, and you’re golden.

Accepting rejection,
Katarina Madden

My Experience:

The first time I experienced rejection with my writing was through a query letter that got rejected.  I had sent it out to one agent because I wanted to get my first experience with rejection in the past.  Of course, this doesn’t mean I didn’t hope for a full manuscript request.  After receiving the disappointing email, I ran into a friend of mine.  She is totally uplifting and does all of the things listed under “awesome person” and more.  After a short talk that didn’t even involve my query, I felt so much better about myself and ready to tackle my next writing endeavor

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Posted by on March 2, 2013 in Uncategorized


How to Deal With People When You’re Writing

I don’t know about you, but I’m an introvert.  And the time when my introverted self tends to show up the most is when I’m writing.  During my writing time, I don’t want people to come in and ask me for favors, tell me that I forgot to do something, demand help, or, really, speak to me at all.  You heard me: Shoo.  Go away, people.  I am writing, so leave me alone.

Then, I hit the metaphorical wall in my novel.  You know the one; the point where every word you write is a struggle?  Yeah.  By now I’m kind of wishing I didn’t get everyone hating me and my novel because now I want them back.  I want them back to whine to.  I want them to hear my plea for help, and then I want them to encourage me.  But, I don’t have them anymore.  If I so much as say the word “novel,” they run for the hills.

There is a lesson to be learned from my mistake.  When you’re writing, do not completely push everyone away. Gently let them know that when you’re writing, you don’t want to be disturbed.  Hold your friends and family at an arm’s length, but don’t toss them over a cliff.  If they do disturb you during your precious writing time, take a deep breath and ask them in a voice that cannot in anyway be mistaken for condescending what they need.  Then, unless it’s an emergency, tell them you’ll get right to it.

This trick works like magic.  They’ll probably nod and go away, leaving you to get back to writing.  But, you did say you would do it, so you probably should.  Get to a natural stopping point, e.g., the end of a scene or chapter, and do what you promised to do.  Then, use the interruption as an excuse to add onto your writing time if you can.

You’ll be glad that you did this when you hit the aforementioned wall.  Then, you can mention your literary troubles to them and they might offer some helpful advice or, at the very least, some encouragement.  You’ll also be glad you kept these people around when you face rejection, but I’ll get to that in my next post.  Stay tuned!

Writing People Away,
Katarina Madden

My Experience:

I sort of alluded to it above, but I totally push people away when I’m writing.  I can’t help it.  When it comes to hitting the wall, my family, who are terrified of the Monster-Novel by now, isn’t my first stop on the pity gathering train.  Instead, I go to my friends that aren’t around to be pushed away much when I’m writing for my encouragement.  This works, but I’ve found that your family is more accessible to gather encouragement from, while friends could be a car ride away.


Posted by on February 26, 2013 in Uncategorized


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