31 March: Review

In March, I had the opportunity to travel many places and try many new (and not-so-new) things. My first stop was the Association of Writers and Writing Programs National Conference, which took place in Chicago March 1-3. I’d never been to a writing conference before – and I’d never visited Chicago – so it was a great opportunity to learn more about writers and the writing community.

I also had the opportunity to visit one of the schools to which I am applying for graduate school.  It was an amazing and fantastic experience – although the 18+ hours of driving could have been less tiresome. Visiting really helped me form a better idea of what I want to do in publishing and what I want to pursue.

In terms of my writing, I’ve had lots of fun and interesting experiences this month.  The following stories were published in UToday, the online edition of UT News:

This list does not include stories included in the print edition of UT News.

At the end of the month, I had the awesome opportunity to teach a workshop on the Celtx program to my student writing group. I was so proud of everyone who attended: most of them not only learned how to write a screenplay and use the program, but they also completed their first short film script!

As April approaches, you can look forward to tons of fun events. It’s National Poetry Month, so I’ll have plenty of things to do with UTWG – including some public readings that may be of interest to some. Join us April 19 at Grounds for Thought in Bowling Green for an open mic reading – and keep checking back to find out what other things we’ll be doing for National Poetry Month.

Script Frenzy takes place during April, as well.  I’ll be participating in SF and blogging about it along the way! Check out my Script Frenzy 2012 page as the month progresses to learn more about the challenge and what I’m doing this month.

31 October: Current Progress

Happy Halloween!

As I gear up for NaNoWriMo with the rest of the UT Writer’s Guild, I’m wrapping up a few of my long-term projects before November.  Most of them will start over again in December.

  • I’ve decided to work on a new, as-of-now untitled screenplay project.  All I can really tell you is that it’s related to The TECH Project and my first attempt at Script Frenzy in 2009.  And that it’ll be much better than both of those things.
  • This month, I’ve been making some excellent progress on my novel The Final Experiment, which is a direct sequel to The TECH Project and takes place one year after TTP’s conclusion.  I’m more than three-fourths of the way finished transcribing the novel, but I also have to write two full scenes – including an intense battle scene – and there’s a lot of editing to do before I can do anything else with the manuscript.
  • I’m also working on Knitting, a prompt for my Screenwriting class that’s growing into a slightly larger story.  It may go on to do bigger and better things, but for now it’s a 10-minute short film.

And now on to NaNoWriMo!  Here’s what you can look forward to as I update with fair regularity about my progress:

Augustine is a little old-fashioned.  His whole apartment is decorated in neo-Victorian style – but he’s felt for some time now that something’s missing.  He finds that missing element in a back-alley antique store: an ornate brass-framed mirror, faintly scratched.  Thrilled with his find, Augustine hauls it home only to find himself sucked inside – into a strange, almost Victorian world filled with oil-driven and steam-powered machines.

That’s just a brief summary – I have much more outlined!

You can also see in my current sidebar a NaNoWriMo widget.  I’ll keep my word count updated there, too, so you can check my progress as I make it.  I plan to win NaNo for the first time this year!

Will you be participating in National Novel Writing Month this year?  If so, add me as a friend!  You can find me under the username xxfourthelement or in the Toledo regional forums.

Writing Tips: Keeping Focused

In the media-filled world we live in now, it’s amazing that anyone manages to get any serious writing work finished.  Between sites like Facebook and Twitter, the constant ringing and buzzing of cell phones, and everything else going on, there’s little time to think and breathe – let alone work on that novel.

Somehow, I’ve managed to find a few ways to sit and focus, even for only 30 minutes at a time to work on my blog.  (You have to start somewhere, right?)  Here are my personal tips on finding ways to focus on writing.

  • Put yourself in a “foreign” environment.  I do most of my good thinking and writing when I’m not at my house, where I have easy and convenient access to my biggest distraction, The Refrigerator.  Moving to a different location – usually someplace on-campus or at a coffee shop – always helps me focus a little more.
  • Pick your reward and stick to it.  Usually, I do this when I’m having an ongoing text message conversation.  Withhold yourself from doing something – like sending a text or getting a drink of water – until you have reached a goal, such as writing a full page of script or editing one poem.  If you have an immediate benefit, you’re more likely to push yourself to finish rather than stopping mid-thought, which is never a benefit at all.
  • Compete with a friend.  This works particularly well with models like National Novel Writing Month and Script Frenzy.  Set a goal with a friend and see who can reach it first.  That might mean finishing a short story in a week or 500 pages in one month.  Keep in contact with your friend via e-mail or text, letting him or her know how far you are.  When they tell you that they’re ten pages ahead, you’ll feel more motivated to catch up.  Especially when there’s a DQ Blizzard for the victor.
  • Join a group.  This has helped me over the past few months: since I’m vice president of an on-campus writing group, I feel like I need to actually get stuff done – especially when we have our meetings and workshops.

Everyone has their own way to focus on writing.  My favorite is to plug in to Secondhand Serenade while I’m working: the music calms me down, and since the transitions between songs are not harsh, it’s not distracting and it helps mask other (unwanted) noises.

Experiment with different things to find your own.  Maybe you need your favorite movie playing in the background.  Maybe you need to be in a study room at the library by yourself.  Whatever it is, find your zone.  That’s the best way to focus I could share with you.

It’s Frenzy time!

It’s April, which means the beginning of Script Frenzy.

I have participated in Script Frenzy every year since 2009, making 2011 my third year – and, if I manage to finish all 100 pages of the challenge, the third consecutive year I’ve beaten the challenge.

That’s not my only challenge this year, either.

Thursday’s (March 31) issue of The Independent Collegian contained my article on Script Frenzy for Toledo-area writers.  Check it out on The Independent Collegian’s website.