How to Get the Words Down: 7 Tips for Writing your First Draft

The biggest thing I struggled with before I published Honey Butter were first drafts. Specifically: finishing them. My brain is impatient and always coming up with new ideas. I’d be writing one one day, and a different one the next. I have many unfinished manuscripts as a result.

Something that I learned which helps me, is to write the first draft fast before I get board of it. That’s why NaNoWriMo worked really well for me. I forced myself to just Get the Words Down. (See what I did there? 😉 )

You might not have the same problems I do, (at which I congratulate you) and the same things may not work for you that do for me. As writers, we are all wonderfully different. However, I do hope you will find something useful here. I’ve met many aspiring authors for whom this was their chief trouble. If you are one of them, then you have come to the right place. 🙂

These tips were first posted to my instagram account, which you can find here.

1 – Get Excited!

And no, the title is not ‘Get Excited.’ It is ‘Get Excited!’ Exclamation points all around!
But okay, seriously. It is scientifically proven that when you enjoy what you’re doing, you’ll do better at it. Think of those book or TV series you love. How you can’t wait for the next episode/book to come out! You make fan art, fan-fiction, have animated discussions with friends, and whenever you have a spare moment you relive your favorite parts in your head. Or may it’s not even a story of any kind. Maybe it’s basketball, robotics, ceramics or origami. (fun fact, those are a few of my hobbies.)

Whatever it is, it’s never a chore to do anything related to ‘fill in the blank’.
That’s the way writing should and can be. If it isn’t like that right now, don’t be discouraged. That doesn’t make you a bad writer. Actually, that makes you a better writer than me, because I absolutely cannot write a book unless I’m excited about it, at least at the beginning. Later in the process, there are definitely things we just have to push through weather we want to or not. But when you’re writing the First Draft, when you’re just Getting the Words Down, you should try to be at least a little excited.

Robert Frost once said “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” And to that I would like to add “No excitement in the writer, no excitement in the reader.”

So get excited about yourself excited about your story. Interview your characters on fake talk shows, draw fanart, make Pinterest boards for scenes and ideas, (you can check out mine here 😉 ) dress up as your characters. Whatever it takes, get excited! And someday, there will be other people that you’ve never met, getting excited over your story too. Trust me.

 

2 – Freewriting

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of freewriting before. If you have, I encourage you to do a little today. If not, let me walk you through it: Get a sheet of plain paper and a pencil. Sit down at a table or desk in a preferably quiet, distraction free place. Set a timer for five to ten minutes. Write.
Writing anything. Write the first thing that comes into your head. Don’t worry about punctuation or spelling. Don’t try to be clever. Just write what you’re thinking. Have fun! Make mistakes, write messily, and embrace it all. DO NOT stop moving your pencil until the timer is up.

Next, read aloud what you’ve written. Quietly. Loudly. Whatever. Just go over it. You might be surprised. You might find a gem somewhere in there. If not, that’s okay because you were writing! And writing is the first step to becoming a writer! Yay for you!

Freewriting is a great way to help with writer’s block, in loosens up your writing muscles. It reminds you that a first draft does not have to be perfect.

You can pick a theme for your freewrite beforehand, or you can just go with the flow.

 

3 – Save Everything

Yes, you heard me. EVERYTHING. I don’t care how horrible you think it is. Save it. Maybe you won’t ever show it to anyone, maybe it won’t end up in the finished draft, and that’s okay. But still, save it.

Okay, but why? Why save everything?

Here are a few of the many reasons why:

1. Even if a scene isn’t going the way you want it to, there may still be a few gems in it. A particularly clever metaphor, or some witty jokes that you could transfer into a different scene. If you full out deleted all that, you’d miss out on the good bits that you could use later.

2. It might grow one you. I can remember several times when I wrote a scene one night and hated it. But after reading it again in the morning, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I remembered. Sleep on it before you delete it.

3. Someone else might like it. Writing is an art, and art is all a matter of opinion. You may not like something you wrote, but your brother or sister or friend may absolutely love it! Not to mention that you are your worst critic. Because you wrote it, you’ll look at it way differently then someone who’s reading it for the first time.

4. You can look back and see how far you’ve come, which will give you a lot of self confidence. We improve as writers the same way we grow taller; gradually. From your short term point of view, you’ve always been the same height, but it’s only when you look back on at the pencil marks on the door frame that you realize how much you’ve grown. If you save what you write, it’s like making marks as you grow. In the first draft of Honey Butter, I wrote some really weird things that I now look back on and laugh at. But it reminds me that I’m always growing and getting better, and so are you. 🙂

I have a document for each book I write titled ‘Snippets’ where I copy and paste paragraphs and pages of writing that I ended up cutting out. I also save each draft separately instead of editing the first draft once I finish it. Try it!

 

4 – Don’t Unveil an Unfinished Masterpiece

Also known as: don’t let just anyone read your first draft, especially before it’s finished.
When you first start writing your story, it’s still new. You and the characters still need to get to know each other. You have magic to play with and towns to explore. The last thing you need at this stage is an outside opinion, feedback of any kind will transform your mindset before you even know what you were thinking in the first place.

A side note, I actually do something that not many writers I know do: I let people read my first draft.

Most of my writer friends are probably staring at the screen in disbelief, but hear me out.
Some parents and siblings I realize, are not great editors, but somehow I was blessed with the best dad on the planet. He always reads my first drafts, and then we have long, super fun brainstorming sessions together. Later on my mom and siblings join in and become the best and funniest fans I could wish for.

I do not, however, allow anyone in my family to read my book before I’ve FINISHED the first draft, and I would advise you to do the same.

 

5 – Do NOT Edit

Going hand in hand with not letting anyone else read your first draft is; don’t let your inner editor read it!

The Inner Editor is a concept that the authors at NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) came up with. By the way, I highly recommend checking out NaNoWriMo, it’s what helped me to complete the first draft of Honey Butter. But that’s another post.

The Inner Editor is an obsessive perfectionist who sits on your shoulder while you write. And they HATE messy first drafts.

Messy first drafts are a part of writing though, so when you start on a new book, send your Inner Editor on vacation. Accept that what you write at first is going to be a mess. A beautifully wonderfully raw creative mess. And whatever you do, DON”T EDIT. Sentence structure, scene order, typos, and even some character development can wait until later. For now let your mind spill with magic and you hands flutter like fairy wings over the keyboard.
Now go write and book your inner editor’s ticket to the land of fine print.

 

 6 – Take a Walk

This is a short tip, but the gist is that It is scientifically proven that you are 10% more creative after you take a walk. So today, try to work in a walk before you sit down to write. Or maybe take a walk in the middle of your writing routine. If you can, walk outside and where there’s trees. Trees are also scientifically proven to calm your brain. If you can’t go outside then walk around your room. Or take your notebook to the park and walk for a while. Let your mind wander, don’t think about anything particular; just walk. Then sit down on a bench a do a little freewriting and see what happens.

 

7 – Be Yourself

There are no real rules when it comes to writing. Or painting. Or sculpting. Or singing. Or any and all art. Don’t take any advice too seriously. Not mine, not the blogs you read, not your parents or teachers.

You are the Author.

You are in Charge.

I’ve seen blog posts before on finding your writing ‘Voice’. But really, I think the only tip you need to find your voice is this: Be Yourself.

Writing lingo: I use it all the time. You’ll often hear me talking about chapters, scenes, flat characters, protagonists, antagonists, plot, subplot, opening hooks, cliffhangers and climaxes.

But what if none of that existed?

Imagine for example what writing would be like if you had never heard the concept of chapters? What would happen then? What about character roles? What if you didn’t put your characters into boxes of heroes, villains, sidekicks, and minor characters. What if they were all just people? Then what would your story be like?

The reasons we use things like chapters and character roles are good reasons. And I’m not saying  you should disregard them. But sometimes we as writers get so caught up in these rules that we forget to be creative.

A first draft is all about breaking the rules.

Take another walk. Don’t think about any outside influence. It’s just you and your imagination. That’s when art happens. That in and of itself is art in its purest form. That is when anything is possible.

That’s all for now! If you have any subjects you would like me to blog about, let me know in the comments and I’ll look into it. Now go write and –

Keep Writing!

– Millie

Spring Updates

So. It has definitely been a while since I wrote a blog post on here, and today I have A LOT to share with you guys!

Firstly, at long last, the second draft is finished and is off to the Beta Readers!

For those who don’t know: beta readers are people who will read a draft of my book and give me feedback for the next round of edits.

A few of those beta readers are my siblings because my family read aloud this draft together. My little brother has pronounced it ‘much better than Honey Butter’. Eyeroll.

Anyway, the official beta readers will finish up on the 16ht of next month, and then I will begin draft number three.

I’m starting draft ____, is becoming a very familiar phrase to write.

But before I do that, I should let you guys know about some other exciting updates.

First of all, I thought I should let you guys know that I will be attending Realm Makers, a writing conference, this year. Not as a speaker, although someday I would love to speak at a conference. If you’re going as well, I might just see you there!

I am SUPER excited about this conference! If you’re interested, you can visit the website here.

Perhaps one of my favorite updates: recently a Mother + Daughter book club discussed Honey Butter as their monthly book. I’m always so happy to hear about these things. 😉

So, I thought I would tell you that if you’re in a book club, homeschool co-op, or public school, and want to discuss Honey Butter, or even just meet with an author, I would be more than happy to join you over Skype to answer questions and hear your thoughts!

Just thought I’d throw that out there. 😉

That’s all for now, although no doubt there will be more to come!

Keep Writing!

– Millie

Inspired and ready

So I’m back from London!

Among other things, I had afternoon tea, visited Saint Paul’s Cathedral, Shakspeare’s globe, and the Charles Dickens museum. Needless to say, it was an absolutely awesome experience! And gave me a lot of inspiration for Lydia Green of Mulberry Glen.

Originally, I planned to do some writing during the trip. But I underestimated the amount of time we spent out doing fun things. So, unfortunately, I didn’t get much done.

However, as said by Benjamin Franklin; “Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing.”

And I did A TON of things worth writing about. Several poems transpired, and now I am ready to dive back into my second draft. So while I type away madly, enjoy these pictures from my trip!

Being a drama queen at Shakespeare’s globe theater.

Westminster Abby.

Charles Dicken’s writing desk – you guys can probably guess my reaction to this. Absolutely ecstatic.

Quintessential London.

Stake and London Pride Pie – probably my favorite thing we ate. Sushi may have a competitor.

And this is why we get to eat pie.

The King’s Library.

What trip to London is complete without a visit to platform 9 and 3/4?

 

Inside Saint Paul’s Cathedral.

Outside Saint Paul’s Cathedral.

Posing as Queen Elizabeth.

 

Afternoon tea.

It’s YELLOW! Oh yeah, and it’s by Van Gogh.

As much fun as my trip was though, it’s good to be home. Good to be in my own bed. Good to eat healthy food again. Good to see my sweet and crazy siblings again.

That’s all for now.

Keep Writing!

– Millie

A New World to Explore (For Both Me and You)

Here we are among the summer sunsets the burnt the blue sky. Chalk flower gardens and a bright array of paint colors. Here where sidewalks loop around Winchester court, and the noise of family bubbles from inside.

But now, there’s a new adventure calling.

Slowly withdraw from summer warmth, let the sound of slapping flip-flops fade, the paint colors blur, although not dim. They will never lose their brilliance.

But now the rushing of the leafs of the trees grows in volume. The sky is dressed bright and clear in autumn blue. The world is sweet and sunshine is a song. No sidewalks, no houses. Only the sweet earth beneath our feet. Only ground dappled in light and a sky dappled in clouds.

Betwixt Valley and Glen in a corner of these mystical lands, a girl in a long green cloak comes down from the way, in her eyes a depth of wisdom and the innocence of wonder, before her the quiet greeting of tree and flower alike.

Here is the coming world that I now present to you…

Lydia Green of Mulberry Glen

I hope you enjoyed that little snippety-snippet. Think of it as a bit of a teaser trailer. The synopsis will follow it sooner or later. (That rhymed!) And yes, I realize that that was a very dramatic way to reveal a title.

What can I say? Drama is my expertise!

But yes, I have indeed released the title of my new and upcoming book; Lydia Green of Mulberry Glen. It’s a bit of a relief for me to call it by its proper name now instead of just ‘the fantasy book’. No doubt you will be hearing a lot about it in the coming months.

As for progress on Lydia Green, (or LGMG as I sometimes shorten it to), I am happy to say that after pushing through some inoperativeness on the story’s side (definitely not mine) I am now well on my way to finishing the second draft. After that, I plan to send it too beta readers.

As you might remember if you’ve followed along on my previous book journey, I used beta readers on my third draft for Honey Butter. The reason I’m using them earlier this time is that I’ve learned a lot since then. Many beta readers have strong ideas that would involve bigger plot changes than I was at first prepared for, I did my best to give these ideas full consideration and implementation with Honey Butter, and while I think it did an alright job of it, I think I could have done better and perhaps been even more opened minded if I had given the Beta readers an earlier draft. So that’s what I’m doing this time with Lydia Green.

But besides directly book related updates I have another interesting tidbit to be made known to you as well.

In just a few days I am going to London.

My dad’s work sometimes involves business trips out of the country, whenever that happens; he usually takes one of us siblings with him. It’s an enormously fun and educational experience. I learn so much about culture and history!

Needless to say, I am extremely excited!

Plus, these trips, and how much I learned from them, was partly what inspired me to make Laren a Roadschooler.

Anyway, that was my big Christmas present this year. No doubt I will find an abundance of literary inspiration in London.

That’s all for now! Most likely my next post will be recapping my trip (something crazy to think about now), so stay tuned for that, and feel free to speculate theories about what might happen in Lydia Green of Mulberry Glen. It’s a book that is beginning to gain momentum!

Keep Writing!

– Millie

Duck, Duck, Goose: How to use Metaphorical Objects

Let’s begin at the beginning and define our terms. What is a Metaphorical Object? Here are the lexical definitions.

Metaphorical: a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance.

Object: a material thing that can be seen and touched.

In literature, we tend to use metaphors for description.

“He was the lion of the battlefield”

“The butterfly of her pencil flitted over the paper.”

Metaphors are an extremely powerful literary device, and sometimes they can carry the message of the story on their shoulders. (That’s another metaphor for you.)

You can make the message of your story about 10 times stronger by using metaphors, and in this post, I want to show you one of the ways to do that: metaphorical objects. Let’s start with an example and then find out what makes it work.

This example is from an old Christmas movie you might be familiar with, called It’s a Wonderful Life.

In the movie, the main character, George, has a lot of problems going on in his life (as all main characters should). In his house, there’s a staircase, and the top of the first post in that staircase is broken. Every time he walks up the stairs he absentmindedly puts his hand on the top of that post, and accidentally takes it off. Then, looking annoyed, he puts it back on or sometimes slams it back on in frustration.

But then, at the end of the movie, after he’s learned some important lessons, he does it again. Walks up the staircase, and accidentally takes the top off the post. But this time his reaction is different. He gives a laugh, kisses the post-top, and sets it back in its place.

The End… Kind of. Let’s take a look at what happened here: The broken stair post represented everything that George felt was wrong with his life. But at the end of the movie, when he learns to be thankful for what he does have, his reaction is different. He’s even thankful for a broken stair post because even with all the problems in this world, it’s a wonderful life!

Okay, but why does this work? And how?

Let me introduce you to something I call the duck, duck goose concept.

Remember playing that game? Duck, duck, duck, Goose! You never know when the person walking around the circle is going to say goose, or who they’re going to tap on the head. It’s the same with hot potato, musical chairs, and metaphorical objects. Every time the George pulls the top off the post, it’s duck, duck, duck… Then you trigger your object when your readers least expect it; something about the process changes, and… Goose!

Books are all about change, character growth, plot twists… Etcetera. If something doesn’t change from the beginning of your book to the end, then there’s definitely something wrong.

Your metaphorical objects can represent that change, or foreshadow it, using the ongoing duck, duck, goose method. In my book, Honey Butter, the metaphorical object was a major part of the plot, and I used my ‘goose’ for a plot twist.

If you haven’t read my book yet then skip the next section, as it contains spoilers, and go straight on to the next example.

Spoilers Begin!

In Honey Butter, the main character, Jamie, collects paint cards. She has her box of paint cards with her at all times, it’s more than just a hobby, it’s an obsession.

Jamie is rather self-centered at the beginning of the book, but as the story goes on, she not only makes an incredible new friend, she learns to be grateful for the people in her life that she already has. One by one, she begins to give away the paint cards in her collection, each time she grows closer to someone, she gives them one.

She’s giving away what she used to reserve only for her, and the more she gives away, the less she needs them for herself. And each time she gives them one, it’s duck, duck, duck…  Goose! But I can’t give away the goose, now can I? My metaphorical object plays a larger role than most objects, so I would be giving away the big plot twist.

Spoilers Ended!

Here’s another example, this one just made up.

12-year-old Ruby is bored with normal life, always making big plans, and always in a hurry. Every morning she goes downstairs, pours hot water into a cup of tea, and then hurries back upstairs to makes big plans about an adventure she’s going to go on – someday anyway. But she works so long every morning that the tea get’s cold, and when she finally comes back downstairs, she takes a sip, frowns, and pours out the rest of the tea. (Duck…)

Day after day throughout the story this ritual is repeated. (Duck, duck.) But then at the very end, Ruby has learned an important lesson, that adventure can be found anywhere and that the little things in life matter. In the last chapter, she doesn’t go upstairs to do her planning while the tea cools, instead she stays downstairs and drinks her tea with her family. This time, the tea is still hot. (Goose!)

Okay, enough examples. How do you make your own metaphorical object? Below are a few of my suggestions for creating them. Note I say ‘suggestions’.  When it comes to creating a book, there is no wrong, only write.

Tangible Object

I think part of the reason this kind of metaphor is so powerful is that the object is literally part of the story. The characters can touch it, smell it, and maybe hear it, depending on what it is. For this reason, both the characters and the reader have a closer connection to it. It works really well when it’s an item the character cares about, say, a special mug. If your reader cares about the mug, they not only care that the problem is solved but how it should be solved. They wouldn’t, for instance, want the character to smash the mug or buy a new one. If the object represents the character, then buying a new mug would mean trying to be a new version of themselves. It’s just another way to make your readers root for the character.

Not Too Similar

This goes for all metaphors, not just metaphorical objects. The things you are comparing should only be the same in the way you are comparing them. You wouldn’t, for instance, say that a frog was as green as a toad.

Don’t Overly Acknowledge

The metaphorical objects lose some of their power, I feel if it’s acknowledged too much. It takes away some of the magic. This is where show, don’t tell really has to be used. And remember, you don’t need to spell out every last detail for your readers. The beauty of a book is that it can be interpreted many different ways.

For instance, with my tea example, we wouldn’t want Ruby’s mother to say something like; “Ruby dear, you really need to remember to drink your tea, it gets cold every morning!” She might, though, sigh and shake her head as she watches Ruby pour it down the drain.

A Few Ideas

Now we get to the fun part: playing with some different versions and spin-offs of this duck, duck goose concept.

The examples I showed before have the ‘goose’ happen at the end, representing the character’s transformation. But there are really many other ways to do it.

Instead of representing character change, it could represent environment or community change. Or the relationship between characters. Maybe the ‘goose’ is what sets off the climax.

It can also be a great way to provoke emotion in the reader, for instance maybe there are two friends who have a watch that they share, and they take turns wearing it every day. (Duck, duck, duck…) Then one of the friends moves away and the other friend has no one to exchange the watch with anymore. (Goose!)

There could also be more than one change. Then even perceptive readers won’t see the second one coming because they think the ‘goose’ already happened.

It’s like saying ‘duck, duck, duck, Moose! Just kidding, Goose!’

Take my last example with the watch. The two friends exchanging the watch each day was the duck part. Then one of them moving away was the goose part. But what if it wasn’t? What if the friend moving away was ‘moose’. Then maybe the first character starts exchanging the watch with a new friend, and that was the ‘goose’.

So what do you guys think? Where have you spotted metaphorical objects before? What are other ways to use them that I haven’t covered? Do you think this could work in your own story?

Keep Writing!

-Millie

Upon the Backs of Old Drafts

I was sketching on a piece of scrap paper a few days ago. Jotting down a few ideas and scribbling out a few pictures for the fantasy novel I’m currently readying to write the second draft of. I happened to flip the scrap paper over and couldn’t help but laugh at what I saw on the back. It was a page from my first draft of Honey Butter, none of which remains in the final printed and bound book.

There are plenty of pages like these floating around our house, and here I was, drawing up ideas for my second book on the back of the first. Was it only a year ago that I wrote those misspelled, hastily typed words on the paper before me? And now I was doing it all over again with a new story, which will climb from draft to draft to draft and finally publication.

But I think it’s an interesting idea: you may have finished a story, but it will never be finished with you. You build upon what you have already written; you write upon the backs of old drafts.

In the same way, 2018 will build off of 2017 as the new year stretches out before us, inviting, and full of possibility.

And yes, it is indeed January 19th, and we are indeed several weeks into the new year. So this post is a bit late, isn’t it? But it’s still the first month of the year, even if it is not the first day, so I don’t think it’s too late to jot down a few plans and hopes and dreams and schemes for the year ahead. And considering the fact that last year I wrote down ‘finish and publish Honey Butter’ with a tentative pen deep within a private journal, and that it DID happen…this year, I’m going to aim high. Shoot for the stars and you might hit the moon they say! Although personally, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to hit their head on a star in the first place, considering the fact that they are balls of fire, the moon might be preferable.

Alright, enough with the witty wordplay! (For now anyway.) Here are a few of my goals for 2018!

Get Honey Butter into Barnes and Noble

I told you I was going to aim high. This, admittedly, is the one I’m most apprehensive about. But I’m going to try anyway, and you don’t know until you try. Who knows what might happen?

Twenty Reviews of Honey Butter on Amazon and Goodreads

Here’s the part you guys can help me out with. 😉
Okay but really, I’m already halfway there, and it shouldn’t be too hard to get ten more reviews on Amazon and Goodreads in the next year. I see twenty as a decent amount, and if we reach it I will be happy to do a giveaway or book signing or something along those lines in celebration.

Publish Another Book

This may be my fantasy novel or my poetry book, or if possible, both. We’ll have to see what happens. Either way, I will be working hard on both of these. Wish me luck!

Publish Honey Butter as an Audio Book

Yes! That’s right! I’m recording an audiobook for Honey Butter! You have partly my little brother to thank for that. He listens to audio books twenty-four seven and has been asking me to make one of Honey Butter for a while now. It’s slow going, but I should definitely have it done sometime this year.

Also, just to let you guys know. I am currently 50 followers away from 500 on Instagram, once I reach 500 I am planning to do a giveaway of my book and some cute paint card bookmarks that I made. So if you have an Instagram account and haven’t already; go follow me! Just search millieflorenceauthor.

That’s all for now I suppose. But I have a good feeling about the year ahead. Who knows how much adventure it might contain!

Keep Writing!

– Millie

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Christmas is coming!

The time of gifts and trees and treats and stories. It’s the season of Advent, which means it’s time to think about the Christmas story. Time to light candles and put up lights, drink hot drinks and wish for snow.

Honey Butter is a great gift for avid young readers. It’s a sweet, light, heartwarming story written for all ages. But it’s an especially wonderful gift for young writers. Why? Well, I can say from my own personal experience that reading a book written by a young author is one of the most inspirational experiences in my writing life.

Throughout the writing process of Honey Butter and several books before that, reading another successful young author’s book gave me incredible encouragement.

Even just holding a book written by a young author made me think, I am not alone. There are people out there who love to create stories as much as I do. And if she could do it, then why can’t I?

Giving a young writer that sort of inspiration is one of the greatest things you can ever do for them.

Or hey, maybe they will think: I can write a way better story than whoever this Millie person is! I’m cool with that too. Challenge accepted fellow young author! I hope that in your quest to beat my skills you will improve your own.

Below you’ll find the link to buy Honey Butter on Amazon.

Amazon

On another note, last week I gave myself a bit of an early Christmas present. I finished the first draft of my new book!

I don’t know what it is, but every time I finished a first draft (which has been twice now) I have this odd and sort of magical feeling. A tingling. A singing of my soul. This story is free. Real. Done. It’s a mess, a completely tangled-up, raw, imaginative, untamed mess. But it’s my mess, and that’s what counts.

So on that particular morning, after getting up early to write because I was pretty sure I could finish it that day, I wrote and fiddled with the keys on my keyboard in the chilly, gray, winter morning. Leaves scuttled about outside my window, as one by one my family began to wake up.

It’s always somewhere between the last important sentence and the end that I begin to realize that somehow I just can’t stop writing. My story is ready to end, it should end, and it could at any moment. But my fingers just won’t stop typing, trying to find the perfect romantic view for my main character and the most wonderful words to send it off. It’s only the first draft yes, but here is where the story will end for me. I’ve heard it said that “the first draft is only telling yourself the story”, and although it will be changed a billion times before publication, I wanted the perfect ending to tell myself.

I never got it of course, because authors can never truly satisfy themselves with their own words. If they could then they would never improve. But this new story has ended, the first leg of the journey is over. I have told myself the story, now it’s time to get it ready for the world…

Keep Writing, and Merry Christmas!

Millie

November thoughts

I’ve been pretty busy this last month. It is National Novel Writing Month after all, and I have indeed been working on the first draft of my next book. Because of the word counts I was trying to achieve, this blog post got put off again, and again, and again… And then suddenly it wasn’t November anymore. But my word count is done and I’m here now!

First off, I should tell you that my current book in progress is turning out to be a lot longer than I thought. Originally I planned for it to be around 50,000 words, but I’ve reached that goal, and still have a lot left of the story itself. I have made tremendous progress, however, and I’m super excited to share more information with you guys. Since the story is bound to change quite a bit from the first draft, it might be a little while though.

It’s kind of odd to think, however, that right now I’m immersed in a world that literally no one else knows about yet. Meeting people no one has ever met before. When a story is read it’s no longer the author’s anymore, it becomes a part of all who read it. But for right now, just for a little while longer, I have the privilege for this story to be mine. It’s magical, like when Mary finds the door under the ivy in The Secret Garden. That’s what books are; a door that’s hidden under the ivy, all we authors have to do, is find the key.

Another odd thought is that it has now officially been a full year since I started writing Honey Butter. One year ago on November 4th I sat down and wrote the first words of the first chapter of the first draft of my first book.

For today though, progress on my book is slow. I wrote 2000 yesterday no problem, but today I’ve written for three hours and only have 500 words to show for it. I’ve officially diagnosed myself with writer’s block for the day. Oh well, I probably need a break anyway… Besides, as I said in my recent podcast interview on Brave Writer, taking a moment to stop and think and wonder is just as important as the writing itself.

Speaking of interviews, I did another one recently too on the blog of fellow teen author Riley Aline. Check it out here or on my Press page.

Now that I’ve brought you up to speed, here’s a collection of short musings about books that I’ve posted over the past month on Instagram. I thought they were blog worthy, and that you guys might enjoy them, so here they are!

November 16:

I watched The Giver last night.
As usual, the book was better than the movie. But is that really the right thing to say? I know there are some movies where the book is definitely better than the movie. But I wonder if sometimes we get picky and say that different than the book means worse than the book. A movie explores things in a different way. It’s not an extension of the book. It’s the story in a different thought form. Because there are so many ways to think about a story.
And watching the Giver and reading it too, made me think about how books, and movies, and songs, and stories, and maybe art in general, are like the Memories that Jonas receives.
They make you think beyond your world. They let you see it in a new way. (whether good or bad.)
Authors are Givers.
Readers are Receivers.
And a book clasps their hands together, transmitting the memory across the distance, and across the years.

November 20:

I broke into a fresh new notebook recently after filling my old one from cover to cover. And I can’t help but wonder what adventures I’ll have with this one. 📒✏️
Right now I’m getting to the point in my first draft where it’s really starting to feel like a mess. A mess beyond repair. Like how my room sometimes felt when I was little. Character development among a pile of stuffed animals. Subplots and socks shoved under the bed. But even though my story is a mess, I looked up from my keyboard today a realized that I’m really enjoying myself. Slowly typing away, plodding on. On that rare quiet afternoon with a pencil and a notebook in hand, or on that crisp and early dawn taking my seat at the computer. I’m writing, I’m a writer, and I’m happy.

November 29:

My endings are always the best part of my books, maybe I have a knack for them, but I think it’s more likely the simple emotion of it. There comes a time in every first draft, usually two-thirds of the way through, when everything begins to feel a tad bit hopeless. The story is falling apart and terribly tangled, and I’m so exhausted by all the writing that I start to get emotional. Luckily enough, this usually happens when the climax is coming and the main character starts to get emotional too. The funny thing about this exhaustion is that instead of making me want to stop, it makes me want to keep going, it makes me love my tattered mess of a story all the more. The finish line is in sight, and it makes me even more passionate. When it came to Honey Butter, I quite literally cried through writing the last few chapters. A surprising and humbling amount of readers have told me that the last few chapters made them cry too. So I think that this tired, slightly hopeless feeling is a good thing. Right now I’m starting to feel it as I draw closer to the end of my current novel. Writing a book is emotionally draining; so many tears go into it that they more than make up for the blood and sweat called for. Step by step, word by word, we’re getting there. So if you are feeling this exhaustion; don’t give up, you can do it.

Well, that’s all for today! The season of Advent is upon us, and I have the very important job of enjoying it that I must attend to. 😉 No doubt you’ll see more of me soon.

Keep Writing!

  • Millie

 

The Brave Writer Podcast

I’m am so, so completely thrilled to share this amazing news with you! A few weeks ago, I was interviewed by Brave Writer, an incredible writing/homeschooling community. My family has been using a lot of their teaching methods, like Poetry Tea Time and Freewrites, and we love it! I’ve also taken a few of their online classes over the years, and have been greatly inspired by both my teachers and fellow students.

It’s always been one of my dreams to get on the Brave Writer Podcast, one of those things you imagine yourself doing, but never really think you will. But so many of my dreams have been coming true lately, that I thought ‘why not?’ Now my podcast episode is LIVE!

Listen to it here.

It was so much fun to chat with Julie, the founder of Brave Writer. Admittedly, I’ll chatter on to whoever will listen about writing-related subjects, so I’m no stranger to it, and to have an in-depth conversation about stories, writing, and homeschooling, was right up my alley.

Keep Writing!

  • Millie

An Author’s Sacrifice

Right now I’m in one of those steady, happy routines. Nothing huge is going on (at least not writing related) and I’m working on a new book, promoting Honey Butter, cooking, reading, and enjoying the coming of fall.

There are always new challenges, of course, one of which is balancing both promotion and writing. I’ve been managing homeschool and writing for a long time, (Plus, when you’re homeschooled your work only takes about as long as you want it to) but adding promotion has taken some getting used too. This is partly because it’s not in any way predictable. Sometimes it means replying to emails or writing informational blog posts. Sometimes it means googling ‘book review blogs’ and sifting through the results or going to award websites and reading through their submission guidelines.

My current writing projects are going pretty well. I’m hoping to finish the first draft of the new fantasy book I’m writing over the next few months. And I’m seventy-five percent done with the book of poems I’m writing.

But away, let’s get to the point of this blog post.

I envy my readers. Not in a bad way, but more of a wistful ‘oh well’ way.

The reason for this is that I can never read my book, and they can. I don’t mean that I am literally unable to read the words, but I can never really read it. I’ve analyzed this story to the breaking point, I always know what’s going to happen next, I’m pretty sure that if I tried I could recite some passages from memory.

I will never be surprised by the plot twist, never caught off guard by something a character says, never wonder ‘what happens next?’. I will never be able to sit down and experience it the way a normal reader would because I’m not the reader.

I guess that’s just the sacrifice an author has to make to bring a story to life. But you know what’s great? Actually, there are several great things;

  1. Other people can experience it.

Dear readers; never take for granted your ability to read and truly experience a book, because the author of that book cannot. This is crazy to think about, but it’s true. Think of all your favorite authors and their amazing books, then realize; they can’t read that amazing book the same way you can! But to give the world a story, and to give you a story, makes it totally worth it.

2. There is more than one author in the world.

Even if I can’t read my own book, there are millions of books out there, and new ones keep on coming. I have a forest of pages before me, all of them ready to explore…

Well, those are my disorganized musings for the day, and I hope you found them interesting. With all the promotion work I’ve been doing, hopefully, there will be some reviews and interviews coming out before too much longer. When they do come out I’ll set up a page here so you can read them if you want. In the meantime…

Keep Writing!

  • Millie