Amelia Robinson

Hey there! I'm a student at the University of Kentucky and an aspiring writer. This blog serves as an outlet for all the things I want to talk about that are writing-related. I'll post some of my writing, too, for your enjoyment and critique. Thank you for stopping by! If you'd like to know more about me, feel free to visit here!

Experimental Writing Routine

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

There was this idea that came to me, and it was an idea that's made up of many different ideas, and when you pick apart these ideas into separate ones, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense.  It was one of those kinds of ideas.

The idea, in its finality, is this: If I ever have to write under a deadline, a good writing system might be to plot out a section of my story during the week (Monday thru Friday) and then write on the weekend.

I will actually go ahead and explain the pieces here.

Firstly, writing under deadline, I've heard, is ridiculously stressful and sometimes very difficult.  So difficult that many authors have reported their tardiness on multiple occasions and lauded the awesomeness of their agents and editors and their forgiveness.  I'm terrified of writing under a deadline, but also I'll admit, a bit excited, too, because due to the fact I am scared of being "in trouble," deadlines are a sure fire way of getting me to get stuff done, even if it is at the very last possible moment.  Having a writing system that works for me would be critical were I ever to have to write under a deadline.

Then I started to think about how much I could physically type.  My typing speed is at over 100 WPM (words per minute).  So I did some math.  (Math on school break, aren't you proud of me?)

If I wrote at a consistent 100 words per minute for an hour, that's 6,000 words per hour.  Say I did what Stephen King (and my dad) advises and write for at least four hours in a day.  In a single day, that's 24,000 words.  If I were to dedicate a weekend to my story and write 100 words per minute for four hours a day for two days, I could have a 48,000 word chunk of my story.  That's roughly half to a third or fourth of a YA novel.  (It's probably about a third of my current project.)

This was a great idea when it came sparkling into my thoughts, but then reality took a pailful of water and dumped it over all the glitter, leaving a runny mess.

I am not a consistent writer and I have finally come to terms with the fact that I am not much of a pantster, especially on a novel-long scale.  I write better and faster when I have an outline to tell me where I need to end up.  As long as I have the beats of a scene, I'm cool with spontaneity.  I like my characters to surprise me with their dialogue and weird habits, etc., but only if I end up at the correct end goal.

I figured that I most likely would not consistently write 100 words per minute even with an outline, but mentally, I would regard it as my maximum.  I am limited by how fast I can physically type.  This is somehow comforting to me.

I'm not quite sure what to use as my goal, because I know I won't be able to clock in 100 WPM consistently for four hours.  What I'm going to do this weekend is write as much as what I'm comfortable with, and then use that as my baseline for future weekends.

What do y'all think?  What different writing routines have you tried?

I Wish I Could Write About My Routine

Saturday, November 30, 2013

I love hearing about my favorite author's writing routine.  They don't vary overly much: there's usually a block of time that the author sets aside to writewritewrite, but even with its simplicity, it's admirable.

(Though, quite honestly, I don't think I could sit and write for hours without some kind of break.  Nor do I think I could write all day long like a full-time job.)

When I interview authors, one of the questions I like to ask is "What's your writing environment like?"  I'm not quite sure what my fascination is.  Maybe it's that I like to know they're real people, too.

One of the things I really wish I could write in a blog post about, is my writing routine.

It's hard to write about a routine you don't have.

One of the things my dad liked to tell me when he was trying to get me to commit to my writing, was how Stephen King was religious in his writing routine.  (I scoffed at first.  Not at Stephen King, but at my dad, who is a non-reader and very much a non-writer.)

It's true, though.  Stephen King has a religious writing routine.  He writes every single day.  And look how many books he's publishing.  Like, a ton every year.

I can admire Stephen King for his ability to write, even if I can't really appreciate his stories.  So this whole idea about writing every day is one I should consider seriously because it's something that works for one of the world's great writers.

So what do I do every day?

My problem is that I don't write every day.  Heck, I'm lucky if I can get my butt in gear long enough to write once a week.

It used to be -- "used to be" referring to a time a long, long time ago -- I loved writing.  I looked forward to doing it every day, but I think it was mostly because I was supposed to be doing other things.  (Read: my schoolwork.)  I wrote my first book in a month.

Now, it wasn't a very good book.  I mean, God, it made Twilight look like the epitome of literary greatness.  But it was a completed manuscript about high school drama and it may or may not have resembled a season of Pretty Little Liars.

I also finished the first draft of a supernatural story about a mind reader.  Again, it sucked, but good grief, first drafts are supposed to suck.  But I was a little older and I'd discovered better things than Twilight and so it was a little better than my first book.

I haven't completed the first draft of a book since that time.  That was six years ago.

My other problem, besides not writing every day, is that I can't keep my focus on a single story.  I hop around like a hyperactive squirrel, from one shiny idea to another.  And I don't know why.  I've tried to force myself to stick with one story, but then I grow resentful and bitter towards whatever I'm working on.

It's times like this when I want to find a nice hard surface to bang my head on.

What I'm doing now is slightly different, and I hope it'll work.

I'm focusing on what I love to read and watch.  I'm starting to actively go over the things that attract me in stories and TV shows.  For example:
  • I love the adventure and hero's journey in the BBC show, Merlin.
  • I love the master-apprentice relationship (and the archery) in the Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan.
  • I love the epic stories of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.
  • I love the detailed universe of the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs, as well as the fantastically presented characters.
  • I love the cleverness in the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer.
  • I love the romance in Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi and The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen.
That was an abbreviated list, but one of the things I noticed was that whatever genre it is, I'm sure to fall head over heels in love with a hero's journey.

Now, there's something I can work with: I love hero's journeys.

The good news is that I've seen hero's journeys in more than one genre.  For example: Harry Potter and Percy Jackson (modern fantasy), Eragon and Ranger's Apprentice and Merlin (medieval fantasy), and Star Wars (science fiction).

What I'm doing now is actively noticing things I love in stories and writing them down.  And I've got this story idea brewing in my head but I'm not forcing it out.  I'm giving it no more than a passing glance, so as not to scare it into taking a single shape.  I want it to be whatever it wants to be, not what I think it should be.

What I do know, though, is that there's a boy and his story goes throughout his adolescence and into young manhood.  I don't know his name, but I can picture him.

Strangely enough, I haven't written about a boy before.  I haven't written a classic-style hero's journey, like the kind I adore reading and watching.  So this is different for me as a writer.  All of the main characters in the big projects I've worked on over the years are all scarily similar.  Here's a change in pace, and it might be exactly what I need to get a story finished.

Start With Certainty in Darkness

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I found this quote in Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg that I felt I should share:
So when we write and begin with an empty page and a heart unsure, a famine of thoughts, a fear of no feeling -- just begin from there, from that electricity.  This kind of writing is uncontrolled, is not sure where the outcome is, and it begins in ignorance and darkness.
Natalie Goldberg has some crazy mental powers, because it feels like every other page she's reaching into my mind and plucking out my exact thoughts.

Poem: If I Were A Pirate

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

If I Were A Pirate

by Amelia Robinson

July 2013

Description: This is more focused on character rather than plot. Right away, this girl's voice was clear and all I had to do, as a writer, was make sure I chose the right words. She'd take care of the rest.

Writing for You vs. Writing for the Readers

Monday, July 8, 2013

So I got a new issue of Writer's Digest in the mail today -- happy day!  The first article I read was in the Inkwell section, an advice short called "One in a Million."  The one sentence teaser read:
Here's why you should be crafting your book with one specific reader in mind--and that reader isn't you.

Poem: Empty Halls

Empty Halls

by Amelia Robinson

July 8, 2013
Ink Haiku Contest,

Prompt: Write a haiku about loneliness.

Description: Submitted to Figment's Ink Haiku contest. Haiku is not a form I'm overly familiar with, and at first I wanted to bypass this contest because of it's unfamiliarity, but then I figured that I should be pushing myself as a writer. After multiple drafts, this is what came of my efforts.

Poem: Where Summer is Captured in a Globe

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Where Summer is Captured in a Globe

by Amelia Robinson

July 2013

Description: I recently watched a fantastic TED talk by Sara Kay, who is a great lover and advocate for spoken wordpoetry. While I have written poems, I have never considered them "my thing," but I cannot deny the power behind the punch the first line of this poem gave me just before I fell asleep last night. I knew without being told that I should write it down, and after fumbling for some medium to record it with, it flowed into me unlike anything I'd ever felt. After a bit of editing, I am here to share it.

Poem: A Quiet, Fragmented Thought

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Quiet, Fragmented Thought

by Amelia Robinson

June 2013

Description:  In her TED talk, Elizabeth Gilbert told a brief story about American poet Ruth Stone and how she could feel a poem coming at her over the landscape like rolling thunder and how she would "run like hell" into the house and capture it on paper as it passed through her. This was like that for me. It came suddenly, like thunder, and passed by just as quickly, and I managed to write it down before laziness got the better of me.

Dedication and Discomfort

Sunday, June 9, 2013

I was navigating through Evernote on my way to add some new notes to an idea I recently had when I found this:
This is a screen cap of one of Justine Musk's brilliant blog posts.

I like this idea - "experimenting with small actions that fall outside our comfort zone, retreating to the comfort zone to rest and regroup, stepping outside of it again."  I like that, for once, I've been given permission to shamelessly step back in to my comfort zone.  Normally when I hear the phrase to step out of it, I panic.  Because I assume I'm not allowed to step back in.

Having the comfort of knowing I can step back in makes me braver.

"We can learn how to act in the face of it."  To me, this is a brilliant rendition of practice, practice, practice.  That's all I've been hearing for years: you learn to write by writing.  "We can learn how to act in the face of it," packs this moral background that appeals to me.  It's a phrase that applies to life, too, not just writing.

I'm going to try this.  I'm going to try and go through the steps of not being afraid of writing a novel.  So I start with what I can do: a word.  Then maybe hammer out a sentence.  Then sweat through a paragraph.  Then bleed out for a page.  And maybe, by the time I'm finished with the story, I'll be so rough-skinned and battle-scarred that I can howl a triumph war cry.

I like that image.  :)

Poem: This Fool's Paradise

Thursday, May 9, 2013

by Amelia Robinson

October 2009

Description: A poem I submitted for my tenth grade creative writing class.  I wish I knew the prompt, but this was the result.

Poem: The Rebellion Call

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Rebellion Call

by Amelia Robinson

September 2009

Description:  A couple flees from an oppressive land and sends out the call for rebellion.

Author's Note:  I wrote this in Photography class (shh!) when I was fifteen.  I happened to discover it on my computer and thought I would share.

Short Story: A Deal with a Death Rider

A Deal with a Death Rider

by Amelia Robinson

May 7, 2013

Description: The royal heir approaches Sebastian, a former Death Rider, to ask his assistance in tracking down a rogue Rider who attempted to assassinate her.

Flash: The Mark of the Unbroken

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Mark of the Unbroken

by Amelia Robinson

April 16, 2013
Sweetest Dark Orphan Flash Contest,

Prompt: In 250 words or less, write a scene about an orphan.

Description: A girl standing in line to be Marked an orphan witnesses the discovery of a boy from the outside.

Flash: A Sure, Swift Demise

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Sure, Swift Demise

by Amelia Robinson

April 8, 2013
Stung (Day 1) Contest,

Prompt: Re-imagine the moment when Cinderella must flee the ball. Your scene must be set in the future and be no more than 150 words.

Description: Cinderella faces possible death at the stroke of midnight.

Flash: The Wind Whistled Through Their Bones

Monday, April 8, 2013

by Amelia Robinson

April 7, 2013
Sweetest Dark Contest,

Prompt:  In 250 or fewer, write a scene about a shape-shifter.

Description: A man is executed for being a shape-shifter.

Short Story: A Dark and Deadly Song

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Dark and Deadly Song

by Amelia Robinson

March 24, 2013
Ball Challenge,

Prompt: Write an opening scene for a novel. Your scene should begin in the middle of the action—and there should be an unanswered question. Why is your character being chased; crying hysterically; hiding in the bathroom? It’s up to you what the “ball” is—just make sure to hide it!

Word Limit: 500 or less

Description: A boy finds the victim of a vicious werewolf attack.

Flash: In What Distant Deeps or Skies

Monday, March 25, 2013

In What Distant Deeps or Skies

by Amelia Robinson

March 24, 2013
Spring Fever Short Story Contest,

Prompt: In 250 words or fewer, write a story that’s set in springtime.

Description: Persephone, daughter of the goddess Demeter, is captured by Hades, lord of the Underworld.