Guest Post ~ Procrastination Station: Kate Sebastian’s Writing Tools

You may be wondering why I titled this guest post “Procrastination Station”; pure and simple, it’s because I am a notorious procrastinator, as any of my writing buddies will tell you. That means I can spend hours, days, even weeks not writing what I should be writing, and then power through five, ten, or even twenty thousand words in a day in order to beat a deadline. Yes, I’ve done 20,000 words in 24 hours before.

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But this means I have two writing modes: what I call my “casual” mode, where I write what I want when I feel like it, and my “beast” mode, where I pound away at the keys because I’m desperate to meet a deadline. And the way I work in these two modes are very different, as I’ll outline via the tools I use.

CASUAL MODE

I’ve found that writing in “casual” mode helps me churn out stories that require less editing, as my plots tend to have fewer WTF holes (what I call it when I write myself into a corner only a major rewrite can fix) and even my grammar and spelling tend to be better. Unfortunately, I’m also much more open to distractions when I don’t have a deadline looming over me, so books that get written in this mode aren’t always delivered speedily (like my current WIP). Here are my requirements for a writing session in this mode:

Writing Implement of Choice: Pen and Paper, Voice Recorder

Yes, I go really old-school with this! I think it’s the secret to why my writing ends up better, because I write so slowly my words have more time to come together as fully formed thoughts. Then when I transcribe what I’ve written (I used to use yWriter or Evernote, but am a recent recruit into the cult of Scrivener users), I frequently already start implementing edits at that stage.

A new thing I have also recently been doing is dictating a dialogue-heavy scene into a recording app on my phone, then transcribing it. One problem I’ve noticed is that sometimes dialogue can come out stilted when it only exists on paper, so I’ve been making an effort to make this come to life a bit more.

Research Tool: The Internet

Now, this is a very dangerous tool for a writer because sometimes you fall down the rabbit hole of click bait and emerge hours later not having written a word. And I’ve learned a lot from this type of research, often things not relevant to the book I’m writing.

Mood Music: None

I actually work best without a playlist for this kind of writing. Although I frequently do it in coffee shops (or my favorite gelato shop), so I get music whether I like it or not.

Fuel: Coffee and Chocolate

Both sweet (my coffee does not have to have milk in it) and caffeinated, I credit at least half of all the words I’ve ever written to these must-haves!

BEAST MODE

I’m a total grouch when writing in this mode. “Don’t talk to me” becomes my favorite and most frequently uttered sentence. Distractions are quashed ruthlessly, and I don’t even need Write or Die to hit kamikaze mode. Sadly, typos and plot holes are more likely when I’m writing in this mode, simply because the words go from mind to fingertips to screen with very little delay. I was in writing in this mode while writing Old Enemies Make the Best Lovers. I wrote the first draft (9,000 words) in one night, then after getting my beta readers’ comments come in and having a think about what was wrong with that draft, I ended up rewriting the whole thing in about three days, coming up with just under 22,000 words this time—and only about two pages of those were copied over from the first draft.

Writing Implement of Choice: Any Darned Thing!

I have been known to write on the backs of receipts and my cellphone in this mode (which, let me tell you, was a pain back in the days before smartphones). I much prefer using my computer, though, or my iPad-and-keyboard combo, simply because they let the writing go as fast as I need it to.

Research Tools: None

I don’t research in this mode because I know I’m a fish that likes to chase after click bait rather than a shark who chomps down on prey when it comes to snippets of information. What I do instead is leave a bracketed note to myself like this: [insert: name of exchange student] or [research: types of engagement rings]. Then I’ll go back and fill in the blanks later on.

Mood Music: Earworms and Action-Flick Themes

My default music in this mode tends to be fast-paced, but the actual songs I’ve used in the past have varied, even if they don’t really fit the type of story I’m writing. I usually like to use action-flick theme songs as go-to mood music (the theme song for Pacific Rim is a particular favorite of mine), although when I find myself with an earworm (or LSS, as we call it here in the Philippines), I will ride that baby on repeat ‘til I run out of juice. For Old Enemies Make the Best Lovers, I had four songs that pulled me through 12 chapters (and I wonder if you can recognize which songs were on repeat for which chapters!): “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley and the Wailers, “Zombie” by the Cranberries, “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers, and “Timber” by Pitbull featuring Ke$ha.

Fuel: Coffee, Coffee, Coffee!

Honestly, I will very often forget to eat or drink or even go to the bathroom when in beast mode, but when I emerge enough to remember I need hydration, I usually go sniffing for coffee (even though I know that’s terrible for hydration). Fortunately, I have a husband who supports my writing so he will sometimes just randomly put food and drinks in front of me when I’m on full-on beast writing mode.

Does anyone else turn into a different person when a deadline looms close? I’d love to hear how that works out for you! I don’t publish 90% of the books and stories I write, although I have recently been persuaded to revisit old drafts and prep them for publishing once I finish my current WIP. Once I’ve published more novellas and full-on novels, I’ll be curious to know which are better received: the ones written in “beast” mode or my more “casual” stories!

Author Bio:

Kate Sebastian has been crafting stories since she was tiny. She spent her childhood reimagining classic fairy tales and inventing new ones, then having her dolls and stuffed toys reenact them in elaborate sets she built by rearranging the furniture in her house.

She earns a good living as a writer, editor, and online content admin but decided to try her hand at writing romance since she reads so much of it.

For more updates, visit http://www.katesebastian.com, like Kate’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/katesebastianauthor and follow her on Twitter @ImKateSebastian.

Follow links:

Website: http://katesebastian.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katesebastianauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ImKateSebastian
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8202657.Kate_Sebastian
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Kate-Sebastian/e/B01AZLX1U4

 

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Guest Post: Writing Process by PT Denys author of Violence Begets

For this stop, I was asked to tell you about my writing process, whether I work on an outline first or just write without one.

What at fun thing to talk about – here you go:

I guess you could best describe my writing process as episodic. What I mean by episodic is that I write what I feel like writing when I feel like writing it. For example, I’ve already written the ending of the sequel though I am still not entirely sure how my characters are going to get there. Tomorrow, I may write a scene that falls towards the beginning because I hear a good song on the radio that sparks an idea.

In short, I approach writing first by noticing when something inspires, touches or troubles me. I find the emotion in that situation and I turn it into a scene in the book. I borrow from my life and from the art that touches me.

For example, years ago I saw a Cold Case episode where two men kiss and the first kiss is quite a shock to one of them, yet he responds in kind to his friend.

Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UxuVt0sGDM. That scene stuck with me over the years – so much so that when I was working on Violence Begets…. the first kiss between Kevin and Rick had roots tied directly to that episode of Cold Case. As most writers will tell you – we draw from real life and what we know.

Second, I create a rough story arc in my head. I don’t really plot it out or write an outline. I simply identify 3 or 4 major touch points in the lives of the characters –then I float those ideas by the characters. I’ll put the character in that situation in my mind and see how he or she reacts. I let them play around and I watch to see if it feels natural or forced. If forced, I’m pushing my idea onto them. If natural, then it’s something we go with.

For example, as a small sneak peek into the sequel, at one point, I thought I’d have Rick have an affair. I was actually pretty sure this was going to be a major storyline for him and I kept throwing it out to him but he just wouldn’t have it. No matter how I presented the idea to him, he wouldn’t latch onto it. I even tried to write a “morning after” scene for him but eventually tossed it out because whenever I would try to flush out or write scenes around the affair, they wouldn’t work, I’d get writers block, or whatever. So basically, I have to sit back and watch, waiting for them to say, “okay, yeah – that’s the one we’re going with.”

So, I start by just writing from things that inspire me. Then I try to put those “episodes” into some sort of story arc. Finally, I have to fill in the pieces. I do this much the same way as the major plot points. By this time, I know the major life events that happen and I know many of the important steps along the way, but I have to bring them all together. So, I lay in bed at night, floating conversations, ideas and possible paths out to the characters to see which ones they latch onto. Once they are on board, then I sit down and flush out the details – at that point, it’s pretty easy.

Though, I have to say – sometimes we’ve all agreed on a direction and then they totally take me down a path I didn’t expect. The scene in Violence Begets… where Rick tops Kevin in the canyons, that was so not planned. Originally, they were just killing time, hanging out and getting to know each other. I guess Rick was pretty much ready to let me know he was in love with Kevin and Kevin was ready to be vulnerable with Rick. Never saw it coming.

At the end of the day, my writing process reminds me of a quote Michelangelo said (though, I am certainly not comparing myself to him by any stretch of the imagination).

“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”

For me, every blank page has a person’s story on it and it’s my task as the writer to transcribe it.

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Thank you, Ms. Denys for your wonderful post, for sharing your writing process. Readers please check out Violence Begets below:

About the Book

Title: Violence Begets

Author: PT Denys

Genre: YA LGBT Fiction

After a tragic accident devastates his family, 16-year-old Rick St. James starts his junior year of high school without any friends in a suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah. When he meets Kevin Vincent, he’s too distracted by the promise of new friends to see that Kevin has secrets of his own.

Having created an environment where he’s feared and admired by his classmates, Kevin finds pleasure in using his good looks and violence to control and manipulate those around him. Secretly, he cruises the gay club scene, turning tricks to earn money so he can party and get high.

As Rick’s dad becomes increasingly violent and abusive at home, the two form a surprising and volatile trust. In this battle of wills, their precarious friendship will either keep their lives from blowing up around them or possibly light the fuse that will cause the explosion.

GoodreadsbadgeAuthor Bio

PT never imagined she’d actually publish a book. But, the story of Violence Begets… haunted her for over 20 years, and the lives of Kevin and Rick had to be shared.

In addition to writing a sequel, she divides her time between family, work, attending theater and reading.

Above all else she loves being a mother to 2 amazing daughters (a teenager and a baby).

PT believes that no one deserves to be intentionally hurt (physically or emotionally) by another. She also believes that behind nearly every bully is a story.

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