Reaching the Halfway Point

Hi Everyone,

I’ve finally reached the halfway point in my manuscript. It’s so hard to describe how I feel about it. On one hand, when I scroll through the pages I feel like I’ll never be able to do it all again. On the other hand, I feel like I can’t possibly already be halfway there. I think  I’m kind of afraid of reaching the end, having to cut everything that doesn’t need to be there, and then finding myself all the way back at square one. I know that the real challenge is going to come after the first draft is finished.

First drafts are free to do whatever they want. Finished manuscripts are rational, and cut-throat. First drafts know that they’re not good enough, and they’re fine with that because they know they can improve. Finished manuscripts are anxious that they’re still not good enough at their best.

Although I’m a little terrified, I’m still so extremely excited at the prospect of actually finishing the first draft of this story, and I’m trying not to overthink the whole process. In four days I will be flying off to my residency in Iceland, to finish this thing once and for all. Wish me luck!

I hope you’re all having an amazing 2017 so far.

Yours sincerely,

Tamara Drazic

How to Make Real Progress on your Work-in-Progress

Hi everyone,

Recently I’ve been making more progress than ever on my WIP. I’ve finally managed to get myself out of the rut that I fell into after my writing degree, and it feels so good to be back. I am definitely not a planner when it comes to writing. For some reason, I just can’t come up with decent plot points in the planning stage. My planning consists of lines I might use, characters, and moods, but never plot points. This has undoubtedly lead me into some dead ends, but it’s something that I haven’t been able to change, no matter how many hours I’ve spent trying.

In the past month or so, I have been focussing on how to get back on track, and I discovered how to work with my process, rather than against it. Here are a few tips that will hopefully help you to get out of a rut and make some significant progress on your work-in-progress.

 

1  Only stop if you know what is going to happen next

I used to only write until my inspiration fell flat, and then pack up shop for the day. Don’t do that! Stopping at a dead end meant that the next time I sat down to write, I felt defeated before I even wrote a word. Now, whenever I reach my writing target for the day (more on that later), I make sure that I know exactly which scene I will write the day after. I know that I said I’m not a planner, but I’ve found that right after reaching my target, I’m able to make a tiny, one-scene plan with the momentum that I still have from the writing session. This way, it’s much easier to slip straight back into it the next day.

“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
― E.L. Doctorow, Writers At Work: The Paris Review Interviews

 

2   Set flexible and realistic writing targets

Obviously we need to push ourselves if we ever want to finish anything, but I think it’s important to avoid being too rigid. I’ve found that for me, the best writing targets are small, attainable, and flexible. I feel so much better about my writing and myself if I manage to reach my goal every day. I keep my targets flexible by giving myself both a word target, and a time target. This means that every day, I will either write at least 1000 words, or work on the manuscript for at least three hours–whichever comes first. I’m not saying that you should only write when you feel inspired; I’m saying that if you’re not reaching your goal every day, you need to check in and see if you’re not working hard enough, or if your goal is simply unattainable for your lifestyle.

 

3  Find your routine and treat yourself!

Discover the power of a hot cup of tea, or the right song (try calming classical), or the perfect writing spot. Try to really enjoy the time that you set aside for your writing. My writing time is the only time that I can get out of my own head and live in someone else’s for a while. I have found that, by creating the ideal environment for my writing, it feels less like work and more like a treat.

I think it’s important to experiment a little to find out what works best for you. Are you a morning writer or a night writer? Do you work best at home or at the library? Are you a planner or an improviser? Once I really got to know my process, and worked with it rather than against it, I started making real progress on my manuscript.

 

I hope this has been helpful to you, and I wish you all the best.

Talk to me in the comments! What are you working on?

 

Thank you so much for reading,

Tamara Drazic

 

Spinebind Issue #4 Released

Hi everyone,

Wow, it has been a busy week, but as always, totally worth it. Issue #4 of Spinebind Magazine went out into the world today, and I feel like a mother waving good-bye to her child on the first day of school. I’ve done my job, it’s now out of my hands, and if I find a spelling mistake, there’s not much I can do about it. Scary stuff.

Today has been packed with final proofreading, final final proofreading, uploading, trying to figure out why it’s not uploading, re-uploading, blogging, and emailing emailing emailing. I’ve also just finished a couple of hours of freelance writing work, and a quick Pilates session. I definitely need to make good use of this productive mood. I’m forever trying to figure out a way to make it last for longer than a day or two!

Anyway, for now I think I’m going to give myself a break with a cup of tea, away from my email inbox. Then, hopefully still in a productive mood, I’m going to sit down and write some more.

If you’re interested in purchasing a print copy of Spinebind, follow the link below:

http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/1225672

If you’re a bit of a minimalist who doesn’t want any extra stuff, you can download the PDF for free here: issue-4

I hope everyone is having a great and productive day!

All the best,

Tamara

My Creative Writing Playlist – Updated

Hi everyone,

I have been listening to some different music recently while I’ve been writing, and I thought I would share it with you all. I’ve been a little more distracted than usual lately, so I haven’t really been able to listen to anything with English lyrics. I have finally found some music that really helps me to block out the rest of the world, and even some of my doubtful thoughts. Let’s get into it!

  1. Haerra by Ásgeir Trausti
  2. Living Room Songs by Ólafur Arnalds
  3. Archduke Trio by Beethoven
  4. For Now I Am Winter by Ólafur Arnalds
  5. Fourth of July by Sufjan Stevens

Do you have any particular songs that help to keep you focused on your writing? Let me know in the comments.

All the best,

Tamara

 

Read More, Google Less – Goals for 2017

Dear readers,

Happy January! Here is a little list of the (quite extravagant) goals I have for 2017:

  1. Release Spinebind Issue #4 (20th of January)
  2. Finish the first draft of my novel manuscript
  3. Write a collection of micro memoirs of my trip to Iceland
  4. Move to a city that I love
  5. Get a day job that allows me enough time/brain power to write
  6. Read more, Google less
  7. Finish the second draft of my novel manuscript
  8. Save Save Save
  9. Travel – New York City for my 21st birthday, and Zürich to spend Christmas with family

Now that I have no structure to my life, I think it’s more important than ever to have some goals set in writing. I’ve been so busy with the magazine and my freelance work that I’ve been falling behind on what I actually really want to do. I can’t let that happen this year.

Thanks so much for reading. What are some of your goals for 2017? Let’s hold each other accountable.

Yours,

Tamara Drazic

Back Home (for now)

Dear readers,

I am writing to you from my parents’ house, on an inflatable mattress, with seven suitcases scattered in the hallway, the dining room, and the bedrooms. The past week has been a crazy mess of packing, cleaning, and goodbyes. My degree is over, and I’m in this strange limbo that isn’t quite real life, but almost.

Tomorrow is my twentieth birthday, and in two months and a day, I will be on my way to Iceland for my first writing residency. Thank you so much to everyone who pledged to, shared, and supported my Kickstarter campaign. Without that, I don’t know what I would have done.

For now I really need to get back to my writing. I have taken a bit of an unintentional break, letting work and life get in the way. Every time this happens, I get nervous for next year when I’ll have to have a full-time day job to support myself and my writing. I fully realise that I’ve been spoiled, having the freedom to fully immerse myself in exactly what I wanted to do for the past three years, and again at the residency. After that the real challenge begins, and I’m nervous and excited to go through it all with you.

Thank you so much for being here,

Yours,

Tamara Drazic

Is a Creative Writing Degree Really Worth It?

To anyone thinking about studying creative writing,

It’s 11 o’clock at night. I’m sitting here, having just submitted my last university assignment, scrolling through jobs on seek.com. Look, I’ll be honest; there aren’t many. In fact, where I really want to go, I haven’t even found one that’s just right. It’s scary to leave “the academy” after being a student for almost 17 years. First kindergarten, preschool, primary school, high school, and then uni. It’s scary to think that I have to leave this privileged safe-haven where I can work on my creative writing without having to hold down a full-time job.

During my studies, I have had so many discussions about whether or not creative writing degrees are really worth anything. Will that really get you a job? Do real writers really need a writing degree? Creativity can’t be taught, can it?

All I know is that the time I have dedicated to my creative work over these three years has made all the difference. This degree has given me the chance to go all in, and really get something down on the page. Something that I’m almost happy with (on a good day). Something that I’m going to finish at a writing residency on the other side of the world.

As well as this, I’ve also made connections with the most supportive and interesting people that I have ever come across. People who give up their weekends to write reference letters, and who do everything in their power to get you ahead. I can’t even count on my fingers the number of people who have offered to read my work and give me feedback, even for years after I graduate.

Studying a BFA in creative writing has improved my creative writing, and that’s all I was expecting from it. I chose this degree for the knowledge, rather than the qualification.

Maybe this degree won’t lead me to the perfect day job, and I’m not expecting everything to just fall into place. But the past three years have been the happiest and most fulfilling years of my life. For me, that makes it all worth it.

Kickstarter Campaign for Gullkistan

Hi everyone,

I’ve put together a Kickstarter campaign to help me get to Iceland for the writing residency next March. The target is quite small, and it’s just meant to help me with the cost of the flights. It’s open for 40 days all up, until the 20th of November.

I’ll be putting the names of any backers who donate $20 or more on the acknowledgements page of the book, once it eventually gets published (either traditionally or by self-publishing). I can’t say when it will happen, but I can say that I am dedicated to finishing the manuscript by the end of the residency next year.

Thanks so much for reading!

– Tamara

Connections, Coincidences (and naivety)

(photo credit: Thomas Hodges)

 

WARNING – I’m in a strange mood.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote down a few things in a little notebook, and I’ve slept with it under my pillow ever since, hand resting on its smooth cover as I drift off. In the notebook, I wrote about going to Iceland, preferably in March, and then maybe Paris on the way home. That was about a week before I even came across the Gullkistan Residency that I wrote about in my last post. If you’ve read that post, you’ll know that I am, in fact, going to Iceland in March to work on my novel.

A few days ago I found a musician that I really liked, called Keaton Henson. His music is so beautiful, and as I listen to it I let all my anxieties about what the hell I’m doing with my life come to the forefront where I can deal with them properly.

Today I was researching places to submit a personal essay that I wrote, and came across an article on Rookie Magazine about “Tumbleweeding”. Tumbleweeds are the writers that volunteer and live in Shakespeare and Company in Paris for free, for a short period of time. All you have to do is ask. This search brought me to a blog post in which tumbleweeds were being interviewed. One of the questions was “what is your favourite song?” The girl responded with “You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are”, by Keaton Henson. Not only the artist that I had just recently found, but the very first song of his that I heard and fell in love with.

I’ve been looking into flights to Iceland for next year, and it seems that I’ll have to make a stop in Paris. I know it’s incredibly naive of me to think anything of these coincidences, but they still make me wonder. I think that once I stop wondering, I won’t be myself anymore.

Anyway, thanks for listening to me ramble on. I hope you have a great day.

– Tamara

 

My First Writer’s Residency

Dear readers,

I woke up to some incredible news this morning. I found out that I’ve been accepted into the “Gullkistan Residency for Creative People” in Iceland for March next year. A couple of weeks ago I wrote to them about the novel I’m currently working on, and the plan I have for the month in residence, and now it’s all happening. I have wanted to visit Iceland for almost three years, and I can’t believe that I will be there for a month, doing what I love. I can’t wait to finish the first draft of my manuscript and hold it in my hands. Suddenly the end of my university degree doesn’t seem so scary.

Thank you so much for reading my blog and leaving such lovely comments; I can’t wait to take you along on this exciting path with me. Stay tuned for failed photos of the Northern Lights.

 

I hope something amazing happens for you this week.

All the best,

Tamara

P.S. The October issue of Spinebind goes live the day after tomorrow! It’s been a big weekend.