Saturday, June 24, 2017

Writer's Block

I'm one of the biggest hypocrites in the world when it comes to writer's block. I shout, "writer's block doesn't exist!" at anyone who complains about it, but a few months later I find myself suffering from the same condition. I struggle to find inspiration, I write myself into a corner with no way of moving forward. Sometimes I go months where I only write a few pages of fiction. Still, giving it a title that sounds like some sort of illness feels too much like an excuse. Professional writers work their way out of ruts. They write even when it hurts, even when it's bad, even when they have nothing to write about. 
I tend to tell people, "I'm a little stuck." They seem more likely to offer advice then-- they become more understanding. It feels more like a temporary situation-- something that will go away with some thought, something with a quick solution. Honestly, I'm lying to myself-- changing the way I phrase it doesn't make it any easier to get out of.
I'm a little stuck. 
I've started several books, all of them leading nowhere. I haven't touched Apples of Red Mountain. I've written bits of Ballade of the North, but nothing that's moving the story forward. So, now seems as good a time as any to talk about writer's block and how I tend to handle it. 
For me, deadlines help. Knowing that I need my novel finished whether I feel like writing it or not forces me back into the game, which typically cures me of blocks. Also, reading or watching whatever first inspired me to write a book of that genre can remind me of its roots and help give me new ideas. Doing extra research on the topic I'm stuck on can help as well-- if the characters are stuck in a scene where they're locked in a dungeon, I might do research on how one might escape from imprisonment. 
Most writer's block is temporary. Sometimes, you need to step away from any kind of virtual screen and go take a walk, read a book, spend time with friends, meditate (that's a big one for me). Sometimes writing by hand can help-- computer screens get intimidating sometimes, and being able to visually see the mistakes you make rather than hitting the backspace key will make you pay closer attention to your word choice. Listening to calm music with pretty lyrics or reading poetry can offer inspiration. Sometimes, you just need to read some advice you find online about writing to remind you how fun it is, how powerful words are. You have to be in the mindset to write; if you'd rather be doing something else, it will come across in your manuscript. Writing every day is a good way to ensure that the block won't grow. Dedicate a little bit of time in your schedule to getting out a scene or two, and soon you'll be writing chapters like you were before. 
Blocks are different for everyone and therefore require different cures. Just keep in mind that all are temporary, and no matter how talented you are, it happens to everyone. Deep breaths. We'll get through this (eventually). 

Until next time,
Cameron Davis

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Update and Music Inspiration

Good afternoon. 
As soon as I set up an actual blogging schedule I will be able to call this a weekly update, but as my last weekly update was two weeks ago, I don't think I'm allowed to use that word, so it's just an update. 
I went home this weekend to visit my family and friends, and while I was there I was able to relax, take a break from school and the world for a little while, and celebrate the first half of my birthday week (I turn nineteen tomorrow, if you didn't already know). While relaxing outside Sunday afternoon, about an hour before I drove back to Rock Hill, I spent some time admiring the flowers and I was reminded of my old flower card project that I did before I finished Nocturne of the Sea. As I became obsessed with the language of flowers a year ago, I decided to make portraits of a few of my characters (7 or 8, I believe) alongside a flower that had a meaning relevant to that character. Well, as summer is coming up and I would like something writing-related to take up my time, I've decided to do flower cards again, re-doing the ones I did a year ago as I did not use the same source for all the flower meanings (and my art has improved). I also plan to expand the number I do to include characters introduced in the other books in the series, as well as minor characters I've never drawn before like Captain Rush and King Faro. 
I drew the first card in the series yesterday and posted on Facebook, which you can view here. When I have a few done, I'll make an album on my Facebook page to make them easier to see. It's been fun so far and I remember loving how my old ones turned out. This time I'm using one source-- the Victorian Flower Dictionary-- to make sure my flower meanings stay consistent. 
Another update on Apples of Red Mountain: I'm still writing and developing the story and characters, but finals are quickly approaching and I likely won't make much progress until summer arrives. I'm still keeping the story in mind, however, and I'm hoping I can use it as my CampNaNo project in July. 

I thought I would share another source of inspiration I use that helps me write and gives me ideas for my story. Music really helps me get into the right mood I need to be in for the story, and song lyrics can really remind me of my characters and their struggles; sometimes I need those reminders so that I can get back on track with their development in my novels. Whenever I dedicate myself to writing a book, making a playlist is one of the first steps I take. I always make a Spotify playlist the week before NaNo/CampNaNo so that I have something to fuel me when I'm pushing out those 1666 words every day. If I'm writing a Solstice Song novel, I need music that reminds me of an epic adventure-- music that makes me want to climb a mountain or learn sword-fighting. That means a lot of Florence + the machine, Mumford & Sons, Band of Horses, and Bear's Den. If I'm writing for The Songbook, I'm going to want some classics-- The Smiths, Fleetwood Mac, maybe the occasional Beatles song-- mixed with music that reminds me of living in a grimy city, such as Bright Eyes and City and Colour and Two Door Cinema Club. 
If you listen to music while you write or brainstorm, play one of the recommended mixes on Spotify and when you hear a song that reminds you of a story, create a new playlist and add that song to it. Eventually you'll remember other songs you heard that have a similar sound and your playlist will grow into a true book soundtrack. 
If you want want to check out my Spotify, my user number is 1279318996. Some of what I listen to may be a little bit embarrassing, but if it helps other writers, I'm willing to make that sacrifice. 

Bye for now,
Cameron Davis 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

April Showers

I spent this weekend mostly by myself, which was good for me as it gave me time to catch up on a few shows I had forgotten about, lay around in bed, and work on Apples of Red Mountain, my current project that has been running through my head for about two weeks now. I've moved past the exposition and am starting on the real action, but I am still introducing the characters and giving the readers a clue as to what the whole story is about. There are parts I don't want to expand on just yet in the text, but the parts that I have were a lot of fun to write-- for example, I wrote a little song a few days ago that one of the characters sings that introduces a large chunk of the conflict, so I really am beginning to grasp what story I want to tell. I did write a scene from Ballade of the North, a tiny one meant to make the world grow a bit. I am excited to eventually get back to writing the NOTS sequel full-time, but right now I'm enjoying this side project.
The website for Burning Willow was updated and my bio is now included on the author page, which you can see here. It's exciting that my bio is at the top! I have to admit I squealed a little when I saw it.
This weekend I want to start thinking about what I would like in my Nocturne of the Sea cover and possibly look for some examples of covers I like and ones I think fit the style of my own novel, just so the graphic designers can get a feel for what I want. I know I would like to avoid having a real person on the front and that I do not want the story to appear as a typical Young Adult novel, but I would like to expand more so that the designers have more to go on.
The rain has been pretty intense this week; my classes were cancelled Monday due to a terrible storm. Rain can offer good environments for writing inspiration, but it also tends to make me extremely tired, so I cannot say I've managed to write too much. It's only Wednesday, though, so we'll see.

Catch you later,
Cameron Davis

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Weekly Update & Storyboards

Sunday I went to the Student Center of my college to get a bagel and found myself stuck in the building due to the on-pour that started around noon. Because I had my sketchbook, my Writer's Block Companion (the name of the current spiral notebook I write ideas in), and my phone filled with my Spotify playlists, I decided it was a good time to find a corner upstairs with a window and try to write something. 
What I came up with was highly influenced by the amount of Miyazaki films I've watched in the last week. I wanted to write something wholesome, cheerful, with the right dose of magic and world-building and a batch of realistic young people to pave the way. As I already have a basic but thought-out plot-line and my characters have been brought to life both in my sketchbook and in words, I believe this story could be the start of a fun project I end up completing. However, like lots of projects I take on that were due to whatever phase I was in-- superheroes, aliens, witches-- there's always the chance I give up on it. Either way, I will keep going and if I choose to put it aside, I believe this novel is fun enough that I will want to come back to it in the future. 
I have not worked on anything involving Freya in a while, but I believe that will change in the very near future as I start to think about what I want in the final copy of Nocturne of the Sea. It will likely inspire me to pick up working on the sequel, Ballade of the North again, which is good, because it's been a long while (I don't even remember the last thing I wrote about Freya). For now, i'm focused on the Apple sisters and their shenanigans. If I get back to Freya any time soon, I'll be sure to let you know. 
I'd like to talk to whoever's reading about something that has helped inspire me and build my excitement for my writing: storyboards. For me, it isn't just a collage of pictures; for each major project, I keep a collection of quotes, song lyrics, color palettes, places, people, and scenes that remind me of my story and may offer inspiration that could help further develop my rough ideas. I use Pinterest to storyboard; I'll link my account so that you can see what I mean. For example, I have a storyboard for Freya, Reed, Thyne, Alyeth, and Isadora to help me characterize them, come up with backstories and scenes, and remind me of the emotions I want them to invoke. I recently created new boards for my superhero story, The Enhanced, which may become a graphic novel, and Eagle, an old story I spent the last month giving new life to. Pinterest is a great way to find the aesthetic of your novel and to find quotes and scenery that may help you when you find yourself in a slump. Even more, you can find others who are using their Pinterest for the same thing, and the two of you can share ideas my being mutual followers. I have a little less than 800 followers simply because I spend so much time storyboarding there. 

Hope this helps. 
More for you later, 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

So back in January I got a publishing deal with an awesome indie publishing company known as Burning Willow Press for Nocturne of the Sea, my Young Adult Fantasy novel. In order to get the word out about my novel coming out in October of 2018 as well as to keep track of this project and keep everyone updated about what's going on in my little literary world, I decided to create a blog where I can post regular updates without blowing up my other social medias. 
Nocturne of the Sea started with a little idea I had over the summer almost two years ago for my high school senior project, where I take the characters and a few other little details from a novel I wrote when I was thirteen and completely convert it into high fantasy, a genre at the time I had never written before. This way I could hold on to the parts of the story I loved while changing it to something original where I had more room to expand the story and focus on world-building. By the end of February of my senior year of high school, I had finished the first draft of my manuscript at around 75,000 words. Now, about a year later, my book has been edited and tweaked to the point where it was good enough for a publishing deal. I am about to embark on the next leg of Nocturne of the Sea's journey where I prepare it for publication. As I have never published anything in my life, this is a new experience for me and I want to keep track of what I learn as best I can. 
A little synopses of Nocturne of the Sea: 
Freya Solstice, a twenty-year-old Sun Sprite with a knack for asking too many questions, has grown up in a sea-side village where her culture dictated that she never leave her people. She had always imagined travelling the world and witnessing all the miracles she heard tales about, from the crystal mountains to the port cities. She never planned to leave her loved ones behind to satisfy her curiosity, however. When strangers Alyeth Brookshade and Verrana Sky appear in her village offering to take her away on an adventure, Freya chose family and familiarity. When strange and unnatural beasts attack her home and a power she didn’t know she had was revealed, she had no choice but to leave everything she knew behind her and shove ahead into the unknown. At the call of an ancient seer, Freya must follow the map left to her so she can seek her own destiny and discover the truth about her own abilities. Freya is unaware that the legendary Baroness, a woman of great power and a known criminal, is only a few steps behind her and will stop at nothing to ensure that the future of Freya’s making will never come to pass. 
I've never kept a blog before, but I'm hoping this will help me with my writing and be something I can look back on at the end of this process with pride. I hope to keep it going through writing the sequel, Ballade of the North, as well as any other projects I may decide to publish in the future. 

Thanks for reading.
Until next time, 
Cameron Davis