Wednesday, July 10, 2013

5 a.m. Words

Today I realized a somewhat crazy statistic: at least 60% of my WIP has been written between the hours of 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. That's right. Those hours are not like the tooth fairy. They actually do exist.

Though I am what most people would call a "morning person," I don't enjoy getting up ridiculously early. On a typical weekday, my alarm goes off at 4:36 a.m. The process then goes something like this:
  1. Contemplate throwing alarm clock out window (realize this would take too much energy)
  2. Lie in bed, listening to just one song (hate radio stations who play "Apple Bottom Jeans" at 4:36 a.m.)
  3. Lie in bed, listening to just one more song (seriously, this time)
  4. Force self out of bed and into the shower (tripping over the cat is optional, but likely)
  5. Shower (errors may include stepping into shower while still wearing at least one article of clothing, using body wash instead of conditioner, etc.)
  6. Get dressed (chances of clothes matching: slim to none)
  7. Gulp coffee (burn mouth)
  8. Write
So why do I put myself through all of that? Why don't I just write in the evening? Simple. Because when I try to write in the evening, it goes something like this: 
I'll just check Pinterest real quick before writing. Ooo, that looks like a fun DIY project. But I would need lumber. Where does one buy lumber? A hardware store? I should search for the nearest hardware store. Why are they called hardware stores anyway? Twitter will know. I'll ask Twitter. Oh, look! 3 people tweeted. Oh, look! 4 more people tweeted. Oh, look! 1 more person tweeted. Wait, what was I doing? Pinterest. Right. That recipe looks delicious....
Before I know it, the day is gone and my word count is 0.

But if I'm going to get out of bed 2 hours before I need to? I'm not going to waste time on Pinterest. I'm not going to let time pass with nothing to show for it. I'm going to work. As a result, my morning word counts are typically high.

Plus, there's something magical about writing while it's dark and the rest of the world is asleep. It's quiet and calm in a way that doesn't exist the rest of the day.

I know what you're going to say. But Erin, I can't get up that early. My "writing" would look like hgdffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff because I'd end up doing this:

I get it. For you, my dear keyboard sleeper, here are some 5 a.m. writing tips:

  • Check in on Twitter with #5amwritersclub. There's an entire group of supportive people who will write with you. For me, the accountability and camaraderie are huge.
  • Coffee. Tea. Diet Coke. Caffeine. 'Nuff said.
  • Find a friend. Once a week, I try to meet up with one or two of my local writing friends. We're usually at the coffee shop by 6:30. It's my favorite morning of the week.
  • Invest in one of those alarm clocks that runs away from you.
  • Remember, this isn't time that you have to write. This is time that you get to write. Attitude is everything.
Try it for a week. Or even a day. You might like it.

And while you're at it, pass the coffee.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Broadening Genre Horizons

As a writer of contemporary YA stories, I tend to read a lot of contemporary YA novels. It is my default genre; the one that fills both my Goodreads virtual shelves and my physical bookshelves.  At times, my obsession can lead to an unhealthy exclusion of other genres.

For example, my local library is having a summer reading program in which adults can read any three books, attend a library event, and be entered to win a Kindle Fire. I was enthused about the program until I saw the catch: those three books have to be adult books. Non-YA books. Grown-up books. Books that I don't read.

I stifled the urge to have a conversation with the librarian about the devaluation of YA novels, then stepped back to take a look at my own reading habits. A quick scroll through the books I've read over the past couple of years shows that some of my highest-rated books are not contemporary YA. 

I may be reluctant to pick up non-YA, non-contemporary, and/or even (*gasp*) non-fiction books, but when I do, I typically like them. Plus, stepping outside of comfort zones can be good for growth. Just because I don't write sci-fi or non-fiction doesn't mean I can't appreciate it and learn from it!

So here are a few of my favorite non-contemporary-YA books I've read recently along with a few I'm going to make a point to read this year:

Non-Contemporary-YA Favorites
  • Every Day by David Levithan (Fantasy YA) - Words cannot express how much I love this book. Suspend disbelief and let yourself get sucked into this intriguing premise and beautiful story.
  • Room by Emma Donoghue (Adult drama) - Very few books keep me up reading into the middle of the night. This was one of them.
  • Home Front by Kristin Hannah (Chick lit) - I've read and enjoyed a couple of Kristin Hannah's books, but this one with the military family story launched it onto my list of favorites.
  • Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz (Fantasy YA) - Magical fish are about as far from contemp YA as you can get, but this exquisite book is well worth the read.
  • Crazy Love by Francis Chan (Christian) - Extremely well-written and convicting in the very best way.
  • Exposed by Kimberly Marcus (YA in verse) - So, technically this is contemp YA, but since it's written in verse (which I don't normally read), I'm including it here. With characters that leap off the page, exquisite writing, and a heartbreaking plot, this is another book that I don't just love, but LOVE.
Non-Contemporary-YA Books I Plan to Read
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Adult mystery) - I've heard all good things about this one. Plus I really just want to know what The Twist is.
  • Losing It by Cora Carmack (Contemporary NA) - I want to give the whole "NA" thing a try, and this seems like a good place to start.
  • Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham (Chick lit) - Generally I try to avoid books written by celebrities but as an avid Gilmore Girls and Parenthood fan, I think I'm going to give this one a chance.
  • Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis (Memoir) - An 18-year-old who gave up everything to go to Uganda and adopt 14 children? Yeah. I want to read her story.
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein (Classic fantasy) - No, I've never read the books. No, I've never seen the movies. Yes, I plan on changing that.
Don't get me wrong - I still plan to stay on top of "my" genre. I will still read and adore the fabulous contemporary YA out there. (I mean really, have you read Eleanor & Park yet? So good.)

But I'm also going to broaden my reading horizons. Maybe I'll enter that library contest after all.

What non-contemporary-YA books have YOU enjoyed lately?