i need a consistent tag for work happenings

Writing Questions Meme

Tagged by several lovelies (and forgive me for taking so long!): @thunderheadfred, @standintheashes, and @spinninglenny <3 Is there anyone left who hasn’t done this but wants to? I TAG YOU. I TAG YOU SO MUCH.

Is there a snack you like to eat while writing?

Look, I have a problem and the problem is cookies. I don’t need the cookies. I just like the cookies. Mostly, though, no. I just drink water. Lots of water. Sometimes a glass of wine. Very occasionally coffee or tea, but caffeine and I don’t always get along, unless it’s morning. Which leads me to…

What time of day do you usually write?

If I’m honest, I’m absolutely useless in the afternoon. No matter how much I sleep, I usually hit a mid-afternoon slump that’s just… Not Good for thinking. When I manage to write in the morning, it’s good. Also rare. So, mostly evening. I used to be a very late night writer, and still miss it, but it just doesn’t jive so well with, y’know, having a husband. 

Where do you write?

Often, at my desk. This is the first time in my life I’ve had a room that’s pretty much 98% mine. I have fanart on the walls. I have Garrus and baby Groot on my desk. I have my treasures all around me. I love my office. That said, sometimes I cannot work here. I don’t know why. Then, I usually decamp to a cafe. Sometimes I retreat to my chair in the living room (it’s a green Strandmon chair from Ikea and I love it more than life). A couple of times a year, I write at @w0rdinista‘s house, where I kinda have my own desk in her office, too <3

How often do you write a new fic?

Remember when the answer to this was like, almost every day? Yeah. Me too. When I used to write fic once or twice a week it was “slow.” Ha. Ha. Original fic is part of the reason I’m not as prolific now, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, being kinda in a low-grade stress state for various and sundry reasons has really messed up my creativity, and that’s not so great. (I’m recommitted to doing The Artist’s Way. For real. I’m in Week 2. Dear God, I hope this helps me get back in touch with the joy I used to feel when creating.) 

Do you listen to music while you write?

Always. Sometimes a curated playlist. Sometimes a single song on repeat. Often instrumental.

Paper or laptop?

Both. I also have a desktop, but rarely use that for writing because it’s the Windows computer and I hate Scrivener for Windows as much as I adore Scrivener for Mac. Weird. I know. Paper is for talking to myself, getting a different perspective, morning pages, making notes, trying to figure out tricky parts by saying, “OKAY. What the fuck was I trying to accomplish here????” (An astonishing amount of paper thinking starts that way for me. Yes. With the swearing.) Usually, though, it’s MacBook hooked up to peripherals. I have a Razer Ornata keyboard that is the perfect amount of clicky combined with non-wrist-hurting profile. I love it.

Do you have a special pre-writing ritual?

*stares into the camera like The Office* procrastinating. Cleaning. Making sure I have water. Making sure the stars are aligned. Crying. Eating three cookies and wishing I hadn’t. Okay, just one more. There’s raisins and nuts in them, they’re healthy, right? Damn it, Tara.

What do you do to get into the writing?

Sprint, actually. I find that doing a short sprint – even just five or ten minutes – is usually enough to shake off all the thinking and doubts and questioning and lingering procrastination that keeps me from my work. I need to get back into the habit of disconnecting from the internet.

Do you have a reward system for word counts?

Sometimes. If I’ve been having a really rough go, I’ll reward myself not for word counts but for putting in time, even if the word count sucks. Trying. A piece of chocolate after a sprint; an episode of TV or time with a book after a session. Nothing to apply too much pressure. Mentally and creatively, I’m a delicate !@$!#ing flower these days. It’s annoying. I kinda realized I’d let allllll the joy drain out of writing and wasn’t letting myself do anything fun as, like, punishment for not writing? So. That’s not healthy. I’m trying to be kinder to myself. (I am not nearly as kind to myself as I am to others. Also annoying!!!)

Is there anything else about your writing process your readers don’t know?

I love editing. I consider it a vital part of the writing process. I don’t dread it. I used to, until it really hit me (upon editing a book) how much better I made the story by pulling it all to pieces and making sure they all fit the way I wanted. Even when I’m writing fic, it never goes out without at least a couple of passes and a read-out-loud. Reading out loud catches so much. Sometimes I get Scrivener’s read-aloud function to do it for me, while I listen to catch anything awkward or wrong. (She pronounces names really, really weird.) For original fic, I like to edit on paper. Bad for trees, but for some reason I work so much better with a physical copy and stickies and red ink.

I’m not a plotter, but I do make notes. I usually know where I want to go and how I want to get there. If I get stuck, it’s probably my fault for not listening to the characters when they want something, or I’m trying to bully the story forward instead of letting it unfold. 

Morning pages are absolutely 100% necessary to my creative functionality.

Instead of falling down “research” rabbit holes, I tend to use square brackets a lot [Look this up later; how the hell is this spelled???; CHECK CODEX; I have no idea what’s happening in this scene it’s so boring omg figure it out later ughghghghg].

I have really been warming to the pomodoro method. I’m not consistent with it yet, but it really works when I put in the effort.

a note to all fanfic writers (but especially the underappreciated ones)

First off, don’t worry. I’ve been there. We’ve all been there. I’m sure everyone has a fic that you spent SO much time on and yet, for some nonsensical reason, it receives little to no attention and you wonder if maybe this is the day that you’re going to throw in the proverbial towel.

Well, obviously you shouldn’t. Just because something doesn’t get notes/kudos/hits doesn’t mean a fic is bad. Absolutely not. I was doing a really interesting tag meme about fanfic and one of the questions was how much you trust the reader, and the truth is, there’s only so much you can interpret, really, from a bunch of stats. So don’t think that notes = quality because that is not the way writing works.

Having said that, I do get it. I need and crave validation just as much as the next writer, which is why I treasure each and every comment on AO3 and stalk those who reblog my fics just to see if they write something nice in the tags. I was talking about this with the lovely quiveringbunny and decided to put forward the following tips to help you get your work around:

  1. Tagging is really important. I don’t mean tagging people (see #3). I mean tagging what/who your story features. For instance, if I write an Olicity fic, my first tags are usually going to be “olicitysquee”, “olicity”, “olicity fic” and “oliver x felicity”. Remember, only the first five tags are tracked (I think? Someone correct me if I’m wrong) so if you put this in your twentieth tag, I don’t think it’ll show up on people’s searches of that tag. Remember also that sometimes a character or pairing has a certain name or tag. A Laurel Lance positive fic can be tagged as prettybird, for instance.
  2. Tag what your story is about. Say if it’s a missing scene, or if it’s fluff or angst or smut. A lot of people decide to click the read more button purely based on that. Tag the episode it’s set in, if applicable. And if there’s a fic drive or challenge or meme going on, tag that too - i.e. Sara Lance appreciation week or the Road Trip Fic Drive. Often the people organising these will do a roundup, so if you tag it correctly, it can mean getting more attention.
  3. Tag people! :) I, for instance, am happy to read most Arrow fic, especially if it’s Olicity or Merlance or Nyssara. So if you write any of that, go ahead and tag me. But obviously that’s just me personally. See if there are certain people who consistently like or reblog your work. Tag them. I do previews of my fics that are typically 300-500 words long, and I tag anyone who likes or reblogs them. Maybe try that. And if your fic contains a certain pairing or character, then have a quick browse for blogs that promote that pairing or character. I’m thinking the fyeah blogs here, but also take a look at your mutuals and see if there are any diehard fans or certain pairings/characters there too. (Remember to tag people in the body of the post itself, not in the actual tags, because that way you can tag as many people as possible.)
  4. Write a good summary. Even if it’s just a line, or repeating a prompt, it’s important to sum up what’s going to happen in the fic.
  5. For the love of all things holy, pleeeeeease proofread your work. Even ask someone else to beta it for you if grammar isn’t your strength. You don’t want people to backclick simply because you haven’t punctuated your dialogue correctly. (And if you need help with dialogue punctuation, click here and I will walk you through it.)
  6. Make your blog easy to access and navigate around. Have a good and consistent tagging system (haha, that point is becoming redundant now, I bet :P) and also tag your own work with some kind of author tag so people know how to quickly find your fanfic. I tag all of my work as “minachandler” for that very reason.
  7. Write a masterlist of your fics and update it, reblogging it each time so your body of work is consolidated.
  8. Cross-post your work. Post on tumblr and AO3 and FFN - make your work readily available to people on different platforms because some prefer one over another.
  9. Reply to reviews and reblogs and comments. Remember that fanfic appreciation goes both ways. If someone’s taken the time even just to say “this is a great story”, take the time to respond to it. Not only is it nice for the reviewer to feel acknowledged, but it is also more likely for them to read something else you’ve written.
  10. Speaking of reviews, leave some of your own! Like I said, this is a two-way process. Send an ask to your favourite fanfic author or squee about a fic in a reblog or go on a commenting spree on AO3. Leave kudos and like things too, but try your best to vocalise your appreciation because that is most likely what you want for yourself. And if you build a rapport with other authors, they are more likely to read your work too.
  11. Lastly, please please please do not be afraid to self-pimp. Sometimes, the only way to receive attention is to ask for it. That is not a bad thing. This is a community where we share our stories and promoting your own is a way of building that community. So if someone you follow is complaining about the lack of pre season 1 Merlance fics and you’ve written two of them, then by all means, pimp away! :)

So I hope this helps someone! (It would be kind of funny and sadly ironic if this post doesn’t get any notes, lolol.) If you’re writing fanfic and you’re feeling underappreciated, don’t worry. Keep writing, and may you be showered in kudos, comments, likes and reblogs :)