Not been a great week for writing. I only wrote about two days. Not much motivation.
I have been reading a fair amount. I downloaded the Hugo packet this last weekend. If you don’t know, the Hugos are awards that are given out for the best speculative fiction (primarily sci-fi and fantasy) at WorldCon each year. They are a big deal award. And if you have a supporting membership for WorldCon, you can vote. The supporting membership is something like 50-60$. You generally get all the short fiction (short story, novellete, novella) and a fair amount of the novel categories (best novel, best YA novel, best new writer, best series). It benefits the publisher to provide the books because being a Hugo award winning novelist means they are likely to sell a lot more books the next time something comes out.
I love it because I get to read a whole bunch of stuff I might not have picked up on my own. Though I was pretty proud that I already owned 3 out of the 6 nominated for best novel. Makes me feel like I’m keeping up with what the community is reading.
Word Count: 666 (cursed! lol)
Been a while since I’ve done one of these but they seemed like a good post to do to get back into the swing of blogging.
Writing has been pretty hard while dealing with the depressive waves. I’ve been on a good track for a while now though and writing had still been pretty hard. I have been able to do it but I’ve had to kinda of trick my brain into it in some ways.
One way was in a discord group for writers, I found an accountability buddy. We decided to report to each other in a public channel each night what our progress for the day was. It could be words written, pages edited, outline done. Anything that was an actual forward movement. And that’s helped a lot. Its funny how “outside responsibility” can make you do stuff that you wouldn’t have done if the only person to be disappointed/care is yourself.
Another thing I did was I finally sat down and used an outline method to outline my current work in progress. I was getting stuck and started to hate my work. It’s a rewrite from something I did in 2018. The initial draft had characters who’s only purpose was to support the main character, plot holes and obscure motivations. In other words, it had problems. But I liked the characters, the magic and what I had originally wanted the plot to be. So I decided to rewrite it since I had a better understanding of the characters now. Surely everything would go better.
It did not.
I don’t know why I thought it would. Things never work out like you think. But when I got stuck this time, I used an outline method that I’d been introduced to that actually made a bit more sense for my brain than others had. Its Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody, if anyone is interested. Using that, a completely cleared off dining table and a ton of notecards, I managed to get a workable outline that seemed to have a plot and character arcs plus a good antagonist. So I’ve been able to progress.
My progress is mostly in little chunks but I’ve been writing about every other day, which is more than I have been doing for a long time. And I’m pleased with that.
Word Count: 1722
I definitely didn’t manage to keep my goal of writing every day this last week. However, I did double my output. I wrote for TWO days. Baby steps right?
Its a bit difficult to write as I’m worried about my inability to edit the previous stories I’ve written into something that feels like a whole cohesive story to me. I’ve written three novels where I’ve said ‘the end’ but when revising they are… well a hot mess is too kind.
And it could very well be that I’m a bit to harsh on myself. Some of that is likely. But I also cannot see clear motivations, character growth, non-cardboard supporting characters, plot arcs etc. And those things are just as important as a cool super power or fantasy element.
I’ve been trying to figure out a better way to edit as a lot of my editing is just taking the chunks I don’t like and rewriting it. Which works but isn’t the best for productivity. I’m trying to figure out if that’s a problem in my editing process or a problem in my writing. Currently leaning toward the latter as my rewriting is coming mostly from plot problems.
I’m not an outliner. I’ve got a vague path and a few vivid scenes along the way but I don’t outline. I’ve looked at a few methods but they feel off to me. I am thinking I may have to figure out how to plan a better plot arc near the beginning of the process. It’s all a learning game at this point.
Word Count: 691
Its been hard writing for a long time. Part of it was a loss of motivation and part of it was my routine being thrown off. Working from home means that I don’t have to be limited to just writing during lunch. So I haven’t been.
But I’ve been feeling horrible about that lately. I’ve been beating myself up over this. I want to publish. I can’t do that if I don’t write.
So I forced myself to write yesterday. Not much, just going for 250 words. But its something. Its more than what I’ve been doing. I’m going to try to force myself to get the minimum 250 each day. That adds up quickly. I will get there.
Word Count: 266
Habits make things better for me. I know this. And yet every time I have a break in writing and then get back into the habit I’m shocked at how easy words flow. I can get the same amount of words during my lunch break in a fraction of the time.
Writing every day works well for me. It isn’t the way that everyone writes but having that habit matters. I sometimes try to figure out why that matters so much. Is it that I have the story more constantly in my thoughts? I’m pretty much always ruminating on one story or another when I’ve got free time so I’m not sure its that. Is it that I’m more focused? Possibly. Whatever it actually is, it works.
One thing that also helps my writing is taking in other novels. I have to read to fill my creative well. I’ve been doing that more lately. And I mean new stuff, not old books that are comfort re-reads. I’d had a pause when I got deep into the house buying process. And then the move packed all my books away. Now that I have the unpacked, I’m starting to read again. And it’s awesome. I feel so much more creative and happy when Im reading cool books.
So far, I only have two things that work well for me to get the words flowing. Writing it out like this, I feel like I need to get some more. Writing solely during my lunch break isn’t going to get novels written very fast. At my best, I can write 700 words in 30 minutes. That is at my very best with a very clear story and an outside deadline pushing me. Generally I get somewhere between 250-350 words. Which is not a number to sneer at but also not enough for me.
So, any creatives out there: what makes your creative thoughts flow?
Word Count: 1755
I’ve mentioned that NaNoWriMo is coming up. Now that October has rolled around, its even closer. I hadn’t been planning on doing it this year since everything was happening very close to November. But my discord writing group has been talking about it and I’m too excited not to do it.
So, now I need to do some prep work. The discord group is doing a boot camp in order to get all the way up to the massive daily word count that NaNo requires.
Our plan is to ramp up to roughly 1600 words in a day on Oct 31st. That way, we aren’t going from zero to 1666 words on Nov 1st.
I have zero idea how that is going to go for me. I generally get somewhere between 250 words to 350 words a day during my lunch. I will have no problem until we get to higher than that count. I don’t have time blocked out for writing outside of my lunch hour. It’s not a bad idea to get into that habit though. And external factors really tend to motivate me. So we will see how this goes.
Outside of writing words for the ramp up, I want to prep my story idea for Nano. Having finished a couple of stories now, I have a better feel for what I’m missing when I’m just pantsing. I’ve got a coolish story line going generally. And some cool scenes. But I don’t have the greatest hold on characters outside my main characters nor motivations for anyone. I’ve got vague ideas in my head but it doesn’t translate as well into paper.
I don’t generally outline but I want to experiment with it this time. It may not work out for me. I may only use parts of outline ideas. I may use all of them. I may find out I’m a better planner than a pantser. I don’t know. For now I’m researching methods that might work. I was going to give the snowflake method a shot first. It seems to be a little less regimented. I’m also going to keep in mind the MICE quotient (see bottom) while doing this. This is something used by a lot of authors I really respect to explain how story structure should work.
I’d love to go to some more conventions or some workshops to get some more ideas on how to better my work and how to think about stories in different ways. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be in my future outside of reading about writing. So I’ll do that while I can. And do practical practice when I can’t. After all, one of the most common suggested ways to get better at writing is to write!
Word Count: 1213
I made words this week! A fair amount of them. I’d actually been feeling down about my progress until I added up my word count for this post. Seeing that I’d done so much made me kinda giddy.
Its not much progress on my actual story rewrite. I’ve fixed a scene that needed to have some info changed. Im halfway through the next scene. I had a plan for that scene but when I checked my notes after writing a chunk, it had deviated slightly. I’m okay with the new direction for now. Its got the right tone.
Im still struggling with motivations. I’ve got some articles pulled up that I’m slowly reading through in my spare time at work. I haven’t had as much time as work has been busy. These articles won’t be a solution but the hope is that I will have a few new ways to think about motivations.
I’ve also been thinking about NaNoWriMo recently. It’s only just over a month away. Initially I wasn’t planning on doing it. I burn out like mad each year I complete it. But my online writing friends have began planning which is making me want to plan as well. I even have an idea.
But I need to consider if doing it is going to be healthy for me. It’s lots of stress and absorbs all my focus. I even did some calculations to try and see if I could do the minimum during the weekdays and load up on the weekend days. The numbers weren’t in my favor. If I did that, I’d end up needing to do 4k words each day of the weekend. That is the absolute most I’ve ever been able to do and I basically couldn’t think afterward.
So nano is up in the air but I am making progress on my current work. We will see what these next couple of weeks bring.
Word Count: 1416(!!!!)
The writing front is not moving anywhere really. I’ve definitely been thinking about writing a lot more. I feel stuck though.
I got some feedback on a partially finished story from an internet friend. She didn’t think it was crap, which is always good. I hadn’t been able to tell if it was a bad story or if I was just in the sticky middle and hating the slog. I was going for horror YA ish as the genre and she pointed out that it’s more YA with horror elements at this point in time. I had kinda felt the same but I was writing in the time crunch of NaNoWriMo so I didn’t really have time to stop and fix the direction. I think I may have to do that now, if I want the story to go the direction I want it to go. I may also try to *gasp* outline (I never outline) in order to really figure out what the elements I’m looking for are.
I found my notebook for my full novel and the changes I wanted to make there. I’m still trying to figure out what the main parties motivations are before I start trying to write again. I know I need to do some major overhauling of the book. Trying to convince myself to let go of scenes that I really like is quite hard. I don’t know if they will fit into the next rewrite. So I need to be ready to ax whatever doesn’t fit. But its hard.
Motivations for characters are also hard. I don’t want cardboard characters. I have those in the current draft. The other characters besides the main character just exist to help the main character reach her objectives. I know they have lives outside of my MC but I didn’t put them on page. I didn’t make it seem like they were doing anything else. I want to figure out the whys of the helping parties. Which means I need to figure out what the bad guys are doing. And their whys as well.
Villain whys are hard for me. I want to make everything either cartoon villain level where they are just evil or I want to make them too relatable where you start to question why the MC is fighting against them. Which can work for some stories but I don’t really want that tone in this one.
Tuesday I sat down and brainstormed what exactly the coven is doing that is so bad, besides brainwashing their members and killing people. That’s definitely happening. I came up with a few plausible ideas. None of them felt perfect so they may need some more iteration. But WHY would any of this happen? I feel like I’m asking myself that a lot this past week. Hopefully I will arrive at the answer soon.
Word Count: 0 😦
So there is a figure of speech where you say you have only so many spoons to do things. If you run out of spoons, you run out of ability to do more things during X time period. I definitely ran out of spoons for lots of things while the house buying process was happening.
One of those things was writing. Writing takes up a lot of mental and emotional effort. I had none left to give. I did miss it. Writing is a lot of fun when it is going well. It’s not very fun when it is going poorly. And for the story I was working on, it had been going bad. I cannot tell if it is a bad story or the sticky middle.
I have trouble writing parts of the middle. I can build the beginning, build up the problem and tension and I can come up with a cool ending but connecting the two is hard. It is something I need to improve on. But I do feel like there are developmental issues with the story.
Since I can’t easily tell the difference myself, I asked my writing group what they do to figure it out. One lady who I have been talking to said she’d read for me and let me know what she thinks. We exchanged works. I’m very grateful to have an outside opinion coming to me at some point
Since I’m not sure about the current work, I decided I’d switch back to editing my previous novel. I’d gone through a light edit around April on that novel. In doing so, I identified some serious plot issues. I’d mused over the issues for a while and wrote down some ideas I had on how to fix some of it. I started to work on that during lunch on Tuesday. But I didn’t have the notebook with those notes. Four notebooks on my person and I didn’t have the one with those notes. wtf.
I did get some writing done which felt pretty good. I’m going to search for the notebook so I can get more done as the week goes on. Hopefully I can get the writing juices flowing again.
Word count: 252
I was reading a book this week and I came back to myself realizing that I had gotten dragged into a different headspace. I was giddy and excited for the main character and things that were happening for her. I was tense when battles were happening and things were going wrong. I felt relief right along with her when problems were resolved.
Those emotions are pretty much the reason I keep reading. I love being in another person’s life and feeling like I’m right there next to them, dealing with the same problems. It’s exhilarating and it helps separate from the daily stresses of my life.
This is also one of my main reasons to write. I want to inspire those feelings that I love in other people. I want to share my imagination with them and bring them out of their lives to experience the life of someone else. It’s one of the craziest ideas, being able to connect with someone across the globe or centuries later just by having experienced the same world through a book.
It is daunting though. Especially when I’ve had over a week of not writing. Getting to that point sounds next to impossible. I’m not a horrible writer, in my opinion. But I’m no where near the level of the authors I admire. At times, that seems like an insurmountable goal.
But I have to remind myself that all those authors went through the same steps I have. They had crappy drafts, weird word choices, flat characters. And I just have to work through it. The more words I write, the better I get. And I can’t see my work the same way someone else might. It’s hard to see something as shiny and beautiful when you’ve painstakingly carved each inch and dug out all the mod and bloodstains that hid in the cracks.
It’s one word at a time. One sentence at a time. One paragraph at a time. Just steps up to the amazing experience I hope to share in the future.
PS- The book I was reading was the fourth in the Innkeeper series by Ilona Andrews. Highly recommend. 😉