Let’s start off with a confession: last week was rough for me. My depression and anxiety were pretty severe which made it hard to do anything writing wise beyond the absolute minimum to get my freelance manuscript turned in. The great news is: it got turned in! Damn straight, I finished the edits, submitted, and sent off the invoice as well. I spent all weekend relaxing, trying to get my groove back, as it were, so I could tackle my next project, plus all the other writing related tasks I have on my docket.
Sadly, I’m not feeling much better today. I want to be able to say that I’m going to write 10,000 words this week, and do my requested edits on my first freelance submission, and start working on my pitches for next quarter. I’d like to say I’m going to read and blog and all that stuff that I really want to do. But I know over promising and ultimately under delivering, even if the only expectant party is myself, will just make me feel worse in the long run. Yet… all this work has to get done somehow.
So, instead of setting myself up for failure and contributing to an already pretty down mental state, I’m going to try and do the opposite to maybe help lift myself out of it. I’ll do this by setting tiny, realistic and very achievable goals and, hopefully, meeting them. I won’t think about the next task until the first is complete. I won’t stress that I’m not working hard or fast enough.
At least I’ll try, anyway. Isn’t that what matters in the end, that I try?
Hello and welcome to another short and sluggish edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.
Friends, let’s get right down to it. My struggles this week begin and end with this new freelance project I’ve been working on. Suffice it to say, after successfully turning in my first manuscript and getting to generate an invoice for that work, work for which I will actually be paid, I thought that I would easily be able to slide into the next project. I mean, I had just proven that I am capable of this job after all, hadn’t I?
Turns out one success is not a sufficient bulwark against burn out. Or writer’s block. Certainly not both working in tandem.
Also working against me is the fact that my annual staycation from my day job is coming up next week, putting me in that distinctly “high school senior in the last two weeks before graduation” sort of mindset (did anyone else call that senioritis or was it just local slang?). Trouble is, while I won’t be working at my day job next week, I still very much have to work on this freelance project if I want to turn it in on time. I might have been able to get away with not writing (or at least writing very little) if I had just frontloaded my word count burden onto this week and last week, but, uh, I did not do that.
I’m trying to look at this as a learning experience. My writing isn’t always going to adhere to the same patterns as my day job. My life is going to look a little bit different now that I have additional obligations outside of my 9-5. And, most importantly, I can’t just decide that playing video games is a better use of my time than writing. Not when I’m on deadline.
No matter how much nostalgia Mass Effect Legendary Edition brings with it.
The good news is if I do 2000 words a day starting tomorrow, by the time vacation is over the manuscript will be completely done.
Now I just gotta convince myself to write 2000 words a day while on vacation.
I’m not sure I’ll be doing a Friday Feelings post tomorrow, but if I do I’ll see you then. If not, I’ll be back June 8th with post-vacation Monday Motivations. Until then, friends, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.
Hello and welcome to a late but actually craft oriented edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.
Some exceedingly stressful situations at my day job last week sucked up some spoons I had reserved for blogging, which is why I went radio silent last Thursday and Friday. This week brings new stresses, but I’m determined to get back on track. That’s what pro writers do, right?
I am coming up now on the climax of my current freelance novella, a little behind schedule. There’s a couple of real life things I can blame (second COVID shot side effects and the aforementioned work drama for example), but I have noticed a niggling little craft thing that has given me to start slow on occasion, including a lot last week.
In reading, we are all familiar with the idea of finding a good place to stop. It’s why I tend to read straight through to the end of a book whenever I reach the climax. It would be easy to apply that concept to writing. When you’re in the middle of a juicy scene, or really fast moving sequence or chapter, and the creative mojo is really flowing it might be tempting to write straight through until you’ve resolved whatever tense moment you’ve started.
What I have found lately is that impulse is to be ignored. Soundly. Friends, when you’re writing, I recommend finding a bad place to stop.
On the days this last week when I have struggled to get started, invariably those days were the ones when I had to start with a fresh scene or chapter. And though I could always reread the previous few pages, I still found that I had to create new momentum from a cold start. It, in a word, sucked. On the other hand, whenever I had to stop mid scene (sometimes mid-sentence) for whatever reason, it was much easier to pick back up again the next day. Then, once I was able to finish the scene, starting up the next one was much easier as well.
Yes, there were times when I was lying in bed, still thinking about the scene I’d left behind in favor for sleep, and I would get an idea for the next few sentences that were too good to let sit overnight. In those cases, I would jot them down in my iPhone notes app, just like I would with any other idea that struck in the middle of the night.
Since making this realization, I’ve made a conscious effort to end my writing session for the day in the middle of a scene, and it’s really helped me stay productive.
This isn’t a new concept, nor is it foolproof. But now that I’m on deadline I’m finding out all sorts of new and, ahem, exciting things about keeping up a steady flow of new words, so I expect more of these not new, not foolproof tips and tricks in the future.
I’m not gonna lie friends, I almost axed this post for this week yet again. I rushed it and after rereading it, I decided I hated it and thought no post would be better than a bad post. But then I remembered that routine is super important to me. If I let myself cop out again for the third week in a row, I’ll be setting myself up for yet another year of sporadic blogs and shitty content. So I decided: not this time. I’m growing. For now you’ll just get shitty content. Who knows, maybe next year I’ll evolve into producing something quality. The struggle of a working writer never ends. Until next time dear friends, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.
Hello and welcome to another anxiety-fueled edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.
And what a struggle these last two days have been. You see, friends, I seem to have worked myself into a burnout.
As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I have always had a hard time finding a sustainable balance between my day job, my family, leisure time, and writing, and that conflict is once again coming to a head. Largely because I’ve decided that adding a part time writing gig (on top of my personal writing projects), a new self-care regimen of diet and exercise, and some new home improvement/housekeeping routines all at the same time would be a fabulous idea!!!!! THINK OF ALL THE THINGS I’LL GET DONE!
Hah, except when I feel so much like a wrung out sponge that I can barely drag my ass into the shower, much less wash a load of dishes, walk the dogs, put my kids in bed, read three chapters of a dense as hell book, come up with a couple new pitch ideas, write 1000 new words toward my WIP, and unwind with a little basketball or video game all in the same evening, like I’ve for some reason convinced myself is possible.
Part of me is convinced I’m at fault here. Other people do all these things, what the hell is the matter with me for not being able to keep up? Or, that if I took myself seriously as a “professional writer” I would make it work and since I haven’t that’s just proof that I can’t hack it at my dream job.
Another part of me knows that one solution would be to make sacrifices. Like… while I’m writing a “work” project, my personal WIP should be on hold. Make reading my leisure activity (even though I don’t really find it all that relaxing). Wake up earlier and go to bed later.
Or maybe I can compromise. Do “work” writing Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and personal writing Tuesdays and Thursdays. Figure out how to listen to audio books (I have audio processing issues which has historically given me to bounce them) so I can get my monthly reads in on the commute.
Or, become hyper-obsessed with budgeting my time. At 5:45 walk the dogs. 6-6:30 is washing dishes and making dinner. From 6:30-7:15 do “work” writing. From 7:15-8:15 is daughter’s guitar lesson. 8:15-9 is putting the kids in bed. 9-9:30 work on personal writing. From 9:30-10 read. 10 until bedtime relax. Except for Tuesdays and Thursdays when I have to blog. Does that fall under personal or work writing at this point? And the local critique group meets on Wednesdays (whenever the hell this pandemic is over, that is), how do I block out time then?
None of these are perfect solutions, which means I should probably make an attempt to cobble them together into some kind of grotesque amalgamation of a work/life balance, and… you know, that’s fine. If only my anxiety would stop giving me a guilt complex for not being able to do it all in a single day, that would be great.
So, I’m curious, for those of you who are in similar situations to mine: how do you survive the time squeeze? I mean I’m all ears for any tips and tricks. I have accepted the fact that I’m probably going to have to sleep less going forward if I want to make this work, and that my comfortable routines are going to have to budge up and make space. But most importantly, the last two days have shown me that what I’ve been doing is not sustainable. That first rush of endorphins from landing this new writing opportunity may have carried me through the first week of working almost non-stop, but those have worn off now and I’m left trying to make sure I can actually do all the things I promised myself I would.
And so ends another day in the life of just another struggling writer.
I almost didn’t even write this tonight. But I’ve actually, for the most part, managed to keep my blogging habit going and I’m really proud of it. So, even though I’m tired and crabby and want to watch the Voice while I work on my latest cross-stitch pattern, I wrote. And, today, that’s a win.
So I’ll be back next week, hopefully unclenched. I will most certainly not be ready to review my latest read as it is dense. Normally that would be grounds for my brain to excuse DNFing it, but it has so many elements I wanted for my now shelved Border Towns project that I know I have to finish it. For research purposes. Yes. So, all of that to say, I’m going to be slightly off my reviewing schedule. Hope that’s okay. Until Thursday, my friends, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.
Hey! Fellow white writers! Just a reminder! Diversity is good! Write characters that don’t look like you! It’s healthy! But! Don’t! Write! BIPOC’s! Stories! Just! Don’t!
Also, don’t try to prettify human suffering. Just a thought.
Anyway, those of you who are still here, welcome to another week in the life of a struggling writer. This struggling writer, anyway. And, lord, has it been a struggle. As it turns out, deciding mid-draft that your WIP needs a major developmental revision is not something that can be taken care of in a week. My mental pendulum keeps swinging from “excited and energized” to “I’m a terrible writer, all my ideas are laughably banal, and I’m just going to give up on this whole writing thing in general, don’t at me.”
I’m caught between the idea that my creative well is running dry and I need to take a break and refill it, and the little voice in my head that continually reminds me I took all of December off, I’ve barely done anything creative this month, I keep making excuses not to write.
I’m gonna figure it out. Eventually. I’m gonna strike a balance, and this will get written. Maybe even in my lifetime.
Anyway, one of the things I’m definitely going to have to figure out if I am going to get this book done is how to stop writing so damned thin.
I imagine many writers might say that writing thin is a good problem to have, and I believe that is true for a lot of people. For me, however, it’s a bane. As I’ve mentioned before, I started writing when I was 11, and though I started in original fiction by 13 I had been roped into the magical world of fanfiction. Now, my path is my path, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. I learned more than you’d think about craft, but one thing I left behind in those years was the ability to describe literally anything.
I relied on the fact that any readers would already be familiar with the characters and setting, and almost everything I wrote was entirely based on interactions. Conversations, conflict, sex. It was easy.
Now I’m kicking myself, because I find myself falling into that pattern even now that I know I have to set the stage myself.
I just did a read through of my second draft. One of the things I realized is that a major character has only ever been described (once) as “tall.” That’s it. That’s all you know about her. Another character, equally important, hasn’t been physically described at all. Most of my cast are little more than floating, talking heads.
Don’t get me started on worldbuilding. Again. I hate it. I mean, I love it, but, actually, I hate it. I have a perfect image in my head of what my world is, but when it comes to the text of the novel I don’t feel compelled in any way to describe it. “What purpose would mentioning the scenery of the countryside serve?” I ask myself. “Does my made up historical context really have any bearing on this scene?” or “Why slow down the pace and ruin the tension just to remind the reader there is a fully fleshed out world beyond this conversation?”
Most of that is thanks to a piece of writing advice I took and surgically grafted onto my heart, and that is: good storytelling is often about good secret keeping. Don’t give away what you can hold onto until the moment is right. And that is the philosophy I have carried into my fantasy stories: don’t info dump when you can sprinkle in the details as needed.
And, honestly, I still think that is really sound advice, but, in rereading this second draft, I think I may have lost sight of what is too much to hold back. The draft reads like I’m being greedy with my world, or that I’ve forgotten that the readers don’t know what I know. I rush from plot point to plot point without adding critical context, because I already know the background of X and Y characters’ relationship with each other, or where A and B locations are on the map.
At DFWCon I had the chance to sit down with an agent and kind of talk shop (I wasn’t ready to pitch yet, obviously, but I still wanted to get some insight). We got into a discussion about word counts for debut authors, and after hearing that I had just finished a first draft, he asked my word count. 105k, I told him. That’s really good for a debut fantasy, he said. Right in the butter zone. I wish I could have been pleased about that, but I knew, deep in my bones, that the only reason I kept it that low was because the draft wasn’t really complete. I had left so many details on the floor, details that would be inexcusable to leave out of a polished manuscript.
Going into draft 3, I know this is something I’m going to have to be serious about fixing. I need to learn how to take my time and properly build a world that readers will want to crawl into. I need to figure out how the keep the flow going without leaving important information out in the cold. I’ve got to teach myself that it’s okay to do those things, even if it means a 300k word draft.
Because that’s what revision is for.
That’s all from me this week. I hope you enjoyed Captain Kirk coming along for the ride with us. Next week I hope to discuss The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang, which I’ve been reading this month. Which means I need to close up and get it finished. Until then, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few!
2019 was a hell of a year. I have mixed emotions about it, really, because while there are a lot of reasons why the last 365 sucked ass, as it turns out, I actually accomplished a lot of my writing related goals.
I finished the first draft of Border Towns. I attended my first ever writing conference, where I got to call myself a writer without other people rolling their eyes. I started a second draft. I discovered the sheer joy that is editing and revising. I won NaNoWriMo second year running.
I fell down a lot, though, too. I wanted to read 25 books. I didn’t even crack double digits. I wanted to blog every week. Ha! Good one! I wanted to make new friends. I tried, but the mental health struggles were too real.
But, as I said in last year’s New Year’s post, I’m obsessed with new beginnings. Its one of the few things I’m hopelessly optimistic about. No matter how many times I fail, I know as long as I wake up the next day, I have another chance to succeed.
Well, I’m still here, I’m still trying.
So, without further ado, here are my 2020 Writing Goals:
Finish draft 2 of Border Towns
Start the Trunk Novel
Blog once a week
Start an instagram account
Dabble in podcasting
Read one new book a month
Regularly attend metro area critique group
Head back to DFWCon
I’m sweating just looking at that list, honestly. But, I figure, if I can achieve even three of them, even one of them, then I’ve moved myself forward. And I’ll never regret forward progress.
However, if I want to accomplish any of them, I know for a fact that I’m going to need to make one major habit change.
I need to learn how to write (and edit, and blog, and read etc.) at home.
I’ve gotten it so ingrained that my desk at work is where I Get Stuff Done that when I get home, I can physically feel my muse take off her bra and flip on Netflix. But the creases of time I find at work are no longer enough to meet my productivity goals (to say nothing of the fact that I can’t even blog from work anymore at all thanks to wordpress getting caught in the firewall). If I’m going to continue to grow and get better as a writer, I’ve got to stop being so precious about my home being the Leisure Space. I have got to stop making excuses to not put the work in. I’ve got to do better.
So, here I am, in bed with my laptop up past my bedtime with Mythbusters reruns cheering me on as I type. I’m tired. But it feels like a victory.
Here’s to 364 more victories this year.
That’s all from me in this very first blog post of 2020, the first of 52 I hope to write this year. Until next time, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.
Alright yall let’s get it out of the way first: on July 15th I got whammied with some major financial issues that triggered my depression in a bad way. I won’t go into it too much (you can read my previous post about how my depression affects my creativity here) but I’m back-ish now after a difficult two months. Thanks for understanding!
The big thing to come out of my hiatus is that I realized I didn’t give my WIP, Border Towns, enough time to rest between drafts one and two. When I started feeling the itch to write come back, it was always directed at other ideas. I felt disconnected from Border Towns, though, to be fair, I had the same sensation the last time I took a big mental health break from it.
But, I’ve given it some thought, and what with November right around the corner and all, I decided that I’m gonna let Border Towns breathe while I work on a new idea for NaNoWriMo.
Which brings us to…
The Weekly Struggle
I’ve had my 2019 NaNo project picked out since last year. I decided early that it would not be the Border Towns sequel, even though I have one planned, instead opting for something completely new. This particular idea has been percolating, like all my stories do, for a few years now, and since it is a standalone, self-contained novel, I won’t feel the pressure I do with Border Towns to continue laboring over it once it’s complete.
As I was doing some pre-outlining work last week, my momentum was arrested by the realization that… well, this thing has TRUNK NOVEL written all over it. I realized that I just didn’t see a point in it, not in the plot itself nor in the actual act of writing it. I couldn’t imagine an agent being grabbed by the premise, I couldn’t fathom selling it, traditionally or self-pub, and all in all it kind of felt like a waste of my time. After all, the whole point of me doing this writing thing was to make a career out of it, right?
I’ve been doing creative writing since before I can remember. When I was 10 I started writing awful self-insert Dragon Ball Z fanfiction (no, seriously) without even knowing what fanfic was. When I was 14 I discovered The Pit (you know the one) and found that the thing I had been doing the last several years actually had an audience if one cared to seek it out. I’ve written millions of words of fanfiction, most of it terrible, some of it good enough to inspire me, when I was in my early twenties, to maybe think about taking a stab at original fiction. It took nearly a decade to finally finish a first draft of something original.
So… something in me chafed at the idea of spending time, precious, precious time, on what would, in my mind, essentially be original fanfiction. Something that no one would read or care about. Something boring or bad (or both) that would only ever serve as practice. At that point why should I care enough to write it?
Well, the simple answer is, because I want to. The idea might be lackluster, the storyline might not be able to carry it’s own weight. It might never go anywhere but into the stack of used notebooks in my closet, to be pulled out in another ten years and cringed at. I’m ashamed to say it took me a few days to get over myself and realize: what in the hell is wrong with that? I know I need space from the WIP I am pinning my hopes on, if I ever want it to be good enough to pin my hopes on. I know I want to stay creative and get some more novels under my belt, because that’s what real writers do isn’t it?
As much as I want to profit off my creativity (I mean, don’t we all?), it’s the not reason I’m creative. I’m allowed to write something just for practice, just to keep my proverbial muscles loose, just for the joy of writing.
After the labor (of love) that the last year of Border Towns has been, I really needed that reminder.
(Compounding all this is the SUDDEN URGENT NEED I had on Monday to write a contemporary romance, when WE ALL KNOW GOOD AND WELL that I am a high fantasy writer. But that’s an entire blog post in and of itself. Maybe next week.)
What I’m Reading This Week
I’m not actually reading anything yet, but on Friday I picked up both Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri and City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty. Border Towns is lightly influenced by the Middle East and I wanted to read some fantasy more heavily in that vein. Problem is… I don’t know where to start! Tomorrow begins a mini-staycation and I’ll have loads of time to read for a change. Which should I try first?
That’s all from me this week. I look forward to returning to a regular posting schedule, especially as we get into my favorite part of the year: PREPTOBER! Until then, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.
Happy Thursday, fellow Struggling Writers. I took last week off thanks to the Very American Holiday™ but I am back now, with my ever evolving thoughts on writing! And away we go!
July is here and, with it, Camp NaNoWriMo. I sadly missed April’s camp, so I was determined to participate this time around. It also happens to fit neatly into my Border Towns second draft schedule, so it seemed perfect. My goal for July? 40,000 new words. Since I have been struggling of late to write consistently at home, I told myself 2000 words a every work day will get me over the finish line.
Despite some early setbacks, it’s actually been going pretty great. I was just thinking yesterday how much better I feel about this new draft than I ever did the first one. I said on Twitter that I’m actually excited to do my daily pages every morning. Whenever I finish a scene and check my outline, I say, “oh, yeah, that’s a really good one!” And I haven’t even got to the exciting parts yet!
I don’t expect this feeling to last. I’m only 14000ish deep out of an estimated 120k. Perhaps by the end of it I’ll be throwing my notebooks across the room like I did when I finished draft one. But until that happens, I’ll be riding this wave.
The Weekly Struggle
So, as I mentioned, getting this new and fun draft off the ground was not without it’s share of hiccups. Writing the hook felt not unlike I was using that torture quill from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. You know the one. I become downright hysterical at one point, ripping out the first five pages of my new notebook as each new attempt of an opening scene failed to live up to my wildest expectations.
“This is revision!” I told myself. “I can’t just write whatever and promise to come back to it later. Now is later!”
…Yeah, it was ugly. I ended up spending the majority of my first day back to the page on what ended up being a 650 word scene. I finally convinced myself to move on, but I still couldn’t shake the feeling that it was just… wrong.
The next day, I was still feeling distracted. I found it hard to pick up writing new words because all I could think about was returning to that first scene and perfecting it. I had transcribed and emailed myself the previous day’s work the night before, so I printed out the hook, picked up a sparkly blue gel pen, and… I edited it.
Let me tell yall, it. felt. incredible.
I never would have imagined myself as loving the editing process, mostly because I was dreading it so much. I honestly didn’t know how to improve something that was already written. Not because I thought that my writing was perfect to start, far from it, but rather because… since this is the best my brain could come up with the first time, why should I believe it’s going to think of anything better the second go around. Wow, did I have another thing coming.
My favorite part was when I just straight crossed something out, when I cut something without the intention to rephrase or move it somewhere else. Just boom, gone. It made me feel powerful, in a weird way. I also liked taking a clunky sentence and transforming it, via improved syntax or vocabulary or what have you, until it was functional yet beautiful.
I spent four hours on the edits of this one scene, probably more than I should have (though I justified the time expense by saying, it’s the hook! it’s the most important part! it has to be perfect!), and when it was all said and done I actually felt happy with it, an emotion I rarely feel about my own words on the page.
It worked so well for that first scene that I decided I was going to incorporate editing one previously written scene a day into my process. It hasn’t all been picture perfect, but it has helped me move ahead with a draft that is radically different from it’s predecessor while also scratching the revision itch.
Don’t get me wrong, though, this is not a technique that I could see myself adopting for a first draft. When it came to the first draft, all I could think about was getting from Point A to Point B to Point C, all the way until it was done. If I had gotten stuck in the weeds of editing as I went along then, I probably never would have finished.
The only tricky thing I’ve run into so far is, as it stands, I find myself inflating my word counts while I’m editing. I’m terrible at including description and have to remind myself that the readers can’t see what’s in my head, so I typically end up adding instead of cutting. I know that’s going to have to change when I do a proper edit.
And, rest assured, I’ll be here to flail and panic at you all when that time comes.
That’s all from me this week! I’m going to try super hard to get a blog post to you next week, but this month is rife with work obligations (pesky day job, paying the bills and cutting into my writing time) so I make no promises. Until then, however, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few!
Wow, it’s been another long, unintended hiatus. I’m really, really sorry about that. However, my time away from this blog hasn’t been a complete waste. In fact, the reason I haven’t had much energy to write new posts here is because I’ve been spending pretty much every creative iota in my body on my manuscript. I finally hit the downhill slope going into the third act and my every waking thought was bent on getting it done.
I’m pleased to say the focus paid off. On June 1st I was able to write “The End.” I then promptly crossed it out and wrote “To Be Continued” because it is the first of a trilogy, but I also wanted to say that I wrote those two words to cap off a year long journey.
It’s still kind of crazy to me that it was only a short 365 (+change) days ago that I made the decision to really forge ahead with writing. Part of me thought I was going to flame out again, especially after I got sick and had to take a very sudden break, so soon after that choice. When NaNo rolled around, all I could think about was all the years before I had tried and failed before I’d even crested 10k.
But I made it. I won. For the first time in my life I won NaNoWriMo. And yet, still I doubted myself. After all, 50,000 words only put me at halfway. There was still so much work to be done, and with my mental health struggles rearing their ugly head, part of me was resigned to chalk this whole effort up to another failed experiment.
Even at the end, after I had reconnected to my story idea and the words were coming so easily, when my daily word count surpassed even my NaNo pace, it was still really hard. The last week or two I found myself close to tears when I sat down to write, simply because I was just so damn tired. I wasn’t creatively blocked, because, again, I knew exactly where I was going and how to get there, and the words were coming, but the labor of putting it all on the page took so much more out of me than I ever expected it would.
Writing is work, yall. Hard work. It’s draining emotionally, mentally, even physically (oh my god I don’t even want to talk about my hand and wrist). And I say all this knowing that this really is just the first step in a never ending cycle. I know that there is still so much to do if this manuscript ever has a chance of seeing the light of day.
So, in the end, is it worth it? Is it worth all the angst, the pain, the exhaustion? Is it worth the constant distraction from every day life? Is it worth pouring so much of yourself into something with every possibility of accomplishing so little?
My answer? Hell yes.
The Weekly Struggle
So, now what?
Well, that’s what I’ve been asking myself since Saturday. The obvious answer is revision, of course, but all signs point it being a very bad idea to start right away. Knowing how much drafting took out of me the last month or so, I figured I should probably give myself a break before diving straight into draft two. After asking and reading around, I decided one month should be sufficient time and space.
And yet, every day since I finished I have literally forgotten that there’s no writing to be done. I get my notebook and my pens out and… do nothing. Even knowing that some time off can only be a good thing for both me and the project, it still feels just plain wrong to allow myself to be idle. Couple that with some deep seated fears I have about the revision process, and… yeah. I’m extremely restless.
I’m trying to combat all this nervous energy by doing some light MS-related work. I’ve sought out character and world building worksheets to play with. I’ve continued with transcribing my back log of words (seriously, I’m about 30k behind, it’s pathetic). I plan to create some new outlines based on the first draft and what I hope to get out of the second. All told, I hope I’m ready when July rolls around to really dive into revision.
Because, and this is important, I’ve decided that this year I’m going to continue to push myself in my writing. I have heard before and can accept the fact that my first manuscript is not likely to be very good (and it’s true, at least for now; this first draft is point blank terrible). I probably won’t attract agents or offers with it. I’m fine with that. I’ve heard before and can accept the fact that I need to write a whole hell of a lot more if I ever want to be good enough to be published, which means I can’t spend an entire year on every single MS I hope to write. I have heard before and can accept the fact that this is not going to get easier just because I now can say I have one completed draft under my belt.
Last year was all about accomplishing a ten year old goal. I have proved to myself that I can do it. So, this year will be about hitting new milestones and exploring the parts of writing that I’ve never been to before, like revision and juggling multiple projects at once.
I’ve drawn up a very ambitious schedule for myself. The gist of it is, by this time next year, I want to have both the second and third drafts of this current MS done. I won’t commit to being query ready by then, because I know there’s a lot more to revision and editing than just drafting and redrafting, but I would like to be at least ready to send out to betas.
I’m also going to dive into a new project for NaNo, which I’ll talk more about another time, but it will mark the first time I’ll have to divide my creative energy between two ideas. I’m somewhat nervous, but I’ve been nervous every step of this process, so really, what’s the difference?
And that’s the update. Thanks to everyone who’s followed along this far. Looking forward to another incredible year.
What I look for in a book these days are things that inspire me to improve my own craft. Just a few chapters deep into The Priory of the Orange Tree and I knew I had miles to go in my world building. The history is so lush and rich in this story, I actually felt called out for not giving my own project that level of attention to detail. Every night I read a chapter so that I can get up in the morning freshly inspired to tackly my own lore’s shortcomings. Awesome, really awesome.
That’s all from me this week. Next week I’ll be back (I promise) with a new post discussing my ideas for my next project and what it means to write for yourself. Until then my lovelies, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.
I’d been having some trouble reconnecting to my manuscript after my little hiatus. That was a tough spot to be in by itself, because it fed back into the guilt and resentment I’d been feeling during the hiatus. However, after giving it some real thought, I realized that the problems I was having with it started before I took a break. And after doing a read through of the last half dozen scenes I wrote, I was able to pinpoint what it was that was giving me such a hard time.
I talked about it in the last post about the hiatus: I had written myself into a corner. At the time, I told myself that was okay. It could all be fixed in revision, I just needed to keep moving forward regardless of that pesky little scene.
Well, reading over it and all the disjointed, messy, stunted scenes I had tried to write after it made it apparent that this was an error that could not wait until draft two to be revised.
So I committed to stripping out the last 2500 words and rewriting them entirely. To date, I’m not quite caught up to where I left off, but I feel so much better about what I’ve done.
Writing is such a fluid process. Sometimes, it will be better to just leave trouble spots to fix later, but there will also be times where it is necessary to do some on the spot revision. It’s not always going to be obvious which solution is the right one.
The Weekly Struggle
This week (and the week or two before, really) for me has been all about getting myself back into a healthy, positive mindset when it comes to my writing. I’m terrible at habit forming, and I tend to jump around from one fad to the next trying to find something that works for me.
Sometimes I wonder if the lack of consistency is part of process and I should just embrace it, but that’s neither here nor there.
A fellow writer I admire and follow on Twitter posted her writing To Do list last week, and throughout the day continued to post updates to it. I loved it. Mostly I loved the public accountability part and the way it drew her friends and followers into her process. I thought to myself, “I am so going to do that every day from now on.”
I realized 200 milliseconds later how ludicrous and annoying that would be.
I’ve had bad luck with To Do List productivity apps in the past (see above), but I thought that I would give a new one a try anyway. About twenty minutes and a few ill-fated downloads later, I was feeling dejected. My writing is tactile — as you all may know by now, I do almost everything longhand. Using my phone to track my daily goals and progress felt like a betrayal of my most fundamental sensibilities.
And then I remembered, belatedly, like a dope, that because I languish in longhand I carry a notebook and pens with me literally everywhere. At the time, hilariously, my drafting notebook was sitting about three inches to the left of my arm.
So, I flipped to a new page and I wrote out the writing-related tasks I would like to accomplish, complete with cute little check boxes that I could tick off.
Then, on a whim, underneath my list I wrote a few words to remind myself to keep my spirits up. I was (and still am) shaking off some depression-related doldrums and needed a boost. I’ve never understood the “affirmations” sections of the numerous planners I’ve bought and abandoned over the years, but that day, for whatever reason, it clicked.
Underneath that, I left a space for notes. I was researching new themes for this blog and I wrote down which ones I liked the best. I also jotted down various creative bits and bobs as they came to me (names, mostly; names of people, towns, chapters, etc.).
The next day I did it all over again. To do list. Affirmation. Notes.
And just like I started what I think is a rudimentary bullet journal.
Admittedly, I know very little about bullet journaling. I’ve done some cursory research into the subject, because I love fads and I will try almost any supposed productivity booster once, but at the time I found it to be too unstructured for my tastes. However, looking at what I’ve been up to the last week or so, maybe that which I rebelled against mentally is actually what I need. Not something I need to hold myself to rigidly (I’ve already taken a few days off from making these lists), but something fluid that I can utilize when I want or need it.
Honestly, I’m not really interested in whether or not what I’m doing falls into the “bullet journal” category. I don’t even know if it’ll stick. What I do know is that I get a very tiny surge of excitement and sense of accomplishment when I get to check off one of my little boxes. I know that writing my affirmations has helped me climb the hill of my various anxieties. And I know leaving myself a space to take notes, rather than relying on my memory, has already helped me stay in a creative state of mind, even when toiling away at my day job.
It’s working, for now at least, and that’s what matters.
Wow this one got long. I’ll be back with another post next week. Until then, may your writing be plentiful and your struggles be few!