Yesterday started out great, but somewhere along the way… yoga, actually… it took a wrong turn. A thousand words of outlining turning into a sentence or two of story by the end of the day.
The outlining was good, though. I have some solid ideas for where the story is headed. I may have made a major tactical mistake in my point-of-view characters, though, which could be a pain later. I had a choice between using Rose’s POV or Dillon’s and I chose to use Rose’s, but as the plot is currently shaking out, that was probably the wrong way to go. I don’t particularly want to change it, but I may have to decide to later. That’s a worry for another day, though. Today — grocery store, kitchen guy, starting prep for Thanksgiving, wrapping some R Christmas presents so he doesn’t see them when he gets home and somewhere along the way, squeezing in a bunch of words.
And staying off the internet. I need to get one of those blockers to keep me from getting derailed by every interesting train of thought that heads off in the wrong direction. Yesterday’s was whether people who acknowledge that they are not nice guys are potentially less “not nice” than people who pretend to be nice. It started from a football conversation about the guy who answered every question at a press conference with one word answers and went off in all sorts of interesting places, but it really wasn’t a good use of my time. I don’t think knowledge and curiosity are ever wasted, exactly, but it’s late November of the year I decided to take the business of writing more seriously and I have not exactly reached my ambitious goals. Ugh. Not going to think about that, because it’s not exactly making me more cheerful. Time to walk the dog and then after that, time for some words.
I just typed Day 30 by accident in the title bar. I wonder if that was wishful thinking?
I decided this morning that I should create a new NaNo goal for myself, just to make sure that the pressure of my impending failure doesn’t make me shut down and freeze (any more than I already am, that is.) 30K words and a blog post every day. That’s an achievable goal and a lot more likely to happen than 50K words, although I do think I could make it to 50K words if I just gave up my need for them to be good words. I could write 50K words of babble, I’m sure. But 50K words of babble would be reasonably useless, while 30K good words plus a blog post every day would not.
At any rate, I decided that, and then promptly forgot to write my blog post for the day until now. Ha. My mind does so like to play tricks on me. But at least it’s not 11PM when I’m remembering that I didn’t write a blog post.
Yesterday was not a huge word day. I intervened in a dog fight–well, first I caused it, but then I intervened in it–and wound up with a bloody, bruised, but fortunately not broken, pinky finger. I wound up taking some painkillers and going back to bed. I did eventually do some writing and some editing (bad me), but I also went to the Orlando Indie Alliance meeting in the evening and watched an extremely wonderful Supernatural episode at my housemate’s prompting after that, so words were never the priority that I had intended them to be. So it goes. (I feel like I should explain the dog fight but it’s a boring story: short version, my terrier is far more protective of me than she needs to be & I used a voice that made her think I needed help when I didn’t. I suppose the even shorter version is that I appear to be incapable of training my dog not to attack C’s dog.)
At any rate, 30K words means that I’m behind by about 5K words instead of 17K, so it’s doable at a pace of 1.3K words per day. I already did some writing today, but that gives me plenty more to do, so time to get back to it. I’m going to be writing a chapter with Rose as the POV character today and I’m hoping it’ll be easier than other chapters have been, since Rose is a familiar character to me and I’m not working out who she is at the same as I write about what she’s doing. I’m also feeling like my scenes are being a little floaty–not enough context embedding to give the reader a sense of place–so I’m hoping to get some more of that in there, too. And off I go to make it be. Happy writing!
All last week, I tried to get back into the swing of writing daily aiming for a word count of 500-1000 words. It didn’t work. I did, however, open the document most days and I am going to count that as a win. It was a combination of lots of things, including some end of the summer blues, but I’m going to get back to using this blog as a motivation tool, with the occasional longer post about writing and editing, including much more of a series on self-editing. For today, though–it’s just the think-through-my-fingers motivational tool. I’m writing Ghosts of Belize and I’m stuck, back in the first scene, never quite managing to move forward.
When I reread everything I’d written last winter, I decided that a lot of it was better than I thought. The revisions I made in May were not improvements. So I’ve sort of merged those files, but I’m still tweaking those merges and that is ALL I got done last week. And I shouldn’t say done–that’s all I did, but I didn’t finish. I need to just let my fingers go on it, but it seems as if every time I start that, I wind up three sentences in, thinking that it’s pointless and stupid. I need to remember that it’s a first draft and maybe I just need to write a lot of stupid, pointless words in order to find out what the story is. So yes, today’s goal is 1000 words, but I give myself permission to hate them, permission to know that they’re all going to get cut once I unearth the real story that’s going to be buried in a lot of babble. But they’re the dirt I’m just going to have to lift in order to find the incredible fossil that’s hidden somewhere deep within them. Hmm, that would be a better metaphor if it was buried treasure. But I like dinosaurs and I bet Akira does, too. So today’s goal. Write 1000 words, give myself permission to let them be bad. I may try using 20/10s (write for 20 minutes, do something else) to pull the words out.
I broke a thousand words yesterday, but not without quite a bit of serious wheel-spinning first. If I were to include all the words that I wrote trying to figure out what I needed to write, I’d easily double that word count.
My problem, I realized eventually, was that I was in the wrong point of view. My Saturday words (which I still love) were in Natalya’s point of view, but since she can basically see a bit of gravel and some night sky at the moment, I needed to be looking through someone else’s eyes. I thought that would be Rose. But Rose didn’t have anything to do in the scene, no action, no agency. Eventually I realized something that I keep needing to rediscover–scenes in which the point-of-view character is simply an observer don’t work for me. I wish I could remember that before I start writing.
I think for my next novel I might really try writing a scene map ahead of time — not just an outline, but a detailed plan where every scene has a goal and a purpose, and I know where my highs and lows will be. With my usual writing style, I know where a story begins, where it ends, and a few scenes in the middle, but weaving those pieces together takes words. I’ve sort of thought that if I had it all mapped out, the actual writing would bore me–I love the little surprises along the way, the discoveries that circle back to previous moments, and so on–but it might be worth trying just to find out. I’ve wasted a lot of time on this project with words and scenes that went nowhere. I’m a little afraid that when I start editing, I’ll feel that way about more of them than I even realize now. But that’s for worrying about sometime in December.
Goal today: 1000 words.
Yesterday’s word count: 800 of the precious little wiggly monsters.
*Pauses for round of applause.*
*Then admits sheepishly that the final 20 or so are ridiculous, added only because I really wanted to hit the magic zero-zero spot.*
First act of today will be to delete the last couple of sentences I wrote yesterday and head in a new direction.
I’ve also somehow picked up 2 new followers on fictionpress, which is really nice. I know lots of people don’t want anyone to read their work until it’s final and polished and as perfect as can be, but I like having people reading my drafts. It motivates me. As far as I can tell, no one is a harsher critic of my writing than I am (except maybe the mysterious Elizabeth who gave Ghosts a 1-star rating on Amazon with an eye-rolling-ly ridiculous review). For me, knowing that readers want to keep reading is a huge help in keeping me writing instead of spinning in circles.
So today’s goals: well, laundry and vacuuming and cleaning the kitchen and exercising the dogs and along the way, 1000 words. I am neither optimistic nor pessimistic. Yesterday was better than I expected it to be, but with the exception of about a paragraph or two, I’m flying blind on this chapter. I know where I want the characters to be and what I want them to know at the end of the chapter, but I don’t really know what they’re doing in the middle of the chapter. Off I go to explore with them!
Anyone else care to check in?
I’m thinking about taking the day off. Or maybe mostly off. Perhaps I’ll write something unrelated to A Gift of Time, something mentally mellow.
Writing yesterday: over 1400 fun words. I like them very much. You’d think that would make me inspired to start writing right away this morning, but I was up way too late (long saga involving the cleverness of a dog who managed to lock herself inside a bedroom and a locksmith who deserves some seriously negative reviews for timeliness and price) and way too early (two of the three dogs wake up wanting breakfast). And I have lunch plans. So I’m thinking… maybe 200 words today? Something to keep the streak of writing every day going–admittedly, it’s a short streak, but “don’t break the chain” has to start somewhere–but nothing ambitious. And no, I don’t have the big wall calendar, but I’m sort of using this blog as my big wall calendar!
Advice to beginning writers from Dean Wesley Smith this morning:
…most of all, have fun
Always a good thing to remember!
I managed just under 1100 words yesterday. That might please me more if it hadn’t literally taken all day long and well into the evening. It was one sentence, wander away, one more sentence, wander away, and on and on and on.
I have a character who has lost her purpose. I’m not entirely sure what she should be doing right now. She’s not sure, either. The last time she showed up she was fluttering around like a helpless moth. I have another character who is also unfortunately helpless, because injured. I need to get him healed up so that he can run away from danger, because my heroine has made it clear that she’s not about to leave him behind. I think I need to write a scene of absolute chaos to tie up all my loose ends and chaos is so hard to write. Nice quiet conversations are so much easier.
Still, I met yesterday’s goal, so yay. Today’s goal–the same. 1000 words. Plus a hope that I’m not still writing late into the evening.
Anyone else want to check in? How are your goals coming along?