Category: HTTS

Finally…Progress!

I finally started writing again!  Granted, it was probably less than 300 words this morning, but it’s a start! Before I could write a single word, I had to re-read the entire (That makes it sound like so much) 67-page draft to get a feel for the characters again. That’s the problem with forgetting you even started a story and then trying to start it again:  you forget you ever knew the characters, much less the plot you had planned (assuming I had one planned.). SO I read the draft, then wrote a few hundred words. Not much, I know, but a start, and I know exactly what happens next, which is why I stopped where I did:  so I can actually start during my next session. I’m really happy to be writing again.

Today I will also start working through HTRYN with the draft of Witches. Wow. You know, I thought I was going to be working on a 300,000-word monstrosity, but it turns out, once I opened a document I hadn’t looked at in I-don’t-even’know-how-many-years, that this, the third version of the story, is only 188,000 words. Still way too long, but a definite improvement over my first thought. Whew.  Instead, after using a 10-point Times New Roman font, as well as single spacing it, the printed MS is only 269 pages. That I now have to read through as if I’ve never heard of these people before (And, let’s face it, after a break of years, that’s pretty accurate. I hope we’re old friends again soon.).

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Writing After a Break

(I do not own this image, but the words are TRUE.)
(I do not own this image, but the words are TRUE.)

Have you ever taken a break from writing?

I have. To be honest, the “break” I just finished up was more of a three-year hiatus than anything. There were a lot of reasons for it–depression, a major health issue, school–but that doesn’t make me feel any better about taking it.

The thing is, I miss writing. An ex of mine used to tell me I needed to write if I started getting too grumpy, and that’s probably true. (Kind of explains my moodiness lately, as well.)  Blog-writing helps stave off the attitude somewhat, but getting eyeball-deep in fiction will almost for-sure “cure” the problem.

(I do not own this image.)
(I do not own this image.)

I’m eager to leap back into the thick of things, to pull a blanket of words over my head and just snuggle into them. Except, of course, I have no idea where I was going with the Siren story….

Not to mention, I want to revise Witches, and I haven’t touched it in years.

So, I think a bit of planning is in order, first. Wait. Pre-work. I meant pre-work. I already have a plan:  do all the things! NO. No. I need an idea of where the story is going, first, before I dive in and start writing. Otherwise, I’ll end up with another 300,000-word monstrosity to revise.

Okay, new plan:  HTRYN for Witches, brainstorm a general outline for the Siren story and work through HTTS for it. Okay. I have a plan.

Now I just need to implement it.

Getting My (Writing) Ducks in a Row

So…School is out. Vacation is over. Real life has started again. That means it’s time to get back to writing. Yay! In that direction, I went through the “Writing” folder on my computer on Sunday.

And found 67 pages of a story I don’t even remember writing, for NaNo 3 years ago. I read probably 15 pages before I believed that I actually wrote it. It’s a YA about the Sirens and Spartans, but set in the here-and-now. It was kind of like having an out-of-body experience, reading through something I have no memory of writing. (The writing took place about 6 months pre-stroke, and I stopped when my depression got really bad).

Yesterday, I found the story notebook for my newly rediscovered story. That’s the good news. The bad news…in it is one piece of paper with 40 words on it. Mainly character names. No plot ideas, no outline, nothing else. Also some printed out research on sirens and the like. It appears that I will be basically starting from scratch, because, let’s face it, I’m totally sucked into the 67 pages of MS I have. I was seriously like “Did I write this? It’s really good!” Guess what just got bumped to the top of my to-write list?

That’s not strictly true. I want to get going on The Fall again, too. I’ve only got a few chapters written, and I need to change some stuff that my Muse gave me over the past few months when I wasn’t supposed to be writing (my Muse is, apparently, a rebel). An outline would, perhaps, be helpful. Or, heck, even a basic idea of where the story was going. At this point, I’m flailing around in the fog, only able to see two steps in front of me.

I also discovered a tiny bit of another story, along with its notebook and partial outline, as well as a good bit of notes for a third story. I think 4 WIPs is a bit excessive, even for me. My Muse either fainted from excitement, or went on strike, I’m not sure which.
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Let’s not forget my to-be-revised list, which grows ever longer. Sigh…Think I’m gonna start with Witches,  though. Cutting down that 300,000 word behemoth is going to be…tricky, but the characters are talking to me. Or, possibly, I’m hearing voices….Yeah, it could be either one.

Writing question of the day:  does anyone else juggle multiple stories at the same time?  Some tips would be helpful. And very much appreciated.

Vacations are Good for the Soul (and the Muse)

You know how I’ve decided not to worry about writing at all for the next four weeks, until the semester is over, so I don’t risk a brain meltdown? Turns out that taking an “official” break from writing has my Muse playing with story ideas.

Yep. True story.

Apparently, my Muse can’t wait to get back to work on Witches–which I haven’t looked at in years, and Chasing Shadows, which is more recent, but still not something I’ve thought about in like a year. Looks like I’ll be taking those two stories apart and revising them this summer. Plus working through HTTS with The Fall. I’m actually really excited about working on Witches. It was the first thing I started writing. I love the characters to pieces. I love the world. I love the plot. I even have the first draft of the second book written as well. I think the draft of Witches I have is over 300,000 words, though, so clearly there is a lot of work to be done, sigh.

But the Muse is stoked, and already at work in the back of my mind.

I can’t wait for the semester to be over!

Vacation Needed

I’ve decided to give myself a little vacation. A mental vacation, actually. I feel like I’m on the verge of one of those burnouts where I can’t focus on anything and give up on everything, so it’s best if I put some things on the back-burner for the next 5 weeks or so (until the semester is over). There’s too much going on, and I can’t seem to focus. I can’t afford to let school slide–or work–so it has to be writing.

I’ve been trying to get to work on How to Think Sideways and Holly’s Motivation class, but I keep getting busy with other stuff, then stressing over not doing the writing stuff, so until I finish out the semester, I’m giving myself permission to not write. I still intend to blog some, but my brain can’t handle anything else right now.

When the semester is over, and I have no school work to distract me, I’ll tackle HTTS, the motivation class, and probably HTRYN as well, for a solid 3 months. Until then, I’m just going to hang onto my GPA–and my mind. (Maybe write some free verse poetry in there, too.)

Renewing my (Writing) Vows

So, yeah, I’ve pretty much dropped off the radar for the past few months (Off the radar, off the planet, either way…). I’ve been busy, yes. School and work can be pretty overwhelming, definitely, but my disappearance has just as much, if not more, to do with laziness. I just haven’t felt like doing a lot of things. I want to fix that, though.  Get my sh*t together. Get back in the saddle. You know, the usual pronouncements.

This week has been spring break for me, so I’ve tried to rest a lot. With my new set of classes gearing up to start on Monday, I’ll be super busy again, but I’m not afraid to tackle a towering to-do list (Ha! I do tend to over-commit, true.). I laugh in the face of busyness! I may end up curled in a ball, whimpering, but I do have a plan. Eight more weeks of classes, then no school until mid-August. And there are so many writing projects I want to tackle this year! (Drafting, revising, polishing, all are on this list.)

I can get this accomplished. I have priorities.

Work. School. Training for my Grand Canyon Rim to Rim hike in May. Holly Lisle’s motivation class (SO needed.). Re-taking How to Think Sideways with this year’s only class. Blogging. Oh, yes, and sleep. I can juggle all of that, right? Right?!

Getting Started Again

So, after the chaos that has been my life for the past….9 or 10 months or so–work, school, break-up, depression, recovery–I finally, finally got serious about my writing again today.  I’ve been doing pretty good about blogging lately, both here, on my environmental blog, and on Writing in a Dead World (if you haven’t checked that out yet, you SHOULD), but apart from writing a few pages in The Fall a few months ago, I haven’t really written consistently in…a long, long time.  That sucks.  And I’m tired of it.  So I started doing the HTTS Ultra lessons again today.  It’s been on the to-do list for a week or two now, but the procrastination monster sort of ate that list…

I had forgotten how detailed and helpful Holly’s lessons are.  The results I got for the Shadow Room technique surprised me and might have generated another story idea (assuming I ever get this one written…and some others revised…and the other partially-finished MS written…).  So, yeah.  I’m dedicating this summer to getting my life to where I want it to be.  A big part of that is writing.  Game on.

Re-thinking this whole writing thing

…okay, not really re-thinking. Let’s just say I’m going to try something new (or, actually, old). Confused yet? Let me explain. Have you heard of Holly Lisle? If you haven’t, well, you don’t know what you’re missing out on. Holly is a rarity: a mid-list author who actually makes a living with her writing. She’s smart, she’s a great writer, she knows what she’s doing, and, more importantly, she’s really big on paying it forward (she did start Forward Motion, after all). She spends a lot of her time helping her fellow writers out. To that end, she has created lots of helpful things, from the smaller workshops like How to Create a Language, How to Create a Character, How to Write Page-Turning Scenes…and she has also created huge, incredibly detailed classes Like How To Revise Your Novel and How To Think Sideways.

I was in the original HTTS class, as well as the original HTRYN class, and I can’t even begin to tell you how much difference these two classes made in my writing. The way Holly thinks, the way she breaks things down using plain language, worksheets, examples…well, it got me thinking in ways I’d never thought before (which was the point, right?). Since I don’t have much done on The Fall–in reality, I have only a handful of pages written, basically no pre-work, and haven’t touched it in weeks–I’ve decided that I’m going to take it through HTTS. I know the end result will be much closer to the story I have in my head, much more true to the vision I can see for the story. It will just be better. Yeah, it’ll be a lot of work and it will take me a while, but in the end, it’ll be worth it.

I’m a huge fan of Holly’s writing in general, and I know her courses can really get results–if you’re willing to do the work. I am. I haven’t been published, but I’ve gotten some partial manuscript requests because of her courses, and I want to give everything I can to The Fall. I’ve also decided to become one of Holly’s affiliates. I do believe whole-heartedly in her methods, her teaching, and her results, and if you have any interest in checking it out for yourself, go here. If you aren’t a writer, but you’d like to read a great book, you can check those out as well.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

What, for you, is the hardest part of writing? The part that makes you want to bang your head against your desk (or the nearest wall), the part that you have to grit your teeth to get through? Is there a part of writing like that for you, or is it all sunshine and roses? (And if it is all sunshine and roses, you suck. Just sayin’. I’m jealous…)

I’ve been writing more or less seriously (depending on how you look at it) for the past 11 years. I love the thrill of getting a new idea, and planning a new story is great fun. (Sometimes a little too much fun, as I tend to plan all sorts of details that aren’t particularly necessary, and therefore keep myself from actually starting to write the story. But that’s a whole other post…) The rush of writing and getting what I see in my head down on paper is always (Okay, usually.) fun. I like talking about writing. I like thinking about writing.

But for me, the part I like least about writing is…revising. Yep. Revising=not so much fun to me. My revision process goes like this:

1) Finish draft, put it aside for at least 2 months.
2) Re-read draft and resist impulse to cry at how badly I suck!
3) Slog through the MS, trying to figure out how I managed to mess up my spiffy, pretty idea so badly…and try to repair it.
4) Actually cry when I couldn’t quite manage to make the actual draft match the vision in my head.

Well, at least that’s how my revision process used to work. And then I discovered Holly Lisle’s How To Revise Your Novel class. I’ve been a long-time member of Forward Motion for years. I’ve been in a private crit group there for years (Hello, any of my fellow Silver Griffins!). The crit group alone has taught me an astronomical amount. I would never have imagined that critiquing other people’s work would teach me so much about my own, but it did. I took Holly’s How To Think Sideways class, and while I know some of the techniques escaped me, I learned a lot. So, when she created HTRYN, I jumped at that chance, baby! A system to actually teach me how to revise, and how to look at each aspect of revision logically (and therefore avoid the whole crying/head-banging thing?). I was there!

I’ve only used the class to revise one full novel so far, but I’m a third of the way through my second revision with it. Is it easy? No. Is it still painful? Yes. Do I still want to cry when I realize what I wrote doesn’t quite match up to my vision? Yeeesss. Do I actually cry now? NO!

Revision is still my least favorite part of writing, but this class has made it much less painful. More like minor surgery without anesthesia, instead of…a double amputation. And I think it’s awesome that Holly does so much to pay it forward to other writers. I’ve read several of her books, and enjoyed them all, and the amount of work she puts into helping other writers is phenomenal. Her amount of knowledge–and she freely admits that these techniques are what work for her–is also astonishing. If you haven’t yet checked out her site, you should. In addition to the paid courses, she also has a bunch of helpful freebies and writing advice.

So, tell me, what’s your least favorite part of writing?

I Think My Muse Is Out To Get Me

I’ll admit I’m something of an overachiever. Well, maybe it would be better to say that I try to do too much, and when I don’t have 17 things going on, I feel sort of lost. I also feel like I do my best work when I’m on the verge of being overwhelmed. That’s a pretty accurate statement. (And if you’ve seen my goals for the year, you know it’s true.) So, this month my focus was supposed to be on three things:

1) Revise the werewolf story (one lesson per week)
2) Revise the zombie story (one lesson per month)
3) Do four lessons in HTTS and start writing that story.

APPARENTLY, that wasn’t enough for my Muse. Nope. He decided that I ALSO needed to start revising the angel story, because it’s been burning a hole in the back of our brains for a while now, and I haven’t even looked at it since I finished it on November 30th 2008. Clearly, Muse thinks it’s been simmering back there long enough, and it’s time to bring it out, make it look all appetizing, and put it on the menu. (Perhaps I should go eat breakfast. This is making me hungry.) Plus, I’ve seen a lot of angel stuff lately, and that’s got me itching to work on the story even more. So. Here I go. Revising three stories simultaneously (though not all at the same level of frenetic intensity) while writing another one. The goal is to have a complete first draft from HTTS as well as two revised manuscripts by May–when I go on vacation. And boy, am I going to need it…