I think the accountability of posting here ever week is keeping me motivated to make progress of some sort in my writing ever week. At least…it’s worked for three weeks straight now, so I’ll take it.
Tuesday, I worked my way through lesson 5 of HTWAN. I completed the worksheets, but I wasn’t super happy with my answers. I wrote 1,000 words or so on the accompanying draft, but the world just wasn’t working for me. It wasn’t making me happy.
Thursday, I opened the 3,000 words I had written for the original story idea and read through it. I was much, much happier with that draft. The flow felt more natural. Less stilted. So, I decided to return to my original story idea, and the Muse was happy with that plan.
Yesterday and today I wrote an easy 500 words both days. I still have only the fuzziest of ideas where the story is going—and I could easily be wrong—but the easy Southern fiction voice feels right.
Look at me: for the second Sunday in a row I’m talking about writing! Yay for New Year’s goals that last longer than a week…
The truth is, I haven’t started actually writing this story yet. But I’ve completed five weeks’ worth of worksheets for Holly Lisle’s How to Write a Novel Class, and now I have an actual idea (or three) of what this story is about, in addition to knowing more about my characters and the conflicts. (To be fair, what I knew about them before this class was basically zero.)
And I know what my first scene is—along with my second. This story is not about quite what I thought it was, and it will be interesting to see how it develops. I’ll be starting the first draft this week, so here’s to hitting my writing goals…the same week my semester starts.
…well, actually, Sunday is for talking about writing. As opposed to books and book reviews, as I do every other single time I post. I basically haven’t mentioned writing in like the past year. That’s because I haven’t really been writing—grad school and working full-time keeps me busy—much less have I felt like talking about this fact.
But not being creative makes me cranky and changes who I am, and I don’t want that to be my reality anymore. So, I’m getting back into writing. Baby steps, right now, but it is forward motion (in the words of Holly Lisle).
I’m doing some very basic work on a new story, and I’m hoping to get things ready to start writing very soon. I’ll be posting writing updates weekly to keep me motivated.
The truth is, there is no writing happening lately, unless it’s for school or a work email. I just don’t have the brainpower. I have been feeling COMPLETELY overwhelmed with work/school/life and everything I want to accomplish…
Until I realized that wanting to do too much actually results in me doing nothing. Not with any degree of proficiency, anyway.
So…for now, I’m limiting myself to blogging/book reviews, work, school, and Holly Lisle’sFind Your Writing Voice and How to Find Your Writing Discipline workshops. (Yes, I’m aware of the irony.)
I just need to let some things go for a bit before I lose my grip on everything.
My goal for this month was to finish up the first draft of The Fall. The story is completely outlined–using my favorite, a phase outline–everything is fresh in my mind, I still like the story…but for the past few weeks, forcing myself to sit down and write has been kind of like pulling teeth.
Today, I figured out why: the story that’s outlined, that I’ve been writing, is no longer the story I want to tell.
Don’t get me wrong, I still want to tell this story. But the story is no longer about what I thought it was about. So, I have all these little glimpses and glimmers of the other story in my head, but I don’t have my trail mapped out. I’m close to finishing the current draft, but there’s really no point, since I no longer want to tell the story.
So, I’m going to stop writing this story. Give myself a break for the rest of the month to deal with the huge, looming reports due at work. Continue outlining the Witches rewrite, but stop all of my other writing efforts as I focus on the job and school for a couple of weeks.
And bump The Fall to a bit later on my list of writing projects.
Today, I’m looking for something to get me writing. Inspiration, motivation, some kind of cattle prod wired to my chair that zaps me if I get up…. You know, the usual.
I work best under pressure, or with “too much” to do. Something about knowing there are a ton of things that need to be done keeps me focused and allows me to get things accomplished. (A close friend once told me, “You get more done before 9 a.m. than most people do all day!” This is easier if your days routinely start at 3 a.m. I’m just saying…)
My new class—my first journalism class—starts tomorrow, and I’m moderately terrified (likely to upgrade to “completely”.). My job responsibilities changed last week, with the addition of an entire second location to do administrative tasks for. Then there’s the novel I’m writing, the one I’m actively revising, and the one I’m outlining. Not to mention the copywriting class I’m working my way through. And the book reviews that are due or past due. Blogging. I think you see my point.
While this would normally prove super-motivating and really keep me focused and on-task, sometimes, I have to fight a little bit harder to get inspired. (Hence this post instead of my first 500 words of fiction for the day.)
With that in mind, here are four things that might motivate you (and me) to write:
Sometimes, the writing comes easily. Sometimes…it feels like running a marathon with 10-pound weights on each foot: impossible.
This week, it has been both for me.
I did manage to get at least some words written every day Monday-Thursday, although Tuesday and Thursday only saw a handful, nowhere near my goal. Yesterday, I was mentally done with the week, and I didn’t even try.
Today…it’s been going fairly well. I only have 500 words to go to meet my word count goal for the day…which was initially 0, but since Tuesday and Thursday were barely productive, I knew I needed to make them up today. So, 2,000 words so far today, 500 to go.
Feeling a lot less completely overwhelmed with life and work and school as a result.
I hope everyone has a Happy Valentine’s Day, whether you have a Valentine or not. Love yourself. Eat chocolate. Be happy. Love is important, and loving yourself is near the top of the list.
Write something you love today, no matter how simple. Try out something you’ve been meaning to write. A limerick? Haiku? Adventure short story? Cheesy high school romance? If you love it, write it. Worry about the details later.
(This show used to crack me up. I just don’t think fast enough on my feet to be able hold my own on a show like that, but it was hilarious.)
I’m not sure if the first line of a story causes me more fear and second-guessing, or the last line, but I’m leaning towards the first line. Think about it: you’re trying to set the tone for an entire novel (or novella or short story or essay or paper…), and you want to capture your audience’s attention as well as the feel of the entire novel. In that one sentence. That’s a lot of pressure for one measly sentence, a mere handful of words.
So which tone do you take?
Iconic? “In the beginning…”
Fantastical? “Once upon a time…”
Historical? “It was the best of times…”
Character-driven? “Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful…”
(True story: I actually know the entire first half-page or so of Gone with the Wind by heart. It’s my favorite book ever, and while stylistically it’s not something I can emulate, it certainly paints a vivid picture of Scarlett right off the bat.)
I mean, if we were watching a movie, that opening shot would be—comparatively speaking—much easier to establish setting, world, character, and plot. You’ve got visuals. You could use Johnny Depp against the ocean, or bright words rolling up against a backdrop of stars. There’s an immediate feeling of place.
But what’s the literary equivalent of that opening shot?
My advice is not to worry too much over it when you’re writing your fist draft. (Are you listening, self?) If you have a brilliant idea for the perfect first line, use it. But write the entire piece or novel, and when you go back to revise, get your story in the best possible shape you can, then take a look at your first line. Chances are good that your story will have changed so much that that “perfect” first line is no longer even relevant.
But you’ll have a much better feel for the story and what you’re trying to say, and I’m betting that crafting that elusive perfect first line won’t be quite so hard with that in mind.
This week was fairly productive, considering it was the first week of grad school (Eep!). I did a tiny bit of writing—1,000 words or so—in The Fall, plus outlining 10 scenes in it as well. Having an outline made the writing flow pretty well. Something I know, yet I still started writing this story with no outline. Smart move, there.
I did a little outlining in the Witches revision, also. I’m sort of feeling my way with that, since I’ve revised the story several times, and this is more of a re-write than a revision, but I’m using the current draft as a guideline. We’ll see how that works out. My voice and style have changed significantly since I originally plotted the story.
Yesterday I attended a local authors’ event with a friend. It’s part of the library’s Year of the Book promotion. Each author had a table, and they each spoke for 10 minutes.
My friend and I went because we both love Rachel Caine’s work. (I’ve read The Morganville Vampires series, the Weather Warden series, the Outcast Season spin-offs, and her re-telling of Romeo and Juliet. I’ve been wanting to read her The Great Library series as well.)
Somehow, by sheer luck, we arrived about 15 minutes before Rachel’s talk, just in time to hear Sarah MacTavish. (I feel like I’ve heard of her, but can’t swear to it. I read SO MUCH that authors sometimes get a little bit mixed up in my mind sometimes.) I enjoyed her talk, and the short chat I had with her afterwards, and bought her book, Firebrand. Young adult fiction about the Civil War from an author who carries her supply of books in an R2D2 suitcase? I’m sold! I’m looking forward to the read, just as soon as I wrangle enough time from my schedule for it.
My purchases for the day:
It’s been quite a while since I purchased physical copies of fiction. The bottom two books I bought at the event, the top three at B & N beforehand. I was so excited when I got home, but I had serious reader’s indecision: What to read first?
Answer: Firstlife, by Gena Showalter, because I’m hoping to get approved to review the second book in the series, and because I’ve been interested in this one for a while. Isn’t the cover gorgeous?
Confession: I read the entire thing last night. Loved it! The concept is so unique, and the characters compelled me from the first page. You should definitely read this!