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No you can not write!

keep-calm-because-stuff-happensWe make plans. Then something happens. That’s life.

Last night I got a surprise call from my daughter. “I’m coming home mom. They shut down school because of a big blizzard coming through and sent us home. Come pick me up at the bus station”… at 10 pm.

Bus was an hour late late. Drive was 45 min each way.

I did manage to write 500 words yesterday, but as of this moment I am 3866 words behind. That’s 15.5 pages.

Can I write that much in a day? Probably not. I’ve got things to do today. But I will be working really hard over the next few days to catch back up to the daily goal so that I don’t have to write 10k words in one day at the end of NaNoWriMo.

So what did we learn? If you’ve got to sit at the bus station waiting for your daughter for an hour maybe you should bring a way to write for a little bit, even if it’s on your phone. I wasn’t prepared to do that.

Also, stuff happens. No matter how much you plan, how well things are going, stuff is going to come up. It’s going to side track you and throw you off. But you just keep plowing threw.

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2014 in NaNoWriMo

 

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NaNoWriMo day 10

data1I love this book!

Maybe it’s just that I love that my attitude toward writing has shifted so much, and that I finally, FINALLY, feel like I can do this.

So here is my data for the month so far. Notice day five with the almost 500 words. I was exhausted that day with lots of things going on, and at about 1am just decided sleep was better then forcing myself to keep going. So I went to bed. And the very next day I wrote almost 2500 words.

But the really awesome part? Day five when I was exhausted, mentally and emotionally, and I just didn’t want to look at the computer any more let alone keep my eyes open… My worst day this month so far was better then my best day most of the rest of the year.

For the last year I had been trying to get my daily word count to 500-1000. It ended up being between 300 and 500. But now? This month? It’s 1600 and holding strong. In fact if you get rid of that one 500 word day my daily average is 1800 words. And I am loving it!

Why the change?

I think two things have really helped me change. First of all, I read 2k to 10k last month. While I had heard her talk about many of the things that helped her get to 10k words a day, for some reason reading it made a couple things click. A big thing was the plotting. When you get stuck take out some paper (or in my case I just switch to red text on the PC) and jot down notes of what you want to happen in that chapter. I’ve been doing a lot more of that. But she also talked about having fun with your writing. Enjoying it. After all, if you find it boring and tedious so is your reader.

The second was an interview with Dean Wesly Smith on Rocking Self Publishing. He kept going on about how much he loved writing, and how it wasn’t work, it was play. Then he said one summer he had to dig ditches on a golf course in the blistering heat. That was work. Making up worlds isn’t work, digging ditches is.

I’ve dug ditches before. I fed farm animals, plowed fields, mucked out horse stalls, and everything else you can think of on a farm. I’ve changed lots of dirty diapers, and wiped the snot off little kids noses for years on end. That was work. All of that was work.

Writing? It’s fun. It’s still a lot of time and effort, but it’s fun effort. And it’s worth it. I love it.

That change in attitude right there is really what got my word count up. And I think I’ll keep it come next month and the end of NaNoWriMo.

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2014 in On Writing

 

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NaNoWriMo Update

For my data loving friends, I’m about to get a little nerdy on you.

data

This is my daily word count for NaNoWriMo during 2012,2013 and the few days of this year. Notice a trend? I was always struggling to stay on top of things with a huge push at the end (6-8k words on the last day.)

I don’t want to have to write 8k words in one night just to finish NaNoWriMo on time. Not this year. So this year I’ve managed to stay up on my word count pretty well so far. Day 5 I only did 250 words, so ended a bit short (because family always comes before writing… I think…) but last night I got my stride and wrote 2400 words, just 500 short of yesterdays goal, and really easy to catch up with today.

What I’ve learned so far? Small chunks.

Before I was trying to sit at the computer and just crank it all out at once, which left me feeling tired, annoyed, aggravated, and bordering on the “I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS ANYMORE” wagon. This time I am taking smaller chunks. I start earlier in the evening, write until I feel my attention start to wander, then get up and walk away from the computer. Cuddle with the boyfriend, whip up some dinner, clean something or watch a show on TV, then back to the grind.

I did this all day yesterday, my one day off, and noticed that those chunks of word counts started going up. First, 250 in thirty minutes. Then 500 in thirty minutes. Then 700 in forty-five minutes. The last chunk was about 1000 words, and may have been about an hour long. I’m not exactly sure because I wasn’t keeping track of individual writing sessions, just the completed writing session. I do know that I wrote more in one day than at any other time (except that last day of NaNo) but still felt refreshed and raring to go. I would have written more if my body hadn’t started crying for sleep.

I’ve heard Johnny B Truant talk about the 20/20 method where you set a timer and write for 20 minutes, then go do something else for 20 minutes, then come back and write for another 20 minutes. Timers and I just don’t get along, I barely know what day it is most of the time, so though I tried valiantly to do this method it just didn’t work for me.

What I did was similar, but focused more on my body, and what it wanted instead of some predetermined clock. By listening to my body I was able to get more words out, and actually wrote faster each time. Stepping away from the computer. Doing something else when my brain wanted to wander. It gave me that little reset that allowed me to keep going.

So the goal for today is at least 2050 words, which will get me back on coarse. But I’m not going to stop there. I’m going to do the same thing I did yesterday, listen to my body and my wandering mind, and see how far it will take me. For once I’d like to be OVER that bar instead of under it, or even just scraping by.

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2014 in On Writing

 

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NaNoWriMo day 3

I can’t believe how well it’s going, and yet I don’t want to jinx it. It’s only day three, but I’m on target, and feeling good about this novel.

My secret? The best plot ever!

Plot it out!
I’ve always been more of a pantser then a plotter, but this time I did some really thorough beats. I was influenced by the guys over at SPP who showed how they did beats, and put out a TON of wordage every month. I want that wordage! So I beat out the story, since I already had a basic plot, and gave myself a more complete skeleton on which to work my writing magic. The results? Two hours. TWO HOURS of writing gives me my word count for the day. There is no fuss, no muss, and then I can spend the evening cuddling on the couch with my boyfriend. THAT makes plotting worth it.

EXCITEMENT!
I just finished Mermaid’s Curse 1 last week, so I had a bit of excitement left over from finishing that project. Then I finished a really fantastic plot for book three (kind of Lovecraft meets high fantasy) and I just loved it. The plot got me excited, and if I’m excited I’m more confidant that a reader will love it too.

Write what you love, people. Don’t just write whatever comes to mind. You love dinosaurs? Write about them. You love romance? Write that. You love tanks and battle fields? Write that! Whatever it is you absolutely love use that as part of your story and that love will come through.

Time
Time is a huge thing for me. In order to really get into the groove of writing I need an hour, at least, to get fully into it. That means no children waiting to distract me, no games, no email, no TV shows. Just me, the headphones, and some chillstep playing in the background on loop. I even listen to the same exact video on youtube every time I start writing because it just tells my body: okay, time to get down to business.

Time is sometimes the hardest thing to get when you’re writing. Some of our friends and family just don’t get why why are doing NaNo, or why we even care about writing in the first place. Some of our friends don’t even read (why are you friends with people who don’t read? kidding!). But we have to be firm, and unrepentant. This is important to us, for whatever reason, and it isn’t fair of them to try to take it away. How would they feel if we got in the way of their hobby/craft/work/etc?

In the zone!
This last one… The “zone” is not a muse waiting to give you her affection when she feels like it. No, the zone is a place you figure out how to get into, and then you do the same thing to get into it every time.

A runner who does marathons trains for months, if not years, until he finally slips into a ground eating rhythm that lets him run, and FINISH, a marathon. A singer trains their voice for years so that they can hold and sustain notes, sing at a consistent level, and perform in front of crowds for hours. Whatever the craft, these things take practice. It takes training the mind and body to do these things, and do them consistently. Why would writing be any different.

I found the things that made writing easier for me (writing at night, listening to chillstep, uninterrupted) and did them over and over and over while writing. It’s taken a year, but I finally feel like I could sit down and write just by setting aside that block of time, turning on my music, and going over yesterdays writing till something strikes.

It’s the consistent pattern, the butt in chair time, that make the zone, or the muse come to you instead of waiting for them to appear from thin air.

I really believe that if you can figure out what inspires you to write, and do them consistently over a long period of time, then you will be able to consistently write more and more.

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2014 in NaNoWriMo, Writers Block

 

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Why NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo just started! This month also brings Thanksgiving, and the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, along with day light savings, and a slew of other things with family and friends. And yet we still decide to torture ourselves with writing 50,000 words in a month. What’s wrong with us?

I’ve done NaNoWriMo several years, and each year I learn something new about myself, and about my writing. I also get a lot from the experience in regards to social interaction and community. So this year as I start on my journey for NaNoWriMo I asked myself: why?

Accountability
Deadlines help many people get to the end of projects, books, readings, videos, and many other things. Deadlines help enfource the notion that you have a set amount of time to get something done, and NaNo has a huge, vibrant, built in deadline already there for you.

Some of us do not find it that easy to make deadlines for ourselves. Therefore you can use NaNo. While you’re only really accountable to yourself, for most of us that’s enough. Lying about “winning” NaNo doesn’t hurt anyone, but if you can make that deadline it feels amazing.

Encouragement
There are SLEWS of people out there on every social media outlet, in coffee shops, video blogs, and everything else. All of them want to encourage you to write your book. That is so incredibly helpful.

Competition
Some people are competitive by nature. The buddy system on NaNo forums is awesome for tracking each of your buddies word counts and seeing where you stack up with them. I am rarely above, or even even with my buddies, but I still love trying to at least catch up with them.

Comradery
Misery loves company, right? Well so do writers. Writing is such a lonely profession, or hobby, or whatever it is for you. Take the time to get to know a few people, make some friendships, and stay in contact with them after NaNo is over. The world of writing won’t seem quite as alone as it did before.

Goal
Similar to accountability, and deadlines. Only this has to do with word counts too. You’re goal, if you chose to accept it, is to write an entire novel. 50,000 words. That’s a lot of words. But goals help people. They keep them focused. Knowing exactly what you are trying to do will keep you going.

Achievement
At the end of the day, achievement is the end all. Know you tried, and you succeeded, is an amazing feeling. Even if you don’t manage to finish, if you tried again and you got farther this time you’ve achieved something. For me, every year I learn something new about myself, and my writing style. THAT is an achievement in itself. If I can learn something that will help me keep writing in the years to come then I am all for NaNoWriMo.

Prizes
Prizes are the last thing on the list. NaNoWriMo has a couple of great prizes, like free print copies of your book, and half price on Scrivener (the best writing program EVER). But they aren’t that big of a carrot. Really, you could easily fake winning NaNo and still get the prizes, but you

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2014 in On Writing

 

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Writing a Novel

The last year finally paid off. A novel that had been stewing in the back of my mind for the last several years. The novel, Mermaid’s Curse, started out as a simple thing. The name, actually. A cursed mermaid, never allowed to fall in love least she die, and Brother Hawk, a man cursed to be a hawk, and suffer the will of the priesthood who visited inhumane tortures on him for centuries.

I finished the first book of the trilogy today. The last stubborn chapter that kept whispering that it needed to be there, but wouldn’t tell me why it needed to be there until just last week. It is the third novel that I’ve completed. It actually has a few threads in common with the first book I wrote (the one that died in the computer crash.) I subconsciously picked out the best parts of that novel and used it in this one.

With each novel I’ve learned something about myself, and my writing habits. With this particular completion I learned quite a bit more then ever before.

Mermaid’s Curse: Book 1 is just over 50,000 words. It took almost a year to complete. Keep in mind that I started Mermaid’s Curse as a single book and it has since become a trilogy. Book 2 is now just over 50,000 words, as well, and should be about 52,000 words when finished. Book 3 is currently 5000 words of plot. It’s going to be at leas 50-60,000 words when finished. That’s a lot of writing. 50,000 of which was done just last November during NaNoWriMo.

What I learned: 

You can’t force the story sometimes. I had everything finished for Book 1 except for one small chapter. I agonized over that chapter for a while, added a few words, added some notes, deleted them, and wrote some more. But the chapter sucked no matter how I wrote it. Something was missing, and I didn’t know what.

So I skipped ahead, wrote some other chapters, finished whole scenes and gave up on that one chapter. I even tried cutting that chapter out because if it was that horrible and boring it probably didn’t need to be in the book, right? Wrong. Without that chapter linking the rest of the book together the story kind of had an abrupt shift that felt ungainly and… just wrong.

So that chapter sat in the back of my mind for months while I polished off other chapters, rewrote sections, and decided the novel was actually a trilogy. Then one day I was taking a shower and think about another problem chapter and it was like magic. All the pieces slid into themselves.

Oddly enough the pieces fell into place because I started plotting the third book. As I plotted the third book I saw more of the world, saw new characters, and realized what needed to happen at the end of Book 2 to make Book 3 carry on. It was always the end of the books that gave me the most trouble. Once I figured out the end of Book 3 the chapters for Book 2, and that one stubborn chapter from Book 1 just snapped into place. I wrote 2000 words that night just trying to get down all the plot points so I knew what to write the next day.

Really, the thing that did it in the end was just keeping the story in the back of my mind while I went about the rest of my day. Jotting down ideas helped a little, but when it finally snapped into place it had nothing to do with forcing it, and everything to do with just letting it happen naturally.

Scheduling

The next thing I learned was about time. You only have so much. Use it wisely.

I can’t tell you how many times I sat down to the PC and my daughter would suddenly need to use the computer, or my son would need help with homework, or my boyfriend would just need attention. Families take a lot of time and energy, and they are so worth it. But this means that taking those moments you get to write, pouncing on them and using them to your advantage means EVERYTHING. Even the few minutes you have on a car trip to think about the story and come up with a plan to jot down on a note is better then nothing at all.

Finishing

Finishing feels SOOOOOO GOOD. (Yes, read that however you want.)

When I finally completed that chapter that I had been stuck on for a year I was so excited. I almost wanted to dance for joy. I texted four people and told them I’M FINISHED! I was that happy.

Whatever you’re working on, finish it. Doesn’t matter if it’s terrible, if you have to throw it out and start over, or if you just want to burn it in a fire. Finish it. That sense of completion will give you more inspiration and perseverance then all the self help and uplifting posters with kitties hanging in there that you will ever see.

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2014 in On Writing

 

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Around the Web

pumpkinThis week has been a mad dash to finish book 1 of the Mermaid’s Curse trilogy, and come up with names for each of the three parts of the book. I’m tossing around the idea of “Curse Maker” and “Curse Breaker” for the first two. No idea about the third. “Curse Taker” maybe? I have to think about it. I’ve got one chapter that I am doing the final edit for on book 1, and five chapters left on book two.

I’ve also been working on my NaNoWriMo plots. Like usual, I will be working on two story linesskull. One main project, and one to switch to when I get stuck on the first. That seems to be the easiest way to write for me. This year it will be book 3 of the Mermaid’s curse trilogy (which I have totally plotted out, and it’s going to be AWESOME!) and book 1 of the Eternal Tapestry series. A sort of prequel to Forgotten Ones. I just haven’t decided which will be the main project, and I would love to get them both finished. But that will come about as I start writing come next month.

I’ve also been a bit busy on Instagram and Pinterest with sketches and what not to stay busy. It’s Halloween, and I enjoy drawing pumpkins and skulls, so there you go.

And now for some interesting videos/articles/etc that you might find amusing and/or informative.

The latest Authors Earnings report is live, and it’s all about KU!

Two important publishing facts EVERYONE gets wrong, by Hugh Howey

LeVar Burton reads “Go the F*ck to Sleep” at a charity live stream.

Neil Gaiman on scary stories and little children.

Japanese SF writing contest open to AI and aliens.

From Reddit: What is a science/history mystery that has been solved, but no one seems to know?

 

And just a reminder, Small Bites 1 and Prophecy by Barlight are still free. And I will be having a couple more promo’s going on next month. And you can always sign up for my newsletter here.

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2014 in News

 

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