Catching Up

I haven’t posted for a while for a number of reasons. Some are good reasons and some not so good reasons which I’m sure you have heard more than enough about. So I won’t dwell on that!

I’ve been working on the story I started during NaNoWriMo and since I’ve been at home, I’m making good progress on it. I decided to use the Camp NaNoWriMo April 2020 as an added incentive to keep going. I’m woefully behind but it’s working. They don’t have it set up to record by time, which is what I’m doing since it’s revision but they posted a neat conversion chart and I’m using that to keep track of what I’m doing.

I had set myself a deadline to get the first full revision done by the end of July and I should make that deadline if I stay disciplined. I admit that some days are easier to concentrate than others. So I just roll with it.

There were a few major scenes and plot points that I knew loosely while writing that first crazy draft in November. I’ve pretty much figured out the entire story and now just need to put it all together. I’m treating it like a giant puzzle and mystery. Where to put key parts that I hadn’t included in the original first draft and how to weave it all together so the entire story matches how I imagine it to be. Sounds easy. Ha!

I’ve also gotten to know the characters better. Their history and backstories. They’re becoming real people. There are still details that need to become clearer but now they each seem to have unique personalities.

I also find it fascinating how much the story has changed from my first vision of it. It now only resembles the original in a basic way. The focus has changed and grown. Very exciting. This is one of my favorite things about writing fiction.

The first draft was written by scene and/or chapter, each in its own file. I find it easier to revise and focus on little pieces at a time. It’s much less intimidating. Now I’m looking forward to making it all one long story.

I have handwritten notes and have added lots of comments in the files themselves. I use the comment feature which makes any notes stand out and easy to find and work on. If you haven’t tried that, I highly recommend it! I make notes to go back and fix something or add a detail later as I go along so I don’t get bogged down and distracted. So lots of work to do and I’m still motivated and excited by this project.

I hope you are all writing and creating. It helps make this crazy time just a little easier to deal with when you can make something to call your own.

I would love to hear what you are working on whether it’s writing, drawing, sewing or anything else you are making. Whatever you are doing, take good care of yourself and hang in there.

Confidence?

Now that the holidays are over I’ve been getting back into writing regularly. I’ve set myself a weekly goal of four hours for working on the story I wrote during NaNoWriMo. I’ve been happily adding and deleting words, doing some research about various aspects of the story and trying to piece it together like a jigsaw puzzle. It’s a long way from being done but I’m enjoying the challenge of getting there.

At the same time I’m usually reading two or three books at a time. Its just what I do. There are times when the books I read are enjoyable or good enough. And then there are books that take my breath away with the beauty of the writing, the cleverness of the plot or with characters so real that they feel like friends.

Those amazing books are the trouble. Why? Because those are the books that make me question my own ability to write. I start questioning myself. I could never come up with a plot twist that surprising or clever. Are my characters like cardboard compared to the fully fleshed out people I’ve just read about? My descriptions are pretty good but to make someone stop and reread them just to experience the beauty of the words? That’s a lot of pressure!

These feelings of inadequacy have been creeping around the edges of my mind lately and at least this time I’m recognizing them before they get out of control and I stop trying. I don’t want to lose the momentum I’ve built up while working on this story.

This time I keep reminding myself that I wrote this story for me. That it’s totally self-indulgent and the challenge of putting it together and getting to know the characters and their motivations is fun. That this is play and not to be taken too seriously.

So far this is working. Mostly because it isn’t anywhere near ready for anybody else to read it which is good if it keeps me going. It may never be ready for anyone else to read and that’s okay too.

Do you experience this?

I would love to hear how you keep that devious voice of inadequacy at bay.

NaNoWriMo 2019 Done!

I won!

I’m as surprised as anyone. Was it easy? Definitely not. Was it worth it? I think so. I have a very rough, very messy first draft of a complete story.

I’ve learned a lot.

I learned that I can’t write for more than an hour or hour and a half at a time before I need a break. Not only physically but mentally. I found that I would get that far and my thoughts just stopped organizing themselves in a coherent way. And despite all the action taking place in my head, my body let me know loud and clear that we are meant to move and move a lot. Also, writing in different locations with slightly different body positions makes a world difference. I don’t mean you have to go somewhere else, but just moving from the desk to the couch or even standing at the kitchen counter was good.

I discovered that despite having a pretty clear idea of how the story was going to go, I ran into a few bumps along the way. So I skipped ahead when I got stuck and that worked well. I also have a notebook full of notes and computer files full of comments or highlighted areas to easily find places that I need to go back to.

I did not give in to the temptation of researching online! I know from past experience that turns into a huge time dump. As soon as I saw how quickly I got behind if I didn’t meet my daily word count I realized I did not have time to do any of that.

I wrote every day. A couple of those days were just handwritten notes or a few hundred words. I felt if I skipped even one day it would be too easy to lose the momentum I had going. That meant I had to write a lot on a day off to catch up. On those days I wrote for a while, got things done and then went back and wrote some more. The neat thing about that was keeping the story in my head and when I sat back down to write, it usually flowed easily because I had planned the next scene in my head.

The story and characters really took on a life of their own during the third week. And that is when writing fiction is the most fun for me.

Overall, it worked great for me.

Everything I’m reading is saying to let the story sit for at least a couple of weeks but I’m not sure that will work for me. I think I’ll still play with it to keep it alive. I feel like I just found the real voice of the story and I don’t want to lose that. I definitely won’t work anywhere near the pace I just did. Now I can enjoy messing around with it.

Will I do this again? Probably if I have a large story that needs to get written. This method forced me to get it out as fast as I could and not overthink things.

Also, the writing community is great. Knowing that so many other people were doing the same thing at the same time is energizing.

If you participated, how did you do? I think even if you didn’t get to the crazy word count goal, if you got more writing done than you usually would, then you won.

Keep on creating!

NaNoWriMo Day 17

Day 17

This was a tough week, no doubt. I fell behind on my word counts and boy does that add up fast! So this is just a quick check-in to let you know I’m still writing. Today I reached slightly more than the halfway point.

This week I jumped around a bit in the writing timeline. I got stuck at one point and jumped ahead to keep the words going.

Today I did more out of order writing but  the story is falling into place nicely now. That is in big part to help I got from the Young Writers Group. I asked them to help me brainstorm what could happen after giving them a very brief synopsis of the story and they came through! There were some laughs because some of the ideas were really out there but all of a sudden one of the ideas was good and everyone kept adding on to it. I was typing like crazy to keep up. So a huge thanks to that group!

Another thing that’s helping me is a book that I bought. It’s the No Plot? No Problem by Chris Baty who started this whole crazy thing. The book is funny and but also very helpful.

As of today, day 17, my word count is 25,709!

If you are participating, how are you doing?

And again, if you have any tips to share, I’ll take them.

Keep on writing!

NaNoWriMo Day 9

I’m writing this nine days into the NaNoWriMo challenge and so far so good.

I started with intentions of keeping notes about how I was doing day by day but I haven’t had time. I did do that for the first couple of days and here is what I wrote then:

November 1: I was off work so I devoted a lot of time to getting my project started. But I haven’t written anything this length seriously for a long time. I won’t lie; the first hour I wrote pretty quickly but it was just crap. I took a break and gave it some thought. I needed to get in my main character’s mind and get out of my own way. Stop overthinking it and just write a scene.

And that’s what I did for the second hour. And it just flowed and it worked and I almost doubled the required daily word count that I need to finish this. I ended on a very upbeat note.

I jotted a few notes about the next scene/chapter for the next day.

November 2: I worked all day so I couldn’t do any writing until after dinner. But in a way that was good since I had time to think about the next scene and where I wanted it to go. I wrote for a little more than an hour and got down 1486 words.

This scene will now tie in with some writing I had done a long time ago. This is the first time I will see if I can tie this new idea with the old one and make it all work.

After that first day most have been pretty much the same once I got going.

Is it easy? No. I’ve figured out that I do well for about an hour and then I need to stop and regroup my thoughts. It’s a learning process.

Is it any good? Ha! I’ll see when I’m done if any of it is good but I’m not thinking about that right now. I’m just trying to get the whole story down.

Are there sacrifices being made to do this? Absolutely. But most of those sacrifices are not that important. I really don’t miss watching TV in the evenings. I will admit that I’m missing my video game play time more than I should!

I did give up going to friends’ house today to catch up on my word count since I had fallen a little behind the last couple of days. It’s difficult to get much writing done after a full day at work. It was hard to not go and laugh with good friends. When I explained why, they were supportive. They are the best.

More than anything I’m mostly surprised at my determination to do this at all, let alone actually do it. For some reason, right now, this means a lot to me. 

Also, this week I had the second meeting of the Young Writers Group at work. There are four young ladies who are participating and we had a gentleman who came as well. I don’t think he realized it was for young people but he was more than welcome and I think he had a good time. Everyone is welcome to support each others’ writing. All together there were six of us sitting around the table comparing how we write, what we write and giving each other tips.

One of the reasons I enjoy the company of teens is because they have so much energy. And this group is no exception. Three of them were typing away at their stories while the rest of us talked but also adding their comments to the conversation. Amazing to be able to multitask like that!

After about a half hour, we decided to use the rest of the time to write. What is it that is so energizing about sitting in a room full of people being creative? It’s wonderful.

And my word count so far? 15,908

Not too shabby.

How are you doing?

And if you have done this before, do you have any advice?

Good luck to all! Keep writing!

NaNoWriMo 2019

NaNoWriMo 2019

nanowrimo

Guess what I’m going to try for the first time?

I believe we are given signs when we choose to look for them. And I had a series of signs within a couple of days in September that were steering me in the direction to try and do NaNoWriMo. Here is what it is all about: https://nanowrimo.org/

I’ve had a story kicking around in my head that won’t go away for an embarrassingly long time but I’ve been stuck on how to move the story forward.

So when one of my favorite bloggers, Lillian Csernica wrote a post about prepping for NaNoWriMo, I saw that as my first sign and I was intrigued. Then I had one of those conversations which instantly sparked a solution to my plot problem and I immediately knew of a way to continue the story. Next I came across a book that grabbed my attention noticing that it was very similar to the story I wanted to tell but also saw how my story could be different and unique. And finally, someone at work mentioned that we should try doing NaNoWriMo as a program at the library. All of these things happened within a few days of each other. I was getting the message. It was time to write and work on that story again.

Most of the programs I run are for middle school age kids and teens. I love working with teens and we never have enough programs for that age group. It’s notoriously hard to keep a teen program going because young adults have very busy lives. I have had a couple of teens ask if we could do a writing program. So I’m going to try doing a NaNoWriMo Young Writers program. We will have a prep meeting. Then we’ll have weekly programs through the month of November and then a wrap up one the first week of December. So it’s a short time commitment which hopefully will appeal to everyone. The program is good for the library and selfishly, I’m hoping it will push me into serious writing mode again.

Since I haven’t done NaNoWriMo before, I’m researching it and am getting more excited about trying to do this. If I can get some teens to do this I’m hoping our enthusiasm will keep us going and we can figure it out together.

I just registered on the NaNoWriMo site for myself. And if the teens who come to our prep group want to do the Young Writers program officially, I will register there as an educator so we can set up a virtual classroom. If they don’t want to do it online, we will set our own goals and cheer each other on.

I am committing myself to this goal. That way if I want to avoid being horribly embarrassed and shamed by everyone who knows I will undertake this event, then I need to complete it. And for those of you who plan on not letting me get away with failing, according to the NaNoWriMo statistics, there is only a 17 percent success rate for completing this task which is kind of sobering. Even if I don’t make the 50,000 word goal, I will be writing and that is a good thing.

Right now I’m reading the incredibly helpful and funny book called No Plot? No Problem! written by the founder of this annual event, Chris Baty. Lots of good information in this book. I’m getting familiar with the NaNoWriMo site now so I don’t waste time figuring it out in November.

I’m also making notes about the story I want to write. I’m not really a plotter but this way I’ll have a loose guide to where I want the story to go. I’m making scene titles and have to restrain from working on the scenes now.

So wish me luck! And hold me accountable. I don’t like commitments so this is a stretch for me. Pushing our comfort zones is what makes life interesting, right?

Oh, and if you have participated in NaNoWriMo and have any tips for me, please share them. I need all the help I can get.

If you want to show support with kind words and encouragement, I would love that too.

If you are participating I wish you good luck and good writing.