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!

Writing, More Tortoise Than Hare

A._gigantea_Aldabra_Giant_TortoiseI mentioned in my last post that I was thrilled to have reacquainted myself with a story I started a couple of years ago and was off and writing like crazy. Now I have slowed to a crawl but instead of being daunted by this, I’m continuing to write even if it’s a sentence or two at a time. The fun in writing fiction, for me, is the surprise of how I get there.

This story is tricky. I know where I want it to go and why but making sure that I make it clear to a reader who isn’t in my head is the puzzle. Sometimes it’s hard to separate the nuances of the story as shown in my mind with what I am getting onto the page. And this story is very weird but fun. Once I get it all down, it should come together. I hope.

This is also a short story which I find much harder to write. I tend to write in scenes. There isn’t as much wiggle room to get from one scene to the next in a short story. I’m sure I will end up writing much more than I need to and will then cut it down to size. It’s all part of the journey, right?

Does anyone else sometimes feel that writing is like doing a jigsaw puzzle? Finding tiny pieces of the whole picture and putting it together in the right order? That’s okay with me. I like doing jigsaw puzzles too.

I’m proceeding slowly and trusting that the words will sort themselves as I go. And didn’t the tortoise win in the end?

Writing Levels

I know I go off on a variety of tangents and subjects in this blog but I realize that I need to get back to writing. I need to do more writing in general. I have discovered that when real life demands my full attention my writing gets pushed into the background. And that I usually suffer for not getting words onto the page.

I have discovered through the years a few things about my writing habits.

The first thing is that I have to write. I’ve tried giving it up, repeatedly, when life gets crazy. I know that writing is the way I put life into perspective. Writing is how I work through things good and bad.

The most direct way I work through things is by keeping a journal. That is the most shallow writing I do but it allows me to get my monkey mind under control. Do most writers have overactive minds? When too many ideas and feelings have built up I have to write it out. It usually comes out with no order (kind of like this post) but if I keep writing eventually the really important things make themselves known and the rest I can let go of. Journal writing is the one form of writing I am consistent about. I think it’s self-preservation.

Writing fiction or as children say, making things up, is a more indirect way of dealing with things but a creative way to explore. And safe. Instead of taking out anger on someone I can create a fictional scene and work things out that way. And the opposite of that is taking a negative situation and creating a positive scene to replace the real one. It makes me remember what it was like as a child when I would play by acting out feelings. That does wonders for my state of mind. Everyone should remember how to make believe.

When my mind is in a calm state, then I can get into pure creativity. That’s when I do my best creative writing. It’s when poetry comes to mind and words and ideas flow easily. A calm mind is when I will write something that is so crystal clear and alive in my imagination that it feels real. Sometimes more real than real life. And on the opposite of that I have written things that I will go back and read some time after having written it and be surprised. I wrote that?! Wow!

Now that I’m getting more settled into my new home and life I hope to be able to get to a calm state of mind and back to my creative writing. I have at least two stories that I have left hanging for a very long time. The characters are waiting patiently for me to have space for them again. I’m getting there.

How about you? Do you have different levels of writing? Or do you use your writing in different ways? Does it help you deal with life or are you able to completely separate your writing life from whatever is going on day to day?

I find the process, desire and need to write fascinating. I would love to hear your thoughts about it.

When a Story Takes on a Life of Its Own

I’ve been working on a story for a while now. When I say working, I mean I’ve been putting together the characters, their names, and a general outline. I know how the story will end. I know key scenes. I was piecing it together a bit at a time.I do that when working on a longer piece until I reach a point when the story seems to come together. I can see the characters clearly and hear their voices. I know where I want them to go but I don’t know all the details of how they will get there.

Suddenly I reach a point when the characters start to do things or say things I hadn’t planned on. This is the greatest pleasure in writing fiction for me. I just need to stay with them and hope I can type fast enough to keep up. To me this is magical. I’ve been here in my writing before and will ride along as long as it lasts.

I used to think this was a bit crazy but have since read about and talked with other writers who experience this same thing. I think this is the equivalent to when athletes say they are in the zone. I think this is a writer’s zone.

For now, I will get back to my story but I have to wonder if any of you have experienced this?


Writing Progress through March

I’ve been kind of unfocused with my writing but did manage to submit two short stories. One has been rejected but had a nice note with it. The other one I just sent out so it’s too soon to hear anything.

I do tend to go into a funk in February and March and find it very hard to focus, let alone be creative. But I’m plugging along. Now that March is about done and the days are longer, I should be able to kick it in gear more.

Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do

Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do edited by Meredith Maran

I read this great book which was very inspiring. 

Each chapter was about and by each author. I particularly liked at the end of each one, the author gave a few of their best writing tips. I would recommend it to anyone interested in writing.

How is your writing going? Do you find that you write better during certain seasons? When you are feeling uninspired and unfocused, what do you do to keep going? I would love to hear your suggestions.

Here is an entire page dedicated to Writing Funks by the Wordwrights:

Exploring First Drafts

My first drafts always start out like wildfire. I usually have a lot of scenes from the beginning of a story. I almost always know how the story will end. Then depending on how long a story is, I know many scenes in between.

Filling in the spaces between those scenes can be hard but also the most fun because those are the places where the story often takes off on its own. If I can stay out of my own way and just follow where it takes me, I get to discover the story much like the reader does when the story is done.

If I try to force a story to go in a certain direction I’ve discovered that it usually comes to a screeching halt. Then the words come out flat, the characters become stiff and the story gets boring.

Sometimes I just have to pretend that I’m a kid playing make-believe and let my imagination go crazy. I try to get into the mindset that I used to fall into so easily as a kid. I remember when I was in elementary school being able to play for hours using nothing more than a couple of toys and my imagination. Entire worlds, characters and events happened in those hours, effortlessly.

I think as adults we get stuck in our own censorship. We constantly stop and think about whether what we are writing is believable or well-written. If we can ignore those thoughts while pouring out that first draft, then we can always go back and fix things later. That’s what revision is for.

Most of the time, when we just ‘go with the flow’ as they say, in the end, there is very little that needs to be fixed.

Do you like writing first drafts? Do you find it easy or difficult? What do you do to keep it going?


Writing Even When I’m Not

I have heard the advice of ‘write every day’ over and over again. I’ve learned for me that doesn’t mean that I have to actually put words onto a page every day. Writing every day can also mean the creating that goes on in my mind.

There are times when it’s just impossible to get more than a quick note jotted down. That doesn’t mean that I’m not forming words, paragraphs and story ideas in my mind every day. In fact sometimes letting the words and ideas just float around in a jumble until they settle into a cohesive form is better.

I’ve had times when I have a shadow of an idea and if I try to force it all down at once it feels premature. I get stuck with the words that are set in front of my eyes rather than listening to the entire thing. The nuances often get missed if I rush it onto the page.

Instead, I try to write down only the strongest images and notes; the ones that I have to get out with a sense of urgency, and write until that urgency is spent. Then I walk away from the page and go do other things for a while. Meanwhile the story drifts around at the edge of my attention. Later, when I sit down again, the words and story have a more solid form and the words flow again.

I think the ‘writing every day rule’ can be expanded into ‘keep writing on your mind every day’.