Sunday, January 7, 2018

Best Writing Advice Of 2017

As I creep into the new year, I'm still working on a project from the old one. I'd hoped to have it finished, but the story isn't quite done with me yet and I'm pondering where to end it. I think I got that figured out yesterday, but I'm guessing it will be at least another 10K to 15K before I get there.

What I wanted to talk about here though, is a little line of advice I read last year that helped me get to this productive point where I've cranked out 95K in just over two months. I'm sorry that I don't remember where I came across it so I can't credit it properly, but it comes down to this:

Touch your writing every day.

You don't have time for a two hour writing session every single day?  Take a few minutes to touch your project. Read the last paragraph, write a couple sentences, read over the last scene, write a paragraph, sit with your words and consider what you'll write next.

The problem many of us have is we get a new sparkly idea. We binge-write until the sparkle is gone. Then the real work of maintaining plot, pace, and character sink in. After that, writing a chore, it's work, the words might not come as easily. We have to stop and think more, plan ahead, consider, contemplate. All of that takes time. Time were we may not be actively pouring out words, where we feel like we're not accomplishing much of anything and maybe we're wasting our time. Time most of us don't have much of to begin with.

When the urge isn't there or other obligations swallowed your usual writing session, make yourself sit down and touch your words.

Make small steps until the story starts to flow, ideas start to click and the plot and ending reveal themselves. Percolate. Stay familiar with your story.

Don't give in to the urge to set aside your writing for a day. That day turns into two, and three, and a week, and on and on.

Having practiced this for a couple months now, I'm having a much better time making the writing happen. I used to mostly write in the morning and call it good. Now I've added touching my words at lunch and sometimes after work or dinner. Writing once and touching here and there, it's made my time in front of the keyboard much more productive. I hope it will help you too.

What's the best writing advice you came across last year?    

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

IWSG: January and 2018 Goals

 It's a new year, and it's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post! 

This month's question is: What steps have you taken to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?

My publishing schedule has been rather up in the air all last year and I don't foresee this year being much different as a good deal of it depends on my publisher. There have been editors coming and going, restructuring, a new backend interface, a move, and  other delays for various reasons. Ah, the joys of working with a small press. If I had to sum up last year in one word, I'd go with frustrated.

As to writing related things under my control, I do have a schedule. I write every morning Monday - Friday and quite often on the weekends too. I try to touch my WIP at lunch and again after work. My goal is 1000 words a day. Coming out of NaNo, where I managed roughly 2K a day for the month, half of that feels quite doable. December saw goals met and we're onward into January. How that will play out once I get this current rough draft completed, time will tell. 

February is slated to be a 30 in 30 month (or 30K in 28 days in this case... or 28 in 28, but it doesn't quite have the same ring to it.). I hope to be working on rewriting Not Another Bard's Tale, a silly fantasy story. The problem is I went all experimental with it originally, and while it's a fun character piece, there's no cohesiveness. It needs a much stronger plot to pull it together.

At some point, likely the point with the worst timing, I'll be getting edits back on the first book of The Narvan. 

I'd like to get NABT and at least book one of The Narvan out into the big world in 2018.

As to other goals, that brings me to my One Word for the new year.

Speak. Mostly speaking up when I've had enough. I started in on this already at the end of November, by asking for help for next year, outsourcing, delegating. I'm also hoping to organize an author event in my town with my local writing group, and perhaps assist with another nearby. In May, I'm going to Penguicon and sitting in on some writing panels. On a smaller scale, I'd like to get back into my weekly blogging schedule. 

Past One Words have been:

2012 was the year of Less. This helped me overcome my habit of over obligation.

2013 was the year of Me. In which I focused a little more on myself instead of doing everything for everyone else.

2014 was the year when I said I would Write. Shit happened. Goal denied.

2015 was sort of a do over year. I tried to work toward solving my problem from the year before by choosing Time. Making time to do the thing I wanted to do: write. Because, well hell, no one else tells you to sit down, stop doing all the things, and write. You have to do that yourself.

2016 was the year of Relax.  That went pretty well and started my morning routine of time in my comfy chair.

I tried to Enjoy 2017. I'd give it a solid meh. I made an effort, but life, work, and finances often got in the way.

What's your one word for 2018?

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

IWSG: December - Success and Failure

Wow, it's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post already! 

This month's questions asks:
As you look back on 2017, with all its successes and failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently? 

I'm pretty happy with the past year other than one small endeavor in dealing with a small local publisher. If I had a do over, I would have listened to my gut and avoided that whole interaction. There was no contract and no money involved so no real losses other than one more thing to be annoyed about. Disappointed, sums it up nicely, I guess.  

Without getting into specifics, because I'm not here to bash anyone and other authors seem to love these people, when your gut tells you to keep walking, even when your friends tell you to stop and check it out, listen to your gut. It's there for a reason. When a publisher will not answer emails, update you the status of the project, produces one of the worst covers and blurbs I've seen (and I've lurked on those lousy cover sites), and runs a six month and counting pre-order with no publish date in sight, it's time to walk away and maybe buy your gut an apology gift - like maybe a big chocolate shake or some cheesecake. 

Enough about failures, let's talk about success, because I wouldn't do that differently. NaNoWriMo just wrapped up and it was a great November. I wrote 60,000 words (my highest single month word production) and reached 50K five days earlier than ever before. Year twelve of doing NaNo was fantastic! The story isn't done yet, I'm still writing. Though, not at the manic November pace. I do try to get 500 words a day or so to keep working toward the end. 

I hope you had a great 2017 or at least a year to learn from if it didn't go so great. I suppose, with the new year approaching it's time to start pondering what my one word will be for 2018. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

IWSG: November

It's the first day of NaNoWriMo and I will fully admit I'm off writing somewhere, probably in my comfy chair under a blanket in my pajamas. But I did like this month's question and it's a topic near and dear to me so I'm going to chime in.

Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?

I've only not won once, but I'd say it's about half and half on finishing. It took me years to get back to finishing my early NaNo novels, and some of those will never see the light of day. Was that a waste of time? Certainly not. Everything I write is a learning experience, sometimes it's to learn to never do that again.

More recently, I've been better about staying on the novel after November and finishing it without years of gathering dust. A good example is The Last God, which was last year's novel and is now published.

2006 - Sahmara  was published in 2016
2007 - Swan Queen is still waiting to be finished
2008 - Not Another Bards Tale is also waiting to be finished and is likely the next on my list.
2009 - A Broken Race was published in 2015
2010 - 50K worth of short stories, one of which did go on to be published
2011 - The Narvan Book 2: Chain of Grey - Is contracted for publication
2012 - Jackson - A horrible idea, but some of the content ended up in the epilogue of ABR.
2013 - Into the Blue - I'd like to finish this someday
2014 - Damaged - I was building a house so this isn't even close to done and may never be
2015 - The Narvan book 3: Bound in Blue - Is contracted for publication
2016 - The Last God, is published

I like to claim NaNoWriMo as my dedicated writing month. I get that rough draft out and can spend the rest of the year making it pretty and work and all that fun stuff. Sometimes my brain and life don't cooperate and I end up with one of those half finished lingering projects.

Good luck with NaNo this year for all those participating!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

All About NaNoWriMo

I'm at about neck deep into NaNoWriMo already and November hasn't even started. I'm anticipating spending my November at about 6 inches under my obligation load so figure on a total breakdown where I vanish for a few days somewhere in December.

This week's adventures in NaNoWriMo included a trip to Grand Rapids where my Co-ML and I went on the WGVU Morning Show to talk guessed it, NaNoWrimo! I'd never been on the radio before so that was an interesting experience. I was on enough allergy meds that I was just awake enough to be coherent but not alert enough to be nervous. I guess there is a plus to allergies after all.

Today I officially secured my Day Of Knockout Noveling location, which is a theater, which is pretty damn cool, if I do say so myself. I'm still a bit bummed about not using the gallery space we've used for the past couple years, but I don't have to haul hardly anything to the new venue. My back, shoulder, and neck are extremely pleased with this news. The manager is super easy to work with and I'm excited to have the whole theater filled with the clickity-clacking of fifty-some keyboards while we novel away for a day.

I also made all the activities, stickers and progress chart for the 50 goody bags we'll be handing out at our Kick Off Party on the 29th and got those all assembled into neat little bags this week as well.

In preparation for a month of writing, I wrapped up my personal Netflix binge-watching yesterday. I've been on a historical fiction stint with Medici: Masters of Florence, which was very good. Can't wait for the next season! And the three seasons of The Borgias , which was a fun example of a whole show of antagonists and getting people to empathize with them...and yet still know they are not good people. I'm still working my way through the last season of Dark Matter and the current seasons of Mr. Robot and Outlander, but those are on husband/wife time so I can still work those in during November here and there.

Next on the list: Re-reading Book 3 of the Narvan so I can dive into Book 4 for NaNo.

And while I have you here and we're talking about NaNoWriMo, both Sahmara and The Last God (which were both NaNo Novels) are currently on sale for .99. Links are over there on the left. <------ p="">