Work-in-Progress Wednesday

Copy of WIPWednesday

It’s been about a week since I started my fast draft challenge and I’ve come to one conclusion: I’m not cut out to write twenty pages a day. If you are one of those folks that can knock out twenty pages in two hours, more power to you. That’s an impressive achievement.

Me, I’m a slow writer and I’m okay with that. It’s part of my girlish charm.

Over the past week, I’ve been chuggin’ along with my first draft. I’ve managed to get in about 5700 words or so. Following my romance beats outline has been a big help. It’s given me some direction so I haven’t been flailing about writing aimless gibberish. I also went back over some of the scenes I’d written in April during Camp NaNoWriMo and found that quite a few of those fit in with this draft, so that added to the overall word count. Check out the tally over in the sidebar.

I am officially throwing in the towel with the fast draft challenge and aiming for about 7000 words over the next week. If I can keep up that pace, it should take me about another eight weeks to finish the first draft. The key is to just keep going.

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Writing Dreams vs Writing Goals

The Best Way to Make Your

Writing dreams. Those of us who write or aspire to write all have them. Here’s a list of my Writing Dreams:

  • Landing a book deal for my current WIP by the end of this year
  • Being offered a huge advance and multi-book contract, enough so that I can quit my job and write full-time
  • That each time I sit down to write, the words will just flow out my brain and onto the page
  • That I can make my own schedule and write whenever the muse strikes
  • My books will sell themselves
  • My first book becomes a runaway bestseller, Hollywood comes knocking and turns it into a blockbuster smash hit staring Emma Stone and Chris Pine

Here’s the Reality to the above list of dreams:

  • My first book, quite possibly, will never see the light of day
  • Unless my name is Stephen King, Nora Roberts, or James Patterson, a huge advance, one that would allow me to quit my job, is just not going to happen.
  • Writing is hard. There will be days where the words just flow out of my head and onto the page, but only on rare occasions
  • If I only wrote when the muse made an appearance, I’d never write anything. Writing professionally means meeting deadlines — and that means writing when you don’t feel like it
  • I’m not that great a writer and nobody knows who the hell I am, so I’m pretty sure my books won’t sell themselves. I’ll have to put in some effort to find readers and sell my work.
  • That last one is borderline delusional but a fun daydream nonetheless

Dreams are fun to think about, especially when you’re having an especially crappy day. They give you something to look forward to, even if they are just daydreams. If you want to earn a living as a writer, you have to learn early on to not get caught up in romanticizing the “writer life.”

Writing is a profession just like any other. In order to succeed, you need to focus more on your writing goals rather than those crazy dreams you might have.

Here is a list of my current Writing Goals:

  • Write every day. Set and meet weekly word count goals. (minimum goal of 7000 words a week)
  • Finish my first draft, rewrite it, polish it, hope that it’s good enough to submit to either agents or directly to a traditional publisher and send it out into the world
  • Write a second novel and go through the whole process again (hopefully will have found agent at this point)
  • Post to my blog and social media (Twitter for now) on a regular basis and build a “writer platform”
  • Write at least one short story a month for the rest of the year and submit them for publishing

The one difference between goals and dreams is Control. We control the outcome of our goals. Whether we achieve them or not is entirely up to us. Dreams are out of our control. I dream that the Publisher’s Clearing House Prize Patrol will knock on my door some day, but I can’t make that happen. Goals are the hard work that we put in while trying to turn those dreams into reality.

Daydreaming is fun once in a while, but I think I’ll stick with reality for now and focus more on reaching my goals.

 

Camp NaNoWriMo

My plan to write nonstop flash fiction fizzled out quickly. I managed to complete a short story that I did submit for publication. The story was one of my better ones. Whether it’s good enough for publishing, who knows. Crossing my fingers, but expecting rejection. I’m still having problems motivating myself to just sit and write. I even had two decent story ideas to work on immediately, but kept getting sidetracked with things like lying around or mindlessly surfing the web.

The past couple of weeks I’ve been pretty fed up with my laziness and lack of enthusiasm. I want to be a writer. It’s something I’ve wanted for as long as I can remember. Yet I can’t discipline myself to sit and write.

It’s time to try a new tactic.

It’s time to go camping.

Camp NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow and it runs through the entire month of April. Have you signed up yet? Camp NaNoWriMo is the less hardcore version of the annual NaNoWriMo that takes place every November. With Camp, you can set your own goal, whether it be word count or hours or whatever. I’ve set a goal of 30,000 words for the month of April. I’ll be working on the mystery novel that I’ve been mulling over in my mind and planning for at least two years. Yes, I’m an overplanner. A character flaw that I’m trying to get a handle on.

Participating in Camp NaNoWriMo is a great way to both challenge myself and develop a consistent writing habit once and for all.

For the past week I’ve narrowed my story idea down to a solid 2-3 page outline that will allow me to pump out a decent first draft of a novel. The key to sticking with a goal of 30,000 words in 30 days is to go into it knowing that what I write is going to be a shitty draft. One with plot holes, spelling errors, telling rather than showing, and stuff that just doesn’t make sense.  And that’s okay. It takes the pressure off and allows the creative juices to flow.

The end result…words on the page, a consistent writing habit, and the thrill of creating something from nothing.

 

A Short List for Short Stories

I’ve been plugging along with building up my writing habit. I’m still not writing every day, but I’ve written more in the past couple of weeks than I have in a long time, so progress is being made.

The flash fiction class that I took went pretty well. I now have a better understanding of how to structure a short story. The stories that I worked on for the class were good practice. Not very good fiction, but good practice nonetheless. Recently, I finished up a story of about 800 words that I’m pretty happy with. It’s only the first draft, so I’m going to set it aside for a week or two, go back and polish it up and submit it for publication. In the meantime, I’m going to brainstorm ideas for my next story.

Over the weekend, I started wondering about where to submit flash fiction and longer short stories for publication, so I did a Google search and came up with a few places to consider. Here’s a short list for short stories:

Not every story I write is good enough for submitting, but for those that I think have promise, it’s nice to know there are publications that pay for short fiction.

A New Beginning

I haven’t written a blog post in about a year and a half. Truth be told, I haven’t written much of anything over the past year. So many things have happened since my last post.

First, trying to figure out what I wanted to write about became a daily struggle. Did I want to write romance, mystery, horror, suspense or women’s fiction? All of these genres interest me, but I just couldn’t settle on one. I had a lot of ideas for stories…too many ideas. I couldn’t stick with one long enough to actually reach the end of a story and as a result I became discouraged with writing altogether. I gave up. I believe I overwhelmed myself with focusing too much on publishing. Trying to figure out which idea would be the one. The magical one that would get me published.

At some point I decided to go back to school. My current job is a dead end and I need a more reliable source of income. I couldn’t seem to get my shit together with writing, so school seemed to be my only option. The plan was to continue writing while working full time and going to school in the evenings. That plan did not pan out, however. Within a month I was exhausted and felt brain dead. I decided writing would have to be put on hold until further notice.

I plugged along with work and school and made it through the first semester of the program I was enrolled in, but the overwhelming exhaustion never subsided. Turns out I was sick. Turns out it was cancer. Fucking cancer! I’m not even 50 years old. But I already knew what the diagnosis was going to be before the test results came back. My gut just told me something was wrong, and my gut was right.

A lot of shit goes on when you find out you have cancer. Your life flashes before your eyes. You think about all the stuff you’ve yet to accomplish, all the things you were too afraid to try, the things you figured you still had time to do. You find out who your true friends are, and some of them wind up showing their true colors and instead turn out to be assholes rather than friends.

I was fortunate. My cancer was caught early and I’m on the mend. This whole experience has made me think about my life and what I want to do with it. Being a novelist is something I’ve dreamed about since I was a teenager. Making a living as a novelist is no easy thing to accomplish, but it is something that I want to pursue. Since my illness, I had to quit school. I’ve amassed an enormous amount of medical bills, so I can no longer afford the monthly payments for school. I believe this is a blessing in disguise. What I was studying was not something I was really interested in, and I’m 90% certain I would have been unhappy in that job as well.

Being a fiction writer is what I want to do for a living, and writing is how I want to spend the bulk of what’s left of the rest of my life. My plan is to bring my focus back to writing, learning as much as I can about craft and becoming a better writer. I want to spend the next year finding my voice. I don’t want to get distracted about the publishing/business side of writing. I just want to write until I figure out what it is I want to say. Once I do that, everything else should fall into place.

Update: Work In Progress

This is day three of my novel-writing challenge. I just finished writing for the night and got in just under 500 words today. Yesterday was a little more productive with somewhere around 1200 words written. According to Camp NaNoWriMo, I should reach my 50,000-word goal by January 2, 2016.

Yes, I’m a bit behind schedule. However, I didn’t start my challenge until July 6th. Camp NaNoWriMo began on the first of July.

Before I started, I came across this post and found the advice for writing a first draft very motivating–particularly tip #2:

Forget about quality, just get it done.

I’m one of those people that will start writing a scene and the next day go back, read it over, and start revising it before the scene is even completely finished. I will revise the shit out of the first paragraph until I think it’s perfect. Problem is, it never will be perfect.

Writing a crappy first draft is okay.

That’s my new mantra. It’s what I have to keep telling myself in order to push through. It can always be fixed later. And isn’t that the point of a first draft anyway? I do have a general idea and a loose outline for this story with the major plot points. The first draft will help me figure out the rest of the story idea. When that’s done, then I’ll turn it into a better story by way of a second draft.