Work-in-Progress Wednesday

WIP

I took a week off from writing. Eight days to be exact. This wasn’t something that I planned on doing. One day off just happened to snowball into an unexpected vacation from writing. Needless to say I’m behind on my manuscript.

This first draft is slowly moving along. Yesterday, I finally opened up the file again and started writing. I’ve been trying to get through the first Act. It feels like it’s taking forever. The scenes I’ve written so far are a jumbled mess that are full of holes. The writing is atrocious, the characters are flat, and the dialogue has no sparkle. Throughout the process, I keep asking myself the same question — Why? As in, why the hell are you putting yourself through this torture? There is, of course, only one answer to that question:

Because I don’t have a choice.

Without a first draft, I won’t know what the story is or how to fix it, or even see if it’s worth a rewrite. I’ve never written a novel before. I imagine the process will be the same every time I write a book — the torture part, that is. I just want to get the damn thing out of my system. Get it written already. That’s what keeps me chugging forward. I’ve gotten this far, I might as well keep on going. It’s the only way I’ll find out what happens next.

Reading Challenge Fail

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I am officially four books behind in my 2017 reading challenge. It certainly isn’t for lack of trying, though. I’ve started at least six books over the past few months, but haven’t finished one. I’m not sure what my deal is, but I just haven’t felt like reading lately. Reading is an important part of the writing life and I need to put forth some effort if I want to catch up and meet my goal of twenty-five books this year.

I’ve come up with another challenge–a challenge within a challenge, really. If I’ve done my math correctly, I have nineteen books to read for the rest of the year. That’s still doable, if I put in the effort. I’ve culled through the over 650 books on my Kindle and I’ve come up with nineteen books to cross off my To-Be-Read list in an attempt to redeem myself and achieve my reading goal.

Mostly women’s fiction and romance make up the list. I’ve included full-length novels as well as shorter novellas, all of them Kindle books with the exception of one paperback, and one library book that I checked out yesterday.

Here’s what I’ll be reading for the rest of the year:

The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews  (the library book)
Family Pictures by Jane Green
If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins
The Summer Girls by Mary Alice Monroe
Whisper Beach by Shelley Noble
The Language of Spells by Sarah Painter
Doing It Over by Catherine Bybee
This Thing Called Love by Miranda Liasson
Charmingly Yours by Liz Talley
Redemption Bay by RaeAnne Thayne
The Beekeeper’s Ball by Susan Wiggs
The Cupcake Diaries: Sweet On You by Darlene Panzera
To Catch a Bouquet by Carolyn Brown
Sweeter With You by Susan Mallery
The Girl He Left Behind by Patricia Kay  (the paperback)
The Good Girl’s Second Chance by Christine Rimmer
Stranded With the Rancher by Janice Maynard
Beauty and the Blacksmith by Tessa Dare
Confessing to the Cowboy by Carla Cassidy

These are books that I’ve been meaning to get around to reading. Hopefully, this will help make a dent in my TBR pile.

 

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.

Work-in-Progress Wednesday

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{image by Livia Cristina}

If you read my last post then you may know that I’m going to challenge myself to do a fast first draft in two weeks. This is based on Candace Haven’s Fast Draft workshop. She’s not offering the class right now, so I’m going to wing it. The idea is to do a fast first draft to the tune of twenty pages a day for fourteen days in just a couple hours a day.

Today was day one for me.

I didn’t do so well.

In two hours I managed about six and a half pages. Perhaps first day jitters? Or maybe twenty pages a day is an unrealistic goal for me. Whatever the case is, I think a little over six pages in two hours is a pretty good start.

Up For The Challenge

I recently took a workshop taught by Gwen Hayes called Writing to the Beat based on her book Romancing the Beat. She teaches you how to use a beat sheet to figure out the romance arc of your novel. I bought her book a few months back and when I saw that she was teaching a class based on her beat sheet system, I immediately enrolled. It really helped me map out the course of my current WIP — the one I started during April’s Camp NaNoWriMo.

I don’t know if Gwen is going to teach this class again, but if she does, and if you’re a romance writer, I highly recommend the class and her book — and no, I’m not getting paid to say this.

Usually when I take online workshops, I’m more of a lurker than a participant. The introvert in me likes to prevent me from putting myself out there. This time I did myself a favor and participated. I received much-needed feedback on my WIP and met a great group of writers in the process. Since the workshop ended, we’ve kept in touch through Facebook.

The other day, one of those writers mentioned she’d taken a Fast Draft workshop taught by Candace Havens. I’ve looked into taking this in the past but never took the plunge. During the Fast Draft workshop, you write the first draft of your book in fourteen days. Twenty pages a day to be precise…in just a few hours a day. A monumental task when you, like everyone on the planet, have a busy life. It just seems so impossible. But I want to try it myself and see if I can do it.

Unfortunately, Candace Havens isn’t offering that workshop right now, so I think I’m going to wing it and try writing a first draft in fourteen days on my own. Twenty pages a day is a lot to accomplish in two or three hours a day. I have an outline and now have my romance beats all worked out. For the next few days (maybe the rest of the week) I’m going to create a semi-detailed scene list for my WIP and then write my ass off for two weeks and see what happens.

I’ve been dragging my heels with this novel and just want to get the first draft over and done with already. I think I’m up for the challenge, and who knows, maybe I might just surprise myself and actually pull it off.

Things I’ve Learned From Camp NaNoWriMo

Camp NaNoWriMo officially ended yesterday and I didn’t meet my goal. My final tally was 15,487 words, a little over half of my initial goal. And that is perfectly fine by me. This project got me writing again, and that was my real goal.

When Camp began, I started out working on a cozy mystery novel that I’d outlined, but four days into writing I realized that I didn’t want to write that story. Instead, I began working on a romance novel that I had last worked on two years prior. I’m a flip flopper when it comes to deciding what genre to write. This is an issue that’s kept me from moving forward. I’m also an overthinker, which is not a good thing. For the longest time I wanted to be a romance writer, but for various reasons I’ve talked myself out of making that leap. Mystery is also a genre that I love, particularly psychological suspense, and a genre that, once again, for various reasons I have talked myself out of making that leap. This past month I’ve learned that my hangups are all tied to one thing.

Fear.

Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of wasting my time. Fear of not picking the right project. Fear of looking stupid. Fear of what other people think. Fear that I might reveal too much of myself. And any other fear that crosses a writer’s mind every time they sit down to write.

Once I started working on the romance novel, the words began to flow. It’s just the first draft, so I gave myself permission to write the shittiest first draft ever and that seemed to do the trick this time. I’ve written quite a few rough scenes, some being pages and pages of only dialogue and some scenes that consist of long paragraphs of description. Either way the ideas are out of my head and on the page. At some stage they will be rewritten into a better second draft. And that’s the whole point. To get those ideas out of your system so that you can mold them into a structurally sound, cohesive, and, hopefully, compelling story.

Here are a few things I’ve learned while participating in Camp NaNoWriMo:

1. It’s okay to switch projects if you want to. It’s often said that you should always finish a writing project…no matter what. I get it. The only way to learn how to write is to write. The only way to get better at writing is to write, and that involves finishing your writing projects. But if what you’re writing is holding you back or keeping you from writing altogether, then by all means switch to a different project. You’re not beholden to follow someone else’s rules of writing. Do what works for you.

2. It’s okay to not write every single day. There are days when you just can’t write for whatever reason. You’re tired. Your job needs you to work overtime. You have hemorrhoids. Whatever. Don’t beat yourself up about it. It doesn’t make you a lazy ass. It doesn’t make you want it any less than the next writer. We are humans and sometimes it’s just not humanly possible to write every damn day of the week. If you have a day where something has come up or you’re just too freakin’ tired, go to bed, binge watch an entire season of Bosch, work that overtime at the job that pays your bills…it’s okay. Write the next day, even if it’s for only five minutes.

3. Writing in small bursts adds up to a lot of words on the page. Before Camp, I wrote down all of the tasks I do from the time I wake up until the time I go to bed each night. After a couple of days of tracking my activities, I was able to figure out when I had free time, as well as when I was wasting time doing less important stuff, like vegetating in front of the TV binge watching an entire season of Bosch. I figured out that I have one hour available each work day before I have to make dinner and then I have about two hours before bedtime to write, and I made sure that on most days I took advantage of that time.

4. The final (and most important) thing that I learned is that, yes, writing is hard and sometimes downright boring, but man I love it and I want to get better at it because it’s something I want to pursue. Yes I want to be a published author some day. Yes I want to earn a living as a novelist, even if it’s just a supplemental income. But I know now that whether I get published or not, whether I’m good at it or not, I will always be a writer trying to hone my craft. I don’t think I can imagine life any other way.

Camp NaNoWriMo: Day 17

It’s day seventeen of Camp NaNoWriMo and technically I should be at around 17,000 words if I want to meet my 30,000 word goal by April 30th, but I’m not quite there. I haven’t given up, though. I’m still chugging along and making progress. There are thirteen days left in the month, and hope is alive my friends! I may just meet that goal, yet.

The whole point of participating in NaNoWriMo this month was to get back to writing on a regular basis. My flash fiction experiment didn’t work. Probably because I long to write novels and not short fiction. Whatever the case may be, I’ve written thirteen out of the past seventeen days, which is probably a record for me, and I’m beginning to feel like an actual writer rather than one who aspires to write.

In the beginning, my daily goal was 1000 words a day or 7000-ish words a week. According to my stats, I’m averaging just under 700 words a day. My goal for the rest of the month is to improve upon that average and bring it up to the 1000 words a day.

The most important thing is to keep on going until I’ve reached the very end…no matter how long it takes.