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


{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 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.

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.

Do You Use Scrivener?

Some time last year, I purchased Scrivener. I’ve kind of played around with it, but I haven’t taken the time to really learn how to use it beyond the very basics. Right now I’m using Scrivener to write my first draft. Rather than writing one long, ongoing draft as you would in a Word document, I’m writing my novel scene by scene, each in their own document.

Some people are a bit chaotic when they write. The story comes to them in bits and pieces, and Scrivener is ideal for that kind of writing. You can easily use Scrivener to write your scenes and then organize them as you need to, moving things around as new ideas come to mind.  

I’m a linear writer. I’m writing my story in the order in which it happens, starting from Chapter One. I’ve written several scenes so far, and I’m organizing them using the three-act structure with sub-folders for chapters and more sub-folders for scenes. This is going pretty well so far, but I feel like I’m not using Scrivener to its fullest capacity.

So I’ve been googling and found some links for tips on how to use Scrivener and thought I’d share:

  • A great post from Justine Covington with great examples on how she uses Scrivener to organize her writing
  • Natasha Lester has complied a list of posts she’s written on how to use Scrivener to write a book
  • Jason M. Hough has written two posts on how he uses Scrivener, part 1 and part 2
  • K.M. Weiland has two very detailed posts, one for outlining using Scrivener and the second on how she uses it to write her first draft
  • Literature and Latte, the maker of Scrivener, has a list of tutorials on their website

Do you use Scrivener? If so, feel free to share your tips in the comments section.