If you’re new to the blog, Hi! If you’re not, you’ll know I’m in the middle of revising Draft 6 of my main writing project. My goal is to finish this draft by April, but my slightly more realistic goal is May…
In February, I revised Chapters 20-23, or 9,981 words. As usual, life has a way of getting in the way, but it didn’t stop me from meeting my goal 🙂 🙂 🙂
What I’ve learned so far:
This draft has shown me that I get as much work done if I schedule two solid, 4-5 hour weekend writing sessions, as when I squeeze in 30 minute to 1 hour sessions after during the weekdays. These shorter sessions also have a way of breaking up my thoughts and making me lose focus, resulting in the mess I made of the last two drafts (sigh). Adjusting my schedule has allowed me to focus on those weekend sessions, and use the weekdays to review chapters and consider revisions. This also grants me more head-space and allows me to enjoy my evenings after work, rather than strain my eyes for another hour. v. good.
I’ve been thinking about writing lately (the act, not the manuscript) and reading a lot of posts with lots of opinions. I too have opinions, but I also know that for every writer who gets up two hours early to shell out 3000 words before breakfast, there is a writer like me: slow, who has to balance a day job and a drive, the split-mind persona of scholar and creator, and the drain of being an introvert in an extroverted world.
Here are some truths I’ve learned about (my) writing:
- I can write fast, but I must edit slow.
- Rushing the process only leads to more revision and poor development. I am coming to terms with this, but it is hard. It requires a lot of humility and learning to set aside lofty goals and expectations. The process takes long but it is a process.
- I can let go of writer jealousy.
- I do not need to follow in another writer’s footsteps. I can make my own path, take my own journey. I can only write as I know how to write.
- The story is mine.
- Writing is personal. I am willing and open to critique. I seek improvement and welcome feedback. But, ultimately, it’s my book and it’s my voice.
- Every book is different.
- The process changes every time. I am currently a weekend warrior. It’s a slow draft and a slow process, but it’s the best process that I’ve found for this particular draft. The next one will be its own beast.
- I need to take care of my physical and mental health.
- I don’t believe in sacrificing my body for my art. I need sleep. I need exercise. I need food. And I need to work to pay the bills. These things have to come first or my writing will and does suffer.
There are many more truths. Every writer has their own. These are mine.
It’s been a rough year, which really shows in my writing. I had a hard time focusing—-life, work, health, it all came together to result in a convoluted mess of a draft full of gaping holes. I was brutal in my cuts during the last revision, and what I thought was the right choice, led to a weak plot that really lacks punch. But I couldn’t see it until now. The readthrough was painful, but I received some solid feedback from two of my betas (thank you for being my victims) and had a major breakthrough. I’m in for a hell of a lot of rewriting (and new writing) but I know where things went wrong and I know how to fix it (fingers crossed), which is a very good thing.
Here’s to another round as a NaNo rebel. No real word goals, just a purpose: rewrite, revise, redraft.
I can now say that I’ve finished draft 5. New prologue and all. I learn something new from each draft, but one element that really became obvious is how sparse I am when it comes to description. I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing, it’s just a fact. I tell myself to add more, but end up taking out. My very first rough draft was around 98k words (give or take, I have the numbers saved somewhere). The first draft rewrite clocked in around 90k. The next one was around 79k, followed by around 90k again. Current draft is complete at 83k.
Of course, now I need to do a continuity read, because I edited out of order and things might be screwy in places. But that will wait. For now, I will celebrate and get over the cold that finally got around to me. (I thwarted it for a good two months)
I mentioned this in a previous post, but here’s an update on my Camp NaNo project and what comes next in my crazy, scheming, writing life.
More writing updates to follow…
I am in the middle of things. I have a solid plan for the next stage of reading/editing/drafting/that mess we call writing, but I’m also in a brain storm of ideas for the next part… When I started working on Anúna (which finally has a working title! to be revealed soon!), I imagined it as a standalone, but it’s grown beyond the borders of its little plot and become something more. I now see it as a set, complete in two parts but with possible side stories that can be developed in future. The main story has evolved into something grander than my original notion, starting with a major change in the ending between drafts 2 and 3, the roots of which took hold as I neared the end of draft 4.The idea is starting to evolve and I see it becoming my next major project (to be outlined and planned for NaNo 2016, because we all know I thrive on deadlines). At this stage, I am focusing on finding readers for draft 4 and gathering feedback for the next draft. I also plan on immersing myself in all their is to know about the query process and all the ins and outs of submission. I am nothing if not a researcher and it’s time I started looking at the business side of writing more thoroughly.
So that’s the latest. Letting things simmer while I explore new possibilities and learn all the things.
Met my first draft milestone! Only one week behind (but not bad, especially since I flaked out during the first week in February and did NOTHING). Just completed Ch. 8, which was my February goal for the first third of the draft rewrite. Chapters 9 through 11 are going to be a doozy, but here’s hoping that I meet my next small assignment goal by the end of March (rework 9 through 11 and get through 15, if all goes well). My large goal is to have a complete draft by the end of April, though I gave myself some room to revisit chapters and revise details. My self-imposed deadline is June 20th (my birthday, when I will take a well-deserved break from life in general).
I did it! I actually managed to squeeze in enough writing sessions in the mornings, while taking breaks, before bed, after running, while showering (do not dismiss the power of a good shower for brainstorming), and all the in-betweens to reach 50k. Of Blood and Pearls is now begun.
About a week ago, I really thought it was over. I felt drained and tired and was having a hard time catching up after returning from the conference. Despite the best of intentions, I wasn’t feeling very positive, and was ready to settle for whatever word count I managed to swing. Somehow, I kept at it and found myself getting back into a flow, putting out between 1800 and 2200 words a day (the extra word goal really helped in the long run). I reached 50, 232 words when I finished Chapter 14. That was yesterday. I still have about another 3 chapters to go, if I manage to stick to my outline, so that should be about another 10 – 15,000 words for this draft. I’m going to scale back to about 1000 words a day (I need to get out of my chair again) and aim to finish the about mid-way through December. Then it’s onto more drafting for Anúna (which now has a tentative title of sorts).
Now, to catch up on every I put off during November. Ta.
NaNo is well under way and the “sea story” is officially a WIP. It’s also starting to veer in new directions, steering me away from my outline as I delve further into the story (always a welcome occurrence). I’m totally riding the new-novel-high (the happier, less angst-ridden cousin of the third-draft-low). My NaNo goal is on target, but spending the last three days away from home at a conference really disrupted my progress. Looking forward to get back on track tomorrow.
Two years ago, I started relying on a desk calendar to track the number of days I work on my writing. I note down when I start and end a chapter, or whether I’m writing, editing, or transcribing material. It helps me stay accountable and reveals patterns and interesting little life bits that are of no interest to anyone but me. It’s especially useful on days when I’m feeling particularly doubtful about my progress. I’m now three chapters away from finishing my read-through/note-taking/manual rewrite of Anúna draft two. Though it feels like I’ve been working on this draft for ages, the calendar reveals that I only started working on it in mid-August, having taken a month off after completing the second draft in July. That’s a lot less than I expected, though there were several gaps in my writing. For one, I was still adjusting to a new semester at a new library, so there were days when I had little energy left to write. Then there was my grandfather’s passing in September; it was difficult to get back into the story after something like that. Still, it’s not so terrible as I thought and shows that I’ve been much more productive than I give myself credit for at times. As with most writers, it’s incredibly easy for me to not see the forest for the trees. I get so caught up in the little things–like whether or not I took a week off writing and why it was such a terrible thing–that I forget to see how much I’ve really accomplished.