life: mid-month writing check-in

March is underway and my writing is coming along at a really good pace. If I keep at it, the draft will be done by the end of the week (next week, if I rewrite the prologue now rather than later). I’m riding this wave to the end!

I’ve also made good progress on my Camp NaNo plan. I’ve been toying with this idea for a while, but I didn’t realize how long until I unearthed a brain-dump file dated July 2011(!). That’s well before I started working on my current project (which dates to 2012). The idea has definitely evolved since that early document, but the spark remains. I’m definitely eager to delve into this new world.

Next stage: beta readers and drafting!

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the view from Sunday: words, words, words.

Can it be? Yes! I’ve started writing again :). The struggle has been real (too real, really), but I’m finally in a state where I can focus and get down to it. I spent the day working on a rather messy chapter that needed a day-long, uninterrupted rewite. It’s also a rather long one, so I’m debating splitting it in two… but that decision will keep for now. What really matters is that I’m starting to feel energized about the draft again. After all, I’m the only one who really cares if I finish, and I’m nothing if not persistent.

Cats are eager…

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If not particularly energetic.
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writing: the read-through of doom and editing prep

Another video on my current writing process and how I’m using the read-through to plan for the next stage: editing in rounds! Also received feedback from the first of my readers and looking forward to combining that with the changes I’m already planning :).

Are you drafting? How do you handle your edits?

writing: in the middle of things

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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.

round pegs and square holes, or not fitting the mold

So I’ve been wrestling with the idea of editing in passes. I finished reading the draft and reviewing beta feedback last month. I compiled a whole notebook full of notes and an ibook draft full of highlights. I identified the areas that need revising, editing, rewriting, and just plain cutting. I created timelines and established deadlines for the 6 major passes I outlined based on those notes. And then I stopped. Because the thought of working on individual aspects of the draft rather than entire chapters made me freeze. And then it hit me: I can’t edit in passes. I have an editing style. It’s long established and works for me. I edit in chapters and chunks. I edit scenes. I proofread for line edits. But I definitely can’t edit by rounds. At least, not in the way that I was planning… which is a relief, because suddenly I find that I can start working. One chapter at a time. One small assignment at a time.

the end is the beginning – on winning NaNoWriMo 2015

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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.

changing things up, trying a new method, and the return of first drafting!

More and more, I’m finding that my best work gets done when I can sit at the computer for an extended period of time. When first drafting, I can write just about anywhere, at any time, not so with rewriting and editing (hence the extended period of time between drafts). I’ve been working on weekends and squeezing in about thirty minutes a day in the evenings after work, dishes, washing up, and all the other steps involved in the business of life. It’s worked, for the most part, but as I reach the climax of the story, there’s a speed to the writing that I just can’t get if I’m snatching thirty minutes here and there. During the last two weeks, I’ve completed most of my writing on the weekends. In a day-long binge to be exact. It’s allowed me to get into the story in a way that I just can’t manage during short sessions… So I’m going to do something radical (for me): I’m going to finish the next few chapters during weekend sessions and concentrate on other aspects of my writing during the week. Despite putting in fewer days, I’ll actually be putting in more hours and getting the same amount of work done (let’s face it, 30 minutes, 5 days a week equals 2.5 hours a week, whereas a good binge is between 5 and 8 hours and generally equals a chapter or two a weekend). It’s just another one of those things I’ve learned about myself during the last two years of working on this project.

On the flip side, I’m drafting the preliminary outline for the “sea story” and I’m not using Scrivener… I’m using Evernote. Yes, you read that right, I’m using an app to draft the next story. Why? Because I need a portable program and I can’t install Scrivener on a chromebook or iPad, so my ability to work anywhere is hampered by the need for to haul my laptop around. Like I said, I can draft anywhere, and I like being able to set up shop wherever I go. Evernote lets me organize my notes by folders to keep them tidy, and then copy and paste the final content into Scrivener when the time is right. Added perk, I can use my phone to store story snippets straight into Evernote whenever inspiration strikes, rather than struggling to dig out my notepad from the depths of my bag, or send myself an email that I promptly forget to open.

Change is good, especially if it means being able to up my productivity without sacrificing quality.

writing and editing, a motto

write fast, edit slow

In editing draft three, this has become my motto. Writing is a fast and heady business; I can get sucked into a chapter and lose track of time. Not so with editing. Editing is slow and tedious at times, but there is something to be said for seeing your work with fresh eyes and taking the time to polish a scene. I’m coming to realize that this is just the way I work best. I need to take my time to edit. It’s not perfectionism (I won’t quibble over minute details); it’s a sense of comfort and growing familiarity with my characters and their motivations that makes me want to take the time to focus on a scene rather than rush through it just to get it over with. The draft is coming along. It will take time, but I’m enjoying this round more than the last one and think the story will be better for it. The read-through and note-taking certainly helped, and I’ve developed a pattern and a schedule that works well for the moment. I’m looking forward to having something to show to readers and knowing I did my best to make it worth their time.

a well-documented journey

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.