July goals

My mind is all awhirl! I only just realized it’s Tuesday and I had yet to post. I’ve been working on my video for Friday, so more on that later…

This month, I’m focusing on de-cluttering my brain. I struggled figuring out my next writing project: review the latest draft or start outlining the next novel? An email from Camp NaNo gave me the push I needed, hence my decision to outline first (probably the best choice, gives my head time to clear out before I look at the draft again).

So, here goes…

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  • Work on the Camp NaNo outline project
  • Detox! Urg, too much indulgence during my vacation, so I’ve started another Whole30.
  • More of the usual, but definitely more yoga, as last month kind of fell apart towards the end (right when I was seeing some real progress).
  • Read a few books on writing and publishing (I’m ready for some post-drafting inspiration), and research the query process for the sake of knowledge.

How about you? What are you working on in July?

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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.

vlog: writing and small assignments… once more, with feeling

I’ve written about this before, but I think small assignments are the best way to think about your writing process. Here’s my method and how I keep myself accountable.

to the video!

Getting better at working with my camera and software, but the learning curve is steep… If you liked this video, be sure to give it a thumbs up, and leave any suggestions for future topics in the comments :).

chipping away: writing and small assignments

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).

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.

off with a bang

My wi-fi is dead and my credit card was taken for a joyride in California. All in all, an interesting start to the year. The charges are being taken care of, and I should be receiving a call from tech support to try to troubleshoot my issues, but it’s the little things that shake you up… like, how I couldn’t check my account because my DSL refused to work for more than a couple of minutes at a time. Little quakes all around.

Also, I’ve missed two days of yoga camp, which ruins the whole zen of daily yoga practice. Sigh.

On the bright side (because we need a bright side), I’ve started reading and preparing for Draft 4 of Anúna. I have to admit, reading it and taking notes on the ipad is totally working for this stage of the process (and Aeon Timeline is a godsend. Finally, I can see how time runs in this story).

So it goes, and such is life on this fine day.

tools of the trade

When I first started on this writing adventure, I was a strict MS Word sort of girl. Then Google Drive (nee Docs) appeared on the scene. Of course, there was also paper and pen—mostly Moleskine pocket and large ruled notebooks, generally in the color that I most associated with a particular story. I still rely on these tools, but I’ve definitely upped my writing game as my process has evolved.

The new essentials:

  1. Evernote: I love using the Evernote webclipper to save bookmarks and research. I set up folders for Characters, Settings, Research, and more, and clip my findings. I also use it as a handy place to store “scanned” book pages and images. However, for my latest novel, I decided to draft only in Evernote, transferring finished chapters to Scrivener as I went along. This really worked out; it made it possible for me to draft from anywhere, at any time, without having to worry about backups and file conflicts. There is a bit of a learning curve to start… and you have to get creative with your use of folders, file names, and tags, but once you have a scheme, it’s as effective as Scrivener. (caveat, make sure files are fully synced before closing the program to avoid sync issues between machines)
  2. Scrivener: Writing on Word will never work after using Scrivener (at least, not for me). Scrivener houses all your files in a central location, making it incredibly easy to switch between chapters, notes, drafts, etc. Like Evernote, there is a learning curve, and lots of features to get used to, but the trial is worth it.
  3. myWriteClub: I need to track my progress. I use a calendar and stickers to good effect, but I also like the visual appeal of a progress bar. Scrivener has a built-in system to track progress as well, but I generally use an excel spreadsheet to track words written/rewritten or steps taken towards completion. MyWriteClub adds a little extra.
  4. Aeon Timeline: I literally just started using this and I love it already. Keeping track of time is one of my greatest challenges when working on a multiverse type novel (hello, Anúna), Aeon Timeline looks extremely promising as an outlining tool to take care of just that. I started playing with it yesterday (thanks to the NaNoWriMo winner discount) and look forward to using it during my next read-through.

What are your essential writing tools? Have any experiences to share?

i did the thing

I finished Draft 3 on Saturday… and though I know there are more edits to come (including some changes to the opening chapters), it’s such a huge relief to know that I managed to get this done despite all the complications, drama, life fiascoes, and sleepless nights. It’s done. For now. But it’s done.

I’m going to enjoy this short reprieve and look forward to getting to know some new characters in November.

welcome fall… though the heat is still on

on writing

It’s September! And with it comes the pressing need to get things done before the dark days arrive. Making slow and steady progress with my new writing schedule. I started tracking my word counts sometime in mid-July and have found myself looking forward to writing on the weekends, rather than rushing home to squeeze in a few mediocre pages between dinner, washing up, and bedtime. Since I started tracking, I’ve (re)written a total of 17427 words (the draft now stands at a little over 70k words). There are two and a half more chapters to get through, though I’ve worked past the toughest sections, so the rest should be more manageable. This is the third draft (second major rewrite); I’m going to let it rest a bit and work on some scenes that I need to refine before I try to recruit CPs.

I’ve learned a lot about how I write while working on this draft. Despite all the advice out there, I do believe that we each come to writing in our own way. For me, this means finding what works best for my health and well-being. I’m a fast writer, but if my mind’s not in it, there’s no amount of self-flagellation that will get me to write something worth reading. While there’s something to be said for writing everyday to establish a flow, that method hasn’t worked for me in the last year and a half. I need blocks of time in which to write. I can do that well enough on weekends, but my schedule just doesn’t allow for it on most weekdays anymore (part of the trade-off I made when taking a job with a longer commute but more opportunities for professional growth). Come November, I’ll fast draft (I will NaNo this year); for now, I take the long road.

on reading

A lot of books were read in July. I swept through my bookshelf and got rid of about two bag’s worth of books that I will never read, am just not interested in anymore, or tried a few chapters and didn’t like the style. Among these, were three Georgette Heyers that failed to capture my interest. Given my genre preferences, I really wanted to like Heyer, but after two attempts, I just had to give up. Can’t like them all. I did, however, fall for the new Poldark series, which led me right to the books. So there we are.

on life

New semester, new students, new job roles, lots of stuff to oversee and get done.

I’m on day 20 of a 30 yoga challenge (missed a few days, but I’m back on track now), and trying to get back into my old walking/running habit. My energy has improved somewhat, but there are days when everything just aches and I just want to sleep all day; doing yoga really helps, particularly after sitting at my desk for hours. I haven’t seen any major changes since I started the FitGirls challenge back in April, but I’m definitely more toned and flexible now that I’m concentrating on yoga rather than circuit training.

My hair has also reached a new milestone and is now just grazing the base of my neck… still dull and awful though. I’m seriously considering giving up on this experiment and trimming it back to my usual bob in lieu of a pixie. Ugh, I’m in a style rut and I hate it. I’m going to try a henna dye this weekend to darken it up.

the view from sunday: back to basics

One of my friends gave me a William Blake tarot deck for my birthday. It’s a tarot for self-deprecating creative types (e.g. me). It’s more of a tool for self-reflection than divination (and I’m still learning how to interpret the spreads), but it’s pretty spot on.

My dilemmas are definitely in the cards… and some possible solutions as well. I read today’s spread as a need to celebrate what I’ve accomplished and get back to what I do best by relying on methods tried-and-true. The biggest hurdle is letting go of the fear that it’s all meaningless drivel and just enjoy the writing, even when working to craft a strong scene.

Part of getting back to basics is getting back to those old habits I wrote about earlier, so I’ve started counting days and words. Even if it’s a small dent in the overall project, keeping score of my daily word count helps me see the work I’ve accomplished in a way that is more significant than just using the calendar method. Both methods help, but I really need to see those numbers adding up to spur me on. I also tallied up the total number of days I’ve spent writing; as of today, that total is 95 days and counting. My original goal was to finish the draft within three months, but I did not anticipate the mass revision I was about to engage in, nor did I expect the various derailments along the way. So I’m going to celebrate what I’ve accomplished and look forward to a finished draft.

I’m also going to celebrate my professional writing, which is a huge part of what I do on the job. I will celebrate the reviews I’ve written, the article that was just accepted, and the book that is about to go to print.