NaNoWriMo: Week 1 Retrospective

After my little pity party yesterday, I sat down and wrote 2,400 words. I’m only about 1k behind now.

I set aside my first instinct upon realizing that I was stuck (which was panic) and made a decision: my main character wasn’t doing anything cool.

So, I wrote her doing something new and awesome with her magic and (surprise, surprise) the writer’s block seems to have lifted – for now.

I opened my Feedly today to find that Persekore expressed similar feelings in a post yesterday, though she did it more elegantly than I. As usual, I had a hard time figuring out what the problem was and putting words to my frustration.

Brandon Sanderson has said during promotional interviews for his new book Steelheart (and I’m paraphrasing here) that the main objective he had while he was writing that particular book was to ‘err on the side of awesome.’ It is indeed an awesome, action packed book (you should read it). I would venture to say that advice like that holds true for any book you’re writing. Because guess what? It works. If what you’re writing isn’t awesome to you, why write it at all? Why be boring? No one wants to write boring. No one wants to read boring. The whole point of a book is to take you to places that are new and exciting and mysterious and to see people doing amazing, wondrous and magical things that could never happen in real life.

So there’s my problem, right there: my character was doing some necessary but boring stuff. And there’s also not a lot of dialogue in this story and I love to write dialogue. I miss writing dialogue (exposition is not my strong suit). Those two things combined have sort of made me feel like quitting…

…if I were a quitter…

Which I most certainly am not.

So today I’ve been giving more thought to what really drives me forward in writing my novels.

Either I’m really in love with a character and I’m just so excited to write that character that I’ll do anything to get to see that character again. The novel I wrote for Camp NaNoWriMo in April was like that. I just loved one of my side characters – enough to give him his own viewpoint – and I couldn’t wait to get back to his story line once I was through with the other two. It was like a little reward for wading through less interesting bits. It was fabulous. Not once did I sit down and think “Gah! What am I going to write today?!”

Or I have a scene visualized in my mind – usually for the end of the book – that is just EPIC. And eventually getting to write that scene is like a reward for getting through the rest of the book.

I’ve realized that I’m not in love with this character yet. And I’ve already written the end which isn’t some big, dramatic, climatic awesome-fest.

Maybe it should be. Or maybe I should add a second viewpoint to round out the narrative. I don’t know. I haven’t decided yet. But when I do, I should totally err on the side of awesome, yes?

Wordcount: 11,071

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Fear

Fear kept me from writing for a very long time.

It was a fear of failure.

I had a bad writing experience as a child and I was so disappointed in myself that I gave up. I didn’t understand the creative process. I didn’t understand that you have more than one shot to get it right (this is especially true with writing). Now I know better. It doesn’t bring back those lost years but I can now disregard that tiny voice that says I’m no good.

Another fear that I’m still dealing with is sharing my work. I don’t know what it is that terrifies me so much…

Criticism? Not really – I kind of already know what’s wrong with my stuff. The adage that you are your own worst critic is definitely true for me. I actually like feedback – it gives me a good chuckle sometimes.

I think owning my writing is what I’m really afraid of – claiming something imperfect. Because I am a serial perfectionist.

When I talk about fear, I’m not talking about butterflies-in-your-stomach-nervousness level fear. I’m talking about voice-shaking-heart-exploding-from-your-chest-hyperventilation level fear.

For my writing group this last week, I had been preparing myself to pass my writing sample around and have it read silently. I was pretty comfortable with that (read: still a little nervous about it). I hadn’t made any suggestions about our method of sharing – I hadn’t wanted anyone to feel uncomfortable (read: I didn’t want to feel uncomfortable) . So, that’s what I was prepared for, psychologically – having other people read my work to themselves. You can imagine my panic when I went to writing group and it was suggested that we read our stuff aloud

Like, MAJOR panic, people.

And I had to. My writing group ladies (very politely) wouldn’t take no for an answer. And truthfully, I didn’t want to say no…

Alright, I wanted to, but I knew it would be good for me so I sucked it up…Also, I didn’t want to be the only person who refused, making myself look like a child throwing a temper tantrum.

And you know what? I love them for not letting me wriggle out of it. And I love myself for being brave despite how I was feeling on the inside. I can’t tell you how much anxiety I had as I was reading. It was very difficult. I know it’s just reading – I read aloud all the time to my children and it’s fun…When it’s your own stuff it’s different. I know that doesn’t seem rational, but that’s how it is – I can’t explain it, even to myself.

The wonderful women in my writing group were so supportive – it was just a great experience and I really enjoyed the whole night – despite how hard it was. I know it will still be hard next time, but I’m hoping it will be a little less hard.

It’s a fear I’d like to overcome someday. That probably won’t happen before the next writer’s group meeting, but you never know…

6:30’s the new 9:00

So, this week I’m trying something new….

See, I’ve been my own boss now for four years and my boss…well…she’s kind of lazy. I’ve also held the belief for many years that I am simply not a ‘morning person.’ And my kids – they’re enablers – they let me sleep until nearly 9 am, which is seemingly great, except that lately I’ve been feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get things done. When you get up mid-morning you’ve pretty much blown your pre-noon schedule.

So, this week I decided to whip myself into shape – everyday I went to bed at 11 and got up at 6:30. It was just me, the glow of my monitor and my imagination…until about 7 when M. gets up. (I marched her right back into her room until 8. I’m the meanest mommy ever. Somehow the child just knows that I’m up. Today when I didn’t get up early – I feel a nasty sinus infection coming on; I’m not superhuman, people – I didn’t hear her leave her room at all. Kids have a six sense, I tell you.)

And I have to say, I love having the quiet time to write. Interestingly, I feel like I have even less time to get things done during the day. I don’t know if it’s because I’m going to bed earlier or I’m feeling more productive or what. But I suppose I have to accept that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. We’ll see how I feel about it in a few weeks as the experiment continues.

What have I been writing in my early time, you ask? I’ve been editing actually – the novel I finished at the end of July. Tentatively titled Stole (still not sold on that title), it’s YA science fiction.

I spent the first three days changing one of my characters motivations – she’s not even a viewpoint character. When I’d written the first draft, I hadn’t liked what I’d written about her but I didn’t know how I’d fix it yet – so I decided to leave it like it was until I could come up with something better. And I did come up with something better, which fit perfectly into what I’d already written, so win(!) for me. It still took me awhile to incorporate it but I love it now.

I also made an executive decision concerning my chapter breaks. I have three viewpoints and in a few of my chapters I switched between them mid-chapter. I decided that I wanted only one viewpoint per chapter, so I’ve had to move some things around and rewrite some scenes and add some chapters (currently standing at 46 chapters). I’ve been doing little edits along the way as well: tightening the third person perspective, showing and not telling (sometimes I do both in the same scene), fixing my glaring mistakes. I’ve also been trying to cut, but cutting is…difficult. You do some re-writing and additional world-building and your word count doesn’t go down. I’m currently floating around 89k. And I want the finished product to be about 80k. I still have a lot of work ahead of me.

Let me tell you, I am gaining a new appreciation for my sister, who read through this draft (and still hasn’t given me her notes, ahem).

First drafts are a mess. There are things that happen while you write that you just don’t realize are happening – like extra words and awkward sentences and (in my case) instances where I’ll say things two different ways. It would be hard to read. I would feel compelled to edit it as I read, but you can’t if it’s not your book. You just have to deal with it and move on. Props to my womb buddy for not hating me and thinking I’m a terrible writer. I’m not, I promise.

On a non-writing note, I started reading Brandon Sanderson’s new book Steelheart this week – which is *awesome* so if you haven’t picked it up, you should. It’s about a world where only bad people get super powers.

Happy Friday.

Cheers.

It’s been a looooong week.

I was intending to post something Wednesday…and then yesterday…but I’ve spent most of this week huddling in my bed feeling utterly miserable while my children watched Jake and the Neverland Pirates and Tinkerbell on Netflix (by the way, Netflix is the best invention ever for days like that, just sayin’.).

I’ve learned that it’s never a good idea for me to use my brain while sick. I was feeling especially fuzzy-brained on Wednesday, so I pretty much accomplished nothing all day.

I was very happy to wake up on Thursday morning to discover that I didn’t feel as death-like anymore.

But then I had a ‘culture night’ for church to prepare for – which means that I made two desserts (because it’s me, people, and one dessert is not enough). I must confess that I have never felt guilty about serving a dish to people until this moment in my life when I made Nanaimo bars. Don’t eat them, my friends – they’re like 90% butter. With frosting, which is mostly butter. And chocolate on top, laced with butter. Don’t get me wrong, I love butter, but these have too much, even for me.

So, I didn’t get a lot done writing-wise this week. A blog post and about 1.5K more words on the novel – that was Monday – before the illness struck (I blame E., my three year old, the cutest little disease incubator ever created).

That was my week. I’m hoping to do better – maybe even do some edits on the novel I finished back in August.

Cheers.

Friday, Friday, Friday

Fridays are always the best day at our house: the house gets clean (go me), we go to Red Robin (something we’ve been doing weekly for about seven years), Project Runway is up on the web (I hate sitting on the couch and watching TV when I could be doing something else at the same time)…and tomorrow is Saturday, which isn’t that exciting for me I guess, when your job never ends, but I like the idea of a Saturday.

As far as this blog goes, I’ve decided that Friday will be the day I reflect on my writing-related accomplishments from the week.

I had two great writing days this week – I managed to add another 4-5K words to the first draft of the novel I’m currently working on. For me, that’s pretty good for a non-NaNoWriMo* week (I’m a busy woman, people). I’d like to do much better (say, in the 8-10k range per week). Also, I felt really good about what I wrote, which isn’t always the case (there were no fight scenes, so there you go – huzzah!).

Last night I was writing out of order – something I don’t usually do. Writing material to fill the gap (which in this case is huge) seems daunting and a little depressing. I feel like I have to catch up asap (not going to happen this time, sorry Stacy). I need to learn to be okay with that – to be patient with myself. I can’t write a novel in a day, alas. Anyway, the reason I was writing out of order is because sometimes a scene is just begging to be written and I have to write it down. If I don’t, I may forget it OR I won’t be able to get to sleep because I’ll lie there thinking about it all night. This scene in particular turned out well, now I just have to go back and figure out how to get my characters there.

Also, this week I’ve had to re-evaluate how I feel about blogging. Just last week I was telling my newly formed writing group how much I hate blogging (and yet I’ve been thinking about this blog for several months – I told you it wouldn’t be long before proving myself a hypocrite). I’ve been blogging on and off for the last six years or so and I have never enjoyed it, but I have enjoyed what I’ve been doing here. The difference? Pictures. I hate dealing with pictures. I love taking them, but looking at them and editing them and watermarking them just makes me want to never do another craft project or write a tutorial ever again. Here, I get to write – and that’s it. I find that much more satisfying.

‘Til next time.

Cheers.

*For those of you who don’t know what NaNoWriMo is – check out their website here. I’ll talk more about my participation soon as it’s coming up in November.