October Update

I completely forgot that I didn’t do an October Update until about… 10 seconds ago. Let’s call it the effects of About to have a Baby Syndrome and move on, shall we? Ha HA!

Plotting was the them of the month and I got to the very last lovely scene on the book. I’m very excited to start revisions after completing the draft. I love the last scene! It’s sweet and sad and hopeful… There’s resolution and wonder. This place where I am has taken me so long, but it’s so damn satisfying.

Though the Words-to-Date are the same at 43,004, I did plot 2.040 words in 4.5 hours of work time within 3 days. The stats are blowing anyone away, but progress is progress.

I will be having a baby sometime within the next three weeks, so I’ll either get tons of work done or none at all. I’m not sure what to expect with a toddler and a newborn, so goal making for the new year may be put off until I physically can get back on my feet.

I hope you out there are getting closer to your goals. I hope you are getting there faster than me! If you’re doing NANOWRIMO, good luck!!! This is me cheering you on! YAY, YOU!!!!!

Depression is Real-Get Help

Recently, something happened to my family and me that I thought was completely impossible, and I feel compelled to say right here, right now, in public that depression messes with your mind. It eats away all things good and leaves nothing for you to hold onto when things get too much. One can wear a smile and dress in pep but be plagued inside.

Today is National Depression Screening Day. If this is you or someone you know, please get help. Your family and friends need you.

http://mentalhealthscreening.org/media/fact-sheet-national-depression-screening-day-october-9-2014

August Update

August is over and the end of the year is getting CLOSER! How are you guys getting through your Goals? I’m truckin’ along! Some have been changed due to circumstance and pregnancy, but that’s life, y’all. We deal, right?
I’d like to tell you a little of what I’ve learned since I’ve started to finishing Part II of the First Daft. Before I even started writing, I drafted an entire back story, all the while creating the nuts and bolts of this story. I have an ENORMOUS amount of paper and files that will never see the light of day and that did not have any effect on what I am currently writing. (I reserve the right to change my mind about this as my first draft and first revision isn’t done, but right now I feel like I wasted a whole lot of time dreaming.) So I resolved to start writing and to worry about back story issues along the way. For Part I of the book the only thing I knew when I seriously started writing was at what point the section needed to end and the end of my book all together. These are two super good things to know, by the way. (Well, maybe I had an idea instead of a specific scene about where Part I needed to end, but as the end drew near, I had a specific scene.) But from here to there, I had nothing but a foggy image in my head, y’all. I made it up on the fly and, can I just say, there is a LOT of revising that is going to have to happen in Part I. A. Whole. Lot. I finally got to my ending scene. Reread the section once and got it to CP knowing that it was going to change shape completely, but she had it, and I had my milestone, and she loves me unconditionally, so I knew I would eventually be forgiven. But something had to change for Part II. I wouldn’t survive another almost-fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants section. This book would never get done that way. I know me.
So for Part II, I spent time drafting an outline-ish type thing. It was something like a timeline and felt like a lot of “Oh! And then THIS!” with a sentence or two or clever dialogue that sprang up or something. Originally, I wrote it on a flow pad. I think better with a pen in my hand, and when it was done, I transposed it to a document. This worked so very well. I had a starting and a stopping point not only for the second section, but also for each writing day. I’d open up the outline and know what I had finished before and what needed to be written that session. If I’d written something that made the story more interesting, no worries! I’d just alter my outline a little in retrospect, do a quick read through to eliminate plot holes, and move the heck on. I also starting keeping track of how much I wrote, when, and for how long on a chart, which is how I’m able to write these Monthly Update posts.
So now Part II is done, and I’m outline Part III. I have 10 scenes with sentences and I know where I want to end. While I was thinking, I wrote on the first scene and have it completed now. I like that I still feel the progress of writing while I’m in a bit of a holding pattern (outlining), seeing how to get to the end. I still hope I can get through Part III by December 10th (baby’s due date), but we’ll see.
I look forward and dread Revision. There will need to be some major overhauling. My hope is that by the end of it, I’ll be proud that I finished the effort. Because this has been such a HUGE effort.
In short:
Break your story into three sections, know where each section starts and ends, and loosely outline each section before your write it. This formula has worked for me so far, and I hope it saves someone who is starting from scratch months and years of my frustration.

STATS:
Words-2,632
Days with writing in them-3
Hours: 3 hours and 55 minutes
(Not including outlining days, lots of article reading, and a webinar)
Words to Date: 42,631

I hope y’all are pressing on toward the goal! Gotta go pick up my sweet son, now! Later!

March Update

For March…

*drum roll*

I MET MY WRITING GOAL, which was to write at least 12 days out of this month.

The total stats are–
Days with writing in them: 13
Total number of Words: 7,762
Total amount of Time: 9 hours and 58 minutes.
Year to date word total: 17,921

Closer. CLoser. CLOser. CLOSer. CLOSEr. CLOSER!

Yep, Writing Peeps! This book is getting DONE! Whaaaaaat!

The “Write” Mind

I didn’t believe it.

I read a thousand articles and blogs by all these experienced writers saying that writing doesn’t have to be done in a certain place, at a certain time. I was skeptical because I had worked up an ideal writing situation. One that would involve me, sitting at a proper desk with a view of a willow tree blowing in the breeze, sipping a cup of fancy tea with a hand-woven afghan covering my shoulders, admiring the lines of sunshine crossing over my research and biscotti crumbs, my glasses resting on the peak of my nose while I tuck flyaway wisps of hair behind my ears from my handsomely messy chignon.

Those authors with published novels and book events, they didn’t know how I needed to write. I was so snotty, embarrassingly so, especially for not even owning a hand-woven afghan.

Here’s the thing about the dream scenario v. real-life writing. In the dream, did you notice ANY writing happening? No? Me, neither.

I’m a romantic at heart, and it is totally like me to romanticize the job. As a disclaimer, I’m not knocking dreams. Believe me. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t want to be a Writer. But I’ve learned a lesson as I’ve set writing goals and forced words out while waiting for a doctor’s appointment or ravaging fifteen minutes of my lunch break. The lesson: Novels don’t magically appear from your mind into querying form just because you position yourself exactly as you are in your dream.

Do you feel like you just learned the Tooth Fairy doesn’t exist? Me, too.

I don’t know why I couldn’t have learned this lesson from the above-mentioned thousands of articles that have basically said the exact. Same. Thing. Other than the fact that I have always been hard-headed. As it is, I’m learning it now. Maybe you’re not as stubborn as me and I can save you some pain from disillusionment. I’m writing this for those pliable minds.

The truth?

Maybe, in the future, there will be some days that look like “the dream”, which is why I am planting a willow tree this fall, but for the most part, life gets messy and unpredictable, and writing can happen EVERYWHERE.

It’s freeing. Suddenly, I’m not tied to a squeaky desk chair.

Don’t believe me?

I’ll give you an example. A computer breakdown thwarts my one hour grocery store trip, and there is only one cashier who can’t move to another register. (I live in a small town.) When I lived in the dream, I would be angry at the world for wasting my time and come home flustered, splatting negativity all over Husband until he was in a bad mood, too. Now, I have my book loosely plotted by scenes and I work one scene at a time, so if I get stuck in this type of situation, I pull out my phone app or the notebook-pen combo and just…start writing. It takes a few moments to think of what I’d last written, but that’s all. It helps, too, that I’m a more consistent writer, so I don’t have to struggle to remember what I was working on or how the scene is supposed to “feel”. When the computer magically starts working again and check-out resumes, I’m not mad. I can genuinely smile at the nervous employee, who expects to be yelled at by those in line, and return home with groceries and a happy heart because I’ve got more words to add to my draft.

See? All because I let go of the dream and got into my “write” mind. Bahaha! Cheesy, I know.

To further the cheese, here are clichés I begrudgingly use in this post because they are true:

1. Practice makes perfect- The more I switch mindsets from Mea-the-Mommy/Wife/Daughter/Full-TimeEmployee to Mea-the-Writer the less time it takes and the easier it gets.

2. Don’t sweat the small stuff- In a perfect world, every word I write expresses exactly what I want, preciously detailed, and elicits the feelings I want the reader to feel with no revision necessary. This beautiful, broken world, my Friends. If I get ten minutes, I can’t worry if that was the exact word I needed or if MC wore a green or purple cat sweater in the last scene. I write my best and give myself something to revise later. You can’t edit Nothing.

3. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.- I’m still learning the best way to keep my wits about me, to let go of the romantic image of Mea-the-Writer, and to revel in the slow but steady pace in which I’m able to carve out writing time. Early in this revelation, there were lots and LOTS of times when all I could do was stare at the paper/phone app, reread the same sentence over and over, and declare myself too verklempt to produce anything new. I had to figure out how to Get Over Myself and write what popped into my head. Though the words were not always usable then, I can now keep a significant number of words from the original impromptu writing jaunt. I’m so thankful that something (and sometimes someone *Shout out to CP!*) pushed me forward when I needed it.

I see this transformation, and I’m amazed at how this whole writing adventure bleeds into other aspects of my life–organization, attitude, relationships…

Just finding something you love and going after it full-force…

I have never been so driven. I have never been so happy.

I can’t wait to see what will happen next. I’m my own experiment!

February Update

I’ve told you guys how much I like my planner, but did I tell you that I’m setting monthly check-points to see if that helps get things done? I didn’t?! Well, I didn’t know if it would work yet, since I had on January for a base and February to experiment with, but I’m loving the preliminary results!
I don’t know how many words I truly wrote in January because I started documenting that on the 21st.
But from the 21st-31st, there are 1,577 new words to LibertyBook (formally known as FirstBook).
For February, there are 6,887 new words, and 11 days that had writing within them, even if it was for 5 minutes.
I’m surprised, you see, how motivating documentation can be, and excitement tickles the base of my spine until I can’t sit still.
Let’s celebrate together on accomplishments, my Writing Pals! Accomplishments come in all sizes. Maybe you finally figured out how MC got from Point C to Point D, or you outlined a new scene, or you wrote your novel in a day, or whatever. (I might claim you are the devil if you wrote a novel in a day. No hard feelings. Just an observation.) Accomplishment is accomplishment, people, no matter the packaging. And that’s what I love about all this! That’s worth celebrating, don’t you think?

So here’s some Pi…
Pi
…for getting through another month,fighting for your dream. Here’s to getting closer to your Goal! Here’s to feeling damn good about yourself for persevering through all the things you HAVE to do to get to the few minutes you get to do something you LOVE! Hip, hip, ha-friggin-ray!!

To Planner or Not to Planner?

I have a PLANNER, and I am USING it! Yes, dear friends, I have vowed to be more organized this year, and with all the irons in my metaphorical fire (mom, wife, job, writing, other family, maid, etc.), this has made all the difference. Something else, too… I’m not just putting Things To Do on this list, but also unplanned things I’ve accomplished. So, for example, if I spontaneously make a pair of earrings, I make a note of it.
Oh! And something else… I’m keeping track of my writing time in this amazing contraption! (AND my bank account!) So, when I feel like I’m a stagnating pool of Good for Nothing only capable of harboring mosquito eggs (I kind of grossed myself out a little with that one.), I look back at my planner and realize that I, somehow, carved 50 minutes out of last week last to write 481 words. That is 481 words closer to the end of my first draft, which should fill me with joy. But if that doesn’t help the BLARG feeling, I look at the days I marked Mommy/Son time and remember his sweet hugs and the way he looks into my eyes when he laughs.
Husband has sung the praises of his planner for two years-ish now, and I have finally, FINALLY, acknowledged his song. (I’m stubborn, and I’m working on it.) Now we are a duet, and I am here to tell you I get more done with a planner in my hand than I did without it.
I have a Two Page a Day planner so I can have my work list on the right, my personal list on the left, my bank stuff on the bottom left, and personal appointments or important notes on the top left.
planner 2
Also, it’s pretty, and studies show I am 50% more likely to incorporate pretty things into my life. (The other 50% is reserved for broken things because I love them.) (Wait…I don’t think that math makes sense…)
planner 1
So, if you are on the fence, Planner or Not to Planner, tip the scale to Planner, try it for a month, and if you don’t like it, you’re doing it wrong. Ha!
Later!