Vacation!

The time has come dear readers. After months of planning, poking my budget and several FaceTime calls to my sister, at long last it is time for my vacation. 

Saturday I’ll head out with my baby sis and we will go cruising. 

In the meantime, I’ll be recharging and getting ready for another long writing streak. As of Saturday I will have 80 straight days of Writing Daily which is currently (to my knowledge) a personal best. I shouldn’t be interrupted in the composing process until September so hopefully I’ll break 100 straight days of writing after this. 

I feel like my progress has been glacial with 500 words here and every now and then breaking 1000 words there, but folks, it can be done. You can write your book in small chunks of focused time.

Until next week, keep writing. 

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Novel Process

I was watching a really interesting blab the other day by Ally Bishop and she and her co-hosts were talking about process and the concept of the ‘Shadow Novel’. She talked about this weeks ago but it’s really been on my mind in terms of The UnSeen Writing…that feels like it takes up all my time.

My Shadow Novel is all the writing I put into characters and things that happen off screen. “But April,” you might ask, “If it’s happening, shouldn’t you put it in?”
Nah. Not really. I have my current story start off when there is action, when my two main protagonists are meeting one another during a very active and busy time, a time when they need one another and resent the situation. Yet for me to fully understand a character, I have to know everything about them. And while it might be important for me to know how Character A realized that he liked a certain thing, it’s not really great for the pacing and story if we follow him around shopping. I might use one line too reference it later but I actually spent 2 days using my morning writing to figure out that aspect of his character.

Not everyone is like this; writing out stuff and then only using a few words to reference it might not be your style. Hell, I’m sure that there are plenty of writers who don’t have to have all those things laid out in so much detail; they seem so gifted in just writing the line with an image in their mind as the only reference. But that’s still part of the Shadow Novel, the unseen bits of the iceberg as it were.

Today, after saying I was going to do this for oh, weeks, I sat down with Scrivener and began to label out the ‘notecards’ of my project and realized that while I have 39,500 words written in my current project, less than 10k are actually in any shape of a useable draft with the other 3/4th of my current manuscript composing of character exploration, outlining, plot determination, false starts and unlinked scenes that I needed to get down even if I don’t end up connecting to them.

Guys, I feel so much better now that I’ve done this. Is it disheartening to realize that I still have so much to go? Not as much as it was to think that everything I was putting down was unuseable.

It’s a slow process. I write one hour a day most days with some extra time on the weekends. So, honestly, I remind myself that while this work feels slow now, it could have been done faster if I’d had more time to do it. But I don’t, so slow isn’t bad.

I’m still here, one step at a time. I’m still dragging through, one scene, whether it goes into the final draft or stays in the shadows. That’s my process: keep churning it out and don’t get angry if the words I’m mining are diamonds or rocks.

 

Streaks and Breaks

Dear Readers, I’m thrilled to report that it’s been 70 days of straight writing as of this post.

I am very amazed at myself. One, because if you care to go back through the blog posts, you can see that I’ve had a very difficult time keeping any type of a regular schedule both times I’ve attempted to keep this space current and Two because the Start/Stop pattern has been so pervasive in my life.

Yet, as I celebrate this success, I am half-dreading an upcoming challenge.

And that challenge is taking a vacation.

I’ll sip my tea while you scratch your head, roll your eyes or just stare at the screen in puzzlement.

On the 20th, my sister and I will be boarding a cruise ship and sailing off for a 5-day vacation of sun, fun and bonding. At this time, I don’t have access to a mobile word processing machine. I mean, if I absolutely WANTED to I could charm my husband’s laptop out of him for those 5 days, but he’s a full time student and needs the mobile tech more than I do.

My sister has an iPad. I could borrow that during our cruise, but see…that’s the not the point of vacation. And when it comes time to leave, I’ll have been writing for 80 straight mornings. Eighty is a good number and plus, how will I ever learn to start AGAIN if I don’t have those breaks?

I used to believe (and sometimes I still do) that the only so-called ‘real writers’ were the ones that wrote everyday. But as I hang out with more writers, as I meet more people who have been doing this longer than a couple of years, as I examine what makes success and who becomes good and who doesn’t, I have realized that while the habit is important, it’s not what makes me a Writer.

If you write stuff down and tell yourself stories, you’re a writer. Period. If you write every day, you’re a writer. If you write every week, you’re a writer. If you write one or two stories during your school breaks, or when you get an idea, you’re a writer.

The more you write, the better you get but a writer without a strict schedule is still a writer. That has been an important realization.

Does that mean that after I get back from my cruise that I’m going to quit getting up every day? Hell no. I have 1 hour a day that I’ve dedicated to writing. One. Hour. And while I always have the option of writing more when I get home from work, I have accepted that in the evenings, I usually only have enough energy to do one or two things and usually it’s nothing that’s creatively minded.

Finally, just wanted to reveal my blog schedule to you all in case you were wondering:

This blog is updated every three days, except for the days that I’ll be out of contact.

While I know a M/W/F is probably a more accepted schedule, I’ve found that if I can get a post up every three days I always have something to say.

If you want to join in on the community that has been helping me keep consistent, hit me up on Twitter at @dracoangelica or go listen to Ally Bishop’s episode 100 of her podcast ‘Upgrade Your Story‘. She’s starting a community driven workshop called The Cerulean Project and it’s been very helpful for my habit structures.

 

Writing Process

Happy Saturday.

Today I want to talk about writing processes and how I manage mine.

Process is different than daily Habit. Getting up every morning, sitting down and doing your writing, that’s Habit. That’s the act of working on your craft and it’s PART of the process, but that’s not the entire thing.

When we go to writing classes they talk about the following:

Brainstorming

Write

Revise

Edit

Share/Publish

Ok, cool. That’s great. Except most of us don’t really follow that.

Here is my Writing Process:

Brainstorm. (for three months about the same idea)

Write. And Write. And then print it out, clean it up, realize it’s not done/I had to cut an entire 10k of words because that plot line isn’t going to work….Write. Write. Write. Write. Finish…

Then there is the cool down period and you’re supposed to go over your edit process, polishing and finishing.

Well, confession time guys.

I’ve never gotten past the Write phase for anything that wasn’t a short story or a very small novella.

Ever.

So that’s where I’m at today in my writing process. I’m going to go print out a current work in progress today because while I’m not done, I also am sort of lost where I’m at so I’m spending today to look at it from a new perspective. My stories are like, winding paths and sometimes I get lost.

This of course, can be remedied if you are good at outlining, which I am not. A friend of mine recommended an outlining tool a few weeks ago and I’m going to finally buckle down and try and use it this weekend and see if I get any farther with my this process. Because no lie, the manuscript is a mess.

That’s ok though. Messes can give birth to beautiful things and I still really believe in this story. So it’ll be born whether it likes to be born or not.

What sort of problems do you run into with process? Hit me up here or on Twitter and let me know.

 

Opportunities

I created this blog so that I could reach out to people like me. People who were trying to start, work and finish works of fiction. While I’ve been writing for years, a lot of my progress has felt like I’ve been running in place. I’ve made progress from where I was a year or two years ago, but they’re treadmill miles and I’m still in a room by myself.

The last couple of weeks has seen an opening in those gym walls. I have been talking with people on Twitter, reaching out to people in the greater writing community and happily, getting some feedback. That’s a great feeling.

Recently there has been a new movement growing in the writing community that I’ve noticed. I’m not sure what to call it, maybe “Tired of the Norm”? or perhaps “Fed Up with Status Quo”? No matter what you want to label it, it’s there. This unrest and frustration with the process of going from new and untried writer to polished and professional Author.

It was in the letter from the Writer’s Guild to the Publishing industry a few weeks back. It’s the amount of unpolished and mistake-riddled self-pubs that litter the eBook market; solid stories that are literally held back by rookie mistakes that a traditional publishing house would have cleaned up…but also taken over 50% of the profit in creating. This frustration is in the undertone of so many conversations I had on Twitter, it’s on episodes of Podcasts that I listen to and it’s in message boards that I frequent.

We work alone, punching out words when we get the time, striving step by step to one day join the league of published authors who have their books lining the shelves of our hearts and minds. Well, I don’t think we always have to be alone.

Ally Bishop, host of one of my favorite podcast series on the web, “Upgrade Your Story” has been working over the last few weeks to create a new project that is aimed at helping newish AND mid-level authors. She’ll be talking about craft and how we can improve ourselves as we go towards our eventual goal of having a quality book to put out into the world.

If you want to know more about the Cerulean project, please go Here: http://www.upgradeyourstory.com/uys-podcast/1357/ and check out the last 10 minutes or so of her ‘cast. She tells you how to join up and what she’s intending by launching the Cerulean Project.

Hope that I’ll see you there!