Saturday, November 13

And an update!

So, as you might've seen I had a "revise and resubmit for novella" on my blog. I've completed that, and as I said in the previous blog, it lifted a weight off my chest to have that sent off. Writing with Nano is going well, too. I'm planning on doing about 10k words this weekend to get me ahead of my goal. Then I won't have to worry about pushing out large numbers when Thanksgiving rolls around and family comes into town.

I've also gotten up to 21 books read this year (leaving only 4 more until I reach my goal of 25), which is pretty amazing for me. I have so many books, but it seems like finding time to read (or so I thought) was really hard. It isn't. I just had to make the time, exactly the same concept as writing or editing. If you want to do something, you have to make the time.

Writing Through Good Times and Bad

November has been an interesting month so far. Good things have happened and some pretty annoying things as well. Since this month is National Novel Writing Month, I've been writing every day to try to stay at least somewhat on track with my goal to finish the post-apoc paranormal romance novel I'm working on by the end of November at best and mid-December at worst since for Christmas I'll be going out of the country.

I've had positive news, namely a revise and resubmit request (hooray!), and as great as that is, it stressed the daylights out of me.  I didn't want to mess up the revisions, so I put them off for a few days until finally the stress of having it dangling out there ate away at my ability to focus on writing my current novel. So, I decided to work on the revisions and then I still stressed about them, which made writing hard, but I told myself I would still get at least some words on page.

I've also had annoying stuff. Well, besides from the changing of season and feeling a little out of whack some days because of the move to an area with season change, as opposed to Florida. So! On to that example of a bad time. Long story short, Wednesday (yesterday) night at my house was very eventful. In between the billowing smoke coming from the fireplace, the frantic running around the house to all of the fans and almost all of the windows, the deafening noise of the smoke detector, and the herding of cats, I, with my blackened nostrils, very easily could've given myself permission to sit the night out from writing. But, I hadn't written that day, and I didn't want to fall behind with my word count goal.

Sometimes in life, it's easy to say that we're not going to write just because things either go well or don't go well at all, and this isn't to say that if you have a really sucky day that you should drop everything to plop down in front of the computer, because believe me, it wasn't the first thought that came to my mind either. But there are a few reasons why opening your word document and getting at least a hundred words down on paper could be a good thing.

  • You stay connected with your story. You don't go back in a couple days and scratch your head, having to think "What was I thinking the other day when I wrote this?" You have a better idea since there's not a lot of time that is passing by.
  • You develop a habit with writing, just like washing the dishes after dinner or brushing your teeth before bed. It's just something you do every day, which makes it easier to keep up because it becomes second nature. Sure, there are days when you don't feel like doing a habit, but they tend to be fewer.
  • You have the feeling of accomplishment that you actually wrote instead of letting circumstances get the best of you. Looking back on a chart of how much you write each day, you're not necessarily going to say "Oh, that's the day I worked on my revisions. Or the other day when I had a super crazy evening." Besides, you won't feel as guilty (or be as far behind on your word count or page count goal) the next day. You'll know that even though you might not have gotten to your word count goal, you still did something.

How about you? Do you write every day (or almost every day)? And what are things that you keep in mind to help you get in front of the computer regardless of circumstances?

Thursday, November 4

What I've learned this year with Nano

This year, I had a few setbacks with figuring out which story I was going to work on.  Some years, I've forgotten to figure out a story until the last minute, but this year, I'd planned on doing the historical urban/dark fantasy, then I decided that wouldn't be possible without me doing further historical research for the time period I want to write as well as for my heroine. So sadly I put that idea aside and struggled to pick a new one.  I was torn between one I'd like to do, and one that I'd just had sitting around that would be cool if I mustered up some enthusiasm.  Needless to say, I went with the one that I needed to muster up enthusiasm. 

Except for the fact my critique partner, Kinley Baker, went to a chat room pitch session through our RWA chapter FF&P, so I decided to tag along for support.  Long story short, at the last minute I was able to pitch to the editor as well, and I had one story I thought could pitched and gain some attention with her.  A story that Kinley said should be lengthened.  I ended up throwing out that I needed more enthusiasm on since the editor wanted a full and said it needed lengthened.  Now I'm working on that story.

So, the things I've learned.

  1. If you have a good critique partner, trust him/her, at least sometimes.  They should be looking out for you.  I pondered about lengthening my current novel, but I figured if I did, it'd be something I'd work on "one of these days."  I didn't expect to get interest and have that reiterated by an editor.
  2. Just because a story starts slow, and you're wondering if maybe you should give it up, don't give up on it yet.  My current story started a little slow, and it's involving a little more science than I'd like.  But I kept with it and am super thrilled with the story.
  3. Speaking of the science, just because you notice an element in your story that you feel uncomfortable with, don't try to eradicate it.  Try to figure out how it can work to your advantage and make your world that much more unique.
  4. This one especially pertains to Nano.  If you feel like you're getting stuck with a certain scene, write out some of it and leave yourself a note on what you think should happen there.  And move on.  Last night, I stumbled upon I scene in the Hero's POV I knew needed to be there, but I couldn't figure out for the life of me what else he should do.  So I wrote what I could, and I went back to the Heroine who was being especially interesting to write.
  5. And lastly, it is important to make sure what you're writing isn't illegible to you.  Don't feel in such a rush that you can't write clearly.  It doesn't have to be perfect prose, this is a first draft after all, but I've gone through in previous years and rushed.  Sometimes, I was left with a good sentence that had an illegible word that I couldn't for the life of me figure out, so I had to throw out what I'd written.
I hope any of these help! If you're curious, I'm currently working on a post-apocalyptic paranormal romance, and my current word count is 9,035. =)

Tuesday, November 2

Praise of Nano and the End of Day 1

2010 marks the sixth year that I'm done National Novel Writing Month. Honestly, I think NaNoWriMo is a fantastic way to give people who have always wanted to write a book the permission to just do it. And that's basically why it was created. Chris Baty and his friends LOVED books, and therefore adored writers, so he wanted to have a way to what he loved. Not all of the people participating in Nano are pursuing lifelong publishing careers, they just want to have some fun and tackle what they've always wanted to do. Write a book. A lot of the people who do this, write only once a year, during Nano. Why give them flack for doing something they enjoy?

But it also has Pros for people who do want to get published. It's a good way of jump starting a project might only take two or three months to finish as opposed to a year or more of 200 (give or take) words a day. Like Chris Baty says in an guest blog he did yesterday, "Human beings are amazing procrastinators. Give someone two years to write a 50,000-word novel, and what you’re really giving them is two years to feel guilty about not writing their 50,000-word novel. Give that person 30 days to write the same book, and they’ll get it done, no sweat. Tight deadlines bring focus and build momentum, which ultimately makes them much easier to achieve than their open-ended cousins." And I couldn't agree more. Unpublished writers don't have set deadlines to finish their books like our published and contracted peers.

But 50,000 words in a month produces pure crap? Not necessarily. If it was so horrible with quantity over quality, why do published authors like Jocelynn Drake and Kelley Armstrong amongst others participate in Nano? Besides, authors on deadlines put out amazing numbers daily, I've seen Laurell K. Hamilton talk about doing 20 pages in a day. Yesterday, Jocelynn Drake wrote a little over 5,000 words. Does that mean either of them are producing crap? No, they're producing first drafts. But that's Nano is about, isn't it?

Writers doing Nano who want to pursue publication do need to research the industry and know that just because they type THE END and give the manuscript the once over, doesn't mean its ready to send off to an agent. Manuscripts need to be revised thoroughly before being sent off. And if a writer knows they work a certain way better (pantser vs. plotter), they should prepare before diving in with both feet. That's why people who typically do Nano reserve October for getting ready.

Still don't think it's possible to publish a Nano novel? Think again, here's a link to a page at National Novel Writing Month's website that lists the people who have had their Nano books published. (Including a #1 NYT Bestseller, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen)

The most common advice writers give to aspiring authors is to "Write, write, write." (As well as Read, read, read, but hopefully people who like to write, also like to read.) And writing is the thing Nano is about.

As this is my 6th year doing Nano, I can say that during my first year, oh yes, my writing was not that great, but through the years, it's given me the chance to have at least one month a year to focus on honing my craft (through THREE years of college finals, parents, and getting married, no less.) And it taught me how to make a deadline, no matter what.

In closing, for the end of day 1, I wrote 3,150 words that I'm proud of and that didn't exist before. Currently, I'm at 4,070 with hopes of reaching 6,000 before the end of day 2.
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