Daily Writing Check-in: March 31, 2019

Words/Time:  20 minutes doing preliminary work for the new outline of “The Seeger Book.”

I continued my conversation with Jonathan about the events of this story, which I had not finished at the point that I took an unplanned break. The conversation is still proving very insightful, though I think its usefulness is coming to an end. Not because I have the events figured out, but because I’ve run up against the big, empty 2nd half of act 2 & beginning of act 3. The same late mid-section that I left empty in the first draft of this book. I just feel like there’s something missing, but I haven’t hit on what it is yet.

I don’t know if this means I’ll need to do some more broad brainstorming, or if I need to pick a different character to interview, or if I just need to let it sit for a while. Or even if I need to go ahead and write the outline I have so far, and even draft it from that, and see if more plot points come up during the actual writing (it happens a lot for me). It will be difficult to even decide where to go next.

It has not been the most stellar month of writing for me, but I’m really glad I had enough self-motivation to get even 20 minutes in today. Since I officially quit my job 2 weeks ago, but agreed to stay on to help finish a huge project and train other people, things have actually gotten worse at my job. I have taken refuge in the game Stardew Valley most evenings as a coping mechanism. As much as I’d rather say I use my writing, story world, characters, etc. as a coping mechanism…this is just too much to cope with.

Camp NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow, and I hope to be able to push past my emotional and mental issues caused by work, and be able work on my writing every day this month, with an ultimate goal of an average of an hour a day. I know that might be unrealistic at this time, but if I don’t set my goal higher than what I do outside of Camp, then it’s almost pointless to participate. I’m also well aware that I might end up crashing and burning in this attempt, but it’s worth trying.

Daily Writing Check-in: March 22, 2019

I actually have no writing work of any kind to report, but I wanted to post to just say that I’m still here, and haven’t fallen into a writing hole. Since I’ve had this blog, I have seen those times where I do well writing almost every day for a stretch, and then just stop for months at a time. And one of those times turned into almost 3 years away.

This break so far has lasted about 10 days. The first few days I skipped were due to major stress related to my job. By evening, when I normally get to my writing work, I just wanted to do something mindless during my free time. That situation dragged on, and has actually led to me basically quitting my job, only agreeing to stay on in a minor capacity. Looking back and seeing how often, even in the last few months when I’ve had a better writing habit again, I skipped a day because of work, I can see why this was a good decision. Not because it kept me from my writing work, but because most of the time that I skipped a day or two, it was because of having a very rough day at work. And because of what I know causes that stress, it’s time to move on.

Though I do have what could be up to 2 months ahead of me before I can fully step down from my main duties, due to needing to train others, and help the company get past certain things that I am best-suited to help them with, I am already somewhat less stressed than I have been in a long time, just simply by making this decision.

Moving on, I didn’t do any writing work today, because I was gone until too late to get to it. Tomorrow is a maybe, because I have to work until evening and get up super early on Sunday. But I do plan to take some time on Sunday and really dive back into what I was last working on. I do not want this to turn into a prolonged break.

I also think it is likely that part of the reason that I dropped off so completely is that the current task I am working on is turning out to be very difficult. In my last post, I said that the goal I am currently working toward is going to be a marathon, not a sprint. So since the difficulties of the next few months are likely to continue to take an emotional toll on me, I need to be careful to not push myself  to do more in a day than my brain can handle, when working on an already difficult task.

Daily Writing Check-in: March 12, 2019

Words/Time:  23 minutes doing preliminary work for the new outline of “The Seeger Book.”

First, I wrote out a couple of big questions about a major event in the book–mostly asking when and why this event happens. Unlike other times when I write out a big plot question that I’m stuck on and brainstorm all possible solutions, this time the answer didn’t readily present itself. I sat and stared at the page for little while, trying to decide how important this event was to the story at all. But I do think it’s crucial to the climax. And I think I have figured out the why, though I am going to wait to commit to the when.

I then continued my conversation with Jonathan about the events of this story, hoping it will lead me to the when.

I cut my time short tonight, even though I still have an hour and a half before midnight, because I have a headache and had a frustrating, emotionally taxing day. Figuring out the plot for this story is a marathon, not a sprint, so no need to push myself on a rough day. I’m going to veg out on video games now.

Daily Writing Check-in: March 11, 2019

Words/Time:  50 minutes doing preliminary work for the new outline of “The Seeger Book.”

I continued my conversation with Jonathan, and we started to talk about the events of the story. We cleared up at least one mess caused by a terrible first draft, and then I realized I had a huge question about when a pivotal event should happen in this new, hopefully much better outline.

I also spent a little time tracking down a backup to my outline for “Unexpectedly” because I thought I had lost a lot of information somehow. It turned out it was just a setting in Scrivener that I didn’t realize I had triggered. Boy, did I panic though, because the info that I thought I was missing wasn’t in the backup either. But it’s all safe, so I’m good.

Daily Writing Check-in: March 10, 2019

Words/Time:  25 minutes doing preliminary work for the new outline of “The Seeger Book.”

I continued my conversation with Jonathan, talking through the major players who are working against him in this story. I think we have them straightened out, so tomorrow, we’ll start focusing on the events. I may be ready to work on the outline relatively soon.

I didn’t do any work yesterday, because I just didn’t have the desire to do it. I’ve learned in the past that if I push past a strong feeling to not work on writing, it can lead to burn-out (in fact, it was NaNoWriMo 2015, when the first draft of this story was terribly written, that I learned that lesson). It can be a delicate balance, because if I just ignore my writing for too long, I can end up in a months- or even years-long slump, but I knew I was still enjoying doing the work, just didn’t feel up to it yesterday.

Daily Writing Check-in: March 8, 2019

Words/Time:  1 hour, 5 minutes doing preliminary work for the new outline of “The Seeger Book.”

I finished reading the first draft of the book that was written during NaNoWriMo in 2015. I actually did that yesterday; it took me 8 minutes before I went to bed. Then yesterday, my husband and I went to a concert and we’re home until after midnight, so I didn’t do any other work, and decided it wasn’t worth typing up a post for 8 minutes worth.

The rest of the time was spent, both before I went to bed this morning, as well as this evening, having my first one-on-one conversation with the main character of this book–Jonathan. He’s been included in a group discussion in the past, but I needed some time alone with him to try to get a handle on this plot. It’s kind of all over the place. We’re making progress, but I anticipate this conversation lasting several days.

Daily Writing Check-in: March 6, 2019

Words/Time:  1 hour, 48 minutes doing preliminary work for the new outline of “The Seeger Book.”

Today I continued with reading the first draft of the book that was written during NaNoWriMo in 2015. I’m near the end and plan to finish it as soon as I have posted this.

For the last 2 days, I complained about how bad this was, and today was no better. But reading the climax, and reading through the last 6500 words of the draft, which was really just my “out-loud” brainstorming what I was missing in the story, so I wouldn’t forget my thoughts in the future, I at least remember why I was excited about this story in the first place. Which is a great place to be when starting to work on the new outline.

The main thing I’m learning from the jumbled mess I’m reading, though, is that I don’t really need to try to hold very strictly to what was already written…because I clearly had no clue how I wanted the story to go. So I might as well start from scratch with the very vague idea of the Seeger Book being at the heart of a murder-mystery. The culprit will be the same, and that’s pretty much it.

Daily Writing Check-in: March 5, 2019

Words/Time:  53 minutes doing preliminary work for the new outline of “The Seeger Book.” (Same exact amount of time I spent yesterday…weird.)

Today I continued with reading the first draft of the book that was written during NaNoWriMo in 2015. It’s a pretty terrible first draft, even as first drafts go. I can tell I had no real focus, no solid plot. Just a few points to hit and a lot of boring stuff in between.

Developing sub-plots is going to be a necessary task for the development of this plot. The only one that exists right now involves nothing but a bunch of emo-fodder for the 2 secondary main characters. And then one of them said the most horrific line I’ve ever written (and I’ve written some doozies), and I just about gave up. I suppose it wasn’t what he said, but how he said it.

I also may be seeing some of the near-burn-out I experienced that year, which is just a sad thing to be able to feel in the writing. One of the reasons I’m reading through this is to remember the ideas I had for how the plot should go. Ideas that came up during writing, and thus can’t just be found in the original outline. Get the whole story fresh in my mind again. That part is working as intended.

The other reason, though, was to make note of any good spots–a good scene, good dialog, good paragraph, even just a good vague idea that I can use again. So far, not quite halfway through the draft…I’ve got nothing. So sad. But hey, I’m definitely learning what not to do in the next draft.

Daily Writing Check-in: March 4, 2019

Words/Time:  53 minutes doing preliminary work for the new outline of “The Seeger Book.”

For now, this work entails reading the first draft of the book that was written during NaNoWriMo in 2015. So far, I’m not particularly enjoying it, which is sad, but not surprising. In fact, of all of the 7 books I have planned, all of which have at least some version of a draft written, this is my least favorite. Not the story idea itself, but what has been written for it.

I think the main reason for this is that I wasn’t as prepared in advance of writing this as I prefer to be, so it’s very disjointed. (I’ve said this before and will say it again–I am not a pantser.) But as I’m reading, I’m realizing something else–my long-time two favorite characters, who play a secondary role in this book, are just…annoying. She keeps whining and he’s not really helping much either.

I am now 100% certain this book needs a complete rewrite, rather than a revision, and I fully expect to come out way ahead after doing that. I have literally just this moment decided that I am definitely going to write the new draft for this for Camp NaNoWriMo that starts in April. As long as the outline is done and I feel confident in the mystery set-up. So maybe this. This or “Unexpectedly.” Maybe. Or maybe I’ll just use Camp NaNo to push the amount of the same writing work that I do in a day. Wow, I just talked myself out of writing the first draft of this book over the course of writing this paragraph.

A Monday Moment: Mistaken Identity

Natos had specifically chosen to spend that day alone, not wanting to get caught up in his brother’s chaos for once. He figured Jaffna would be safe, because he’d heard Acronis discuss heading to Taellyn with some of the others. As soon as he heard the giggle right behind him, he knew he should have gone to Qulu instead. His brother and the others would never bother with that remote location.

Despite hearing her coming, he wasn’t expecting the arms to wrap around his body from behind. He let out a startled yelp and pulled away, turning around quickly.

“Inanna!” he said with a gasp.

“Oh!” Her face turned bright red and she covered her cheeks with her hands. “I thought you were Acronis!”

“I gathered,” he muttered.

“I’m so sorry!”

“Right…well, it’s not a big deal.”

“Maybe not for you,” she said breathlessly. “You’re…Natos, right?”

He refrained from rolling his eyes as he nodded his head. It wasn’t that he minded that this rather attractive young woman preferred his brother to him. But despite how little he cared to hang out with his Acronis and the others, he had been around a lot when Acronis was in Jaffna and spent time with Inanna. Was it that hard to remember his name?

“Is Acronis here too?” she asked, looking around the area.

“I don’t think so. I heard them talking about going to Taellyn today.”

She stuck her bottom lip out. “What’s in Taellyn? Who is in Taellyn?”

Natos only shrugged. He couldn’t tell her what he was thinking. I couldn’t even begin to care. Why on earth do you want anything to do with my brother or those others that he spends all of his time with? What must be wrong with you that this is the kind of attention you want?

The truth was, he had always seen signs that Inanna’s family was not much better than his own. He felt bad for the girl, but on the other hand, at least her life was better than his. At least she wouldn’t be expected to become a mercenary and assassin, living in the shadows for the rest of her life, never having the chance to have real connections with others. He could only hope that she didn’t waste her freedom—that she would outgrow this fascination with his brothers and find some better friends.

Prompt used: What if your character was mistaken for someone else?