NaNoWriMo Day 19

The Words: 2271 words total for the day.

I was beginning to think I wouldn’t get more than 600 words again today, when I hadn’t done any writing by 9 pm (even though that used to be the beginning of my writing time). But then my daughter and I did a couple of word sprints together. After she went to bed, I did one more by myself and at least got close to the daily word goal I’ve set for myself (2500).

The Story: The main character of this storyline was given a daunting task, but he rose to the challenge. He really did have a decent plan, and it wasn’t completely his fault that he failed.

I had one of those moments that happens sometimes, where my outline states that something happens, but doesn’t say how. Because at the time I wrote the outline, I failed to realize that there would need to be some detail there, or it wouldn’t come across very well in the story. So I had to try to brainstorm what the character would do in this situation, preferably without slowing down my writing output during a sprint. And it led to my first real “Aha!” moment this month. A completely random thing I wrote into the story two days ago turned out to be exactly what I needed in this moment! It was a small “Aha!” moment, comparatively, but I still loved having that realization, and it was enough to award myself the “Eureka Moment” badge.

Total word count: 52,953

Enjoy today’s NaNoToon from this day in 2009!

Weekly Writing Update: 10/11

After a few months off for a variety of reasons that culminated in just not caring enough to work on my book, I have dived back in with enthusiasm. I’ve actually been working on the near-final revision of “Outcast” for a few weeks now. The majority of the work I’ve been doing involves using the notes made by one of the other members of the TCSTB (I love being able to use that acronym again). The exciting thing is that, once I had her notes in my hands, I realized that, though there was plenty to work on, it’s a very small fraction compared to what needed revised in Pithea when we spent over a year working on it together. I do have another sister (the one that wasn’t able to be part of the TCSTB) who is planning to make some suggestions for revision as well, but I daresay, based on what she’s sent me so far, it still won’t be an overwhelming amount. Now I just have to be patient while I wait for time to discuss notes with one sister and for the other sister to have time to send me her notes.

In the meantime, NaNoWriMo looms ahead. My plan for this year is to write the first draft to what will almost definitely be book #4 in the series. The outline has been done for over a year, but I’ve spent some time already reading through it and refreshing my thoughts about it. And during that time, I already had a new “Aha!” moment.

Though I’ve already shared my thoughts about how the joy of discovery is my absolute favorite thing about writing, this is a different kind of discovery from what I talked about there. It involved the realization that a chunk of the end of the current draft of book #3 might actually belong in book #4. I’ve been considering this ever since–not letting myself be completely sold, while being pretty sure it will solve a lot of structure problems I have with book #3. I’ve decided to wait and see how long the draft for book #4 comes out to be, because it will only work if it can handle another 15k+ words without being too long.

Sadly, this means that I can’t really work on revision of book #3 until the end of November, even though that’s what I’d like to be doing while waiting to move on in my revision of “Outcast” until others have time to continue helping me. So…I can’t really say what I’ll continue working on this week–hopefully another session with one sister, and outside of that, maybe some writing practice just to keep myself immersed in the series.

While I work on continuing the series, if you’re interested in reading where it all starts, Pithea is available on Amazon as both an e-book and paperback (it’s also on Kindle Unlimited).

Weekly Writing Update: December Week 1 (NaNoWriMo Wrap-Up)

(Before I get into this long update, one last time for 2018, be sure to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already: 2019 – December 1st It’s also the very last NaNoToon ever!)

NaNoWriMo is over, and boy what a month it was. I spent pretty much all of my free time in November either writing for NaNoWriMo or working on “Pithea” for its upcoming release. Still, I came out on the other side with 82,750 words and, more importantly, a finished draft! This book will most likely be book #8 in the Pithea Series. But since I’m just about to publish book #1, and all of the books between here and #8 still need a lot of work, who knows what could happen by the time I get there.

I had some highs and lows during NaNo, but was more happy than not with what I was writing. I had some “Aha!” moments, which I absolutely love, even though they were mostly minor. Still exciting! I already know a lot of places that need work, but it will be a long time before I get back to it for revision.

I had hoped to leave myself with little to work on for publishing “Pithea” during November, so I could focus on NaNo, but being that this is the first novel I’ve ever published, I can say now how silly it was for me to think that would be the case. I managed to find a balance, though, and now I have only small details left to work on.

I now have a finished cover, the paperback interior is completely ready, and the digital file just needs updated to minor changes I made when finalizing the paperback interior. I’ve added the book to Goodreads (just the paperback for now until I finish the digital file), added it to Reedsy (read the first chapter here!), and the ebook will be available for pre-order on Amazon soon!

So with NaNo over and my attention turning not only to final publishing details, but also to working on book #2 so that it can be released in a timely fashion after book #1, I have a new list of writing goals, related to all of these things:

1. Remove NaNo fodder from 2019 NaNoNovel – Sometimes I’ll spend the first few days after November ends doing a quick clean-up of what I wrote–mostly removing things I marked as NaNo fodder and at least doing a quick spell check. This is usually better to do while the story is still fresh, and then it’s good to let it sit for some time. It shouldn’t take long, and is better done now than later (I know that from experience).

2. Update Kindle version of “Pithea” – As part of this goal, after updating it, I’ll need to upload the final version to KDP, proof it, and decide on when the pre-order should be available. And add the Kindle version to Goodreads.

3. Finish first revision of “Outcast” (book #2) – Going by what is widely understood to be acceptable word count lengths for books of its type, “Outcast” is currently quite a bit too short. However, the amount I’d have to add would basically be entire new story arc. Rather than stress about how to lengthen it right now, I’m going to finish with the revision of what is already there, and then send it to 3 people who were most helpful with revision of “Pithea” and ask them to read it and tell me what they think–if they think there’s a lot that could be expanded on, plot threads they’d like to see followed, etc. And then I’ll go from there.

NaNoWriMo Day 27

Day 27 writing badge

The Words: 2213 words. I had an afternoon alone today and an evening with just my husband and me home, so I made sure to spend some time writing in the afternoon, to open up my evening to spend with my husband. I wrote just past par and ended at a pivotal moment. My brain kept working on it after my husband came home, so I had to write just a little bit more to avoid forgetting what I’d decided to do. Then later, after the kids came home, I had a little extra time, but couldn’t focus well enough to get more than 80 words.

The Story:  The secondary climax (which is the main climax of storyline 2) went quite well for a first draft, contrary to what I expected. Then after that, I got to write what I feel like is one of my best out-of-nowhere-but-it-works ideas for the later books of this series. There’s definitely not much left of storyline 2, and I have to figure out how to end it.

Total word count: 79,809

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already:
November 27, 2019

NaNoWriMo Day 26

Day 26 writing badge

The Words: 1837 words. I didn’t sit down to start writing until after 10pm today, but was able to get just past par, getting the last of these words right before midnight. The rest of the days of the month will not be a whole lot better for writing time than what I’ve had recently, so I will probably not have any more big days this month, but I will still try to write at least something every day.

The Story:  The climax stalled a little as I struggled with where to take it (yay, pantsing!) and the characters just started discussing things. I finally had to stop them short and get the action back on track. I think I am at the end of the climax now, and have just the conclusion left for storyline 1. And the conclusion will be a pretty big thing for this part of the world, not to mention something that was only made possible by an “Aha!” moment that came out while writing earlier in the month. This is why I love NaNo!

Total word count: 77,597

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already:
November 26, 2019

NaNoWriMo Day 20

Day 20 writing badge

The Words: 1727 words. I had an afternoon and early evening without kids today, but still ended up spending most of my free time during it working on formatting for “Pithea”. Then I had to head to my church for worship team practice (I’m on once a month), and realized how late it would be when I got home. So I took my Neo with me and wrote in the car for the second time this month.

It was dark all the way there and back, so it was really rough at first, because I couldn’t check the screen to see what I’d last written, and even though I try really hard not to backspace to fix mistakes, it’s a habit. So I wouldn’t know if I’d actually erased enough or too much. I ended up turning on the light on the mirror of my visor.

All of the words came during the half hour drive there and back, which was really not too bad at all, and I liked being able to make use of that time.

The Story:  I wrote more for storyline 1 today, and think I will need to do that more tomorrow, because there is more of that left in the outline than for storyline 2. I hit on a new idea today, which will likely be part of the next book, or maybe come up near the end of this one. It was a somewhat larger “Aha!” moment building on the smaller one that occurred on day 15 and involves politics, which I never really thought I’d care to get into much in my books, but in a way that actually interests me. Hopefully I can make it interesting to readers too.

I claimed my win today (thanks to an email explaining how), which is always exciting! Also, my winner’s shirt will be arriving in a few days!

NaNo-2019-Winner-Web-Badge

Total word count: 65,997

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already:
November 20, 2019

NaNoWriMo Day 15

Day 15 writing badge

The Words: 2090 words. Half of the words were done along @NaNoWordSprints on Twitter, and the other half on my own trying out the Fighter’s Block website.

The Story: Today’s writing was for storyline 1, which was solely diplomatic talks. Right now, it seems like this storyline is 75% peace talks (and maybe it is), which I will have to scrutinize during revision someday. For now, though, I’m getting the sequence of events down. And I had a bit of an “Aha!” moment today, when one of the characters started to look suspicious to the others (and I didn’t originally plan for him to be a villain). I love the discovery in writing! It was a small eureka moment, as eureka moments go, but it was enough for me to award myself the badge.

eureka

Total word count: 54,044

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already:
November 15, 2019

NaNoWriMo Day 4

Day 4 writing badgeThe Words: 3351 words. I didn’t get started on my writing until after 9 pm, which is normal for me, but I kept hoping to have time earlier in the day. Some of the writing was done with @NaNoWordSprints on Twitter. I did one 15-minute sprint with my region’s Discord group. Then at about 10:40 pm, I did the math to find out I was 700 words shy of my goal–3300. My husband would be coming home at around 11 pm, and I knew he’d like to play a game together tonight if I was willing. So I basically did a reverse sprint, where I wrote as fast as I could to get to 700 quickly, rather than writing for a set amount of time. I made it with a few minutes to spare before his car pulled in.

The Story:  I went back to storyline 2 today. The angry character got some words of advice and realize that underneath her anger was fear. And she decided she needed to do something about that fear, so she has brought another character to a location where, together, they can try to make a plan to find her missing best friend.

Today’s writing included a small “Aha!” moment as I stumbled over a chance to set something up that won’t come up until the book that follows this one. I love those moments.

Total word count: 15,817

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already:
2019 – November 4th

Writing Wednesday: Joy of Discovery (or A Cure for Writer’s Block)

WW Joy of Discovery

Some time in the last couple of years, even as I struggled to maintain a writing habit (and for a while, failed completely), I have realize something that I didn’t know in my first 10 years of writing–at least not consciously: the joy of discovery is my absolute favorite thing about writing. I’ve also found discovery in writing to be the exact opposite, and in some ways the cure, for writer’s block.

Discovery, at least to me, is when things click or become more clear. A character pops up that wasn’t planned, but is clearly the answer to everything. You come up with a backstory that actually makes the character’s current actions make sense. You figure out how to fill in the saggy middle with actual, interesting plot. These are just some examples of those moments that can be exhilarating, exciting, and can even cause a rush of adrenaline.

Some people call this a “Eureka moment” or an “‘Aha!’ moment.” I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t bring up NaNoWriMo and mention that they have a badge that participants can award themselves if this happens during their writing in November.

aha

This is my favorite badge…

Why is this my favorite thing about writing? Probably because of how often it comes when I’m at a particularly low point in my writing. This is not always the case, but more often than not, the biggest, or at least most exhilarating moments of discovery come when I’m experiencing what most would consider “writer’s block.”

I have discovered that writer’s block most often happens when I’m struggling to break through a confusing, uncertain, or even boring section of a story. This can happen during any stage of writing–dreaming, planning, writing, or even revising. When that happens, I turn to a variety of tricks to try to figure out what I’m missing. Sometimes it leads to an “Aha!” moment, sometimes just a calmer, more basic answer to my question so I can move on. And to be clear, the joy of discovery is not only relegated to the exciting moments. Though discovery is almost always at least a little exciting to me.

Before I close, I’ll mention a few tricks that I use to try to coax those moments of discovery. I’ll address some more in-depth in future Writing Wednesday posts, but here are a few that don’t require as much explanation:

  • freewrite (especially with a prompt)
  • change your writing medium (for example, from computer/device to handwriting, or vice versa)
  • change your writing environment
  • listen to some music that reminds you of what you’re writing
  • read
  • keep asking yourself the questions you need to answer while going about the rest of your day
  • don’t decide to give up and come back when “inspiration strikes”

What about you? What tricks do you use to break through when you’re stuck? Have you had your own “Aha!” moments? What is your favorite thing about writing?

Daily Writing Check-in: May 13, 2019

Words/Time:  1 hour doing preliminary work for the new outline of “Vin”.

I finished the character interview with Naolin, and let me just say…wow. I can’t say that this, or any other character interview I’ve done, was 100% helpful, or that something that came out during it won’t be changed later. It’s not a perfect method of solidifying plot. But my goodness, did a huge idea come out of these last couple of pages of conversation. At least, it was a huge idea to me. It’s probably one of those things that future readers will just pass right over, but of course they won’t know what the plan was before I changed it to this. Anyway…I’m rambling a bit because I’m pretty excited. Today was a minor “Aha!” moment, but I’ll take it!

I’m ready to get to the actual outlining! Whether or not I’ll need to stop and do more brainstorming or character interviews along the way, I can’t say, but I’m looking forward to starting on the new outline tomorrow.