Weekly Writing Update: April 1

Camp NaNoWriMo started this last week, which was perfect for getting me out of my recent laziness and back to work on the revision of “Outcast” (book #2). I’ve set my goal for an hour of work per day–I started with 45 minutes, but today raised it to an hour, because I know I can do it, and I want to get a lot done this month.

And in 5 days, and about 6 hours of work total, I am already through 16 chapters of the 31 chapters in the book. This makes me incredibly happy. What concerns me, though, is that I might still be failing to spot the areas where I need to add emotion, which is a large part of the purpose of this particular revision. Apparently I’m a fairly unemotional person myself, because I see a lot of emotion in my writing, but I’ve been told that others don’t connect with the characters as much as I’d like, due to a lack of emotions.

I do have someone who has agreed to give me some suggestions and insight into how I might infuse more of this into the writing, and I had anticipated getting some of that feedback alongside my own revision in this draft. However, this person has been very busy recently and hasn’t sent me any notes yet. So I push on alone.

While I work on continuing the series, if you’re interested in reading where it all starts, Pithea is currently discounted on Amazon.

Writing Wednesday: IWSG Apr 2020

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Today’s question for Insecure Writer’s Support Group was crafted for the circumstances we find ourselves in right now: …in this time when our world is in crisis with the covid-19 pandemic, our optional question this month is: how are things in your world? What follows is my response, mostly unfiltered (and eventually related to writing). Hopefully it makes sense.

Up until a few days ago, my life hadn’t been affected much by social distancing standards. I have been primarily working from home since October, I already home school my daughter, and my husband and son both work at a restaurant that hasn’t shut down yet. The uncertainty was there, and I spent a lot more time paying attention to current affairs and planning for the future than normal. Watching the dominoes fall so quickly as large events were cancelled or postponed (my husband and I had tickets for 2 different concerts this spring, and when the first one was postponed a few weeks back, that’s when this started to get a lot more real to me), then schools closed down, then smaller events were cancelled was all very distracting. But my daily routine, at least, was largely unaffected. (Though my son’s 18th birthday was yesterday, so it was sad knowing we couldn’t do that much for him right now. We have future plans, but not knowing when those future plans can actually happen doesn’t help a lot.)

Just two days ago, the person I work for told me to shut down the work I was doing for now. I’d been expecting it to happen eventually, but that didn’t make it any less jarring when it did happen. It was a nice job–fun and paid very well. And I was a sub-contractor, not an employee, so I’m not even sure if I can get unemployment. But that’s not the point. Not only do I now no longer have that income, I also have more time on my hands.

What this should mean is that I have more time for my writing. Fundamentally, I know that’s true. But I have already found it more difficult to spend time on it during the last few weeks, when I wasn’t even as directly affected, because of everything that’s been happening. And now? I haven’t touched it since Sunday. I just want to spend my evenings (the time I normally am able to devote to writing) reading and playing video games. Shutting down the creative part of my mind.

Today is a good day for this, though. The first session of Camp NaNoWriMo for the year starts today (the 2nd session is in July). It’s just what I need to get back on track. Unlike NaNoWriMo proper, where I stick to the traditional 50k words of writing a new piece, I allow myself to rebel during Camp (and usually do). I’ll just continue on with the revision I’m doing for the 2nd book in my new series, with a daily goal of 45 minutes per day spent working on it. Compared to the amount of time I’ve been working on it lately, it’s a very lofty goal, but if I can do it, it will bring me miles toward being ready to publish this 2nd book. And if anything can put me back into place, it’s NaNoWriMo.

Before I sign off for this post, I just want to add that if anything I said in this post sounds like I’m complaining, it’s not intended that way. I have nothing to complain about. My family still has some income right now, we have plenty of food (we tend to stock ahead anyway, so already had a lot) and even some toilet paper, and no one close to me has gotten sick from this virus. I have many books on my shelves that I haven’t read and access to digital books (and games) with the click of a button or two. And if the worst happens, I know where my home is. I won’t pretend that this isn’t a scary situation, but I have a lot more peace than what makes sense, because I know that whatever happens, God is in control.

For my fellow writers, and anyone else reading this blog–how are things in your world?

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Weekly Writing Update: March 5

I was a lot more productive this week than I had been the few weeks before. I finished the draft of “Outcast” (book #2) that I was working on and even managed to get the scenes all sorted into chapters and ordered how I think they will work the best. Except for one chapter that I don’t know for sure if it’ll stay where it’s at or get moved 2 chapters later.

All of this I got done by Thursday, though, and then proceeded to spend Friday & Saturday nights ignoring the next step. Now I need to start reading at the beginning of the book, fixing up scenes, adding description and emotion, and adding transitions between scenes, since some have been written as if in a bubble, and many of them have been moved around.

I will plan to start fresh with that today, but my husband is hoping to play a board game that I anticipate taking…all day. So who knows if I’ll get to start on it today. Tomorrow for sure though!

While I work on continuing the series, if you’re interested in reading where it all starts, Pithea is currently discounted on Amazon.

Weekly Writing Update: March 4

If last week was a slump, this week was downright dreary. It’s not that I’ve been in the wrong frame of mind to work on writing (well, there has been some of that, but not entirely), but there is just so much distraction. I have done some further work on “Outcast” (book #2) though. I’ve only added about 1500 words to the draft, but as I mentioned last week, most of what I have left is revision, rather than addition, anyway. I’ve made it through most of the rest of the scenes that need fixed up, with only 4 more scenes to work on for this draft. I certainly hope to get them done this week, but with the state of things right now, won’t be too surprised if I don’t.

While I work on continuing the series, if you’re interested in reading where it all starts, Pithea is currently discounted on Amazon.

Weekly Writing Update: March 3

I went through a bit of a slump this week while working on “Outcast,” (book #2). At first it was simply due to an early morning because of work, but then everything start hitting the fan at once over the last few days because of COVID-19, so it’s been difficult to focus.

I made up for the rest of the week with a lot of progress today. The word count is now up to 70k, which is awesome! It also means I only added 2500 words this last week…oh well. I did some revision in there too. I have 3 more scenes to fix up and 1 new one to write, so I won’t be adding much more at this point. But I wonder if my main beta reader right now will say there’s a lot more she’d like to see. Problem with that would be that I don’t think there’s anywhere to put more of the story arc I’ve been adding without taking away from the main arc. But I’ll worry about that if it happens.

I’m anxious to get through this stage of the revision, so I can look at all of these new scenes at a glance, amongst the existing scenes, and figure out how on earth to order them. Then the real revision can begin, and I’m really hoping it won’t be a long, exhausting process like it was with book #1 (Pithea).

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: March 2

I was pretty productive this week, adding a total of 5676 new words to “Outcast,” (book #2), as well as doing a little revision to make some freewriting from the past fit into the book.

When I started working on this step, I was hoping to add at least 10,000 more words to this book, if not 15,000. At current count, I’ve added 12,750!! I have a few more scenes to write or adapt, so I think I may just hit or pass 15k, which will bring the book up to a total word count of 70k. This is so much more acceptable to me as a follow-up to a book with 105k words. And early feedback says the scenes are generally good additions, too, not just filler. So far, I’ve been filling in a gap of time that the couple of people who’ve read the book have wished to see more of.

After I finish writing new scenes, I’ll go back and fix up the new stuff based on that early feedback, and then I’ll have to lay out the scenes and find a new flow for them. Then there will be further revision stages after that, but my biggest concern about this book was that I wouldn’t be able to adequately expand it to a higher word count. Now my biggest concern is how long it will take to get through the revision and be ready to publish it.

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: March 1

I wrote more new scenes for “Outcast,” (book #2) this week, a total of 3945 words. I took a couple of nights completely off, due to early mornings for work, but overall, I’m really glad with the progress I made.

I’ve been trying out a way to stay focused for the writing, using tricks I’ve learned from NaNoWriMo. I’ll write for 10 minutes without stopping and without over-thinking my words, and then take a break, which usually means reading a book for 10 minutes. If I don’t write in sprints, the words I can get written in 10 minutes would take at least 30, most likely more, because I’d be stopping too often to edit as I go, or to look something up that I’m just certain needs to be looked up RIGHT NOW. The progress is much smoother this way.

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: February Week 4

This week I got to do some writing for “Outcast,” (book #2), rather than revising, which is always more fun for me. I didn’t have as many nights to work on it as I’d like, which I’m really hoping will be better this week, but it was still nice to do some actual writing. So far, I’ve only written 2 scenes, and didn’t even finish either of them. In total, I wrote about 1500 words last week. Not exactly NaNoWriMo pace. I need apply the methods of NaNoWriMo and write in concentrated sprints, I think. I’ll try that this week.

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: February Week 3

My primary goal this week was to brainstorm new scenes to add to “Outcast,” book #2 in my series, based on early feedback. There are 2 main areas of the story that I’m going to add more to in some way, and one of those areas is one I’ve focused on in freewriting a lot over the last few years. So I have several scenes in mind that would work well in this story, with some revision.

While searching for some of these scenes, past-me reached out and slapped present-me in the face. I do my best to keep my writing practice all in one place. I may write it in various different notebooks at first, but I try to make sure I type everything into the computer and keep it all in sub-folders of one main folder. But apparently I still fail at this sometimes. So I went looking through some of my notebooks for one scene I remembered writing (it wasn’t easy, because I have so many currently active ones, any one of which I may decide at the time is the best place for writing practice). When I found it, I also found something else…something revolutionary.

Apparently back in September, during the early part of the current draft of “Outcast,” knowing that I needed more words, I used my Writer Emergency Pack to try to generate some new ideas. I wrote ideas using two different cards, but had forgotten all about them. When I recently found what I’d written 5 months ago, I got really excited. The truth is, most of what I wrote wouldn’t generate a lot more words, but I already have enough new scenes in mind for that. I think. But these were some ideas that would strengthen certain parts of the story, and the series as a whole!

So with some new ideas, I knew that what was coming next was not going to be easy. I had to figure out how to fit all this new stuff in to an existing draft.  I had a really rough time wrapping my brain around how best to do that, and kept getting to my evening writing time late. So I put it off. I did very little for my writing for most of the week. Not nothing, just very little, and not what needed to be done.

So today, when some plans fell through, I found myself with a few hours of free time this afternoon/evening. And I decided that the best way to proceed was to break the story down to its basic parts (scenes) and just dig into it. And though normally I am able to do something like that on Scrivener, it just didn’t seem helpful today. So I made a spreadsheet with scene headers and printed them out, cut them apart, color-coded them based on the story arc they were for, and wrote out new ideas on other pieces of paper. And I spread them out over the table and moved them around until they made some sense.

scene break-down

I also remembered how much easier it can be to sort out the scenes in this story when I group them more by story arc, so that’s how I did it. I can’t really decide on the new order of scenes until the new scenes are written anyway, so this is good for now. I now have a new outline. After updating my Scrivener file for this story to reflect what I did with the papers, it’s going to be time to start writing new scenes (yay!!).

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: February Week 2

It was not the best week I’ve had, in regards to writing work. I took a few too many nights off, telling myself that I have plenty of time to do the work. And I got some critiques that concerned me a little. I haven’t built up that thick skin I’ve been told I need yet. I’m working on it, though, and I pushed past the negative feelings faster this time. My first reaction was to decide that this area of weakness that I already knew I had made my writing bad. And that it was going to take even more work than I expected to get book #2 (“Outcast”) ready to go.

But with a little bit of time and thinking, I remembered my decision to fully trust God with this whole endeavor. That doesn’t mean I’m not still going to try to strengthen this area of my writing, but it means I don’t have to let it cause a lot of stress or, most importantly, depression that would lead me to not want to work on my writing.

So last week, while waiting for a couple of people to read “Outcast,” I worked enough on book #3 (Pursuit of Power) to reaffirm that it’s a huge mess. I’ve done some preliminary work on it, and will get back to it later.

For now, I have had enough early feedback on “Outcast” to go back to it and start outlining new scenes to add to the existing story, after which I’ll be spending some time writing (which I enjoy way more than revising, so it should be fun).

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).