Tag Archives: rough drafts

Writing

Success: Sam actually sleeps a few hours each day! haha. So I’m still exhausted, but finding some time to read and to write (and eat and nap and maybe even take a hot shower once in a while).

Blogs are one of the many things I’ve been trying to catch up on–both writing my own and reading some of my favorites. I love to read blogs written by authors, about their writing process, upcoming projects, and the quirky details of their lives. Neil Gaiman is always a good go-to, and I find Kristin Cashore and Jane Lindskold’s fascinating, too.

But Laini Taylor and Sarah J. Maas have been the most inspirational to me lately.

Laini Taylor has a blog post where she writes about her editing process: that she’s never been good at the fast, NaNoWriMo-style drafts and instead writes slowly, trying her best to get it right the first time.

Sarah J. Maas’ was not actually a blog post, I’m just remembering. My taking-care-of-a-newborn brain is always scattered. She recently gave a talk through Facebook Live at her alma mater, Hamilton College, and discussed how she needs to write every day, needs to always be working on a project, because writing is like a muscle that needs exercise. If one gets out of the habit, the muscle atrophies enough to make it that much harder to jump back into an effective rhythm.  And I will take any advice she gives, because she is one of the most prolific writers I can think of, with spectacular fantasy books!

All that to say: I think I need to back away from my NaNoWriMo-style writing for a bit and see what that does for this draft. Write slowly, write the scenes in chronological order, making it feel right before moving on, and making the commitment to write every day.

Furthermore, I think I need to stop thinking in terms of numbers, of giving myself high-pressure stakes. It can make the process too intimidating. I’m not in a period of life where I need any additional pressure or intimidation; I have to keep an infant alive, and attempt to get food and sleep myself once in a while, and keep my house relatively clean and running, and somehow face the impending return to work and all of the responsibilities that teaching high school English involves. Writing needs to be one of my bright spots, and that means being something fun to look forward to.

So my current goal revolves around just… writing. Plain and simple. If I write something every day, then I’ve succeeded. Sometimes that will mean working on my novel, but even on the days like yesterday when I only fit in 300 words, that’s fine. That counts. Some days that means working on a blog draft (this one blog has stretched over two days, so even though I didn’t have two posts in a day, I did some writing both days!) and that counts too. I don’t know yet if I’m going to count journaling in here… but for now, let’s say yes, if I find time to write in my handwritten journal, that was better than nothing.

As far as novel writing/editing, I currently have a thorough outline, and “progress” now means slowly but surely checking off each bullet point (which is a scene, basically) as it’s written. I’m not going to keep track of my word count throughout. Too often, I think I hit a mental roadblock of thinking that I need to get to about 80,000 words to be marketable, and sometimes start to write filler scenes or blab on and on about unimportant details just to fill up space. Not good–and all stuff an editor would probably say to cut anyway, ruining the point of the word count. So I’m sticking to the outline and trying to make sure it’s all action-oriented and moving the story forward (of course). At the end, we’ll see what the word count is like… if it’s suffered, well, at least the story will be tight. A beta reader can help me figure out where things ACTUALLY need to be fleshed out.

I don’t know how much this post makes sense to people who are outside of my head (that’s most of you. haha) but it can serve as a reminder and promise to myself of my current writing goals. I’m excited! Some of this motivation has been helped along by Gabriela Pereira’s “DIY MFA,” which I’ve been reading in the times I can steal during Sam’s naps that aren’t devoted to writing or eating. I just found out that she’s doing two talks (and workshops) in southern California this week, and I can make it to the Tuesday one! Will try to report back… :)

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Camp NaNoWriMo Summer 2015: Final Update

I finished the terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad, 60,139-word first draft of my novel for the summer. Phew! I can rest knowing that I accomplished what I needed to this summer to head into the next school year with more confidence. Am I pleased with this draft? Obviously not. Hahaha. I tried to be a “pantser” instead of a “plotter” this time around. I opened a billion folders in Scrivener and just wrote scenes, trying to keep things fast-paced and action-filled. If I got bored, I went to a new scene. I realized new characters were necessary at certain points and added them in, fully aware that their introduction was in no way satisfactory. I changed the climax and end-point of the novel multiple times as the story grew more in-depth. 

So it doesn’t look pretty. I tried to string the resulting scenes all together, but that’s going to take a lot more work at a later time–it’s not just sticking on band aids that’s required, it’s a full plastic surgery so this sucker doesn’t look like Frankenstein’s monster anymore. It’s exciting and terrifying, as it should be. 

But that is a project for a different time. What I did achieve was psyching myself up for the very necessary bloody revision of “Copper,” the story that keeps evolving every time I think it’s done. We still haven’t found out what grades we’ll be teaching this year (which, depending on how many new grades I get, will affect how much time I can devote to writing), so I don’t know if I can finish that before the end of 2015. Twitter recently held the MSWL event, where agents describe their manuscript wish lists. A few hit some key points of Copper. I think a fighting chance is still out there. But how soon?! I want it to be soon! 

Arg. 

For now, I am celebrating my hard work–and my husband’s week of vacation–with a spontaneous road trip to Napa and San Francisco. We are driving now, and things were perfect until I started to write this… at which point my husband ran over a massive tire tread, which ripped off part of the bumper. When he went out to try to fix things, he scraped up his hands on the asphalt (we don’t have a first aid kit in this car!! Bad travelers) aaaaand ripped open his pants. Not an auspicious beginning. So, if you’re a praying type, please pray that things look up! He doesn’t like traveling in the first place, and I’ve worked hard to try to cultivate an adventurous spirit in him since that’s important to me. I want this to be a fun memory-making trip for our marriage, not a lousy one he only remembers for the crappy first leg of the road. :( We’re on the lookout for a Wal-Mart or Target to grab band-aids, duct tape, and new pants. 

What an adventure, right? 

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