We’re back to writing at ROW80. Right now, I’m not actually writing a lot, at least not story writing. I’m doing character building work right now, mostly from Holly Lisle’s character clinic, but also from a few other sources I’ve gathered over my years of obessively collecting articles and books on writing.
I’m about a third of the way through the book/class, and I’m really liking the work I’ve been doing. I like the questions she uses and the methods, but the best part has been that as I’m reading it’s been sparking ideas for my characters. I realized my characters are younger than I thought, and I know what’s important to them and why, and I know enough about their personalities to know where they’ll clash. And all of this has sparked ideas for additions and changes I want to make when I dive into my rewrites.
I’ve decided that I’m going to at least read Holly Lisle’s plot clinic before I start those rewrites. I’m getting so much out of the character work that I feel like the plot information might spark even more good ideas for the story.
I was kind of worried in December that my story was too shallow and really didn’t have anything to grab hold of and work with, but that’s starting to change. Looking forward to more ideas that will help me shape it into something readable.
It’s time for 2018 Round 1 of ROW80–it starts tomorrow. That means it’s time for a goals post. Which is almost the same as goal post, which is very sportsy and makes me want to cheer. So, GOALS!
Honestly, I’m not 100% sure what my goals are because I don’t know how long some of them are going to take. This round will take us into March. I know by then I’ll be working on revisions, but I don’t know exactly when I’ll be starting on that. I just know that it will be sometime this round, and that’s probably good enough, at least for the moment.
My first goal is to work through Holly Lisle’s Create a Character Clinic. I’ve been doing a little bit of character work during the break, but I want to get a clearer picture of my people and really get to know them so I can get their personalities to come out better in the story. I’m going to work on this 4 or 5 days a week, at least 15 minutes or 300 words worth of work (depending on what the tasks are).
After I’ve worked through the characters clinic, I’m going to start revisions. I don’t know what steps I’m going to use for this yet. I have some articles to read through with tips on how to revise, so hopefully I’ll have a plan by the time I get there.
Those are my writing goals right now. I am reminding myself that I don’t need more. This is enough. This will move me forward, and that’s what I’m aiming for. So this is where I start.
I’m starting a new habit. I’m going to post writing goals on the first of each month. November’s are kind of easy.
- Win NaNoWriMo
- Keep up with Habitica NaNo challenge tasks
- Do crit group feedback and meeting
The hardest part will be the Habitica tasks. Two of them are daily tasks–meet the day’s word goal and update on the NaNo site. I don’t usually write every day, but I really want to win the challenge, so I’m going to do it. But it’s going to be a little bit odd for me. It *will* be nice to not need to do any marathon catch-up days.
Now, off I go to get those words started!
I’ve been playing the “what if?” game in my head a lot over the past couple of months as we finally closed on a house, renovated it, moved out of the old place. Not much time for writing, lots of time for thinking in there.
What I’m thinking is that it’s time for some changes. For the past handful of years I’ve been trying to build a coaching business. As always, I thought I had to do something else and have my writing on the side. But my writing has suffered for that idea, and I really don’t like it. I want to have my writing be my main focus. Yes, I have a day job. But after that I want the writing to be my big thing. I will probably still teach some classes and maybe still lead the writing retreat I’ve been dreaming up. But I want to be a writer first.
I don’t entirely know how this is going to look. I’m thinking about things like pen names and new websites. For now, I’m going to stick with this site and dive back into writing.
I’m taking a 14-week short story class that starts at the end of January. Then in late April, right as the long class wraps up, I’m taking a weekend-long short story intensive. And then I’m going to submit stories! In the long class, the final assignment is actually to write cover letters for our stories so we can send them out. This feels like a pretty good start to focusing on my writing.
I’m also planning on getting back to being a regular ROW80 participant. Round 1 of 2016 starts tomorrow. Here are my goals:
- Write at least three days a week
- Focus on story writing and description work (I tend to be sketchy on my descriptions, so I need more practice on that) more than on free writing
- Go to PDX Writers Saturday workshops at least once a month
- Post regularly for ROW80 and check in on other blogs
This feels like a pretty good list to get the year started, and I feel like these goals all blend well with the class work I’ll be doing. I’ll be back on Wednesday to check in.
I completely missed last week’s ROW80 check-in. I’m surprised I managed to get to this today since Monday was a holiday so I keep forgetting what day it is this week.
I have loads of things going on (that whole buying a house thing really is like another job!), so I haven’t done as much as I wanted to recently with my story. But I have made progress.
Last week I was ready to give it up. I’m pretty much done with the read-through, and the verdict was not good. I had lots of good writing but not much of a story. I had no real motivation for my protagonist or my antagonist. And the big finale I was leading up to? No real reason for it, not a big enough reason to make it necessary at any rate.
This was really disappointing because this story was the one I’d been holding in the back of my mind as the one, my really good story idea that was going to be really worth going back to and finishing. And then it turned out to not be what I thought it was all this time.
I gave myself most of a week off to daydream and ponder and see if I could figure out how to make this into a viable story. Not much came of it. Then Saturday I was at my monthly knitting circle (I have the best knitting circle–Ph.D.s and academics and writers–we have the best conversations!). Talk turned to writing, and I talked about my problem with my story. Not much progress was made, but it was good to talk about it. One proposed solution really didn’t work for me, but at least it was something to toy with. I left still thinking I didn’t have much of a real story to work with. Then on the ride home my answer came.
It does mean scrapping most of what’s happened in the story so far, but if I do this then it will actually be a story and not just a bunch of pages of interesting locations and dialogue and a few explosions.
Next step: planning and outlining. I kind of want to get this done by the end of October so I can write the story for NaNoWriMo, but it looks like our closing date (if everything sorts out) is going to be mid-October. So I’m not sure this is a feasible goal. I’m going to call it a loose goal and go from there. At least I have a real story idea now, right?
So what’s up with your writing life? How’s everything going in your story? Hope you’re having a great writing time!
It’s ROW80 check-in time. I’m changing up how I do things to make it simpler for myself and more interesting and encouraging, at least for me. Instead of “I did this, didn’t do that, didn’t complete the other thing” I’m going to do reports on what I did during the week. In Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching we call it a Credit Report. This one is going to be specific to my writing, but it’s the same idea.
This week I got to the two-thirds point in my Blood of the Mist read-through. I also had some really good ideas for ways to make parts better and made notes about it (see those sticky notes poking out at the sides of my pages?) so I’ll remember what I wanted to do when I get back to the writing part.
I visited several ROW80 blogs and commented. I’m glad to be getting back into that. It’s too easy to let things slip away even when it’s something you want to be doing.
I also had a tiny epiphany. I realized that I overestimate how much I can get done in a week. That’s part of why I’m changing my check-in format. The goals of “get the read-through done by X date” were more stressful than useful because I wasn’t hitting the goals. And while some of that is due to my procrastination habit, it’s also because I do actually have other things I have to do every week, and doing my reading and note taking takes longer than I realized it would. So my goals now are to keep checking in on blogs and to make progress on the read-through every week (although the time-keeper in my does think I’ll be done by this time next week).
That’s this week in my writing world. What’s going on in your writing world?
It’s time for this week’s ROW80 check-in, and I’m just a little too tired to find a fancy image to go with my post. ROW80 logo to the rescue!
Luckily my writing week went better than my image finding. I’m not all the way through my read-through of Blood of the Mist–I’m never very good at figuring out how long something will take me. I’ve made a lot of progress and have some really good notes about story ideas.
I think the story is good, too! I think. I can’t really tell. I’m enjoying reading it after several years away from it, but to be completely honest I don’t know if I’m enjoying it because it’s good or because I really love this kind of story. Is it good? Maybe yes, maybe no. I know I’m liking it and feeling excited to move forward with it, and that’s the important part right now.
For the coming week I’m going to make a push to really finish this read-through and at least get started on scene notes. I’m also going to do better at checking in on blogs because I completely failed at that this week.
I did one other big writing thing this week. I signed up for a writing retreat in October! I have always wanted to go to a writing retreat, and an opportunity opened up last night for a retreat not too far from home that I found out about after it was already full. A group had to cancel, and suddenly there were open spots, so I snagged one. I am so excited! I am practically counting the days.
What’s going on in your writing life? I hope you’re having a great writing week! Drop me a note and let me know.
See you next time!
I got busy (again) and fell away from ROW80 (again). But I’m back (again).
In the Round 3 goals-setting post (linked above), Kait made some great points about habits that help and habits that hinder. I looked at my own habits and can clearly see where I stumble every time:
- I procrastinate and do my writing and my blog posts at the last minute
- I’m inconsistent in how often I write
- I don’t make plans for when and what I’m going to write to help counteract the previous two bad habits
Things that generally help me get my writing on track:
- Setting smaller goals that focus on frequency of writing rather than word count (unless it’s NaNoWriMo, then that flies out the door)
- Scheduling when I’m going to write (loosely, like “Thursday afternoon before leaving work)
With all of that in mind, here are my goals for this round:
- Write fiction three days a week
- Post at least one ROW80 check-in weekly
- Comment on at least five ROW80 blogs each week
That’s it. I want to write regularly, and I want to get back to being active in the community. These are simple and straightforward and should get me what I’m after.
How about you? What are you writing? Are you doing ROW80? Let me know what’s going in your writing life so we can encourage each other.
Can you believe I was thinking that?
I didn’t write this week. I had a couple of things going on that changed my normal schedule, and it threw me off track. So then I wasn’t going to do a ROW80 post this week because I have nothing to report, and really it’s kind of embarrassing to admit that the first week out of the gate, the first week when I was going to actually be putting words on paper for a story, I did nothing (well, no actual writing of story, but I did change a few things that made my plan for my opening scene much better I think).
But not posting when I’ve had a bad week is a bad idea. So, here’s my “nothing to report” report.
Back on the horse. Cutting out the weekly word count goal right now until I re-establish a regular writing routine. That’s my plan for this week. Write three times, even if it’s one sentence each time. Just write something.
Do you have a plan for the week? Let’s be in this together!
I’m just going to do a quick ROW80 check-in because I’ve been super busy for over a week, and I’m not done yet. I’ve been super productive, too, so it’s all pretty good. I haven’t been just running around doing busy work and not accomplishing anything. I didn’t get as much of the novel planning done as I had hoped, but I am still determined that I am starting to actually write the story this week.
This is what I’ve done writing-wise to get things going so I can actually finish someday:
- Decided on a weekly word count goal–5,000 words/week broken into three sessions
- Set up a word count meter (over there to the left) for Inheritance
- Figured out a problem with my antagonist that makes what she does make so much more sense
- Created a writing schedule (Wednesday and Thursday nights and one floating day to reach my 5K)
- Came up with a decent logline which always seems to help me focus on my story and really get it moving
I set a preliminary goal of 80,000 words for Inheritance because that seems like a good starting point. It’s a genre novel, paranormal/horror at that, and I’ve read that those are expected to be a little bit on the short side. 80K may not be right. It may end up longer. But I figure it’s a good number to aim for starting out. At 5K words/week it will take about 4 months to get a first draft written. I want to have a full draft written and at least the first chapters through one revision by the end of July because I want to take it to the Willamette Writer’s Conference in August and pitch to an agent. I don’t expect this one to be my groundbreaking first novel, or necessarily even my first published novel. What I do want is to start practicing some of the submission process so I have a feel for it so I can guide my writing clients through it better. And, although I know this isn’t true, I’ll feel more like a writer if I’m submitting at least now and then.
So that’s where I am now. Next week you’ll see progress on that shiny new word meter, and maybe I’ll have a little more time to do a fuller post. I hope the writing is going well for everyone!