Going Camping

Somewhere in the midst of trying to do revisions, I realized my best choice is to do a second draft of my story. So I’m jumping in on Camp NaNoWriMo in April.

I’ve signed up a few times and even set up a project once, but I’ve never been part of a cabin, so I feel like I haven’t really done Camp. This time, though, my local writing group is having a cabin, and I’m going to be doing this with them. I think that’s going to make it a lot more fun.

So far, I have ideas for a few new scenes, and right now I’m working on making scene cards and fleshing out ideas for some of the scenes I want to keep that feel too scant. The rest of March will be for planning out the rewrite, then on April 1 I’ll start Draft 2. I

I’m aiming for 20,000 words for Camp, which should be pretty easy. I’ll probably be sticking with my usual method of writing 4 or 5 days a week rather than every day. The every day experiment was interesting, but it’s not by best way to work.  So, writing more days than not, nice easy goals. That should about cover it. Where are the marshmallows? I think I’m ready for camp!


Creative Cleaning


A shelf in my favorite bookcase, clear and waiting for me. My grandfather made this bookcase for my mother around the time I was born, and it has always been my space for my special and favorite books and things.

Cleaning has never been my forte. I avoid it. I ignore the need until things are so awful that I have to clean just to find my stuff. I may be changing my mind.

This past week, I participated in a Get Back to Creating challenge led by Jen Louden. Each of us picked a project to focus on for the week. Before we began, I thought I would work on my revisions or perhaps on a short story I have hanging around. Day One came along, and I found myself writing that I was going to work on organizing my studio. That wasn’t even what I meant to say! But I guess it was. The clutter and boxes still unpacked after two years and general chaos have been bringing me down more and more.

I wanted to back out after the first day, change my mind, quit the challenge. But Jen said to work on the same project. And it was for such a short amount of time! I was only doing one little section of the space each day. So I did it again. And again. And at the end of Day Five, Friday, there was a noticeable clear space. And yesterday and today I found myself doing a little bit more. And today, there’s even more noticeable clear space.

So what does this have to do with creativity and writing? Everything. By Thursday I was flooded with new ideas for my novel. On Friday, sitting in a 7th grade band class, I dreamed up an entire embroidery series in my head, and it was vivid and complete enough that I was able to write it down after class, and I’ve started working on the design. Today while I was emptying a box, an entire scene that really belongs in my novel popped into my head.

Does this mean clean space is required for creating? No. My space is far from clean. But it is getting cleaner and more organized. I think having spaces you’re comfortable in while working are important. But I think doing something physical also stirs the mind, especially in this instance where I was surrounded by my creative toys and supplies and touching them and moving them around. I also think that taking the next small step you can see and doing your best not to try to see what might come later lets things unfold and open up whereas trying to force yourself to figure out what’s going to happen further out closes things off. It’s too much pressure. The slow, small steps? No pressure.

I still don’t like cleaning. I haven’t changed my mind about that. But I’ve changed my mind about wanting to do it. I hope I can keep this going and move through my house and my novel creating things just how I want them. But for right now, at least I have one completely clean shelf waiting to be exactly what I want it to be.

Slowing Down

I am really enjoying reading Sandra Scofield’s The Last Draft. It feels positive and warm and makes me think I can really do this thing. And it led me to a lightbulb moment. While reading, I realized that I am always trying to rush through the new things I try. I try to grab the highlights and put them to use because I feel like I don’t have time to take things slowly and do them thoroughly.

This is something I’ve known, at least semi-consciously. But today for some reason it became clear and was suddenly right in my face. I need to slow down. I need to do this work with attention and awareness and no rushing. I need to do it like a nice slow stretch in the morning. I need to commit.

So, new goals for the next while. I’m going to actually do the exercises–all of the exercises–in The Last Draft. A little at a time. Actually writing them down in my novel notebook. I’m going to do this as fully as I can and see what I can do for my story. No more rushing. No more feeling like I don’t have enough time–all of these time limits and constraints are things I’ve put on myself. I will take the time it needs. I will see the experiment through to the end. Then I will take the parts that work best for me and move forward. But first I’m going to try all the parts.

Learning Curve

I am discovering that revision of a long piece is an entirely different creature than revising a short story or writing new words. And I have to give myself time to learn this and make mistakes and try again. So I’m throwing the idea of time schedules out the window for now. My goal is to work on this regularly, interspersed with days of doing writing practice so that I feel like I’m still getting writing done. Because this revision thing, while necessary for writing,does not feel to me like getting writing done.

I picked up a new book yesterday to help me learn this revision thing: The Last Draft by Sandra Scofield. My first impression is that the first section of the book, which is more than half the book, is more educational and less specific to working on a particular manuscript. Skimming through it at the bookstore I saw a lot in there that I think I can make use of, so I’m looking forward to digging in further.

That’s about it for the moment. I’m still plugging away at this revision and am determined to figure out how to do this with a long story. Looking forward to seeing what I learn from my new book–I’ll keep you posted.


Photo by Nic Low on Unsplash

I feel like I’m moving a bit. I’ve been doing a lot of writing practice and a lot of contemplating about my revisions, and I think I’m starting to see some story shapes. I still don’t quite know what I’m doing, but I don’t feel like I’m going to be stuck forever, so something must be shifting. I am going to proceed as I have been, although I’m going to make a push to read and review some of my resources this week to stir my ideas.

I’m also thinking of something possibly a little goofy. When I revise a short story, I just start retyping it. What if, when I finish marking off the scenes in the story, I just start retyping each one? I don’t know if that will make any of the deeper changes that I need, though. That might just tighten up the language and make it prettier. And while that’s not awful, that’s not all I need. Still, I’m thinking about this and wondering if it would be useful. We’ll see.


Lately things seem to be moving slowly, and sometimes not at all. Everything seems to be having glitches and setbacks and oddities. This post, for instance…this is take three because when I add the photo it messes up the alignment and puts all of the text above the image no matter what I do.

I almost didn’t write a post to check in for ROW80. I thought about just checking in on the Facebook page, but I haven’t posted here in a bit, so I really thought I should. And way past the time when the post should have been done, I am still fighting with my layout.

Writing is mostly writing practice and reading through downloads and things from classes I’ve taken, looking at books I have, stuff like that. I’m still trying to get a feel for how to approach a novel-length revision.

This is a lot different than a short story. I can hold an entire short story in my mind. Revisions involve making notes on the printed text and then retyping the story making changes as I go. Sometimes it just involves retyping because I can’t retype without changing things.

I’m not pushing myself to work on a schedule right now. I feel like I’m in a learning phase, so I’m just moseying along. I wish I didn’t keep hitting these weird sticky spots, though. I’d love it if things would just go smoothly, thank you very much and I hope there’s someone/thing out there listening!

Getting Started


A messy first draft

Starting the revision process in earnest. I have my manuscript (it sounds so official that way!), index cards, sticky notes, and pens. I’ve started by marking the beginning and end of each scene (an idea I had that was then reinforced by something I read from Martha Alderson). Next, completely from an idea from Martha Alderson, I’m going to give each scene a title and write each one on its own index card. After that, I’ll figure out my next best steps.

Last night I met with my writing group. They had really great ideas for resources to help me make my traps in the story scarier and more dangerous. Now as I’m going through the story I’ll be figuring out where I can use some of my new ideas. I think it’s progress. I think I have to remember to focus on the tasks at hand and wait until I’m there to start fretting about the next things.

Schedule Thoughts

Time for another ROW80 check-in already! This week has been a little slow for writing work because I had a lot of other things going on, but I’ve done some character journals and really feel like I finally know these people in my story. I’m trying not to be dismayed at how much I’m going to need to change to make them show up on the page now. At least I have solid characters to do that work with, right?

I’ve been reading the plotting book, too. One of the things I have always liked about Holly Lisle’s writing about writing is how it makes me feel like I can do this thing. She doesn’t act like if you follow certain steps things will be easy. She acknowledges that there will be plenty of hard parts, but she still makes it all sound so doable. I love that!

This week I’m going to finish at least reading through the rest of the character course. I want to see if anything else pops up for me from reading it. Right now I feel like I know enough about my characters to do a better job of telling their story. So I’m going to get my index cards and sticky notes ready, print out “Haunt” as it stands right now, and get ready for some revisions. Feeling almost ready for that now.

Almost Time

I’m still working through the Holly Lisle character book/class. I’ve started reading the plotting class, too. I am really liking the new ideas that are springing up!

I am having to remind myself that slow is fine and I don’t need to know all the changes and additions I need for my revisions right now. And I don’t have to do it all this week. My impatience is trying to make me feel like I’m not doing enough, but I am.

I’m getting a better feel for my characters and my story world. I’m getting interested in it again. And I’m right on schedule to start the actual revisions the weekend of the 20th. It’s a little sooner than the six weeks I’ve seen recommended, but I’ve also seen just one month recommended, and this will be just over a month. I feel like I’ll have enough distance from the story at that point.


Kicking Things Off

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.