January 2010 Wordcount Goal: 73,000

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Feb BIW Day 7 One challenge ends and another begins

This has been a challenging week for me to produce pages for the novel. I'm definitely further ahead than I was at the start of the February Book-in-a-Week. If I look at my overall productivity, this was a very busy, busy week. So I can't complain much.

With the end of one challenge, it's time to prepare for the next and spend the in-between time capturing more words on the page. I'm still working on the habit of getting words down before the day begins. Now that is a challenge. But it's worth doing because I have a lot of distractions popping up during the day. By the evening my brain doesn't have much fuel left to write. My goal for the remaining month is to wake up early, before the dogs begin their morning rituals and the day's demands start, and write--and to do this 21+ days in a row.

Guess I'm setting up for the March BIW. Hope you'll join me. If you're interested in BIW, go ahead and register and get everything set up ahead of time. It'll make things easier when the first week rolls around.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Feb BIW Day 2 Shamed into wordcount

Okay, this morning I wrote 3.5 pages. That's terrific, even amazing, compared to last month's efforts. The question is why? Well, I could come up with a lot of esoteric stuff about my recalcitrant muse and the many teasers I laid out but I don't think that had anything to do with it. I think I was shamed into it. 

Last month I forgot to submit my totals for the January BIW so I didn't even get to the starting gate. (BIW happens the first week of the month.) I floundered along all during Janowrimo but never really got anywhere other than morning posts here. So for February's commitment I signed up for the February BIW. I submitted my goal of 20 pages for the week. I woke up yesterday and couldn't shake the work I was doing on a different project so I never got around to writing on the novel. This morning I had to submit my page count to BIW. I had to send an email with a zero in the header. Shame! Immediately after I picked up my notebook and hand wrote 3.5 pages with a scene coming together as I wrote. No matter the reason, I'm glad it happened--and I don't have to send in another zero at the end of the day. Hurrah!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Janowrimo 2010: Day 30 New writing goals

Okay, so January hasn't worked out quite the way I had hoped. No 20,000 words to add to my overall wordcount. Not even close. But I'm not going to cry about it. Instead a new month is in the offing and with it new days waiting to be filled with words.

My February wordcount goal is 25,000 words. To that end, I've signed up for the Book-in-Week challenge and set a goal of 20 pages for the first week. BIW considers 250 words a page so meeting my goal would be a good start of 5,000 words toward the total. Why not join me in a February wordcount marathon? I could use the company. Leave a comment telling us your monthly wordcount goal and the name and/or type of project. Love to have some more company as I try to blast through this obstacle course thwarting me every day.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Janowrimo 2010: Day 26 Every work is an opportunity

Writing is a marvelous occupation to embrace because it's lifelong learning. It doesn't matter whether you've won a Pulitzer, a Nobel for literature, or any other award. There is always something new to learn, always something different to try. Each novel or nonfiction book comes with its own set of challenges. The beauty of writing is that you can even choose the set of challenges you want to tackle. There are so many parts that make up a good book that a lifetime can be spent mastering the subject. 

I have a lot of challenges within the pages of my current project. It's hard enough to capture the vision and wrestle it to paper, but then there's all those small opportunities to take things to another level that I've planned or that suddenly present themselves for yet another "opportunity." I've set a very high bar this time and there are days when I wonder if I can even jump the first hurdle let alone the one after and the one after and the one after. It can be daunting. But then I remember that even if fail to reach perfection, my work will be so much better simply for having tried. How about you? Do you find that you work in challenges when you envision your books?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Janowrimo 2010: Day 25 Project notebook remains invaluable

Even before I considered myself a real writer I wrote in journals. The value of journal writing on the body and the mind has been known for a number of years but for writers they are as much a part of the writer's toolbox as pens, paper, keyboards and computers. The most common form of journaling is that of the daily chronicle. These journalers capture daily events, moments in time, or their emotional landscapes. With writers, their entries often include their relationships with their muse, their efforts, battles, and scars from facing the blank page. 

Years ago I stumbled on the concept of the project journal and found it to be invaluable. Mystery writer Sue Grafton's website details her use of journals when writing her bestselling novel series. Over the years I have developed my own version of the project journal and the one for my current novel is a constant wellspring of information and inspiration. Each writing day I open two files. One is for the work to be done that day and the other is the project journal. What follows is a synergistic interplay between the actual writing and the additional inspired thoughts. This type of dedicated journaling is as important to me as my actual writing and helps me in more ways than I can say. What about you? Do you maintain a project journal? 

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Janowrimo 2010: Day 24 Can't write? Write-a-Thon!

Okay, obviously this was an abysmal week when it comes to wordcount. I have to make it up today. Over at Scribblerati Lia Keyes has started a weekly Sunday Write-a-thon that runs from noon to midnight Pacific time. It's a loosely run gathering of writers who, every Sunday, participate in the marathon writing. Do you have to go the distance? That's the ideal but not necessary to participate. Even if it's for a half hour or an hour, you're further ahead than when you started. The format is similar to word wars in that you write for an hour and then meet up on Scribblerati and chat a bit before you plunge back into the writing. Checking in to chat is optional. You can keep that writing engine on track and keep going until you reach the end. It's a friendly, informal gathering of writers who, for one day, have the same goal at the same time and are there in spirit and online to urge one another along. Check out Scribblerati today or any day. There's plenty to see.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Janowrimo 2010: Day 21 The lure of Flow

What is the holy grail for writers? Is it the tease of a million dollar contract? Maybe it's the vision of booksignings and lines of readers waiting for that one moment when their books are signed. Writers have any number of reasons why they pursue their stories and struggle to throw them down on the page, but for many it's the illusive state of "flow." Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who wrote the classic work FLOW: The Psychology Experience of Optimal Experience, defined flow as the state where people experience "the suspension of time" and "complete absorption."

That is what I'm seeking when I talk about reconnecting with my story's world and with the characters. Every time I've gained that state exciting things have happened on the page. Dialogue sharpens, characters come alive, and the world I'm watching becomes the world I'm in. I last achieved flow in December 2008 during my 53K word marathon and it came late in the game. I want it again.   

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Janowrimo 2010: Day 20 Taking control of the day

Lately I've had to face the fact that I'm not taking control of my day in the way that I should. When I was working productivity came easy. There were a small number of hours available during the week when I could scratch out a scene or edit a chapter. It sharpened my focus. Now I'm faced with a different set of tasks, goals, and responsibilities while, at the same time, managing more available hours. You'd think it would be easy to find the time and the words. Instead I've realized that I've become more reactive, responding to the events of the day, rather than proactive and resolute to work my plan.

So today I'm going to take a lead from my earlier post this week and make time to write and do so at a different location. A change of scenery might be what my brain needs to make new connections. There's still plenty of time to reach my monthly goal.  

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Janowrimo 2010: Day 19 Distractions gain the upper hand

Yesterday proved to be a busy day, one too busy to carve time to write. Why? Distractions. I thought about going out to write but finally opted to go to the gym and do an hour of laps to reduce my stress. Unfortunately it's been months since I did any exercise so I returned tired and actually fell asleep in the chair. No writing accomplished.

Today is focused on two other realms that make up high priorities for this year: dog training, and health. It'll be late in the afternoon before I make it back home. So I don't think much writing will be accomplished. I seem to be locked in a real struggle right now and so far my writing self is losing.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Janowrimo 2010: Day 18 Good intentions aren't enough

I woke up yesterday and infused the day with good intentions. I wrote a small amount while still in bed before I even put my feet on the floor. I planned to participate in Scribblerati's Sunday Write-A-Thon, even showed up. But my brain wouldn't connect the words, let alone the plot, and my good intentions dribbled away.

Intentions without actions are like that. They're nice to have but when they lack the strong girding of a plan they fade as quickly as they appear. I didn't take the steps I should have to make sure my intentions became actualities. I had no focus. I allowed distractions to overtake my initial morning enthusiasm. In the end I didn't glue my butt to the chair and make it happen.

How about you? Have you had good intentions this January only to find the days frittering away? What do you do in response to a good intention gone bad?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Janowrimo 2010: Day 17 A change of scenery?

Writing pales when the day is gorgeous, Sunday, and has a bright sun beckoning. I did try to do some writing when I first woke up this morning and accomplished just under two pages but I sure wouldn't show them to anyone. The words didn't click, the hand moved in spurts, the thoughts refused to come together. Not a pretty thing at all and It's left me with a bad case of the blahs. I suppose it doesn't help that bright sun flashes its come-on enticing me outside. Perhaps a change of scenery would do me good. It's been nearly a week of sitting at the computer with the curtains parted only to reveal dismal wet rain.

The more I think about going outside the more I reflect on how my environment impacts my writing. Maybe that's what I need to do this week. In addition to the daily 100/100 early morning writing gig, maybe a new writing place is in order. Maybe it will stimulate my brain and kick it into cooperation. Panera seems to be the hot writerly place nowadays but I may include a trip to a local Borders, too. And La Madeleine remains my favorite public writing spot. Until then the dogs and I will play in the sun, then I'll join in on the Scribblerati's Sunday afternoon write-a-thon.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Janowrimo Day 16 Working the numbers

Wow, we're past the halfway mark for the month and I have a huge amount of writing to do to meet my January wordcount goal of 20,000. The good news is that I have more than 1700 words. The bad news is that I still have 18,248 to go. All hope is not lost, though, because January is a 31-day month. With 16 days left, including today, if I average 1,141 words daily I'll make it.

From the numbers I might conclude that this hasn't been a very successful effort; however, wordcount alone does not make up the life of a writer. The first thing I had to do was reconnect with my characters and my story. That is definitely happening and getting better every day. I attribute that to making the daily effort early in the morning to get something on the page before the hours mount and distractions and events claim my time. Now I need to extend that effort to longer and/or more writing daily writing time. I'm open to tricks, tips, and strategies.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Janowrimo Day 13 Didn't write? Forget about it.

Confession time: Nothing yesterday. But I decided not to beat myself up over the missed writing. It was a chaotic day and I had to be gone for most of it so I never did return to the computer or the notebook. This morning I immediately forgot about the missed opportunity of yesterday and picked up the notebook and wrote about two pages before my day began its official start. I feel great and my efforts to reconnect with my story are once again strengthened.

We're 13 days into January 2010. How's the whole writing thing going for you? I love hearing your updates. Christine has jumped into the Janowrimo fray and set a 30,000 word goal for the month. My goal is 20,000. What do you think is a reasonable monthly wordcount for you?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Janowrimo 2010: Day 11 Writing in a new location

I've realized recently that I needed to change the time and location of my writing time. The flow of my present days have made it difficult to be consistent and have played havoc with my ability to reconnect and go even deeper into my story's universe. After thinking about it for several days and observing how the days have gone this past week, I decided that upon waking I will begin the day writing. My goal is nominal with a minimum goal of 100 words but absolutely happy to write more. The location is not my office but my bedroom. It seems to be working. At least I know I've got those words out of the way even if the day eats up any other writing time.

What I'm trying to do is reinstitute the habit of writing daily. Until recent years accomplishing that seemingly simple task was easy. For nearly 30 years I was able to write productively. Things changed several years ago when, as an only child, the care for my 90+ year old parents began. A lot of stress piled up quickly and continues nonstop. Two years ago my health went on a major decline to the point where, for the first time ever, writing was not my main goal or resolution. My health claimed that position. It's been a long road but I'm now at a point where I can once again put writing back in its original place. But the tethered connection to the story has been lost, the well went dry, and the words receded. With the turning of the year I embarked on a journey to reclaim it all. I'm happy that my simple, easy, and non-threatening steps are working.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Janowrimo 2010: Day 3 Reconnecting with the story

I spent New Years Eve reconnecting with my main two characters and with a new setting I visited a few months ago. While I didn't do any formal writing that would provide manuscript wordcount, I did write about a scene that came to me during my visit.

I often write about my story and characters as much as I write the actual manuscript pages. My ongoing project diary was inspired by Sue Grafton's project journals. It's a way for me to create and feed a dialogue within and without as I write. The process often pushes me to write more and definitely helps me connect and stay within the story's universe.

I'm participating in JaNoWrimo and signed up for the Book in a Week that starts tomorrow. Between the two I look forward to pushing the wordcount even higher.

New Year's Day was devoted to my 2010 5-year goal and action plan. That took most of the day but I've always found it helpful to take the time to work out immediate and far-reaching goals. Having an immediate action plan with linked goals has, in the past, helped me to take those baby steps every day that eventually get me to the finish line. So what do you do? Any tips or tricks you'd like to share?

Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year breathes new promise into Whirlpool writing goals

Okay, we're nearly done with 2009 and it's time to turn our thoughts to the new year. Cast away the old year's unfulfilled goals, ambitions, intentions and embrace a new vision for 2010. I admit, for the first time in decades, last year I began the year wtih my focus on something other than writing: my health. By any assessment, I met my goals and my health is way better than this time last year. So now it's time to return to my novel and slip into its universe and begin anew. My goal for 2010 is to finish the first draft of Whirlpool. January's goal is to write 20,000 more words and reach the 73K mark.

There are several sites that have picked up where Nanowrimo left off. For the truly ambitious, try BOOK-IN-A-WEEK. This is an on-going monthly gathering that will inspire you to go the distance. There are two JaNoWriMos. I've already signed up with JaNoWriMo 2010 but I may go ahead and sign up with the Live Journal's January Novel Writing Month, too. Any or all of those are bound to inspire you and give you that added incentive to hit the keyboard in 2010. Drop me a note and let me know your plans.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Nanowrimo 2009 The End: Admitting defeat so the phoenix can rise again

This year proved to be a giant bust for me when it came to Nanowrimo. It began full of promise with me loaded to the gills with enthusiasm, orchestrated plans, and a network of fellow wrimos to urge me on. I even had a side bet with a friend. The truth is I stumbled right out of the starting gate. Within 24 hours some kind of nasty virus invaded my body and took me down for two weeks. I don't think I ever recovered from that physical blow despite the best of intentions. So Nanowrimo 2009 became a huge disappointment. But I'm not down forever. There's always next year's competition and all the days in between. I still love all the energy and excitement Nanowrimo brings and may even look for one of the other monthly competitions to fire things up a bit. Perhaps I'll expand the coverage in this blog should I stumble across one....

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Nanowrimo 2009: Day 24 A month of empty promises

Alas, November is nearly gone and the words have yet to arrive. The past two weeks have been swept up in swirl of emotions and activity that kept me far away from my fictional world and firmly implanted in the stark reality of this one. My mom feel about 10 days ago--she's 94, you know, so falling is not a good thing--and there was that. Then she apparently suffered a minor stroke toward the end of last week that left me eyeing her like a hawk non-stop in search of symptoms and any possible progression. I'm thankful that she tonight she is acting and sounding like herself and whatever has been going on has now retreated. But I find that I now realize it's the 24th of November and I've lost yet another 10-14 days. Sigh. Still hope springs....

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Nanowrimo 2009: Day 18 Getting back into story

Eighteen days into this year's Nanowrimo I find myself having to remotivate and rediscover myself and my story. I spent 10 days with a nasty contagious virus that put me flat in bed and unable to even think coherently let alone write. My desk is littered with piles of junk mail, magazines, and unopened bills. My task list is toppling over from its weight. I have to find a way to bypass that environmental and daily life stress and get back into the character and the book.

I spent some time trying to clear the decks a bit and then had a mini-crisis with my mom this last weekend so in the tradition of most writer's lives, it got in the way. Today is a new day and another opportunity to still get some Nano writing in so I'm going to start small. I plan on one paragraph a day and will be thrilled if it moves into more. How about you? Are you doing a two-step with issues, clutter, tasks, and guilt?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Nanowrimo Day 11 2009: What's in my writer's bag?

Writers are known for their book bags, stacks of books, and satchel of tricks. Did I say "tricks?" Yep. Anyone who writes long enough will develop a repertoire of rituals, strategies, and, well, tricks. Rituals create mood, bolster intention, help a writer slip into their productive writing state. Strategies provide roadmaps, promptings, guidelines to keep the mind and the imagination focused on the work at hand. Tricks? They are for a writer's bad self. That part of the mind that is that childish imp who refuses to play, who won't follow the bread crumb trail, who hides the attic intent on doing what it wants to do. And all you thought you needed to do was sit down and write....

My bad self is having a hey day today. Yesterday it muttered and kicked and slapped stacks of paper around telling itself it was totally committed to writing but all the while sought out distractions and kept the goal just out of reach. Today I fear I must resort to tricks. (I have many because my mind is quite diverse in its ways to outwit me.) I have index cards with scenes and moments waiting to be captured. I have a scene template to use to corral my wild thoughts and emotions in order to pour them into the waiting scene bucket. Whether it will be those or some other well-worn tricks, I am intent on gaining entry into my story world once again.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Nano 2009: Late start is better than no start

Wouldn't you know, just as the 2009 Nanowrimo clock begins a nasty virus takes hold and starts up its own ticking bomb. I've lost ten days already in this year's endeavor. That's a huge hit and there's no way you can truly avoid the reality of lost hours and lack of production. Does it mean it's time to chuck Nano 2009 and wait until next year? Of course not.

The nasty bug not only kicked me into bed but it also crashed all hope of attending Donald Maass's Fire in Fiction workshop in Seattle and a big opportunity to hole away and concentrate solely on my writing. I'd been planning and anticipating the trip for months. It's one of those disappointments that takes root and feeds the feelings of missed opportunities and plans gone awry. The good news is that I'm well enough to have those feelings and appreciate them. The bad news is the same.

What to do? There's not much else you can do other than start up the computer, create a quick game plan for the day, and hit the keyboard running. So once I work my way through the mountain range of bills and junk mail and pay said bills, I'll be turning my attention back to writing--again.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Countdown to Nano 2009: Day 2 (Clearing the decks)

Well, technically it's 38 hours and 43 minutes until the mad white-hot writing begins. Planning should be on the downward slide and time left now will concentrate on preparing the writing environment. Clear the desks, get the files containing the daily templates in place, and bring the index cards and scene notes to the table. Yesterday was consumed by a severe neck/back spasm leaving me with a severe headache to contend with all afternoon and evening. Muscle relaxer and pain pills helped. Hoping they finish the spasm off today so my head is clear and my neck and upper back are relaxed and ready for the butt-in-chair approach to story engine dynamics. How about you? Are you ready for Sunday and Nanowrimo 2009?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Countdown to Nano 2009: Day 4 (Side Wagers)

Well, yesterday is no way to greet the advent of Nanowrimo. Wordcount? Zip. Nada. Nuttin'. By the time I got back from a day of errands I didn't much feel like tackling the keyboard. I'll be out today but I really need to buckle down and go for even a very small amount of words. The one thing I did do is take on a wee bit of a side wager with a fellow scribbler Lia Keyes over at Scribblerati, We both have about the same aim in wordcount and similar goals. While Lia is offering a $100 Amazon gift certificate for the Scribbler who manages the highest wordcount, she and I will be throwing down the gauntlet daily as we march toward the finish line. If you want a little extra boost, you might try a little wager with a friend yourself.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Countdown to Nano 09: Day 5 (Stretching the imagination)

Okay, so I thought I'd try and do a little writing every day to stretch the old imagination. I managed to eke out two paragraphs with 197 words. Dismal. Dismal production and pretty dismal content. I'm going to have to do better than that if I want to get excited. Today's production is nil...at the moment. I still have a little over an hour and a half to get a few words in but I can't say my brain is on fire with some dueling characters or atmospheric-ridden prose. Enough kvetching for today. Time to rescrew my head and gin up a better attitude. I hope the rest of the nanobots are having a better time of it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Countdown to Nano 09: Day 6 (Prep work)

With less than one week before the 2009 Nanowrimo writeathon begins, it's time to get serious about prep work. Plenty of writers I know are busy testing out a storyline with character studies and preliminary outlines. They tend to be the writers with Nano history. Some new writers to the Nano experience are getting cold feet now that their first gust of excitement has passed. Others are dithering over which story to tell or whether they have a good enough plotline to go the distance. Me? After a flurry of excitement updating my Nano account and announcing my attention, I sort of drifted into riding a soft, lapping wave of anticipation--no real production. But the time has come when perhaps I need to think about doing some writing scales to nimble up the fingers. Maybe a simple, non-threatening goal of a page a day would suffice. What are you doing to prepare for Nano this year?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Start your engines for Nanowrimo 2009

Do you hear the increased clicking as writers around the world begin preparations for their 2009 quest to make Nanowrimo history? October 1st writers, new and returnees, registered for the 2009 50K wordcount marathon that will consume them daily all the month of November.

I'm a regular NaNowrimo participant, although last year I missed the annual fun. Instead I did my personal Nanowrimo in December and ended the month with a grand total of 53,000 words. It was a great month. I've already signed up for 2009 and am ankle-deep in Nano preparations. What about you? Are you ready?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Another day, another bunch of words

Okay, posted my wordcount for Day 2: 1189. Worked on the same scene as yesterday. I also spent quite a bit of time working on the scene's dynamics and am pretty pleased with the results. There's still more to do but the great thing is this is a brand new scene that I hadn't realized before. I also have a new character, too. So I can already tell the difference from having a concentrated focus on this scene.

NaNoWriMo Begins

Okay, I actually completed the first day AND posted my wordcount: 590. I know, it's not that much but it is a start. I had to deal with a lot of unanticipated distractions, and as you know, as soon as you announce to the world your intention the world responds back with a whack of negativity to test your commitment. So I feel pretty good that I actually did follow through yesterday.

One thing I did yesterday was to revise a scene storyboard technique I learned from Robert Ray's Weekend Writer. Over the years I found a few things that intensify the focus of my first draft and included them. My template is a tool I use to drop me into the scene. By the time I've finished filling it out, I usually am hearing dialogue, hearing movement, and entering deeper into the novel. Once the inital blast of energy is over I copy the actual scene content into a word file and off I go to finish the first draft. It generally works every time. Since I plan to use that process every day this month to move along, I wanted to upgrade it so I'm working off all the items from the beginning.

So how did your day go yesterday? Ready for today?

Drop by my blog at Down the Writer's Path and read my reviews on Blogcritics.org.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sharpen your pencils, power-up your laptops

If you haven't noticed we're two days away from the start of NaNoWriMo. It's time to define your strategy. When will you write? Are you a morning person? Maybe you're one who likes to hear the clatter of the keyboard late at night. Whatever your habit, clear your schedule and get ready now because in less than 48 hours your writing begins. At the very least you should have an idea of some kind about what you will write. :)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Welcome NaNoWriMo 2007 readers

Okay, we're about two weeks and counting before the big write-off. Once again I'm tossing my pencil in and readying my computer for the mad marathon starting November 1st. I hope you'll visit often, comment frequently, and offer your own thoughts on the writing process.

Drop by my blog at Down the Writer's Path and read my reviews on Blogcritics.org.