January 2010 Wordcount Goal: 73,000

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?