My Writing Habits

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It’s the weekend and I am hoping to write more words than needed over the next two days so that I have a buffer for when fatigue really does set in. However, I don’t spend much time on the computer on the weekend usually and making myself do so today meant that I had to take drastic action.

Sit me down in front of the computer and tell me to write, write, write … for two hours … and I’ll fiddle about for over half that time and I’ll write little. In fact, I’ll give “procrastination” a new meaning. However, sit me down and tell me to write for twenty minutes and I’ll write as quickly as a distant wind crosses a valley.

You see, I do not like to write for long periods of time.

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My NaNo Progess:

Today’s Word Count: 2,626

Mirror Image – 14% Complete

7,112 / 50,000

Work-in-Progress Page

Those of you who don’t like NaNoWriMo will probably get sick of seeing posts all over the internet for days and weeks on end reporting on people progress. I will apologise for my share in that right now, but it can’t be helped because it’s a major part of my life at the moment. 😀

Procrastination bit me a bit today and that annoyed me enough to make me get stuck into the words. In other words, it backfired and got me writing…so I’m not complaining. The words started out slowly, but then I came to the end of a scene and the next scene was from a different character’s point of view, which allowed the words to tumble out. It was great. I was surprised to see that I wrote almost 1,000 words in less than an hour.

Yesterday, I stopped writing right in the middle of a scene. Today, I finished at the end of a scene. I prefer stopping in the action because it’s easier to pick up the flow and start writing. Having to start a new scene is like having to start a new story…the first words just refuse to be written. I hope that doesn’t cause a problem for me tomorrow.

It’s the end of the week and to date I’m well over the word count required to stay on track. I’m planning to build a lovely cushioned buffer over the weekend so that I don’t have far to fall next week when things might start getting tough. It always pays to be prepared.

I would like to write a post a day, on this blog, in order to keep a record of my daily word count, but I’m not sure if that will be possible. If, for whatever reason, I can’t post I will always update the graph for Mirror Image that can be found by clicking on Work in Progress in the navigation bar above [sorry, the page no longer exists]. Just scroll down the page as the graph is near the bottom.

Now I’m off to relax for a while before going to bed. I do feel tired tonight.

My NaNo Progess:

Today’s Word Count: 2,070

Mirror Image – 8.9% Complete

4,486 / 50,000

Mirror Image: The Beginning

It took a while for me to actually get going, but once I got out of the starting box I was quick to pick up the pace and get some mileage behind me. On my first day of NaNo, I’ve already worked out a bit of a system that seems to be working quite well for me. I’ll share my secret in case it’s something other writers can utilise.

I have a Gmail account – doesn’t everyone? Gmail has a section called Documents and in October I did all my planning in there because I have access to it anywhere I go and I sometimes find myself able to “be naughty” during business hours and work on my planning. 😀

This month, I plan to use that spare time at work to write, because let’s face it, every spare second counts when you’re on a tight schedule. Anyway, I have Mirror Image saved as a Gmail document, but I don’t actually write in that document. Be patient, I’m getting there…slowly. I use Word at work and at home. I write in Word all the time, because I’m used to the program and don’t have to spend time trying to work out how anything works when using it. So…I write a page in Word and then I transfer it over to Gmail. I then return to Word and keep writing. I write another page and transfer it and so on.

This works for me because the writing I transfer into the Gmail document is no longer seen by me, which means it’s no longer seen by my inner editor. Yes, this means I don’t feel the need to edit, edit, edit. I admit that I still do a bit of editing when I’m writing that page. I simply cannot help it. If there’s a spelling mistake and I spot it, I just have to fix it. It’s like listening to a dripping tap if I don’t. It drives me crazy. However, the editing I’m doing is much reduced by this transfer method. My word count for today proves it. I’ll wait while you go and take a peek.

See! It’s a sure thing method. I certainly am happy with my effort and I found the writing quite easy. But it’s only day one and I guess that will change sometime soon.

I could have kept writing too, but I don’t want to exhaust myself too early in the month so figure it’s in my best interest if I go and relax as soon as I’ve finished this post. Who knows, tomorrow might be like pulling teeth and I might need the energy. Then again, tomorrow might be just like today. I hope so. How’s everyone else going?

My NaNo Progess:

Today’s Word Count: 2,416

Mirror Image – 4.9% Complete

2,416 / 50,000

And Away We Go

Today is 1 November and that means the starting gates of NaNoWriMo have opened and the race to write 50,000 words in 30 days begins.

I’ve made a slow start…well, I’m actually still in the starting gate at this time because I have written a word yet, which means I’ve wasted the first 10 hours of NaNo. Never mind. I consider sleep to be an important ingredient to success…of all kinds!

During this month, I will write regular posts on this blog, but they will be short and sweet as all my spare time must be focused on getting words written for the manuscript, not this blog.

I wish all NaNoers focus, energy, lots of rest, and a brilliant flow of words. Now, I have to go and at least open the document and look as if I’m doing the right thing. I’ll update you on my progress tonight, when I hope to be able to say that on the first day I reached the required 1,667 words.

My NaNo Progess:

Mirror Image – 0% Complete

0 / 50,000

Not Sure I Can

Those who visit this blog often will know that I’ve been planning a new novel length manuscript to be written in November (which is only three days from now) for several weeks. I’m happy to announce that over the weekend I completed the planning. Everything has been printed out and placed neatly into a folder for easy reference. I have the beginning, the middle and the end planned in detail so there should be no panic during November. That’s the good news.

But…

Physically and mentally I’m not actually sure if I’m up to the challenge. 50,000 words in 30 days is a lot of hard work when you work full time…and I do have a family who require some attention, even if they are old enough to look after themselves. My sleeping pattern has improved over recent months and I am managing about seven hours of sleep a night. However, I feel dreadful when I wake up; almost as if I’ve been hit by a bus repeatedly and then dragged by a train across the country. There’s no way I could even consider getting up half an hour earlier, or going to bed half an hour later, in order to write a few more paragraphs. That’s the bad news.

Yes, I’m exhausted. That’s a daily feeling that I can’t seem to shift. So how will I feel when I’m trying to write 1,670 words a day? Even with an in-depth plan to help me, I don’t think I’ll be able to get through the month. Yet I’m the type of person who hates not achieving a goal, especially when I know so many other writers who will be attempting this too. I want to say that I won’t push myself, but I know I will.

I keep reminding myself about the last time I did a full NaNo…and that was when I was “normal”. I ended up being burned out for six months and it took even longer to get back into any routine that I could feel proud of. I really don’t want that to happen again. I need to be able to assure myself that if I can’t manage the 50,000 words then it’s alright and there’s no need to feel ashamed or defeated. I need to believe those words when I say them too.

Right now, I will say publicly that should I start feeling the strain then I will back off and continue writing on a daily basis, but I’ll do a Mini-NaNo instead. I’m not even sure I can manage that, but I’m going to try to do the best I can…without putting my health at risk.

[Edit – 9 months later]
I find it amusing that I gave myself an escape clause before NaNo even started. What a wimp! *grin*

Planning Mirror Image

Mirror Image will be a young adult novel. It will be character driven with a strong message within the plot. The story is difficult to slot into a genre, but if I had to do so, I think I would have to say it fits best into mainstream.

Three days ago, I announced my intension of doing a full NaNoWriMo this year instead of a Mini-NaNo as I originally intended. Since then I have put in many hours each day in planning the project. And I must say that the plans are moving steadily along.

Outline: I wrote the outline from beginning to end in just a few hours. There was none of that starting and stopping business. I knew what had to happen and just typed, and typed, and typed. It felt great to see the words fall onto the page like that too. The outline itself gives me an excellent look at the manuscript I’ll be writing in November. If I refer to that alone, I can’t possibly get stuck.

Characters: I spent two days (and this time there was a lot of starting and stopping, but that was unavoidable) building character profiles. It’s amazing how these people developed. First, the main character and her brother came into the light and I wrote a lot about them, but something didn’t feel right for quite some time. Then I realised that these two were twins. Everything fell into place after that.

The rest of the main character’s family were targeted next. I knew the type of family the character came from and easily put the people together. Nothing was overlooked, not even their middle names (although I doubt I’ll ever use those names in the story). They all have jobs, interests, favourite clothes and pastimes. Even the house they live in has been decided.

Then I moved onto her friends, including a boyfriend. Actually, the boyfriend was the one I had the most trouble with. Even now I’m not entirely sure I’ve got the right person for her, but as I work through the next steps, that should be sorted out and finalised soon. Her girl friends, however, were a different story. Talk about eager to get onto the page, which sort of sums up their personalities too.

Chapter Plan: Honestly, the outline is so in depth, I don’t really need a chapter plan, but I figure there’s no harm in working on one anyway. I have figured out a few extra things from it. If nothing else, it will be a guide for those tough middle weeks of NaNo when writers are feeling tired and are thinking of quitting. I’m determined that won’t happen to me.

The only other thing I want to do is make a list of emotions my MC should experience as the story progresses. I’m not going to explain that statement, but it is important to the story.

Oh, I just thought of something else. In my mind I have the sentence, theme and premise sorted, but I want to make them official and write them down. It’s amazing how much clearer the storyline will become by doing this.

The one thing I will say about this project is that it has sparked a flame within me, which in turn has seen me dedicating hours at a time to the planning. I feel passionate about the story and the characters. I want this story told and I’m determined to get a huge chunk of it (50,000 words at least) written in November. The overall word count for the entire story will be around 75,000 words (I don’t mean that I intend to write that number of words in November though).

And in conclusion, I announce that should I be ready to start writing prior to 1 November 2007…then I’ll start writing. I will not take a change on losing the enthusiasm I feel right now by having to sit and wait for two weeks to start typing. It’s not worth the risk. However, whatever is written prior to the start of NaNo will not be included in the official word count for that month. The way I see it, I’m aiming for 75,000 and I’ll be working on that odd 25,000 words prior to the start bell instead of trying to get through it after the finish line. That’s not cheating and if anyone thinks it is…tough! 😉

A Change in Direction

On 1 October 2007, I wrote the following:

Now I must move on to the second part of the goal. I have until the end of October to plan book three. This sounds like a long time, but I’ve been thinking about this book – on and off – for some months now and still don’t have any real ideas (except for the ending). For this reason, I hope a month is long enough for the planning. However, setting a public goal and a deadline might just be what is needed to get the job done. We’ll see.

Eight days have passed since then and yesterday I finally started working on that plan. In all honesty, I’m having trouble with the plot and the plan isn’t going well. This has nothing to do with writer’s block or laziness on my part. There’s another reason altogether – another story has pushed its way to the surface and is demanding some attention.

I have attempted to push it aside and return to book 3 of my children’s series several times. I have struggled for over 24 hours to stay focused, but nothing is working. I started a spreadsheet and figured out some of the plot, but this other story is quite determined to have its time in the lime light.

This afternoon, I set up Google Documents and decided that if I type up a quick outline of the other story I would then be free to carry on with book 3. To me, it is logical to think that the story just wanted to be sure I wouldn’t forget key points of the plot and would be satisfied when the outline was written. Yes, well, I was wrong!

Once I opened the door to this “other” story, everything just gushed out and I wrote a five page outline within no time at all. I now have a story title and a complete plot. However, I don’t have any character names. That doesn’t mean the characters are shy. No way. They are right there, and they are pushing their personalities at me as if to say the names are not important – the plot, the personalities, and the setting are.

It’s quite overwhelming how quickly it all came together. I told G a quick overview of the plot and he simply said, “write it.” My reaction was, “I can’t yet” and he asked “why?”

I sat and thought about it for a while. Why can’t I write this other story? Well, firstly, I want to finish the children’s series. Writing book 3 in November would be a mighty giant step to getting that goal completed. Secondly, I don’t like to swap and change between projects because that’s undisciplined, which easily leads to many unfinished projects. I don’t like the sound of that.

But…

NaNoWriMo starts in three weeks and my book 3 plan isn’t coming together. Fair enough, I never planned on doing the full NaNo thing, for me it was always going to be a Mini-NaNoWriMo month, where I aim for 25,000 words. I can manage that. I know it won’t make me turn into something nasty and, at the end of the month, I won’t suffer from burnout (like I did the first time I did the full NaNo thing).

Why is a tiny piece of me so eager to push book 3 aside? Why have thoughts of doing a full NaNo this year been swirling around my head all day? I’ll tell you why. Because this story is so full and vivid in my mind, I feel I could easily reach 50,000 words in a month. I also feel I’d be a fool not to use the NaNo experience to write the first draft of a new novel while the plot, setting and characters are so real to me. I also think that a change of “scenery” will do me the world of good.

Yes, you’ve guessed it. There’s a change of plan. I’m heading over to NaNoWriMo right now to register and I’m going to write the first draft of Mirror Image this November. Yoohoo!

Edit: The NaNo website is offline. With the increasing number of writers doing this each year, the website can’t handle the traffic. I hope the problem is sorted real soon, otherwise, there’s going to be a lot of upset NaNoers in November.

Half an hour later: I’m registered!