I like writing rough drafts. I like reading my finished, polished product.
Everything in the middle…
Well, it’s not all that bad. Although I’d rather be flat-out producing words on the page, there is some satisfaction to going back over those rough words and smoothing out all the difficult parts that I cringed through (or was oblivious to) the first time around.
When I’m writing a rough draft, it’s easy to count how many words I’ve written. MS Word does it for me. Editing is not so simple. Yes, I can say how many chapters I “went over” and fixed. But that’s misleading…I might go through a couple of chapters that have very little to change, and then another chapter that either goes through a major overhaul or is cut completely.
My current ‘work’ as far as writing is concerned (I started my Springtime day-job today-teaching Spreadsheets and Databases) is going through a story I wrote a couple of year ago and post-outlining it. As in…separating it into chapters and writing a short summary of each chapter as I go. I’m splitting it into several books. I want to make sure I include all the relevant scenes without repeating myself.
So, the weekly goals, as outlined last week:
Do something writing-related every day. It can be writing, editing, or hashing out details.
I think I succeeded…I’m pretty sure I did something every day. One thing I should add, though: I read in the latest RWA magazine about a writer who, if she wasn’t actually adding words to her WIP on a particular day, she would at least read some of it. It kept her brain in the project. I think that is excellent advice, and I will take it.
Do some actual writing every week, even if it’s a ‘junk’ story or a scene that won’t ever fit into the WIP.
I added words to at least one of the stories I’m rewriting. In particular, I’ve written a few scenes that are going to come up in one story or another eventually. They were in my brain, and I wrote them while I had them. This happened while writing Jubilation of the Southern Cross and Hearthsong last year, and it worked out well. When I reached the point for the scene to come in, I just copied and pasted it from my notes. There was only one scene that turned into a “deleted scene” but I might add it back during edits.
And as for the ‘junk’ stories… I wrote The Anemone of My Enemy and put it on my blog. It was fun. Man-eating plants and a hero name Quirt Quickfinish.
Engage with other writers every week, either via social media or blogs. Maybe…just maybe…in person. Wow. That could happen…
Social media rules. I’ve had some fun, including winning Russian Tea from Jane Kindred‘s promotion on facebook for Prince of Tricks.
I also had this exchange with Tiffany Reisz on twitter:
When not twisting plots, she’s hitting on close relatives, which is fine because she lives in Kentucky. Follow her on Twitter @tiffanyreisz
@USNessie I did once upon a time tell a cousin of mine “Good thing we’re in Kentucky.” I was, for the record, joking.
@tiffanyreisz And off the record?
@USNessie *zips lips*
Stay away from the NaNo story for at least a month, but no longer than March. Go back then and do revision one, then send to beta readers.
I’m staying out of it. Mostly. My brain has occasionally dipped into the idea that there could be a book three…but I’m not letting myself do anything about it. Yet.
Get sleep. I wrote 90k in December by staying up all night and sleeping during the day when the kids were either at school or when Daddy was home. But I can’t keep doing that.
I was doing pretty good on this until last night.
My natural sleep schedule would be to stay up later and later every night, sleeping during the day, until I was up so long that the sun was shining brightly and I had to crash and reset to start the cycle again. Well, that doesn’t work in any practical way. Second, my NaNoWriMo routine (being massively productive whist consuming unhealthy quantities of Cherry Coke) was to write until around 3 or 4 in the morning, then sleep until I had to pick up the kids from school the next afternoon. Also, impractical. Knowing that my teaching job was starting and I needed to be awake during the day, I worked logically and methodically to reset my natural clock to go to bed closer to midnight.
So what happened last night?
A sick kid. My kindergartner woke up around midnight, puking from both ends. We were both up until around 4AM when I finally coaxed her back to sleep. Fortunately, my husband, my knight in shining tighty whities, took a sick day from work to take care of our daughter. I got two hours of sleep, then got up again and went to teach my class. Fortunately, it was the first class, meaning we go over all the introductory stuff, and I’ve done that many many times. I could do it in my sleep. I might have today…I don’t remember…
I came back home and found that our daughter had also slept very little, so both she and I went back to bed. She woke up after dinner, confused as to why it was dark outside and her big sister was going to bed. It’s 2AM now and we’re both wide awake, watching Despicable Me II (an excellent movie!) Hopefully I can coax her to sleep again soon. She does seem to be feeling better, but still has no appetite.
The Anemone of My Enemy — I love this title, you punny, punny thing you! And the story was wonderful; it read like an updated version of an old SF story.
Hope the little one feels better soon and that you both can get some good sleep.
Thank you! It’s 3:30 and we’ve moved on to Strawberry Shortcake videos.
Lots of useful writing advice 🙂
I especially liked post-outlining; I keep forgetting which in my WIP scenes are which, so maybe I need to make myself a post-outline “map”.
Post-outlining is great! And in this case, necessary. When I wrote this rough draft, I was in a mode where I never added chapter breaks. I assumed I’d do it later, which does work…but it also leaves some scenes rambling on much longer than necessary. Now I’m reading through it, deciding where the natural chapter break is (I average 2k words) and give it a complete header. Every header has a simple title like “A Meets B,” its time setting (5 minutes after the last scene? Or 5 days? Weeks?) the important points “This shows that she’s willing to give up on the relationship, but he’s not) and as brief a summary as I can compose.
I do a lot of “junk” writing, especially if I’m between WIPs or muddling around in the middle of one and unable to find my way at the moment. I have files full of snippets and scenes that may never find a home but were fun to write. Or demanded to be written. That happens sometimes as well.
When I first got serious about my writing, I felt compelled to make sure everything I wrote was worthwhile and polished. But the opposite is true…it’s doing a lot of “junk” writing that frees me up for doing the good stuff. One problem I have with this rough draft is that I included a lot of little details and points that really aren’t important to the story. But I hated to let them go, so I left them in. Now I know how surgical editing really is…yes, that scene was good to write. Now I, the author, have it clear in my head. But it’s not important to the reader. I’ll allude to what happened, but not describe it in detail.
Ray Bradbury challenged aspiring writers to write one short story a week for a year. That does NOT mean at the end of the year you have 52 marketable or develop-able stories. Maybe you’ll have a few, maybe you won’t have any. But you’ll have gotten the CRAP out of your system lol!
a super dad:) do hope the little one feels better soon and you attempt at re-setting your clock works – I hated when I worked for the reason I am an owl – now I’m retired I can stay up late – can be very productive then – all the best and take care:)
Bleh… sick child. I can totally relate. That tummy bug seems to be everywhere at the moment. I took our house by storm the last few days. Glad to hear your daughter is feeling better.
And then you had the energy to give us so much awesome writing wisdom here, AmyBeth… Thank you. I’d never heard of post-outlining before, but I like the idea. And while I’m not a bit fan of writing short stories, I like your piece of Bradbury advice. Some junk stories would be good for my writer’s soul.
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