Friday Progress Update

The lack of progress update last weekend was due to an emergency at the day job infringing on my weekend. So today I’ll have to give two weeks’ worth of updates!

I finished NaNoWriMo at 78,923 words. While that’s an impressive amount of words, I barely wrote during the final week and I didn’t finish my novel. I got stuck trying to get from Where The Characters Are to The End.

I spent some time working on the problem, and I now have an outline that should get me there. I’m hoping to finish the book by the end of December.

I have a mass of writing-related plans for when I get there. In approximate order:

  • apply for the Lamda Literary writers’ retreat in August 2017, applications are due in January
  • research agents for submitting the Plague Novel and work on new submissions
  • research creating a Patreon for self-publishing my short stories
  • revise the Flight novel
  • research sites seeking essay submissions and consider submitting essays

You’ll note that resubmitting my short stories to web-magazines is not on that list. The amount of time that I invest there doesn’t seem worth the possible rewards at this point.

Besides, I have a Web serial idea kicking around in my head and I think I would much rather look into the Patreon aspect for publishing short fiction, since I think that might be a good platform for publishing something like that.

To make a long story short, despite rejections and setbacks, writing progress continues.

Rejections Suck, But You Can Help

Rejections suck. They really, really suck. You would think that after you rejections have long-since stopped climbing into the double-digits that they would suck less, and you would think wrong.

But there are some things that make them suck less. So if you see me post on social media about a recent rejection that stung, or talk to me about it in a coffee shop, I have provided this handy guide to what helps when engaging me about rejections.

Things that help:

  • a good hug or cuddle
  • having my feelings that it sucks be acknowledged
  • probably just letting me playing video games for a day or two, including letting me out of social engagements guilt-free
  • being told that my writing is good, especially how I nailed [aspect]
  • being asked if there’s anything they can do to help (there isn’t, but the sentiment is really sweet)

Things that I find less-than-helpful:

  • being told that all writers get rejections (I know)
  • being told that [famous writer here] got lots of rejections (I Know)
  • being told that I just need to keep at it (I KNOW)

Thanks, all! With your unstanding and support I’ll be better able to just keep at it until I have as many rejections as [famous author] because all writers get rejections.

Surviving and Thriving During NaNoWriMo, Part 5

This is the fifth and final post in a series of posts based on a talk I This is the second in a series of posts (you can find  based on a Surviving NaNoWriMo talk I gave to the Capital City Writers Association.  You can find the first post here, the second post here, the third post here, and the fourth post here.

In Closing: Good Luck, Have Fun!

Repeat after me: in the end, it doesn’t matter whether you win NaNoWriMo.  You have written words.  If you haven’t finished your novel, you will hopefully continue to write words into December and January and onward until the book is finished.

But by putting words on the page during NaNoWriMo, you have taken the first steps toward having a finished manuscript.  It won’t be perfect at the end of the month.  It probably won’t be perfect even after a couple of passes of revision.  But you can’t start the revisions process without something to revise, and you have officially started down that road.  Go you!

This is also the part where I remind you all about why you are doing this.  For some bizarre reason, you have decided that engaging with the voices in your head is fun.  You are already a weird, strange creature who is compelled to spend hours sitting by yourself, essentially talking to yourself.  You do this because you love writing.

Don’t forget that you love writing, or you wouldn’t be here, doing this crazy thing.

Treat yourself.  Good luck.  And have fun!

Progress Update!

Okay, here is the update of the last two weeks of wordcount by day!

  • Day 12: 34706
  • Day 13: 38052
  • Day 14: 40101
  • Day 15: 40575
  • Day 16: 43620
  • Day 17: 50533
  • Day 18: 51533
  • Day 19: 58852
  • Day 20: 72167 (this is what competitive all-day write-ins do for me)
  • Day 21: 72601
  • Day 22: 75088
  • Day 23: 75174
  • Day 24: 75215 (d’oh)
  • Day 25: 75215

I was going for the write every day for 30 days participation badge.  As you can see, I again didn’t make it this year.

Surviving and Thriving During NaNoWriMo, Part 4

This is the fourth in a series of posts based on a talk I This is the second in a series of posts (you can find  based on a Surviving NaNoWriMo talk I gave to the Capital City Writers Association.  You can find the first post here, the second post here, and the third post here.

OMG I’m Stuck, What Now?!?!

No matter how experienced or amazing you are at writing in general or NaNoWriMo in specific, there will come a point during the month where you will find yourself stuck.  Either your characters have backed themselves into a hole or they have deviated from your outline to the point where you have no idea how to get back on track.

The temptation will be to turn on your devices and distract yourself from how hard writing is.  Do not give into that temptation.  DO NOT TURN ON YOUR DEVICES.  The answer to getting unstuck does not lie on the internet, it lies within you!

This is the time to remind yourself that your characters drive the plot, not the other way around.  Most of the time I get stuck, it’s because I’m trying to force my characters to do things that they do not want to do.  Now is not the time to argue with your characters.  Now is when you want to get words on the page.

The best way to do that is to put yourself in your character’s head and start describing.  What are they seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and physically feeling?  What is their thought process?  What are their emotional feelings?  How does the environment reflect their thought process?  What are they thinking about doing and why?  If you transfer the problem to the character, you might be surprised at the ways THEY think of to get you out of your writing hole problem.

If that doesn’t work, now might be the time to try a word prompt, insert a random plot element, or play a simplified game of “yes but, no and.”

By way of an oversimplified example: your goal is for your character to leave home, but they are so content at home that they are just not leaving.  “Yes they are content at home, but now their home has burned down.”  … what are they going to do about it?  “No, they aren’t going to leave home, and they are going to discover that there is a ghost in the home.” … how is that going to affect them?

Some people recommend just writing down words about how stuck you are and how frustrated you are with writing.  I do not recommend that.  In my experience, that will only get you more into your head about how stuck you are, and while venting might make you feel good, it won’t extricate you from the situation.  That is why I recommend leaning on your characters.  Trust them to find a way out of their situation.

Progress Update

In good news, I’ve passed the 50k mark for NaNoWriMo. In bad news, my day by day update will have to come tomorrow because a storm is giving us power troubles and it’s too difficult to do the daily breakdown by phone.


PS: The power outage friend the power supply on my desktop PC so the daily word counts update will be rolled into next Friday’s update.  Stay tuned!

Surviving and Thriving During NaNoWriMo, Part 3

This is the third in a series of posts based on a talk I This is the second in a series of posts (you can find  based on a Surviving NaNoWriMo talk I gave to the Capital City Writers Association.  You can find the first post here and the second post here.

Here I Am, Actually Writing

Now that your butt is in your chair and your fingers are on the keyboard and you have done your review, you need to actually start writing.  Now is the time to discard your inner critic (that little voice that says that everything you write sucks and you don’t deserve to call yourself a writer) and to silence your inner editor (that little voice that makes you agonize over word choice and sentence structure).  If you have an outline or have been thinking about your story since the last time you sat down, this can be as easy as picking up where you left off.

But what if it isn’t that easy?

This is where NaNoWriMo is amazing.  You should have plenty of friends, physical or virtual, who will be willing to challenge you to a word war.  You might be amazed at how fast your creative juices flow when you just start typing.  There are also a wide variety of word prompts, plot curves, and other options that your friends or municipal liaisons can throw out to get you thinking about the direction of the story.

As you are typing along, you are going to invariably want to stop to look up a forgotten character name, conduct a little research, etc.  Don’t.  Do not stop writing during your writing time.  It’s the time to get words on the page, the time to fix those words up is later.  If you are drawing a blank or think you will need to check something later, make a personal note for yourself in brackets – [] or {}.  They will catch your eye as you are revising after NaNoWriMo is done.

At the end of the day, be sure to back up your new materials in at least three places.  I make sure I keep a second version of my scrivener file on a flash drive as well as in a Dropbox location (in case something happens to my computer and flash drive, like they are both stolen or corrupted).  Do not learn the hard way about the importance of backups.  There a plenty of horror stories out there that you should not need personal experience to learning about how much time 3x backups could save you in the long run.

Finally, if you have met your word or time goals, treat yourself.  As much as you enjoy writing (or you wouldn’t be insane enough to try to write 50,000 words in a month,) positive reinforcement is an amazing motivational tool.  I love entering my words in the word tracker and watching my graph go up, that’s how I treat myself.  I have a friend who loves giving herself stickers.  Do whatever works for you to make you feel good about what you have accomplished.

Progress Update

Well.  It wasn’t a good week for NaNo or for anything else around here really.  Normally I front-load pretty heavily, but it’s not supposed to be so that I can emotionally crash and burn during week two.

Still, I’m back to writing again, some days with more focus than others:

  • Day 6: 20282
  • Day 7: 25088
  • Day 8: 25091 (“I am afraid.”  Will be worked into the novel.)
  • Day 9: 25092 (The single word this day was a swear, but I will also be working it into the novel)
  • Day 10: 31293 (I made myself go to a write-in.)
  • Day 11: 32454

I’m just now coming up on the half-way point of the book and getting to the part in my outline that is an absolute muddle.  I have a write-in tomorrow, a write-in Monday, and then more write-ins going forward into the week.  At this point I’m just going to let my characters take the wheel and hope they get me to the ending I picked out.  If not there, I hope they get me to a good and interesting one instead.

Fighting Back

Yesterday was a horror show. There’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll vividly remember sitting at the computer, refreshing my browser as they first called Pennsylvania, then Wisconsin, for as long as I have memories. Staying up until 6 am, first on Facebook and Twitter, then drinking apple cinnamon tea with Jared while he reminded me of all the reasons to keep living (not just in this country, but in general, because I had another brush with suicidal ideation).

That was Wednesday. Yesterday. Yesterday, I slept 3 hours and then woke up with a stomach full of acid. Couldn’t have gone in to work even if my presence was physically required. Thank goodness I didn’t have to because it wasn’t. I am fortunate enough that I got to work from home. I’ll probably report it as a sick day because work did not get done.

I spent the day on social media. Mourning. We had other queer people over in the evening. I ate half a pizza, my favorite comfort food, and we commiserated about the election and other things.

I slept last night. Not well, but I did.

Today, I start writing again. I’m doubling down. I will tell these stories and I will sell them so they can end up in the hands of the young adults they’re meant for. Not just the queer ones: all of them. It’s easy to hate what you don’t understand, easy to hate the other that you’ve never experienced.

We need queer stories now more than ever. This is what I can do, a thing I’m good at doing, so this is how I’ll fight back.

Surviving and Thriving During NaNoWriMo, Part 2

This is the second in a series of posts (you can find the first one here) based on a Surviving NaNoWriMo talk I gave to the Capital City Writers Association.

It’s Time To Start Writing!

Regardless of how much preparation is completed or you have failed to complete on November 1, it’s now time to sit down and write.  The tips here for NaNoWriMo are the same tips that writers the world over use for writing on a regular basis.

Set aside your writing time and guard it like a dragon guards treasure.  Everything else flows from having the time set aside to write.  I recommend carving it out of your leisure activity time if you want your family to take you seriously.  If the significant people in your life see you carve your writing time out or your beloved video game time, they will respect it a lot more than if you carve it out of family dinner time.

For NaNoWriMo specifically, the target word count is 1667 words a day.  At a standard rate of 40 WPM (if you don’t have the abilities to type faster), this is 40 minutes a day of solid writing time.  But that is just writing—it doesn’t include preparing to write or what happens if you sit down and the words refuse to flow.  I recommend carving out at least an hour.

Next, turn off the devices.  All of them.  The phone, the wifi, everything.  This should be the first step in your getting-ready-to-write ritual, which may include other things, but at the very least should also include stretching.  When the ritual is complete, put your butt in the chair, the fingers on your keyboard, and start writing.

I start my writing sessions by doing about a five-minute refresh of the last things I wrote during my last session.  This is not editing time.  I am not allowed to go back and change any words that I previously wrote.  This is just to remind me of where I left off when I was last writing.