21-Day Challenge: Day 14

Cover Art

Cover Art

OK! I’m two weeks in. And had a great writing day today, despite work: 4446 words, bringing the total count to 53,133. I expect to finish the book tomorrow, which is WAY ahead of schedule. In the plan I wrote out, the first draft was to be completed by the end of Wednesday. I’m not finishing because I’m writing faster than expected, but rather because I have two chapters left to go, and expect the book to wrap up at about 56-57k words, instead of the 70k I’d initially planned. I’m OK with that… Remember my mentioning a while back that I was trying to outline with the Story Grid method? Or a somewhat scaled down version of it, anyway? I suspect that my inexperience with that method has left the story a little leaner and therefore shorter than I’d expected.

Before I go any further, I’d like to pass along this invitation:

When the work is completed, I will be emailing out a link to the folks who’ve been following along on my email list. If your address is in there, you’ll get a copy of the rough work, just finished, with no polish or edits. For you folks who’ve been following, this will give you something to look at and compare against for changes.

If you’re interested in taking a peek, it’s not too late! Click the link below:

Sign Up For the First Draft!

Or you can just wait until it’s out on Amazon, one week from today.

Editing and Revision

I’ve written before about how I look at the editing and revision process. The TL;DR version: I don’t generally revise. I either self-edit (used to do that professionally; not recommended unless you’re quite good at it), or hire out the work to an editor. On longer works, I tend to do the latter. Mostly because I hate editing. I like writing the thing – correcting typos is not on a list of my favorite things.

In general, my finished published copies are about 98-99% identical to the first draft. I manage this by cleaning up the work as I go. If I notice myself repeating words, I’ll skip back up and fix it. If I need to add an element to a previous chapter to explain something, I’ll get to a good stopping point then go back and add it. I do these things while I write, so generally the first draft is very nearly the final one.

This run might be a bit different. In fact, if I add 3000 words to a 57,000 word story, as I think I might, then I’ll be changing at least 5% just with those additions. That’s unusual for me – which means it’s a good thing I’m going to have Tuesday and Wednesday to do some extra work on the book.

Every writer’s editing process is a bit different. Ironically, despite Chris and I expressing some of those differences earlier, it’s looking like the books we’re writing right now are going to be more similar than I’d thought! I’m using something much more similar to his process, adding in extra scenes to the final copy. But I think in this case at least the book will be stronger for it.

Sign up for the draft and you’ll be able to compare and see for yourself whether you think the changes merited inclusion or not!

21-Day Challenge: Days 11-13

Cover Art

Cover Art

Went a little silent there for a few days, sorry! As I mentioned in my last post – I was moving into my long work period in the day job. With minutes to write, it gets hard to put them into a blog instead of story words! Playing a little catch up today.

Thursday was Day 11. I arrived at work at 7am. I left work just before 1am on Friday. During that time, we had four new admissions, three of whom I had to manage all of the paperwork etc. for, solo. For those of you not working in the medical field: imagine an already busy 17 hour work day, into which is crammed an additional 3 hours of work. As a result, no words happened. I got breaks long enough to wolf down some food, but that was it. That was why I had Thursdays as a ZERO word day on the schedule, remember – because sometimes my Thursdays are like that. So I didn’t fall behind, I just met expectations.

Day 12: Friday, I brought my word count total to 46,199 – about 1,100 words. More admissions at work, so even though I was only working one shift, I didn’t have time to write anything during a break. Just words at home. And the at-home words were broken up because we’re moving next Saturday, and I still had a lot of things to line up for the move. Finalized the movers; finalized the reservation of an elevator; stuff like that.

Yes, I’m moving the day before I have the book scheduled for launch. Hey, Chris set the schedule for this program. Blame him. 😉

Speaking of Chris, HIS Day 12 finished his book at about 60k words. Which is AMAZING. He’s done such a great job with this.

Day 13: I’m 1900 words behind at this point. Not so good. But I’m also writing SHORTER than I had scheduled. Much shorter. I think this book will wrap up at about 55k, and maybe expand a little during edits. So while I am behind my planned goal coming into the day, it’s not a disaster. Knowing work was going to be tough again today, I hit the ground running before work and got in about 2500 words, putting my count to 48,687 words total. Now, to be on target I SHOULD have 51,500 by the end of Day 13. So I’ve still slipped behind the target word count, but – this is life.

Life happens, and you roll with it. Notice, the ONLY day I didn’t get words done was the one crazy busy 18 hour work day. Friday and Saturday were busy, but I still got at least some forward progress each day. And this is the thing: sometimes life will intervene, things will get crazy, and your targets will be missed. It’s still important to find a few minutes to make some forward progress, though. Even if it’s a single half hour sprint, or a couple of ten minute sprints. Get some words in.

By working every day, you continue to reinforce to your mind that This Is Important. You’re keeping the mental momentum going. I know that if I stop writing completely for a few days, picking things back up again becomes harder and harder. In fact, the more days I stop writing, the more difficult it becomes to jump back in on a story. Writing something – even if it’s just a little – is important.

Onward to catch up a bit on Day 14!

As always, you can sign up for email updates on my progress – click the link below to join and follow along. Would love to hear comments, either here or in emails, too!

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21-Day Novel Challenge: Day 10

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Cover Art

And the grand total at the end of the day: 45, 062 words! It was a long battle, but I got in 6025 words to finish another day on target.

My biggest frustration right now, really, is that the story just isn’t as long as I was planning it to be. I’m very much below the 70k target. Going to struggle toward 60k, I think. I’ve added several scenes to the end, but I’m solidly into Act Three already.

Accord of Honor was 67k words, so what happened with this one?

I think part of the reason it’s running short is because I was using a new plotting system. Remember that I mentioned I was trying out a modified form of the “Story Grid” plotting system? It calls for 15 segments. Roughly doubled, because this story has two POVs and two interwoven storylines, that’s 30 major movements or scenes in the story. And I’ve doubled up some of them, especially for Thomas’s  POV. He’s the protagonist, and he gets a lot more screen time.

But that’s left me with only forty chapters in all, since I equated those major movements to chapters in my head (more or less – as I said, I made some of them two chapters). And my chapters are only running about 1500 words or so, average. Thus 60k words instead of 70k.

Lesson learned. If I want it to be a little longer, next time I need to add a few extra movements, or break up a few more scenes into multiple chapters. Open things up a little bit more. Still, the overall experience has been good. It certainly made plotting a breeze.

It also might be a side effect of writing so darned many novellas. I’ve written several recently – all about 20k word urban fantasies. And right before that I was writing the third Blackwell novel (another urban fantasy), which ended at 48k. Typical length book, for that series.

But for my SF, I’m intentionally trying to go just a little bit longer in the word count. It appears I still have some work to do in that regard. Every book is part of the process of improving as a writer. Identifying what you want to work on next and then plowing away at it is part of the fun.

As always, you can sign up for email updates on my progress – click the link below to join and follow along. Would love to hear comments, either here or in emails, too!

Sign Up Here!

21-Day Writing Challenge: Day 9 – Finding Balance

Cover Art

Cover Art

As predicted, I did NOT hit my 6k target for today, making today the first day I didn’t reach the goal for words. But that’s OK – I had a 2400 word cushion already built up, which allowed me to take this afternoon and evening and spend a bunch of time seeing friends I hadn’t seen in a while, and spending some extra quality time with Liz.

I still managed 3639 words today, which is excellent. It puts my overall count at 39,037 words to date, or exactly 37 words over my target for where I had to be at this point.

I actually think I’m even more ahead of schedule than that, because I’m pretty sure this story will finish somewhere around 60k words, instead of the 70k I’d originally planned. Which is fine – that will just give me an extra day or two for cleanup and editing. No problem with that!

It’s impossible to stress enough how important it can be to find balance in writing and the rest of your life. I’ve been so hyper-focused on finishing this book that I’ve let some things slide which I ought not to. Things like getting the laundry done in a timely manner. You know, day to day tasks which just have to happen whether you’re writing or not. And getting out of the house and into the world is vital to us as well.

It’s all well and good to start a crazy challenge. Even great if you finish it. I’ve done 26,000 words in a single day before to wrap up a NaNoWriMo where I’d been especially lazy about word count earlier in the month. But it’s useless if you can’t maintain a good pace for the long run. Chris and I may talk about the value of sprints, but writing as a career is much more like a marathon. It’s an endurance event, and it’s about finding ways to make the work happen day after day, week after week, with the weeks flowing into months and years.

More than that, it’s about finding ways to keep the joy in what you’re doing. Because if we grow to hate writing, or see it as just a job, then we might as well be digging ditches instead of telling stories for our rent.

Balance in all things. Even in challenges. Do the work, yes. Find ways to improve your performance, surely. But also remember that it’s supposed to be fun. Storytelling is play. Don’t ever let the joy leak out of it. Do things to help yourself recharge, to rebuild your creative energy. Connect with other real human beings, because its from other people that we learn and grow and absorb new ideas. We connect those dots to create our art. We find the dots to connect by being out in the world and doing things.

As always, you can sign up for email updates on my progress – click the link below to join and follow along. Would love to hear comments, either here or in emails, too!

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21-Day Writing Challenge: Day 8

starship 1-5 kindleShort post today, folks, because it is very late and I am very tired. 😉

Today was my day with the kids. They finished catching up on Supergirl episodes – all three of them love the show now. And then we had an epic D&D game. They’re all playing wizards, at a school for wizards founded in Waterdeep (Forgotten Realms) to help train young people in the proper use of magic after the Time of Troubles. (Which I missed, ’cause I haven’t played D&D in years, but the little I heard about it worked well enough as backstory for this campaign). So most of their adventures are classroom tests. Today was a maze full of traps that I ad-libbed my way through, with a rescue of some classmates from a minotaur at the end. They did a great job working together and had an awesome time.

Geeked from birth, that’s my kids! Raising them right.

Anyway, I didn’t get to writing until late in the evening, and my sprints as a result were more like back to back writing sessions. Managed to get in 3087 words over the course of an hour and a half at the keyboard, which is pretty typical. I also started working on setting up some promotions for “Accord of Honor” – which will be getting a promo period right around the launch of “Accord of Mars”. Push Book 1 up the ranks a little and hopefully in the process help out Book 2!

Total to date is sitting at 35,398, which is well above my target of 33k by this day. That’s a good thing, because I am taking tomorrow afternoon and evening off to go hang with friends, so tomorrow will likely be short a bit from my 6k target.

As always, you can sign up for email updates on my progress – click the link below to join and follow along. Would love to hear comments, either here or in emails, too!

Sign Up Here!