Sunday, September 22, 2013

Writer Survival

I've been MIA from my blog lately and realized that this weekend wasn't going to be any easier, despite my earlier in the week wishful thinking. We've had rotating illnesses, allergies, computer troubles, etc. and the extra care-taking hasn't left me with much energy at the end of the day for blogging. I know, I know: common complaint. And, truly, I try to write posts that have inspired me in some way. I already worry I have the tendency to slip into working out my writerly angst via my blog. *blink, blink

So, this will be short, but hopefully angst-free. The things I turn to when I need help, or comfort, or am exhausted.

1. Favorite sweater--I have tweeted and written about the sweater. I'm not at the point where I am superstitious about it, but it is something I use to help me change gears. Kind of like how Mr. Rogers would exchange his jacket for his cardigan at the beginning of the show. It's like a cue to me that I'm in a different mode. I don't need it, but I like it because it helps me settle in and focus. Wow, how I've come to appreciate being able to take long and short range thinking when it comes to a project. Focus matters.

2. Favorite beverage--Mine is currently hot tea. That's likely because of my (annoying) allergies and having had it with cough drops. Yuck. Again, after coffee, which is essential for survival, tea lets me write, sip, write, sip and see forward progression. When the tea gets cold, I notice that I've lost myself in something that I'm doing. And, just my observation here since writers get a reputation for being drinkers. Personally, I have no idea how anyone could write something coherent once they are intoxicated. I don't mix the two, not even just a glass of wine. Not judging, just saying it doesn't work for me and I am still struck by folks who think it does. 

3. Favorite buddy to talk to about your passion--Mine is my husband. He's so supportive, somehow cares deeply about my writing, and ventures opinions that make me think. He gives me confidence and helps me find time to write. EVERYONE needs someone like this in their lives. They may not live with you. They may not even be someone you can see every day. But, I think having a support system for your writing is necessary. Even if they don't totally get it. They need to get what it means to you (mostly) and support that.

4. Favorite way to work off steam--Mine is walking, with the occasional jog, and dancing around my living room with my kids. Loooong before having kids, it was a kickboxing class. You have to move your body on a regular basis to be healthy. You don't need to be a gym rat, but you need to find something you enjoy doing and do it a few times a week.

I hope that you all stay healthy! What are your best tips for self-care?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Celebrating and Catching My Breath

I shared this on twitter the other night but have been looking forward to writing a brief blog post about it too: I FINISHED MY DRAFT!



Clocking in at 84,109. Draft #1 is done. I promptly shed a few tears after typing The End. And texted my husband, who was downstairs, giving me some writerly space, but waiting for an update. Then I brought my laptop downstairs for him to read and I tweeted my victory. To my sweet tweeps who responded, thank you so much! I look forward to doing the same for you! Mwah!

Okay, so now what? I feel like I finished a long race (*cough, like 20 months long, if we're counting). I had two false starts....several thousand words in. Alas. But my pace definitely picked up over the summer. So now I'm gulping in air, bent over by the side of the road, knowing there's so much more to be done.

I have resisted reading over the whole draft in the past few months. In fact, since I put it on Scrivener, I have only looked forward, sometimes skipping around, and focused on wordcount. Which is great. But, now, I want to step back and assess what needs to be fixed and just exactly what I put on the page.

It is totally daunting. But, as a fan of lists, I think I will start compiling the FINITE number of things I need to do to edit and revise my draft before I show it to anyone else. The list, however, is big. It feels infinite. It's still mostly in my head because I'm afraid to see how long the thing will be. But, I'll crank it out, even if it is just to prove to myself that it won't be double-digits pages long. I hope.

The plan is to look at the big picture first, the macro-edits, I believe they are called, even though I am dying to read through it and fix my typos and repeated words, etc., etc. As a plotter-pantser hybrid, I had created parts of an outline, pieces of beat-structure, and then just needed to write the darn draft. So I forged ahead, keeping my major focus on conflict in every scene. In some ways, I'm not sure the piece works as a whole. That's what I want to assess by stepping back from it.

I am so grateful for Christina Dodd's writing advice where she talks about writing a book backwards, and then several others in different ways. It sounds simple, but to be given that kind of freedom, was really helpful. There were scenes I knew I wanted to include, plot points I had figured out, but several chunks were missing. I was really only able to write them...when I did. An excellent interview with Joss Whedon came out this summer and one of the takeaways I had was how Whedon talks about writing the scenes your heart is in first. As I mentioned in a previous post, I wrote the middle and then the very end, just days ago. My heart, and mind, knew what certain scenes would be like. Those came easily. And that's why, for the most part, I wrote them early on.

So, I'll be editing, churning through my research list (figure this out, how would this have been done, what did people wear when they did whatever, etc.) which seems endless, and then working my way in, scene by scene, then line by line. And as I do this, I am filing away ideas for WIP #2 that I've been dying to write for months now. First things first.

Oh, and updating the blog, moving it over to Wordpress, learning Wordpress, adding pictures, syncing it with my website, looking into finding a critique group and/or beta readers, deciding if I'm querying or going the self-pub route. Excuse me for a moment.

Aaaah! Haaaaaayyyylllp!

*smooths hair

Ahem. Whew. Please feel free to share your updates and advice in the comments or via twitter. One of my favorite professors used to say life is a series of lists, until we die. It reads so morbidly, but I took his advice to mean that there will always be lists and there's no point in freaking out about the endless number of things to do. That's just life.

Happy reading and writing. I'm waiting for The Cardigan to come out of the dryer. It's my lucky charm.