Sometimes You Have to Go Short (Step To My Bones, Day Six)

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Today was one of those days where time evaporated between my fingertips every time I turned around. I was reasonably productive, but to keep the quantity of my word count intact, that means that I have to cut a few corners in other places.

That means a short check-in here, and only one page of journaling as opposed to my goal of three. (My daily goal is to write three long-hand journal pages.) But that’s okay, because sometimes that’s all you can do.

If I beat myself up every time I had to choose between cutting something short versus doing it at all, I’d walk around black and blue. In the end, I can at least say that I did something, and that is always 10x preferable to doing nothing.

I’m approaching the end of the road for the first draft of my serial, which is pretty crazy considering I just started it on Friday. Things on the Step To My Bones draft are continuing and have taken a bit of an unexpected turn. And it’s about to get a whole lot darker, which tells me that this story could end up being novel length after all. Either way, I’m cool with it as long as I tell the story the way it needs to be told.

So on that note, I’m off to journal. 🙂

Step To My Bones progress 

75 minutes = 2209 words = Chapter Seven draft complete

Paranormal romance serial under other pen name

1 writing session = 1836 words = 1 chapter done

(Photo credit by Louise Docker)

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Dealing With Distraction (Step To My Bones, Day Five)

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Today was a good day from the standpoint that I managed to eek out my goal word count (10,000 words). I leveraged my writing mini-marathon concept and had several long writing sessions throughout the day. I finally hit “SAVE” a few minutes ago, at 9:40pm, having clocked 10,285 words today. Awesome- Yay Me!

What was not so great though was the amount of time that it took me to get those words down on the page. The theme of the day today was “Distraction“. I was up and ready to roll at 8am, so it definitely should not have taken me over twelve hours to get those words in (that’s an average of 761 words per hour). So even with my built in breaks between sessions, it was slow going. (Honestly, I feel like I’ve been sitting in front of my laptop all day.)

Here’s where thing went awry:

  • I had a task that I’ve been putting off all weekend: sorting and delivering orders from my recent Pampered Chef party. My friends and neighbors have been patiently waiting for their goodies, which I appreciate. On the plus side, I got to unpack the goodies that I got myself, and I got to visit with some of my friends that I haven’t seen for awhile. When I tell them I’m writing again, they are always super supportive which is awesome.
  • We have a new puppy. We’ve had Bella for almost a month now. She’s twelve weeks old and full of spunk. She requires almost constant supervision and if you don’t walk her she starts bouncing off the walls. (I can’t wait until winter.)
  • And by far the worst offender: Netflix. I like having background noise when I work. What I should do is put my headphones in and listen to some Baroque playlists while I write (my go-to music during the first draft stage). Since I’ve had the living room to myself most of the day today though, I decided to turn on the TV. I deliberately picked a show where I’ve already seen all of the episodes (more than once), and so in theory I wouldn’t be tempted to stop typing and watch. That might work in many instances, but when it comes to The Vampire Diaries, I can’t help it. My attention wanders and then OOPS- I’ve lost ten minutes. (Mental note to self- no more Netflix on writing mini-marathon days…)

I can’t beat myself up too bad because I did get it done. It just took a heck of a lot longer than it should have. But balancing life and writing is akin to an art form some days, and you just have to adjust, go with the flow, and don’t stress out about it.

Step To My Bones Progress:

60 minutes = 2045 words = Chapter Five draft complete

Paranormal romance serial under other pen name:

4 writing sessions = 8,240 words = 6 chapters drafted

(Photo credit by Mike Mozart)

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A Writing Mini-Marathon (Step To My Bones, Day Four)

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When I plan to write, sometimes I really plan to write. I am perfectly content with a daily word count of 2,000 words on a weekday. Those are school nights, and I feel the pressure more acutely to fit in activities with family and to give myself an appropriate amount of time to wind down from the day job. 2K = okay.

But on weekends, there is the potential to blow my word count up. Enter, the writing mini-marathon. When you get a bunch of writers together, inevitably someone will ask the question “How many words do you write per day?

I’d like to qualify my response in saying that, in my personal opinion, there is no wrong answer to that question. It’s a very personal question and varies by writer. So whether you write 500 words or 15,000 words, I will give you big props and tell you that you are awesome. Showing up and putting words down is hard, so if you get the job done and you feel good about it, then more power to you.

So I’ve already answered for you how many words I average on an ordinary ho-hum day. That number is slightly higher btw, than what writers do during National Novel Writing Month. In that challenge, if you write 1,667 words a day, you’ll find that you have a 50k word novel by the end of 30 days. (Pretty cool, huh?) I can write 2,000 words in about an hour, give or take a distraction or two, so I’m very comfortable with that number.

But when the ideas are really flowing and the facet is wide open, that number can grow exponentially if given enough time and space. I wrote the first draft of Shadows Deep in 9 days. That fell out about 58,000 words (and grew to 65,000 during the editing process). But still- send to end, I had a workable manuscript in a week and a half. I did that in April 2012, so since then, I’ve had a good sense of what I can accomplish when I set my mind to it.

For me, it all comes down to the writing mini-marathon. Essentially, I set a goal of 10,000 words in one day. I know that I can write 2,000 words in about an hour. That means that I need five solid hours of writing to reach my goal. Here’s how I do it:

  1. To make it feel less stressful, I break this down into five writing sessions spread throughout the day.
  2. The sessions are all about quantity, not quality. I’m not doing any kind of censoring or editing. It is just about getting new words down on the page.
  3. I start early. I know things are well on track when I’ve got my first session complete by 10am. The ideal schedule would be:
    • Working session #1 = 8am- 9am, 2,000 words
    • Working session #2 = 11am-12pm, 2,000 words
    • Working session #3 = 2pm-3pm, 2,000 words
    • Working session #4 = 4pm-5pm, 2,000 words
    • Working session #5 = 7pm-8pm, 2,000 words
  1. You’ll notice that I give myself permission to take breaks that can range anywhere from 1-3 hours. This allows me plenty of time to do household chores, spend time with the family, run errands, go to the gym, walk the dog, or address any other activity that requires my attention.
  2. If things go awry during the day, I’ll adjust, but I don’t go to sleep until I have at least 10,000 words in the bag.

With this schedule, I’ve cracked 10,000 words multiple times and have written as many as 14,000 words in one day (adding additional sessions). It’s amazing how quickly stories come together utilizing this method.

I’m telling you this because I’m just coming off another writing mini-marathon today, and I’m planning another one for tomorrow. I’ll keep you posted on how successful I am. 🙂

Step To My Bones Progress

1 writing session (70 minutes) = 2,045 words = Chapter Four draft complete

*NEW* paranormal romance serial novella under other pen name

4 writing sessions = 8,030 words = Six chapters drafted

(Photo credit: Rachel James)

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Sleep is Overrated (Step To My Bones, Day Two)

Picture by Moyan Brenn on Flickr

Picture by Moyan Brenn on Flickr

It doesn’t take long before life attempts to intervene with whatever schedule you’ve set out on to reach your goals. There are a multitude of things that compete for your time and attention at any given moment. Even with a time management strategy that works 90% of the time, you have those days where you feel underwater from the moment you wake up until the moment you fall back into bed.

When I add attainment of a daily word count into the mix, things seem to get really hectic really fast. So that’s when the to-do list comes out and things have to be prioritized down to a more granular level then before. And what moves to the bottom of that list?

Sleep.

There’s never enough time in the day, or enough time for sleep, in my humble opinion. I LOVE sleep. I enjoy taking a nap on a quiet weekend afternoon. I’ll sleep in late whenever I have the opportunity. It’s truly one of my favorite things.

Unfortunately for me, it’s also the one thing that takes up a big chunk of my precious time so, like my Netflix addiction, it goes out the window when I’m in the throes of writing a new book.

I was really hoping that I’d make it further in than Day Two before I had to sacrifice some Zzzzz’s, but yesterday got me. The day job, followed by a kid’s lacrosse game, followed by the lacrosse team pizza party meant that I didn’t sit down in front of my computer until 9:30pm. Then there’s the requisite “unwind” time that’s necessary before I could settle back into the story, so I didn’t start on my word count until almost 10:15pm. During the week for the last six months, that has been my bedtime. But- I can’t complain because I got ‘er done.

75 minutes of sacrificed sleep = 2183 words = Chapter Two draft complete

So long sleep. I’ll miss you.

(Photo credit: Moyan Brenn)

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Step To My Bones: Day One… Again

 

SONY DSCI promised in one of my posts a few days ago that I would give you guys a front row seat to my writing process as I draft, craft, and complete my next writing project. I wanted to do this for two reasons:

  1. It holds me accountable to getting it done in a timely manner.
  2. Hopefully you’ll get excited about what’s coming and want to read it when it’s done

I’m not going to be divulging too many details quite yet. My books usually clock in about 65,000 words. That was the case for the Shadows and Bloodtruth books. The Twisted Souls series fell out to be a novella series with the 2nd-4th books clocking in at just around 40,000 words. I tell you this because my original thought was that Step To My Bones was going to be another novella, but I’m not sure now, and I probably won’t know until I cross the 15,000 word mark.

At that point, the story is going to be pretty well baked in my mind, and I’ll have a good grasp of the major characters and the story’s main conflict. Being a pantster through and through, there is a certain amount of fluidity that I have to be comfortable with when I’m writing- so it’s one of those cases of I’ll share with you what I know when I know it.

I’ve started this story three times previously. For whatever reason, the front end just didn’t click which is why I kept going back to square one and eventually set it aside for another time. As you can tell by the title of this post, that time has finally arrived.

I travel for my day job, and I’ve found that being closeted on a plane for 2-3 hours without wifi is an ideal time to pound out the daily word count. So that’s exactly what I did last night on my flight home. I didn’t even bother with music. The hum of activity throughout the cabin was enough to provide the required level of noise I need to be productive. (I can’t stand trying to write in complete silence. It drives me batty.)

End result?

1 hour writing time = 2,040 words = Chapter One draft complete

The best part is, I feel good about it. The chalk outline of the guardrails for the story are there, and I’m ready to rock it.

(Photo credit: Dewey Beach)

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