Category Archives: Writing Challenges

Ups and Downs of the Writing Life

There is a huge drawback to writing on the computer. You can get dependent on the technology.

I was riding a high wave on my CampNaNo project. I was above and beyond the number count every day, averaging about 1700 words per day. Then the worst thing that could possibly happen happened. My computer decided it didn’t want to start.

I spent the next couple days trying to decide if I really needed a computer or not. While they are getting more affordable, how much computer did I really need? The more computer, the bigger the price. I realize that what I really do is I write, surf a little bit, and that’s pretty much all I do on the computer. I don’t need huge graphics. I hate the idea of a touch screen.  But I did want a cd/dvd drive as I’m still partial to my cds so a “flip” computer was pretty much out.

I had been riding the high of CampNaNo and suddenly came to a screeching halt. With the finish line  in sight. I tried writing on a pad and simply couldn’t get any words out. So I went from almost 2k words higher than the goal to 5k below the daily goal in just a couple days.

Now it’s the last day. And I have only written a handful of words since this happened. I went from writing 1700 words a day to less than 100 words a day. I totally lost myself, my enthusiasm and my story in trying out a new computer.

Bear with me here. I’m going on a tangent. I have recently reconnected to twitter, just like this blog. I check it two to three times a day, sometimes I tweet, sometimes I don’t. Since rejoining I have added 40 new followers and am following almost 100 more than I was previously. I have no idea how, but I came across Joanna Penn and followed her.

A few days ago she tweeted about an interview podcast that she did with author Rachel Aaron/Bach.  She wrote the Eli Monpress series and a few other series. In this interview she talks about how she writes TEN THOUSAND words a day. And I thought oh. my. god. That’s insane!

MyAnd only watching a decade later will we understand all the other jokes... first reaction is there was no way I could possibly reach 10k a day. She and I have drastically different lives. She’s a full-time writer. I’m a full-time mother and homemaker. She has one young son. I have triplet toddlers. She’s been published both traditionally and self-published. I have only had a few articles published in a college magazine.

My second reaction was: “Well why the heck can’t I?” If I say I can’t, I probably won’t. And I may not be able to make the 10k every day, but if I could religiously do 4k would be amazing! So I listened to the podcast again. I found her blog and in particular the post where she talks about how she increased her writing from 2k to 10k a day in about a month. I’m not going to go into detail about how she did. But if you’d like to read it you can here.

Getting back to my original idea. Writing has always been up and down for me as I write in an organic way allowing the story more or less to write itself. Doing this, I’m probably never going to get published, self or traditional. I have started more than 5 novels. Although I love them all, I ride the high and when I get stuck and the story stops writing itself, I stop.

This CampNaNo I was insistent on “winning” right up until my computer crashed and I lost all hope. But now I can take what worked for her, find what parts work for me and apply it to my writing. Just because I only have a few hours a day to myself doesn’t mean I can’t break 2k every single day.

Time to start the experiment. I’ve more or less used up all my writing time today to get this post done. Awful I know. Since NaNo was keeping track of my writing, I’ll be able to use that as my “before” numbers. I’ll apply what I can to my writing and I’ll track what happens. I’ll let you know about my progress in a week or so. My goal is to reach 4k a day in my 2-3 hour writing period every day.

Stay tuned.

 

 

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Happy Birthday to Me.

My birthday is coming up. And I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. I’m no where close to where I once thought I’d be at this particular point in my life. It’s not even a “milestone” age. I just once thought I’d be, if not a published writer, then at least successfully pursuing a career somewhere.

But I’m not. I’m a stay-at-home mom of three little ones. And this is something I have never dreamed that I’d be. There are days that I love being able to stay with my kids all day. Then there others where I really don’t want to share a room with them by 10am and I have them to myself for another eight hours.

stay-at-home-mom.jpg

But I really shouldn’t complain. There are many people who want to be able to stay at home. I’m lucky that we can “afford” for me to be here with my kids.

And what I mean by that is the cost of childcare for my children is currently more than most jobs I could get. So it’s more affordable for me to stay here. Originally I thought “Yay! Lots of free time to work on my writing!”

What happened was: change a diaper. burp baby. wipe up the mess. Rock them gently. Teething! Then when they turned a year. Oh My God! They’re walking. No you can’t go there. Put that back. You’re going to break it! Now they’re two. And it’s potty training all day. Don’t you dare sass me. Put that back. You took your diaper off…AGAIN! And pooped on the rug. Sigh.

Still. The more independent they get, theoretically I get more time. Most of my writing even now is a sentence here. A few words there. If I’m lucky I’ll get a whole paragraph down.

But I’ve realize that if I really want to write I’ll make time for it. I’ll get up a few minutes early. Even an hour early doesn’t guarantee a full hour writing though. I’ll try to stay up a little later.

I have been participating in Camp NaNoWriMo. And I said this is the year that I win! I said that every year. But I’m making it a priority this year and I have stayed more or less on track. Yes there was one day that I only wrote 100 words. But I’ve also had a 2000 word day. And multiple 1800 word days that more than made up for it. I have sixteen days left and I’m siting at 25810 words of all brand new story.

Smiling Mother And Daughter

I’ll also write while they nap. This is my heaven time. They’re all asleep and I have anywhere from 1 to 3 hours of ME time. I often don’t spend all of it writing. I’ll do a little of everything during this time. But my two favorite activities: a nap, and writing.

But back to my birthday. No I’m not where I thought I’d be. I’m in a completely different world. However, I am making finally making this world work for me. And all I want for my birthday is a day. Yep. One whole day where I don’t have to lift a finger for housework, or taking care of kid and I can sleep and write to my hearts content.

Yeah. Like that’d happen. I suppose I’ll have to settle for the composter I’ve had my eye on for years and a new book. Maybe a little bling for my car. So happy birthday to me.

 

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50k in 19 days

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Wait a minute…is this a NaNo update on a Monday?!

Okay, Okay. I know I promised updates for NaNo on Wednesdays. But I can no longer keep it in, in fact, I’m writing this one on Sunday so that I can get it all out there. I hit 50K on Saturday. I was up late into the night, partly because of a football game and partly because I was on a writing roll! So not only did I finish the NaNoWriMo mark, but was well ahead of my goal for 75K in one month. All right, yes, I’m excited. It suddenly no longer bothers me that not one person showed up for the write in Saturday (everyone wanted one on weekends, so I make one and no one shows. phht).

Even though 50K wasn’t my goal, it was well ahead of schedule and deserved something to make it special. Well, since I reached that point like around midnight, it was far too late to do something then. I celebrated Sunday with an extra workout, shopping, and general non-writing things.

Then I got back to work. At 10pm, as I write this on Sunday, I’ve written another 2500 words today. My total is now over 52K. My average daily word count is 2,625 words. It will, more than likely, go down on Tuesday, when a promised movie day, which didn’t take place Friday as planned, will happen. However, if my word count doesn’t go down, and my plot goes on as planned, I will have more than 78K for the month of November.  I will also be fairly close to the end, even though the last chapter is already written.

I have been pondering what I will do when the novel is finished, and it will be finished. I have thought about taking a break from it. Writing the prequel that I know I want to write. Then coming back to it. But then again, I’m not sure I want to take the break. I want it finished. I want to edit it. I want to publish it. I think a break is the better way to go, you know, get some perspective. Maybe con someone, I mean, find someone to beta read for me. Huh, perhaps that’s the best way to go. Get someone to beta read while I work on something else. Something entirely different, or the prequel, whichever. Then in January grad school begins. 😀

 

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NaNo Update

Well, I was so excited about my acceptance letter, and rambled about that for far too long, that I forgot to give the update for NaNoWriMo, like I promised I’d do every week.

My word count has passed 45K (and I’m not even done for the day). That has amazed even me. I’m ahead of schedule for not only NaNo’s 50k, but my own goal of 75k. While it’s technically against the rules of NaNo, this word count includes minor editing like backspacing if I know I’ve mistyped something (I do that a lot), grammar, punctuation and spelling. All that, and I’ve still managed to blow past my goal. To be fair I’ve not gone out looking for a job this week, which is why I’ve gone past my goals. In fact, I’ve spent the entire week secluded in a house, making sure a recent surgery patient stays put even though he thinks he’s about to go mad. Hehe. He hates being trapped indoors as much as I do. Still, staying put has helped my word count a good bit, especially since he spends so much time sleeping. I’ve also managed this week to squeeze in a re-reading of Twilight, and watch all 8 Harry Potter movies, host a write-in, make dinner all week, read 4 magazines (taking what writing influence/tidbits I can out of them) and a host of other trivial things. All-in-all, a very productive week.

The write-in this week was quite a disappointment really. I got stuck in traffic, by a train, and it made me five minutes late. So when I arrived, I wondered if people had shown up and left already. It seemed a bit trivial to leave after only five minutes, and I set up shop anyways. I’m going to have one again Saturday, and a short one Wednesday before T-day. Two other people showed up, later than I. Not a complete loss. And we stayed later as we read each others’ works. Giving encouragement and critiques. So not bad really. I’m hoping for more to show up on Saturday, since its the day that most people have off of work.

My general thoughts for NaNo right now, at the end of week 3, are that it truly is a crazy idea. When I go to bed at night either I’ve tried so hard my brain feels like mush, or I’m still so psyched about what I’m writing that I can’t get it out of my head and sleep.  But then again, if I don’t sleep my brain will be mush. I read some of the things I wrote when I was too excited to sleep and…let’s just say that everything is better with sleep.

I have found out that I cannot work without noise. Preferably music, the TV can get a bit distracting if I enjoy the show. I’m also a caffeine addict. There, I’ve admitted it. Now on to the withdrawal, after November is over. I’m really excited about this novel, it won’t be polished at the end of November, but it will be done-ish. I think. It may end up a bit later, like around 80 or 90K. When November is over, I’ll back off a little. But only a little. The novel will be done by the end of the year and no later. Then I can start editing and polishing. Then maybe, just maybe, I’ll have something worth publishing. But that is a post for another day.

 

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Wednesday Word Count

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Wednesdays in November will be my word count days. I’ll blog about my thoughts on nano, if I’m keeping up with my goals, as well as giving the down low on what happened at the write ins.  This is to help keep me honest. Which I’m gonna need over the coming month.

Nano is going great.I’m still conflicted on whether or not this is insane, but I’m finding the challenge enjoyable. I’ve been writing in the morning, job hunting in the afternoon, and spending time with family and friends in the evening. All told, I think I have full days. But I get to do something I loved while still having time to do the things I have to do. Also, I’m keeping time in between (although I’m unsure how) to exercise. Life is definitely looking up. Insane? More like genius with a twist of crazy. 🙂

According to the counter, I am well on my way to making 50K by the end of the month. In fact, if I keep up my average, about 2,300 Words per day, I’ll finish on November 23rd. However, this will not meet my goal of 75K. I need to step up my average by 500 words a day (leaves me about 800 words to go today). I have a short-term goal of 30K by the end of the week. I know that meeting a goal goes much better, and easier, if there is a reward. Mine is that I get to geek out on Twilight with my dad next Friday (We’re going to watch all three movies so far, and then go to the movies!) without having to worry about writing. If I don’t meet said goal, I’ll have to write while watching movies, and still keep up my average. I’ll still see the movies, but the experience will be much better if I don’t have to worry about meeting a writing goal.

Today marks the first day of the write-ins that I scheduled. I was unsure how many would show up since I only gave two days’ warning, but three others came and we had a blast. Three WordWars gave a jump-start to my word count for the day by 1600 words. Each WordWar was 15 minutes in length. Afterwards, we drew which goal it was. It was drawn afterwards to encourage writing fast, but also well. There was a prize for least number, most, and closest to 500. We shared writing ideas, and got to know each other. Over all it was a great success for such a short time frame, and I’m expecting more to show up next week.

 

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Writing Insanity

I’m so totally psyched! Because of NaNoWriMo…and I’m well ahead of schedule. 🙂

Most writers know that November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short). This has got to be the most insane, and perhaps brilliant, idea to grace the writing scene. I’m not sure who came up with the idea, but they were either crazy or a genius. This is the month that, theoretically, you could write an entire novel. The downside, you probably don’t have time for anything else in your life. There is a numerical goal–50,000, although I’ve upped the ante I want to write 75,000 this month.

Why did I do that? Considering it’s my first time participating in this event, upping the word count seems like a pretty silly idea. However, I’ve written before and I know what I’m capable of. I can do a lot in a single day…4,00o words a day on the weekends. But writing a novel is only part of the experience. The other half of the experience is all the people who are getting involved. Chatting with people online and participating in forums is one thing, but lacks human communication.

Enter the second half of NaNoWriMo…the write in. My biggest problem with this is the fact that I live in a small town. The closest city that deserves its own forum is almost two hours away! Totally unfair. I joined that forum, but was unhappy there. Then, while I was puttering around with nothing to do, cruising the regions…I suddenly found one listed “Elsewhere” So now I live in Elsewhere! Inside that forum every city on the map (that doesn’t have its own forum) has its own thread. Yay for smalltownsville. Okay…technically where I live isn’t in there, but the town next to where I live does. When I entered this group the thread consists of everyone saying how they’d love to go to a write in. But someone has to start that.

There are 15 people participating in this thread. One person suggested they might host an event. One day passes…it becomes one week. Nothin doin. That’s what I did today. In addition to looking for a job, exercising, writing 2K words for my nanovel, I also went around town to set up different write ins. I arranged one for University students on campus on the weekend. One at night for those who need nights. Another weekend job for those who work 9-5 (and still want to participate). Five total. Was this hard? No. I found places that would be good for each one, went to those places and obtained permission. I emailed the moderator with my schedule and an hour later it was up for all to see. I don’t understand why no one else would take the lead. I’ve never participated before, let alone attended a write in. I have no idea what goes on.

This is where my ingenuity comes in. In addition to WordWars (we have those on the forums) I can bring word games for the procrastinators: Scrabble, word finds, etc. In addition, since I had like…no trick-or-treaters I have 5 lbs of candy sitting at home begging to be eaten. Can anybody say “Prizes?” And who doesn’t like candy? So I can help facilitate participation while also emptying the house of caloric black holes. Woot! In fact, I have also come up with ideas for getting rid of more candy and “testing” the participants on what kind of music they like. If they listen to pop, rock, techno, whatever they get different kinds of candy. Well…I’m going to get more punishment 🙂 If you are a participant this year, good luck. If not, keep writing anyway.

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Word Challenge Wednesday

I’m going to throw down the gauntlet today. Today is all about expanding your horizons.

If you are a writer you need to know words well. Writers should be constantly expanding their vocabulary. I expand mine when I read, as well as when I write. And since there are many places on the web where you can get a free word of the day: http://www.merriam-webster.com/word-of-the-day/; http://dictionary.reference.com/wordoftheday; http://www.transparent.com/wotd/ (this one also offers different languages 😀 ) just to name a few; there is no reason to not expand your vocabulary.

Today’s Challenge it get a word of the day and use it. If you don’t want to use one of the websites, the do it the old fashioned way…look it up in the dictionary. After you have your word of the day, use it as a theme in a piece of short fiction.

You don’t have to share if you don’t want to, but I’d love to see what people come up with. If you wish to share, first post the word, then what it means, and then the work. I got this word from http://www.merriam-webster.com/.

Wombmates

A slang term for twins.

A tear rolled down Janice’s cheek. “I wish Sam could be here.” She whispered to Jason as she stood.

He  squeezed her hand. “There’s nothing to worry about. The doctor said you probably just misjudged when you conceived. Just think, in another hour, your baby will have it’s first picture. We can show Sam when he gets home from Iraq.”

“But what if I’m just fat?” She wailed. Three long months she had been waiting for this checkup. Then in a whisper she added “It’s not quite the same thing as hearing the news is it?”  She didn’t need to see his head to know that he agreed. Pictures have always been a sore topic for Janice. With one hand she gripped Jason’s to calm her nerves, while the other hand held a long cane that ranged out ahead of her, the slight snags warned her of a rise in the floor and she didn’t need Jason’s murmur that there were stairs ahead.

They followed the orderly through more turns than Jason could count, but he was sure that Janice could find her way out without him if she had to. But he had been her guide when they were just kids, had been thereto protect her from boyfriends when they were teens, and now, while her husband was away, Jason stepped up to help his sister whenever he could.

The room they had been taken to was just as cold as the waiting room and when she shivered, Jason threw his jacket around her shoulders. Jason tapped his foot impatiently as he sat in one of the chairs after guiding Janice to the exam table.

She was serene, one arm wrapped protectively around her belly. And arched an eyebrow in Jason’s direction. But her puffy, red eyes belied her calm. One thing she didn’t want was gestational diabetes. She had promised herself she wasn’t going to be like her mother. But when the doctor came in the the room, she winced.

Jason was at her side in moment, squeezing her hand. “It’s okay,” he murmured over and over. “It’s going to be okay.”

The gel was even colder than the room. And although the doctor explained everything that happened, as it happened, for Janice’s benefit, she only felt relief when Jason repeated it.

A soft, almost wet, swishing noise filled the room. “That’s your baby’s heartbeat.”

Janice bit into her lip, then, “Am I…” She trailed off. She couldn’t stand to be too fat. She started again. “What is it?” When silence met her inquiry, “Jason!”

“I think,” he started.

“Congratulations Janice, it’s twins.”

She laughed in relief. “Are they girls?”

“One boy, one girl.” The doctor replied.

“Just like us,” Jason said.

She smiled through tears, “Just like us.”

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