Archive for the ‘Chasing Adaptation’ Category
I’ve passed the 30,000 word mark for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and although it’s still a ways away, I can see the light at the end of the 50,000 word long tunnel.
I know I’ve mentioned that this year, the challenge has been a lot easier for me than I expected, but that’s because I decided (after listening to LOTS of advice about NaNo) to do the things that weren’t necessarily comfortable for me, but are kind of essential for making November work. In no particular order, I’m going to highlight some of the things I don’t usually do, but decided I should do, in order to be successful.
* GIVE UP PERFECTION: I’ve always hated place markers. I don’t like to leave incomplete thoughts and information on the page. When I don’t know or remember something, I usually go back and look it up or work through it until I have the information I need to move on. This is a time suck! It’s word count repellent. Here’s an example of me using a place marker in my text…
I hadn’t seen her since I was blank years old and she…
I need to go back and look up how old I said the MC was when this happened in an earlier chapter, but I don’t remember which chapter I wrote it and I’m 24 chapters in. It would take me forever to find it, so I decided to let it go, save it for the read through after NaNoWriMo is over. NaNoWriMo is about flow. Letting your stream of thoughts come out organically. It shouldn’t be impeded by details. Of course I may have stopped drafting to write this blog post. *head thunk* You don’t want to do that either LOL!
*GIVE UP YOUR DEPENDENCY ON YOUR LOGICAL MIND: Every night after I complete my words for the day, I go to sleep thinking about the chapter or scene I have to write next. I especially like to do this at night as I’m nodding off to sleep. Ironically, I get some of my best clarity when my vision is relaxed and a little fuzzy around the edges. Basically I give my subconscious some time in the spotlight and it really works for me. The next day I may not know all the words, but I know where I’m starting and for me that is usually half the battle.
* GIVE UP A COUPLE POCKETS, THE ZIPPER and MAYBE A CUFF OF YOUR PANSTER PANTS: In case you didn’t hear me, I’ll say it again…I am not an outliner. I’m never going to be that structured of a person. I am a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants pantster. But you waste a lot of time when you do your creative thinking in front of the keyboard or with the pen in hand. Jot down some ideas ahead of time. Pre-planning doesn’t have to be an old school outline. It can look like a doodle as long as it helps you to organize your thoughts a little better, freeing you up to write with more ease.
* GIVE UP THE STUPID IDEA THAT PERFECTION ON THE PAGE IS GOING TO SAVE YOU TIME: It doesn’t. If you like to write slow and methodically, I say go for it. I do it all the time. But I’m no longer under the illusion that I’m saving myself later work. I think you have to pay the piper along the way, no matter how you structure the process.
* GIVE UP FEELING SO ALONE IN A VERY LONELY PROCESS: Every night when I post my NaNoWriMo Word count, I get at least a few people cheering me on. I also check to see how everyone else is doing. I’ve even made some new online friends along the way. But ultimately, I enjoy that festive, collaborative environment that November brings. It really helps me to stay motivated. I don’t run into so many moments where I can talk myself into stopping. Momentum is fueled by the community collective.
What have you had to give up for NaNoWriMo that’s been a gift in disguise?
I’ve always drafted my books with a musical playlist inspiring me. Sometimes I would play the same song over and over and over again as I wrote a scene. But all throughout NaNoWriMo I haven’t felt compelled to write with music. Nor have I even found anything that stood out and spoke to me. That is until now.
The first song on the CHASING ADAPTATION playlist.
Write on NaNoWriMoers. Find the music of your words.
Do you write to music? Is silence your thing? Does it change from project to project? Has there been a specific song that has had an impact on your writing?
Do you remember that time when I said I’d NEVER participate in NaNoWriMo? Ever. Yeah, I recall telling everyone how busy I was during the month of November. I also told them how I like to write with my internal editor sitting on my shoulder with her little red pen slashing and swiping at the words I’d just written–how that was good for me. It was my style. I think I may have even mentioned how participating in National Novel Writing Month would suck the joy and wonder of writing right out of me like a Dementor with his soul sucking kiss.
But even though I said that, last year, I tried it. My friends got me all excited and I wanted to be a part of what they were doing, even if it felt like I was wearing my shoes on the wrong feet. So I jumped in. I only managed to clock in just under 6,000 words. Blah, blah, blah… I stopped to revise another manuscript. And I got busy and I wrote slowly with my internal editor on my shoulder. The only thing I didn’t let my head do to my NaNo experience last year, was suck the fun out of writing. I had a blast–even for the minimal amount of commitment I exhibited. I had a fabulous time being part of the collective frenzy and excitement. And even though I didn’t win, t was happy to have almost 6,000 words that I never would have had if I allowed myself to putz around November making sad excuses for myself.
So, even though I wasn’t a winner last year, I think I got bit by the NaNoWriMo bug because I absolutely wanted to do it again this year, but with a few adjustments.
#1 Although I decided my first priority was to beat last year’s word count, I may have also decided that I’d like to win this year. So, I’m shooting for a minimum daily writing goal. If I exceed that–great. If I miss a day I’m going to have to make that up, but I’d like to slowly inch ahead to give myself a cushion if I can. (The good news is that by Day 4 I’m now ahead of last year’s word count!!!!!)
#2 This year I’m doing a re-write of the book I started last year. Why would I do this? Because it’s the book I MUST write. I’m just like that. And I’ve taken the last year and particularly the last several weeks to research, read, be inspired and think deeply about the strange and beautiful thought threads that I’d like to weave together in this story. Last year I was woefully short weaving material. My thoughts were thin. It made the writing hard. So while I AM advocating the joy of NaNo-ing and pushing yourself, I can already tell you that my increased success this year is in part because I gave myself and my book the time I needed to get my head wrapped around it. It’s all about balance.
#3 Having done all that deep thinking, I also did something I don’t usually do in my writing–I wrote an outliney-thingy. It’s just jumbled notes with a couple time lines and maybe a few scribbles here and there. But I went into this year’s NaNo with a bit of a plan. I had my main characters fleshed out a bit and I know the weird little beginning and ending that will either be awesome or a pretty hot mess. And either way, it doesn’t matter because by design, I’m not really supposed to know what “this” is until after I 1) finish and 2) put it away for a few weeks and then pull it back out again after the holidays and read it with fresh eyes and a clear head.
Well, I better make this short and sweet–I’ve got words to put on the page for today. And If you didn’t sign up and now you’re regretting it–GO DO IT! Who cares if you win this year? Or maybe you’ll win writing even faster than the rest of us. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that it’s fun!!! If you’re looking for me–I’m Kimmiepoppins. Let’s be buddies. And if you’re not ready to take the plunge—>start planning for next year!!!!
Have you ever done NaNoWriMo? Do you want to? What’s stopping you? Are you sneaking Skittles out of your kid’s Halloween baskets while trying to make your word count? Oh, wait–that’s me. *grin*
Yesterday I FINALLY had my house relatively clean, a decent amount of laundry done, all three boys in school and the hubby back at work. There was no need to run because I had dance class in the evening and even the weather cooperated by being unseasonably cold and damp. It felt like a writing day. It also came to my attention that my fridge was empty and Panera would be a good place for lunch LOL! Without a doubt, all the stars were in alignment for me to pull out my newest work-in-progress called CHASING ADAPTATION.
Now, don’t get me wrong–I haven’t been neglecting this new manuscript. It has been in the research and mulling over phase while I did things like wash and put away snow pants and clean cat litter. I’ve been reading, making notes and participating in other forms of mental gymnastics. Lots of good things. But one of my writing resolutions this year is to move more quickly into the drafting phase after I’m finished with a project. (I say “finished” loosely, since we all know a novel is never done until it’s on the shelves.) Any-who, yesterday was the day to pull out the almost 6,000 words of CHASING ADAPTATION that I’d written during this year’s NaNoWriMo, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month. And trust me, there was a lot of dust on that baby–I hadn’t read it since November.
I am soooooo happy that I wrote those 6,000 words!!! At the time I was disappointed that I couldn’t do more, but with the TOUCHING THE SURFACE book launch, Thanksgiving and a dance recital, almost 6,000 words was my best. This is a great reminder that sometimes it’s better to focus on starting than on finishing. Worry about finishing after you start LOL! It was so much easier to begin writing again, having a platform in place to jump off of. This experience has also cemented my desire to try NaNoWriMo again next year. I may not finish, but the writing I did do, turned out to be very helpful. Also, the NaNo draft (to my surprise) ended up being a lot better than I remembered it. I fully anticipated having to trash a sizable chunk of what I’d thrown down on paper, but I don’t think I’m going to do that at this point. My original instincts may have been better than I thought they were. I believe I’m going to give this puppy a little room to grow and see what my subconscious mind has planned. Have I ever told you how much I enjoy the voices in my head? They are pretty cool company.
Anyway–for the record–I want to say something out loud. You know, before I get to that part in the manuscript where I suck and would rather cut my wrists open with a plastic butter knife than ever write again.
I LOVE WRITING!!!!
I’m so deliriously happy that I’m pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. Jumping into a new book right away feels brave and daring.
It also makes me feel good to know that I’m always growing and adapting. Recognizing my method while simultaneously learning to challenge myself.
Finding a new balance.
And I adore the potential and excitement that comes with a new idea.
The start of a book leaves me tingly as I filter my brain onto paper.
I can’t babble about this forever. I must finish writing this post so I can go back to Scrivener and write more words.
How long does it take you to start writing again after you finish a project? Can you juggle multiple projects? Are you able to “work” on a book in your head while you’re busy doing other things? What’s your view on starting and finishing? Does starting a book make you giddy?
I wanted to talk to you a little bit about revision today. I’ve got some RANDOM thoughts that have been marinating and I thought I’d share them with you…
*Right now, revision is a blast because I’m in the slay-the-monster-zone. The only thing stopping me from having a kick-ass, completed, manuscript to send out to my agent, is the fact that I’m a rather slow monster slayer. LOL! Even so, it’s a fabulous feeling and I’m really enjoying it. I’m pulling out my laptop every chance I get. (Have revision fort, will travel.) Even though things are going great, I’m prone to self examination, so I’ve been wondering…Why is this section of the writing process one of my favorites?
I think it’s because it consists of 50% structure and 50% intuition. I’m not in a place where I’m just doing the brain-numbing task of fighting with my horrible spelling and grammar. I gleefully have more than the bones of the story down on paper. My rough drafts, riddled with their own issues, are a full story. This means I don’t have to work in the place where I have ALL the ideas in the world. That can be overwhelming. Right now I’m walking the line between being creative AND doing the nuts and bolts work. It’s a really good balance for me. Of course, it always helps that there’s a light at the end of my tunnel to guide me home.
*Lately I’ve heard a lot of words bandied around–procrastination, fear and writer’s block. These are words I’ve used from time to time. In fact I pull them out at at regularly scheduled intervals in my writing process LOL! We all do. But as I’ve been pondering the joy of revision, I’ve realized that there is something to be said for revising my process as well as my manuscripts. Sure, I can write volumes about how and why my second book has gotten away from me during the process of being a debut author. I can talk to you about my emotional writing style and why I approach writing the way I do. I’ve got a zillion fabulous posts in me about these topics. You’ll likely even get a few of them from time to time, but I’m a growing girl. (No, I’m not gonna get taller than 5 foot 4 inches–no matter what I write.) What I mean is, if I open myself up to it, I’ll learn to revise myself, the same way I do my words.
K.L. Going once said to me...you can’t put a book on the shelf if you don’t put it on paper. It’s not a book if it is in your head–it’s an idea. That was a big turning point for me. But I’m also coming to realize that I need to expand upon that nugget of truth. What will I be doing the minute I put THE OPPOSITE OF GRAVITY in the hands of my agent? I’ll be working on CHASING ADAPTATION! It’s not just enough to get the book on paper, it’s important to understand what role procrastination, fear and writer’s block play in that process. They can be speed bumps or they can be excuses. They can be challenges to overcome or they can be blog posts that keep a writer from doing the real work. You know what I choose. I am discovering where and when to push myself to be the writer I want to be.
*This next thought is going to sound counter productive to my last one, but if you were paying attention you know that balance is important. I just suggested that it’s necessary for me to push myself harder through the parts of the writing and revising that are naturally hard for me. It’s true. It resonates. I believe it. But I’m also suggesting that an important part of revision is what I think of as The Feel. It reminds me of my son at his music lessons. As he’s learning the guitar, his instructor doesn’t want him to look at his fingers while he’s playing. He needs to know where his fingers are supposed to go. Playing has a feel. I had a very similar experience when I learned how to type. I spent lots of time looking at my fingers in the beginning, not believing that I’d ever be able to stop doing that. Then one day I realized I could hit those keys without thinking about where they were. Writing and revision are like that. They have a feel. You DO have to push yourself to show up when the work is hard. You DO have to understand you won’t always be comfortable in the different phases of this process. But you also shouldn’t be trying to push a square peg into a round hole. No one benefits from that. Not the peg. Not the hole. Writing is art–there are parts that have to be felt to be done “right.”
*Agents and editors have special-super-hero-vision and can see a manuscript in ways that I can’t even begin to comprehend. They have a whole different skill set than I do, which means I want them to pull my manuscript apart. Their work is a pivotal step in the process of changing a manuscript (a solitary endeavor) into a book (a collaborative event.) BUT, even though I want my agent and my editor to pull my words apart, in order to get to an even better version of my story, I still need to bring my very best work to the table. Maybe it’s just me, but I liken the revision process to shopping for a very awesome birthday present for a friend. Sending out a completed manuscript is like giving a gift that is well thought out, nicely wrapped, usable, exciting and timeless. Sure, it’s about me too–a good book is going to benefit me as much as the agent and the editor, but when I’m working on the revision, I find myself having a sense of intimacy with my first new readers and that makes the process really wonderful for me.
*Or there are times when you’re revising and it feels like a you’re wrestling a giant octopus. Just ask my friend Amy. But hey, the cool part about that is you can wear those tentacle burns like a badge of honor when your done. *fist pump* So, what I guess I’m saying is that revision is awesome…even when it isn’t.
Any thoughts on revision? What do you love? What do you hate? Have you ever eaten octopus? I’d love to stay and chat, but I’m off to the revision fort!
This is a very popular song with my 7yo at the moment. The first time I heard him singing it I busted out laughing–this may have had something to do with the fact that he’s missing his two front teeth and he sort of sounds like this…
“Have you got and grapeths?”
Sorry, we lost the second tooth eating a poppy bagel. LOL!
But as I’ve been listening (don’t judge me, it’s a catchy little diddy) I’ve realized that it does have some similarities to the publishing process. ROTFL! Let me know what you think.
For years I’ve been hearing people talk about NaNoWriMo –National Novel Writing Month. From November 1st until November 30th, participants set a goal of writing a 50,000 word novel. I’ll admit it, part of this has always intrigued me, but it has also scared the crap out of me and because of that, I’ve never seriously toyed with the idea of participating. I’ve had a list as long as my arm of reasons I could not participate and this year the excuses have grown with TOUCHING THE SURFACE coming out on October 30th. Just so you know where I’m coming from, I’ll share the highlights from that list with you…
*I HAVE THE BOOK LAUNCH OF MY DEBUT NOVEL!!!!!
*I’m working on revisions for book #2
*My local dance recital (I teach and dance) takes place in November.
*I am a painfully slow writer who struggles through first drafts.
*I never get enough sleep.
*I’m still recovering from all the work we’ve done on the house.
*I have three boys ages 7,9 and 11 who participate in lots of activities and need help with their homework regularly.
*I like to run several times a week for a sanity break.
*I’m a procrastinator.
So, it’s obvious that I’m not going to be able to do NaNoWriMo this year…WHICH IS EXACTLY WHY I REGISTERED ON SATURDAY AND I’M SIGNING UP TODAY!!!!!
Ha! Bet you didn’t see that one coming. *grin* Yes, I know that I’m insane. Now let me tell you why I’m going to be giving this a shot…
*First of all–I’m going to be doing this because the SCBWI–particularly my Hudson Valley Shop Talk Members ROCK! Lisa Koosis, one of my local writer buds gave a guest presentation at my local Shop Talk and she got me sooooo excited to break out of my box and give this a try. She told me a million things to make me want to give it a go, but the three that stuck out the most were…
1. It’s just supposed to be fun.
2. Even if you don’t finish, you’ve probably done more than you would have without participating.
3. You can discover unexpected things about yourself.
As Lisa talked and I got a bunch of fluttery tingles in my belly–usually a sign that I’ve eaten something bad or I’m excited–I started to think about why I might want to participate in this event.
*I HAVE THE BOOK LAUNCH OF MY DEBUT NOVEL!!!!! And as exciting as this is–I’m scared. There I’ve said it. It’s exciting AND scary. (There will be a spin off blog post on this later) But I suddenly realized that it might be a really good thing for me to have a reason to step away from the madness. It’s a full circle thing–when a book is born, perhaps the best way to celebrate is to write something new. So…I think that it might be very healthy to have a reason to unglue my eyes from reviews and Amazon’s Author Central.
*I’m working on revisions for book #2. I love revision–it’s easily one of my favorite parts of the writing process. The story is there, it just has to be manipulated. I don’t know how long that process will take me, but I know that when it’s over, there will be the typical wave of fear and insecurity about having to write another first draft again. What if I can sneak in a part or all of a first draft while I’m revising? This idea intrigues me. I’ve been marinating ideas for book 3 for quite a while, but I don’t feel “ready” to tackle it yet. But what if I trick myself into thinking that NaNoWriMo is nothing more than hard-core stretching and training for the writer in me. What if I give myself permission to take a crack at this rough draft under the guise that it isn’t “real writing”–its an activity, an event, a journey.
*My local dance recital (I teach and dance) takes place in November. Yeah–and how many hours is that out of my life? Not enough to use it as an excuse. The truth is that I have days when I’m drafting, where I have six hours to sit and write and there are days when I squeeze in 45 minutes while the boys are at jujitsu. Not always, but often, I’ve managed to write the same amount of words on both of those days. Perhaps this is about FOCUS.
*Thanksgiving. I do not host Thanksgiving at my home. I spend the day eating and socializing. I watch the parade and I do kicks in my living room along with the Rockettes on TV. I can squeeze this in or I can double up on another day. Using this excuse makes me a turkey.
*I am a painfully slow writer who struggles through first drafts. At least this is how I think of myself. I have a system for writing and I like it–it works for me. The only time I really have trouble with it is when the other members of the Wolf Pack whip off manuscripts in sick amounts of time. It makes me queasy and insecure even though intellectually I know better. But what if I can do things a little differently. When I’m investing myself in a book I revert to wanting to attack it in a familiar method–one I’ve had success with. But this is a little like tricking myself into doing something different. What if shouldn’t be the gateway to potential failure–it should be a question that makes us want to try.
*I never get enough sleep. But I watch TV. I mean–not crazy amounts–but I make choices. It’s only for a month, right?
*I’m still recovering from all the work we’ve done on the house. But I still have a month to put things to rights and realistically, everything I clean is always going to get dirty again…dishes, laundry, kids. By the time I start, I’ll be much more organized than I have been in awhile. So I just have to make that effort to stay on top of daily chores so that I don’t go under physically or emotionally.
*I have three boys ages 7,9 and 11 who participate in lots of activities and need help with their homework regularly. I’m going to have three busy boys from now until forever. I started writing SURFACE when they were 2, 4 and 6 years old. I have no recollection of when I actually did that–but I must have. LOL! Besides, soccer ends mid-month, there is break after the recital and we do have a Thanksgiving break. Plus–they support me. And my lovely hubby has been traveling a lot which means I have no excuses.
*I like to run several times a week for a sanity break. No reason to stop. I write in my head when I run anyway. I let my subconscious take the lead when my feet are in a rhythm. No need to change that–it might help me get my words out faster when I sit down.
*I blog. Ha! I’m sure it’s going to give me lots to blog about.
*I’m a procrastinator. Sometimes, but not always…
Have you ever done NaNoWriMo? Completed it? Liked it? Loved it? Hated it? Have you been avoiding it like me? Secretly long to try? Have a great excuse for not playing? Tell how you NaNoWriMo or NaNoNoGo.
I’m waiting to open the Word document for CHASING ADAPTATION but I can never do that until I have sprouts in my thought garden. Right now I have seeds–but I need sprouts to write. What do I feed my seeds so that they grow? I zillion creative things, but one very important one is a playlist. Think I’ve picked the first song for book three…
What part of your inspirational process are you waiting on?
Due to a wicked bout of the
flu PLAGUE that hit the whole family, I went running on Monday for the first time in weeks. I knew my first run back would be a little on the slow side, but I was just anxious to get out there. Why? Because running releases more than just sweat. I love this picture because it’s actually how I visualize what’s happening to me when I run. Except, there is another component that I see in my mind’s eye. It isn’t always just what I leave out on the road that’s important–it’s also about what I find along the way.
On Monday I also finished the first draft of my second novel, THE OPPOSITE OF GRAVITY. *happy dance* For me, drafting is a long and painful process. I can not adequately express the joy I feel right now to have a very functional draft to work off of. I LOVE revision and now I’m finally there–sort of. Because for me, writing has it’s own kind of heartbeat. It’s own rhythm. When one thing ends–another begins. The closer I draw to the end of one book, the more the next book starts to move, stretch and grow inside my head. So, as I run, I do this thing that I sort of think of as “unhinging my mind.” When I’m running, I turn off the logic setting and I let my mind travel at random. I allow it to move from one thought to another in the hopes that my subconscious will be the compass–leading me to my own truth.
The plot thread, that was missing from book #3 CHASING ADAPTATION, just appeared in my head along a number of other cool and interesting possibilities. And as my feet pounded the pavement, I had this insane feeling that as I was actually running through the collective conscious, with my mind open like a butterfly net, collecting ideas at the same rate as I was dropping “garbage” behind me. And it felt amazing.
Where do you look to find clarity and inspiration for your writing or your life? What sends your internal compass in the right direction?