Definitely slow, not as steady as I would like. I’m 18.5 K into the story, solidly in the part where all the political intrigue comes into play. I have at least one cool scene coming up which is going to throw my MC into a tailspin and send her running for her life. Is it mean of me to be looking forward to writing that?
My main goal right now, though, is to get back into the habit of writing. Since it’s very easy for me to be distracted by things that are not as hard to do as writing (Internet, video games, reading) and the urgent-but-not-important (almost all housekeeping tasks), I’ve set the bar low for myself: 500 words a day, 5 days a week. That gives me days off, and prevents me from using the excuses of “I’m too tired”, “I don’t have enough time”, and “It’s been a long day” (when are they not??). 500 words a day on a first draft? That’s peanuts. I can do this.
I’m also using author Holly Lisle as a pacesetter, having taken her up on her Write a Book With Me offer. Just posting my wordcounts on her daily threads and enjoying the support of the community she’s created is good for my motivation.
Beginning a writing session is always the hardest part for me. I can spend all day wanting to get to my nightly session. I can think story and plot plots and scheme schemes while washing dishes, vacuuming, and driving. Then the time *finally* comes to sit and write and I got nothing. No fizz, no drive. It’s like wanting to go for a swim and you finally get to the edge of the pool and realize it’s cooooold in there. So you stand there shivering, unable to take the plunge.
So here’s what I came up with to ease myself back into the story: I created a novel journal document and before (and sometimes after) every writing session I throw down all my thoughts about the story: why it’s stupid, what I want to accomplish in the scene I’m working on, a cool realization that RB threw at me, why my characters suck, why my writing sucks, why my story is totally great, etc. etc. This idea is not original; I got it from an essay by Sue Grafton in the The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing. It’s a good way to get all the uggh out of my system so I can get to my story without all the baggage of self-doubt and “why, bother?” and “woe is me, for I am an untalented hack” and all that.
It’s also a handy place to keep notes on my next scene so when I come back to it, I have a map for how that particular scene should go.
Do you have any rituals/tips/tricks to get you started writing and keep you going?
Hah! I love your example of standing by the cold pool. Boy, it can soooo be like that sometimes. I’ve found that I simply need to dive in. There’s a thousand ways to procrastinate or avoid, there’s only one way to get going: start writing. I got an unexpected 1000 words yesterday on a new short story when I finally did stop mucking about and get to it. I still use music to jump start me into the mood I’m looking for.
I’ve gotten into the habit of drinking a mug of hot chocolate and firing up Pandora for music before opening up my story documents. Seems to get me into the mood—and if not, it acts as a signal to my brain that goofing-off time is coming to an end. 😀
Hi Rabia, yes, I have a novel notebook as well, which I use when I’m unable to get the writing session started. I got the idea first from Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages, and then from Holly’s One Pass Revision method (for the edits). It’s a great help. Like you, I put down the things I want to accomplish with the scene, what my characters’ motivations are going to be, and what particular forward-moving plot points need to be included so that the pacing throughout the novel is consistent.
Believe it or not, I’ve found that if I actually act out my characters while typing up the scene, everything flows more easily and becomes that bit more realistic. Particularly dialogue. It’s easier to get my characters’ voices right (and the words and phrases they use) if I act as them. Great fun, too!
Sounds like your next scene is going to be very exciting to write about! Good luck with it.
Lisa, I’m much too timid to act out my characters, so I admire your being able to do that.
I tend to see the scenes in my head like a kind of movie–albeit one with internal thoughts and voiceovers.
My cool scene isn’t quite here yet. Got to get through another night and another day in story time (packed though! there is no rest for the weary!) before the Big Scene happens. I have some fun things planned between now and then to help me get through, though. 😀
i also have the Complete book of Novel Writing, and found it to be a great help when i started in this writing endeavor. i actually bought the book for my wife from our local university bookstore, but i think i’ve used it more than she has.
i started keeping a journal on a blog, then i found Holly’s site and joined the WABWM blog and have posted my progress there. Both of those methods made me want to keep moving forward on the project, and although my pace is slower than i’d like, there has only been 1-2 days in the past 2 months that i’ve not made progress on my novel.
One tip i have, is to set up a ritual that you do before you start writing. for me, it is taking off my shoes at my computer. because i use a computer all day long (at work, other projects at home) taking my shoes off has become a signal to my creative side that it is time to write. don’t know why, and honestly don’t care, but i know that it is a trigger because last night i started writing without taking off my shoes and words did not flow. about an hour later, i kicked them off and got my minimum word count before bedtime. the night before i got triple the words in the same amount of time.
just find something that gives you that trigger, and combined with posting in the WABWM blog, that should be all you need to make steady progress. (oh, i go by Adam on the WABWM blog, but this is my normal internet handle.) 🙂
Rituals are important, aren’t they? Mine is an evening mug of hot cocoa. It’s not the best habit to have, but it works and it gets me in the mood. Posting on Holly’s threads has also been a great motivator.
Thanks for stopping by!