March’s 20,000-Word Challenge

 Literature Blogs

Now you see! With thirty-one days in the month, and no scheduled holidays off from school or work, THIS makes for a much better writing challege month (v.s. November/ NaNoWriMo when it’s not only one day shorter, but has THREE holidays thrown in the mix, plus the holiday weekends often with family buzzing about).

So… simple dimple writing challenge: Write 20,000 by the month’s end. It does not have to be edited. It could simply be Raw Writing (writing without thinking with the editing coming later).

August Writing Challenge Followup

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YIKES-A-ROONIE! I just realized today that earlier this month, I put out an August Writer’s Challenge of writing 10,000 Raw (first draft) words by September first. How you doing? Surprisingly, I may make that goal. I know I have nearly 10,000 words started on a new YA (young adult) fantasy, but I’m not sure if I’m going to leave in certain bits to make it into a MG (middle grade) story or not, yet. I THINK I wrote nearly all those words this month, but I may have started in July, too. I’ve been a tad bit scatter-brained this summer.

Has this summer been crazy for other people as well? Family, travels, cleaning oil off of turtles… well, maybe everyone hasn’t been doing that last one, but I’d encourage you to help if you can… heat, humidity. There are lots of summer distractions for writers.

So… how have you done on the August writing challenge?

No more excuses. There are still six days left in the month. Get writing, already!

August Writing Challenge Update

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Just to keep you on task, and to encourage you to do the same, I’ve written 3 chapters of my newest story this past week. I had to rewrite chapter two four or five times before I could move on. I’m still not satisfied with it, but feel the information is essential as early on as possible. Oh, where is my editor to tell me what works? But this is totally the first draft, even with several rewrites of one chapter. Only a little over 2,000 words so far. 8,000 to go by the end of August. Push. Push. Can do! You, too?

August Writing Challenge

 Literature Blogs

Here it is.. With three and a half weeks left in the month, the challenge I charge to you is to write 10,000 RAW (i.e., new) words by September 1. No, I do not mean for you to write out a list of words like erity, makeabee, xabertous, and bbbbletah. I mean, 10,000 raw writing words, put together into a rough draft stage of a new story or part of a story. Simple dimple, right?

Need a starter word? How about starfish? Or xabertous?

Ready? Set? Go!

Book-In-A-Week Boost

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I’m attempting to write every day during June — rather like NaNoWriMo. It’s going about the same as my exercise program — more sporadic than consistent, I’m afraid. I only wrote about 5,000 words last week.

HOWEVER, this month I signed up for Book-in-a-Week (http://book-in-a-week.com) to give myself that accountability shot in the arm I sometimes need.

For Book-in-a-Week, you set a goal of the number of pages you plan on writing during the week (usually the first full week of every month; 250 words = 1 page), and each evening you send in your report. 

My goal for this week is 50 pages. This morning I wrote nearly 11 pages. Pretty good, even if I say so myself. (And, no, Susan, I’m not speaking from being on medication. I really did write almost 11 pages.) My secret goal is to double that, only if I say that out loud, then I may just be making myself accountable.

I’ll write like crazy during June, then revise like crazy for the rest of the summer. Exciting stuff, this writing.

June Writing Challenge

 Literature Blogs

For a while now, I’ve had it in my mind to spend June doing “NaNoWriMo,” i.e., writing a novel during the month of June. So, therein lies my latest writing challenge: write a novel during the month of June.

After experiencing my first NaNoWriMo last November, I realized that most of the words I wrote during that month never made it into my finished project (which is now out to editors). For NaNoWriMo, it seemed mostly to be about the word count (quantity v.s. quality). This was fine, in that it kept me writing every day, or wishing I were writing every day — a discipline I sadly lacked.

Knowing my very odd schedule, I have decided to write a finished story during the month of June. It will be as long as it is, but for my own discipline, I am setting a goal of 10,000 words per week. This morning, I popped out of bed at 5:30, excited it was finally June first, so I could get to writing. I wrote nearly 5,000 words before putting out this challenge. I’m impressed with myself, and so much more left of today. But I’ve had this story bouncing around in my head for a few years now. During this month, I am giving it top priority (unless something unforseen happens).

If you wish to join me in my challenge, let me know so we can support one another.

BIC HOK TAM (The Book-in-a-Week phrases: Butt in Chair; Hands on Keyboard; Typing Away Madly)

Whole Novel Critiques– Rewriting and Revision Process

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I have just finished receiving my first group whole novel critique. The five others in my on-line critique group spent the past month reading and critiquing a novel they’d never seen before. This last week we’ve been discussing what everyone wrote about it.

The process: I submitted the whole novel on line, with an author-list of questions in four categories: 1) beginning and ending of book; 2) characters; 3) plot; and 4) theme. After three weeks, I received their responses, then compiled a new set of 7 or so questions stimulated from their comments. Now that I have those second responses back, I need to think how to proceed (in other words, comes the nitty-gritty bit of rewriting and revision).

In my past, I’ve had individuals read whole novels of mine. If editors or agents comment, they usually come back with just a line or two (e.g., “too quiet a story line for me”). Other writers’ comments vary in length, usually 1-2 pages of printed naration. What I found so fascinating about this group process, was that I had five different people in 4 different states and 1 other country, giving their thoughts on how to make it a better story. If one or two of them didn’t like something or was confused by some part or character, I could TOT it (take it or toss it). But if all 5 of them felt some part was needy, I would certainly see it as something needing to revise or rewrite.

One person in our critique group has revised one of her novels 17 times. She says it was a good story in the beginning, but now she really likes it. I don’t keep track of the number of times I rewrite or revise, since I often do it by chapters or scenes. I’d only do whole novel look through right before sending it out to an editor or agent. This time, I hope to do things differently before the professional submission.

I’ve compiled a list of things I need to address (e.g., the relationship between father and son). I plan on taking one of each of the things which need fixin’, and go through the entire story focusing on just that one concern. When I am done with that revision, I’ll move on to the next one and go through the entire story with only that concern in mind, and so on. THEN, I’ll do a whole book look to see how much I’ve messed things up or fixed things up.

Man! When I made up stories for my friends in junior high, it was never this hard.

My Scheduled Writing Time

 Literature Blogs

“Would you consider writing on your blog about how you schedule your time? How many hours a day do you devote to writing? Are they set hours? When you revise do you have a specific pattern you follow?” – Sharon Willett, 2-17-10

Sharon, I will answer the first of your “two” questions (“one” was on schedule, the other on revision), but not as an example of what you should do.

Personality tests show I’m unstructured task-oriented, but not too far off from the structured people-oriented point, because I do like being organized, and I like people. But when I discovered this orientation preference for me, guilt slipped off my shoulders and I could stand up tall and say, “Hey! I’m unstructured.” (I’d be a prime candidate for Manana Time or Indian Time.) However, I see unstructured as in the area of time, only, for, like I say, I like things (and me) to be organized.

How this interesting tidbit of personal information translates into my writing schedule is this: I have no writing schedule.

Having given a truthful answer to your question, I could stop this post now, but I don’t think you’d be satisfied, since you also now know I’m also task-oriented, therefore, inclined to get things done (e.g., first drafts and revisions).

So this is how I’ve made my tasks (manuscripts) get done (written and revised):

1) I’m in a critique group which pushes me to write and holds me accountable. (There’s my forced structure.) We also change and evolve as we writers change and evolve.

2) I’m a morning person. By about 1pm my brain starts getting lazy. By 3pm I’m ready for a nap, although I hardly never take one. By 6pm I’m on mundane routine automatic mode. After that, it’s rather downhill working towards total shutdown for the day. This all means, that I am most productive in the morning, so have chosen that/this as my time to think and write.

3) I work best in uninterrupted time chunks – 3-5 hours at a stretch.

4) Now that I’m no longer in the paid work force, there are many times when I decide to write when my husband is at work, i.e., I work while he works, even though I’m not paid (yet). This gets to be a problem when I have meetings and errands and cooking and housework building up like behind a beaver dam which must be torn down.

5) I never write on vacation time, nor when family visits, nor when my husband gets a day off. Family always comes first.

On a sidenote for number 3, lately, I’ve been wondering how these long writing times are affecting me, physically. So, every once in a while (like, once a month or so) I try to play “the writing games.” Like, I’ll set the kitchen timer for an hour. When it goes off, I leave the computer and go toss in a load of laundry while hopping around like a bunny and woggling my head from side to side, go up and down the steps a couple times, grab a glass of water or pop, then get back to writing.

Regarding writers’ writing schedules, I have always been jealous of James Michener’s – go to some exotic place you’ve never been, spend all morning writing or researching and all afternoon exploring the lay of the land and the people, then relaxing in the evening with your spouse. Very nice.

In the end, you must find what works best for you. Hope this helped. I’ll save the revision question for another day.