Writers Write, Right?

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

Confession: I haven’t been writing, at least not in a fiction-novel-in-progress sort of way.

Of course I’ve captured conversations with my dudes that are humorous and notable, like:

S: How old is she again?
Me: She’s almost two.
S: Yeah. Right.
Me: Why?
S: Well, that’s why we’re keeping her away from the Legos. It’s a choking hazard till she’s three. You know because of all the small pieces.

Or this one:

Me: Do you want the last two books in the Sweetfarts trilogy?
N: I don’t know. No.
Me: They’re $1 on the Kindle right now.
N: I don’t know. I guess.
Me: Well would you read them? For a dollar each?
N: Okay. Go ahead. It’s your money. Spend it however you want.
Me: Gee thanks for giving me permission to spend my money on you.

Cute, right? Worth committing to paper for the sake of telling my future grandkids.

Confession: I haven’t written in the one-day-you’ll-be-a-published-author kind of way.

Hey, blogging is writing, right? Some of my posts have been longish of late, as I toy with sentence length, alliteration, and structure. My posts have ventured into new topics or maybe I should say, I’m not writing solely about writing (or not writing). Good, bad, or indifferent, I’m playing with language to share what’s on my mind.

Confession: I haven’t been writing in the sense of word count goals and manuscript deadlines. NaNoWriMo camps? What are those?

Sure my days are filled with endless forms of the written word: emails and tweets and Facebook posts.

I’ve engaged in rambling text conversations about homeschooling and teaching writing; about books on my “to read” list; and summer reading plans for my boys. Texts about grammar and Ted Talks; reminders and questions; random and fun; word bubbles and emoticons. Battling autocorrect when I want to intentionally misspell a word.

So much to say to so many people in a limited amount of time.

Confession: I haven’t written in terms of feeling like an artsy creative type; unworthy of the craft and tortured soul.

My first and only novel-in-progress remains at just over 40,000 words, which averages to be 10,000 words per year.

The new piece I wanted to start, stalled out because I tried to map it out. Poor Pantser me.

Accountability calls with writing partners have turned more social than productive. Well, when they attempt to steer conversation toward my writing life anyway.

How many times have I used a form of “write” in this post so far? Too many. I need to consult a thesaurus. I’m getting rusty and maybe language lazy.

Anyway, I digress.

Confession: I haven’t written in the butt-in-seat, every day way typical advice to writers.

Wait!

What?

Yes. Yes, I have written in the butt-in-seat, every day way, because I journal constantly; making notes of ideas that intrigue me; listing thoughts that challenge me. Jotting down phrases and words that may morph into blog posts.

What the heck?

I blog. I post. I send emails. I tweet. I text. I write down what my boys say. I even handwrite letters and thank you cards.

Does it matter what I write? No, of course not. What matters is the practice of writing, of thinking critically and creatively.

Writers write.

Writing is writing.

Don’t be fooled.

It starts small and it builds. It happens when you don’t affix the label “writing” to it.

What guilt riddled writing confessions hold you back?

Go fill all the blank pages with story …

Advertisements

Back-To-Writing

Pen en papier / Pen and paper

Pen en papier / Pen and paper (Photo credit: Nationaal Archief)

Back-to-school (BTS) is less than a week away for our dudes.

It’s giving me anxiety. I wake up with a crippling “to do” list scrolling on my mental screen. And I fall asleep the same way.

  1. Order uniforms – Surprisingly between the end of school and now my dudes have grown. Go figure.
  2. Buy school supplies – It’s my favorite thing about back-to-school.
  3. Coordinate drop offs and pick-ups – The bane of my existence. They get out of school at 3PM. I get off work at 5PM.

There aren’t any checkmarks to signify completion of any of these” to do” list items.

  1. Buy shoes – First must practice tying shoes or plan on shoes without laces.
  2. Buy backpacks – Not cool licensed stuff like Batman and Sonic because they don’t last. Need something reinforced. Boring.

And the list goes on and on …

  1. Discuss lunch options – Need choices that can survive without refrigeration.
  2. Get haircuts – Now, not later. It will grow out just the right length before pictures.
  3. Buy glasses wipes – Little people don’t care about grime.

Oh, I know some of you are feeling my pain. But that’s what BTS looks like for my dudes. These are the things Momma needs to do to get them ready for the 2013-2014 school year.

 

14:365 Pen & Paper

14:365 Pen & Paper (Photo credit: mattbeckwith)

BTS looks different for me personally. This year, BTS for me is Back-To-Writing. Writerly me needs a back-to-school program!

For those of you who don’t know, I started writing my first novel in August 2010. The idea came to me one morning while I was curling my hair. A flash of brilliance.

I was excited and the words flowed. Then I realized I had no idea what I was doing. So I started looking for help and there’s an abundance of it available. By abundance I mean more than any one writer could ever sift through.

It was paralyzing to realize all I didn’t know. Plus, it was overwhelming to realize what I did know and maybe wasn’t applying right.

In August 2011, I reset my goal. Put my word count goal in Scrivener again.

In August 2012, I reset the goal again. I’m half way there.

We’re coming to the end of August 2013 and I am facing my third reset. I have mixed feelings.

I think: “Why am I not done yet?”
Then, I think: “No worries. Take your time.”

I’m sure some of you are ready for the whining about the novel and my writing process for it to be over.

But my enthusiasm has waned and with it my habits. I’ve gotten sloppy.

How do I combat this slowdown in progress? How do I overcome this dwindling enthusiasm and momentum?

Easy! Back-To-Writing.

By getting back to the basics and rebuilding my writing habits, which means, I must write daily; adhering to word count and time goals.

Discipline is the key.

I’ve heard that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Twenty one days of doing a task over and over to make it second nature.

 

Calendar Card

Calendar Card (Photo credit: Joe Lanman)

So here I go … 21 days of writing new words every day. That’s my first semester or quarter or marking period. Call it what you will.

It won’t matter what I write at this point. I just need to be intentional about sitting down each day to write. Words on the page. It could be novel writing or blogging. It just needs to be daily.

For the past 6 months or so my characters have been on sabbatical. Their leisure time is over. It’s time for the hard work. Together we will finish this.

Otherwise, the characters from a second novel idea will breakthrough. They’ve been knocking at the door and whispering to me in my sleep. But I refuse to answer until I finish book idea one to satisfaction.

Oh and did I mention, if I miss one day, then I will have to start over counting my 21 days. I will reset daily if necessary to avoid resetting at the end of August 2014. FINISH.

Once I complete a full 21 days of writing, I’ll up the ante by selecting specific word counts per day or time writing per day. Don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted. And, you can help hold me accountable.

I had good habits in the beginning when I was ignorant. Maybe naïve is a better word. Either way I want to have that sense of innocence back; that feeling of invincibility. I can do this.

What does BTS look like for you? What will you rededicate yourself to? Will you get Back-To-Writing? Creating? Painting?

Images through WordPress…

 

Something Got Done

 

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint

Oh Yeah!

Thanks to my writing partner I set out to make the most of writing in January. I decided to make it A Month of Something.

And thankfully, I have the privilege of announcing that Something Got Done … Lots of something … I was able to check something off my list time and again.

As stated in the original post I didn’t want to focus solely on word count for fear of paralysis.

Instead, I focused on days/times writing. I focused on addressing open plot questions. I focused on new scenes without looking at old ones. I focused on character development. And, I focused on moving forward.

All that focusing on SOMETHINGS led to RESULTS.

Somethings” to Celebrate:

  1. The End – As I stated in the A Month of Something post, I wrote a 400 word scene of what I envision being the end of the story. Can I get woot-woot?
  2. Finishing Scenes – I wrote two scenes that I’ve been putting off since summer. I had one sentence descriptions and now they’re done. They are rough but have so much potential. Raise the roof!
  3. New Scenes – I wrote two new and unexpected scenes. Also, rough but ripe with potential. One Love!
  4. Characters – I discovered that my comic relief characters have British accents. Who knew? Nervous about how to write it well but it plays marvelously in my head. Throw your hands in the air…
  5. Planning – I actually sat down and revisited my story “outline”. Made some modifications based on where the story is right now. …and wave them like you just don’t care…
  6. Research – I did some. I looked up education requirements and credentials that my grief counselor would need to possess. I requested input on linking two worlds within my story. And, if you didn’t already know, this is my least favorite part of the writing process. Or, to state it plainly: I hate research. So this is a huge victory. Can I get an amen?
  7. Images – I found some great pictures to represent my characters quirks or personalities. That’s how we do it …
  8. Writing Days – I checked my writing notebook and have identified 10 novel writing days since January 1; 5 of which were consecutive. Thank you very much. This doesn’t include blog post writing days … or the days that aren’t captured in the journal. Woo-hoo!
  9. New Words – I wrote 3,378 words in one month. That may not sound like much to some of you but it’s the best writing month I’ve had in a LONG time. High five!
  10. Word Count – My “ungoal” … without trying … by focusing on other aspects of writing … I broke the 40,000 word barrier. Now I have to say … I’ve been hovering so close to this for SO long that I nearly cried. As, I write this post I am at 42,631 words and that doesn’t include the dialogue I need to type up from my last writing day. CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES, COME ON!
  11. Birthday – And I turned another year older, wiser and willing-er to chase my dream. Bonus!

Again, these may not seem noteworthy to you, but I am excited about the progress and direction. I am excited that I had wins instead of losses.

I am grateful for my writing partners (and you … you know who you are) who graciously tolerated my tweets, emails, texts, and now blog posts, about how it was going. Thank YOU for the love!

Switching my POV about writing my novel and what’s important reinvigorated me. I’m still in love with my story! I encourage you to measure something different to spark your creativity and drive your momentum.

Thanks for celebrating with me! Cheers~

A Month of Something

Month of Something Calendar

©2013 the Jotter’s Joint – My Month of Something

During our January accountability call, my writing partner, Talli (enJOYin’ Life), and I bemoaned the fact that we’d failed to meet our December writing goals.

We talked about the obstacles we faced: balancing time with family and friends, being out of our routines due to vacation and holidays, and just wanting to do nothing for a little while.

It was one of our toughest conversations in the eight months or so that we’ve been holding one another accountable. Tough, for me, because the do-nothing aspect of time off was so appealing. I needed it.

At the same time, the conversation gave way to epiphany. I realized what part 3 of my book should be. Or, at least, one component it should include. This gave me momentum in planning, which I’m almost convinced would be better than just seeing where the story takes me. Note the word “almost” in that sentence. My writing process is still discovery.

The best part of the call was setting new goals to accomplish in January. And, hearing my writing partner state: “This is going to be a month of something …” Unlike our December – The Month of Nothing.

She is right too. It will be a Month of Something.

For starters, I will celebrate my 41st birthday the 14th. Happy birthday to me! I am grateful for each year.

Second, it’s the month I will break through the barrier of writing I’ve been hiding behind.

How will I break through?

By writing those wonderful words: The End. Not because I’ve finished the novel. I’m not quite there yet.

Since the story idea came to me I’ve had the same image for the ending. No matter what twists and turns the story has taken, the end hasn’t changed. Regardless of the characters I add or kill off the last scene is vivid in my mind.

So, two days after Talli’s profound words, I wrote that scene. I attempted to capture the image of my main character closing a chapter of her young life; having evolved and matured.

I framed words to take me from my once-upon-a-time beginning to my and-they-lived-happily-ever-after end. Which of course isn’t really the end of Baby Girl’s tale; it’s just where I’ve quit telling it.

The scene is just under 400 words but fitting for the last moment. Now we’ll see if the ending starts to evolve just as the rest of the book has done.

Either way, I’ve accomplished something: new words on the page, vision for the next phase of the book, and The End.

This is a month of something.

However, I don’t want word count goals because lately they cause me writerly paralysis. Instead I will measure my “somethings” in time set aside writing. For a change, my “somethings” yardstick will account for me writing rather than talking about writing.

What will be your something this January?

Lucky Me … the Lucky Meme

Forgive me because I feel like I need to provide some background.

I decided almost a year ago to write a novel. Finally.

I was so optimistic. August 31, 2012 was my projected end date. The goal was 90,000 words. My reasoning:  if NaNoWriMo participants could produce 50,000 words in 30 days, surely I could achieve my word count goal in one year.

It didn’t matter that I hadn’t written creatively in years. It didn’t matter that I didn’t have training or education in the discipline of writing. All I had was an idea and a desire, which should be more than enough for a writer to get started.

Shortly after beginning, I decided that I needed an accountability partner. I have two writing partners that encourage me. I’ve allowed them to read segments of my novel in progress, which at times could be called a novel interrupted. However, the idea of letting others read what I’ve scratched out makes me nauseous.

But I am about forward motion. Momentum. I am game …

Here’s what’s required:

  • Go to the 7th or 77th page of your work in progress.
  • Go to the 7th line of the page.
  • Copy the next 7 sentences or paragraphs. Remember, they must be as they are typed.
  • Tag 7 authors.
  • Let them know they’re it.

Here’s me … taking a leap … an excerpt of my novel. I am not brave enough for seven paragraphs. Not yet. The working title, based on the initial idea and summary:  Momma’s Heels, which has morphed into so much more than I expected.

“The summer where she could rid herself of this stupid nickname and take on her given name, which is very grown up. Being treated as a grown up is her definition of happiness. But as the summer comes to a close she can feel that happiness has been absent from the season.

For a long time now she’s hated being called Baby Girl, but no one would listen to her requests to be called Chloe. Baby Girl started out as a term of endearment; a way to convey how special she is because it had taken her parents so long to conceive a little girl. Because she’s the only daughter in a family of five children. Unfortunately, Chloe considers being dubbed ‘Baby Girl’ as an eternal marker of youth that she doesn’t want.”

I appreciate fellow blogger and author:  Whitney of A Serendipitous Happenstance  for helping me take this leap in sharing my work with a broader audience, even if only a small snapshot. Her excerpt for her novel, Rain, will have you hooked and wanting more. Don’t miss your chance. Check it out.

Tag you’re it: