Writing Journal 2.18.2018: It’s starting to go on

Things are… progressing? Not perfect, but picking up regardless. I am putting up consistent if low numbers. This is what I have for this week:

+1,501 words written.

Days writing: 4 out of 7.

Days revising: 1 out of 7 for 30 total minutes.

Daily writing goals met (500+ words or 30 minutes of revisions): 2 out of 7 days.

I guess as you look at it statistically, it’s pretty much stable with last week’s numbers. I still am not reaching the goals like I want, but at least I’m not headed backward.

In overall manuscript news, I am currently at 91,862 words on the first draft. As I said in previous posts, I am aiming for a maximum word count of between 90,000 and 99,999 words. I absolutely don’t want to get in a situation where my first draft goes way over 100,000 and I have to slash scenes.

This week, I finished up a critical scene where my main character has a confrontation with his grandfather about how he’s being awful to his mother.  I was worried that I wasn’t going to have enough space to get that subplot in, but I think I can manage it. I have three more scenes to do – the “kiss-off” scene where he basically quits his team and goes off to England, a press conference scene, and the last scene in the book. I think I can manage it, but we’ll have to see.

Some of that time that’s been taken up this week has been due to blogging. I am actually going to have, guaranteed (because I already finished and scheduled it) a post for Wednesday night. It’s going to be part of a series on revising, which I thought was appropriate since I will soon be getting into full-fledged revisions for the new book. Plus, I’ve got ideas for at least two other topics.

Looking forward to the working, living, and writing week.

 

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Writing Journal 2.11.2018: Feeling good despite low numbers [Also, a thank you.]

It’s tough to judge exactly how well I am doing from a statistical standpoint. I just started my new system for evaluating my production. This week saw a drop in my words written, but a massive increase in revising time.

The numbers:

+980 words written.

Days writing: 4 out of 7.

Days revising: 3 out of 7 for 5 hours and 30 min.

Daily writing goals met (500+ words or 30 minutes of revisions): 3 out of 7 days.

Some notes on the numbers, then:

  1. As I said, much lower numbers for writing than for revising. The word count numbers don’t even come close to matching the count I’d have if I made writing goal of 500 words a day all week (3,500 words). However, the revising time well exceeds what I would do if I made my revising quota of 30 minutes per day all week (3 hours and 30 minutes).
  2. I had a slight increase in the number of days that I made quota.
  3. Not included in these totals – cutting an earlier version of a scene I decided to rewrite to make it fit in better with the conflicts my main character is facing. What I cut was around 750 words – frankly, a lot less than I thought it was going to be. The replacement scene is going to be bigger, I think – serving as the main kiss-off of his old life and moving on with his new one away from his home.
  4. As I said before, it’s getting closer and closer to the end. Word count numbers on this project will likely remain lower than at the beginning of it, but my revising numbers should stay strong.
  5. I’m feeling like I’ve turned a corner with this project. I’ll be happy to see a full rough draft in my hand.

 

One other thing; thanks to those of you who have visited the site and hit the follow button for me. It’s greatly appreciated, and I hope that there’s something here on the site you’d be interested in reading about. I’m also hoping to have something for people to read and buy before the year is out.

More later.

Breakthrough.

After almost a month through that stupid scene I was stuck in, I am finally out and done with it!

Or, at least, done with it in a rough draft sense.

Got a great writing session in last night. About 2 1/2 hours of revising last night, on a critical scene where my main character is essentially trying out for his new team. I managed to merge a new portion of that scene with an older scene to keep the flow going, interact with a character I think was important for the MC to interact with, and clean up any odds and ends. I even managed to add close to 400 words in the process.

Tonight will be a revising night for sure. What I have left to do is this:

1. Totally rewrite a climatic scene where my MC makes a final break with his old life to go on with his new one. The location and format of that meeting will be totally different, but his message and how he feels about it will be the same. I’ll have to cut all of that initial work, so my overall word count is going to drop for a while. That’s OK, however; more room to roam.

2. See how much space I have to add what I think would be a great subplot, but if it puts me over my 99,999-word limit, I’ll have to leave it out. (I might wait to make that decision when I get to the first revision.)

3. Write the last scene. I’m thinking this could easily be the start of a trilogy for me, so it will allude to this being just the start of adventures for my MC and his new teammates. [SPOILER ALERT] [SNEAK PEEK] You are about to see what I am picturing will be the final piece of dialogue in the book. I wrote it on my dry erase board a few months ago for motivation. I’m so looking forward to seeing these staring up from the electronic screen and the page:

Can’t wait.

Writing Journal/Random Notes 2.4.2018: Not as good as I want to be, not as good as I should be, but better than I have been

And it’s a late post tonight.

That’s not so much having to do with the Super Bowl. (I saw the beginning of the game and the second part of the fourth quarter, but that’s about it. My interest in American football has been draining away considerably this season, and it’s been the least amount I’ve probably watched in years.) It’s got more to do with family stuff and wanting to get distracted by various videos.

Oh, this is where I list the totals, right? OK. I’ve made a modification to the list to reflect that I’m now including revising time in the calculations. I will list how often I’ve revised and for how long. I will also include in the daily writing goals whether I have made either writing or revising goals – either one will count toward the total.

Thus:

+1,519 words written.

Days writing: 3 out of 7.

Days revising: 1 out of 7 for 30 total minutes.

Daily writing goals met (500+ words or 30 minutes of revising):  2 out of 7 days.

Thoughts:

  1. The subtitle to this post pretty much summarized my thoughts on the word count. It is a better performance than last week, but since last week was my worst writing performance since starting this thing, I’m not jumping up and cheering.
  2. I’m almost through this scene of death 😉 I talked about before, but not quite. Maybe one good day of meeting my writing quota and I should be done with it. After that, either writing or revising should go better (until I get into another tricky scene, ha ha).
  3. I am officially past the 90,000-word mark on the rough draft. As I mentioned before, I am shooting for a 95,000-99,999-word rough draft and keeping all further revisions under the 100,000-word mark for both artistic and commercial reasons.
  4. Right now, my expectations are that I finish this rough draft and begin my first full revision of it by March 30, my birthday. I think that is a very doable goal..

OK. A few random notes:

  1. Usually I’m not a share-happy or cross-posting person on this page. Almost everything on the WordPress page is directly my ramblings. However, this was an exception because I’m all in favor of helping out my local community of writers – in this case, Writers On The Avenue, based in my hometown of Muscatine. Check them out sometime.
  2. I really need to start using Freedom more and not be a wuss about it.
  3. I need to put out another blog soon, about revising.
  4. I’ll also continue to publish some old poems or writings occasionally as well. I’m thinking of looking over what I saved from an old blog and see if any of it might fit here.
  5. This summer is when I’ll be doing a lot to get my book (Working title: The Holy Fool) published, whether by a regular publisher or by myself.
  6. Random thought: would A Fool’s Errand be a better title? Tell me what you think.
  7. I need to get some sleep.
  8. More later.

WOTA wants your poems!

Don’t usually do this, but I wanted to help out my local writing group. 🙂

Writers on the Avenue

Writers on the Avenue is holding a poetry contest for residents of Muscatine and adjacent counties, with prizes available in three categories: adult, teen (13-17), and youth (12 and under). The first prize in the adult category is $25. The deadline for submission is March 30, 2018.

Send 5 poems or up to 5 pages of unpublished work along with a cover sheet listing your name, mailing address, phone number, email address, category, and titles or first line(s) of poems to this email address, or mail to WOTA Poetry Contest, 2614 Imperial Oaks Drive, Muscatine, IA 52761. There is no entry fee.

All entries will be considered for publication in a winners’ anthology tentatively titled  From River to River. Complete contest rules are listed below.

If you are not a resident eligible for the contest, but would still like to submit your work for consideration for the anthology, or…

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Writing Journal 1.28.2018: Disaster, but now I think I see what is coming

For about five seconds, I was tempted to fib on the numbers for this week. But, that’s not how all this works.

Nothing else for it:

+407 words written.

Days writing: 2 out of 7.

Daily writing goals met (500+ words): 0 out of 7 days.

Well, we have a few firsts here. At five days without writing (last Sunday through Friday), I officially went through the longest non-writing streak I’ve suffered since starting this blog. And. of course, the worst word count of that time.

The reasons are simple, other than the usual procrastination. Right now, I am on the last major unwritten scene of my book, with the exception of the final scene. I’ve found myself struggling to complete the scene. That’s ironic, but perhaps connected, to the fact that the scene involves my main character’s last game for a team and shows how he is now emotionally detached from it and even the sport itself.

In addition, there is not a lot of uncharted road left to run on for this novel. After this scene, I will work on rewriting two crucial scenes from the first draft. One of those scenes will be an almost total rewrite of that scene – new location, new participants except for my main character, and new format for the confrontation in question. Afterward, I want to write the final scene of the book.

At that point, I will have a working draft of the book. That’s when I’ll really be in deep with the rewrites and that will take up an extended period of time. A significant factor with that will be how close will I be to my 99,999-word limit. (I am now past the 88,000-word mark.) There is at least one important subplot I have not entered and it might be difficult to include it if there is not room in the book. For both artistic and commercial reasons, I am not interested in breaking that self-imposed limit.

So, the question is, will the next week be a repeat of this debacle, since I still haven’t gotten through that scene? I think the answer is that my report will look different. After some internal debate, I have decided to set a daily goal of one hour 30 minutes of non-distracted time devoted to revising and editing. I will include that in the list. Of course, this will affect the weekly totals and how they are reported, but I think that in the end, it will work out well.

I have also reinstalled Freedom on my laptop, to block the Internet during various times. I think I will experiment with both extended times and shorter bursts of time which put together, would add up to an hour a day.

Let’s see what happens next.

How Many Books Are in Me? A Speculation.

Given my well-known tendency toward procrastination, I came to an unsurprising conclusion sometime around the beginning of this decade: I was not going to be able to write as many books as my man Stephen King.

I’m OK with that. There’s people like King who have banged out tons of books, and those who have written even more like James Patterson and William W. Johnston, among others. Then, of course, you have the example of Harper Lee and her one (two) books, including To Kill a Mockingbird.

I’d like to have a production level somewhere in between that of King and Lee. Exactly where in between them is another issue.

As you heard before (man, look at all of the time I have to write during the summers 🙂 ), there are currently five novels that I have in various states of completion/revision/hidden from the world because they were too stupid to see the light of day. After that, there may be about five stories that I might want to get done – including some possible sequels to some of my previous works and at least one epic tale of a fictional indie rock band from the 1980’s-1990’s and their improbable rise to notoriety…

Then, of course, there are about… how many? Five, seven? Maybe eight… fever dreams of books, ideas of stories that flew around in my head for a while.

What happened to them? Some of them went past their due date, ideas that sounded good in the days I started playing with them in my head, but after looking at them on the initial pages didn’t seem so strong. Others were fevered teenage dreams that just seemed too small when I finally thought about them. Then there was that story about a presidential candidate that seemed to fit the turn of the millennium than the current climate. But, maybe that could get revived; I would love to write the Primary Colorsfor the 20th century.

I don’t like to think took much about the future, but I do wonder at times. If I’m lucky, I might have anywhere from 30 to 40 years of mileage left. If I’m lucky and good, I could turn out a book every 18 months at my current pace (as long as it picks up). If I’m only slightly unlucky, maybe that could be a dozen, 15 books?

I think that is one of the reasons I started this blog, because I realize that I’m not guaranteed any amount of time on this planet and I might use whatever time I have to create something interesting.

What I do know is that I will keep on writing. I also don’t think I’m going to be running out of ideas, either. At least, not for a while to come.

Writing Journal/Random Notes 1.21.2018: It’s getting a little better

And just when you thought I didn’t have any writing goals… here are some from tonight:

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See, I told you. (Check with me next week to see if I actually fulfilled any of them.)

Also, off to the totals. The verdict: An improvement over last week, but not where I want to be.

+1,916 words written.

Days writing: 5 out of 7.

Daily writing goals met (500+ words): 2 out of 7 days.

Ahahah, this is going to go out a lot later than I expected. The notes for this week:

  1. From all of the advice I received from the writing groups (which I just spent 15 minutes checking them out before getting my focus back), I have decided that keeping track of how I revise should be done on a time-based system rather than by word count.
    With that, I decided on a daily count of 60 minutes per day on the days that I am revising. I think that I will alternate between writing and revising pretty soon, with some weeks being heavier than others, depending on where I am on projects.
  2. How I monitor that time will be interesting. I will have to have a set up where I track the time that I totally focus on revising. It may come in fits and starts, but that will be OK.
  3. I used to like the computer app Freedom, but now they’ve moved it to a subscription service. If I had an alternative I’d definitely consider it.
  4. OK, I will run another post tomorrow and maybe, finally, get a midweek post again. You know what I want to talk about next.

More later.

Writing Journal 1.14.2018/Random Notes: Nowhere to go but up

Well, everyone, it was pretty bad last week regarding writing progress. The totals for confirmation:

+1,003 words written.

Days writing: 2 out of 7.

Daily writing goals met (500+ words): 2 out of 7 days.

I speculated earlier why I might be going through this much of a losing streak, but I think most of that road is paved with procrastination and regret. I finished the threatening scene; now, I’m trying to write one more football scene, essentially my main character’s last game. I need to keep reminding myself that this first draft doesn’t have to be perfect.

Another thing to do is breaking patterns. I’ve noticed that when you get into procrastination ruts, you find yourself repeating the same behavioral patterns over an over. There’s no point in repeating the – not insanity, but – useless patterns if the desired result doesn’t occur. If you have to do things, do them in a different pattern. That’s the only way that you can try and break the mental locks on your mind. I’m still nowhere near an expert at mental reprogramming. But, I’m getting better.

I also think another factor is that I’m really starting to get antsy about getting this first draft completed. I’m thinking that I want to get into the revising process so that I can start forming what I have into a coherent whole. I’ve said before that I consider revising to be the heart and soul of writing, because that’s after you get the metal out and finally start pounding away on it in the forge to make it into something usable.

That’s about all to my ramblings, because I want to try and get to bed at a decent hour and get fiction writing in. So, Random Notes:

  1. I am planning on that revising/editing goal. I should have that next week, then I’ll see how to work that in with my existing writing goals. How I keep track of all of it is up in the air now.
  2. Currently, I’m trying to read manuscripts for three people wanting feedback. I need to make more movement on that by this week so they can get some feedback by this year, at least. 🙂
  3. Ideas for new posts (one of which actually needs to happen) include one on writing output that’s been bopping around for a while, one on the concept of revising, and one of my old writings.
  4. Anyone interested in seeing some excerpts or “deleted scenes” from the thing I’m working on now?

More later.