February 2010


Not much new to report here, but I thought I’d give you a quick update on my progress.

I wrote 401 words on Meg & Matt’s story today, bringing my total since I started tracking on Jan. 17 to 19,855. That’s nearly 20K โ€” one-fifth of my 100K-word goal.

Still mulling a title for Meg & Matt. “Beauty and the Ballplayer” seems to be the clear favorite amongst those of you who’ve weighed in.

I’m working this weekend, and want to get in at least one decent workout for the week. But I’ll be trying to sneak in some writing, too. It shouldn’t be all that hard. I’m kind of on a roll โ€” I know exactly where things have to go. It’s just a matter of getting down the words to get them there.

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It’s been a slow couple of days on the writing front. I managed to squeeze out about 200 words Monday and 400 Tuesday.

Today would have been better, had I not spent most of the day in my La-Z-Boy with a migraine-like headache. My head hurt so badly that I couldn’t even eat the lunch I made. I took a few bites and decided I hurt too much to eat.

I hurt too much to even move. I sat in the chair, half dozing and half listening to “The Doctors” and then “Oprah” while I wished I had the energy to get up and grab some Tylenol … or even reach for the bottle of water I had beside the chair … or grab a blanket off the couch to help me stop shivering.

I must have slept, because the next thing I remember, I was awake โ€” and hungry. Unfortunately, I still didn’t feel quite well enough to do more than waste time farting around online. (I find it the best way to procrastinate. Don’t we all?)

Luckily, I buckled down at around 10:30 and cranked out a page and a half or so on Meg and Matt’s story.

General consensus so far is everyone likes “Beauty and the Ballplayer” better than “The Baby and the Ballplayer.” I think I’ve finally found my title. Woo-hoo! That’s cause for celebration. ๐Ÿ˜€

On procrastination: What’s your favorite way to avoid writing?

I’d have to say mine is either playing Bejeweled or checking out my favorite blogs. Writing blog posts is another way I procrastinate. I have three … four if you count the one over at SparkPeople. This one, of course, is my writing blog, but I have two weight-loss blogs plus SparkPeople.

Even though I had to work at the “day job” (which is really an afternoon/evening job), ย this has been a productive weekend.

Today, I wrote more than 2,000 words on Meg and Matt’s story. Yesterday, I went to plot group and had fun chatting about Meg, Matt, Brad, Erin, and Kari and Damien. There were only two of us there, so we covered a lot of ground.

With Pat’s help, I even came up with a tentative title for Meg and Matt. I’m leaning toward either “Beauty and the Ballplayer” or “The Baby and the Ballplayer.”

Either one might work. Matt, of course, is the ballplayer. That’d make Meg the beauty, though she hardly considers herself one. He does, though, so that counts for something. “The Baby and the Ballplayer” lays out both characters’ initial secrets, though. (She doesn’t know he’s an athlete and he doesn’t know she’s pregnant.)

When not writing, I’ve been playing with the “chart wizard” in Excel, which has led me to some startling realizations.

  • Since I started charting words written on Jan. 17, I’ve put out 18,451 of them. That’s 35 days (I think), giving me an average of about 527 words a day. Not prolific, by any means, but it’s a start.
  • My highest-output days are about 2,000 words. Some days it’s all I can do to squeeze out 200.
  • My goal of 100K words by the end of November is about 18 1/2 percent complete. I can do it!
  • Meg & Matt’s story is now up to 29,819 words. If I’m shooting to make it a category romance, which I think I am, that means I’m a wee bit past the halfway point. That’s exciting.

I take that back about 527 words a day not being prolific. I just did the math. If I averaged 500 words a day, that’d be 182,500 in a year. That’s approximately TWO single-title books or THREE category romances of 60K apiece. Wow!

Of course, I know I can’t keep writing at that pace. There’ll be more slow days … days when I do more editing than writing … days when I end up not writing anything at all. (I can already count 13 since I started keeping track.)

Even if I end up averaging just 200 a day, that’s 73K in a year. And considering I’m going to do the NaNo again, I’ll get 50K just in November (I hope. I plan to actually finish NaNo this year!)

I’m really not much of a statistics junkie … but cool charts could just help change my mind. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I love my iBook and wouldn’t trade it for anything โ€” well, except perhaps a bright, shiny new MacBook Pro like the one a couple of my NARWA sisters have. ๐Ÿ˜€

However, I’ve discovered something this week: I still like writing things out longhand, with a spiral-bound notebook and a smooth-writing Pilot G-2.

I was at Starbucks Tuesday. Not planning on being there long enough to set up the laptop, I instead whipped out a notebook and started writing. Nearly an hour later, I realized I’d filled several pages.

Now, I’ve practically given up writing with a pen and paper when it comes to my manuscripts. I write at the computer … like most of you do, I’m sure. It’s easier to edit, and when I’m on a roll, I can get a lot more accomplished via typing than handwriting.

Plus, there’s the problem that my handwritten pages are sometimes too messy to read, thanks to too many years of scribbling madly to get people’s quotes down during interviews. My writing started deteriorating in college and continued on the job. Now, sometimes I look at a page and there’s a mere scribble where a word should be. If I’ve waited too long to transcribe my notes, I have to guess at what was said …

Luckily, my writing tends to be just a little neater when I’m not taking notes. Still, I have to watch it. When I get on a roll, it gets progressively messier. At least I usually get to transcribing it within a day or two, before I’ve forgotten what I was trying to say.

Why do I consider that lucky? Because I’ve realized there’s something about writing it out by hand. The way the pen glides over the paper, leaving behindย  words as long-lasting as you want them to be is somehow satisfying.

Plus, it is easier to pull out a notebook and pen than it is to pull out the computer, start it up and open your word processing program. By the time you do all that, you could have written a quarter-page! ๐Ÿ˜‰

What to do, what to do?

I’m at a bit of a loss again. After writing more than 1,000 words on Meg and Matt’s story yesterday, I’ve hit a block. If I take a page of advice from the “write quickly and often” book, I’ll sit down and make myself write something โ€” anything.

But maybe I should continue working on my new synopsis for “Operation Snag Mike Brad” โ€” the one that puts more emphasis on the conflict (you know, the one that may or may not actually exist in the story. I’m trying. It really does have more conflict than it used to.)

I’m not sure it’s worth sending out more queries on that one until I resolve the conflict issue.

Or perhaps I should do something else altogether. “Blind Date Bride” needs a query letter and synopsis. I’m thinking about taking an online synopsis-writing class that starts in March, though … so maybe I should wait on that.

This is the story of my life these days: I seem to have a short attention span. I can’t settle down to any one project. Yet I need to keep making progress on my Word Count Club goal. I don’t want to be the one to fail.

I also need an editor’s note for the next NARWA newsletter. I’m thinking my topic will be … drumroll, please … rejection. I’ve certainly handled enough of it lately to consider myself an expert! ๐Ÿ˜‰

I didn’t get much writing done this weekend, opting instead to spend a romantic weekend with the Boyfriend. I did, however, get the chance to do a little reading.

The February issue of RWR contained an intriguing article titled “Speed as an Antidote to Writer’s Block.”ย The gist is that writing quickly โ€” and regularly โ€” helps us beat that devil procrastination.

Since I often find myself afflicted by that particular demon, I paid particular attention to that article. (In fact, it’s still the only thing from the issue I’ve read word-for-word. I’ve skimmed the rest, but not settled in to digest it yet.)

The article points out that speed writing is done:

  • Without a lot of distractions, such as the Internet or reading back through a MS to “check” facts.
  • Simply, as opposed to being a perfectionist looking for quality above all else.
  • To be shared. Apparently, fast writers share their drafts ASAP, seeking feedback. A perfectionist, on the other hand, will revise, revise, revise (or stop writing at all) rather than let someone else read their “weak” effort.

Over the years, I’ve been more the perfectionist type. I stop writing when I hit that wall … and sometimes don’t go back to it for months.

Participating in the NaNo last November really helped me see the benefits of speed writing, though. I might not have written as quickly as the others (I never once won the “word wars” we had at write-ins), and I didn’t finish all 50,000 words.

But sitting down to write almost daily did help me get a lot accomplished, and I was able to ride that writing high to the end, finishing my story in early December, shortly after the end of NaNo.

So you have my pledge now that I’ll do the NaNo again this fall. I already have a plot marinating in my head for it, something I started working on after my NARWA group did a “Book in a Month” talk a couple of years. (I stalled out in the research stage, around Day 6, because I’m not much of a researcher anymore.) I do, however, have a basic outline for the story, which stars one of Brad’s brothers … Brad being the hero in this year’s GH entry, the one that apparently STILL doesn’t have enough conflict.

Until then, I’m going to keep ย plugging away on “Operation Treat Writing Like a Day Job.” Right now, that seems to be enough to keep me writing, so why mess with success?

Based on the contest feedback I got on “Operation Snag Mike Brad” today, there’s no way in hell it’s going to final in the Golden Heart.

Guess that means I don’t have to worry about coming up with $425 to pay for Nationals, eh?

I got scores back from a contest I entered right before I sent everything off for the GH. One judge gave me an 80 out of 100. The other two? 60 and 57.

I can buy 60’s assertion that there may not be enough conflict to sustain the story. (She should have seen it BEFORE I beefed up the conflict in one of my rewrites!)

However, I find 57’s comment that I don’t know how to use punctuation insulting. It reminds me of my freshman year of college when my World Cultures prof (who taught art history) tried to tell me I couldn’t write an essay.

I know punctuation, darn it. I’m a freakin’ copy editor for God’s sake. I may not do old-school punctuation, but what I do is perfectly acceptable in journalism. And I should think that if my punctuation was that darn bad, someone else would have pointed it out to me when they were proofing my GH entry for me.

Nary a peep, though. So I’m inclined to write that one off as ravings.

Guess I should be thankful that all my scores were at least a 2 (shows promise but needs improvement).

I’m sure I’ll be able to look back at the scores with more detachment later, so I can get more out of them. Next week … maybe next month … Right now, however, I’m still smarting.

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