Writing is Part of my Everyday Life

I was at work the other day listening to doctors mumble their way through medical reports and trying to make sense of them when I realized… it’s already August. Seriously. Most of the year is gone, I didn’t even notice it passing by. It gave me that “Oh, shit…” feeling, got me thinking about what I have or haven’t accomplished in 2012.

I’ve gotta say, I’ve done myself proud. I’m not the best when it comes to self discipline, but I’ve accomplished something this year that really makes me swell with pride, something that I’ve been struggling to do for a while now.

I’ve made writing part of my everyday life. It’s not a passing thing anymore. It’s serious business. I have trained my mind to make it a daily requirement. If I don’t spend some part of my day on writing – whether it be working on my actual novel or reading about the craft of writing – I can’t sleep. I feel like something is missing. I have learned to live and breathe my stories, my characters. I talk about it with my husband to work through plot issues. I carry my notebook with me around the house. I set goals on which scenes I need to write out by the end of the day, and I do it. Writing is no longer something that I try to squeeze in when I have the time. It’s something that I’ve made the time for. At the end of the day, I’m itching to get started when my writing time rolls around.

It feels amazing.

When I was 29, at the beginning of the year I announced a goal to my husband and sister – that I would complete my first novel before I hit 30. My birthday came and went, and I had nothing to show for it. It was frustrating and more than a little disappointing. In retrospect, I think I set a goal that was too huge for me at that time. It was ambitious, but not very realistic. I had barely wrapped my head around the idea of making writing my full time career when I set this goal.

So I’ve revised it. Here we are, about to hit September. I write 6 out of 7 days a week, and using some tricks I learned from the lovely Rachel Aaron, I have learned to counter writer’s block and pump out a steady stream of words. I’m excited about my characters and their journey.

My goal now? Finish the book before the end of 2012. Four months. I’m about 33k words into my main project’s first draft, with the end goal somewhere in the ballpark of 100 – 125k. Starting in January next year, I can continue the process of rewriting, editing, and polishing… then it’s on to seeking out an agent.

Scary goal for me. Just saying it out loud makes me reach for the wine bottle. But I’m quite a bit more confident in myself now than I’ve ever been before. I know I can do it. I want this so bad I can feel it in my bones.

I wish all of you the best of luck in your own writing endeavors. I’d love to hear where you’re at in your own work in progress. What goals have you set for yourself?

Until next time!

~B

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Establishing My Writing Routine

I’ve started to keep track of my writing times in an Excel spreadsheet so that I could get an idea of how often I actually write. I’m doing this to measure my progress, but also to help kick the self doubt. I often give myself a hard time, berating myself for not spending enough time writing, when now I have solid evidence to the contrary. I’m spending plenty of time writing.

Looking back over my spreadsheet this evening, I’m pleased to say that since the end of June up until this day I have been consistently writing six out of seven days a week, with the times varying between a half an hour to three hours (and one glorious four-hour chunk… the sun was rising as I was heading off to bed for that one). Six out of seven days. And I’ve also noted that many of those days have more than one session – one in the morning before work, and one in the evening.

Plus, I started on my new novel five days ago, and am about 6k words into the first draft.

I’ve proven to myself that I can be disciplined when I want something badly enough. That’s something to be proud of, huh? :)

I gotta throw another “thank you” out there to Rachel Aaron. I’ve been putting some of her writing tips into play, and I have to say that the one that has helped me the most thus far was the idea of knowing what you’re going to write before you write it. I don’t necessarily mean plotting out the full story. In fact, for this novel I’m trying more of a discovery-writing type of approach – just writing without a plan to see where these characters decide to take me. But each time I sit down to write out a new scene, I take a few moments (sometimes longer than I probably should) to jot down by hand key events that should happen in the scene. Sort of like a play-by-play, just the skeletal structure of what I would like to see happen. Even seat-of-the-pants writers can employ this method – it’s just a basic plot for the scene immediately before actually writing it. It really does help to have a sense of direction, and it’s made the process of writing that much more enjoyable for me.

This is my year for writing, I feel it =)

~B