Writing Time

Writing time is precious in my house. Plainly put- if my son is here and not napping, writing is impossible. Which is why the few rare hours he’s at preschool or asleep are cherished. And the days he doesn’t nap feels a bit chaotic. No ‘me’ time to mess with the characters in my head.

A lot of times, I find myself leaving the house to limit distractions. Otherwise I’ll spend it online, pinning on Pinterest, reading blogs (haha!), or playing iPad games. Not great tools for finishing a manuscript. So I’ll head to Starbucks or a park (when its cooler outside), find a cozy spot and write. Luckily the Starbucks by my house isn’t packed 24/7 like several others I hear about. I can always find a seat and not feel like someone is spying over my shoulder.

But one thing is clear- mornings are my better times. I’m more focused, clear headed, and energized. The afternoon slump impacts my writing style negatively- I realized that over a few years. Music makes me even more focused. So adding these factors to my writing time is important to have as an effective and productive session as I can.

A while back, I read about an author who spends about 3 weeks writing a novel. 3 weeks!! Here’s how: she writes the entire time, pulling all nighters, only taking a few minutes for essentials (lunch, shower, and potty time), and sleeps maybe 2-3 hours at a time. Clearly, this woman doesn’t have any children. No one to care for. It’s just her. Not sure if she’s married. If she is, I give her husband a lot of props. My husband certainly couldn’t tolerate that schedule, even if it were just us. I bet this author’s publisher absolutely loves having this woman on their roster.

I don’t think I could live on her schedule. I value my sleep far too much. Let alone my family time.

A much smaller goal, I’d love to participate in Twitter 1K1Hr groups, but they always take place an inopportune times. Or maybe I just check Twitter at the wrong times. But I was brave enough to join in NaNoWriMo last year. 50,000 words in a month took dedication. And I was on track to complete it (until a family incident towards the latter half of November required the majority of my time). But keeping that writing time from being ‘stolen’ from distractions is tough.

How do you protect your writing time?

When do you work best?

More importantly, what do you do to forgive yourself when the writing time is otherwise occupied?

Writer’s Reflection of the Year

Christmas lights are up both inside and outside my house, decorations surround me as I type, and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is playing the in background on iTunes. My son is asleep in his crib while my husband studies in his office. For once in our household, it’s quiet. And since it’s been so long since I’ve blogged (for several reasons), I thought this was the most opportune and rare moment to reflect.

It’s been a whirlwind year, to say the very least.

Great highs as we watch our son grow, a billion little challenges and a few big ones thrown in there. Same as my writing ‘career.’ Great highs as I improve my skills and learn new techniques, a billion little challenges (mostly just to find the time to write), and a few big road-bumps. Most of my writing goals I set at the beginning of the year I achieved, which I’m very proud with. I set a few stretch goals (NaNoWriMo), and didn’t quite complete those, but I was so close. Again, I’m proud I got that far.

I’ve helped my writers group expand its membership (nearly doubling in size) and learned so much from everyone, I’m so thankful for their help and support. I couldn’t have gotten through my writing goals this year without them. Well, maybe I could have, but it wouldn’t have been nearly as fun or interesting.

I’m hoping to pick my manuscripts back up in the next coming weeks, after I finish my Christmas shopping and overcome consistent sickness, and finally be in a position to query my 2nd one, and revise the 3rd. Along the way, I greatly hope not to stress out the loved ones around me.

I’ll post my goals for 2012 as soon as I have them created. I strongly advise every writer to have goals for the year, and non-writers as well. Gives you something to strive for every day, week, month.

In the meantime, keep writing forward. And reflecting in the rare quiet moments in between.

Life Throws Curveballs

And I already suck at batting. So this is just more of a humiliation to suffer through nasty curveballs.

It really hurts to say it, but I need to suspend writing for a while. I’m not sure for how long, but that means I will not be able to complete National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I got half way through it with a lot of momentum still in me, but sometimes we have to adjust to an ever-changing life.

My disappointment can hardly be expressed in words, and not just for the suspension of one of my passions. Something infinitely more dear to me needs more attention.

I’ll admit one of my weaknesses is fear of failure. Or perceived failure. Or that my best is not good enough. And as irrational as that concept is, I can’t help but internalize certain situations that don’t go as I’d hoped or expected. And even worse is when I believe someone else is suffering because of my actions or inactions.

I have the best support system in the world: my family. My friends. Which is why, ironically, it hurts more to ask them for help. If I’m surrounded by so many wonderful people with incredible talent, it’s bound to rub off on me and/or my family. So why would I need help?

Stupid thoughts, I know. But in moments where I need to vent, this is where my mind wanders. And I realize that I will have considerably less time to myself to vent, let alone catch a breath.

Since I’ve struck out during this round at bat, beset by the nasty curveballs, I’ll lick my wounds and change into a cleaner set of clothes. Ready for the next set of curveballs, or sliders, that I’m certain will be thrown at me again very soon. I just hope my passion for writing will still be there when I’m ready.

Juggling Act of Life… Not Always Successful

Life is juggling. At least when you’re a parent. Even though I have only one child, I’ve learned that much. And it makes me wonder for those with multiple kids, especially if close in age like several friends of mine have, how the heck they do it?

Now, I’m not saying that only parents have to juggle and balance life. I know plenty of people who seem much more busy than me who don’t have children.

But this is a different kind of juggling. And trying to write, plot, research, finish my first attempt at National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), AND take care of my son and help him with his development, behavior issues, constant sickness, etc. etc, can at times make me feel like I have a billion balls in the air and I’m dropping a lot of them. Thankfully, most of them are rubber or plastic, so they bounce right back or at least don’t break when they hit the floor.

Unlike my oven this week.

Or the backyard fence last week.

When you throw in expensive repairs like this (on an already somewhat tight budget), I feel like letting all the freakin’ balls drop and I don’t care how many break in the process.

So let’s just say this week was a more disastrous attempt at juggling than most. Already fragile feelings from the week before regarding my son’s development in preschool, combined with little sleep (sick kids don’t sleep, so neither do parents), and it just made the perfect storm of juggling balls.

But on the plus side, I’m 30% done with my NaNoWriMo novel. I hope most NaNo’ers are doing well, and according to Twitter it seems like they’re either kicking my butt or haven’t started. Either way, I wish them luck. Hopefully I’ll achieve one of my 2011 goals I set for myself in January. And not broken too many juggling balls in the process.

On Track for NaNoWriMo

Hooray!

Hooray!

I’m stunned to say it. Yes, I admit, I didn’t think I would be anywhere near this far along in my writing goal for National Novel Writing Month just four days in.

Not that I was rooting for myself to do poorly, but I’m impressed with what I’ve done. I’ve had three GREAT writing days (great for my record anyway, with a 3 year old constantly needing attention). I hope my son doesn’t suffer any trauma by having a slightly less than attentive mother for the next few short weeks.

Granted, I knew I had to over-deliver on certain days because I know there will be times during the month I won’t be able to write at all. (Thanksgiving, for example. What writer can deny that incredible feast and time for reflection. And perhaps a weekend here-and-there for precious time with my hubby). But 16% to goal in just four days, that makes me happy.

And so ensues the Steve Carrell happy dance!

Now back to breakfast. Maybe some writing later. I hope so.

Bring on the Novel Writing Marathon

The novel writing marathon has begun! My first ever participation in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and I’m off to a decent start. So far, I’ve written 2500 words today, on track to reach the goal of 50,000 words by the end of the month. However I know there will be several days during the month I will not be able to write anything, so I’ll have to make up those words along the way.

All in all, I think I’ll be really happy with myself if I reach 35,000 words by the end of the month. So 50,000 would just be gravy.

So if you don’t hear much from me over the course of the month, that’s why. But I’ll update my word counter on my main page as I go along, so you can keep track with me. And keep me motivated! I’ll need all the help I can get!

Now to bury myself in more words.

Writer’s Block? More Like Writer’s Verbal Diarrhea

I started my third manuscript the other week, the one I’m supposed to be saving for NaNoWriMo in November, and have been flying through the first chapters. I’m so excited to be seeing these characters develop on the page and their querky habits come to life.

Frying Pan? Maybe a Pen is the best weapon

Too much fun!

I figured since NaNoWriMo aims for 50,000 words in a month, that leaves me an additional 25,000-30,000 words to finish my manuscript. So that means I could get started on it ahead of time. But now I’m almost half-way to that word count threshold and we’re not even halfway through October.

In comparison to the other problems I’ve had in writing over the last few years, I think this is a dilemma I’ll love having. Writers block sucks the big one. So Writers Diarrhea is a gift (forgive the image).

I have no idea how I’ll respond if I’m ever a published author with deadlines looming ahead of me from a prized book contract. But if that were the case right now, I’d be one of the most treasured authors of any agent or editor’s lineup!

Fall Season Means Reviewing My Goals

For many people, fall season means taking kids back to school, football games, World Series, changing out your wardrobe, and winterizing your lawn. For me, it means reviewing the goals I made in January. Writing goals, specifically. And determining how I’ve done so far, and if I’m on track to complete those goals in the last 3 months of the year.

My most challenging goal for the year is participating in NaNoWriMo. This starts in November, but I’m definitely prepared. Everything is plotted, the characters are completely mapped out. The word count per week goal is lofty, and makes me nervous.

But I finished the first draft of my last manuscript, I’ve averaged 2 blog posts per week, and I’m on track to have revisions completed by the end of the year.  Hopefully to start submissions by January.

Overall, it was a great year of learning and getting used to a lifestyle change. For the first time since I was 16, I don’t have a paycheck in my name. All so I can focus on writing and trying to make my first published debut. Reading blogs, receiving critiques, and reading a bajillion books all helped me improve my style. All necessary to help find your own voice.

So for the start of fall season for me, yes it means taking my son to school and enjoying college football with my hubby, it also means the continuation of a very fun and challenging time in my life.

NaNoWriMo: To Wait or Not to Wait?

Dilemma: Start writing the rough draft of my 3rd novel, or wait until the start of NaNoWriMo in November?

If I wait until November, I can participate in my first National Novel Writing Month. It’s a lofty goal of 50,000 words in 1 month. That’s 12,500 words/week. I normally average less than 5K words/week when I’m in the middle of a manuscript. So this endeavor is intimidating. A Himalayan peak when I’m used to sand castle mounds. There’s no official prize at the end of the month, other than the incredible accomplishment of an almost-complete manuscript. Assuming I reach the summit at K2.

But waiting means I’m stagnant for another month. I’m not sure my brain can handle that. I need to keep writing to keep the ideas flowing. To keep my creativity pumping and not lose on what I’ve researched. I’m reading like crazy, even bouncing between genres, and getting advice from other writers/authors/editors. I know I could write other things until then, like short stories, articles, more blog posts. But for some reason I’m having a hard time coming up with those ideas. My fingers are itching to get into the 3rd novel and the characters I’ve created. They don’t seem to want to write anything else.

I’ve continuously pulled out the character sketches, tweaked, added, adjusted anything I could for these MC’s, including their back stories, GMC’s, likes/dislikes, and how they take their coffee’s (and why they switched from beer to coffee).  I guess I’m using those as a substitute for actually starting on the manuscript while I wait for NaNoWriMo.

Actually, now that I think about it (and write out my thoughts), 50,000 words will only be about 2/3rds of the book. Leaving me a good 25,000 words to start.

Thanks so much for being my sounding board! Virtual-land solves another dilemma, once again!

Guess what I’ll be doing? *wink

Reading Blitz

All writers (and aspiring authors) need to read. How else are they supposed to know their market? Of course, how else did most writers figure out that’s what they love to do? By reading. Duh. (I know, not a writer-ly word, but it fits).

I’m a big romance reader, if you haven’t visited the other pages on my blog, and also trying to improve my skills as a writer. Since I finished the rough draft and first round of revisions of my manuscript, I’m twiddling my thumbs as I wait for my critique partners to get back to me on what they think. But I’m not twiddling air between my thumbs; I’m twiddling pages. A whole new meaning to twitter! Maybe I should start a new website called Twiddle, and its all about the books!

Anyway, I’ve raced through 3 books in about a month (yes, that’s racing for me. Back off- I have an almost-3-year-old who is faster than most Olympic sprinters). In between books, I also finished plotting my third book and can’t wait to get started on it. I’m saving that storyline for NaNoWriMo in November. It’ll be the first time I participate and I’m seriously excited! (And nervous how in the heck am I going to write 10K words/week with my toddler running around!)

I’ve been on a great streak recently, not just with writing but with the great quality books I’ve picked up this month. I’ve expanded outside of my normal genres and included a few paranormal romances, historical war story, and even a horror/thriller from a critique partner during a beta-read.

The only negative thing I have to say about my reading blitz is that now I think my lasik eye surgery from 2005 needs to be retouched. Or I need reading glasses. (Maybe I’ll choose the less expensive option). My eyes are cross-eyed!

But it’s been a blast! I like to think of it as research, if only the stories weren’t so fascinating that I lose track of the art of writing and instead lose myself in the characters! There are so many good authors out there, that it makes it worth wading through the crummy ones until you find the real jewels!