Monday, November 15, 2010

30,000 words

Today was one of the best days in awhile. I've been avoiding writing about the grandmother in my story (mostly because I don't know enough about the grandmother to start...), but prior to sitting down today, I had a great image in my head of the grandmother in the hospital bed unable to eat.  How would my main character and heroine, T, cope with this? How could this scene show what she was all about? So I jumped into the interchange, and before I knew it (and despite numerous interruptions which didn't seem to matter as the scene flowed delightfully wonderfully...) I had over 1,000 words.

Now I've crossed into the 30,000 range. And I will try to remember this: if you're stuck, one nearly sure-fire remedy is to write through it. Just write what you think you know and the rest will come. Your characters will start talking to you and show you the way.


The rain has stopped, and the mist is wisping through the distant mountains. I'm off for my walk to celebrate.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Whales and Goals

I took some time off, but now I'm back. Some of it I can blame on the humpbacks in the Narrows. They're never here at this time of the year. So who could resist watching them bubblenetting, their huge tails rising up from the water?

But back to goals. I've got some new ones, and I feel great about them.

Goal # 1 - 40,000 words by January 1, 2011
Goal # 2 - 60,000 words by April 2011
Goal # 3 - First draft by May 2011

I think they're do-able, and I feel good knowing that. I just have to keep my eye on the story and put in my time, right here, at the computer. Every morning, even weekends (?). The calendar idea really helps - putting down in each day box how many words I wrote, and how many I have total.

Here are the results for today: 773 words; 29,812 total. Yay! That means I have about six weeks to write the necessary 10,000 words for Goal # 1.

I think I'll go have a cookie to celebrate.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Wandering. That's what I've been doing this week and last. I've also been avoiding. Avoiding writing about the grandmother in my book. I didn't know much about her, so I stayed away. Usually when I don't know something, I write through it, and then finally I figure it out. But I didn't do that this time. I continually detoured because I really had no idea what she was all about. I had also tried quite a few qualities on her, like new hats, and nothing fit.

Then finally I jumped in and got nowhere. But instead of swimming to the nearest shore for safety, I stayed there, floating around in the current trying to figure out who this character was.

It didn't work. At. All.

But because I had been trying, had been writing through it, my subconscious began stewing over it even when I wasn't. And that's what's magical.

Because, finally, at around 2 AM on Thursday, I knew. 

This is truly one reason to write.  That wonderful, incredible feeling when the character starts to talk and it's almost impossible to capture her conversation, so quickly and forcefully she speaks.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I had a hard time getting started this morning. I don't know whether it was the rain, the chilliness, or feeling sleepy, but I kept avoiding my computer. Oh, I'd sit down and write a little, but then I'd go off and do something that clearly could have waited. Then I'd return to the computer, check email, some blogs I like, Facebook - and so on -  I know you've all been there.

But the good news is that I stuck it out. I almost quit at 600 words. I was at the end of one scene and could have picked it up tomorrow. But I didn't. I stuck it out, sat there and thought and wrote and then thought some more.  And wrote some more. Finally, I was rewarded with a total of 987 words.

I am humbled, once again. The only way to write is to sit there and do it. And no one can do it but you.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose

What you read can determine what and how you write. I know I'm affected by what I read and since everything that goes into my head could potentially come out in a different form on the page, it's a good idea to read good books.

Many people recommend the classics, but sometimes they're difficult. Although, since starting Francine's book, I'm going to have another go at some of them, particularly Jane Austin. I watched The Jane Austin Book Club yesterday as a treat for my 700 word success (and also a good week of words). It made me go on a serious hunt for a Jane Austin book in my collection, which I couldn't find. I think they didn't make the cut when we moved to AK...

Some words to remember: on page16 Francine says, "Every page was once a blank page, just as every word that appears on it now was not always there, but instead reflects the final result of countless large and small deliberations. All the elements of good writing depend on the writer's skill in choosing one word instead of another. And what grabs and keeps our interest has everything to do with those choices."

Friday, September 24, 2010


This morning, I spent some time editing. This edit wasn't a careful line edit which I do when I'm actually finished with a manuscript. In fact, I rarely edit during a first draft as, for me, it interferes with the process.

This was a quick clean-up, a tweaking. I had to adjust the Mom character's actions and dialogue in order to more fully flesh-out who she is. Most often when I first write about a character, I know nothing about her. She just starts talking (if I'm lucky...) to me. But then, she may change as I get to know her better and that forces me to tweak in order to make the new her and the old her gel.

The good news is they've gelled.

The better news is that I also got 716 words done.

The best news is that I stopped at a great place which will make it easier to start tomorrow (hopefully) or Monday.

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Something wonderful happened last night. I suddenly knew that the grandmother in my new book was a hypochondriac. I had known she had some sort of serious psychological disorder, but I didn't know what.

This project began when I decided I wanted to explore some issues in my own life more deeply. I felt I could use these details to weave a compelling story.

But the problems began almost immediately. I never seem to be able to write about real life. Here's why: real life intrudes. My characters are all living, breathing people in their own right. And if I try to take someone out of real life and plop her exactly as she is into my story, the character rebels. So the grandmother in my story was rebelling. I had pegged her as having a number of fairly serious psychological issues but then she just sat there on the page refusing to talk.

After brooding about this for awhile, I finally, finally returned to the most important thing - the story. What would move the story ahead? Grandma could have a condition, it just had to be a condition that would mesh with the story, be important to the other characters and add something. And then in a flash, I knew: she was a hypochondriac. A serious one, at that.

With one swoop of the keyboard, I'll change that real life person into a character and the story will be the winner.

How do you feel about molding characters? Do they do what you want them to do or do they rebel?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


In August I set a writing goal of 1,000 words per day during the week. I set the same goal several years ago when I was working on a middle grade novel I have since finished. It works. I made a copy of the calendar I keep by my computer and on it I record the number of words I wrote and also the total number of words thus far in the manuscript. Over the month, this helps me to see where I was and how far I've come.

This goal of 1,000 words is a lofty one as most days, I won't reach a thousand words, but on the other hand, some days I will. Maybe I prefer to under reach than over reach. I also know I could write on weekends which would up my productivity a lot. But weekends are for my family and ever time I try to choose, family always wins. Additionally, I don't like to be torn, and having my family in the house is distracting. So I usually opt for thinking about the story instead of actually writing it. Which deserves a lot more credit than I give it.

Today's count was 503. I'm happy with it as I think today's writing was pretty good. (Unlike Monday's which was not.)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Don't get it right, get it WRITTEN

This post could also be called, "Don't get it right, get it finished." Because getting your project finished is as important as the starting of it. And by finished, I don't mean done. I mean that you have finished Draft 1. There may be 65 other drafts that follow it. Or 5 or 72 or even 102. In each of these drafts, you will be editing which is the other half of the puzzle of writing. As you tighten, agonizing over using this word or that, you will be taking steps - some teeny, tiny baby steps, but steps nonetheless - toward your completed project.

But without Draft 1, there is nothing finished. Nothing to edit.

So go on - don't get it right, get it written. You can do it!