Always Changing

Hello, hello!  As I mentioned in last week’s post, I was planning on starting a new novel in order to respark my writing passion.  I started it on Saturday and have worked on it regularly since then.  I admit that I’m still not up to my usual word count per day yet, but whenever I open the file, I’m filled with the desire to move forward instead of dread.  That’s a win!  But, as I noticed with my last novel attempt, this novel has its own flow and wants to create its own routine.  I don’t remember having to adapt to new writing habits with every new short story I wrote, but apparently novels are different beasts entirely and each one is going to require special treatment.  Today, I wanted to ramble a bit about how my routine has changed with this novel compared to the other two of which I have (at least) completed first drafts.

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When you sit down to start a new novel and everything is perfect, then the novel decides your previous routine isn’t good enough…

My first novel was written completely in pantser mode.  Music from my iTunes (which basically runs the gamut of styles) played in the background for almost every writing session.  When I hit snags, I usually figured everything out after random bursts of subconscious ideas.  And in the end, the first draft was an unreadable mess that took another year or longer to clean up.  It was fun.  It was hard.  It was draining.  But I got it done with plenty of help from my Stonecoast mentors and compadres.  Honestly, if I hadn’t had help and people telling me that I had to finish it, I don’t think I would’ve been able to keep going.

The second novel that I actually finished (I started one between them, but got stuck halfway through because I stepped too far outside of my comfort zone), was wildly different.  I had the first half plotted out and knew where it would end, but switched to pantser mode to connect the beginning and end.  It was written mostly in silence because music distracted me.  When I got stuck, I’d actively plot things out in my head, but rarely thought about it otherwise unless I was working on it.  I wrote it in about seven months, a record for me, with little help.  Only a handful of people have actually seen any of it.  But when I read it to start revisions, I was surprised that it made sense and flowed as well as it does.  It still needs a lot of work, but I’m happy with how it turned out with that routine.

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When you’re down and don’t want to do anything, but the new novel idea won’t leave you alone.

Again, I started and stopped a novel before deciding to switch to my novel-in-progress.  I was in a position where I didn’t want to write anything when this idea started pestering me.  I’ve got the major plot points figured out and there hasn’t been a night that’s passed by without me laying awake in bed plotting out the next scene.  It’s a little scary to think I might be turning into a plotter on this one.  I’ve tried writing with iTunes and in silence, but neither feels quite right, so I’m going to try my CDs (my teenage anthems sprinkled with some more recent music) next.  I’ve also had the urge to find reference pictures for my characters, which is something completely new for me.  I never needed pictures of my characters before, so part of me thinks I’m just looking for excuses to feed my need for eye candy, but I’m going with the flow and looking for some.  Granted, this is just the beginning of the process.  I might revert to pantser mode later on.  But the new process feels right so far.

Hiro from Nocturnal Bloodlust is basically Jyou (one of my protagonists).

Maybe I’ve just been refining my technique with each new novel or maybe my routine really will have to change with each new novel.  Either way, I’m just happy to be enjoying writing again.  It’s been a while since I could say that.  What about you?  Do you notice changes in your writing routine between each novel/story?  Or have you found something that works consistently for you?  Share your thoughts, comments, questions, or whatever here or on my social media pages!

Writing Rituals

Howdy, howdy!  I know a lot of people who can sit down and write with little to no hoopla, but I also know a lot of others who have to perform a kind of ritual before they can get the words to flow.  I’m a little bit of both.  There are only a couple of things that I have to do before I can write, everything else is just procrastination (at least I’m honest).  But I thought I would share how my routine/ritual usually works.

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It can be fun, but usually it’s a lot of hard work that gets tossed aside in favor of other hard work that flows better.

My routine starts with my morning (actually, it’s noon-ish, but I don’t know what else to call getting out of bed and getting dressed) ritual.  It takes about an hour and a half to finish because of the whole cripple thing.  I can’t just jump up, throw pants on, and be ready for the day.  That has to be done regardless of whether I write or not, so I don’t know if it really counts as part of the writing ritual or not.

Anyway, while Dad makes breakfast, I do all the little things that would normally draw my attention away from writing if I didn’t get them done.  I post on my social media and respond to any comments, I check my email and note who I need to write back when, I play a round of my mindless games, and I work on the crossword puzzle.  All of these things are just procrastination waiting to happen, so I try to get it out of the way before I eat (or right after if breakfast is a quick one).

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It really is, but you can work it into your routine if you try.

Breakfast is the only big thing that I have to do before writing.  It’s impossible for me to focus on anything productive if I’m hungry.  After food, I open the files I’ll need to get started on my work, do another quick social media and email check, set a timer for an hour, then start writing.  After the hour is up, I log my word count and do another round of short procrastination, then write for another hour.  I can usually meet my writing goal in two hours, but occasionally I’ll do a third.  I will say this: I can usually write even if I don’t break it up by hours if I have to, but I find it harder to concentrate that way.

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Apparently there’s a Ryan Gosling meme for everything.  I don’t really know why.

I know, I know.  My writing rituals and routines aren’t all that interesting.  There’s little to no blood sacrifice going on (it constantly surprises me too).  But it’s how I usually work and it’s been good to me.  When I stop being (kind of) productive, I’ll try something new.  Maybe I’ll throw in a complicated chant or something to summon the muse.  All my stuff aside, what works for you?  Do you have a particular routine or ritual that gets you into the mood?

Writing Challenge Q&A: My Day

Hello yet again!  This is the second to last installment of the Writing Challenge Q&A for anyone who’s wondering.  Today’s topic is courtesy of my beautiful and crafty friend, Angela Wilson.  She makes some really neat stuff, so if you’re in the New Brunswick area of Canada and spot her at a craft fair, check her stuff out!  She chose number 15 (bullet-point your whole day).  I will do my best to describe my usual day.  I’m not really that interesting, so I do basically the same thing every day.  I actually started that Daily Goal Calendar that I mentioned trying out, so here’s a visual of my April!

April DGC screenshot
It turned out to be really helpful.

So, a typical day goes something like this (please note that the times are approximations):

Noon ’til two – The process of getting up.  This includes waking up, switching from my mask to the mouthpiece on my ventilator, a face cleaning, bathroom duties, making sure my Minion knows Dad and I are alive, transferring to the wheelchair, a cleaning followed by deodorant, getting dressed, and teeth brushing.  It takes anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours depending on if we (we = Dad who is my caretaker and I) rush it.

Two ’til three-thirty – The breakfast routine.  I check my email, try to post on all of my author pages, and play mindless games while Dad cooks breakfast and sets up my drink and whatnot.  Eating usually takes 45 minutes or so (long enough to watch an hour long DVR’d show while fast forwarding through commercials).

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There’re always eggs, so it’s breakfast!

 Three-thirty ’til six-thirty – New writing routine!  A couple of weeks ago, I started doing “writing stints” with a couple of friends.  It’s like a writing sprint, but without the competitive element.  We start at four (I take care of random small tasks or work on the crossword until then), write for an hour, take a five or ten minutes break to check in, then write for another hour and check in again.  I always avoided things like that because I’m a slow typer and I feel awkward “racing” people, so we decided that we’d set our own goals and simply check in with each other to stay motivated and accountable.  If we feel like it or miss our goals, sometimes we do a third stint.  And we can do the stints separately if need be, then talk about them that night.

Six-thirty ’til eight – Randomness.  There’s not really anything scheduled during this time.  Sometimes I read.  I might work on the crossword.  Netflix is an option.  So is revision (if I have something of my own stuff to look at) or critiquing (if I have someone else’s work to look at).  I also answer emails and texts during this time.  It’s really just for whatever I need to get done.  If all else fails, there’re always mindless games.

Eight ’til eleven – Dinner, TV time, and more randomness.  If we eat at home, dinner is usually pretty late.  Then we watch a couple of hours of TV if there’s anything good on the DVR.  Afterwards, I spend some time randomly checking Facebook or playing games or finishing the crossword or whatever before bed.

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Why does everyone die in my bedtime stories?

Eleven-thirty ’til one-thirty – The process of going to bed.  Another lengthy process that includes a bunch of steps.  Bathroom duties, cleaning, switching from the mouthpiece to the mask on the ventilator and getting everything set, etc.  Basically just reverse the getting up process.  It still takes forever.  Then I talk to myself or Siri until I fall asleep (another lengthy process all on its own).

That’s my usual day.  I told you I wasn’t very interesting.  How about you?  How was your day?

More Revision? Ugh…

Hey all!  I know I would usually do a food review today, but I haven’t really been anywhere.  I could gush about Dad’s cooking for a while if you wanted, but I don’t know if you want me to, so I won’t.  I do plan on going somewhere this week, so hopefully I’ll have something delicious for you next Wednesday.  Anyway, what shall we talk about today?  How about another discussion about revision?  Namely, my revision process (which is being quite evil this go around).

So, I don’t recall if I’ve shared this, but I’ve recently started revising G&G (see a description here).  My problem is that I’ve never really revised anything on this large of a scale.  I only ever wrote short stories before.  Needless to say, my usual approach to revision failed me miserably.  Normally, I do a read-through then another read-through/dive right into revising.  I did my read-through (of course I hated it again), then I hit a wall.

headwall
Kind of like that.

I tried to work my way through it, but when I hit the third day of staring at the screen with my eye twitching, I decided something had to give.  I went and I added an extra step (a read-through with notes), which I finished Monday.  It actually went pretty well.  I feel much better about going in and skinning my baby alive then fattening her up and making her all pretty again.

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Maybe?

Part of me wonders if maybe I was simply suffering from some random bout of angst or something.  I normally don’t have any major attachment to my writing (don’t judge me), but maybe after nursing this thing for two or more years, I was feeling a little clingy.  However, when you write yourself a note that says “Is it necessary or was it simply to meet word count?,” it becomes a lot easier to take a knife to that section.  Ah well.  At least I feel much more confident about getting into the big changes now.

I guess what I’m trying to say is be open to tweaking your routine.  A lot of people call me OCD because I like to do things certain ways, but at the same time, if something isn’t working, I’m willing to change it.  Writers need to be flexible when it comes to these things.  After all, we all know the definition of insanity.

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If you say so…

Anyway, enough about me!  Let’s hear about you.  What’s your revision process?  Do you just jump right in?  Maybe you make notecards or charts or something.  Do you print your manuscript and lay it out everywhere?  What kind of revision magic do you work?

Until next week!