August Goals!

Howdy, howdy!  Can you believe it’s already August?  I feel like I’m still stuck in June.  Time just keeps getting faster and faster.  Am I alone in this feeling?  Yeah?  Well, okay then.  I don’t really have much to talk about at the moment, though I am trying my hand at some revision techniques that are new to me.  If they work out, I’ll probably talk about them more next week.  Anyway, since this Wednesday actually falls on the first, I decided to simply share my August goals with you.

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It’s a pretty picture.  That’s all.

So, without further ado and in no particular order, I present to you…

August Goals:

1. Submit stuff 8 times (2 every Monday) to semi-pro markets or higher.  This is one of my goals for the year (submitting two stories to magazines or anthologies every Monday) and I’ve been doing really well with it.  I haven’t missed a week yet, though I do believe I submitted stuff on Tuesday a couple of times.  Sometimes, I’ve dreaded submitting or felt like I’ve submitted everywhere I possibly could, but I pushed through it and found new places anyway.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep it up!

2. Write 50+ words OR revise 1+ pages EVERY DAY.  I’m back to the small goals every single day thing.  It’s just really helpful to me when I feel like I’m between projects.  In my head, I know I’m prepping for in-depth revisions on LR, but if I don’t keep track of words or pages, I don’t feel productive.  This goal might change once I find my rhythm with LR.  For now, though, it’s good for me.

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George R. R. Martin

3. Read 2 books.  This is another one of my goals for every month this year.  Honestly, I’ve kind of lost track of how many books I tend to read in a month because some overlap months and others I deliberately read over a longer period of time (almost always craft books).  But I do know I’m up to 18 books this year (thanks to GoodReads tracking feature), so I’m ahead of schedule.

4. Make time for people.  I’ve been a bit reclusive recently, though I still try to answer every message I get.  I just don’t initiate as many conversations as I should.  This is nothing new.  It’s something I struggle with all the time (as you know if you’ve read earlier posts).  I’m just far too comfortable not talking to people and stalking them on Facebook instead.  Yes, I’m creepy like that.  My friends know this and many of them do the same.  But I really do want to be better about socializing.  I swear.

5. Finish timeline for LR.  This is one of those new-to-me techniques I mentioned earlier.  There’s about one more day’s worth of plotting before I have a timeline that I can work with (I’m plotting it on the computer before I write anything out).  I even bought a bunch of Post-It notes in pretty colors to make everything easy to differentiate.  I just have to figure out where to stick them that’s easy to see.  Then, I have to recruit Dad to do the sticking.  I bet he never thought my novel writing would include work for him.

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That’s a lot of Post-It notes.

6. Work on revisions of LR.  Hopefully the timeline will make revisions go more smoothly than usual.  It’s already given me ideas for new scenes and how to rework some old ones, so I’m cautiously optimistic.  I should have some updates on this in the next couple of weeks.  Wish me luck!

Those are my goals for the month.  What about you?  What are you hoping to accomplish before September?  Feel free to share your goals or thoughts here or on my social media pages!

The Lessons of Writing Every Day

Howdy, howdy!  How is everyone’s April going so far?  Are you keeping up with all of your goals?  I actually want to talk about how I’ve been doing with that whole “write every day” thing that I mentioned trying back in March.  It’s been working!  Every day in March (including Sundays and those days when I really didn’t want to), I wrote at least 50 words.  Sometimes, I even made it up to 1,000 words.  When April arrived, I upped it to at least 100 words a day.  So far, I’ve kept at it!  And I’ve learned some things from my experience thus far, which is what I’m going to ramble about right now.

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Well, a computer.

Thing the first: Sunday will never be a good writing day for me.  Right now, Sunday is set aside for things that take up most of the day, so I wasn’t sure if I would be able to keep up with even 50 words.  I did.  Even 100 words has proven to be doable.  But I don’t think I’ll ever do more than that on Sundays.  It’s actually kind of annoying writing on those days.  I miss my day off.

Thing the second: I still write better at night.  I’ve tried for a long time to adjust to writing in the late afternoon/early evening with mixed results.  Sometimes, words flow easily and I finish my 1,000 words before I even realize it.  A lot of times, writing the words is like pulling teeth.  But, I’ve found that when I open a story around 11ish at night to write my words on those days I’m too lazy to do it in the afternoon, the words always flow.  Granted, I’m usually only aiming for 100-150 at that point, so it might just be that I’m not pressuring myself with a difficult goal.  It’s just something I noticed.  But I’ve always been a night owl, so this is no surprise.

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Pretty much.

Thing the last: writing every day is not a stress reliever for me.  A lot of people I know say that they feel so much better after they write their words for the day.  It’s like a catharsis for them to get words on the page (even if it’s just 50 words).  I am not one of these people.  I usually feel the same or worse after I write, unless I hit one of those rare days where the words tumble out onto the page almost by themselves.  Most of the time, I’m just happy that I can play games or read or watch anime or whatever without feeling guilty.  At least until I realize that it’s too late to do any of that stuff, then I’m just annoyed that I don’t have a day off to do any of it.

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When you finish writing and realize you don’t have time for anime.

In other words, my experiment with writing every day is going well.  I’m about halfway through the last chapter of my current novel attempt (hoping to finish by the end of the week).  When I switch to revision mode, I’m not sure if I’ll keep up with writing every single day, but I’m glad I’ve done it.  I admit that setting low goals for each day is a helpful way of getting back into the sway of writing.  Do you have any experience with something like this?  As always, feel free to share your thoughts and comments here or on my social media pages!

That Thing I Said I’d Never Do…

Howdy, howdy!  Apparently, March arrived when I wasn’t looking.  The problem with that is, it forces me to make a confession.  I still haven’t finished the shitty first draft of my current novel attempt.  There’s no real excuse for it.  Sure, I could blame the killer headaches my allergies decided to unload on me.  I could blame the general blahs I’ve been feeling for the past few months.  But the truth is, I didn’t even push it with my writing on the days when I felt normal.  I’d start writing and let myself get distracted by stupid things.  I just haven’t been able to find the right rhythm for this particular novel.  I’ve struggled with this one all along.  So, I decided to do something I said I would never do.

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I decided to write every single day (which is totally not as impressive as it sounds when done my way).

It’s one of those golden writing rules that writers say they live by in order to sound like they’re doing a ton of work every day, but in reality, most are lucky if they write a few days a week.  Then, they throw a word count on top of it that makes it even more daunting.  Like 1,000+ words a day is some easy task they can pull off in ten minutes.  It’s not.  In fact, writing 1,000+ words in a day can be exhausting.  And it’s why I swore I would never be one of those people who even attempts it when I already know I’ll fail.

That being said, when my usual writing techniques failed me (repeatedly), I decided it was time to give this whole every day thing a go.  BUT!  I promised I wasn’t going to kill myself with 1,000+ words a day.  Even 500+ words was too high for me to consider.  So, I made my daily goal ridiculously low, with the caveat that four days a week I would shoot for my usual 1,000+ words.  Otherwise, my goal is a measly 50+ words a day.

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I’m going.  I’m going.  Chill.

It might seem stupid, but I can knock 50+ words out in ten minutes before I get ready for bed.  And I’ve actually averaged about 100 words a day.  I’m still struggling with my 1,000+ words days, but even those are getting a little easier.  People will say that I’m building a habit and that’s why it’s getting easier, but for me, that’s not exactly true.  I’m very much achievement oriented, so when I fail to meet my goals, I get stressed and upset.  Setting super easy goals helps me build my self-esteem back up, which motivates me to tackle harder goals.  And so far, it seems to be working.

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Close enough.

I suppose it’s important to try new techniques when old ones stop working.  Hopefully, I’ll finally finish that draft this month.  What about you?  Do you have any projects that might benefit from setting super low goals?  What do you do when your standard techniques stop working?  As always, feel free to share your thoughts and comments here or on my social media pages!

Three Golden Rules For Writing That I Never Follow

Howdy, howdy!  I recently talked to a friend from my critique group about some comments I sent her on a story, and she mentioned the notion of writing rules.  These are the things that get constantly reiterated in writing programs (like our MFA program).  We’re told all of the things we can and can’t do.  Meanwhile, authors who are getting published are breaking all the rules and no one else seems to care.  Does that mean the rules are really suggestions?  No, not necessarily.  It simply means people are choosing to break the rules that don’t work for them or their stories.  Some of them do this more successfully than others, in my opinion.  But I’m glad I learned the rules because breaking them deliberately tends to work better than breaking them because you don’t know any better.

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Sure they are.

But here are three of the rules of writerhood that I never follow:

1. Write EVERY day, even on holidays and when you’re sick.  Because everyone knows you’re not really a writer unless you write a bunch of words every single day and never take a break.  Except, that’s complete bullshit and anyone who tells you otherwise is a Liar McLiarson.  Yes, it’s good in the beginning and helps train your brain to take writing seriously, but beyond that, it’s just not possible and you shouldn’t feel obligated to work that way if it doesn’t help you.  Personally, I need a weekend, even though I mostly just sit around and play mindless games.  Self care is important and you deserve it.  Plus, who wants to write after they’ve been up all night projectile vomiting (just an example)?  It’s okay to take breaks.

2. ALWAYS read your work aloud.  This is great advice if you’re practicing for a reading or if something doesn’t feel right and you can’t figure out what it is, but I don’t like reading things out loud.  For one, I feel stupid doing it.  But mostly, I don’t want to read my novels out loud because I’m lazy.  It would take forever at the pace I speak.  Plus, the voices in my head make reading silently more interesting for me and I can hear when things sound abnormal in their voices, whereas if I’m reading aloud, I might find out where I stumble over phrasing, but I’ll miss things that feel natural to me even though my character wouldn’t actually say it.  So, reading everything out loud isn’t for me.

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Stephen King said it, so it must be true!

3. Adverbs are BAD.  This is one of those rules that I ignore when I’m writing, but follow when I’m revising.  Yes, there’s usually a better way to say things than using adverbs, but I’ll be damned if they aren’t awesome in a first draft (which is the writing part of writing for me).  It’s difficult to think of the perfect phrasing when your goal is to get words down on a page.  That’s where adverbs come in handy.  Sure, there are better, more evocative ways of saying “she walked slowly upstairs,” but it’s a perfectly acceptable phrase for a first draft.  You can decide in your edits whether she trudged, or hobbled, or snuck (sneaked?), or whatever.  But adverbs are great placeholders until that point.

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Such a rebel.

So yeah, those are a few of the golden rules of writerhood that I break.  What about you?  Are there any rules of your craft that you don’t follow?  Anything that seems like it was created by an overzealous person who didn’t understand that not everyone works the way they do?  Feel free to share your thoughts, comments, etc. here or on my social media pages!