Yesterday when I had to go to work (the beer-slinging work), I was in the middle of my writing work. 4:30 crept toward me like a cartoon villain tip-toeing down the hall in front of where I sit. I can hear the music now.
That guy feels a song coming on.
The tidings of 4:30 were very unwelcome. I typed frantic words, flipped back and forth through pages, and stared at the clock as if I could will it backward. Eventually the green guy in a cape came, grabbed me around the waist and pulled me kicking and screaming out the door.
As if going to work when I was in the writing zone was bad enough, it was Jack W. Tweeg that made me leave home. How embarrassing.
Anyway, through a scheduling mishap, I didn’t get scheduled at work today. While at first that made me really excited, I then got grumpy about it because everyone who works is going to make money (our restaurant got bought out for the day). Now I’m excited again. It means I have a whole day that I don’t usually have off to write. Which brings me to Emmie’s Very Ambitious Goal.
My goal is to finish my second draft today.
Why is that so very ambitious? Well. I still have twenty single spaced pages to rewrite. That takes a while. A lot of it needs to be tweaked, which takes longer. But I think I can do it. In fact, I know I can do it. The reasons I want to get this done today are as follows: it’s my last day off before NaNoWriMo officially starts, I don’t want it hanging over my head like a villain in a hot air balloon, and it just needs to get done so I don’t go insane and start cutting off body parts for Halloween.
Alrighty. Time for me to get to the old drawing board. Wish me luck. I’ll report back here later.
“I feel……….I feel a song coming on!”
Most writing advice will tell you to just write every day, no matter what. I don’t always work that way. I go through cycles of immense productivity. There was a night last year where I wrote 12,000 words. That is a lot of words. I’ll plow through whole chapters in a sitting. I finished my novel and got halfway through the second one that way.
Then I burnt out.
Not completely, and not in the sense of never wanting to write again, but it happened. I noticed in the three years that followed that when that would happen, I would go through a period where I wouldn’t even look at my book. I wouldn’t touch other books. I would just slog along. That wasn’t very magical, nor was it productive at all. I then realized that when I started craving words and ingesting them at the rate of two 1,000 page books a week, I was coming up on another spurt. Last year, I had an idea. No matter how I feel, I make myself read.
Reading, you see, fills my tank. It renews my love for writing and wordcraft. It comforts me in the presence of old friends or introduces me to new ones. Lately, I’ve had the itchy fingers all the time. Even when I had a two week hiatus for my wedding and honeymoon, I wanted to write. I thought about writing. I read whenever I had a spare second. The tank was full, but I had no outlet.
Since I’ve been back, I’ve been reading constantly. I bring a book with me wherever I go, in case I have to wait for something. Reading fuels me for writing. This harkens back to Stephen King’s advice to writers: Read a lot, write a lot.
Last night I decided to do a short 20 minute writing sprint before bed. It turned into 40. I took that last bit of my novel that has been bothering me so much, highlighted it, and hit delete. It disappeared, and I sighed a sigh of relief. I started over. I made the story more succinct and a bit darker. I cut through all the useless preamble and got to the meat of things. It’s one part resolution, one part introduction, and another part foreboding — and all parts propel the story to the end much more effectively than they did before I deleted those ten pages. It was a freeing thing.
As novelists, we have to try to produce hundreds of pages of manuscripts. That sentence alone looks rather daunting. It might even make you say eek. The point is not to burn out. The point is to create new stories and characters that contain bits and pieces of your Self and Soul without scraping those two things out of your core and leaving you empty and listless. The point is to not look like this at the end:
Find whatever it is that makes you itch to write. If it’s reading, surround yourself with good books. If you’re like me and a big fantasy/urban fantasy nerd, the Science Fiction Book Club should be your new best friend. Joining gets you a gaggle of books for a dollar, and their membership terms only make you (make, pfffffffffffffft) buy four more books in a year. Even if you’re broke like me, you can handle it. Go you.
If it’s hiking or yodeling, go do those things. If you’re a writer, it’s because something in you says you must write. Don’t fail to listen to that. Fuel up your tank and gear up for the next month, whether you’re going to dive into NaNoWriMo or not.
How about this: a challenge for you, my lovely gentle viewers. My turn to be the gorse bush in your bum. Let’s all of us take the month of November by storm. It can be your birthday present to me that also benefits you! The perfect gift! The challenge is for you to write 1,500 words a day for the month of November. Snap a pic of your word count to show me. Once a week, whichever day you choose, spend an hour or more doing something you love that refills your tank and tell me about it — and send or post a picture (as long as it’s not that kind of picture). I’ll do the same.
We’ve got a week for me to work out the details of this challenge, but I’ll figure out some sort of little prize for winners if you decide to participate. (It will probably have to be little…but who says little can’t also be awesome?)
What do you say? You have a week to mull it over and get your oogly booglies out for the upcoming holiday. You know where to find me.
I was doing quite well at posting every day for most of September. Then the wedding happened, and now it’s mid-October, and a lot of my posts daily have been from The 25. That’s not a bad thing, but I feel like the last few have made me talk around in circles and saying a lot of the same things over and over. So today, I will just give a blurb on the topic and move on to greener pastures so as not to send you monkeys chasing a weasel indefinitely.
10. Rhythm is the subliminal soundtrack in writing. To explore options for moving a reader along, choose a dramatic passage from a published piece you admire. How do you feel when you read it? (Notice your breathing, heart rate, posture and emotions.) How did the writer provoke this response? How do word pairings and sentence and paragraph structures contribute to its momentum? How do these rhythmic choices serve the piece’s meaning?
Now, write a passage that echoes the patterns you’ve discovered. If the first sentence is three short words, yours should be, too. Where a descriptive image blossoms for a paragraph, let yours do the same. Communicate emotion through your rhythm. You might let rage stutter through the syncopation of words and halting punctuation, or stream through run-on sentences. Notice how these choices support or squelch the surrounding narrative. Just as a musician practices scales until they become second nature, your attention to the mechanics of rhythm will help you improvise over time.
You can probably see how I feel I’ve covered this already. Between pace and my post on sentence structure, I think I’ve about beaten that horse to death. Hurrah.
So let’s take that half-dead horse to a nice green pasture and talk about something else, no?
I have to admit, I’m a wee bit stuck on my novel revision. Part of it is because I feel overwhelmed with just how much I need to fix. Draft two is so close to the end, yet I have this litany of stuff going through my head every time I think about sitting down with it. (Cut chapters from the end-where the hell is Lily-texture Cam’s character-scene with John McLeroy-pacing, pacing, pacing) Not to mention all the tiny things, the polishing things like buffing out the adverbs and passive voice. It’s a daunting task sometimes, revision.
(Half-dead horse agrees. I think she likes her green pasture.)
What do you do, gentle viewers? When revision gets painful, how do you bust down that wall? I might have to bite my fist and just take out some of the more complex plot details, but I like my story having depth and texture. I don’t think they take away from the pacing; they just don’t come to fruition till the second or third book sometimes. I blame Robert Jordan for that — stuff he mentioned in books two or three of the Wheel of Time has come up in books eleven or twelve. Anyway. I’m curious to hear how you fellow writers work on revision in longer works when the going gets tough. Any comments or thoughts or advice?