Friday Fess-Up: November 17th

This week it was all about The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

I did write every day this week (so far, and I’m planning on getting some words down on Saturday) and that’s good, but it’s not THE good that I’m referring to. Let me walk you through it in reverse order.

The Ugly

At the beginning of the week, I realized that this new book was starting to feel like work. Not that writing isn’t hard work, but the feeling that I got was more like something that I felt I ~had~ to do rather than something I ~wanted~ to do.

For those of you that don’t know, this isn’t a good sign. And that leads me to…

The Bad

The reason why I was having problems was that just about everything in my story was more interesting than my main character. Seriously, the alley she gets held up in was more interesting.

The reason for this was that she had no problems. She was ~going~ to have problems. They’re out there waiting to pounce but, right now, she’s got no problems and she’s surrounded by people that have some pretty big problems.

I’m not a “Fix it in Post” kind of guy, and this push to get words down for the sake of getting words down and fixing stuff later was really getting in the way.

The Good

I gave up on trying to reach a specific number of words this month. I went back to page one, word one, and I fixed the problem. I sat back and thought about the worst thing that could happen to this character and I slapped that threat down on the table in the first pages. This, naturally, had a ripple effect and I’m going through the rest of what I’ve got down and making changes.

So why is this a good thing?

Two reasons:

  1. I know more about myself as a writer, now, than I did at the beginning of the month.
  2. The book doesn’t feel like work anymore. It’s still hard, but it’s a good kind of work.

Yeah, it’ll take a minor miracle for me to hit 50,ooo words by the end of November, but I still call it a win.

Happy Friday!

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Words Getting in the Way – Of Words

So I learned something about myself this November.

I am not much of a sprint writer.

For those of you that don’t know, writing sprints are – well – probably exactly what you think they might be. Writers will sit down, either singularly or in groups, set a time limit, and, for that time, write as much as they can, as fast as they can.

The idea is to get words down. It doesn’t matter if they are any good. This is a raw sprint, no finesse required.

I’m not a sprinter. Which is not to say that I ~can’t~ sprint (as you’ll find out later), it’s more that I’m not comfortable sprinting.

NaNoWriMo is a month-long sprint.

I know that there are some of you out there that might not see it that way, but consider:

The average word count needed to hit 50,000 words in 30 days is 1667 words per day throughout the entire month. How long it takes you to reach that 1667 is largely dependent on a number of things: How fast you type. How organized you are (if you’re a plotter). How easy it is for you to let go and type (if you’re a pantser). How much time you’ve got to write, etc.

There are more factors involved, but you get the picture.

For me, my average daily word count was somewhere between 350 and 700 words an hour. This is waking up early to snag that hour, before doing the full-time day-job thing, getting home and doing the day-to-day stuff: Cooking, cleaning, walking the critters, etc. AND doing the family thing, unplugging, refilling the well, etc.

That’s a lot of stuff going on.* Let’s say that I’m consistently getting down 500 words per day. To hit that 1667 word count goal, I would need to produce a little over three times the amount of work in either the same amount of time or carve out more time. Assuming that my typing speed doesn’t mysteriously increase, I’m looking at finding two more hours in a day already packed. That’s a sprint.

I managed it for the first three days.

By then, it was already uncomfortable and things were starting to fray around the edges. As I mentioned in my Friday Fess-Up post I fell off track. Needless to say, there was pressure – all of it self imposed – to get caught up.

The thing was, try as I might, I couldn’t get caught up. In fact, I was falling farther behind. The push to amass words was becoming an obstacle to actually getting words down.

It was like being too busy driving to stop for gas.

Last Thursday, the tank ran empty. I puttered to a stop having written 93 words and I called it a day. Before then, I’d been writing longhand at work and, when I got home, I’d type up what I’d scribbled down and then pushed to make up the difference. I did none of that Thursday night.

I unplugged. Relaxed. I admitted to myself that I wasn’t at a place where I could generate that amount of work in a sustainable fashion, and reevaluated the goals I had set for myself.

Then I got a solid eight hours of sleep, woke up the next day at my own pace, and knocked out 1000 words and some change when I sat down to write – in about the same amount of time it would have taken me to get 500 words down.

So I learned something about myself this November.

After looking at the numbers (You guessed it, I have a spreadsheet for this month), I saw that after I fell off track, I was consistently getting down somewhere in the neighborhood of 1000 words a day.**

That is, roughly, double what I had been getting down. And it didn’t feel like grinding.

What I learned was that I’d moved the bar a bit. I may not be at the point where I can crank out 1700 or more words a day. I may not ever be at the point where I can generate those kinds of numbers.*** My writing time still has limitations imposed on it – which is not to say that, if I could quit my day job tomorrow, I’d knock out 60,000 words a month. That kind of thing is something that you need to work on. Like I described to my writing partner, it’s like I’ve been comfortably running 5K races, and I decide to run a marathon without any extra training.

So I encourage you to push yourself. You may be surprised at what you find you’re able to accomplish.

I also encourage you to not push yourself to destruction. Try and realize when you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. Develop that skill now, before you over-commit yourself and start missing deadlines.

 

Time: 12:20 pm-ish

Music: Blind Guardian – Sacred Worlds

 

*Your mileage, of course, may vary.

**This was while stretching myself, before I crashed and burned on Thursday.

***1700 was kind of an arbitrary number. Stephen King has said that his writing day isn’t done before he has 2000 words down.

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Friday Fess-Up: November 10th

Sleep and word count.

Word count and sleep.

That’s what the focus of this Fess-Up post is all about.

Last Friday, I was down in Kentucky. I came back on Sunday, so needless to say that wasn’t the most productive of weekends. I don’t want to get too deep into exact word counts, suffice it to say that I got off track from the 1700 word-per-day schedule.

If you’re like me, once that happens, you’ll try and make it up later on…with mixed success.

After the weekend, the real world asserted itself and I tried to keep up. That meant less time for other stuff. Eventually – and I say this like a lot of time went by, but it was more like two days – I ended up sacrificing sleep to get a greater percentage of ALL THE THINGS done.

Not a good life choice.

Come Wednesday morning, I was telling myself that I only had to make it through two more days and then I could rest.

Well, I’d heard that before, and wasn’t buying it.

Thursday morning, I woke up, checked the heater (it had to be reset), made the coffee (which was a life-saver…seriously), grabbed some grub and headed up to write.

About 30 minutes of struggle ensued, then my brain made a noise that sounded something like “Murgle-fritz” – only imagine that it was sung by a wildly drunk Daft Punk, playing on poorly tuned instruments.

I ended the day with 93 words – total.

Later on that day, I got some stuff down writing longhand, but I don’t really count it. There was a great deal of cross-outs and questionable scribbling. I mean my hand writing isn’t the best, but when even I’ve got to look at it twice in order to figure out what’s on the page…well that’s a clear signal to stop.

I got home from the day job, nuked some leftovers and played a game. Total unpluggage.

This morning, I got up after a SOLID eight hours of sleep, took my time with the day (I’ve got the day off today, so there was a piece of, usually, constant pressure that was missing). When I sat down to write, I doubled what I normally get down for the same amount of time.

Take care of yourself folks. You may think that you’re skipping out on a bill when you play fast and loose with things like sleep and self-care, but you’re not. That shit comes due – with interest.

 

 

 

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Home Again-Home Again

This is going to be a quick update, because I just got back from a weekend in Kentucky ending with a really long car ride.

So let me say a few things before I get to decompressing:

First: Kentucky – I had a great time. It was kind of a Micro-writing retreat, because Saturday was the only day that I really got anything done.

If you’re in the Louisville area, do yourself a favor and go check out Shenanigans Irish Grille Future you will thank you for it.

Also, stop by Smokey Bones and get yourself some ribs…They may have broken me for all other rib places*.

Second: Ohio – Mate, the effort it took to drop that much water over so large a space can’t be good for one’s health.  Seek some help…

 

Now I’m off to relax…

 

Adventure Awaits

Time: 7:16 pm-ish

Music: None, save the creaking of my joints after sitting in one position for so long.

 

*If you think another place might top Smokey Bones for ribs, leave me a comment. I’ll investigate.  Mmm…ribs…

 

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Friday Fess-Up for November 3rd

Hey, all. Welcome to November.

If you’re like a lot of folk I know, you’ll be participating in a little event they call NaNoWriMo this month. You’re already three days in. Some of you are are track, and some of you aren’t.

As I said on the 26th, I don’t normally do NaNoWriMo, primarily because I’m not usually in a place where I’m starting something new right at the beginning of November. That means, that I’d have to put something on hold for a month while I worked on the November project (Hmmm…The November Project…that sounds like a title)

This year, the stars aligned and I’m all set to – not, officially, start NaNoWriMo-ing. I didn’t sign up on the website, because I’m self-aware enough to know that I’d probably spend more time in the community, than doing any actual writing.

That doesn’t mean that I’m not going to try something in the spirit of NaNoWriMo.

So I spent the last couple of days of October smoothing out the edges of my world building and, on November 1st, I hit the ground running.

I set a target goal of 1700 words a day. Yes, I know that the actual number of words per day comes out to 1600 and some change, but I rounded up because…math.

AND

If I stay constant with the 1700 words, I’ll finish early. Or I’ll be able to weather days where I don’t get a lot done…

Like today.

I’m typing this in Kentucky. My wife had a goat show she wanted to attend and I’m on a mini writer’s retreat. Only, after getting up on the early side, spending six hours on the road *grumble, traffic, grumble* Checking in, etc.

I’m spent.

I got, like 173 words written. Admittedly, they are 173 words more than I had when I woke up this morning, so I’m still calling it a win, but they are a fry cry from the 1700 words and some change I got Wednesday and Thursday.

I’ll be writing on Saturday, probably not writing on Sunday (that’s the trip back and I’ll be driving).  We’ll see how the rest of the week shakes out.

So now, I’m off to try and find some dinner while it’s still Friday.

 

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The World Wants Brains

The original title of this post was going to be “The World Wants Your Head.” I read that in an article and it stuck with me. If I can find the article, I’ll put a link to it at the bottom of the post*.

The article talked about how the world constantly demands your attention. How it steals away your free time and weighs down on you. Not only does the world demand that you listen, it demands that you to act a certain way. It demands that you like or dislike certain things, to behave or dress a certain way. Think a certain way. And, if you dare to go against the grain, you’re “Selfish”, or “Unrealistic”, or “Undeserving.”

The world wants your whole head, your attention and your thoughts.

But that’s not quite it. Thinking deeper about it, what the world really wants are your brains. Being the time of year it is, and that we’re talking about brrraaaiiiiins…

That brings me to zombies. That’s the really frightening thought here.

You can argue that the real monsters in Zombie stories are the people. That the real scare is in considering what a person is capable of doing to other people when they’re really in the frying pan.

I don’t see it that way. Nothing knocks me out of a zombie story faster than a character doing something stupid and petty for personal gain while, all around them, there are Freaking Zombies!! The lack of “Big Picture” perspective frustrates me.

No, what really gets me about Zombie stories is idea of losing your individuality. When they get you, you become one of them. You may look like yourself, but the thing that makes you, you is gone.

You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

I suppose that you could say that one of the things that frightens me the most is losing my sense of self. My individuality. I don’t think you’d be too far off.

That’s what the world wants. Zombies. It wants to strangle your individuality. One of the biggest things that has ever smothered a good idea is five simple words: “What will other people think?”

We all struggle with it.

I’d wager that everyone reading this has, maybe even as recently as this week, used or thought the phrase “Guilty Pleasure” to describe something that they like.

Guilty, because you might be one of a small group of people that enjoy it. Guilty because it isn’t popular, or it showed up on some “10 worst ever” lists.

I’m making a solid effort to remove that phrase from my vocabulary. If you like something, then own that. At no point should you ever have to justify something that you enjoy.

I liked the Will Smith\Kevin Kline version of The Wild Wild West. I still listen to 80’s hair metal bands. I don’t think that Citizen Kane was the best movie ever made.** I have watched the Brendan Frasier version of The Mummy close to the same number of times that I’ve watched Star Wars, and I’ve enjoyed it every time.

I have no “Guilty Pleasures.” There are only things that I dig, that you may or may not also like, and that’s ok.

So like what you like. Do what rings your bells, as often as you can. Especially if you’re a creative type. Do what you love to do, the way you love to do it.

Yes, the world wants brains. It wants brains without knowing that it wants them. The world wants brains even as it tries to stifle them, because only through intelligence and creativity can we find a way to make the world a better place for everyone.

Resistance isn’t futile. Resistance is essential.

 

Time: 12:58 Pm – ish

Music: Epica – The Ultimate Return

*Here’s that article

**If you’re curious, my money is on Raiders of the Lost Ark, and I will gladly debate that with you over a burger and a beer.

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Friday Fess-Up: October 26th

So I’m having one of those weeks where I don’t remember much of what happened. It was Sunny – n – Seventy on Saturday and I spent the day doing ALL THE THINGS outside.  Then there was an epic grilling session.

So no writing on Saturday and Sunday, which isn’t unusual.

Monday, I got up to write and all I really remember about that morning was that it was cold. Sleep Monday night was full of what I can only call anxiety-riddled dreams. I remember one where I was bathing one of the dogs and partially flooded the house. I woke up feeling like I was on the tail end of a fight-or-flight response…and I got up late, because 5:30 in the cold and dark just wasn’t happening.

So no writing on Tuesday morning.

Wednesday I got up to write and came away with the name for that alien cow.

Thursday, I got up, looked at my outline for the first time in a while, and I spotted holes in the story.

And that the story wasn’t starting in the right place.

While I’m glad I can fix these beforehand, it still didn’t stop me from questioning ALL THE THINGS – so I’m going back over the outline, pretty much start to finish to make sure that it all makes sense.

I’ve got 5 days to get everything squared away before November, where my friend Lillian and I are *Not* NaNoWrimo-ing, but we are doing a month long sprint. Her goal is a total of 30-40 Thousand words, and I’m shooting for 50 Thousand. It’ll be good to have a writing partner to check in with, compare, commiserate, cry, and celebrate with.

I’ll put it out there: I have no idea how I’m going to manage 50 Thousand words. At least not yet.  I’ll let you know what I came up with on December 1st.

So I’m typing this up on Thursday because I’ve got the time, and I’m not anticipating having the spoons for anything outside of hardcore R-n-R after day-jobbing on Friday.

I’m on schedule tonight, and I’m planning on getting back to The Work on Friday morning, early.  Normally, I’d put down, “Bright and early” but, now-a-days, it’s not so bright outside when I wake up.

So Happy Friday, Folks. This should go live around Noon, so there’ll still be a little bit of Week-day left, but here’s hoping those last few hours pass you by without slowing.

 

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Doubling Down on NaNoWriMo

I don’t normally participate in National Novel Writing Month. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against it. Usually, when November comes around, I’m not in a place where I can participate without putting the current project on hold for a month.

This year is different.

I’ve got an outline down, most of the character work is complete and, a couple of weeks ahead of November 1, I’m ready to go.

Then I looked farther down the timeline and it hit me that, on November 1st, there would be two months left in the year.

50,000 words a month for two months. That’s a book. Or, at least, the first draft of a book.

Daunting…but, doable?

I’ve been rolling the idea over in my head for the last couple of days and I’ve decided to go for it.

I’ll post regular (or regularish) updates here to let you all know how I’m doing. Will I sign up for NaNo this year? Maybe. The jury is still out on that. I can see it turning into a time sink.

Whether or not I do, if you’re participating this year, know that I’ll be scribbling down the words right there with you.

And, if you’re not participating this year, try to find some way to challenge yourself this month. See what you can do.

Adventure Awaits!

 

Time: 11:20 am – ish

Music: Dragonforce – Through the Fire and Flames

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Friday Fess-Up: October 20th

On a rare Saturday* (which will become less rare**, most likely – more on that Sunday) last week, I got some writing done. I got some other stuff done as well, but the writing was up there on the cool list.

That was the only day during the weekend that I wrote.

Monday, I got up to write and it was CHILLY. Coffee alone didn’t cut it and I ended up adding thicker clothes, heavy socks, and slippers. Slippers, people.

Monday night turned out to be a long one, and I opted for the “Near seven hours of sleep” that was behind door number one, rather than the “Near five hours of sleep” which was the prize on the table. So, no writing on Tuesday. Despite the extra sleep, I still ended up dragging ass all day. A condition that I would spend the rest of the week rectifying – beginning with Tuesday night.

Wednesday saw me getting right back into the swing of things…which was when the back to back Overtime days started.

I won’t say that I dodged any bullets on Wednesday or Thursday. They were both 12 hour days, but they could have been longer and I did get up to write (Although I was feeling it on Thursday morning) on both days.

This morning I spent a good (read: unnecessarily long) amount of time trying to come up with a cool, alien sounding name for an animal which is, essentially, a cow.  Come 7:30 am, I had several interesting names for other things, but not this damned bovine. Finally I gave up in disgust (and because I had to get ready for the day-job) and left with far less done than I’d wanted.

I put the figurative cow on the mentally figurative back burner to simmer and something will bubble to the surface, I’m sure.

And that takes me to the doorstep of days that haven’t happened yet. If future me happens to be reading this, please leave a note in the comments about whether or not I (or is it you?) came up with a name overnight.

Oh, and before I sign off. I will be posting this Sunday at the Million Words website. Come on by and check it out.

As usual, that extra post will not disrupt the regular Sunday posty, goodness right here.

Happy Friday Everyone!

Be safe.

 

*Not that Saturdays are ~Rare~. I mean, they happen once a week.  Well, for a Saturday, that should be rare.

**No, I am not getting more than the standard one Saturday per week – though that would be nice…

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Quiet Day

So I’m sitting here looking out the window while I type this. Ok, that’s not entirely true. I can’t not look at the keyboard when I’m typing. I’m not that good of a typist.

It’s the middle of October, unseasonably warm, grey, and windy as hell. The hummingbird feeder is turning a slow circle – I should refill it, but the wind will only make it dribble onto the porch and I’ve got enough flying, stingy things around as it is. Everything my eyes can see from this window is in motion, some of it violent. The weather app on my phone says that there’s a storm coming.

I know how it feels.

I’m restless. I mean I always feel a little like this come fall but, today, it feels like it’s too much. Even the music is too loud.

So I shut it off.

Today needs to be a quiet day. I need to sort out what’s got me on edge. To step back from the noise and think.  So I’m going to try something new. I’m going to turn off the sound on my phone and try and spend as much time as I can in the quiet. And that goes double for the internet. No facebook, no twitter, no internet if I can help it. Time to step back and unplug for a bit. To get some distance from the shock and disappointment that’s become too common now-a-days.

I can see that it’s already started to rain. Might be that it’s time to curl up with a book a warm cup of something.

Here’s hoping you all find a bit of peace in the storm.

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