For real writing productivity, I recommend not getting sick.
I was all raring to go after my awesome day of writing on Sunday, and then Monday rolled around. I wasn’t feeling the greatest, so I decided to skip my workout class that night. I had an itchy throat and a really terrible headache. I took some meds for that, and even though I was sleepy, managed to get about 1200-1300 words before I realized I needed to call it quits.
Then I woke up the next morning with that awful, foggy sick feeling. My throat was on fire, my head was pounding, I had a fever, and all I wanted to do was sleep. I tried doing some work for my job at home and finally gave up around 3 PM and took a series of naps. No writing was done that night.
Yesterday I felt bad again, so I called in a real sick day and went to the doctor. I had hoped for some miracle of healing overnight. So, I bundled myself in the car in my sickly haze and went to see her and her response upon looking in my nose and throat was, “Ohhh, wow. Yeah. You’re really infected.” Not what you want to hear. So I got some drugs and I have inhaled about a gallon of chicken soup since Tuesday afternoon, another gallon of Gatorade and a 2-liter of Sprite (my sickly drink). No writing has been done, but I worked from home today and hope to tackle that wordcount tonight. Plus my fever finally broke early this afternoon, and I’ll be on day 2 of the mythical, wonderful, amazing Z-Pack. That means I should be feeling tons better, right?
It couldn’t have come at a worse time with the start of Savvy Bootcamp, but thankfully the challenge is structured in a way that my team isn’t affected by my brief absence, and my teammates have been super encouraging and sweet (which almost makes me feel MORE guilty!!). So, back on the horse I go, armed with some Kleenex.
How do you deal with writing when you’re sick? Do you power on through, or do you give in and let yourself get some rest?
So I did what I planned on doing this week, even though it didn’t feel super productive…I kept plotting out Burn. The plot isn’t 100% planned out on paper, but I feel more than confident with where it’s going. I feel like I can manage it towards the inevitable big events and scenes I have in my head. And, well, if I don’t get those on the nose the first time around, that’s what revisions are for. I’m treating this somewhat like a fast draft just in the interest of not overthinking things too much.
This week my goals are to write as much as possible on my draft. I clocked in at 5,172 words for today, which made me very happy! I did a few #1k1hr sprints and logged some major wordcount in the first one–over 2,000 words! I like the new direction I am taking the story from its original inception a lot. I think that makes it easy to write. I don’t know that I’ll get 5,000 words tomorrow, but I’d like to try to get at least 3,000. That’s my daily minimum goal for the week, considering I have a lot of work-related writing to do and that can sometimes sap my creative strength by the time I get home.
So, here is my updated set of goals:
- Write at least 3,000 words a day on Burn.
- Finish the first draft of Burn in May. I am part of Team KickA$$ for the Savvy Authors May Bootcamp and I am planning on writing my butt off to keep up with my prolific team members, so this shouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility!
- Finish reading Story Engineering by Larry Brooks.
Once I am done with Burn, I am going to table it for a while and pick up The Recollector, the novel I started in November for NaNoWriMo. I realized about 25,000 words in that it needed a LOT more planning and research than I had put into it prior to November 1, so the last 25,000 words are probably a load of desperate garbage. But I still really like the idea, I just need to flesh it out and get my character’s backstory to a realistic, workable place. Historical fiction, be it alternative like mine or 100% historically accurate, is hard but I think very fun and rewarding.
Hope everyone has a fantastic ROW80 week! I’m ready for some real progress after two weeks of not feeling like I made much.
Last week was so bad I didn’t even check in on time. Yeah…it was bad. I had a headache for six days straight, sometimes migraine strength. Work was crazy because almost everyone was out of the office, making it nearly impossible to get my own work done due to lack of responses, etc. It was very frustrating and it made me crabby and tired. I was snappish with my husband if I wasn’t careful and I went to bed early every night because I felt like the days just couldn’t be salvaged. Wednesday was actually the worst of the days. I just wanted to throw in the towel.
However, it was a three-day weekend and I let it be just that. A weekend…some relaxation, some work. None of that work was my writing, and I was okay with that. I’ve long neglected some housekeeping and organization, and the husband and I tackled that this weekend. I repainted a headboard for our bedroom on Friday and relaxed with some Netflix and the cats. I read a little, I watched TV, I slept a lot, I cleaned even more. It was good. It needed to happen. I feel a little guilty, but not enough to lose sleep over.
This week I am revamping my goals. I’m going to finish planning for Burn. Period. I’m close, but I have some work to do to get it ready for the May Boot Camp that starts this weekend. I want to be ready to jump right in. The rest of my goals aren’t ROW80 goals–they’re goals like finish cleaning and organizing the bedroom, work out at least three times this week, clean out the fridge, and go on a date with my husband. They’re good goals that make me more myself, and when I’m more myself, I’m a better writer. No more bad weeks like last week as long as I have anything to say about it.
I’ve been tempted to call this week a wash. While I’ve been doing most of what I need to, it just feels like a big zero. Stress and frustration plus a headache for the last five days and counting don’t equal much motivation or positivity. However, despite all that there are two good things: I’m still making progress and I have Friday off from work. I’ll be spending that day painting our new headboard, cleaning, doing laundry, and working on blogs and Burn. Oh and probably sleeping in So, not a wash quite yet.
How are you doing?
This week started out with a bang and ended with a whimper. It happens, and I am not going to beat myself up about it. I am a little disappointed, but there is no use crying over spilled milk or unwritten words.
I had a semi-rough week at the office and a terrible migraine yesterday and today, which effectively ruined my weekend. I have roughly the energy of a wet noodle right now but thankfully I can sit in bed and write while still relaxing.
I did manage to do a little plotting throughout the week, which is good. I need to keep the forward motion on this story so that I can write it in May. I am hoping to really ramp it up this week to make up for my scanty progress. I have Friday off from work since it’s Good Friday, so I plan on spending a nice chunk of time writing. I might take my iPad to my favorite local coffee shop and get some work done with one of their amazing giant chai teas by my side.
I did manage to post on both blogs and do some reading in the writing craft book I’m reading, Story Engineering. I did a little research for my alt-historical fantasy, but not as much as I wanted to. That is probably for the best, to be honest…researching the new shiny isn’t a very good idea while I am trying to make headway on another project. I was doing well with both things, but I think I am going to table my research until I am through the first draft of Burn.
I am going to try to get a little work done tonight, but it’s hard with my head pounding like it is. Stupid allergy/sinus season in Dallas is crazy this year! If I can manage an hour or so of working today I will call it a win. Trying to remember my new mantra of “little and often” when it comes to progress!
How are you progressing, fellow ROW80ers? Anyone have a semi-fail week like me?
It’s Wednesday, which means I can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel that is my week. I’m busy at work, and I’m busy at home. Part of me just wishes that I could lock myself away for a week or two and do nothing but write until my fingers fall off, both because I wish I had that luxury and because I’m getting really excited about the project I’m working on.
I was telling one of my writer friends this morning that I am so ready to begin the writing part of my novel. Right now I am deep in the planning, plotting and worldbuilding and that is a LOT of fun, but it’s also a lot of work. I get easily frustrated with planning because of my excitement–once I hit on an idea I love and start to work out all the details, I want to throw caution to the wind and jump right in. But for me, that just invites yet another form of frustration once I work past the elation and realize that what I’m writing isn’t going the direction I wanted it to go. I need a well-thought out plan ahead of time and a good sense of my characters, setting and concept. I do love to discovery write, and I often allow myself to just run free when I’m stuck on something, but I write better and faster when I have a plan. I approach my professional nonfiction the same way: lots of copious notes, outlines and scribbles before I sit down and write a piece, or else I get completely lost in the weeds and have to drag myself back to the actual point of what I’m trying to communicate.
So far this week I have accomplished quite a lot of planning on Burn. Sunday was awesome because I chatted about my plot and magic system with friends at our monthly writer’s group, and just the act of talking it out and discussing things with others helped me resolve some bothersome issues. I felt like I cleared a major hurdle in the plotting of the novel. I’ve continued doing some planning every night, even on Monday when I absolutely wanted to do anything but write. Just like I wrote in my post yesterday, the “little and often” approach is helping me accomplish my goals even when I don’t want to. My biggest task right now is developing out the other major characters. My heroine and her backstory are in great shape, but the new plot additions have created a few characters who need quite a bit of fleshing out.
Speaking of blogging, I’m working on quite a bit of content for this blog and my other one. It feels good to be blogging on a regular basis again–it’s something that I got away from and I truly missed it. It’s really a shame that a lot of my old articles about writing got eaten by the WordPress upgrade monster some time ago. I have an idea for a series of posts on this blog, as well as a whole list of posts in progress for my tech blog.
I am also doing quite a bit of reading: an alternative history fantasy novel and some urban fantasy as my “genre” reading, various sources for my own alternative history fantasy project, and Story Engineering by Larry Brooks of storyfix.com. Larry’s site is incredibly valuable for tips on the craft of writing, and his book is proving to be just as helpful. He is great about providing clear examples of existing works and how they apply the principles he talks about in his book. I am not very far into the book yet but already I know this is going to be a staple on my shelf. I have the ebook and I am going to be ordering the paperback to sit amongst my other treasured writing and reference books, which is the highest compliment I can pay!
How are you coming with your writing goals, fellow ROW80 participants? Anyone have a major breakthrough, setback or accomplishment?
I follow a blog called Sustainably Creative by Michael Nobbs. It’s not specifically about writing, but more about the push to be creative and how hard that can be. Michael suffers from Myalgic Encephalopathy/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which can leave him with very low energy levels. That makes it very hard to keep up with a creative career, but Michael manages and that is quite an inspiration to me.
Over the past three years, I have struggled with health problems that left me exhausted, dispirited and uninspired. Things are exponentially better for me now that I know what is wrong with me and how to treat it. I’m back to my old self, feeling great 99% of the time and more creative than ever, but there was a point where I didn’t have the energy to be creative at all. I barely had the energy or to get out of bed and go to work, and even then I didn’t always make it. I was in pain all the time and it wore on me mentally and physically.
Michael posted a blog entry today that I wish I had read when I was feeling bad all the time. I have always been a creative person, and feeling so sick that I didn’t want to write, craft or learn new things was a foreign concept to me. But Michael has a great approach to this that we can all learn from, whether you’re too sick to write or just feeling completely overwhelmed with your project or your life.
Little and often. If you write a little on your WIP every day, you’ll be that much closer to writing “The End” on a future day. If you research a little every day, you’ll be that much closer to being ready to write your historical novel or your sci-fi novella. If you read about the craft of writing a little every day, you’ll be that much more informed and you’ll slowly but surely become a better writer for it.
That has been my mindset for this month of the ROW80 challenge, as well as just rebooting my writing habits in general. I typically thrive under challenges and deadlines, but they can also overwhelm me at times until I power through. This isn’t such an issue now that I have a much better work-life balance than I did before, but it can still happen when a week stacks up just right. But the “little and often” approach makes things so much easier. If I just do a little—a little writing or planning for my blogs, a little plotting on my current WIP, a little freewriting for one of my characters—it’s better than wasting my time bemoaning the fact that I don’t have time to write or I don’t feel like writing. I can always find a few minutes.
Last night I was tired from too little sleep the night before, full from a really great dinner, and all I felt like doing was watching some Netflix and going to bed early. I did those things, but I also did a little plotting on my novel. I didn’t even MEAN to work on it, but before I realized it I had my Scrivener file open and I was working on the story arc. I didn’t do much, but I felt better having done just a little to add to my progress.
Typically during my work day I will take a break for lunch, and then another 15 or 20 minute mind rest later in the afternoon. During these times I try to do something like work on a blog post, write a snippet of dialog, or read a chapter of a book on craft or a novel in my genres. When I get home at night, I will usually relax a little, eat dinner, spend some time with my husband and then work a little more on blogging, plotting or writing. Sometimes I will stop and start that process so I can do things like laundry or cooking. But I try to accomplish something by at least doing a little bit as often as I can.
Remember, if you’re having a crazy day, week or month, you can always make progress. It might not be 2,000 words a day or 50,000 words a month, but moving forward is moving forward. You can sustain your creativity a little at a time, as often as possible.
The first week of ROW80 has drawn to a close and I feel like it was really successful!
I made a lot of progress on getting Burn re-plotted and ready to go and I’m feeling great about that project. My Scrivener file is growing more and more detailed by the day! Today’s progress, though technically part of the upcoming week, was the most awesome. My biggest plot disconnect was worked through during a get together with some of my local writer friends, which makes me even more excited to finish my important (but tedious) outlining and get to writing the new draft!
This week I have some lofty plans:
- I am going to concentrate on fleshing out some of the new characters that have come up during the reimagining of Burn’s plot. I am also going to lay out the big overall story arc and start building the subplots.
- I will finish out the blog articles I have planned and hopefully start to work on a new post series I have in mind for my tech site.
- I am continuing the process of bookmarking and skimming resources for my next writing project, which is an alternative historical fantasy. I’m currently taking a class that I am hoping will give me some great resources, insight and inspiration. One of my favorite authors, Gail Carriger, also happened to post a great list of resources for alt-Victorian history and steampunk writing. My story falls at the tail end of the Victorian times, during Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, so I look forward to perusing some of the links Gail shared.
I have to admit, though…I failed at my goals on Saturday. I had a rough week migraine-wise and that always leaves me pretty tired and feeling not so hot, which led to a completely lazy day that involved me collapsed in a lump on the couch, lots of television, the latest Raine Benares book and a few games of Tiny Wings on my iPhone.
It made me think about the fact that I should probably build an “off day” into my goals that I can use if I need to. I would love to work on my writing every day, but that isn’t necessarily the most realistic thing in the world. However, I don’t really want to give myself an “out” during a writing challenge. I also don’t want to have an exception that may break the good writing habits I’m trying to rebuild.
What do you think, fellow ROW80ers? Do you give yourself a day of rest, or do you push through and work on your goals every day?
We’re only two days into it, but so far ROW80 is going GREAT for me! I think it really helped that I picked such realistic goals that would be easy for me to complete without having to take drastic measures. Just to review, here are the goals I chose:
- Write one blog post on my tech site and one blog post here every week.
- Finish outlining Burn to prepare for the May Savvy Boot Camp, and start on it if I’m done before the end of April. This is a rework of a pantsed project that really needs some fleshing out, so I want to take my time on the planning.
- Write every day, even if it’s only 100 words.
So far I have written one blog post here (with more to come!) and outlined some of Burn every night. I’ve also been writing 100-150 word “snippets” from my heroine’s POV. I’m in the midst of some big time worldbuilding and loving every minute of it, especially creating my magic structure, and I know I’m not ready to jump in and actually write yet. I have an unfinished “draft zero” of the novel without a lot of the new details and none of the new backstory, and I want to get that out of my mind before I slog back in. I know I will refer back to my original draft for character voices and details, since I still like those a lot, but I don’t want to start off writing the same thing over again. There is a reason I went back to the drawing board, and ROW80 is really helping me get things planned so I can write like a maniac in May!
Another thing I am really excited about is that I found the perfect images last night to mock up a cover for the novel. I have a really defined idea in my head and my skills with Photoshop and Illustrator aren’t too bad, so I am going to put that together for fun. It will be nice to apply some of my on-the-job skills to a more fun personal project.
I have been keeping up with everyone who posts via Twitter using the hashtag #ROW80 (you can find me on Twitter at jfritsche). How are you doing with your ROW80 goals?
It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that Apple owns my tech-loving soul. The Apple ][ was my very first computer, and despite an almost decade long foray into the PC world, the Mac remains my one true computer soulmate.
When I made the switch back to Mac in 2004, I was writing a lot, including a few (failed) attempts at full-length novels. I had files all over the place for various stories, so I can only imagine that I typed in a Google search for “novel organization software” or something similar. Truthfully, I can’t remember how Scrivener came into my life. I only know that once I found it, I never ever wanted to let go.
Basically, Scrivener is the way my brain works made into a program. It is extremely flexible and can be as complex or simple as you want it to be. It lets youorganize your projects however you want, be it in chapters, scenes, acts, or any other way you can come up with. It gathers all your information together in one big file, no matter what it is. You can throw in research, links to pertinent websites, character photos, maps, inspirational images, character files, outlines, working files, archives…you get the point. Everything is all in one place, ready for you to reference to your heart’s content as you write.
There are a lot of programs out there that do the same or similar things. I am not going to pretend that Scrivener is the One True Writing Program. My PC-using writer friends Suzan and Cid are OneNote devotees and it works fantastically well for them. If it was available on the Mac, I might be sorely tempted. It has some great features and seems like a great organizational tool. But I don’t need another organizational tool. Scrivener is the one that works for me and I have made it part and parcel of my workflow. These are the reasons Scrivener is my one and only:
- The organization of everything. I am somewhat of a digital hoarder, especially when it comes to things I feel might be useful for this writing project, that craft project I’d like to start, what I’d like to do to the walls of my living room when I finally buy a house…it could go on forever. Scrivener really helps me cut down on that digital “clutter” when I am working on a big writing project. There is no more scrambling through a file folder on my hard drive for that PDF on Victorian England or that perfect stock image of my heroine because it’s right there in my Scrivener document, accessible via just a few clicks.
- The flexibility. I can organize my novels one way and my blog articles another. I’m not locked in to a process at all–if I need to make changes, I can. Some people are intimidated by Scrivener from the get go, or think it’s too fussy, but I say it doesn’t have to be. When I first started using it, I just set a few things up and dove right in. My organization and Scrivener processes have grown with use as I perfect the way I like to set up my working files.
- The syncing. Oh, my goodness, the syncing. This is my FAVORITE feature in the 2.0 release because it meant that I could ditch my aging netbook at home and use my sleek, light iPad (with its 10+ hour battery) to write on the go. I use the iPad to write a LOT, even when I’m at home. I also use my iPhone to capture ideas or bits of work. It’s the digital equivalent of me pulling out a notebook and scrawling a few lines down when an idea hits me. But now, instead of emailing myself the notes or finding some other way to upload them to my computer, Scrivener has sync capabilities that grab those documents for me and pull them into my project file. Scrivener syncs both with external folders and the Simplenote service, but I find that I prefer to sync with an external folder within my Dropbox because I can access the file anywhere–on my iPad, iPhone, or in a simple text editor on any computer. I can even add new text files to that folder and Scrivener knows that it should import them into my current project. When I go write, I only sync the things I need (scenes, chapters, notes) and then sync back any work I’ve done when I’m at my computer again. The extra added bonus is that everything is doubly backed up on Dropbox. I love the security of knowing that my files are safe.
Everyone has their one true writing software love. Scrivener and I are in it for the long haul, but I love reading about other people’s setups and processes. How do you write?