Juggling Projects – Writing Update

It’s been a while since I posted about the projects I’ve been working on. And, oh my, are there a lot. It’s been a strange year. A hard year. An exciting year. But mostly, it’s been a pretty good year for writing.

For the most part, I’ve been on target with all my writing goals this year. In my last post about writing, I talked about switching gears and focusing on a different, older project (working title: Thoughtless) that I feel is a much better, stronger book to eventually try to get an agent with. And I still plan on working on it. I started this year finishing the draft I started during NaNoWriMo 2017, then in February I restructured and outlined the new draft of Thoughtless, and wrote a short story in April. I continued working on the first draft of Thoughtless up until summer, when my schedule goes a bit haywire and I wouldn’t have time to do much writing — at this point, I decided to take a break from the first draft to let it settle and go back to it in the fall. I wrote a short story during the summer and started writing a screenplay (a feature-length, which is much different from anything I’ve ever written as I’ve only written short films and novels).

And that’s about where I am now. I finished the screenplay — I’m very happy with it as a first draft — and because it’s October, I’m starting to outline the novel I plan to write during NaNoWriMo 2018 next month (it’s a twisty drama about a family of thieves living in the suburbs and I’m excited about it).

HOWEVER. My plan to return to Thoughtless in the fall has been pushed to after NaNoWriMo in December because the screenplay took two months to finish (all of August and most of September). And to top it off, I was recently inspired with a new idea for a fantasy series that I’m so excited about that it’s all I want to focus my time and energy on (but that’s because it’s new and shiny and I have to KEEP MYSELF TOGETHER and not act on the urge to focus on it). It’s in the early stages and needs more time to simmer, so I’m not even close to drafting, but it’s so hard not to think about.

(For reference on how long projects usually take for me to get to the point of drafting, I thought of the thievery book I’m going to write for NaNoWriMo this year in April and am just now at the right stage to start outlining in time to draft it in November. And Thoughtless took a year before I started outlining and another month before writing. The ideas need to simmer in my head for a while, I jot things down and make notes, sometimes large sections or scenes or characters come to me and I get them down, but let it all swim upstairs before I think about outlining.)

So, how am I going to balance all these projects? By planning. Because I’m a habitual scheduler.

My plan is this:

October – outline NaNoWriMo 2018 thievery book AND research for new fantasy series
November – write NaNoWriMo 2018 thievery book
December – continue draft of Thoughtless AND slowly start outlining new fantasy series

And with the new year, continue working on Thoughtless all winter and in the spring, I can take a break before working on the second draft and have some fun with the new fantasy series. It’ll probably be ready to begin outlining the first book by then — right now, I have an idea for a series but not for a first book, just a general idea of what it could be. Series usually come to me in that way — large, macro story arc that needs to be segmented and fleshed out into smaller chunks which lead to separate plots of each individual book. So far, only once have I already had the idea for the first book as a standalone and the ideas for sequels came after — and that was Thoughtless.

Okay, so that’s my writing update. I’m so so so happy that I feel as excited for writing as I used to. If you didn’t know, I went through a long slump of just not wanting to write anything ever and it sucked. It’s good to be back in the habit of doing something I love — now to a point where I have too many ideas and projects to work on. It’s a good problem to have.

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Reading Preferences: Format, Structure, + Length

I’ve been a reader for a long time—not as long as most readers I know (I wasn’t the child who stayed up all night reading, who devoured the Harry Potter books; I didn’t even really start reading heavily until I was twelve or thirteen, funnily enough far after I started writing) but I’ve considered myself to be a “reader” for a while. And though I’m a slower reader and haven’t read a ridiculous number of books, of them that I’ve enjoyed, I’ve come to notice a pattern.

I have a lot of personal preferences with books, ranging from genre to length (I love fantasy/sci-fi which tend to be long, but I prefer shorter reads). But what I’ve noticed recently is that the books I tend to enjoy reading more, the books I’m able to read quicker, and the books I “just can’t put down” are all similar in a few aspects.

One: Shorter, quicker reads.

I love me a long, dense fantasy book that keeps me in the story for a long period of time—especially a series. It helps with being totally immersed in the world, keeping my brain within that space even when I’m not reading. I tend to take a few weeks to even months reading a 500+ page fantasy. And while I love them, especially because it’s my favorite genre, I have started to realize that shorter books are more enjoyable to me. The accomplishment of reading a book in a shorter amount of time, being able to read more stories in a year by fitting two or three books in the time it would take me to read one, is way more appealing to me.

Two: Length of chapters and structure.

On the note of length, the most important element of a book that I prefer is shorter chapter lengths. There’s nothing worse for me than picking up a book to find it having 20-30 page long chapters. There’s nothing more soul-crushing. I’ve mentioned that I’m a slow reader, which isn’t technically true. I’m a fairly average reader when it comes to speed. I tend to read in shorter, infrequent bursts, so it takes me longer to read a book, not that it takes me longer than a minute per page or anything. So when I’m reading a book with long chapters, it’s difficult to a) read more than one chapter and b) find a place to pause. With short chapters, I could read two or three in one sitting no problem. In fact, I’m more likely to say “just one more chapter, it’s another short one” so I end up reading even more pages than with the long chapter books. It seems silly but it’s true! Long chapters with many page breaks/scenes are even better than one long chapter. And it’s not just about time with reading, it’s the pacing that makes the book more enjoyable. Shorter chapters tend to have a quicker pace, they tend to make me want to keep reading longer and I end up finishing much quicker.

Another aspect that is similar to chapter length, is a book broken up into parts. If a book as three to seven parts, I’m hooked. It’s another marker, a goal that I can keep reading to. “Just one more chapter” or “I’m almost done with part two, I might as well read the last two chapters.” The most structured and broken up the book is, the better. There’s nothing worse for me than having to trudge through a 400 page book with only twelve chapters, even if I like the story and end up loving the book.

Three: Format.

The format of what I’m reading is another, though less important, preference for me. I read printed books much more often than I read ebooks. However, I noticed that I read faster on my Kindle reading an ebook than I do a printed book. I don’t know the specifics of it, because I don’t read ebooks often, I just know that I read slightly faster. Maybe the screen? The ease of the buttons? No page numbers? I’m not sure. With printed books, however, I prefer paperback. With hardcover, I take the jacket off so it doesn’t get damaged and keep it in a drawer. There’s something about paperbacks, being able to see the cover throughout the reading process, that keeps me engaged more. It’s strange, but it does. I often buy books because of their covers, or buy certain editions because I love the cover, so to be able to see that and be reminded constantly makes me want to read it more often. There’s also something to be said about the comfortability of a paperback in the hands, or even just one hand, and it’s softer when holding.

The most important one for me, though, is chapter length. It’s such a part of my reading preference that I’ve adopted it into my own writing—I never write long, endlessly long chapters. They tend to meander and slow the pacing of the story. I prefer writing short, concise chapters that keeps the plot moving.

 

Most of these preferences aren’t really anything I look into when buying or going to read a book—I always start with the cover and whether or not it interests me, then I read the back of the book. I rarely won’t choose a book because of the above preferences, but they are a factor to whether or not I like a book or not—honestly, the process of reading and the enjoyment I get from doing it definitely alters my perception of the story. The time it takes me to read it, whether I’m comfortable—it all matters.

Shifting Gears…Again – Writing Update

About a year ago, I posted about needing to shift gears and abandon the novel I’d been working on for a long time and deciding to work on the book I like to call Book E. All of that is explained in the other post. However, one thing that I’ve been thinking about for the past year since making that decision: I’m worried about the genre.

Book E, like the original book I’d been writing, Book A, are both set in the same universe. They are connected. And I’d been working on them thinking it was the best option for me to focus on. The problem is, both Book A and E, while different in tone and style, have the same thing in common: superpowers. Book A is more fantasy, while Book E is a little more urban fantasy, but both have characters with the same superhero-like powers.

And what type of films/books/everything has there been a lot of lately? SUPERHEROES.

Media is over-saturated with superhero content right now. And I’ve learned that a lot of agents aren’t really looking for those right now because of it. I had a feeling that this was happening, but I was still in denial that I could make something original enough to stand out. But I couldn’t. I can’t. And honestly, I don’t want to. Because like many of us, I’m sick of superheroes, too.

I still love those books and I know that someday I might go back to them. I think sometimes that if I’d finished them years ago like planned, maybe they could’ve been published at the peak of this superhero obsession, which would’ve been great. But I know that Book A is not as strong or original as I thought when I first started writing it at the age of fifteen (it checked all four of the over-done tropes that one of my top picks for agents listed on their blog) and Book E is great, but also resembles some superpower-centered stories that are out there right now. So I know that now I’m going in the right direction.

So what will I be focusing on then, if not Books A or E?

Book C! The science fiction novel I wrote back in 2012 that I think is a much more original concept and has a much better chance of catching the eye of an agent to eventually be published. It had been my plan a long time ago to finish both Book A and Book C then decide which one was stronger to query with, but then Book E came along. Now that I want to change directions a bit, Book C is the perfect project to work on.

I’m extremely excited to get back to working on Book C (or Thoughtless, as that is its tentative title) though I know it’s going to be a ton and a half of work. The first draft was written when I was a much younger, less-skilled writer—boy, can six years make a difference (and with any luck, that constant growth will continue.) But because of that, I know it’s going to be difficult to turn this book into something good. I’ve already decided that an entire rewrite is necessary and a huge re-structuring of the plot is the first thing that needs to happen.

However, before that, one of my goals for January was to finish the draft of the book I’d written during NaNoWriMo’17. So that’s what I’m working on right now. After that, in February (which is the month I’m focusing on writing) I’ll be tackling Book C and starting again from scratch.

It’s a scary and exciting phase.

NaNoWriMo 2017 – Final Wrap-Up

I DID IT!!!!!!!!

With 40 minutes to spare, I completed my NaNoWriMo 2017 with 50,005 words. I could’ve written more, but I was VERY tired that night after writing over 4,000 words to finish.

This year, I found it was easier than last year! I still struggled and fell behind, but not as much. In 2016, I had to write 13,000 the final day to finish and this year I had to write a third of that. Maybe next year I’ll be finished EARLY? Maybe!

Here’s the breakdown of the month:

Words Written:

November 1st – 2,267
November 2nd – 1,830
November 3rd – 1,530
November 4th – 2,130
November 5th – 1,080
November 6th – 1,670
November 7th – 1,232
November 8th – 1,750
November 9th – 84
November 10th – 1,708
November 11th – 2,330
November 12th – 3,000
November 13th – 1,311
November 14th – 675
November 15th – 0
November 16th – 751
November 17th – 0
November 18th – 3,027
November 19th – 2,019
November 20th – 2,093
November 21st – 1,668
November 22nd – 1,819
November 23rd – 2,336
November 24th – 1,901
November 25th – 2,684
November 26th – 2,450
November 27th – 1,672
November 28th – 0
November 29th – 770
November 30th – 4,219

The first draft of this novel is close to being DONE done. I think a few more thousand should complete the first draft (my first drafts are rarely over 70,000, usually sitting around the 65k mark) and then it’s off to the next project—finishing Book E!

NaNoWriMo 2017 – Week Four

Thanksgiving Weekend was a SUCCESS! I caught up completely, was doing really well, and then…Tuesday happened and Wednesday (today) happened. And honestly? I don’t even care. They were Rough Days and I didn’t have the energy to write, especially after writing so much over the weekend.

HOWEVER! I have one day left. I have 4,214 words to write. That will be the most I’ll have written in one day during NaNoWriMo this year (but definitely not the most ever; last year I wrote 13,000 words on the last day just to complete it). So I’m not THAT worried, I’m just a little worried. My plan is to write a third of that in the morning, a third in the afternoon, and the last third before midnight!

SO TO RECAP THE WEEK,

Words Written:

November 23rd – 2,336
November 24th – 1,901
November 25th – 2,684
November 26th – 2,450
November 27th – 1,672
November 28th – 0
November 29th – 770

Total Weekly Words: 11,813

Where I Should Be: 48,343
Running Total: 45,786
Up/Down By: -2,557

NaNoWriMo 2017 – Week Three

Another tough week! I ended last week with 0 words on the 15th and had only a few hundred the next day and then ANOTHER 0 word day. Not a great start to the week, but I picked it back up and did some strong days of over 2,000 a day. For the week, I stayed the 2,000 or so behind I was last week and added only a few hundred more to my negative words. But that’s not too terrible. I know I’ll be able to pick it back up.

Most of all, I was in a real tough spot in the story and was struggling to get going. But now, I’m in the most exciting parts of the book that I’m real excited about, so I foresee me being able to blast through those words and catch back up in no time—especially with the four days I have off of work coming up for Thanksgiving!

SO TO RECAP THE WEEK,

Words Written:

November 16th – 751
November 17th – 0
November 18th – 3,027
November 19th – 2,019
November 20th – 2,093
November 21st – 1,668
November 22nd – 1,819

Total Weekly Words: 11,377

Where I Should Be: 36,674
Running Total: 33,974
Up/Down By: -2,700

Still in the race, but definitely behind. Hoping this weekend turns out to be really productive!!!

NaNoWriMo 2017 – Week Two

OH NO. I’VE HAD MY FIRST WITH LESS THAN 1,000 WORDS AND MY FIRST DAY WITH ZERO. But everything is okay because, fortunately, I had a few hundred words saved away and am not TOO FAR behind. Only a little behind.

Honestly, I’m not worried. Today (being the ZERO WORDS DAY) needed to be that way because it has been A Day. So I’m good. Rested and ready to tackle more words this weekend! I’m hoping to get a real nice buffer going this weekend so that Thanksgiving weekend, I don’t have to do too much writing if I don’t have to. I want to eat turkey and watch movies in peace without stress.

SO TO RECAP THE WEEK,

Words Written:

November 8th – 1,750
November 9th – 84
November 10th – 1,708
November 11th – 2,330
November 12th – 3,000
November 13th – 1,311
November 14th – 675
November 15th – 0

Total Weekly Words: 10,858

Where I Should Be: 25,005
Running Total: 22,597
Up/Down By: -2,408

NOT TERRIBLE. I’m doing GREAT compared to last year. Off to write—actually, sleep, but TOMORROW, we write!!!

NaNoWriMo 2017 – Week One

The first week of NaNoWriMo 2017 is done and BOY HOWDY AM I DOING GREAT!

Last year, my first week was Not Great and I didn’t even reach the point where I should have been by the seventh day of November. But this year, I’m doing incredibly. I’ve had a few slip-ups where I didn’t quite reach the 1,667 for the day, but I’ve written every single day with at least 1,000 words and wrote the exact 1,667 (or over) for all but three of the days.

That’s really great! I’ve just surpassed where I should be for the first week, so as long as I’m not under, I’m very happy!

Book-wise, I’m loving this story a lot and can’t wait to dive back in each day.

Here’s the first week’s breakdown.

Words Written:

November 1st – 2,267
November 2nd – 1,830
November 3rd – 1,530
November 4th – 2,130
November 5th – 1,080
November 6th – 1,670
November 7th – 1,232

Total Weekly Words: 11,739
Where I Should Be: 11,669

And that’s that! Back to it, then!

TIME TO WRITE MORE MORE MORE!!!

NaNoWriMo 2017!

It’s November, which means it’s National Novel Writing Month! This will be my 3rd year participating in attempting to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. The first year I attempted was years ago, one of the first years it ran, and I failed miserably. But then last year, I completed the challenge and had so much fun that I decided to do it again this year.

First of all, let’s talk about the book first. I brainstormed and outlined all of October. Thinking back on an idea for a short film I had a few months ago, I fell in love with the idea all over again and liked the idea of making that story into a novel instead. It’s a sci-fi road trip thriller that I’m very much obsessed with. It’s a weird, cool little thing that I can’t wait to start forming into an actual book.

In order to complete the 50,000 words again this year, I’ve come up with a strategy. Because I have three days a week more free than the rest, I want to try to write double the daily word count of 1,667 on those days to bulk up the word count just in case I’m unable to write for a day or two, especially wanting to do this in the first week. I struggled last year with that and ended up having to buckle down and crank out 13,000 words in a single day, going right down to midnight, just to hit 50,000 words. I don’t want to have to do that again, even if it was a little fun!

I’ll be posting once a week, every Wednesday with my progress and will recap at the end — hopefully saying that I completed this fun challenge again!

In Love With Writing Again – Writing Update

Writing and I have always had a love for each other. Even in the bad times. But this year, I’ve truly been questioning whether I love the idea of writing more than actually writing.

 

I know that last time I posted about writing, it was about how I write through a creative slump. That was in June, I said I was just in a slump. Well, that slump turned into something much worse for me.

It’s been a ridiculously fast-paced, busy summer and being able to carve out time to write became even more difficult than usual. To be honest, I started to fall out of love with writing a little—I started to get frustrated with not having time to write, and when I did have brief moments to do it, I’d get frustrated because nothing I wrote came easy, it wasn’t good, it didn’t feel right. I longed for that time to write, but when it came, I regretted opening my computer or notebook. And so, I think I actually started pushing it away, purposely letting some extra free time go unused. I started to wonder if I just loved the idea of writing more than actually writing. If I loved the story, loved the ideas, but hated the actual act of getting it from mind to paper. Because I’d become so disinterested in sitting down to do it, so resentful for having this be my passion, that I started to regret my decision to even pursue it.

And then, this September, while the summer’s busyness died down, I started to finish the novel I’d started during NaNoWriMo last year like I’d planned to do since the beginning of the year. I wasn’t expecting anything special about it, I just thought I’d trudge through the last few thousand words so the damn thing would be finished and I could check it off my goal list, not liking it, just doing it because I thought I had to. But once I got back into it, once I had more time to do it, once I fell back into the world with those characters, I unexpectedly started to enjoy it again. I started to love it again. I fell back in love with the words, with the routine of sitting down every day for an hour or more, and even fell in back in love with the mental exhaustion that comes with it. And I’m so happy that I’ve found that love again.

I found my passion again, I’m excited to write every day, and I’m constantly trying to sneak in an hour or two to write. It’s something I haven’t felt in months and months and I’m so overjoyed that that feeling is back.

So now that I’ve fallen back in love with writing, I have so many plans—most of which is a renewed excitement for the goals I’d already set for the year.

I posted a while ago about writing a new story (about Book E) and my plans for the rest of the year with my writing goals. So far, I’ve been doing fairly well. The summer was very busy, so the first draft of Book E has been on the back burner as of late, though I’ve finished a few chapters and like where it’s going (well, where it will go because I started, as I usually do, during the climax of the book).

But, for the month of September, I took even more time away from Book E because I wanted to finish my NaNoWriMo novel from 2016. I finished last November with 50,000 words, however the book was far from finished. So, I’ve been working on finishing the first draft all of September and hopefully will be done by mid-October.

So this month, I want to focus on two things: 1) coming up with a story and outlining for NaNoWriMo 2017 and 2) write a few short stories. I’ve written short stories in the past, but really haven’t in a long time, and want to do more. So then in November, I’ll be doing NaNoWriMo 2017 with a new first draft of a book and then in December I’ll get back to Book E. That seems like a long time to be away from it, but, honestly, that’s how I work on most projects. I do write them in chunks, when I can, jumping between projects.

Well, those are my goals for the rest of the year, but I also wanted to post about something I’ve been doing a little on the side. After watching Ariel Bissett’s video about her buying a typewriter, I decided to dig out my grandfather’s typewriter that he gave me—also, the very same typewriter I started my very first written story on—and started writing. I set it up at a special desk and used it a few times a week, for about a month. I wrote mostly a history of the world in which several of my books are set, writing it in a short story format. It’s been a lot of fun. I love the typewriter, I love the no distractions, I love the permanence of the words, and I honestly feel like I write better, more purposely while using it. Though, because I’m just learning to peck at the keys, I’m much much slower!