Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What Does 2014 Feel Like?

I'm done making resolutions. I have been blogging and yapping about writing since July and it hasn't done me much good. I still don't have a completed novel, and what's worse, I don't even have a story that I want to write.
With that sad fact I'm not making big plans or goals for 2014. My New Year's Resolutions will not be to lose weight, exercise more, eat better, or write more. Instead I'm going to focus on feelings.
What do I want 2014 to FEEL like?
Yes, it would be wonderful if next year brought me the small victory of a finished novel (even a terrible one) but finishing a novel will not be the main goal.
What is the main goal?
In 2014 I want to feel the sun on my face and the wind in my hair. I want to feel like I could run up a hill without getting winded and run down without limping. 
I want the feeling of freedom and skill that I had when I rode a bike with no hands.
I want the proud exhaustion that comes from a hard days work. I want to feel my hands around a warm mug on a cold morning.  I want to feel my heart pounding as I hike up a mountain, and feel my breath catch in my chest as I take in a beautiful view.
Those are the feelings I'll be chasing in 2014.
How does a person chase a feeling? That is the key, isn't it. I think it is to live in the moment. When you're in the middle of your day, stop and ask yourself how you feel. What does it feel like to be you at that moment? If it doesn't feel fantastic, if you're stressed or disappointed in yourself, if you're making yourself crazy with your to do list, then STOP.  Run at full speed (if it feels right) and chase a new feeling, a new way of being you.
For me, maybe that means writing 2,000 words a day or maybe that means writing 2,000 words a week, but 2014 feels like success any way you slice it.
How about you? What does 2014 feel like for you? Leave a comment, or write it on a piece of notebook paper, but this year make a commitment to feeling fantastic.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Ten Thousand Words A Day

On Monday, December 16th, I was feeling feisty and I decided to write 10,000 words a day for a week. Well, feisty isn't really the right word, mostly I was feeling like a loser because I hadn't been writing nearly as much as I thought I should.
Monday morning I worked out, then ran some errands and did some Christmas shopping. I had lunch with a friend and then came home to clean. By the time my son got home, at three, I still hadn't done any writing. I helped him study for his midterms, made dinner. (Actually I probably hit the drive-thru.)
Now keep in mind I still thought I could pull this off. I had a coke at around 5:30pm, told the kids it was going to be a late night for me and asked them to set their alarms for the next day. You know, in case I wasn't able to get up in the morning on account of all my hard work:)
I put the kids to bed at 8:30 and finally sat down to write. My husband was out of town so it was very quiet in the house. I didn't really like it. I started a movie, just for some ambient noise.
It was actually a really good movie,  I decided to watch it until 9:00pm and then I would turn it off.
At nine I turned the movie off, made myself some (caffeinated) hot tea and sat down for a long night of writing. I felt like I was in college again, pulling an all nighter. Cool!
Wait. No! All nighter's were so NOT cool. I would be completely exhausted the next day, I wouldn't get anything done! I decided it would be much more practical to write 20,000 words on Tuesday than it would be to write so late at night! (Yes, I really did think this made perfect sense!)
I closed the computer, watched the rest of Catch and Release and ended the day with zero word count.
What's the moral of the story?
You've got to just DO it!
I did write on Tuesday, but not ten thousand words. I did write on Wednesday, and Thursday too. Friday I went car shopping from dawn to dusk and Saturday was the same, but my total word count for last week was 7,409 words.
WHAT? I know, right. Where did that even come from? It's far from 10,000 words a day, but it's still pretty good.
Here's what I learned.
When trying to write ten thousand words a day...
-You can't separate your work into chapters or scenes or anything, just write one huge, long story.
-Don't look back to see what color your character's eyes are, or what their names are. You can fix all of that later, just keep writing.
-Don't Google anything. You wanna know how tall the Eiffel Tower is? Who cares! Check it later, just keep writing.
-And last, but not least, if writing is the last thing on your "To Do" list, it will not get done. Put it up there at the top off you list. Or better yet, don't make a list at all, just DO it!

For the new year my resolution (of sorts) is to put my daily word count into a calendar (photo above). I'm going to try, scratch that, I AM going to take a picture of the book and keep my blog updated with my progress. Hopefully 2014 brings lots of words...and maybe at least a few of them can form an actual novel.
Happy Christmas to you all! May 2014 bring you peace, good health, and joy...and maybe a best selling novel:)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Trick Thyself

I've been having a little trouble getting motivated to write these days. In fact, just the other day I was staring at my computer for almost a full ten minutes with nothing but white space looking back at me.

I work on Scrivener (If you haven't tried it, you should!) and I usually section out my work into individual scenes. I'll title them so that I can make sense of it all in the editing process. I'll use things like, "meet antagonist" or "Bobby finds the knife". Not overly creative, but it gets the job done.
But the other day I couldn't even come up with a scene idea, let alone a title.
I finally just typed in the first thing that came into my head. Nelson Mandela. It happened to be the day he died, and to be honest I didn't even realize it was on my mind. I hit return and started typing out a scene.

Now I don't know very much about Nelson Mandela. I hope you don't think I'm hopelessly ignorant, but the words I think of when I hear that name are; committed, prisoner, rebel, speaker, apartheid.
Now the section of my book I was working on had absolutely nothing to do with apartheid or Nelson Mandela, but the feelings that name evoked in me showed up in my writing.

I found my main character seemed a little more in control. Her motivations seemed just a little bit clearer and only because I had Nelson Mandela in mind when I was writing.
I've started to use this trick with every scene. I use titles like Charles Manson. Harrison Ford. Bill Clinton. Jennifer Lopez.  Actually, I haven't used J Lo yet, but I am curious what feelings that would bring out in my writing.

I do this indiscriminately. I don't think about what I'm writing and pick a character with similar values. No, just the opposite, I pick a random person, for example Paul Newman, and see what characteristics of his I can add to the character I'm writing about. How can I make my protagonist (or any other character) deeper by adding attributes of Paul Newman? It's a way of surprising yourself in your own writing. Also, whatever feelings you have about Paul Newman will show up in your work.

Let's face it, books are about feelings. We read because a book makes us feel a certain way; happy, sad, scared, frustrated, ect. So if you're having trouble getting enough feeling into your books, maybe try my little trick. It certainly can't hurt!

Monday, December 9, 2013

NaNo Wrap Up

 Guess what..I quit on my latest novel. I'm sure you're not surprised by this. To make a quick count, since I started this blog in July I have started and quit about four different novels. If you count just plotting books and not the actual writing, I think it's more like six.
This isn't really a surprise to me. As a stay at home mom wanting to make some money I have had any number of schemes that I've started and never finished.
I was going to be a jewelry maker. Then I worried about my necklaces breaking and children choking on the beads. Of course I had to quit. It would be irresponsible not to.
Then there was the card making business, but man printer ink is expensive. The photography business, I was really never any good. And then, there was the writing business. To be fair I was always writing, but only recently did I commit to really trying to get a book published.
I'm not ready to quit writing entirely, but I do (somehow) keep quitting on my novels.
If you read my last post, or maybe it was the one before, I was SO excited about my new novel. But then I had to take a break and get ready for a Disney vacation for Thanksgiving and by the time I got home I was over the story. All of the sudden, it just didn't seem like it was any good at all (sound familiar?).
So, the lesson from NaNo this time is: word count, nerd count, it's all about writing every day. Keep your head in the story even if you can only write 200 words a day.
But that leaves me with a question.
Will I only get published if I finish an entire story and then another entire story and another? OR will all of this writing and practicing naturally lead to a finished (and published) novel?
Am I just being a quitter by leaving so many books unfinished? Or is it like finding a husband? All those other failed books are just the natural course to finding "the one". The one novel that I was meant to write, and everything before it just wasn't meant to be?
Or is that just quitter talk?
Let me know what you think!