Wednesday, January 29, 2014

My New Writing Gimmick

I am constantly looking for ways to cut corners, wait scratch that. Let's call it what it is. I'm constantly looking for ways to procrastinate when it comes to actually writing my novel.
( For proof check out my first post. ) I've written countless "to do" lists, made up schedules and marked up calendars. I've read books on writing and taken classes on writing mostly in an effort to avoid the actual writing.  Once I spent hours writing out random word count assignments. Then I sealed them in separate envelopes, and wrote out every day in March on the front of each one. "Word count assignment for March 1st, Word count assignment for March 2nd...ect" I was supposed to open a different one each day and write the assigned number of words. Guess how many envelopes I opened? TWO!
I still maintain that it was a good idea, even though my follow through wasn't the best.
Well, over the weekend I had a brand new idea for getting the writer in me to step back in line. Or maybe it was a brand new idea for how to procrastinate further...I guess we'll see.
First, let me present the problem. I've been getting my word count in pretty consistently, but I'm bouncing all over the place. I'll write on one story one day and switch to something new the next day. The entire point of this adventure is to finish a novel.
So what's the answer? Why my new writing gimmick of course.
On Monday, (January 20th) I took out 50 small note cards and wrote the number 1,000 on each one of them for a total of 50,000. You're getting it now, right? 50,000 is roughly the length of a completed novel.
 I then took these bad boys and taped them onto my bathroom mirror in neat rows. (I can't wait to see what my husband thinks of this when he gets back into town.)
After I've written 1,000 words I get to take one of those little note cards off the mirror. It's a visual representation of how far I have to go, and how far I've come.
The trick is, it's all got to be on ONE NOVEL. That means my word counts for the day can total up as high as I want, but if I'm not writing on this one particular novel then those note cards stay put.
Gimmick? Or great idea? Waste of time and space or brilliant plan? 
Let me know what you think.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Weekly Word Count

My weekly word count total for the week of January 19th to the 25th is 10,052. That's the highest one so far, and it came about totally by mistake. Well, sort of...
On Tuesday I actually wrote 2,081 words, but because I was trying to multitask while writing down the total (something my brain is really not equipped for) I accidentally wrote the number 3,801.
Now, I know you can't tell it by my handwriting, but I have a need for things to stay tidy. The thought of crossing out that number and replacing it with the correct number was too much for me to bear. I couldn't mess up my entire calendar to put the right number in. Instead, I did the only thing I could do. I wrote the extra thousand or so words to get to 3,801.
I tried it again the next day. I wrote 3,211 down on the calendar before I had even written one word on my novel. True to form I couldn't cross it out when I wanted to quit at about 2,000 words. I also couldn't bring myself to lie to you guys and say I'd written that much when I hadn't. to the laptop I went and I wrote until I got to my goal of 3,211 words.
As you can probably tell by the low word count on Thursday and Friday, I did NOT write down a total word count first.  The fact is, to get those higher word counts on Tuesday and Wednesday my days were pretty hectic. I didn't watch any TV because of all that writing. I LOVE my TV time so I was unwilling to give it up on Thursday and Friday:)
I will say that just knowing I have to publish my word count each week has been very motivating for me. I bet it would be for you too. So go on, jot down your word count online. Put it on Facebook, or Twitter or on your blog. Or put it in the comment line below. It just might be the motivation you need to finish that novel!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Word Wars

If you're not familiar with word wars, sometimes called word sprints, it's a challenge to see how many words you can write in a certain amount of time.
I've been "meeting" with a group on a website called Tiny Chat. Someone will set a timer for fifteen minutes and then type "Go". Everyone starts writing and we don't stop until the timer goes off. After fifteen minutes (or ten or whatever) of fast and furious writing we all get back on Tiny Chat and share our word count. Whoever wrote the most, wins.
What do they win? Nothing. Or maybe a shot of confidence, but mostly we all win because we've all got at least a few hundred words to add to the daily word count.
We'll do at least two challenges, sometimes three, and then call it a day. I can get anywhere from 800 to 1200 words in those short bursts of writing, but more than that I find it freeing somehow.
There's no time to judge what you've written or think too hard about word choice, you've just got to write. And for someone who's been struggling to get the entire story onto paper this is exactly what I need.
There is even a Twitter account that does word wars during the month of November. You can find it @NaNoWordSprints.
And if you want to get a little more technical you can use Write or Die. This website will give you rewards, and punishments, for your writing. For example, there is something called Kamikaze mode that will un-write your words for you if you stop typing for a certain amount of time. Yikes! 
You're probably thinking that all of those words written in a frenzy are pretty much crap. For the most part, you're probably right. But with each word war I'm moving the story further to the end. 
Once I'm at the end I'll go into editing mode. To see what that entails, check out Editing Your First Draft. In the mean time, gather some writer friends and try having a few word wars of your own. You're sure to be pleased with the results! 
Ready. Set. Go!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Weekly Word Count

I'm late. I know. I went out of town this weekend and I was partying too hard to think about writing or blogging:)
Here are my word count totals for last week.
I wrote a total of 7, 535 words.
I'm not too disappointed in the word count for the week, but the really frustrating thing is that it's not all on one novel.
On Tuesday I wrote my characters into a corner. On Wednesday, I thought about how to get them out of it. Obviously, since my word count was zero on Wednesday I didn't find a way out.
Instead of just skipping on Friday I started ANOTHER story, but at least I got a few words on paper.
I'm still not back on track, but I'm (literally) plotting my way out. Hopefully, by tomorrow I'll be able to get back to my main story.
Wish me luck.
What were your word count totals for the week?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Weekly Word Count

As I mentioned in Ten Thousand Words A Day I am going to start publishing my weekly word count on my blog. This is nothing fancy or detailed, I will simply update you on my word count.
I will resist the urge to make excuses about how busy my week was or this and that and just get down to the numbers.
The holidays were crazy (wait, I thought I said no excuses....maybe just one) and I missed the first week in January so you'll get two updates for this one.
From January 1st to the 3rd I wrote a total of 3,131 words.
From January 4th to the 10th I wrote a total of 8,615.
What are your word count totals this week? Any word count above zero is pretty fantastic in my opinion!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Rubbernecking In Fiction

So you've never heard of rubbernecking in fiction? Ha, that's no surprise to me because I completely made it up. Now hold on a minute or two because I think this is information you're going to want to hear.
 Usually when a person hears the term rubbernecking they do not think about fiction. What comes to mind is a car accident. Maybe you're thinking police on the side of the road, cars smashed up, and an  ambulance at the scene? There is that definition, but there is another way to use the term.
Wikipedia says, "The word rubbernecking has also come to be used more generally to describe voyeuristic interest in someone else's business or difficulties."
 So how can you use this in your novel to set you apart? Simple. Just make sure you add in those things that people can't seem to turn away from. It's like adding a bit of gossip to spice up your novel.
Have you ever started a story with, "Oh, man I just heard the most disturbing thing on the news."?
 Or, "The strangest thing happened the other day." People love the interesting, sometimes sick, things that they hear that are not your everyday gossip.
And it's not just gross things either. It's amazing love stories, stories about psychic moments, or miraculous rescues. People love to hear things that are different from the norm.
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that your story is out of the norm, but that's not what rubbernecking is. Rubbernecking is all the strange stuff you see or hear on your way through your story. Your story should be fantastic and interesting in it's own right, but give the readers a little something extra.
Make the reader slow down in places because you've just given them something to gawk at. There are all sorts of opportunities for minor characters to have a big impact. Maybe your main character see's the neighbor taking out the trash and she wonders how she's doing now that she's out of jail for killing her newborn. Or maybe it's a supporting character that has half of his body scarred from burns.
On a lighter note it could just be a few racy sex scene's (depending on what you're writing of course).
These things shouldn't take away from the story, they should add to it. If you're main character has hidden pain from the past (and most of them do) maybe the short description of the man with scars all over his body is a metaphor for your main character's inner pain.
It should be subtle of course, and short. Rubbernecking is not a subplot or worse, an entirely different story. It's just a little extra kick to the details of your book.
The reason for doing this is, of course, to make your novel more interesting. Why not just say use every opportunity to make your novel more interesting to your reader? Well, you could say that, but I like "give your readers an opportunity for rubbernecking" better!