Daily Writing Check-in: April 21, 2016

Words/Time:  627 words of free writing, continuing what I started yesterday, a scene showcasing Leahna and her relationship with her family, which is usually pretty strained. It ended up being a lot more involved than I ever expected it to be. Whether I continue it tomorrow or not, I can’t say. I’ll be working for probably around 12 hours tomorrow, so when I come home, I can’t say what state my mind will be in. But having a scene to jump back into is better than starting something from scratch, so who knows.

I’m letting this free writing (which  might actually turn out to be producing scenes that will work very well in the actual novel) ease me back in after my break. I remember that my revision is stalled at needing to figure out how to start the novel (after the prologue) with the narrator, rather than forgetting that he exists. Until I can figure that out, the revision will go nowhere, but at least I’ve got something to do.

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Wow, this place is dusty. I mean, really dusty. Layers of dirt and cobwebs everywhere. It’s not the first time I’ve taken an unintended break from my writing, letting it fall to the side for more than a month, but I think this is the longest gap I’ve had in posts since starting this blog. Previous breaks from writing were at least peppered with good intentions of trying to return, a day here or there where I’d post, and then still fall back into the break.

But it has been almost 2 full months since I posted even an attempt at keeping up with my writing. Which is because I haven’t attempted to keep up with my writing since February 17th. Looking back through my blog, it was even before that that I really started into this slump. It’s interesting to me, at least, to see the progression. It went something like this:

I finished revising my first novel, “Pithea,” to the point of even being able to send it off to a few publishing companies.

I dove right into revising my second novel, the first draft of which had already been written.

I got a new job on the weekends, which largely affected the rest of the week enough to make finding time and energy to write more difficult.

I hit an early roadblock in revising my second novel, and more time and thinking was required to push past it.

My new job started to ask more of me than I expected, including working during the week for a few weeks, thus exhausting me more and making things more strained at home.

I made a conscious decision to put off revising for a few weeks, dropped my daily writing habit, and let myself be lazy in the evenings (my normal writing time) instead of pushing myself to sit at my desk and get some writing work done.

It’s important to note that I am one who in the past has insisted that even people who lead busy lives should be able to find time to write. And I’m not saying now that it’s not true, but I definitely have more perspective on that now. It only took one change to my life and normal routine to throw me off enough to just give up on writing for a while. It took me two months to get to where I am right now, which is starting to feel a strong enough desire to get back to my writing that I’m willing to put aside the lazy evenings for more structured ones again.

It may take a few weeks to be back to where I was for 9 months before this break, writing almost every day. I don’t know when I’ll have time or ideas for another Write Every Day post. It may even take me a few wasted evenings of going back over what I was last doing in my work before I’m able to make any real progress. But the important thing is that I’m finally feeling up to it again.

Something else that bothers me about this break I took is that I fell away from all things writing and blogging. I haven’t read posts by others that I normally keep up with, and I know there’s no way I can find time to go back through 2 months worth of posts (not that I follow all that many blogs regularly).  I’m going to scan through my WP reader and try to hit the highlights, but I don’t want to take so much time reading that it hurts my attempt to start writing again.

I do want to say that I appreciate those of you who contacted me during the last few months to check in or ask if everything was okay. I’m sorry I didn’t respond at the time. I didn’t mean to be rude or anti-social, I just couldn’t get my head into the right space to think about any of this. Hopefully that makes at least some sense.

Thanks for reading my rambling. I hope things get back to normal around here soon. I miss my story world, and even the blogging world I’d created.

Daily Writing Check-in: January 27, 2016

Words/Time:  1 hour, 15 minutes listing out the rest of the scenes in “Pursuit of Power” in Scrivener. While doing that, I realized my timeline wasn’t entirely accurate in some areas. I hadn’t referenced the timeline while writing, apparently, and I’d made the first part of the timeline many months before writing the first draft. I had to make some decisions about whether to change the dates in the timeline or to change it in the story. I could have saved that work for when I start reading soon, but it was bothering me.

Scrivener scenes PoP

This is my novel in a very boiled down, zoomed out, and color-coded sense. The different colors are different plot lines. The red is the main plot. The purple is the one I need to work on most. It may seem unimportant and worth deleting entirely, but it’s the personal life of the secondary main character. I always found it difficult to remember to include what was going on in her life throughout the story, and when I did, it seemed like a waste of time. So I need to spend some time figuring out what about her life is important enough to include, and the best way to slip that in here and there.

Daily Writing Check-in: January 26, 2016

Words/Time:  45 minutes revising “Pursuit of Power” during the writing group meeting at the library. To start the real revision, I’m writing out a list of scenes and color coding them by plot line. I’m also tagging them with the characters who are involved, and may add setting to it later. Hopefully this will help me to make sure my subplots are tight (and worth including) and that there aren’t random plot strands that shouldn’t be in the story.  It’s also giving me a chance to re-familiarize myself with the story as a whole before starting to read.

I was going to do this on paper with a pen, and then highlight different plot lines with different color highlighters (I got the idea for this here, but the rest of the process I do in a different order or a different way). But at the library, I didn’t have a pen, only a pencil (which wouldn’t work well with highlighter). So I figured I’d see how it worked in Scrivener. Once I figured out how to color code it and how to add characters to each scene that could be grouped later, it went pretty well. And I can see the whole story board at once, which is nice. I got through about half the story today, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to finish it tomorrow.

Daily Writing Check-in: January 25, 2016

Words/Time:  1 hour, 45 minutes starting revision for “Pursuit of Power.” I scanned through the whole story looking for notes I’d left myself while writing. Broad notes that came up during or after writing were written  down. But more detailed notes like reminding myself to explain something sooner or questioning whether to keep a paragraph were put right into the text with parentheses around them. And there were one or two notes that I literally wrote right into the text with no style difference or anything else to make them stand out. It’s possible I won’t find some of those until I actually read through the story.

Now I have a decently long list of big and small changes I know I need to make while I work on the second draft. I think I’ll keep those nearby while I start to read through the story the first time. This will be a broad revision, focusing on the plot and characters, making sure it all makes sense and flows as a whole. I’ll try not to pay attention to sentence structure and word choice now, though I know that’s easier said than done.

Daily Writing Check-in: January 21, 2016

Words/Time:  308 words of writing practice followed by half an hour of working on “Pursuit of Power.” Sort of. I got it into my head that the prologue I wrote for the novel wasn’t going to work for it anymore, because it focuses on the greater mystery that won’t be solved in this book. So the prologue is unrelated enough to not be worth including. And then I had a sudden idea for a different prologue. Not that there has to be a prologue, I know, and therein lies the problem. One of the problems. First, the idea I have for a prologue, which is actually directly related to the main villain in “Pursuit of Power” would be a rather long prologue. And second, in doing some research for how long is too long for a prologue (I know there’s no set length, but I went looking for opinions), I found out that prologues are actually strongly disliked in general. I didn’t realize so many people just skip the prologue. I’ve never been that kind of person, but apparently many are.

Is the story of how the villain (who you won’t even meet in the book for a while) became who or what he/she is, which isn’t integral to the story, of interest? I suppose that’s too vague a question, because that could be anything from a kid who wasn’t loved enough and vowed to never be in a position to need anyone again to a guy whose entire DNA was rewritten and he became a literal monster.

So some questions for anyone who comes across this post:
Do you generally read or skip prologues in books? What kind of information do you hate or love to see in a prologue?

Daily Writing Check-in: January 20, 2016

Words/Time:  282 words of writing practice. Also 1.5 hours working on the rest of the timeline for “Pursuit of Power.” There are a lot of places in the story where I wrote vague amounts of time. Something lasted for “several months” or happened “after a few weeks.” Of course it’s much easier to do this while writing than to bother to come up with a specific amount of time. Creating a timeline off that is a little annoying though. I muddled through, and some entries can always be shortened or extended later as I fit other stories during or after this one. I use Aeon Timeline for my timelines, and it’s the most helpful writing software I’ve ever used.

I think my next step will be to plan out a sketchy idea of the events that will take place for Alexander, the main character in this story, after this book ends. From what I can tell from my timeline, the next story involving Alexander has to take place 4 years after this one ends. I think I can make that work

Daily Writing Check-in: January 19, 2016

Words/Time:  20 minutes finishing the grammar check of “Pursuit of Power.”

My next step is to finish the timeline of this story that I started back when I outlined it, but only got as far as the last point that this story connected to “Pithea.” That was all that mattered at the time, because I needed to make sure both stories lined up accurately. “Pursuit of Power” goes past the time that “Pithea” ends, so I need to finish the timeline.

Daily Writing Check-in: January 18, 2016

Words/Time:  45 minutes doing some preliminary edits to “Pursuit of Power.” I started by going over the notes I made while I was writing the first draft, notes of things I wanted to make sure to change later, or add, or take out. Then I went through some of the brainstorming I’ve done since then, getting an idea of what I think should happen after the end of this story, because it’s a continuation and is important that I know what to be setting up for later. And then I finally went to the draft and started a full spelling & grammar check. I’d done a spelling check before, shortly after I finished the first draft, but had avoided the grammar part. There are a lot of extra spaces between words, and some lower case letters at the beginning of sentences. I figured it was better to get rid of them now than find them when I start my first revision.

After the grammar check is done (I’m halfway through it so far), I’ll try to outline the broad points of the follow-up story before I start into revising.

Daily Writing Check-in: January 6, 2016

Words/Time:  50 minutes revising “The Triangle.” I finished the draft and worked on the formatting a bit. Now I’m turning my attention to getting the synopsis and sample chapters of “Pithea” sent off to a few publishers to start with. After doing some more research, I started to question the way I’d written the synopsis. However, I don’t see that there would be an easy way to change it, so I’m just going with what I have for now. I don’t want to start stressing myself over whether it’s right or not this early in the process. I have plenty of time for that.