Nearing the Finish Line

If any of y’all have been keeping an eye on the word counter in the sidebar, you’ve noticed it creeping ever closer to full. Now, the space is hardly noticeable at all. And it’s true. I’m only 1k away from my original goal of 60,000 words.

Am I almost done? Yes, but I still have more to go. That original goal is probably around 10k short, and that’s okay. But nearing my goal feels beyond amazing.

I’ve struggled a lot with this WIP. Between CampNaNo, burnout, and an overloaded semester, the words have been difficult at times. But somehow, at some point, I got out of the slog of the middle and into smoother waters. I’ve been churning out words, new characters, and plot points, and love where the story is going. I get excited every time I sit down to write, and when I start I don’t ever want to stop.

I love this feeling. It certainly hasn’t been an easy road, but writing a book never is. And as this WIP gets closer and closer to becoming a full, complete manuscript–my second publishable one ever–my smile gets bigger and bigger.

What started out as a snippet of an idea, one I pursued only as a break from my original manuscript, turned out to a story and world of its own. Now, it is about to be a book, and then a series. I feel a little bit like a proud mom, about to have her second baby. My CP and I call them brain babies, and this really is. And I think for a while I’m going to keep this one to myself, and enjoy it while it’s fresh and exciting and new, before I send it out into the world to be beaten and taken apart and reformed.

I’m actually looking forward to edits. I’m looking forward to going through it, and exploring this world deeper, and these new voices I’ve just discovered. I can’t wait for it to be polished and shiny and ready for the world–and to share it all with you.

This has been a marathon. I am so glad I’ve had y’all along with me on this journey, on the sidelines of the marathon, cheering me on. Though there were definitely times I wanted to give up, I am jogging towards the end–my lungs burning, muscles aching, and heart soaring. I just need a few more cheerleaders, to make it through this home stretch, and break through that ribbon.

I can’t wait.

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To Build A Story: Burn Out

It’s been a while since I’ve written a To Build A Story post, so I’m sorry, but I’ve been so busy with CampNaNo, I haven’t had the time. But I promised you this series would take you along the writing journey with me, the good, bad, and the ugly, so here it is.

This month, I’ve written almost everyday, and have down 17,668 words. For me, that’s a lot. My creativity juices are spent, and I am exhausted. It’s gotten to the point where I even dread sitting down to write–and I hate that.

On top of regular CampNaNo burnout, I am over 37,000 words and am starting to enter the middle slump, otherwise known as the writing Twilight Zone.

For me, this is the hardest stage in the drafting process. Somehow, when I reach about the 35k-40k mark, all the life gets sucked out of me. The story feels dull, the characters lifeless, and each word is like pulling a tooth–and even then they don’t feel right.

I still love this story. Nightfire was love at first word for me, and has been burning consistently since then. But I think with any story, no matter how great or how much you love it, you reach this stage. The initial momentum wears off, and suddenly you have to wonder, Where is this going? Does this make sense? Do the dots connect? The rose-colored love glasses are broken.

To stave off the burnout, I’ve been reading. A lot, actually. It has been a long time since I have torn through books like a knife through butter, but it feels pretty awesome to rediscover my true love for reading. And though it started out as a break from writing, reading has also helped me to write, both directly and indirectly. Directly, it’s given me inspiration for scenes or words and phrases to use, or conflicts and actions I like. Indirectly, it’s expanded my vocabulary, sparked my imagination, and refilled my creativity well.

So, I’m still plugging along, and tearing out each word like a tooth as I go.

One thing I realize as I go, is the more I write, the more I realize how much I have left to write. I’m starting to realize that there’s a lot more to this story than I thought at first–maybe even more than just one book’s worth.

Those in the writing Twilight Zone with me, how do you keep going? Those who have made it through, how did you do it?

The Three Drafting Mindsets that Made it Happen

Great post and advice for the writing process, well done 🙂 Worth reading!

J. Sevick

Unfortunately, for all my “revelations,” I can’t really point to any one thing, one trick, that made me able to finish a draft. I did come up with a shift in my perspective of the project—making it YA, for some reason, made it start to come together—but that didn’t change that much about the story… So it wouldn’t work for every story, I don’t think.

But a few mindsets that I’ve always tried to cultivate but seemed to actually get this time around did help—and that’s what I’m going to share today.

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My Writing Process Blog Hop

So, Hayley from Books Are Delicious tagged me in the writing process blog hop forever ago, but somehow I just never got around to it. Then, Sabrina from Books and Bark tagged me this week, and it was kind of a kick in the butt (I may also be restless while waiting for CampNano to start). So thanks so much to both of these ladies for nominating me, they are both awesome blogs that everyone needs to go check out, now 🙂

What Am I Working On?

My current YA fantasy work in progress, called Nightfire, is about 16 year old Kera who survives in the wilds, in a world ravaged by shape-shifting monsters called Shadows. When she and her mother are attacked by the Shadows, leaving her mother half-dead, and Kera with fragmented visions, she must turn to the humans she has been taught to fear her entire life, to  help her find her missing sister. You can check out a better summary here, or follow my progress under the tag To Build A Story.

How Does My Work Differ From Others of Its Genre?

Something I have a habit of doing, unintentionally, is genre-bending. For a long time, my first manuscript was strictly sci-fi, but it wasn’t working. When I added magic and the fantasy element, something clicked–but I still loved the technology and the world I had created. So why not have both? Nightfire is similar in that it has magic and monsters, but also strong post-apocalyptic elements, such as machines, some tech, and a collapsed society.

Why Do I Write What I Write?

I really don’t limit myself to genres. While my two main manuscripts happen to be fantasy, I’ve also written contemporary, sci-fi, even paranormal. I don’t really choose what I write, the stories come to me.

How Does Your Writing Process Work?

First, I start with an abstract concept. This can be a setting, a premise, or a voice, that strike me one day. I have a lot of these ideas floating around, so usually when I’m first inspired I’ll write as much as I possibly can about this idea. This is mostly major concepts and characters, kind of a rough outline, or particular ideas. Then I sit down to write, and just let the words flow. I take this abstract idea, kind of a mound of clay, and let it form and shape itself into something more concrete. If I fall in love, I keep writing. Usually I can tell by about the 15k mark, if an idea is novel-ready. If it’s not, I store it for later (I have dozens of these, waiting to be written). If it is, I keep letting the story tell itself. I don’t plan very much, just main story ideas and arcs, because often the story takes itself places I never imagined. I also have a heavy editing phase, but I actually enjoy this part almost as much. This is where I get to take that half-formed stone and chip away, bit by bit, to reveal the masterpiece inside. 🙂 Don’t underestimate the importance and power of editing!

I wish I had some great advice, but I really don’t. Everyone is different. I’ve been writing my entire life, and the stories tell themselves for me. I’ve kind of learned through years of trial-and-error what works for me and what doesn’t. While I think it is important to learn the craft, I think you will improve most through just plain writing, and figuring it out for yourself.

Tag People!

1. Jackie Smith – A Platform of Sorts

2. David Ben-Ami – Fiction All Day

3. Stephanie Allen – My Personal Fairytale

4. Writing Smarter

5. Yawatta Hosby – A Writer’s Blog

What’s Your Process?

I found this writing process survey through Sierra on Permashift, (originally from Katy Upperman’s blog) and I loved it, so I just had to steal it! Thanks Sierra!

 

DEMOGRAPHICS:

What genre do you write? My current manuscript is YA science fiction, though I’ve written contemporary and fantasy. I also have a fantasy and a magical realism in the works. I don’t like to limit myself! Basically, I just write whatever idea develops or whatever inspires me most.

How many books have you written? I’ve written four complete manuscripts, but only one is currently worth seeing the light of day. A couple others might have potential, but would need so much rewriting that for now, they’ll just live in my computer.

Are you published? I wish! I only started seeking publication seriously about a month or two ago, but I am trying very hard to make that dream happen!

PLANNING:

How long do you let an idea “simmer” before you start writing? Before I start? I write as soon as the ideas come to mind, just whatever flows without thinking about where it’s going. A lot of times this ends up leading to more ideas. But it takes a while before a whole story and book start to take shape. For a couple months it’s more of a scattered assortment of ideas and tidbits without much direction. Then I’ll usually get a main idea that kind of pieces everything together, and from then on the story really tells itself.

How much pre-story planning do you do in the form of outlines, character sketches, maps, etc.? I constantly have an overload of ideas running around, all in varying stages of half-formed story ideas, characters, etc. I have dozens of notebooks in OneNote going, but I never pre-write or any of that. The few times I have tried, it felt forced and didn’t give my characters any life, just gave them mundane details. I much prefer to let them write themselves.

If you use an outline, what type do you use (snowflake, index card, etc)? I outlined my current WIP since it is a sequel and I knew where I was going with it, but it is still very basic. Key points and ideas I want to reach, so I can stay on track. Otherwise I lose focus about halfway through and never finish!

REVISING:

How many drafts do you usually go through before you’re “done”? Is it ever “done”? But seriously, I could probably rewrite and tweak endlessly. It took about two or three rewrites to get my manuscript ready for reading, with various changes since then. So probably four.

How long does it take you to write a first draft? Depends on so many things. My very first book took about a year, but I was writing very sporadically. For my current WIP, I’m about halfway finished and it’s been about a month. But this is also the first book I’ve had a clear outline and direction ahead of time, and set monthly goals for myself.

How long do revisions usually take you? Forever.

Are your revised drafts substantially different plot-wise from your first draft? Oh, absolutely. My manuscript is entirely different from what it started as. But I think that’s part of no planning and writing wherever it leads me, is I don’t have a set path so a lot of times it takes on directions of its own. Even with my current WIP, I see that happening. I’ve already strayed several points pretty significantly from the outline, but I think that’s the fun part! The unplanned parts, when the story really takes on a life of its own.

If you decide to use this survey to share your writing process, link your post here