Writer in Motion – The Recap

Oh boy, this was such a good experience. It stretched my understanding of what I could achieve, taught me that writing is not a solitary exercise, showed me the real value of a good editor, and produced a piece of writing that I am extremely proud of.

What I Can Acheive

I had no idea what Writer in Motion would lead to when I threw my hat in the ring. I didn’t know Jeni Chappelle or K.J. Harrowick, I simply saw an event that I thought would be fun and butted in. Turns out they and everyone else involved are wonderful, talented, and supportive people who created an environment where creativity could blossom. I missed the first week, but had a very sloppy first draft ready for the next, even if I didn’t quite know what to do with it.

The prompt for that first draft was a bit of a gift for me. I live in an Atlantic province in Eastern Canada where the ocean is really never more than an hour’s drive away. I knew the environment of the prompt, an old boat beached on sand bars, in my bones. My current WIP is a novel about a girl who lives on the ocean, so she was dumped right in the middle of the piece. What I came up with had potential, but wasn’t much more then a scene.

The next week was a self-edit and boy, if I hadn’t had to write the second draft, I would simply have abandoned it. I had no idea what to do. I thought about it as I did errands, played with and abandoned ideas, and finally simply sat down to write whatever came into my head. That worked. I got somewhere, and in that process I learned that I don’t need to sit on my ass and wait for inspiration; I can apply some elbow grease until a story works. In my rather half-assed approach to writing, that’s a revelation.

Good Writing is Not a Solitary Experience

Nope, not even a little bit. Look, I’m sure there are some rare geniuses out there who can manage to construct a brilliant story with no outside output, but most of us are not that writer. I am definitely not! My critique partners for the next step were the marvelous Fariha Khayyam and Belinda Grant and the feedback they offered was absolutely essential to making my writing work. They pulled off my blinders and questioned any weak spot they found, helping me go from an unpolished pile of words to something that I finally began to feel satisfied with. In the process, they also became friends, and I sincerely hope that those two relationships are ones I will carry with me in my writing journey.

But beyond Fariha and Belinda, I found a whole group of people who gave me encouragement and support. I’m tempted to think kind words aren’t needed when I’m writing, but honestly, it’s like the candy that kept Hansel and Gretel walking their path. When someone says something wonderful about what I wrote, there’s nothing more motivating, so yes, thank you to everyone who did that for me.

Good Editing is Wonderful

I had no idea. Okay, I had some idea. My oldest is a gifted editor so they’ve been helping me since I started writing again, but sometimes they’re a little too close to my pieces. I discuss ideas, characters, what I want to accomplish… the distance needed for a clear view is a little harder to gain when your client is your mom. But then Maria Tureaud gave my story a going over and wow, what a feeling.

It wasn’t what I was expecting. I submitted my story to her feeling like I had taken it to where it needed to be in terms of development and structure, but I’m a homemaker with a high school diploma in a group of accomplished people, so what did I know? Turns out I knew exactly what I was doing. Maria’s notes were extremely positive. She said she had no developmental feedback for me. I would have been extremely happy with a critique that took apart my story and helped me put it back together again, and I have no doubt I will get lots of those sorts of critiques in the future, but this was the one I needed right then. It was confirmation that I could be a decent judge of my own work, and it gave me a kind of confidence I’m going to bottle up and keep beside me as I go forward. I’m extremely thankful to Maria for that gift.

What Now?

I keep rereading Written in Sand. I have other stories I’m proud of, but this one feels polished in a way I’ve almost never accomplished before. It’s also given me a theme for my next book about Lil and the confidence to trust myself as I write the first draft of her story. It’s also helped me remember that short stories are a strength for me, and while writing novels is something I intend to keep pursuing, short stories are just as important.

It’s also given me a community of people I feel absolutely sappy about. I will go forward knowing that everyone involved in Writers in Motion has had a hand in my writing journey and being thankful that I’ve had a chance to be a part of theirs.

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Writer in Motion – The Editor Has a Go

This was the week I was nervous for. Posting first drafts, letting others read your work… those are things I’ve done before in other venues, but having a professional editor sit down and critically read what I’ve written? That’s a whole ‘nother world.

But it happened, and it was fantastic. As it turns out, Maria Tureaud is wonderful and managed that difficult feat of pointing out all my weak spots while giving me the confidence to cheerfully tackle them. Heck, she managed to give me enough confidence to actually reject a couple of suggestions.

As far as story development, Maria felt I was pretty much there. I thought it was close, but was a little less certain. When I write a short story I generally have an arc in mind that I want to explore, but the first draft of this story was barely more than a descriptive piece of a scene. It took a lot of turning it around in my head to finally come up with something that seemed like a satisfying ending. Regardless, I did, and thanks to Maria I learned that my instincts are pretty good.

I also learned about em dashes! Honest, I didn’t realize they were something more than hyphens. Thank you, editor!

Most of Maria’s comments were my favourite kind as they pointed out where I could make the language more precise and/or tighten up my prose. I took most of her advice, but she created a monster of confidence with her kind work, so there were a few bits I decided to ignore. I kept a couple of words I felt fit Lil’s voice better and some commas that, despite how much I like to think I’m not a fancy-pants aesthetic writer, I choose not to include because they fussed with my rhythm as I reread the piece.

Without further ado, here’s the final piece, polished to a shine.

Written in Sand

This wasn’t her bay. This one was sand and seagrass all shaped into hillocks like a badly stuffed mattress. Home was all rocks, black ones slick with weeds that would slip you under the waves in a heartbeat, and huge gray ones further back where you could sit and watch the water if there was no work to do. But home was also across the bay, a thin line on the horizon. On days when she had the time, Lil settled on a stretch of wet sand with home in front of her and the city walls at her back. 

The wind picked up a little, and Lil pulled her knees up and wrapped her arms around them to keep off the chill. The tide had come in enough that the water nipped at her bare toes. At home there’d be hard work, splitting wood with Tique or pulling young lobster from the upper cove for supper. She might have even shaved a branch to make a staff so she could accompany Bryson on a trip to Big Bend On The Narrows. There was no work like that here. No bare feet on grey rock while watching the surge, and no hard labour to sweat out any troubles. 

Here there was a desk and paper and an ink bottle and a quill. 

It was stupid work for stupid people who couldn’t manage to keep their stories in their heads. She grabbed a stick from the ribbon of dry drift the last tide had pushed up and started scratching in the sand. It was the symbol for the sound a person made when they touched their tongue to the roof of their mouth, like in her own name. It wasn’t half bad, and that annoyed her. Their symbols shouldn’t take to her hand like that.

The water was around her feet now, but not deep enough to carry the cold. She etched another figure in the sand below the first. This one was a boat — long and clunky like Aven’s. She sketched in a few lines for the planks in the hull, then a low cabin on the deck. She’d wanted on that boat, had begged Aven for the chance to work it — prove herself — and earn the coin she’d need to build a boat like it one day. He’d humoured her for a bit by letting her go out on the water with him, and eventually her hard work and persistence earned his respect. It was a dream she’d almost managed to churn into something solid. 

Then the Guild had come to the village and, with a spell no one understood, had passed a hand over the head of every child and unbetrothed young adult. This decided who would return to the city with them to learn their magic. What a betrayal that her tall, strong body built for hauling nets and swinging an axe was harbouring some spark that attracted those outsiders’ attention. She’d thought she was permanently attached, as immovable as the boulders on the shore. I wish it weren’t so, her mother had said as she’d wiped the tears from Lil’s cheek, I wish it weren’t so

The top edge of her letter crumbled at the touch of a wave. Another few moments and the symbol and boat would both be gone. She wondered if the magic they’d teach her would be able to hold back the tide. Not likely. 

She had an idea. At her desk behind the walls, they wouldn’t let her write her name. No paper or ink could be wasted for a fancy before she could write perfectly. But here… Lil quickly scrawled a few more of their symbols into the sand beside the first. There. She tossed the stick into the water, wishing it was her quill.

Another wave came up in a rush. It broke the edges completely and filled the trenches of her writing before dragging the sand back over it to leave nothing but soft mounds in its wake. It took her name with it. It wasn’t real magic, but if they were going to claim her and carry her off, then she was going to claim the bay. When she walked back behind the walls and sat down at her desk, she’d be able to close her eyes, remember the beat of the water on the shore, and know the same water that took her name touched the black rocks of home.

Writer in Motion – The Critique Partners Have Spoken!

Before I post the 3rd (4th? 5th?) draft of my #writerinmotion piece, I need to share my revelation for the week.

Writing may often be framed as an individual pursuit, but it is ALWAYS made better when it happens within a community.

I want to print that out and stick it up. Previous to WIM, I thought writing was something I plugged away at on my own. I wrote, read, editing, polished, and at the end would come out with something good. But this process, and this week in particular, has been one of exposure and letting myself be informed by a group of voices that have not only been encouraging, but have helped me make my story into something I never could have managed on my own. The people who commented, and in particular my two critique partners (friends? Certainly friends by now), Belinda Grant  and Fariha Khayyam , challenged me in ways that brought out dimensions and depth I didn’t realize I was missing. WIM has made me hungry for a community to share my WIPs with, and that’s an amazing gift.

That said, what were the specifics that Belinda and Farina made me address? Redundancy in my prose, unclear ideas, bad flow. One fault I have in particular is leaving things in my head when they need to be made clear on the page. I think I’ve fixed that. Anyhow, on with the actual story, Written in Sand.

This wasn’t her bay. This one was sand and seagrass all shaped into hillocks like a badly stuffed mattress. Home was all rocks, black ones slick with weeds that would slip you under the waves in a heartbeat and huge grey ones further back where you could sit and watch the water if there was no work to do. But home was also across the bay, a thin line on the horizon. On days when she had the time, Lil settled on a stretch of wet sand with home in front of her and the city walls at her back. 

The wind picked up a little, and Lil pulled her knees up so she could wrap her arms around them to keep off the chill. The tide had come in enough that the water was nipping at her bare toes. At home there’d be hard work, splitting wood with Tique or pulling young lobster out of the upper cove for supper. Maybe she’d have been shaving a branch to make a staff so she could accompany Bryson on a trip to Big Bend On The Narrows. There was no work like that here. No bare feet on grey rock while watching the surge and no hard labour to sweat out any troubles. 

Here there was a desk and paper and an ink bottle and a quill. 

It was stupid work for stupid people who couldn’t manage to keep their stories in their head. She grabbed a stick from the ribbon of dry drift the last tide had pushed up and started scratching in the sand. It was the symbol for the sound a person made when they touched their tongue to the roof of their mouth, like in her own name. It wasn’t half bad, and that annoyed her. Their symbols shouldn’t take to her hand like that.

The water was around her feet now but not deep enough to carry the cold. She etched another figure in the sand below the first. This one was a boat – long and clunky like Aven’s. She sketched in a few lines for the planks in the hull, then a low cabin on the deck. She’d wanted on that boat, had begged Aven for the chance to work it, prove herself, and earn the coin she’d need to build one like it one day. He’d humoured her for a bit by letting her go out on the water with him, and eventually her hard work and persistence earned his respect. It was a dream she’d almost managed to churn into something solid. 

Then the Guild had come to the village and, with a spell no one understood, had passed a hand over the head of every child and unbetrothed young adult. This decided who would return to the city with them to learn their magic. What a betrayal that her tall, strong body built for hauling nets and swinging an axe was harbouring some spark that attracted those outsiders’ attention. She’d thought she was permanently attached, as immovable as the boulders on the shore. I wish it weren’t so, her mother had said as she’d wiped the tears from Lil’s cheek, I wish it weren’t so

The top edge of her letter crumbled at the touch of a wave. Another few moments and the symbol and boat would both would be gone. She wondered if the magic they’d teach her would be able to hold back the tide. Not likely. 

She had an idea. At her desk behind the walls, they wouldn’t let her write her name. No paper or ink could be wasted for a fancy before she could write perfectly. But here… Lil quickly scrawled a few more of their symbols into the sand beside the first. There. She tossed the stick into the water, wishing it was her quill.

Another wave came up in a rush. It broke the edges completely and filled the trenches of her writing before dragging the sand back over it to leave nothing but soft mounds in its wake. It took her name with it. It wasn’t real magic, but if they were going to claim her and carry her off, then she was going to claim the bay. When she walked back behind the walls and sat down at her desk, she’d be able to close her eyes, remember the beat of the water on the shore, and know the same water that took her name was touching the black rocks of home. 

Writer in Motion, Week 4

Oh boy. So I finally have a finished second draft for this first draft and while there’s now a real story there, I’m still a long way from the finish line. If I weren’t on a schedule, I’d probably set this aside for a few weeks and then rewrite it again.

Yes, rewrite. I did a lot of editing and reshaping (an example of one of the edits copies is here)and such this week but ended up simply sitting down and basically rewriting it from the various scraps. It was so vague in the first draft that I didn’t want to be tied to it too much. I’m honestly not sure how it reads because I don’t have the distance from it to judge, but that’s what week 3 is about! I have a second draft, and I get to send it off to two critique partners who will go through it and give me valuable thoughts on what I could do to improve it. So without further ado, here’s draft two!

This bay wasn’t like her bay. This one was sand and seagrass all shaped into mounds like a badly stuffed mattress. Home was all rocks, black ones slick with weed that would slip you under the waves in a heartbeat and huge grey ones further back where you could sit and watch the water if there was no work to do. But home was also across the bay, a thin line on the horizon. On days when she had the time, Lil settled on a stretch of wet sand with home in front of her and the city walls at her back.

The wind picked up a little, and Lil pulled her knees up so she could wrap her arms around them to keep off the chill. The tide had come in enough that the water was nipping at her bare toes. At home there’d be hard work for that, splitting wood with Tique or pulling young lobster out of the upper cove for supper. Maybe she’d have been shaving a branch to make a staff so she could accompany Bryson on a trip to Big Bend On The Narrows. There was no work like that here. No bare feet on grey rock to watch the surge and no hard labour to sweat out any troubles.

Here there was a desk and paper and an ink bottle and a quill.

It was stupid work for stupid people who couldn’t manage to keep their stories in their head. She grabbed a stick from the ribbon of dry drift the last tide has pushed up and started scratching in the sand. It was the symbol for the sound a person made when they touched their tongue to the roof of their mouth, like in her own name, and it wasn’t half bad, which annoyed her. Their symbols shouldn’t take to her hand like that.

The water was around her feet now but not deep enough that the ilips of the waves were cold. She etched another figure in the sand. This one was a boat – long and clunky like Aven’s. She sketched in a few lines for the planks in the hull, then a low cabin on the deck. She’d wanted that boat, had begged Aven for the chance to work on it, prove herself, and earn the coin she’d need to build one like it one day and he’d humoured, her for a bit until he learned to respect her. That was a dream she’d almost managed to churn into something solid.

Then the Guild had come to the village and, with a spell no one understood had passed a hand over the head of every child and unpromised young adult, deciding who would go would return to the city with them to learn their magic. What a betrayal that her tall, strong body built for hauling nets and swinging an axe was harbouring some spark that attracted those outsiders’ attention. She’d thought she was as attached to that place, as immovable, as the boulders on the shore. I wish it weren’t so, her mom had said as she’d wiped the tears from Lil’s cheek, I wish it weren’t so.

The top edge of her letter crumbled at the touch of a wave. Another few moments and the symbol and boat both would be gone. She wondered if the magic they’d teach her, once she’s learned all their symbols, would be able to hold back the tide. Not likely.

She had an idea. At her desk behind the walls, they wouldn’t let her write her name. No paper or ink could be wasted for a fancy before she could write perfectly. But here… Lil quickly scrawled a few more of their symbols into the sand beside the first. There. She tossed the stick into the water, wishing it was her quill.

Another wave came up in a rush. It broke the edges completely and filled the trenches of her writing in before dragging the sand back over it to leave nothing but soft mounds in its wake. But it took her name with it, because that was what she’d spelled. It wasn’t real magic, but if they were going to claim her and carry her off, then she was going to claim the bay, so that when she walked back behind the city walls and sat down on her desk, she’d be able to close her eyes, remember the beat of the water on the shore, and know the same water that took her name, was touching the black rocks at home.

#WriterinMotion, Week 2

Editor Jeni Chappelle had a marvelous/terrifying idea – get a bunch of writers to explore their process from first draft to finished story, and do it in public so everyone can see. It sounded like a fantastic opportunity so I jumped in.

It’s Week 2, which involves writing a first draft from a prompt.The prompt is this gorgeous picture:

Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

I sat down last night and wrote 700-800 words. I didn’t have a clear story idea going in, but I thought I’d work it a bit and see what came out. I used the MC from my novel as a crutch, but she will probably be replaced as I go. As you’ll read in a moment, what came out was an absolute mess, and there will be some drastic changes between it and the second draft, but it did give me a direction, so here it is:

This bay wasn’t like her bay.This was sand and seagrass shaped into mounds by the waves. Home was rocks. Black rocks, slick with weed close to the water that slipped you under the tide, and huge grey humps of rocks further back. that to Lil had always seemed a little like pillows. Not soft, but comforting on the days when the sky was clear and the wind whipped up just enough to blow her dark curls around her face. But even on the calm days, the tide came up [like a knife??] swallowing up stone until the black rocks were buried and a frisky[? ugh] wave could jump the grey ones to splash her feet.

Here the tide came traveled in and out, not up and down, and it worked itself in stealthy inches [towards a person on the beach].

She dropped to the sand and sat with her legs stretched out in front of her. That was what they wanted of her here, on her ass. They wanted to put her at a desk in one of the rich houses well behind the city walls, stick a quill in her hand, and teach her, by those same stealthy inches, to scratch out symbols she couldn’t even read yet. It was silly and useless. Waste time making their words when she could memorize what she needed? But Lil, Betrys had said, you can’t pass on your memories. Lil had managed to keep her mouth shut because Betrys drank fancy teas and was raised in a rich house. [She could afford to forget. She didn’t know a damn thing about memories].

The wind picked up a little, and Lil pulled her knees up so she could wrap her arms around them. At home she’d be splitting wood for Tigue or pulling lobster out of the upper cove for supper. Maybe she’d have been shaving a branch to make a staff so she could accompany Bryson on a trip to Big Bend on the Narrows. She certainly wouldn’t be sitting on wet sand.

There was a stick by her foot. Lil picked it up and scratched a figure in the sand – a boat, long and clunky like Master Aven’s. She gave it a few lines for planks in the hull, and sketched out the low cabin on the deck. By now the tides had snuck up to her feet, but she ignored it. The picture was a decent likeness, and if she’d had finer tools, like the quill and ink they made her waste on symbols, it could be better. Even a piece of slate on the grey rocks at home would have done better. She threw the stick out into the waves.

Her feet were wet, the waves reaching closer to her backend when she traced another figure into the sand. It was an ‘r’, made with her fingertip, and it wasn’t half bad. That annoyed her. She shouldnt’ get good at their symbols; they shouldn’t take. A moment later a wave reached up and water filled in the grooves of the letter. Another few waves, and the letter would be gone.

At home, the tides didn’t wipe out the rocks like this. The cracks worn in them didn’t disappear in a wave. At home… Lil watched as another wave came in, filled up, and then pulled away at the ‘r’. It fell apart, not quite gone, but soon to be. She smiled. This bay wasn’t like her bay. This was sand and home was rock, and she was rock. No symbol they taught her would change her and blahblahblah memories in rock.

END (the rest is just extra stuf to consider?)

So: She realizes they can’t change her with their symbols and her memory is like the rock – steady, permanent?

Everything was slow here. Slow wasn’t bad, not when it had a rhythm to it that matched the work done in a day, but here it made no sense. Just a short walk down the beach and there’d be walls built high and behind that, people who almost made sense to Lil, but further into the city there were rich houses and in those, people worked without rhythm, without the tide beating at the shore, with quills scratching symbols Lil couldn’t read onto blank paper.

It wouldn’t be so bad if there weren’t those in the rich houses who expected her to learn those symbols. Stupid really. She could be at home still, toes baiting the waves, but she was here.

Next draft I’ll go through this and find a clear theme and character motivations, then do some structural work to give this something of a clear arc that will work in 500 words. I’ll also be cutting like crazy and working on grammar and phrasing because there’s a lot here that just doesn’t flow or even make sense.

I’m going to be busy with this next week!

And Finally, Some Writing!

So far I’ve only talked about writing. Probably time I post some, yes?

This first piece was something I wrote for a fandom prompt, because yes, Im involved in fandom. I’ll have to write a post on that one of these days because it’s done extraordinary things for my writing. Regardless, the prompt was ‘beginning’, and I wrote it for an original character of mine who is a mage. Not sure how well it translates to non-fandom, but here goes:

Beginning

If people asked what the first manifestation of Alim’s magic was, he would tell them it was fire.

When I was a boy, I would light the wood stove in the mornings while everyone else slept. One morning I discovered that I could make fire appear in my hand.

That’s it? They’d ask.

That’s it.  

In fact, that wasn’t it, but Alim’s real story was no more dramatic. One morning while lighting the fire, sparks had floated up to his fingertips; too young to consider the danger, he’d watched as they landed and twinkled against his skin before flickering out. The first manifestation of his magic was a shield.

Why did he lie to people? Expedience. Maybe to avoid the question, why does a child need a shield? The answer to that was something only Jowan and Kinnon knew. Regardless, that wasn’t the important question. The important question was why he lied to himself.

It’s possible it wasn’t a lie, or wasn’t one any more. He might truly have forgotten about the whispers. They had been with him since his youngest sister was born, always shushing away in the background, saying things he could barely make out. They’d grown louder when his mother kicked him out, then quieted altogether once he’d reached the Circle. And maybe that was why he’d put them out of his mind. Here, despite the paradox of the thin veil, they were silent, and it was easy to forget what was silent.


I am absolutely shameless about sharing my writing these days, even ones that aren’t quite there, like the above one, so I read it so some friends while they were captives in a moving car. They liked it, but one suggested it has a few too many questions, so I might go back and rework it a bit.

The next piece is an exercise I did from Steering the Craft, by Ursula K le Guin. It was simply to write a paragraph that is meant to be read aloud, something that feels and sounds nice without using rhyme or meter.

The village below, with small stone houses huddled around the bay, was locked in her mind as the image of an elderly woman hunched over weaving, hitching threads under hands crooked by long years and illness. She stepped down the path slowly and hoped her memories held the truth of what this place was, because she was in need of the warmth and steady patterns, laid down in regular stripes throughout the years, that had marked her youth. Here was the loom that had collected and ordered all her threads. Here was the home that she had wrapped around herself like a blanket when she had left.

Since it’s an exercise, I haven’t edited it and probably won’t unless it becomes part of a bigger piece. I focused on adding lots of ‘h’ and ‘l’ sounds to give it a bit of a sway.

And there we go, actual writing. Now I head back to google docks to do more work on the outline of my book!

Goals (and Dreams)

Here’s where I set down what I want to accomplish in the next 12 months. It’s not a long list, but it’s an important one to getting myself into a position where I can look for an agent and submit my work to publishers.

Short Term:

  • Get my novel outline finished. In a few short weeks, I managed a first draft of the first quarter of my book. Awesome. Except progress came to a halt as I entered the middle build and had nothing solid planned. Lesson learned? Pantsing only gets me so far.
  • Start up a local writing group for critique. This is already underway. I gathered a few people I knew and at the end of the month we’re having our first meeting.
  • Join the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia.

Middle term:

  • Finish first draft of novel.
  • Apply for the Alistair MacLeod Mentorship Program. I can get a mentor’s help in shaping my manuscript??? You bet your ass I’m applying.
  • Apply for a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. I’m learning that writing is a serious commitment, and I want all the help I can get to pursue my goal. Yes, I’m a homemaker, but also yes, my work at home has value and beyond that, there are resources and tools I want to access that I don’t have money for right now. A grant would be a huge help.
  • Do the First Words: Fiction workshop that’s offered by the local writer’s federation.
  • Take a creative writing course at a local university. I’m particular, so it’s a specific course that is taught by a local author I admire. This goal is dependent on me getting a grant, so we’ll see.
  • Get another laptop. Look, this one is perfectly fine, but I’d like a business class one with a great quality keyboard. Plus, I suck at organization, so I’d like a separate machine where I don’t have to wade through gifs and game save files to find my writing docs.

Super Exciting Writing Plan, Week of May 5- 12

Not my actual hand. Or stylus. Or tablet. Image by Plush Design Studio.

I have lots to accomplish in terms of writing this week, almost too much, so here’s a list that I’m going to pretend will keep me accountable. I’ll check at the end of the week to see if the pretending worked.

  • 5k words done on first draft of novel (already have 1,200 in the bag. Ha HA!)
  • Keep writing the poem I was going to write for a submission deadline on Wednesday but like too much to deliver before term.
  • Finish a first draft of a sci-fi horror/romance that features skinny maggots. I know, you’re jealous you didn’t think of that first.
  • Research at the local library.
  • Have a writing day with a friend in town. We’re either going to be super productive or dissolve into beer and gossip.
  • Get another blog post or two done for here.

The Dragon Has Moved.

I’m approximately 10% of the way through my draft, so I nudged the dragon in my header along a titch to reflect that! I’m probably more like 15% of the way because I expect the first draft to fall short of 100k words and need padding in revision, but who knows?

Routine

Yes, I know. I should have my drawing tablet taken away.

Since the day I decided to call myself a writer, I decided that writing needed to be treated like a job, and that meant a routine. I’m not great with routine. I’m a frazzled homemaker with ADHD and a long history of falling off the horse when it comes to building a support net for daily activities, but somehow what follows is working.

  • Get the lunches made for the boys and husband and see them off. This is part of my writing routine because having a quiet house is important.
  • Take meds. Without my ADHD meds I’m unfocused. Without my anti-depressants I’m obsessing over little hurts that happened six months ago. Taking both is like airing out a musty cabin.
  • NAP. Yep, I built that right in. For whatever reason I get tired after I’ve been up for a couple of hours, so it’s off to bed where I dream up an idea or too and then sleep. I wake refreshed and ready to work.
  • INSPO! This is where I listen to a short writing podcast or read an article or do some exercise from whatever MOOC I’m taking. It a) gets me in the mood and b) lets me spin my wheels a bit so that when writing time happens, I’m warmed up and ready.
  • Write. Miraculously, I pump out about 1k words in an hour. I used to struggle to manage a quarter of that in long tortured evenings so… I don’t know what the hell is going on. I’m gonna ride that wave though. 1k is my minimum, but I’ll usually go a little over and often a lot over to finish a scene.
  • Do the social media thing. No, not my fandom blog on Tumblr (I’m at work, remember?). I mean my writing-focused Twitter and this blog. I might also chat with some writer friends on Discord. I know the chatting is borderline, but it feeds my desire to write, so yup, it’s an official part of my routine.
  • Daydream while doing housework. I usually do some chores in the morning before my nap, but there’s always lots to get done in the afternoon too, so I fold laundry while dreaming out the next scene, or some setting detail, or a new twist in the magic system.
  • Write again! This is after supper, after my littlest has been tucked in, and I’ve helped my teen with his homework. This is fun writing time and because my brain is generally tired, I don’t work on the novel draft. I’ll work on short stories, fanfic, Tumblr blog posts, whatever.
  • Sleep at a decent time. I learned the hard way this week that staying up until 2 am with a great book kills all ability to write the next day, so no more of that.

So there it is. I’m still puzzled about why this is so successful for me. Looking at it written out like this, I think it’s because it involves a lot of little things that proactively take care of possible roadblocks, like being tired. I still want to work meals into it, because I have a tendency to forget them, and a morning walk, since walks make the brain click in all the right ways, but that’ll come. For now, this does what I need it to do.