30 Days of Writing

So my friend Xiane posted on Facebook that she wants to join in the 30 Days of Writing found here, and I thought I might use it to push myself to get back to writing regularly. But when I started looking at the rules, I found myself rather turned off, especially by the requirement to write first thing in the morning. I don’t have a regular schedule of any sort. I don’t even work the same days every week, much less the same time. Sometimes my ‘first thing in the morning’ is already 3am. I’m certainly not going to wake up an hour or two earlier (making it 1am!) just to adhere to some strangers idea of ‘the right way to be a writer’. And before you say it, no, I’m not going to go to sleep at 6pm or earlier so I can wake up early to follow someone else’s rules of writing.

“You need to write first thing in the morning. Period. Your true life depends on it. If you must get up earlier to do this, then get up earlier. I know I have to.”

Screw that. Screw her. She’s a little too judgmental for my tastes, making broad assumptions about those reading her articles. I agree that for me personally, I need to write, but I don’t agree that I have to completely change my life and make myself miserable to write. Perhaps for her it works, but she is not me, and I don’t think she should be informing other people what works for them.

I work best with framework, I know that. But I don’t work well with rigid rules. Structure, not absolutes. So I’m going to take her basic idea, that writing every day is a goal, and I’m going to make my own plan.

She says: “I don’t fucking care what else you have to do.”
I say: Some things take precedence, like sleep. And work. I don’t get paid for my writing. We need to pay bills. Work and sleep will take priority over writing.

She says: “Writing time: 1-3 hours.”
I say: Setting a time limit is stupid. I can sit in front of the laptop for an hour and not write a damn thing. I like word count goals. I discovered that when I was writing my novel for NaNoWriMo, I could write around 800-1000 words an hour. If I’m writing poetry, certainly, I’m not going to write that much, but for novel/short story writing, or blogging, I can certainly shoot for 1000 words a day and be pretty happy. And more often than not, I’ll exceed that.

She says: “It has to be first thing in the morning.”
I say: Screw you. I bet you don’t have to be up at 3am some mornings to work a very physical job. I will write when I can. If that’s late at night, then that’s when I will write. I already know that I don’t do well with the ‘morning pages’ concept from The Writer’s Way, at least not at this point in my life. Screw you for assuming you know what works in my life.

She says: “The only thing you’re allowed to do BEFORE you “sit at your typewriter and bleed” is your physical morning routine: drink water, poo, go for a walk, exercise, shower, have your tea, coffee, breakfast, whatever your body needs to function.” and “What you can’t do: Don’t check your email or social media, don’t make or answer phone calls, don’t engage in any conversation beyond a sweet good-morning to your life companion/s.”
I say: This makes sense, but again, it depends on the day and my schedule. Some mornings it’s not feasible for me to write before engaging in conversation because I’m at work at 3am, or my husband and I have plans. I woner if she’d be a happier person (assuming her tone in her articles is indicative of her attitude) if she didn’t take such a rigid stance with her own writing time.

She says: “It can be ANY type of writing, but it has to give you pleasure.”
I say: Finally something I can agree with. Telling me to spend 1, 2, 3 hours writing poetry every day is the surest way to make me not want to write a damn thing. Same goes for blogging, writing short stories, writing anything at all. I love writing, and it has shown probably all my life. I do best when I don’t limit myself to any particular type of writing, and just write what I’m inspired to write.

She says: “Stay in touch via social media / email / etc.”
I say: I don’t know that this is necessarily important, but it certainly does help a writer feel like part of a community of sorts. I do post about my progress when I’m writing, and I enjoy seeing other people talk about their writing. I don’t think it should be about accountability, though, because I don’t think I have to be accountable to anyone but myself.

So I’m going to take on the challenge of writing every day in March. I may not write every day, and that’s okay. I probably won’t write first thing in the morning, and I may not write for an hour on the days that I do write. I won’t always write before I check email/social media/play stupid online games/talk to my husband. I will, however, write. I will try to write every day, but I won’t adhere to someone else’s idea of the right way, because what’s right for her isn’t right for everyone, just like what’s right for me isn’t right for everyone.

Twilight Garden Update

It is finished. No. It is done. It is far from finished. Done, not finished is what I always call my knitting projects before they’re blocked and have ends woven in and buttons sewn on, so that is what the novel is. Done, but not finished.

My word count is 64,334. That’s a lot of words, especially for me. I think all of my poetry over the last couple of years might in total be about twenty thousand, so writing over sixty thousand in the span of a couple of months is incredibly impressive to me. I suppose it’s impressive to anyone, really, though I know there are people who do this regularly. There are people who finish NaNoWriMo every year, there are novelists who write several books in a year, there are other writers whose word counts I feel certain far surpass my sixty-five thousand in one year.

But this is an accomplishment for me. It proves to myself that I can do it if I don’t allow myself to give up. That I have a lot more willpower than it sometimes appears (unless it involves going walking in sub-freezing temperatures – then I have none). That I can write a book, goddammit. And I think it’s a pretty good book. The one person I’ve let read it so far (don’t worry, there will be more, I just wanted to wait until it at least had an ending) says it’s pretty good.

There are things I do need to finish though. People and places need names. There are a few names at the beginning, but even in the beginning I didn’t bother naming places. It was too distracting to try and “get it right” so I left things named CoffeeShopName and BookshopName and CityName. Then there are characters who still need names, and characters whose names I’m not certain fit who they truly are in the story. Midway through the first twenty thousand words or so, several of the characters decided to be something other than I intended, so the names I chose for them probably should be changed to reflect that.

Because of that flip-flopping, I really need to edit. I had a hard time not editing as I went anyway, so I did do a little, but there’s a lot that needs to be filled out, not unlike an over-thin but otherwise healthy stray. There are most certainly plot holes you can at least drive a Mini Cooper through, if not a tank. There’s a lot of missing information. Scenes I think are important probably need to be expanded. There may even be some things I could condense where it’s not absolutely required for the plot. I think I skipped something entirely, now that I’m thinking about it.

So I know it needs editing. A lot of it. I’m putting it away for a little while though. At least a couple of months. In March, perhaps, I’ll bring it back out, give it a read. See what needs fixing, see how it reads if I do it straight through. I may even let Larissa read it, though doing so is a little unnerving. She’s published, and her first book (I haven’t had the privilege of reading the second yet) was amazing, and far more finely crafted than this effort of mine.

2014 Month-by-Month Writing Plans

January:

  • Start organizing existing poetry into collections/themes
  • Submit poetry to 4-6 journals/magazines (Keep notes!)

February:

  • Submit poetry to 4-6 journals/magazines (Keep notes!)

March:

  • Submit poetry to 4-6 journals/magazines (Keep notes!)

April:

May:

June:

  • Submit poetry to 4-6 journals/magazines (Keep notes!)

July:

August:

  • Submit poetry to 4-6 journals/magazines (Keep notes!)

September:

  • Submit poetry to 4-6 journals/magazines (Keep notes!)

October:

November:

  • NaNoWriMo
  • Submit poetry to 4-6 journals/magazines (Keep notes!)

December:

  • Submit poetry to 4-6 journals/magazines (Keep notes!)

Dictation

I have a wonderful sister. I didn’t know this until I got older, but she really is very wonderful. She just recently had a baby, who is now four months old, and has managed to quit her job so that she can do photography full-time. She asked Jason and I this year what we would like for Christmas; actually she asked me what Jason might like and asked Jason what I might like. I gave her several ideas, and apparently he gave her several ideas as well. I didn’t think much about it until I received a box in the mail a couple of days ago.

My sister, who I tormented for much of her childhood, bought me Dragon NaturallySpeaking for Christmas. She got it for me so that I could dictate my writing instead of having to type it. It is probably one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received. I haven’t worked with it much, although I am typing this post using it at the moment, but already I am enjoying how it works. I’ve gotten a little used to voice recognition software because of the iPhone, so it’s not too hard to learn especially with the punctuation. I think what I’m most going to have to get used to is actually dictating what I’m writing. It feels a little weird to be saying what I mean to be typing. I’m sure that I’ll get used to it however and I’m confident that it will eventually be an excellent tool for my writing.

Twilight Garden Progress

Now that I’ve finally managed to pay for my Scrivener license, I have been able to keep writing on the novel I started during NaNoWriMo. I’m over 60k words now, with probably 2 chapters to finish. Then, it gets put away while I work on another story that’s been begging to be written for a couple years now. I’ve allowed one person to read the rough draft, though there are a few others I’m ready to give it to as well. I’m very anxious about it, honestly, because I feel like most of what I wrote is a pile of messy garbage, but I’m too close to it, I know that.

Now that I own the program, I’m using it to help me organize my poetry too. I’ve got a lot, and if I’m ever going to publish any of it, I need to be able to put it in collections. So that’s another project I’m going to be beginning in the coming weeks. I have a lot of writing projects planned, in fact, which is what I want to do. That, and knitting. But I talk about that elsewhere.

Winner Winner

2013-Winner-Facebook-Cover
As of today at around 2:30pm, I have written over 50,000 words. My novel is not complete, and I will keep writing until it is (that’s part of the deal I made with myself when I started this adventure) but I have officially won my first NaNoWriMo. After trying (not-so) seriously for 4 years. I’m so extremely proud of myself.

Several people have asked me where they can read the full text of the novel. I haven’t posted that anywhere yet. For one thing, 50k is a lot of text, and I don’t know how WordPress will handle that. Second, it’s not done, and I’m not sure I’m ready to post it. It needs editing. Really. This is the first time I’ve written anything that I didn’t edit as I went. It’s the first I’m I’ve written anything that I wouldn’t immediately submit. I wouldn’t offer this as a finished anything. It’s done, but certainly not finished – and it’s not even really done.

So I will post it to be read at some point, but for the moment I haven’t done that yet. As I edit sections probably, I’ll post them to be read. I won’t even worry about final editing before I do that, because I want other people’s opinions, not my own. I know this story is somewhat indulgent and likely droll, but it was my first attempt at writing anything substantial in -forever- so I really just wanted to get it written.

I’m going to go do something else for a bit. Knit. Cuddle my cat. Watch television. I might watch the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special again. And again. I’ll write more tomorrow I’m sure. I’m in the habit of it, and I still have more to say. But right now, I’m basking in the glory of such an immense accomplishment. I might even have a drink, before 5pm. Yeah, I just might.

Post-NaNo To-Do

  1. Copy poetry into Scrivener
  2. Purchase Scrivener (with Winner’s discount!)
  3. Continue writing daily. (Aiming for 30k a month total writing I think.)
  4. Start submitting poetry/short stories to journals and/or magazines
  5. Furiously knit hats for Nerd Wars dissertation