Sunday, June 18, 2006

In the mood for love... or at least writing about it

Ladies, I can honestly admit that this Fast Draft Challenge is doing interesting things to my writing. Some days I'm really enjoying it and others, I'll admit, it is kicking my butt.

I signed up to write 10 handwritten pages each day, which works out to 5 computer pages. Doesn't sound like a lot, but I'm finding it is harder to work into my life than I thought. And not because of the time factor.

When you are required to churn out 5 pages each day, and know that if you don't then tomorrow it will be 10, then you sit your butt in your chair and write, regardless of where your muse is at the moment. Some days I can pop out those pages, no problem. Other days its like pulling teeth. I dread those days, let me tell ya.

Still, I push through, because being able to stay in the story and with the characters like this is great! It energizes the story and works very well with my particular writing process. And on those days when it doesn't, I try to find ways to motivate myself besides just using the white knuckle technique.

One new thing I've done for this book is a story collage. This is a combination of pictures/storyboard/character chart that is more art than a planned project. I'm adding to it a little everyday as I learn more about my characters and the story. I've hung it next to my desk and enjoy just looking at it. My characters feel more real because their pictures and names are on it, and their primary qualities/flaws. I'm searching for location pictures and various other things I want to add. It's been really fun to create and I'm getting more interested in this area of prewriting. Very cool. Studying it for a few minutes can help me really touch base with this story and what I'm trying to get on paper that day.

Music, as we've discussed before on the blog, helps me to get motivated. Last night, for instance, my day ended on a bad note because I had an argument with my daughter. Never fun. Usually the time after my kids go to bed is when I finish up my writing for the day, but with all the upset I just couldn't settle down. So I proceeded to put a CD in the player and pop on the headphones. I played a song that I recently realized embodies some of the issues for my heroine, I think it is called Already Gone by Kelly Clarkson. As I listened to this song through several times, I regained a sense of who my heroine was and why I wanted so desperately to tell her story. Then I went on to write my pages for the night.

But sometimes, the best motivation in the world isn't going to cut it. Saturday night I was overtired from excitement from my Laurie placement (see post below) and the exertion required to wrangle 4 children instead of 2 (I don't know how some women do it!). My brain literally shut down. No writing was going to happen that night. So I said, Okay. Fine. And I proceeded to add some stuff to my story collage and turn in for the night. One reason I can do this ocassionally (read: few and far between) is that I built a little extra leeway into my daily page goal by rounding up. That helps on those days when I can't be Superwoman. :)

So, that's what's up in my writing life this week. Hope I haven't bored you to tears. What do you do when you have to write to meet a deadline (self-imposed or not)?


Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
16,500 / 50,000


Smarty Pants said...

I'll tell you what - pre-writing can make a huge difference. In the past my books have just sort of evolved organizcally from an original idea. I might have done a bare bones outline with phrases like - "Chapter 6 - more scenes with them interacting. Sexual tension." It's no wonder when I got to chapter six, my brain just shut down.

I spent yesterday doing a storyboard. Multi-colored stickies moving from box to box until I had a full story line addressing GMC that had very few holes (or so it appears at this point). Today is the first day of my 6 week drive to 75k, so we'll see if it helps!


Smarty Pants said...


Organically! Wish Blogger would let me edit my comments after the fact when I realize I've done something dumb.


Instigator said...

I had one of those days yesterday - my brain just wouldn't function. Oh well.

Your collage sounds interesting. I should probably do that - search for pictures of my hero and heroine so that I have something in front of my face besides the sketchy details in my brain.


Kelley said...

I've never done the story board. I should try that. I would love to look for pictures of my hero and heroine.

I've been struggling with my writing this past week. I havent done much at all. I hate it when i go through periods of time like that. This is my first MS and it is taking a long time to finish. I knew it would. I get so amped when I have good writing day. I feel like I am on a high no one understands but me. Then when I have a hard time, it bums me out. I'm just so excited to finish it. I just need to take my time and realize that it is going to take some time :)

Playground Monitor said...

My deadlines are self-imposed: the magazine editor will say "I need stories about thus and such by this date" and I'll decide I want to submit something to try and meet her need. Most days I can manage to write at least a little, but I've had a major distraction lately (AKA Beautiful Grandchild) and it's been hard to focus. I have a deadline coming up July 3 and since I'm leaving town June 27, I need to get it finished and in the mail before the 27th.

When I'm struggling, sometimes I just go outside and sit on the porch with something cool to drink and just chill. Other times I might watch an old movie on TV or listen to music. Sometimes I'll read a novel and that will kickstart things. But there's no guarantees.

I start with sort of an outline -- a bullet list of what's going to happen. And because my stories usually have a cast of characters, I do a little list of who's who, complete with names. And because they also often span quite a bit of time, I'll draw out a timeline (i.e. heroine was 18 when this happened, 20 when this happened, 30 when something else happened). It all helps me keep it straight in my mind.

Congrats again, Angel, on your Laurie win! Welcome back, Smarty Pants.