My Roller Coaster Writing Week

This week, I had so many ups and downs in my writing world, I wouldn’t have been surprised if, next to my computer, a sign had been appeared stating, “You must be this tall to ride.” So, slap on your seat belts and let’s go for a little loop-the-loop (and please keep your hands in the car at all times).

Someone did NOT keep his hands in the car at all times.

As with any thrill ride, I started the week with that tinge of excitement because I managed to outline Books Five & Six of the Osteria Chronicles.

Yay!!!

Who knew there was an Osteria-themed roller coaster/water park!?

Sort of like that slow chugging up that first climb of the roller coaster, my outline started out a little clunky. First, I had no idea where my notes (which I had written out way back during the production of Book Two, The Voyage of Heroes) had gone. A little hunting and searching and voila, there they were lurking deep in a desk drawer. Continue reading

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Writing News: I’m Dancing the Jig of Joy!!!

With another heat wave hovering over us, we’re sweltering here in Portland, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been getting plenty of exercise…namely in the form of Happy Dancing (hopefully no neighbors have been peeking in the windows!).

And the reason for this jig of joy? Well…..

Last Saturday at about 5:25 p.m. I finished a major rewrite of my work in progress!!!

As you may know from a previous post, this project was originally written as a historical novel a few years ago, but had so many issues I crammed it in a drawer. A very deep drawer. Sometimes I would hear it calling from its dungeon, and a couple times I even tried to tackle it again, but could never brave the massive amount of work required to clear up those trouble spots (okay, not spots, more like gaping black holes big enough to swallow our entire galaxy). Continue reading

And Now…Something Completely Different

That’s right, two weeks in a row of Monty Python references! And another week of looking at where I’m headed with my blog and writing.

First off, a big THANKS to everyone who commented and voted on my dilemma of how to proceed. It’s always great to get some input and to know that a few of you would still like to hear form me on a regular basis.

And now, the results of my dithering…. Continue reading

Where to Go from Here?

So now that The Bonds of Osteria has been unleashed upon the world and I had a wee bit of a success (relatively speaking) with the launch, I’m left wondering where to go from here. Plus, given that we’re now halfway through 2018, it seems like a perfect time to re-evaluate what in the world I’m doing (honestly, most days I have no idea).

And as ever when I have big decisions to make, I’m going to beg for a little help from my readers so be sure to scroll down to drop your vote in my surveys below.

So, what’s up for debate? Three things…sort of like the Spanish Inquisition, although with less fear and surprise and only a dab of ruthless efficiency. Okay, nothing like the Spanish Inquisition, I just like to work in a Monty Python reference whenever possible. Annnnyway, the three things are… Continue reading

The Beatles Schedule of Novel Writing

So last week, after entertaining you with a bit of mythological humor, I teased you with a hint of exciting news to come this week. To be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure I could pull off what I intended for the subject of that exciting news – which would have left me making up something exciting like winning the Pulitzer Prize (totally believable).

But because I knew you’ve come to expect brutal honesty from me, I somehow scraped my nose along that proverbial grindstone and managed to accomplish what I set out to do. And what might that be? Drum roll please….

I drafted a novel in a week! Okay, it was eight days, but if eight days counted as a week for the Beatles, it can count as a week for me.

How did I do it?

Um, I have no idea. I normally draft books quickly, but in the past “quickly” has meant three weeks at a minimum. Still, I have a few clues as to how I pulled this off.

  1. I knew (mostly) what I would be writing. I came up with the idea for this story in February and spent most of March jotting down ideas about the main character’s background, the basic premise, and how I wanted the book to begin and end. In early April, I outlined the book (which I think deserves a dedicated post next week).
  2. I busted my butt the week before and especially the day before I began the draft so I’d have as much time as possible to write. I still had a few chores to do, but this “clearing the plate” of any big chores meant my workdays over the past week were mostly dedicated to writing.
  3. I LOVED every inch of this story. Except for some hand cramping and achy shoulders, this book was so much fun to write, it didn’t feel like work. I’d even intended to give myself the weekend off from writing, but I just couldn’t tear myself away from the project.
  4. There was that sense of getting ahead. I hadn’t scheduled writing the first draft of this book until June, and I even gave myself two months to do it. Now that first draft is well out of the way, I have that smug sense of thumbing my nose at my Production Schedule!
  5. I know how I write most efficiently, but I was willing to experiment (see Testing Out New Writing Methods below).

Let’s look at a couple of these a little more closely….

Going With the Flow

In #2 up there, I mentioned clearing my calendar to allow as much time for writing as possible.  Why did this help? Because the absolute worst part of my writing day is putting down those first few sentences. They’re usually awful and stilted and I waste a lot of time mulling them over. But I know if I can just get them down, things will start flowing.

Grumpy Cat has a different take on going with the flow.

Since I only had eight of these starting hurdles to get over, the flow was only interrupted a few times. Most days, I spent about five hours (in 30- to 55-minute sessions) writing, but each time I’d start a new session, i was simply continuing with the momentum I’d already gained in the previous session (there were even a few instances where I stopped in mid-sentence when the timer went off, but this was mainly the hand-cramping, not to maintain the flow).

Testing Out New Writing Methods

I’ve heard wonders about using dictation to write a book. How it speeds up production, how it allows you to move around while working, etc. Always keen for new experiments, I tried it for a few scenes. Those scenes are the worst ones of the book. Words simply would not come to my brain, and those that did were pretty bland. I gave up on dictation and went back to my usual method. That method is writing long hand in a notebook. But this time I gave it a little twist.

This longhand approach shocks most people, but I simply can’t create well on a computer. The words don’t flow and if I get stuck, I seem to just stare at the screen instead of trudging on as I will do with pen and paper. However, I did find that if I could get things chugging along with pen and paper, I could spend a little time at the computer and keep up the momentum. I still only wrote about a quarter of the book on the computer, but it was a good tidbit to learn about my work methods.

Not Done Yet

Even though I wrote this book quickly, I’m not one of those writers who can (or want to) crank out a novel in a month or less. There’s still rewriting to do, areas to flesh out, and all the other little tidbits I like to fiddle with in subsequent drafts. Still, because ideas are bubbling in my head of the exact spots I want to change, I’m not dreading the rewrite stages like I have in the past.

When will I begin the next books in the series? Who knows? With this much excitement for the story and the characters, I may be whipping through that Production Schedule faster than I anticipated.

What about you? How do you tackle big projects? Have you learned anything about your work methods? Anyone out there still prefer to write longhand? I’d love to hear from you so be sure to leave a comment!! Oh, and Finn will be stopping by Saturday with a little exciting news of his own. See you then!