Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category
I have another confession to make: I have trouble with my follow-through.
This is true both in life (I think it’s why I can’t seem to reach my goal weight or balance my checkbook) and in my writing.
More than one mostly finished manuscript languishes in my collection. Two of them that I thought were done are still several thousand words short of even the shortest category-length novel. (Being some of the first things I wrote, they’re also full of head-hopping and other annoyances I’ll have to go back and fix if they’re ever to see an agent or publisher’s desk.)
The ones that trouble me more, however, are the half-finished ones. I start out writing and for a while it’s great. The words are flowing and I’m in love with the characters and situations.
But then, I always hit a wall. I stop writing … for days, weeks, even months at a time.
When I go back to read through what I’ve written, I find myself in love all over again. The great metaphors and interesting characters make me wonder why I ever stopped writing it.
I think it’s because I get to what the gals at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood call “the sagging middle.” When I can’t think of what should happen next, I abandon the story and start a new one. And the result is a bunch of really good starts.
Because half-finished novels do me no good, I need to figure out how to get around this problem. I don’t want to write at a frenetic pace for a few weeks and then hit a wall.
I suppose plotting beforehand would help. (I tend to be more of a pantster, making it up as I go along.)
Writing something every day also seems to be helping. (I did finish “Blind Date Bride” because I signed up for the NaNo and started writing much more regularly.)
Any other suggestions? I’ll try pretty much anything once. (I plan to do some pre-plotting on my 2010 NaNo story in October.)
Hello. My name is Arlene, and I have a confession. Meg & Matt are real lookers … and I don’t mean that in a good way.
I’m not kidding. I’ve noticed that Meg & Matt spend a lot of time looking — at each other, at the ground, at whatever is around them. Whenever they don’t know what else to do, they LOOK.
Needless to say, I’m going to have to work on that. Admitting there’s a problem is the first step in fixing it, right? 😉
I owe my (not so) startling revelation to one of my RWA sisters. As newsletter editor for NARWA, I have the privilege of receiving articles from all the other RWA chapter newsletters. I review them to decide whether to include them in ours, but I also find myself learning from them whether they end up in our newsletter or not.
One of the articles did include in our most recent issue (in e-mail in boxes today, for those of you looking) was “Hunt those pesky repeated words” by Missouri RWA’s Shawntelle Madison. She confesses to using “snapped,” “noticed” and “saw” too often.
That made me think about the words I use more than I should, and “look” topped my list. At least in “Beauty and the Ballplayer,” they seem to be looking all the time.
At least it’s a problem specific to Meg & Matt. I think I’d have noticed if Kari & Damien or Brad & Erin spent all their time gaping at one another. (Erin spends a fair amount of time staring at Mike, at least at first, but that’s another story!) 😀
What words do you find yourself using more often than you might like?
I love my iBook and wouldn’t trade it for anything — well, except perhaps a bright, shiny new MacBook Pro like the one a couple of my NARWA sisters have. 😀
However, I’ve discovered something this week: I still like writing things out longhand, with a spiral-bound notebook and a smooth-writing Pilot G-2.
I was at Starbucks Tuesday. Not planning on being there long enough to set up the laptop, I instead whipped out a notebook and started writing. Nearly an hour later, I realized I’d filled several pages.
Now, I’ve practically given up writing with a pen and paper when it comes to my manuscripts. I write at the computer … like most of you do, I’m sure. It’s easier to edit, and when I’m on a roll, I can get a lot more accomplished via typing than handwriting.
Plus, there’s the problem that my handwritten pages are sometimes too messy to read, thanks to too many years of scribbling madly to get people’s quotes down during interviews. My writing started deteriorating in college and continued on the job. Now, sometimes I look at a page and there’s a mere scribble where a word should be. If I’ve waited too long to transcribe my notes, I have to guess at what was said …
Luckily, my writing tends to be just a little neater when I’m not taking notes. Still, I have to watch it. When I get on a roll, it gets progressively messier. At least I usually get to transcribing it within a day or two, before I’ve forgotten what I was trying to say.
Why do I consider that lucky? Because I’ve realized there’s something about writing it out by hand. The way the pen glides over the paper, leaving behind words as long-lasting as you want them to be is somehow satisfying.
Plus, it is easier to pull out a notebook and pen than it is to pull out the computer, start it up and open your word processing program. By the time you do all that, you could have written a quarter-page! 😉
I didn’t get much writing done this weekend, opting instead to spend a romantic weekend with the Boyfriend. I did, however, get the chance to do a little reading.
The February issue of RWR contained an intriguing article titled “Speed as an Antidote to Writer’s Block.” The gist is that writing quickly — and regularly — helps us beat that devil procrastination.
Since I often find myself afflicted by that particular demon, I paid particular attention to that article. (In fact, it’s still the only thing from the issue I’ve read word-for-word. I’ve skimmed the rest, but not settled in to digest it yet.)
The article points out that speed writing is done:
- Without a lot of distractions, such as the Internet or reading back through a MS to “check” facts.
- Simply, as opposed to being a perfectionist looking for quality above all else.
- To be shared. Apparently, fast writers share their drafts ASAP, seeking feedback. A perfectionist, on the other hand, will revise, revise, revise (or stop writing at all) rather than let someone else read their “weak” effort.
Over the years, I’ve been more the perfectionist type. I stop writing when I hit that wall … and sometimes don’t go back to it for months.
Participating in the NaNo last November really helped me see the benefits of speed writing, though. I might not have written as quickly as the others (I never once won the “word wars” we had at write-ins), and I didn’t finish all 50,000 words.
But sitting down to write almost daily did help me get a lot accomplished, and I was able to ride that writing high to the end, finishing my story in early December, shortly after the end of NaNo.
So you have my pledge now that I’ll do the NaNo again this fall. I already have a plot marinating in my head for it, something I started working on after my NARWA group did a “Book in a Month” talk a couple of years. (I stalled out in the research stage, around Day 6, because I’m not much of a researcher anymore.) I do, however, have a basic outline for the story, which stars one of Brad’s brothers … Brad being the hero in this year’s GH entry, the one that apparently STILL doesn’t have enough conflict.
Until then, I’m going to keep plugging away on “Operation Treat Writing Like a Day Job.” Right now, that seems to be enough to keep me writing, so why mess with success?