Writing Journal/Random Thoughts 7.16.2018: A slight drop off, World Cup thoughts just because, and one insight that might only interest me

Yeah, so the numbers for this week… not really impressive, but not a disaster:

+1,206 words written.

Days writing: 4 out of 7.

Days revising: 3 out of 7 for 90 total minutes.

Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of revisions): 3 out of 7 days.

So, not matching last week’s totals, but not a total collapse. Explanations? Two in particular come to mind.

First, since we are now in mid-July, I have to say that I am officially in the doldrums of my summer vacation where maximum complacency sets in. Luckily, this has not been as severe as previous years. Due to various circumstances, I find myself keeping active with local political volunteerism and assisting my wife with various errands. As a result, I am more occupied than last year, when I literally had nothing to do during the summer after a few consecutive years of taking and/or teaching classes during that time (to be fair, I probably needed the break).

Second, of course, was the conclusion of the World Cup yesterday and this past week. As has been documented previously on this blog, I have a pretty serious soccer obsession at this point. General thoughts (Random Notes? Random Notes!) on the tournament:

  • I was very happy with the quality of the games and the action.
  • Video assistant referees (VAR) have been a long time coming and much needed.
  • The final was great, with the young kids of France proving themselves against the best of the world.
  • Also glad to see the Belgians do well – my name and family background has some Belgian origin, so that was cool to see.
  • I was sorry not to see the USMNT in action, but I’ve been happy to see how the younger kids of that team have been doing in friendlies, and that plus the fact we will be hosting the 2026 WC alongside Canada and Mexico have helped me to get over that. Compared to the winter fiasco the 2022 Qatar WC will be, our tournament will be paradise.

How much of a soccer/football junkie am I? I’m actually counting down to the ICC club exhibition tournament in America within a couple of weeks. Plus there’s still Major League Soccer in America, and the European leagues will start up in a month… the fact that there’s always soccer on somewhere in the world is good for me, but it can be annoying to those close to me. 🙂

Well, hadn’t expected to write that much about soccer, but there hasn’t been too much writing items to talk about.

I will say this, however, as a small piece of writing advice. If you are writing a story and you are not feeling it, you may want to swap out your characters for new ones that attract your interest. Not to get into too many details at this very early stage of the creative process, but I started considering putting a main character from one of my current projects into a writing project that had a totally different genre. And I think it’s going to work. It might be a project that I wasn’t planning on writing for a while, but I think it has made it a far more interesting and not quite as cliched as I had initially feared. Mixing and matching – it worked for rap, and it will work for you, too.

That’s about all for now. I do plan to write up something for midweek – I know I didn’t do that last week as I have been trying to do. Anyway, I’ll get you more stuff later.

Writing Journal 1.14.2018/Random Notes: Nowhere to go but up

Well, everyone, it was pretty bad last week regarding writing progress. The totals for confirmation:

+1,003 words written.

Days writing: 2 out of 7.

Daily writing goals met (500+ words): 2 out of 7 days.

I speculated earlier why I might be going through this much of a losing streak, but I think most of that road is paved with procrastination and regret. I finished the threatening scene; now, I’m trying to write one more football scene, essentially my main character’s last game. I need to keep reminding myself that this first draft doesn’t have to be perfect.

Another thing to do is breaking patterns. I’ve noticed that when you get into procrastination ruts, you find yourself repeating the same behavioral patterns over an over. There’s no point in repeating the – not insanity, but – useless patterns if the desired result doesn’t occur. If you have to do things, do them in a different pattern. That’s the only way that you can try and break the mental locks on your mind. I’m still nowhere near an expert at mental reprogramming. But, I’m getting better.

I also think another factor is that I’m really starting to get antsy about getting this first draft completed. I’m thinking that I want to get into the revising process so that I can start forming what I have into a coherent whole. I’ve said before that I consider revising to be the heart and soul of writing, because that’s after you get the metal out and finally start pounding away on it in the forge to make it into something usable.

That’s about all to my ramblings, because I want to try and get to bed at a decent hour and get fiction writing in. So, Random Notes:

  1. I am planning on that revising/editing goal. I should have that next week, then I’ll see how to work that in with my existing writing goals. How I keep track of all of it is up in the air now.
  2. Currently, I’m trying to read manuscripts for three people wanting feedback. I need to make more movement on that by this week so they can get some feedback by this year, at least. 🙂
  3. Ideas for new posts (one of which actually needs to happen) include one on writing output that’s been bopping around for a while, one on the concept of revising, and one of my old writings.
  4. Anyone interested in seeing some excerpts or “deleted scenes” from the thing I’m working on now?

More later.

Writing Journal/Random Notes, 12.24.2017: Better, not up to par

As the holidays are upon us and the New Year beckons, I have the penultimate Writing Journal/Random Notes of 2017. The results of last week were… well, just look:

+2.354 words written.

Days writing: 5 out of 7.

Daily writing goals met (500+ words): 3 out of 7 days.

Overall, an improvement over last week. I have all but gotten through the scene that seemed to go on forever. Now, I am getting into the last stretch.

Last night, I hit the 80k word mark for my project. The current overall stats for that:

Current length of first draft: 80,011 (as of the beginning of today).

Current goal for first draft length by Dec. 31, 2017: 83,500-85,000.

[85K is doable if I have the best writing run of the year. Since I’ve got this entire following week off, I have to think it is possible.]

Planned length of first draft: 95,000-99,999.

So… I’m looking forward to the writing run of the year to finish up 2017 in style. Next week, when I do the end-of-year writing journal, I think that I will have to have a follow-up or final tally for at least the last four months (since I began my new writing goal) to see what sort of performance I came up with during that time.

Random Notes:

  1. It’s going to get harder to be productive the closer I get to the 95,000-99,999-word limit I have in mind for the project. Right now, I still have three vital scenes to write and two other vital scenes to rewrite. Whether I can fit them into the space I have is going to be an interesting thing. There is a good chance one of the subplots I had in mind for the book might be totally cut or drastically reduced to make it in. However, I really believe in this hard and fast rule on the word-count limit, both for commercial viability and the ability to tell a story that is not going to drag excessively.
  2. Being able to do that and be true to the 500-word a day rule will be another interesting challenge. What I might have to wind up doing is talking into account cutting several “first draft” scenes, if they are not suited for the story that has evolved.
  3. Don’t ask me about those query letters. I need to get out more.
  4. Since I do have the week off, I might be able to run a midweek blog post for once.

That’s about all for now. Happy holidays and more later.

Random Notes

Random notes, random image of the hometown… just randomness.

In the order of importance/or when they fly through my head:

1. As I mentioned, writing fell off at the end of the week but was relatively steady. One of the issues is that my computer had a crash that took it a few hours to get over.

2. I’m tending to repeat myself today.

3. I finally got the first two query letters out yesterday. I felt very good about it, especially now that I have a basic format I can adapt and use for those queries. I’ve also started a list of agents and publishers I have queried and update information on them. I realize that I am going to have to send out dozens and dozens to make an effective run at publishing, but it’s definitely a start.
As I’ve said before, I want to publish this thing one way or another by next year, whether that’s the “traditional” route or through Amazon or something. Now, at least, I’m starting to take baby steps toward that.

4. I’ve got two good ideas for new entries the following week, one on the amount of writing that writers find they have and one on my lifelong battle with procrastination in writing. I might even be about to get both of those out this week.

5. And speaking of this week, it is Thanksgiving week, which means time off from work… and more glorious time to write. I’ve felt that my feelings toward writing have changed in recent weeks and months, and looking forward to the writing process is one of those differences.

6. Plus… hey, let me reach out to the people who are reading this – what else would you be interested in hearing about? Excerpts from my fiction, or the little bit of poetry I’ve done over time? Would you be interested in hearing me review some books? Or maybe, you’d love to see something else? Please feel free to let me know in the comments, if you feel the urge, or DM me through the regular channels.

More later. Thanks, everyone.


The Road Ahead

“When you don’t have something interesting to write about, write something, even if it is boring.” I might have just as easily heard that quote somewhere as made it up myself, but I’m going ahead with the idea.

Yeah, it’s going to be one of those posts.

So, let’s try for starters…. Random Thoughts! OK:

  1. My Facebook feed is getting clogged up with writer’s group posts (good; it waters down all of the political posts) and many of the writers are making political/religious posts (not so good). Do you know you can opt out of notifications of posts you have made or contributed to? It’s a cool way to get your life back. Also, did you know I’ve got a writing Facebook page? Feel free to visit it, although I do have the feed on the sidebar.
  2. I’m going to make an effort to send out or put together at least one query letter tonight. My goal is one letter per week. I have already put together a general letter; all I need to do is rework it for the intended audience. Doing the grunt work like that can be hard.
  3. I am going to get something written tonight. If all goes well (and even if it doesn’t go the best), I am planning to breach the 60,000-word mark tonight.
  4. As for the title of the post… I’ve been doing the math. All of the genres I would conceivably write in would call for manuscripts of around 80,000 to 100,000 words.

    Now let’s do the math together. I am shooting for a minimum of 500 words per day of writing. That is about 3,500 words per week if I am working every day. Let’s further say that I am not as ambitious as that goal. Let us say, for example, that I wind up in 2018 with a per-day average of 300 words. However, that is still formidable. You want to know why? Because if you divide 100,000 words by 300, you realize that you could complete a 100,000-word novel, even at this glacial pace, in 334 days. If I did manage to keep to my basic minimums, averaging 3,500 words per week, I’d have a 100K first draft novel ready in just 200 days.

    When I saw those numbers, people, it took my breath away. After years of screwing around, not getting on with my writing, I seem to have a road forward. For your information, I have only missed the 300-word rate (about 2,100 words per week) four times during the 18-week stretch that I have been monitoring my word count. The last time that happened was in mid-October, and that was the only time it’s happened since August.

    For the first time in my life, I have a consistently working writing instrument. It’s a good feeling to have.