Getting the Words Down

By the time this posts, I will have officially hit my NaNo goal (50,000 words since November 1st). However, thanks to a constantly developing plot (this is what I get for pantsing this draft more than usual) I still have about 10,000 or so more words left to write to actually finish this draft.

And did I mention I still don’t know how the story ends?

Yeah, so that’s going to be fun.

Anyway, even I don’t finish this draft in the next week (ie inside the NaNo window of 1 month), I’m still way ahead of where I was at the start of the month.

And I thought I’d share how I managed to squeeze out my words so quickly. Obviously, my methods won’t work for everyone, since we all have different ways we do things, so do what works for you.

  1. I’ve been writing as a basically part-time job, using most of my hours on weekdays between 9am and 2:30 pm (with some exceptions for appointments, illness and family stuff). This past week I’ve had some morning insomnia and added an extra hour of writing between 6-7 a.m.
  2. I never went back to re-write, even if the plot changed. I just made a note or two and kept on going.
  3. I didn’t care how much work I was making for myself in revision. (Of course, Future Kaye may have some choice words about this decision, but for now it’s the way to keep moving forward.)
  4. Restrictions. I confess, I’m really bad about distractions when writing, so I had to lay out rules. Basically it boiled down to having to write at least 1,000 words in a sitting. No checking the internet (unless it was research-related), no grabbing a snack or a cup of tea (much of this draft was written while hangry…sorry again, Future Kaye) until the magic number was reached.
  5. Rewards! I let myself have a delicious, junk-foody reward for every 5,000 words I logged (you probably saw them if you follow me on Twitter). And my special prize for 50,000 words? Getting to go do the holiday* shopping I have piling up, work on my holiday crafts, and generally get myself in the holiday mood. Woohoo!

I’m still going to push hard next week on finishing this draft, but I’m also going to let myself celebrate and enjoy taking a breather for a day. If you’re writing too, hope you’re getting the words down. If you’re more of a reader, hope you liked this insight into my process. And if you’re turkeying this weekend, hope you enjoy that too!

 

*I mean the December holidays. My (Canadian) Thanksgiving was a month ago.

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Mini Post

Sorry guys, don’t have much to say today. Stomach flu is going through our house, and I am decidedly under the weather.

I’m still ahead of my NaNo goals (32,000 words as of Wednesday morning)…but that lead could easily disappear if this illness drags on for too long.

Hope everyone who’s writing along with me is having a better writing week than I am. Oh, and don’t forget to back up your work!

If you’re not writing, I still hope you’re having a better week than I am. Hopefully I’ll have a more detailed post next week.

The Hardest Thing About NaNo (for me)

It’s been a few years since I’ve done NaNo (National Novel Writing Month), so I’d forgotten the pesky little thing I always have the most trouble with.

Actually, I have two, but they’re related.

#1 is not going back and re-reading. (The only exception is after a weekend – when I’m too busy to write – I’m allowed to re-read the last half a chapter, just to see where I left off.) But I can’t afford to waste all my writing time reading. Plus, if I did re-read, it would make it even harder to avoid my other pitfall:

#2 is turning off my inner editor – not letting myself fix any problems I discover as I’m writing. And it’s not easy. This draft is rough. Really rough. But so far, I’ve managed to content myself with just putting some notes inline (or occasionally by adding comments, depending on what’s needed).

At this point, I already know I need to add more description (I’ve been writing mostly dialogue and action and letting everything else slide), re-arrange a bunch of scenes for better flow, and add a character (when I decided that one, I simply started writing as if she’d been in the book the whole time, so now I just have to go back and add her into the first few chapters).

And it’s working. As of November 8th I’m sitting at 17, 859 words, which is ahead of the game. But I also know it won’t all be smooth sailing.

I already mentioned I can’t write on weekends (too busy with my family), and I have a few appointments coming up that will impact my writing time. Plus, my headaches seem to have returned (I only wrote 1700 words yesterday because of one – below my personal goal of 2000/day, even if it’s above the official NaNo goal.) Plus there’s the fact that my kids are all fighting a nasty bug that could either keep them home or make its way to me. Or both.

And those aren’t even the writing problems that could derail me. I still only have the book loosely outlined – which has been working well so far. But I may eventually hit a point where I don’t know where the story’s going. Or where I write myself into a corner I can’t escape. Or where I just don’t like my story any more (aka. the mushy middle).

But for now, I’m going to celebrate my victories as they come. I have a treat put aside for hitting 20,000 words (hopefully today). And even if I don’t win NaNo (aka get to 50,000 words by November 30th), I’m still at least 17,859 words farther ahead than I was at the start of the month, and I still consider that a win.

Getting Ready for NaNo

As some of you probably already know, November is National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo), where the goal is to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days.

It’s been a few years since I participated, but since my two best stories (SHADOWCATCHERS and BIG FAT GEEK) were products of previous NaNos, I figured this would be a good year to try it again with my YA Contemporary idea.

While I know this post is a tad on the late side, I thought I’d link to some of my old posts for fellow writers struggling to reach their word goals. In my opinion, the best way to get words out quickly is to have a plan in advance (I’m a combination pantser and plotter, but I definitely write better if I have an idea of where the story is going, and who the characters are).

So, if you’re interested, click the links for advice on plotting, character development, drafting, and finding time to write. As always, there’s no right way to write, and these are just some of the things that have worked for me, so YMMV.

Happy writing!

Quick Check-In

Just a short post this week, since I’m fighting a nasty cold/flu-type-thing. But on the bright side, I’ve had a few headache-free days this week, thanks either to the nerve block I got, or stopping my other meds. (Whichever it is, I’m just glad to have a few days without pain!)

I’ve been hard at work on yet another round of revisions on my YA Contemporary, including one tricky little scene that is just refusing to come together for me (I think my crit partners have pointed me in the right direction now).

Still busy on edits on my MG Fantasy, as well as critiquing my partners’ work in turn.

And on top of that, I’m plotting away at a new YA Contemporary, inspired in part by last week’s #MeToo post, which I hope to write for NaNo instead of the Fairy Tale re-telling I had originally planned (just not sure the world needs another Cinderella story at the moment, although it may still come one day.)

Well, that’s how I’m keeping busy, what are you up to? Let me know in the comments.

#MeToo

Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault & Harassment 

The MeToo movement has been around for ten years, started by a black woman named Tarana Burke (more info can be found here), but I didn’t hear about it until this week when Alyssa Milano wrote on social media, “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too.’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

Within a day, those words echoed throughout my timeline, in a way that was somehow simultaneously horrifying, traumatizing, and comforting. Horrifying: to know that so many others had suffered the same way I had. Traumatizing: as many of their stories made me re-live my own experiences. Comforting: to know it wasn’t something I did, some inherent failure in my person that caused these things to happen to me.

So here, if you can stomach it, is my list of some of the worst times I’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted. (I know many women have had worse experiences than these, I feel like mine are kind of “average,” which in a way makes this even grosser.) I’ve never had the nerve to report any of them, except the first incident, which quickly taught me how rigged the system is against the victim.:

  • Age 10 or 11 : boys at school started a butt-pinching & pu**y-grabbing game called “squeaking.” (You can read that whole story here)
  • Age 12: multiple incidents of walking to the corner store or grocery stroe alone and being cat-called or honked at, often by men older than my father.
  • Age 14: was followed home and groped by a 12-year-old kid I’d gone to elementary school with. I tried to physically fight him off, but he was stronger than me. I only got away when I announced his full name loudly and told him I was going home to call the cops on him.
  • Age 15: the 17-year-old playing my boyfriend in our community theatre insisted on “realism” by groping me during every performance (there was a part where I got to hit him in the play, and I regularly put my all into it). Same production, at the opening night party the musical director cornered me and told me I was so beautiful he was missing his cues, he spent all his time staring at me.
  • Age 16: creepy old doctor insists I take my shirt off so he can use his stethoscope “properly.” I’m there for a busted ankle.
  • Age 17: a teacher (I wasn’t in any of his classes, thankfully) started flirting with me/hitting on me so hard, I was scared to go to the caf on the weeks he was on lunch duty.
  • Age 18: a boy on  my co-ed softball league knocked me down (accidentally-ish) hard enough to knock me out and cause my first concussion. He then told everyone he “took me out” and I “went down” for him.
  • Also age 18: I worked in a donut shop at the intersection of two highways. It was well known that the place was always staffed at night by a lone teenage girl. Guys would come and sit for hours in the shop, hitting on me, staring at me. I was terrified one day one of them would go farther. On the worst nights, I’d call friends and family to come and sit in the shop during my shift, and bribe them with free donuts. When they came, the guy(s) would leave immediately. I stopped taking evening shifts.
  • Age 19: A friend’s dad got drunk at a wedding and grabbed me and kissed me.
  • Also Age 19: a manager at my job who was always making lewd remarks called me and another girl in to the office to show off his birthday cake. It was an erotic cake.
  • Also also age 19: went to Montreal with my English-only-speaking grandmother. Taxi drivers would hit on me in French, say lewd things. To this day, I don’t take taxis unless there’s no other way/other people in the car.
  • Age 20: I invited a date over to watch a movie. We started kissing. He pinned me down and wouldn’t stop. I finally got him to stop, but then he wouldn’t leave my house. I locked myself in my room with a chair under my doorknob and didn’t sleep. The next day he walked me to work (where we both worked) and implied to everyone we’d slept together.
  • Age 21: I got sent across the country to help train new store staff, with a manager and a male co-worker. We stayed at a B&B. The manager spent the whole week pressuring me for sex (“It’s just sex. Loosen up.”), even in front of my co-worker. I quit shortly after we got back to our town.

There are more that I can’t even bring myself to write. And others I’m not sure are worth the energy (the dozens of times complete strangers have rubbed themselves against me in bars/clubs/buses, for example. Or the (again) complete strangers that start by striking up a “friendly” conversation, that turns into a compliments session, that turns into angry name-calling if you won’t give out your phone number/agree to a date.)

I don’t have any good solutions, except that maybe if people start to realize how pervasive the problem is, we as a society can start to effect a change (but also, if you can’t bring yourself to post #MeToo because of the trauma involved, that’s cool too. Everyone needs to do what’s best for their own health).

For my part, I’ve already started teaching my kids (male and female) about consent and respecting boundaries so we have a basis for future lessons. My greatest wish is that my kids never have a #MeToo status to post.

The Green Eyed Monster Rears Its Head

The past few weeks, my timeline has been filled with good news from friends and writing idols: book sales, book launches, awards, movie deals, interviews, and celebrity encounters, among other things. It feels like everyone I know (and lots of people I don’t know) have exciting book news to announce. And I’m super happy for their successes. I’m glad they’re getting the attention they (and their books) deserve.

But…

Deep down inside there’s this little tiny part that wonders, When will it be my turn? and What if I’m just not as good as them?

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by those kinds of doubts. To let Imposter Syndrome convince you you’re the last person who should be writing. I think it’s part of the reason that, while my MG revisions have been slow, my YA draft is non-existent. (“I just need to plot some more,” I say everyday, even though I’ve already filled one whole notebook.)

(Of course another reason is probably the unending headaches – it’s hard to concentrate enough to draft when your head feels like it’s being crushed – but it’s more than just the pain stopping me.)

So what can I do about it? Well, pretty much I just need to snap out of my funk. Suck it up and get over myself. Other people’s victories don’t take anything away from me – if anything they open up more opportunities for the future.

Instead of focussing on all the things outside of my own control, I need to concentrate on things I can control: like writing the next book.

What about you? Have you faced down the green-eyed monster? Have any tricks for beating it you’d like to share? Put them in the comments.