Nancy: April Recap – All Is Not Lost

goals for writing conferences, justine covington, eight ladies writing, setting goals, SMART goals, S.M.A.R.T.

If you read my first post of 2015, you know I promised monthly writing status reports. And if you’re very astute (and I know our blog readers are!), you might have noticed I didn’t give my April status report this past Monday, when it was ‘due’, as I continue my series on series. So today, I thought I’d drop in and hijack the post share the pain and progress that made up my writing life in April.

As I wrote in my March recap, March was a writing bust for me. I wrote at a snail’s pace, and many of the words I did get on the page didn’t work for my stories. Blame the long, frigid, snowmageddon winter, or story burnout from unrealistic expectations, or poor attention span, or all of the above – regardless of the cause, the result was so bad that I had to dub April the month of the Phoenix in the hopes I’d rise from the ashes of crap writing I’d done in March.

So, about that Phoenix…Turns out, it was kind of small and mangy (do birds get mange?). It needed another month to gestate. Despite joining Camp NaNoWriMo in an effort to just get my butt in the chair to write, I probably wrote fewer words in April than I did in March. I couldn’t even bring myself to share my final word count with my camp ‘cabin mates’. But as it turns out, that poor word count wasn’t such a bad thing, because the words I did get on the page suddenly started working for my story.

Progress! Minor, gut-wrenching, hand-wringing, blood-sweat-and-tears-to-get-there progress, but at least I’m moving forward! And while word quantity is fine and great and gives us a gee-whizbangy feeling for a few hours, it’s not the goal of writing, at least not for me and, I’m sure, the other Ladies here on the blog. The goal is to tell our stories in the best, most compelling, highest-quality way we can. And for that? April was awesome.

I identified the Great Big Problem in book 1 of my historical series. It was the heroine’s goal. (Of course it was. If ever you are banging your head on the desk, trying to figure out where oh where your story went wrong, go back to the GMC.) I told myself I had a goal. A perfectly nice goal. She wanted to make a peaceful life for herself in the country. I even made it more specific. She wanted to move to her widowed aunt’s estate where she could live a peaceful life in the country. Yeah, nice try. It’s really just the flip side of wanting to get the hell out of London/away from the ton, and that, my friends, is a negative goal. And as Jenny Crusie would tell you (paraphrasing here), a negative goal is a no-no!

So my heroine needed a positive goal. I went back to my series bible to check the goals of the other heroines and found, as I’d suspected I might, that she wasn’t alone. Two of the remaining four heroines of the series had positive, honest-to-god goals. The other two (including the one in book 2, of which I have half of the first draft completed!), not so much. But now? Goals! We have goals, people! Solid, positive, feminist and forward-thinking-for-their-time goals! Can you tell by all the exclamation points how excited I am about positive goals!?!

That’s not the only progress I made in April. On the business side of things, I did a lot of research on agents, small presses, and indie publishing. I’ve laid out a path for different books I’ve written and plan to write. And I’ve gotten back into the manuscript submission game, choosing the first five agents to target with My Girls. Now, like my heroines, I have solid, positive goals!

In the end, April turned out to be a pretty hard slog. But toughing through it got me to May, and already my efforts are paying off. In the first week of this month, I’ve written more than I did in the entire month of March. And while I reserve the right to change my mind during editing, for now, these words sound damn good! I’ve also worked on discovery, plotting, and playlists for two future, non-series related books.

Writing on the Patio

I’m feeling more creative now than at any other time in 2015. And to top it all off, most days this month the weather has been perfect for writing outside on the new patio!

How is your creativity doing these days? Has the change in weather (for those who suffered through the harsh winter) made a difference for you? Had any breakthroughs lately on your WIP?

6 thoughts on “Nancy: April Recap – All Is Not Lost

  1. Is that your new patio? Gorgeous! What an incentive to get out there every day and enjoy the weather and your new character goals!

    I had a breakthrough of sorts the other day as I was revising away. I’m supposed to exchange pages with my critique partner for a meeting next week, and I’m looking at my first chapter—yes, my first chapter, which I’ve read 10,000 times already—and I see that on the very first page, my heroine finishes lunch and chases the bad guys out to the automobile factory, where the employees are…just getting to work early in the morning. I kid you not. And time travel has nothing to do with this book, except in my sorry lack of noticing that my opening two scenes aren’t timed right. Argh! But I’m chugging along. Feeling like an idiot, but chugging.

    • That is the new patio! That picture is a few weeks old, though, so it doesn’t show all the leaves on the trees, which make sitting on it feel like being in a treehouse :-). I’ll have to take a new picture soon and post it on FB.

      I’m glad you found your heroine’s inadvertent time-traveling ability so you can remove it from her (or, you know, write a time travel!). It’s amazing the things our brains just do not catch in out own writing. That’s one of the reasons critique partners and beta readers are such godsends – they save us from ourselves and our own blindness about our stories!

  2. What a nice patio! And look at that lovely haze of new leaf in the background . . . . (-: Step one is finding a place where you can think and write, and that looks like a lovely option.

    I’m dealing with timeline stuff in my book, too. I’ve spent some time the last couple of days compiling weather reports from period papers to cover the week, and got to Friday . . . and am disturbed to find that so far, the peak of the cold weather seems to have been Friday. I need it to happen on Tuesday or Wednesday . . . although, I vaguely remember a theater closing on Tuesday because of the cold, so maybe the “weather forecasts” are optimistic, and there’s more surprise bad weather on the way.

    (-: Because, you know, that happens even in 2015. I swear, my local forecaster are rolling dice sometimes. At least the weather has been fairly nice, even if the forecasts are inaccurate.

    • Even with all our newfangled weather tracking technology, Mother Nature definitely still has surprises up her sleeve. Also, if you told us Tuesday xx day of 1899 (?) was the peak of the cold in your story world, we’d believe you ;-).

  3. Yay! for progress and for carrying the momentum into May. Getting your characters’ goals locked down can really make a difference. My own heroine had a “goal-upgrade” recently and it has really helped get some sloggy parts of the story moving again.

    • It’s amazing how important strong goals are, isn’t it? I’m still hammering out the details of the goal of book 1’s heroine (and it will require some research), but now I can see there was actually built-in motivation for her goal already lurking around the plot and now it’s starting to click. So the Girls in the Basement seem to have known this all along. I think they just enjoy messing with me.

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