Michille: Write (dangit). Just Write

typewriter-004I recently broke down a barrier to my writing that helps me get words on the page. The barrier was related to all the learning about the craft of writing and what makes good fiction (good scenes, characters, conflict, bodies in motion, character arc, plot arc, etc.). And facing NaNoWriMO. I felt like I couldn’t sit down to write a scene until I had it all that worked out.

And that’s not true. The Girls don’t care about all that. They care about Sarah and Finch and the nefarious council members who are handing out contracts without bidding them (anyone in public service, contracts, grants, gets the visceral bad mojo on ‘lack of competitive bidding’ that auditors harp on). Continue reading

Nancy: January Recap

One January 2015 project that did get completed: our patio.

One January 2015 project that did get completed: our patio.

This side patio connects to the back patio shown in the top picture.

This side patio connects to the back patio shown in the top picture.

As hard as it is to believe, the month of January has already passed! That means roughly one-twelfth of my word count/annual writing goals should be behind me. Now it’s time to address step 3 of my 3-step writing plan, which is to assess my writing progress against my goals at the end of each month. I’d like to say I’m starting off the year with a great big ‘Success!’ banner hanging in my office, but the truth is, the January results are mixed.

First, the good news. I did ‘touch the story’ every single day. If I wasn’t adding (or in many cases, subtracting) words, I was working through plot issues or building playlists or engaging in discovery for not only book 1 of my planned historical romance series, but for the other books and series as a whole, as well. And it really has helped. I’m spotting plot holes and fatal flaws much earlier in this draft than in other first draft I’ve done.

Keeping a running scene inventory of what I’ve written and what I still have left to write has allowed me to move, add, and delete scenes as needed to fix those problems. And boy, howdy, has this book (already!) had its problems. From a heroine who had a goal then promptly forgot after about page 5, to a h/h who lacked sexual chemistry Continue reading

Elizabeth: Writing is not my Day Job

iStock_000021963294LargeWhile some of the Ladies here on the blog are fortunate enough to be able to write full time, writing is not my day job. I have a full-time day job that keeps me busy five days a week, fifty-two weeks a year (minus some vacation time here and there). I have a team to manage, high-visibility projects to keep on-track and deliver on-time, and a time-consuming commute, which only leaves nights and weekends free for all of the non-work things I want to do. Writing has to battle with the gym and the laundry and a host of other activities for the time, and it doesn’t always win out. Not surprisingly, the result is that progress on my WIP has been disappointingly slow. This has become even more frustrating as one by one, the other Ladies here are finishing their drafts.

That’s why this week, writing IS my day job. Continue reading

Nancy: NaNoWriMo: Midset Break Edition

High-Intensity Workout

In the workout/weight training/athletics world, there is a concept called the midset break. To understand what that is, you first need to know the definition of a set, which is doing the same exercise for a defined number of times, or repetitions (reps for short). From that, you can probably decipher that a midset break is, in fact, a break you take in the middle of a set.

So let’s say I’m doing a set of bicep curls with a 20-lb weight, and for that set, I plan to do 15 reps, so I’m going to curl that weight 15 times. But around curl number 8 or 10 or 12, my arm is hurting, my muscles are burning, and if I push it to 15, my form is likely to suffer and I’ll do something stupid like hurt myself.

At this point, I have some options. Continue reading

Nancy: Interval Training for Creativity

High-Intensity Workout

The early months of 2014 were not ideal fitness months for me. I wasn’t working out as regularly or intensively as I should have been. For the summer, I’ve made a commitment to get myself back into physical shape, which includes using interval training.

Interval training involves adding periods of higher  intensity at certain points throughout a workout. For example, runners might run at a measured pace for fifteen-minute intervals, run at top speed for two minutes, then return to their trotting pace for another fifteen minutes, etc. Weight lifters might alternate between heavier and lighter weights, and add extra repetitions for certain exercises to push their muscles to the limit for brief periods of time.

Since I am also working on toning up my flabby creative muscles this summer, this past week I experimented with applying interval training to my writing sessions. Continue reading

Kay: Adding Words

Image courtesy of the Creative Commons

Image courtesy of the Creative Commons

Back when we were talking about writing retreats, Elizabeth mentioned taking a “staycation” during which she’d written 12,000 words. I go on vacation almost every year with my cousin, during which she reads and I write, and I decided I’d use Elizabeth’s results for my goal. I’m usually very productive on this trip; I was looking forward to getting to within a few billion keystrokes of “The end.”

I so didn’t even get close. After a week, I’d written 2,500 words—fewer than when I stay home and work at my day job. In the two weeks since, while I visit my mother, I’ve written maybe another 7,000.

Continue reading

Michille: I. Must. Write

NotebookI. Must. Write.

And I haven’t been. I am stuck on a scene that comes next in the story and it is pivotal so I don’t want to go around it because it will set the course of the second half of the story. Some of the second half of the story is already written, but the dynamic of the two main characters will be determined by this scene. I also don’t want to toss this manuscript aside and start on the next one that is hammering at my brain. That feels like quitting. But not writing is certainly a form of quitting. Continue reading

Michaeline: New Year Prep

Two Japanese men pounding rice cakes.

Pounding out the details for a Happy New Year.

Today, my family is getting ready to pound mochi and clean the house from top to bottom in preparation for the Japanese New Year on Wednesday. And I’ve been getting ready for a fresh start in my writing career this past month, too.

Obsessed is more like it – I’ve decided that what I really, really need is a word count meter to help keep me on track with my writing goals. I loved using the one at the National Novel Writing Month site, but that’s only available during November.

After much thought and hours on the Internet (that could have been spent writing!!), I think the best approach for most people is Continue reading

Nancy: Making the Cut

Act II Edited Page

Last week, I wrote this post about finding out that Act II of my WIP had gotten away from me and ended up at 41k words, about 8k-10k more words than my target for the act. The length of acts is important for pacing, tension, and keeping the story moving. The prospect of cutting a quarter of the words out of this one before handing it in for a critique seemed daunting.

This week, I can report that I have tamed the beast! At least for first draft purposes. My target was to get down to 35k words or less. After my edits, I made it to just over 34k. I had to ‘kill some of my darlings’ along the way, not the least of which was a scene that I actually kind of loved. Continue reading

Nancy: I’ve Said Too Much

A Chatty Muse

The ladies who are in the McDaniel workshop classes this semester have a big assignment coming up. By next Sunday night at midnight, we have to turn in Act 2 of our respective WIPs. For me, the good news is, thanks to NaNoWriMo and the fact that I’ve been working on this project forever and a day, I have a completed Act 2 (I am, in fact, close to writing the end of the story.). The bad news is, when I assembled my Act 2 scenes on Saturday, I discovered that I had run a little long. How long? Well, my goal for the Act was 30,000 words. My actual word count currently stands at over 41,500.

You might ask if the length of the act really matters. The truth is, in the first draft, it usually doesn’t. Continue reading