Half Year Review

Over the last couple of months I’ve found my writing Mojo and the words have come a lot easier then they have been over the last couple of years. March was the turning point and hopefully this momentum I’ve found will stay with me for a good long while yet. I haven’t found the holy grail or anything like that though, it’s not that simple. I had a two year long relationship end and I started to interact with my local NaNoWriMo comrades. I also, finally, committed to buying an iMac and Scrivener. ¬†All of these together has helped me get my arse in the chair and get the words written, the sprints with the Wrimos have been especially helpful.

So what have I got done in that time? I finally have a completed 1st draft of my vampire collection (I literally wrote the last words of it two hours ago). About 25,000 words of which was written about five years ago and I’ve now more then doubled that number and have something that I think is pretty good. The next stage for this is to re-pen it, make those changes and then it’s off to Beta readers.

Here’s a break down of my word counts for the last six months:

January: 3176

February: 4315

March: 8023

April: 4671

May: 10,115

June: 28,013

Total: 58,313

As you can see June was a mammoth month for me, my best non-NaNoWriMo month I’ve had so far. One day in particular I knocked out about 7500 words.

This is what I’ve been trying to do for a couple of years now, finding the momentum and determination to get these things done, get these stories out of my head. Now it feels like the cloud that was suppressing my ability to write is gone. So I’m going to take advantage of it and try to get as much done as I can.

As for the next six months, well I’m just going to try and keep doing what I’ve been doing. Word count wise I would like to beat 105,000 words I wrote last year, but if I don’t I won’t loose any sleep over it. Aside from NaNoWriMo I won’t be doing any new fiction this year. Once this Vampire series is done I’ll move onto and clean up two short stories I’ve got. There’s another short story I’ve got that I want to look at and see what I can do with it. Then it’s the turn of Earth, After Liberation. These plans may get changed depending on Owen’s (Project Apollo) and Chrystalyn’s (The Residents) schedules.

Now I’m off to write and research a blog post or two ūüôā

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Finding My Focus Again

Writing of late has not been easy. I’m struggling to get the words down and when I do I’m not happy with them. For a while now I’ve felt that I have lost something, something that was allowing me to put a story together seems to have been lost and I don’t know how I can get it back. I don’t know if it’s where I’m writing stories which are more complicated then I’m able to write or if it’s a case that my head isn’t in the right place to concentrate enough to¬†put the words together in the¬†right order and have a good story there once I’ve written the final word.

Maybe its even how I’m sitting and the environment around me. On Sunday ¬†(30-3-12) I was sitting at my desk all day and the words just would not come, and when they did they were really badly put together (probably much like how this blog post is). The last two nights (around a family meal out and a cinema trip) I’ve been writing with the laptop on my lap as I sit on my bed and the words have flowed a little easier.

I don’t know if its a lack of preparation that isn’t helping. When Chrystalyn and I are brainstorming for The Residents we’re going into a new level of detail that I have not even come close to thinking of till now. This is something that I need to transfer over to when Owen and I are working because knowing the details will help¬†make putting the story together a whole lot easier I think.

With short stories I think I can get away with just writing and not having much of a plan but with anything over the 15k mark I think I need to learn how to plan it out and do all the research I may need to fill in the details that may come up in the story before I start writing.

I’m hoping that all of this will help in getting to a point where I can put a story together. I don’t know why over the last year or so I’ve been unable to get a story completed properly, it has felt like something in my head has broken or a skill been lost somewhere¬†and¬†I need to rediscover it. I’ll have time to try and find it though, Tracie and I ended our relationship last month, so I’m going to properly throw myself into my writing over the next few months. I’ve got Project Apollo with Owen and The Residents with Chrystalyn as my main focus points at the moment and maybe ten short stories that just need tidying up. I’d like to get back on Earth, After Liberation by the end of the year as well, but I’m not going to try and load myself up to much. I’m going to take each story as I go.

It feels like its been a long time since I’ve had the focus that I need to have for this. No more letting Facebook or Twitter distract me, it’s time to find my focus again.

This Weeks Goals

I am going to keep my goals simple for the time being so this week I am going to focus on getting Project Peregrine typed up and off to Owen for his thoughts on it. No matter what he says nothing will be happening with this one for at least 18 months. When we sat down last weekend we done a by rough plan of action and for our joint work we are gong to focus on Project Apollo and all the stories around it.

Some of that work will be worked on this week as well. I have a couple of synopsis to write and I’ve got to work on a few timelines with this universe as well. I need to check up in how Owen is progressing with the detailed plotting of the final chapters of Apollo.

Getting Project Peregrine typed up is not a huge priority in the grand scale of things, as I said we won’t do anything with it for a long time yet, but once it’s typed up and we both have a copy we can look at it when we want.

These goals are very loose, I’ve tried sticking to goals before and it has not gone well. I’ve been quite motivated recently because I haven’t put too much pressure on myself and I really want to start getting some work out there ūüôā

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Get Sh*t Done Month

August is my get sh*t done month. I’m aiming to get the 1st draft of Project Apollo done and off to Owen and I want to have a short story, that’s all but done, ready to be sent off to the sci-fi magazines.

How easy is this going to be to achieve? That depends on a couple of things. The day job is a big one. This time of year my day job (valeter at a car sales) is quite demanding on the body. This glorious summer we are having here in the U.K. is awesome but it does sap ones energy when working a physically demanding job and at the moment we are busy. Which is absolutely great but it takes more of the body’s strength. Yesterday was a prime example, although not to warm I had a lot to do so come the evening when I got home I just could not get going with the words. So I got an early night and despite a few non-work related hiccups today I’ve got home and knocked out over 1100 words tonight *does a little dance* That’s the most words I have written in one day for a long time, and it feels good ūüėÄ

I’d also like to get back into a bit of reading this month as well. The last two books I have read have been amazing (Redshirts by John Scalzi & Blood In The Past by Jordanna East) so I was more then a little anxious at the prospect of starting a new novel. So I read more of Judge Dredd Vol. 1 but now its time to dive into a novel again and I’ve chosen The Drawing Of The Three (The Dark Tower Book 2) by Stephen King.

So that’s the plan, lets see how much of it I actually get done!

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Pantser To Plotter

I’ve¬†always considered myself a pantser, or organic, or discovery writer.¬† It’s something that I’ve always thought was part of my artistic flair.¬† It does not work for me though.¬† I start off at a sprint, then ease off a little and then just sit by the side of the track and try to prevent a severe asthma attack.¬† I did a little planning for NaNo this year and those early parts that I did have notes written down for were a lot easier to write then the later parts that I was writing by the seat of my pants.

In the next year or so a lot of my writing related work will be editing and tidying up stories that are already completed so I will not be doing much new writing.  So I am going to try to perfect planning these stories that are playing out in my head.  I do not want to lose these ideas because I am not writing so writing it all down and working on the planning over time will hopefully put the story firmer in my head then now and my ability to write all my thoughts down and put them into a cohesive plan will grow over time.

This is something that I have to learn to do to become better at creating these stories and finishing them.¬† So often i¬†will have an idea and just start writing and after a few thousand words I lose¬†all my momentum or I have a better idea of where to take the story and I lose¬†interest¬†because I don’t want to go back and delete much of the work and all but start again.

A Look Ahead

This week is going to be a bad one for writing.¬† Christmas is now only a week away and I have presents to wrap, cards to write out and general bits and pieces to do, don’t¬†we all?¬† So this week I am aiming to get my read through of Avoiding The Game done and get some bullet points written up of what I need to do.¬† At the moment it is very much the bare bones of the story and there is a lot¬†I want to add which will build the story.¬† It started off as a story¬†where we followed one person as he made a home for himself thinking he was the only man alive.¬† It’s altered a lot and the more that I have thought about it the more I want to add.¬† The most annoying thing as well is I am having a lot of good ideas on another story.¬† We still have Project Apollo and The Space Watch (Project Delphi)¬†to wrap up.¬† Apollo is further off at the moment, and my Vampire series………damn a lot of things to get done.¬† This is why I do not plan on getting much fresh fiction started in the next few months, okay year.

I’ll admit not much writing related work is getting done at the moment.¬† I have real world things that have come up which kind of knocked me off my pace for longer then I realised.¬† The gears are turning in my head though, just need to get that discipline back.

A Successful Defeat

I’ve just passed the¬†twenty thousand word mark on NaNoWriMo, which unless I knock out thirty thousand words in the next few days, I’m not going to achieve NaNo’s 50k or even my own personal 40k target but I’m not too disappointed.¬† I’ve learnt a lot from NaNo this year and is that not one of the things that NaNo is all about, becoming¬†a better writer and not just knocking out words.¬† I know the idea is to train us writers to just write, write, write and forget editing till later, but if I can’t¬†take away the¬†continual writing I think¬†taking the lessons that I have learnt this year is more than acceptable.

One of the¬†biggest lessons that I¬†have learnt is that for me planning does work.¬† The first few chapters of NaNo were very easy to write and those are the ones that I had a rough plan scribbled down for.¬† Also I’ve learnt¬†a little about chapter structure and pacing.¬† Getting the right pace is important and I think I have made a right mess of it here but I know¬†that I have made a right mess of it.¬† So when me and Owen look at what I have done we know the pacing needs attention.

Sub-plots is another area I need to focus on.¬† I seem to just write fast with the¬†main plot line and forget about the sub-plots.¬† In this story we have a lot of universe building in these sub-plots as well as the¬†odd thing that we are putting in for later stories, don’t worry I wont leave a huge cliffhanger anywhere ūüėČ

I know that there is more I have learnt from NaNo this year but my mind likes to withhold things like this so I’ll think through it for a few days and get a clearer picture of what I need to do to keep improving as a writer.