Getting Around To It Versus Making Time

Friday, October 16, 2015
Last year I wanted to post about my favorite reads of 2014. I didn't get around to it. At the time,  I was dealing with the tail-end of the holidays, a deadline for a book hanging over my head, my mom visiting from Virginia, and all the cooking and baking I tend to do around that time of the year. Once the holidays were over, I intended to finish my current WIP.

In theory.

In real life, I had edits, an opportunity to hunt for and create some fantastic extras in my book, the day job, my dad went in for a minor surgery, helping my mom back and move cross-country (which took an entire month), and other life events.

Sure, I worked on the super secret WIP, when I got around to it. I intended to finish the book in June. When it didn't happen I pushed it to July. The cycle went on and on. Now, here we are, in the middle of October, and I'm still pounding away at the keys.

Making time for things isn't easy.

Which is why I've decided to start holding myself accountable, making time to work instead of getting around to it.

I have a schedule in which I can write, truly have the time and freedom to throw myself into the story, three days out of the week. The days I work, I still try to make time, though some days I'm too exhausted to even look at a screen. I do allow myself some leniency, otherwise I'll get too down on myself and fall into a week-long (or month-long) funk and won't write a word

Keeping a record of what exactly I've done on each day (writing, plotting, researching, questioning previous choices--which, let's be honest takes 40% of my time anyway) has been the key to keeping me on track. I'm using a monthly planner with enough space to list all my daily activities. On the plus side it's also helping me get a bit more exercise in.

My progress is still slow, but I'm noticing an increase in quality over quantity, especially since I've just finished re-plotting the last portion of the book. For the forth time. It's a complex book with a lot of moving pieces and a huge world I've had to create over time.

Currently, the book is sitting at 54,229 words. It is completely plotted out. At my best guess, it should come in at around 80k when I'm done. I haven't set another deadline for myself. As long as I'm making time to write and putting in my very best, I know this book will get done. I'm already so very happy with it, how different it is from anything I've ever written before, and how much I've grown as a writer.

Am I hoping to have a completed draft before the end of the year? Heck yeah I am, but I won't put that kind of pressure on myself, not now and not with this book. Why, you may be asking yourself. Because I, along with so many others, suffer from depression. It's a daily struggle. I have good days and bad days, just like everyone. The bad days weigh more heavily on those with depression, even the good days can feel like slogging through the deepest ink black cave. I find if I'm comparing myself to others, telling myself my work isn't good enough, worrying if somewhere a book like mine has already been published leaving no room in the market for the super secret project, I can sink way, way down into the muck.

I refuse to do that to myself anymore. Yes, there are going to be authors with better voices than mine, and books that are similar or better, and yes the book market is a treacherous and fickle place for the loves of our lives (our books), but I love what I do and I never intend to give it up. What I do intend is to keep learning and growing and delivering the best damn stories I have inside me. Another thing I intend to keep doing, is making time to write them.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post, as it hasn't been an easy one to write (or share). I appreciate you all.

Know When to Hold 'em, Know When to Fold 'em

Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Okay, so we've all heard that song, am I right? I mean, even an insurance company has a pretty funny commercial about it.

But this post isn't about the commercial, or even the song, really. This post is about when to walk away.

In between edits for a certain book I've been picking at, I have been working on rewriting a YA Fantasy I had in my "unfinished projects" drawer. It's basically a drawer where I keep my projects not yet ready for the real world. I was full of hope and moxie when I pulled that pile of papers from the drawer and let the light in. And I worked on it for around six months, give or take.

I must have re-read the book six to eight times in the last few months. There are some really great scenes and character breakthroughs in it, but on my last read, I discovered I was bored. Yes, bored. With my own book. It's the greatest fear of any writer.

Note: if you, the author, is bored, imagine how the readers will feel.

Wracking my brain to come up with a solution that wouldn't take another six months, I realized I needed a pair of fresh eyes on my book. Luckily, I have the best beta reader (and friend) who took the weekend to read it over and gave me her notes.

Now, I was expecting the worst, even asking my beta friend if I should scrap the book entirely. 

The weekend was over. The email pinged in my inbox. It was as I feared. My YA Fantasy was overworked, weighed down and stale. Her recommendation was to put it aside, get some distance, work on something else, and come back to it later, if I wanted.

As much as I had been expecting my world to completely crumble with sorrow and despair, I didn't. Yes, I may have shed a tear or two, even went through the bargaining stage of grief, but in the end, I took a day to come to grips with putting my precious (said in my best Golem voice) YA Fantasy to bed. It was a long day filled with too many unhealthy snacks, an even more unhealthy dose of Sex and The City reruns (I regret nothing), and rifling through my many "promising projects" folders and notebooks. It was a hard day, emotionally, but today I woke with a renewed sense of wonder and possibilities. And a plan.

Last year I wanted to have a completed book ready to submit to agents by the beginning of 2015. Things don't always work out the way we hope. The more I grow as a person (and an author), I've come to realize that we can't always control the outcome. Lately, I've become a more "rolling with the punches" person. Which I so didn't used to be. Part of rolling with the punches is not being stagnant or living in the past. I refuse to spend the next month stewing about how my YA Fantasy didn't work out.

Today I have rekindled a new romance with a YA sci-fi idea I've had for a while. Since I'm expecting things around my house to change drastically in the next month and a half (more on that later), I've also decided not to spend a bunch of time plotting this book. Well, not really. I have ideas, but nothing concrete. So, I'm tackling sci-fi and I'm doing it by the seat of my pants.

Time is ticking. I have a new book to write. I'm hoping it will be ready for editing by the beginning of April, but who knows?

Trying something different is the best way to broaden your horizons. Really, it's the best slump-buster that I've found. What are some of your favorite ways to pull yourself out of a bad time? Have any of you ever dealt with having to put a project aside for one reason or another? You know how I love to hear from guys. :)