Tag Archives: 100 words

Exciting Writing

I’ve had a much more successful week this week. Finally. I’m on Day 37 of the 100 Words for 100 Days Challenge, and seem to be slipping into a better routine/habit with my writing. Part of that may be because I’m starting to get to the “interesting” part of my novel. Which is not to say the rest hasn’t been interesting. It has. I’ve had goblins, and enchantments, and guns, and a clumsy PI. But now that I’m in the meat of the novel, I’m building towards my first magical fight.

Quick side-question: According to my husband, magic has to be “flashy” to be interesting. He grew up on Magic Missiles and Fireballs, and then transitioned to Dresden’s blasting rod, so I know the kind of “flashy” he means. But I tend towards a more subtle type of magic in my stories — cursed items, disguise spells, “charm person” enchantments and the like. What do you think? How much flash do you expect out of Urban Fantasy magic?

I’ve done some editting of my first draft this week (I’m sure I wrote something recently about the importance of not doing that!) and so lost word count when I hacked and slashed some pointless prose, but I’ve still finished 1900 words up on last week. It may not be 5000 a week, but I’m doing a heck of a lot better than I have been lately!

I had four people volunteer to read my short story last week, and have had two people come back to me with their thoughts and feedback so far. They’ve both been a great help, and I’m looking forward to getting all the feedback in so I can get started on some reworking. Yay for feedback! I also wrote another flash fiction story for Chuck Wendig’s weekly competition.

And in further excitement, I’ve booked my tickets for the Brisbane Writer’s Festival this year. I’m so excited. This will actually be my first time going to the festival, and I’m already counting the sleeps. (Only 23 to go!) For anyone interested, I’m attending a couple of workshops/masterclasses (The Australian Writer’s Marketplace Industry Masterclass and Tell Me a Story: How to Find Your Voice) as well as 4 ticketed sessions and 1 free session. I can’t wait!

I’ve also been thinking about Writing Retreats after hearing about Laura Stanfill‘s recent expedition, and wondering about the wisdom of partaking in one myself. Would it be a valuable chance for me to focus on my novel? Or is leaving my husband and two boys alone for an extended period of time (ie. more then 6 hours) just a recipe for disaster? So far, I’m undecided.

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Productive Procrastination and Subjectivity

My weekly writing wrap-up is 12 hours late. I know. But it’s still Wednesday, so I figure it’s not all bad. Besides, I’ve been busy… Okay, I don’t have any good excuses. Or even mediocre excuses. Mostly, I’ve got the kind of excuses that really add up to procrastination. But it’s all been completely justifiable, productive procrastination. Really.

This week, I was insanely excited to be the winner of Chuck Wendig‘s Friday Flash Fiction competition, with my story Wish You Were Here. The prize was one of Chuck’s ebooks, and I chose Confessions of a Freelance Penmonkey. I’ve been procrastinating reading it for much of the week, and getting a lot out of it. If you haven’t read any/much of Chuck’s website, I’d highly recommend either diving headlong into his past posts, or picking up a copy of this book. It’s full of epic win. Oh, and drop by and read the other stories from this competition. It’s well worth it.

Of course, the euphoria of being the winner quickly transformed into a dire need to produce another good story for this week’s Flash Fiction Comp, the theme of which is: That poor, poor protagonist. If not a better story, then certainly one of comparable quality. Or at least one that doesn’t completely suck. And so I’ve spent far more time working on this piece of flash than I have my actual WIP.

Hmmm… That wasn’t really the idea. But… reading about writing… writing short stories… they’re both productive. So they’re not really procrastination. Right? Maybe?

So, long story short, (“Too late!”) I didn’t actually add a lot of word count to my novel this week. In fact, I only added *cringe* 600 words. But I DID write every day (even if 3 of those days were working on my Flash Fiction), so I’m now up to day 30 of my 100 Words Challenge.

In other writing news, I have been inspired by Stephen Watkins to enter a story into this quarter’s Writers of the Future competition. I’ve been editing and re-editing the story over the last two weeks. I’d love to have four or five people read it and give me some feedback/critique on it. If you’d be interested, please let me know.

I’ve spent much of this week thinking about the reaction that we get from others when they read our work. I put forward this statement:

Writing is Art. Art is subjective.

As I mentioned last week, I had a story receive an honourable mention in the recent Stringybark Speculative Fiction Award, and it was thusly published in an anthology. I requested feedback on the story, and received it this week. Part of the feedback was that of the three judges, two really liked my story (and rated it quite highly), but the third didn’t like it and didn’t want it published because s/he didn’t think it was new or different, and “nothing much happened”.

Subjectivity.

There’s absolutely nothing I could have changed about my writing that would have made that judge rank my story any higher. S/he didn’t like the story. Not because it was badly written, or because the writing was weak,  but because s/he thought the idea had been done before. And probably done better. The other judges thought that my storytelling made an “old” idea fresh and interesting. This judge didn’t want to read another story about time/space portals.

Subjectivity.

Now, it would be really easy to get upset, to yell and scream, to complain that you can’t judge the merits of a story on what you do or don’t like. But… Really? Everyone does. Why should a writing competition be any different to a fiction market, or an agent, or a publisher? Or, for that matter, a reader?

John Steinbeck is, by all accounts, an amazing writer. But I don’t like his books. I really don’t like them. I wouldn’t spend money on them. If I was a publisher, I wouldn’t have published them. On the other hand, look at Stephanie Meyer. Her “merits as a writer” are far and few between, but she has a huge following because people like her books. They like the stories, regardless of her writing ability.

Subjectivity.

And, you know what? I think that’s okay.

What do you think?

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Writing, Blogging, and Wearing Pants

Some weeks seem to go on forever, stretching like a piece of hot mozzarella. Others… Well, I’m not quite sure where the last seven days went. It doesn’t seem like I should be writing another writing wrap-up yet. But my calendar says its Wednesday, and who am I to argue? (If for no other reason than because the calendar is much better at stony silence than I am.)

I’m pleased to say that I’m now on day 16 of my 100 Words for 100 Days challenge. This week I wrote 1000 wordson my WIP, whic brought me to the end of chapter 2, and a good way through chapter 3. I’m also back to writing “new stuff”, which is super-double-exciting (as my 4-year-old would say). I’m really enjoying my writing, and am looking forward to continuing to nail those words to the page.

If you were reading last week, you may remember that I was a bit disappointed in myself when I only wrote 900 words for the week. A couple of people pointed out that I shouldn’t be disappointed when I’d succeeded in reaching my goal, and that set me to thinking.

What is my goal?

100 Words for 100 Days is great. It’s fantastic. It encourages me to write every day, rather than “saving up” for a couple of big writing days a week. And that’s why I started the challenge in the first place. (Which is why I can’t just “skip a day” and then continue with the challenge.) But writing 100 words every day doesn’t feel like much of an achievement. I want that 100 words to be the minimum acceptable level of writing, not the target.

That got me thinking about what I’m actually aiming for, and I was able to put it into words when I was talking with a great writing-buddy last Sunday. I’m going to put it out there now for everyone to see, and damn the torpedoes.

I want to finish the first draft of this novel by the end of October.

There are a multitude of reasons for this. (1) I also want to take part in NaNoWriMo this year, and it would be easier if I have finished this project and can move on to without guilt. (2) After NaNo, I will hopefully have achieved some emotional separation from this novel, and will be able to look at editing it in December. (3) At the beginning of the year, I said that I was going to take this year off work to concentrate on writing, so that I could prove to myself that I could make a career of it. (Alright, I was also having a baby, but let’s ignore that for the moment.) Finishing by the end of October gives me a better chance of doing so. (4) Because I damn well want to, and I’m just stubborn like that.

I still believe I can achieve this goal, but it means that I need to be writing almost 5000 words a week, not 1000. Something needs to change. A lot of somethings need to change. But the primary one is the amount of writing time I have on a daily basis.

My first thought was that I could save myself an hour or two every day if I sent my kids out to scavenge their own food on the streets, rather than spending all that time preparing, cooking, serving, and cleaning up dinner each night. But that seemed a little unfair. Especially since Baby can’t even crawl yet.

Instead, I’ve decided to cut back on blogging.

Up until now, I’ve been blogging every day. And loving it. But I can grant myself a bit extra time each week by cutting out a couple of posts, and I’ll still be posting 5 times a week. My new blogging schedule looks like this:

  • Monday: Monday’s Top 5 – A list of my 5 favourite posts from the blogosphere last week.
  • Tuesday: Flash Fiction – This may not happen every week, but will be a chance for me to stretch my storytelling muscles in a different direction, and share the results with you, my readers.
  • Wednesday: All things Writing – Incorporating my usual Wednesday Writing Wrap-Up and Friday’s Writing Thoughts.
  • Friday: Life As We Know It – Kids, Parenting, Opinions, and other Random Things.
  • Saturday: Books, Authors, and Other Geekery.

This is going to start as of ….. now. So wish me luck with writing rather than posting tomorrow!

In a mostly unrelated topic…

I don’t just spend my time writing long, rambling blog posts. I also spend it reading blogs. At last count, I was subscribed to just over 70 blogs through Google Reader. Of those 70, I’d hazard a guess that 50 are related to writing, writers, or publishing in some shape or form. So I read a lot of posts about how to write, how to edit, how to get an agent, how to get published, how to self-publish, etc. etc. etc. I also try to read as many of the comments other people post as possible.

Over the last week, I’ve become increasingly aware of how many people preface their comments with phrases like: “I’m a pantser, so I don’t…” or “I can’t do that, because I’m a planner…” or “Because I’m a pantser, I only….” or even “I’m part of the ‘planner’ club, and…”

Really? Because I don’t remember getting my secret decoder ring when I joined the panster club.

Now, I’m not saying that Pansters and Plotters don’t exist. But I didn’t think the two styles were so mutually exclusive that the skills of one don’t apply to the other. Nor did I think we were supposed to add our preferred style to the end of our name, like some kind of class designation. “Hello. I’m Jo Eberhardt – Panster Extraordinaire.”

(If there’s any non-writers still brave enough to be reading this, let me explain. Pansters sit and write by the “seat of their pants”, watching the story unfold as they do so. Plotters work out the plot first, often via a detailed outline, before they start to write.)

It’s easy to fall back on something like being a pantser or a plotter as a way of avoiding stepping outside our comfort zones. It’s not impossible to move from one camp to the other. It’s not impossible to use different styles for different projects. And while it may be helpful to understand your own preferred writing style, I don’t think it’s helpful to pigeon-hole yourself so tightly that you don’t expand your skill base.

What do you think?

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Weekly Wednesday Writing Wrap-Up 15

The good news: I’m well and truly back on the wagon/jeep of 100 Words for 100 Days. It’s Day 9 today, and I’m doin’ fine. Thanks to everyone for your support last week, and for sharing your own joys and woes.

The bad news: I only managed to add an extra 900 words to my WIP this week.

Okay, that’s not all that bad. That’s 900 words I didn’t have before, and I’ve only committed to 100 words a day. It’s also more time-consuming to rack up word count than normal, because I’m writing & editing chapters 2 & 3 after they went off in the wrong direction, so I take some comfort in that.

Plus, I’ve worked on revising a short story, and I also wrote the flash fiction piece Bite Me which I posted yesterday, and that took some of my writing time.

I’m feeling pretty happy with my writing at the moment, and just need to find some more time in which to do it! I’m also meeting up with my writing-buddy on Sunday, which gives me a good chance to drink coffee, talk writing, and swap critiques. Can’t wait!

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Weekly Wednesday Writing Wrap-Up 14

I have a confession to make. I’m not proud of it, but I’m going to stand here with my head held high and “tell the truth” (As my 4-year-old would say).

I fell off the 100 Words Wagon.

I know, I know. I got to day 32, and then… nothing. I didn’t write anything for a day. I sat in front of the computer, stared at the screen, and thought, “I just can’t do this today.” Then I went to bed. And I did this in the knowledge that I would have to start all over again at Day 1. I felt terrible, and went through a brief bout of I’m-a-terrible-writer-itis. But then I decided to give myself permission to suck for a few days, then get over myself and start again.

But the real question here is: why did it happen at all?

I could line up reasons for you. I’ve got lots of other stuff happening in my life right now. I’ve been sick. My boys have both been sick. I’ve been averaging 2 hours sleep a night for the last 5 nights. And although all of those things are true, none of them are accurate. At least, none of them accurately represent the reason that I stopped writing every day.

I finished Chapter 2 on Friday. I was so excited. Tick, done. It was a bit longer than I’d intended (coming in at about 6500 words), but I could cut it down a bit in editing. On Saturday, I sat down to write Chapter 3. Yeah! Let’s do this thing! I sat at my computer, and…. nothing.

No problem. Sometimes long-hand is the way to go. So I grabbed my pen and notebook, found a cozy spot on the couch, and…. nothing. I managed 3 words. And they were dreadful.

It took me a couple of days to really figure out the problem. You see, Chapter 2 was wrong. At least, it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. My protag did things that didn’t make sense, I had a huge info-dump poorly disguised as a conversation (It was wearing a false moustache and sunglasses. I still know that’s you, info-dump!), and the conversation itself didn’t even make sense for the characters involved–it only happened so I could get them to the relevant place in the plot.

Generally, I agree with Kirsten Lamb’s recent post about editing being the novel-killer when it comes to a first draft. I really do. (Okay, I mostly do.) But in this case, I seriously couldn’t keep writing until I figured out how to fix my problems. Because anything that I wrote after that point would be inherently flawed by me not knowing what had happened earlier. So I stopped writing all together.

The good news is that I have now figured out what I did wrong. (I don’t have to delete anything – I actually need to split those 6500 words into chapters 2 and 3, and add an extra 2000 odd words to each of them.) My inspiration and excitement is back. Writing is no longer a chore. And I’m back on the 100 Word Bandwagon. It’s just that, now, I’m on Day 2. But I’m on a HAPPY and PRODUCTIVE day 2, so you’ll get no complaints from me.

(In other news, Stephen King has given me permission not to write an outline. My life is now complete.)

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Weekly Wednesday Writing Wrap-Up 13

Is it that time of the week already? Are you sure? I’m pretty sure someone stole at least 2 days from my week…

If that didn’t give you a clue, let me spell it out. I really struggled to get any writing done this week. Really. I still did my 100 Words each day, but there were four days this week where that’s all I managed. Still, at least I could tick off a box on my 100 Words for 100 Days chart, and feel happy that I’d managed to do something. I’m now at day 30 of the challenge and going strong. I wrote a total of 1800 words this week, which takes my average daily word count to 337 (down from 363 last week). If I keep writing at that rate, I should have my first draft finished by the 15th of January.

Does anyone else track their progress like that, or is it just me?

In other writing news, I’ve also:

  • NOT been shortlisted on the competition I’ve been talking about. I’m not upset about it – I’m just glad to finally have an answer!
  • started working on a few revisions on said story in order to submit it elsewhere for publication.
  • edited/critiqued a short story for my critique-partner.
  • started work on a short story for my next writing group.
  • had a moment of excitement when I discovered that Emerald Barnes took my advice and started the 100 Words for 100 Days Challenge!

Quick question for you: Have you ever come up with an awesome premise for a novel, and then developed a great idea for a character and the basics of the plot, and then realised that it’s not the type of story that you can (or want to) write? Maybe it’s the wrong genre, or the wrong style, or maybe you just don’t like reading those books, and so can’t see yourself writing one. Is it just me? If it happens to you, what do you do with the idea?

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Weekly Wednesday Writing Wrap-Up 12

The most amazing thing happened this week. On Saturday morning, I woke up for my usual 4:00am wake-up call, looked after Baby, and then turned on my computer to check my email before going back to bed. An icon popped up, notifying me that I had 57 unread email.

“57 emails?” I said out loud. (For those non-parents out there, talking to yourself is perfectly normal. After hours each day of goo-goo and gaa-gaa, it’s nice to talk to an adult for a change.)

I opened my email browser to see what was going on, and discovered heaps of people had read my post and clicked ‘Like’. And I had 17 new comments that needed to be moderated.

 “Goodness!” I said. (Having children also robs you of the ability to swear convincingly.)

And there, waiting quietly amongst the Likes and Moderation Requireds, was an email from WordPress Admin congratulating me on my post being selected to be Freshly Pressed. I read that email several times. Then I logged into my WP account, and discovered that over 1100 people had viewed my page in the last 3 hours.

At first, I was stunned. Then I felt like a Rock star. I was far too excited to go back to bed. I just sat in front of my computer screen, refreshing the stats over and over, and watching the Total Page Views jump by 20 or 30 at a time.

Rock. Star.

People clicked like. Comments appeared, waiting to be moderated. More people subscribed to my blog. I had emails from people who wanted to contact me privately about my story. And as the day passed, I felt less and less like a rock star. By mid-afternoon, I just felt humbled and awed.

I was awed by the outpouring of support, love, compassion, and joy that was poured directly from the hearts and minds of people from all around the world, into the comments on my blog. I was humbled by the willingness of so many people to share their own stories; some were similar to my own, but many were more disturbing or traumatic. And as the total page views passed 3000 for the day, I was just astonished that so many people had taken the time to read my story, and touched by the number of people who had responded.

So let me say this: Thank you. Thank you for commenting, thank you for sharing, and thank you for sticking around.

But all of that attention made it a goodness-load harder to write my 100 words on Saturday. It was ten minutes to midnight, and I was sitting in a silent house, counting individual words in the hopes that I’d managed to come up with 100. “Damn it, only 87. Umm… Oh, I know. I’ll add some adverbs on to those dialogue tags. That’s bound to help. And maybe some extra adjectives. The car could be shiny, new, blue, clean, sporty, and environmentally friendly.”

I made it with 2 minutes to spare. And I deleted at least 65 of those words the next day, I’m sure. But the point is that I made it.

This means that I’m now on Day 23 of my 100 Words for 100 Days Challenge. This week, I managed to write 2500 words, which is nothing compared to the amazing efforts of Leanne Baldwin, who seems to be able to bust out that many in a lazy afternoon, but I’m thrilled. That brings my average daily word count up to 363 (from 360 last week), so at least I’m consistent. If I keep going at that rate, I should be finished my first draft on the 9th of January.

In other news, the writing competition I was whingeing about last week still hasn’t released their short list. However, they’ve issued a formal apology for the delay and advised that the list will be released by the end of the month. So if I don’t mention anything about it next week, you’ll know it’s because I didn’t place in the top 10.

Finally, I don’t know if any of you writers ever pop over to Janet Reid’s blog, but if you don’t, you should. She occasionally runs an interesting contest where she gives 5 words, and people write a 100 word story that includes those words. I entered her most reason one, and had a great time crafting out a story in such a tight word limit. The words for this competition were: lyrical, angst, conspiracy, reluctant, and swoop. My entry was as follows:

Vlad slammed the book closed and flung it across the room in disgust “Nothing!” he said, his fangs flashing. “Not a jot of lyrical prose. Just angst, angst, angst.”

“Those so-called authors must be reluctant to show you in your true glory, my Lord, for fear of inciting a panic,” Igor said as he arranged the evening meal on a velvet couch.

“Nonsense! It’s a conspiracy designed to make me look weak and ineffective,” Vlad said, stalking across to his prey. “Now hand me that rabbit. I’m hardly going to swoop down and get it myself, am I?”

Do you enjoy this kind of 100 word challenge as much as I do?

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