WOTM Update: Big Sister Envy

I know, it’s been a few days.  I knew this week would be bad.  My daughter’s birthday is this weekend and I’ve got a bunch of stuff to do for that, and since I’ve invited people to my home, I’m generally more nervous than usual and so that doesn’t help my concentration on Matt and Alex’s problems.

But last night Alex found the warning.  Originally, she found it in another time and place.  But when I opened up that hole and inserted the extra day, I decided to use it for something else.  So I had to move that chunk and rewrite it to fit (although I didn’t count that toward the word count).  After that, my villain was feeling sort of stalker-like and called my heroine on her cell phone.  She made a conscious effort not to be cliche, was plucky, and goaded him somewhat.  Theirs is sort of a complicated relationship that neither she nor I completely understands yet.

Anyway, in a little bit here I have to go be Matt and have some sexy thoughts about my heroine.  I’m not feeling particularly sexy this morning.

In fact, I feel sort of whiney.  Like you couldn’t tell.  This whole Sweat thing (see sidebar) has pretty much got me down.  It’s not that I do so very much editing as I go, but when I’m really busy with, you know, life, I tend to just leave things I’m not happy with and come back later and make them a little better before I dump them into the manuscript.  But having to report progress all the time is causing me to have to just dump what I have and move on, even when I know it’s not really what I wanted.  I feel very drive-by about it.

[Sigh]

I’ve been trying not to whine about it because complaining about the pace and not keeping the pace seems to me to be painting a big ol’ sign that says “Not Ready To Play With The Big Girls”.

And I do so want to play with the big girls.

They’re so cool.

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11 Comments

Filed under author blog, blogs, insecurities, progress update, romance, sex, word count, wotm, writing

11 responses to “WOTM Update: Big Sister Envy

  1. You know what, Susan? Don’t feel bad! Everyone works differently, and if you can’t do the target pages in the challenge, then make a new target number that works for YOU.

    Keep in mind that your method might change in time, as well. Mine did. I used to work like you. My pace was slower than it is today, and I did more cleaning up before I moved on than I do now. I changed my method for a lot of reasons, but I’ll admit that it still kills me to write fast and not go back to fix. But I’ve realized that for me, in order to write with a partner and to finish projects by deadline, I have to use the faster method and then go back and fix/polish in another massive wave.

    But there always comes at least one place in the manuscript where I realize I’ve gone too fast and written myself into a problem because I didn’t take the time to work in a needed element…generally the romance or sexual tension or character backstory. Then I HAVE to spend time fixing the problem (which means no real word count for the days it takes to fix,) instead of writing and moving forward.

    That wouldn’t happen if I wrote using the method I used to use.

    So my point is, do what you need to do to get the book finished. We all work at a different pace. Set your own goal.

    Oh, and I find that it really helps my word count to think on the scene I’ll be writing the next day. If I can get it worked out in my head during my off-writing time, then it’ll go so much faster when I’m writing it. If I don’t pre-think it out, the writing is torture. And slow.

    You can do this! The main idea is to write every day. To get yourself into a routine that will stick with you when the challenge is over. To push yourself harder than you ever have. Only you know what “harder” is for YOU. If it’s two pages instead of 4-6, then shoot for that.

    You CAN do this! 🙂

  2. Larissa-
    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate both what you said, and the time you took to say it.

    This is going to help. I know it. Because it reminds me that I’m a work in progress, and that I can’t expect to go from writing 2500 words a week when inspiration strikes to writing 900 a day just because I put my name in a Mr. Linky box. It might take some time before my brain functions that way regularly, and not only is that ok, but that was the point.

    So thanks again, for the kind words and the reminder.

  3. Susan – Larissa is absolutely correct – you can do this! And, let me add that the point of the Challenge is not to make you nutty 🙂 It’s to give you a push. Published or unpublished, we all need a push.

    The real answer is that we all write how we write. Dependng on how your process, the Challenge might seem harder than it does to other folks. Some people use elaborate outlines (S. Brockmann) and have the full book in their head or in notes before they ever sit down to write. Some people could never use an outline because it kills their creativity (J.A. Krentz). There’s me who writes and rewrites as I go along. Sounds to me like you do the same thing. For writers like us it’s a little hard to stick to a strict word count. You have your internal speed. Larissa’s right in that the speed might change, but your pace is your pace. You want to go back and perfect before moving on. You know what? That’s okay just don’t let the need to polish keep you from getting done. You can always revise. Once the words are down, they’re down. This is the whole “I can revise a page but I can’t revise a blank page” idea. So, push forward, revise when you need to, but keep going.

    The bottom line is that writing fast is not a ticket to publication or the bestseller lists or whatever. Do not let anyone convince you otherwise. And, don’t let yourself get down thinking you have to keep a certain pace or write a certain way to get what you want in the writing world. Again, write how you need to write. Let the Challenge push you. In fact, let it push you to the point of being a bit uncomfortable. Just don’t let it overwhelm you. We’re all here struggling and supporting each other. If you need a lifeline, call out.

  4. I think it’s also important to remember that if your goal is to finish a book, then you’ve got to keep your eye on that prize as well. Remember, you can fix crap on a page, but you can’t fix a blank page. And sometimes you can only figure out how to fix the beginning once you get to the end, no matter how many pages you get done in a day.

    This is why I always tell people to finish at least one book, even if it’s a complete and utter mess inside. Because once you do that, you can see that you’ve gotten through an entire beginning, middle and end. It’s invaluable – something I didn’t believe myself until I was encouraged to stop starting things and to just finish one of them.

    So if you find that you’re stopping youself part way through your WIPs to edit and never getting much further, I’m just going to urge you to keep pushing through – not for word count or the sweat challenge – but because sometimes when you take your mansucript further and further you discover things about your characters that will help you flesh out the earlier stuff you’re unhappy with. You’ve just got to hit that magic spot…and it’s there. Trust me 🙂

  5. Thanks so much, you guys!

    HelenKay- It’s so nice to hear from someone else who does some editing as she goes. The challenge really has given me a push. It’s been great, so far, even if my personal style is to wring my hands a bit. I have a tendency to vascillate between I can and I can’t, but I’ve had a lot more I Can days since joining the Challenge.

    Stephanie- You’re right. Finishing a book made a big difference to me in terms of self-confidence and understanding the process as a whole– even though said book was not good enough. Someday the missing element there is going to come to me and I’m going to go back and edit the heck out of that thing. Until then, I’m going to buckle down and finish this one.

    Again, thank you both so much for your encouragement.

  6. You’re doing great. Hang in there!

  7. You can do it! It’s difficult, but the more you write, the easier it gets. And I don’t think most of us (writers) ever really reach our intended goal or write the perfect book. We just do the best we can. But writing every day makes sense. Finishing what you write makes more sense even if you have days you don’t write.

    This is a great challenge!

  8. Thanks, Maude. Perfectionism is a problem for me that tends to hold me back in a lot of areas. It’s good to be reminded to watch out for that. And the writing every day does make sense, even when sometimes the words on the screen don’t seem to.

  9. Hang in there, Susan, and I hear you on the “drive-by” feeling. At first, that was getting to me, too — I have a very loud-mouthed Inner Editor, and it was really getting to her, the fact that I have to focus so much on word count for this challenge (usually, I do much more edit-as-I-go).

    But the way I’m thinking about things now is just to CRANK OUT THE STORY — as much as I can — and take elaborate notes for revision for post-September 20. I see a story there and I’m getting it out, but it is developing and forming itself as it goes, and I just keep having to remind myself that after the time period for the Challenge is over, I can go back and spiff up and clean up to my heart’s content.

    So nice to meet another Tennessee writer! 🙂

  10. I picked on this at random and I can only say “remember why you’re writing.” I do NaNo every year, or when I’m trying to get a book out to a deadline, I’ve always been told by H that I should forget that I’ve got a deadline and I “should” do this or that. Just write because you love doing it. Get back into the story and enjoy making it happen.

  11. Thomma Lyn- It’s a good way to think. I’ll work on it. I hope you’re enjoyiing the same RAIN and cooler temps I’ve been getting.

    Joely- That’s good advice. I have trouble remembering that I love things once I get into them. Kettle said, in a post I feel was meant for me, “But you just have to stop freaking because it screws with your creativity and your ability to produce.” Ain’t that the truth?

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