When you’re young, birthdays are a thing to count down to, something to anticipate with excitement. What could the day bring? Who would you see? What presents would there be?

Once you’re outside of the teens, it sort of goes downhill from there. If you’re into drinking, than 21 is a big deal — I’m not, and it wasn’t. After that it’s, 25? 30? Nothing much really happened on those years. I threw myself a birthday party last year, and while I had fun — it’s less fun when you do all the planning, cooking and cleaning to prepare for it, and then get everything put back together after.

This year, I took the day off from work, which is a big-ish deal because I haven’t used more than a couple days off all year (aside from the regularly schedule one day per week, or a national holiday where the library is closed — but those are usually made up for by an extra long day later in the week). I did have a nice day, but it was like any other day off with a little more say in what we do all day.

We went apple picking, and it was beautiful weather out.20150926_120125[1]

We stopped for lunch on the way home. I did some planning and plotting for my novel for the afternoon — intentionally not doing the housework that needed doing. Then we walked down to main street for some frozen yogurt with extra toppings at Orange Leaf. A nice day, but nothing overwhelming or exciting like childhood birthdays.

Being 30 wasn’t that bad, it wasn’t really all that good of a year though, which didn’t have anything to do with my age. Generally, age doesn’t really matter to me — just because of how my mind works, I usually keep a mental list of how old everyone is just because I can’t keep the stupid details out of my head, but that’s about where it stops. I don’t care how old people are and I’ve mostly stopped caring that everyone who guesses doesn’t really know how old I am. It used to bother me that no one thought I was an adult, anyone who tried put me as about 10 years younger than reality. Now, it’s usually about 8 years younger, or rarely 6 years younger. But, it only bothers me because it’s done in a way, at work, where they think I don’t know what I’m doing because of my lack of age. That’s a different problem, and it’s not mine either.

I don’t feel much like an adult, but I know that I do plenty of adult things because I have to and no one else will do them for me — which is my definition of being an adult.

I’m hoping that 31 is better than 30 was, as far as things happening. I started a yoga class that I enjoy, and the husband and I are consciously trying to eat better food choices. I’m making a lot more of an effort to finish my novel’s third draft before my next birthday. To do that, I need to write more and spend less time resting my brain with the nothingness of twitter and tumblr. The last couple weeks I’ve been doing a lot of novel planning, and a little thinking about blogging. I tried blogging for a month  at my “author blog” site, but made it about two weeks.

I discovered that I just don’t want to blog that often, or about writing, that much. So now, I need to figure out what I want to blog about, how much, and where. I don’t have an answer for that, and my initial reaction is to continue on the not blogging train and just concentrate on writing my book. There’s only so much time in a day, and that is what is most important to me.

Aside from watching videos for writing tips, I’ve also been scouring the web for articles and ebooks on any how-to I can find for writing.

Find a worksheet for your problem

There are a few new sites I’ve been following closely, and through them I’ve found a few worksheets to use for character planning I used She’s Novel’s Essential guide to character creation. For outlining, I found Jami Gold’s Romance planning beat sheet, and Chuck Wendig’s post about outlining.

Break down all parts to smaller bits then reassemble. All arcs get their own page/list then put it all together in a big list

I used the list from Chuck Wendig for each of my two POV characters to figure out what needed to happen in the book, and fill in any gaps. I also filled out the romance beat sheet for them. Then I took each of those three outlines and wrote them on notecards.

 

Reread draft taking notes on what’s going on

Today, I sat down to reread my draft — mostly I skimmed it. For each chapter I wrote down the action points of what was going on. I found a few extraneous scenes, and a few extremely long chapters. I wrote everything down in a list, noting with a big X the things I wasn’t going to keep.

Use notes to adjust big list

I took those notes and reworked them into a typed version of my notecards.

I still don’t feel done with the outline. It needs some more filling out, so my next goal is to reformat my outline. As much as I liked and relied on my notecards for my previous drafts, this particular one is not working out. I just need too much information right now. Specifically, I’m going to break down the bullet points even further from one big action statement per line, into the individual scenes needed to make them work.

That’s this week’s goal. After that, it’s time to start writing again.

I’d heard periscope mentioned a few times, and had no interest in it. I’m not big on watching videos — I’m still not really on the YouTube train unless there’s something specific I’m looking for (a how-to video, or something).

Then, Jenny Bravo of Blots & Plots posted one, and I had just found her blog and had the time so I watched. Through her, I found Brigid Gallagher’s blog, and periscopes, and through her I’ve started watching ‘s DIYMFA periscopes. And I really like them. Since they only have a 24-hour shelf-life, I actually watch them — whereas with blog posts, I subscribe to feeds and mostly forget about them unless the title of the post pulls at me enough to click on it. I’ll read 2-3 blog posts a week, but there are so many more than that in my feed reader. For that reason, too, I’ve subscribed to a couple of newsletters, and I find that a bit more engaging than just a blog post — I tend not to comment on blogs, but I’ll reply to an email if it seems personal and inviting rather than just a notice that there are new blog posts, or encouraging you to buy their book.

I don’t think I’m ever going to post a Periscope broadcast, but I like watching ones on writing tips, or reading reviews, and how other writers are doing in their writing journey. It’s fun when live, but with my schedule I don’t often catch them live. It’s like taking a class, but a lot more relaxed and friendly.

I do a lot of complaining about the mess and general lack of room that my room has, and about my house in general, but it’s not without reason.

messy desk
My messy desk, surrounded by stuff and even with a mostly cleared off desk area, the keyboard and monitor take up almost all of it. I’d like to wall mount the monitor, but the panelling on the wall makes hanging anything a challenge — and it’s horsehair plaster covered in ugly floral wallpaper behind it, so the panelling is staying for a while.

Since I can’t really do much about my desk being too small, I moved to the dining table. Better light, a lot more space, and not alone at the back of the house.

Writing table
My writing dining room table. I still am not a fan of this room, but it’s big, and bright, and there’s enough space to spread all my writing things around on. The chair is even more uncomfortable than the one upstairs, so it’s not great for long periods of writing — not that I have long blocks of time to write in, so it’s not too much of an issue.

I’ve gotten a decent amount done since I wasn’t also battling my notebooks and everything not fitting.

I do intend to just get rid of a lot of unneeded stuff, and that’ll help a little. But really, I need a bigger work table and a comfortable chair.

One day, when I have the time to do it and also some means of actually getting rid of the stuff. Yes, it’s always ‘one day’ but any time I use to do something else, like clearing out clutter, is that much time taken away from writing, or reading, or doing the dishes. Time is limited, so I prioritize what has to get done, and the rest just waits a while.

I did something totally out of character and crazy brave today. I signed up for a yoga class, and walked there by myself.

Okay, that’s not really earth shattering to many people, especially since I’m an almost thirty-one year old adult. But, I’m extremely introverted, and pretty anxious about meeting new people, feeling watched by anyone and everyone around me, and just in general, new things terrify me. To me, this was a big thing. A really big thing.

I liked the class, but that’s not the point of this.

On my walk home, I realized that just going out for a walk was a good way to clear your mind. To not think about anything and then give all the thoughts time to settle down. So, since I’d just spent an hour learning new things with new people, I had been pretty frazzled. The stretching was nice, but also challenging and my legs felt like I’d been using them (because, duh). It was already dark out, so I didn’t really take my time, but I didn’t try to run home or anything.

I just walked. And I thought of a few scenes to my novel that I might like to add for character building. They’re too nebulous to write down, but I’ll let them stew for a while and see what comes of it.

I listened to Reading like a Writer by Francine Prose last month, and while I wasn’t thrilled with the book itself, the overall message behind it was to read a wide variety of books and to study them closely to learn by their example.

One which I promptly forgot all about until last night when Brigid Gallagher mentioned it in a periscope. I think I tuned it out because Reading like a writer chose only things that would appear on an Intro to English Literature course’s syllabus — no genre fiction at all. I write fantasy, and I think that I’ll always write some form of fantasy — even my contemporary pieces still have some supernatural something to them.

Now, I know I could stand to learn a few things about word choice, sentence structure, paragraphs, etc, from the greats of literature — but I’ve never really felt sucked in by the classics. I read for the pleasure of it. I read to find out what happens to the characters — and I think that’s part of why I don’t like densely detailed worlds (like the Lord of the Rings series, or the Sword of Truth series, both of which my husband LOVES and is dismayed that I won’t read because I can’t get into them).

From this thought, I’m debating on whether or not I should revise my writing goal of 300 words a day, once I start on the editing again. Reading is important, and I don’t have enough time in the day to do both. It’s either writing, or reading, and usually works out to about a week or a few days of one, followed by a week or a few days of the other, back and forth as I get caught up in a book, or stumble over something that needs puzzling through with my writing. And, while I do want to make writing a habit, I’ve never been fond of ‘forcing’ myself to sit through something for an arbitrary goal.

Maybe, for me, the goal should be to read for at least 30 minutes (ideally an hour), or to write 300 new words, or to edit one page. But, is that making it too flexible? Or, because of my work schedule, is that making it more reachable? There are days (Wednesday usually, my 11 hour work day) where I don’t do either writing or reading, and just make it through the day.

I actually meant to post this last night, but got caught up in a book and forgot. Oh well. I worked on the character I meant to, and since I already had her pretty well pinned down, it didn’t take long. So, I took all the notes I’ve been working on for the past week and put them together on notecards.

This system worked well for me for the second draft, so I’m going with it again. I think the order is set, but I could still find things to add. I like the flexibility of notecard outlines.

image

Progress had been made! With tangible evidence!

I think I’ll take a few days to read a couple books, then it’s into world building.

I managed to get a little planning done today for a character’s plot. Something I thought I’d already worked out, but is now much better.

That’s been the sum of my week. Work on something, make progress! Next day come back, and change what I worked on the day before. I’ve spent several hours on this character this week, and I think I’m finally happy.

So, tomorrow, I’m working on the other character. So far, I think that’s within the realm of getting this outline and planning done in the next two weeks.

I still have a lot to do, and I hope that I can finish my character arc tomorrow and not revisit it over and over again. For outlining, I still have the villain’s behind the scenes plot line to work through, and the romance between the two main characters to figure out how to work out. I’m hoping to finish all that next week. Then it’s a lot of setting and world building, which will take about a week, I hope.

With the inclusion of the romance, and the increase in the ages of the characters, I’m now pretty sure it’s not a New Adult anymore. In the early draft, I had one main character, and she was early twenties, and figuring out how to live on her own in the castle. I finished that draft and in all the planning and subsequent drafts, she’s gotten older, I added in a male lead, and now the two main characters are late twenties, early thirties.

I don’t necessarily think it’s because I’ve gotten older as I’ve written it, since I started all this when I was already in my later-ish twenties anyway.

It just seems like a lot of people “around me” write and read YA, and while I do enjoy reading Young Adult, or even Middle Grade fiction from time to time, it’s just not my writing style. I thought I’d found a good fit with NA, but I don’t think it fits for this story. I think it’s just a regular Fantasy novel — which isn’t bad, I guess, it’s what the story needs.

I mentioned that the butt in chair method worked, at least once, for me. But, now that I’m in the middle of the work week and getting my butt into my chair isn’t working.

First, I have to motivate myself enough to get into the chair. And, it really depends on the reason for why I’m procrastinating, for what works. If I’m procrastinating because I’m stuck, sometimes it’s better to let the problem rattle around in my head for a while. If it’s because I can’t focus, that’s when I bring out the coloring supplies.

I color a few sections, or even just one, until I feel like I can think about just one thing for a while, instead of twenty. If the problem is something else, usually guilt works. I like the sticker method because I can see at a glance that it’s been a while since the last time I made any progress. For some, it’s a competition with themselves to keep going, but my personality is anti-competition — I will actively avoid competing in things. This includes competitions where I am my only comparison. I do want to write though, so this gives me a visual (and cute) way to remind myself that I should get some words out.

 


Right now, the stickers only mean that I’ve made some progress. I don’t have anything more associated with them yet, but when I start active revisions, they’ll mean I’ve written/revised 300 words that day. The big stickers will be for going beyond that by a significant amount.