Writing Insanity

November. National Novel Writing Month. It’s a brotherhood of insane writers, pounding out 1,700 words per day for thirty days.
Since I’m rather unsure if I am meant to be a novelist, I may be a rebel again this year.
In 2014 I wrote that path. It netted four short stories, one of which I fleshed out into a 70,000-word novel.
A novel I pitched to three agents this past summer. All of them said the same things:

  • Women’s fiction must be at least 80,000 words and closer to 100,000 is better
  • The stakes need to be upped for at least one of the characters

All that to tell me I needed to rethink the story and add another 10,000 words at least.
But it hasn’t called to me.
However, I’ve planned and plotted a follow-up novel starring the youngest woman from that story. I could write that story in November.
Or I could write the next novella or two for the Christian romance “series” set in Sweet Grove, Texas.
After all, my debut in that Kindle World will be here in two weeks.


I’m hoping readers will be panting for the next installment, a story featuring minor characters from this first one.

What about doing something fun?

I’ve been jotting ideas for another fantasy novel for several months. I want to tackle the idea of a realm that exists outside of time encroaching on a world that exists inside the restrictions and constructions of time.

My thought is to have the mentor figure and the villain brothers who live in the timeless realm. They’re competing (as brothers do) and have gotten caught up in trying to trip each other up…by planting prophecies and information along the timeline in the world where time exists.
The story could include elemental magic with atypical sources.

But I really don’t have a story for it. Just a ton of vague ideas. And that’s NOT the best way to be a winner during National Novel Writing Month.
With the release coming up on the 15th and the content edits for REALITY EVER AFTER due on the 13th, I’m not certain I’ll have the focus for NaNoWriMo.

But how can I NOT do it? I’ve done it for three years and won every time. It’s such a morale booster.

Sure, it’s a little bit crazy, too. Especially when I only have three days per week to get my words written. And I’d want to finish by November 22 because we’re heading to the Oregon coast to spend Thanksgiving weekend with my sister.

If I’m not finished, the story will be hanging over my head the entire time.

Part of me wants to write something “just for fun” and another part of me knows I need to stop procrastinating and get stories down on paper.

What’s your advice? What would you do?

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National Novel Writing Month

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Four years ago, a teacher I worked with sent me an announcement for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). His message: “You sound like you might have a novel in you.”

His observation came on the heels of our first ever Open Microphone event in the middle school library. The librarian wanted to encourage students to write, so she offered a forum where they could read aloud a piece of personal writing.

As with everything you hope to see young students do effectively, creative writing and baring your soul to others should be modeled. She asked staff members to voluntarily read some of their writing. In response, I read the opening pages of a story that kept popping into my mind.

I fully intended to write that story. It was going to be the first in a series of a Middle School Mayhem series that would make me famous.

In my defense, I do have two chapters completed and saved in a Scrivener folder. Like so many other writing projects, life got in the way.

If you’ve been following me long, you know that I spent three years completing my bachelor’s degree while working full-time. The idea of writing something creative in addition to all the research papers and term papers made random, fleeting appearances in my mind. Obligations drowned them.

After I was assigned a blog for my nonfiction writing workshop, I decided to attempt to write a thousand words per week to post online. No one would read most of this stuff, but I would get back in the habit of writing, even if it was creative nonfiction.

Fast forward to present day: college degree completed. Now it’s time to pursue my real dream: writing.

I’ve always imagined myself as a novelist. My imagination has taken me to the top of Mt. Everest, to Mars and to realms beyond this reality. I wanted to invite young readers into the alternate universe between the covers of the book.

An admirer of C.S. Lewis (whose Chronicles of Narnia rescued me from the ugliness of domestic abuse and divorce), I didn’t want to just entertain. I wanted my fiction to include a deeper truth. Allegory seemed like the way to accomplish this goal.

Thus, my idea for the Gates of Astrya emerged from my soul into my mind. With a little work and a ton of time, words on a page birthed it into actuality.

During November, my goal is to write the second book in this series (originally, I thought it would be a trilogy, but it’s taking on a life of its own and might require four books to fully resolve).  I’ve already signed up on the NaNoWriMo website.

To ensure I can keep writing to the end, I completed a beat sheet (thanks to Jami Gold) and an extensive setting sketch. I’ve done some research to authenticate the setting I’ve chosen. Major character arcs have been outlined, along with the cast of supporting characters.

Today, I write the first 3,000 words of the novel. Since I want to complete the challenge (to write 50,000 words in 30 days) by November 27, I’m setting my daily word count at this level.

I promise not to bog down my blog with updates and commentary about this event. I have worked feverishly the past two weeks to get most of my posts pre-written so content will continue here without interruption.

Are any of you taking this challenge? What other sorts of challenges have you pursued? What’s the most important advice you have to help someone stay the course when things seem overwhelming?

A Writer’s Life

If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins. – Benjamin Franklin

School is out. The vacation abroad has ended. Time announces the arrival of full-time writer-hood.

The schedule says: Three hours five days per week is allotted for writing. I’ve factored in other times for blog hopping and updating social media.

There’s a plan. *sighs*

I finished Plot and Structure, James Scott Bell’s masterpiece, and use it to guide my goal-setting and schedule for rewriting the novel.

Yes, rewriting. I doubt I will start anew, but I believe that a new document where I can cut and paste the sections I’m going to keep will work for me. Does this work in Scrivener? I guess I can make a new folder for the 2nd draft.

The book helped me generate plenty of questions that will need to be answered in my work in progress if it will ever become a completed novel.

No, I will finish the first draft by the deadline – August 24 – and I will begin the rewrite. This should take approximately eight weeks according to chapter 11 in Bell’s bible.

If I stay on schedule, I should be polishing the second draft in November. I hope this means I will be ready to take it to my classroom of 7th grade beta readers by January. At this point, that’s my plan.

During my cooling off period, I intend to work on building my social media platform (using the guidance of Kristen Lamb’s new book Rise of the Machines) and study Self-editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King.

Bell has given me some other plotting homework that I intend to complete during my self-imposed exile to sit in the sunshine. For the next two months, this time is scheduled in for two hours every weekday afternoon. (You can be sure I’ll make time for the loving the sun – maybe meeting my word count for the day should be a prerequisite.)

What sort of schedule do you have for your writing life? Do you have a daily word count goal?

I’d love to hear any and all advice from my fellow writers – or other self-employed people.

                                       Weekly   Schedule

Time Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
6AM Workout Workout Workout Workout Workout
7AM QT/BF QT/BF QT/BF QT/BF QT/BF BF
8AM Shower Shower Shower Shower Shower Shower
9AM Bathrooms Blogs Floors Ladies Social   Med Laundry
10AM Chore Meeting
11AM Writing List Writing Writing
Noon Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch
1PM Writing Writing Writing Writing Writing
2PM Outdoors Outdoors Outdoors Outdoors Outdoors Family
3PM Outdoors Outdoors Outdoors Outdoors Outdoors
4PM Writing Writing Social   Med Writing Writing
5PM Dinner   Prep Dinner   Prep Dinner   Prep Dinner   Prep Dinner   Prep Dinner   Prep
6PM Family
7PM Time Writing
8PM Family

Reaching a Goal

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On Thursday, June 6th, I received a notification from WordPress that I had my 100th follower. It surprised me that I didn’t do a bigger happy dance.

Since reading Kristen Lamb’s book Are you there Blog? It’s me, Writer in August 2012, I had set some goals for my blog. One goal was to have 100 followers by my one year anniversary – February 2013.

I missed that target by nearly four months.

Of course, I’m not out and about spreading the love to other bloggers the way Kristen encourages new bloggers to do. Who has the time? I was pleased when I managed to get the two blog posts I had committed to up every week.

I still don’t get regular comments on my posts, which was one of my goals.

How do I encourage comments?

I noticed that when I did the Round of Words in 80 Days challenge, I scored quite a few more comments. Part of the requirements for the challenge is to visit five different blogs each time we post our updates. I believe I will participate in this challenge again…whenever it starts next.

Of course, I’m reaching my overarching goal of graduating from college. Once I’m finished with that, I can’t take a break. I need to start toward my next goal right away.

Here are the goals I expect to accomplish in the next six months:

  • Complete A Round of Words in 80 Days challenge with higher word count goals than last time
  • Bump blog posts up to three days per week.
  •             I’m considering making a page just for samples of my writing. Do any of my readers have any thoughts or experiences with that?
  • Finish my WIP by the end of October
  • Send out one article/story for publication
  • Visit more blogs on a regular basis and leave comments
  • Start a Facebook page

What is your secret to setting goals that you can complete?