So, How’s The Writing Going, Cats And Kittens?

Check-up time.

TURN YOUR HEAD AND COUGH.

Maybe that’s a different kind of check-up.

Still, I like these gowns.

ASSLESS.

Which is really a misnomer, isn’t it? Because they’re not ass-less. They’re ass-ful. By revealing the buttocks, you have wildly increased the assfulness quotient, yeah?

Whatever.

What I’m trying to say is, hey! Writer-types!

How’s it going?

What are you writing?

What kinds of things are you finding hard in your writing?

What’s easy?

What’s surprising?

What have you learned?

What do you need?

How is the whole writer’s existence?

Let’s hear ‘em. Shout up from the trenches: how goes the penmonkey thing?

165 comments

  • So, writing a new draft of this book that just won’t die (I’ve never actually written through the climax, even though this is the first of a series and I certainly know where things go after), and something weird happened yesterday. I just suddenly understood how some pieces should be fitted together, pieces that were just dangling about that I’d been threatening to cut off up until that point (yes, I most certainly would make such a threat, especially if you’re screwing with my stories).

    This new draft had already started with me realizing that I had what was supposed to be a major character being relegated to the role of a mcguffin, so instead of her being the girl that screams and runs and gets constantly saved, I’ve already been rewriting her as more of a suburban Indiana Jones, with magic who’s never less than the second smartest person in a scene, and if she has do, she’s going to beat you over the head with a piece of tree, just like T.J. Hooker. Of course, now all the other characters have to step up their games to keep up with her.

    Since then, though, I figured out how to make one set of “hero” type characters know what they need to know about the “villainous” organization (in quotes to certify that nothing there is as white and certainly not as black as those words sound) for the plot to roll without the readers’ eyes as well, and now I’ve got the doozie. I’ve got all of these elements that I’ve mentioned that never really cause anything, unfired guns over mantles if you will. A character that assisted the mcguffin in her duties before has become a bounty hunter who has become maybe a two scene speed bump. A second department worth of FBI agents that should, by rights, be all over the action, just as the ones that have big parts in the story as is do. A blank Executive Order signed by Gerald Ford that I really had no clue what I was going to use for. They all mix together to be a surprising bit that seems like it will extend the climax but will actually lay the ground work for the “resting state” of the next book, just as pretty as you please.

    Now if only I can lay the other 80k or so expected words of this draft by the 22nd as I had initially hoped ;-p

  • I’m pretty new to the writing-on-purpose thing. In March I was doing pretty well – I topped out at 20,000 words one week – but I lost my rhythm when I was stuck out of town during a snow storm. When I came back, I could no longer ignore that everything I’d written so far was complete shit. I figured the best thing to do was to scrap it all and start completely over, although I haven’t been nearly as productive since then. Now I’m wondering if I shouldn’t just muddle through the ending of that damn first draft, ignoring what the rest of the draft says so far and just writing the ending as my brain currently says it should be. Hmm, decisions.

    Either way, I worked most efficiently when I had relatively steep goals for myself, so I need to sit down and figure out a schedule. After I take a nap (migraaaaiine) and pick up the duck from the vet’s office, that is.

  • I love hearing about where everyone is their writing process.

    Currently I am working on a final round of edits on an Urban Fantasy Mystery novel before starting the querying process. My goal is to have it complete and polished before July. I don’t love the editing process, but I no longer loath it either. I’m also practicing my abysmal short story skills. Writing a short story that doesn’t end with everyone dying is a struggling point for me.

    Something that has surprised me recently about my writing is how far it has come. I make fewer grammatical errors, outlining has helped with plot, and my secondary characters have vastly improved. I’ve also learned tricks to make writing a daily habit. I always write before work. Getting up that early is awful, but coffee can lure me out of bed. If I stay in bed and don’t write I get no coffee. I can have other caffeine, but coffee is out. I rarely miss a day of writing. That doesn’t mean every day is easy, but my butt makes it into the chair.

    Thanks for the question, I love seeing the responses!

  • I wrote a flash fiction story on my phone on Friday because it came upon me so fast, I just HAD to get it out, didn’t even have time to run for the computer. My heart was beating like I’d just run five miles. It was like being possessed and I LOVED it! And then the car broke down and everything went wrong this weekend so I haven’t had a second to myself to edit or post it. I’m finishing up my have-tos for the day and making time this evening no matter what.

  • I’m give-or-take 60K words into a book that seemingly has no end. Or rather, it has an end…and I just haven’t reached it yet? Found it yet? WHERE DID YOU GO, ENDING??

  • I want to quit my job because it seems stupid to be at my desk every day when I could be writing all day long, but if I quit then I will starve and this book will never get finished. That is my brain halfway through this Monday. I’m through act one of my mystery, and diving into act 2. I’m right around 20K words. Thanks for “25 Ways to Unstick a Story.” I sure needed that last month when I was finishing up a novella. I got crazy stuck.

  • I’m still working on pre writing my first novel. It’s SF, probably requiring sequels and prequels, and every time I think it’s time to begin the first draft, I find I need to go back and work on some aspect of setting or whatever: research, fitting things together, stuff like that. I have fast growing files of all the different aspects of the world, society, culture, tech, etc. and it’s hard now to even keep it all straight in my head to write that first draft. How long does one pound the pavement over prewriting, and at what point does one know when enough’s enough?

  • Currently scrawling (literally, messy handwriting) the penultimate chapter of my draft (actually there will be an epilogue too, but I wanted to use the word “penultimate.” Now I’ve done it twice.) This version has taken a year…more if you count the abandoned versions and false starts. And I’m reasonably sure there’s lots of “unfucking” to do…but MUST FINISH DRAFT. I’m not a finisher…there’s probably a Myers-Briggs type for that, but I didn’t finish the test. Finishing something will break the curse, right?

  • I’m struggling on figuring out if there is a word minimum for short stories. I’m also trying to figure out how you go about collecting stories for a short story collection. It’s probably the only thing I can write considering I always get lost in the middle of my novels.

  • I’m thrilled with writing life. I wish I had the means to quit my day job, already!

    I’ve got a serial going on my website (weekly) and a short story that’s been accepted with Less Than Three Press: waiting for edits back on that.

    I also had a story accepted with Bottom Drawer Publications that I’ll start working on in the next few weeks. I sent it in as a short for an anthology and they want it to be expanded for a stand-alone work. Which is cool.

    Currently focused on a free short for the M/M Goodreads group, that’s due on the 15th. I have about 4 scenes left on that. I followed my outline almost to the letter, which I think is a really good sign for my continued use of an outline- it’s only the second time I’ve used one and both executed all the way to the end.

    After this goodreads story and the Bottom Drawer short I have a few submission deadlines I want to hit this year, but I haven’t committed to just yet. I’m also eyeing a steampunk-in-space novel that I’d like to release on my own as the start of a series. I’ll have to check the calendar and see what fits.

    So things are going very well. Hoping for more of the same!

  • My writing life is actually getting back on track, Chuck! Thanks for asking.

    I was stuck, not sure what to do, and drooling like an idiot any time I looked at Scrivener. So I read some of your blog entries and then lurked on QueryShark for a bit. And I thought, what the hell, I’m gonna see if I can write a query since I can’t write the next sentence. And if nothing else, I should be writing *something* right?

    Putting the cart before the horse? yep, absolutely. But the exercise in answering who/what/why and boiling it down to one sentence answers clarified things in my mind enough that I was able to make considerable progress today. Two chapters edited for writing group and a new one written. yippee!

    Hope you’re having a lovely writing day, too

  • Book three is kicking my butt. It was flowing well, before a 4 month shelving so I could re-edit my first two. Now I can’t seem to find the story. It was here before, so it still has to be…somewhere.

    In addition to that, I’m deep in the Query Trenches.

  • Almost done with my first draft. Plugging away, plugging away. These people who write a novel in 30, 60 or even 90 days you amaze me. Maybe someday I will be able to but not yet, or at lest if I did it would not be very good. So you people who write a good one in that short amount of time it is actually you who amaze me. Getting rid of that telling, working on that showing. Plugging away, plugging away. s

  • GAH! I NEEDED THIS!

    Seriously. I’ve been slacking. Like hardcore slacking.

    I’m starting to find the appeal in an accountability partner (Ok, maybe just my husband rolling his eyes when I say, “I watched another episode of Vampire Diaries instead of writing…”) and really just sitting my ass down and WRITING THE STUFF THAT IS IN MY BRAIN!

    But really, thanks for this. It’s like an online super major accountability partner and now that I’ve announced that I haven’t been writing I hope everyone will TOTALLY get on my case and tell me how lame I’ve been!

    • Lame lame lame lame LAME, Sarah!
      GET YO WORD ON, FOOL!
      GET YO WORD ON RIGHT. NOW. OR I’LL SEND THE DOLPHINS GOD HELP ME I WILL

  • The writing is awesome at present. Second shinobi mystery delivered to publisher. Third shinobi mystery in editing. SUPER SEKRIT SPY PROJEKT in the works.

    Oh, and I decided to open a new law practice in the middle of it all. Because, yanno, launching my first novel and sending my son off to college wasn’t enough for one summer. Yeah. That.

    If I survive until September this will be the BEST WRITING SUMMER EVAR. If not, well, best to go out in a blaze of glory. Or alcohol fumes. Or both. Where’s the scotch?

  • May 6, 2013 at 8:52 PM // Reply

    I’ve been attempting to write more short stories, because they’re rather useful for portfolios when applying to MFA programs. As much as I like them, I keep getting distracted by the BIG IDEAS.

    The short stories are also a good filler while I stew in writer’s block with my current novel WIP. It’s a rewrite of one I tried to write a year or two ago, with the same characters but a different time period and world. I like it better this time around, but am stuck with the scene I was most looking forward to. I SHALL PREVAIL, THOUGH.

    Oh, and I’m trying to figure out how one goes about researching agents when one is terrible at researching. I’m thinking about making my brother do it for me. He likes reading, and the Interwebs. Match made in heaven, methinks.

  • I am deeply, deeply entrenched in Shiny New Idea syndrome. I know I need to finish what I start or I will never make this lifelong dream of becoming a real author come true. I KNOW. But I can’t ignore that what I’ve written is awful and could never possibly be good. I’m about 2000 words into a new story and I am praying with all my might that this time will be the time that is different.

  • I’ve been pretty steadily cranking out a short story a week for the past month and a half, so that’s a half dozen things to touch up and hopefully send out to places which publish things and then get them back and send them out again… I am generally not great with keeping myself on the submissions track, so I’m hoping that having more than one iron in the fire will keep me interested and on my toes. I very easily fall into that trap of thinking, “WHAT IF I JUST WROTE THE ONLY MARKETABLE STORY I WILL EVER WRITE” and it is super hard to shake that off sometimes, but shake it off I must, and will.

  • Recently sold my soul to the Indie World. Took 3 years to realize Traditional World doesn’t want me and I don’t really want them either. Nothing against Traditional World. I just like all the control.

    First novel should be out this year. Currently with my editor. Photos should be back from the photographer this week and handed off to cover artist soon. I’m hiring pros for everything and fully aware I’ll probably never make the money back.

    But I’m pretty damn excited anyway. :)

    A fist in the air to all the other self-pubbers commenting on here!

  • I’m just getting back into my fantasy WIP after time away to buy a house, move. all that fun stuff. I wrote draft zero, if you could all it that, in about a month (that focused primarily on the romantic relationship, and was a relatively short 20K). Cool. I then expanded the story and wrote a great big chunk for NaNo in 2011, and then did not write much at all in 2012 (the year of great change). NaNo was great fun, because things that were throw-away comments in draft zero become plot elements.
    At the moment I’m debating whether I should finish the NaNo draft or if I would be better off to go back and start a new version. This being a NaNo draft, it does have character names like Lady X or Lord Y and Place Z. Frankly, Lady X or Lord Y really needs a name, a backstory, and a reason for trying to discredit/kill my main character. So yes, there is an antagonist – I just have to identify who it freakin is (it could be someone else entirely).
    Perhaps the biggest thing I’m struggling with, though, is how to organize all of my notes so I can find the information I need relatively quickly. I’m relatively computer-savvy, but have to say I have no clue on this. I’ve tried Scrivener (friends rave – I hate it as it keeps shutting down on me. Also, I don’t work in scenes – first drafts tend to be one massive file) and have played around with OneNote, which does have possibilities.
    I don’t want to take ages to set up notes… but I don’t mind spending the time to do so, either, as long as it’s worthwhile. I’m not a plotter, but I do know things and there are certain things that I need to keep in mind when writing. Since I’m thinking of this as a standalone book, and have no plans to revisit this world in the near future (other projects in other places are patiently waiting) I see no need to build an excruciatingly detailed world.
    I would like to have a completed (and coherent) mss by August.
    But, you know, overall? It’s a joy to be back to writing. I’ve scribbled in my journal and that, but haven’t committed to anything. I’m always happier when I’m writing.

  • I’ve reached the stage in my original spec (TV script) that I need to stop OCDing over the act break outline and start getting cards together. I’m still trying to break the resistance’s second plan in act four, but I think it’s time to move on and hope that the details will figure themselves out (they usually do).

  • Spot-on timing! I just today figured out what needed to be done in order to get my book (which I’d put away in frustration a few months ago due to some horrific plot holes and writer’s conveniences) back on the rails and spent the entire day drafting the beginning. Seem to have hit a stride!
    I learned that…sometimes stories grow up like kids, where they reach a certain level and I just have to let them go and do their own thing, even if it means making changes I’m not comfortable with or cutting out darlings. Actually, *especially* if it means making changes I’m not comfortable with.
    Happy with where I’ve ended up today, first time in a while I’ve felt like I’ve honestly earned my “writer” tag.

  • As a writer, I’m exploding. It’s not, like, a hydrogen bomb, or a stick of dynamite. More like a string of firecrackers. But it’s something.

    I’ve started writing my first short story in many years after a significant writer’s block (which might be a creative way of saying depression?). It’s not flowing as well as I would like yet, but I’m determined to finish it and try not to judge it until after I’m done. I need to finish to prove i can still do it.

    After one particularly slow writing day, I decided to write it as a script so I can get the dialogue down and figure out the sequence of events in more detail than my original outline. I will fill in the gaps later.

    Also trying to find a balance between writing my fiction and working on my blog. Writing goofy posts is more interesting and fun sometimes, but it can be too tempting.

  • I’m following your “zero fuckery plan” and actually managing the required 350 words a day, most days I do more than that, but I’m sticking to the plan. Because of that I’ve now reached the halfway point in my current WiP and also managed two short stories (and about to start a third) this year.

  • Life, family, commitments get in the way. Haven’t written anything new for a while, for like, 2 months. Am trapped in an editing hell with two books on the go. One had a contract, but publishing house merged with another and returned my rights and the other has piqued the interest of an established publisher but am told it needs polishing. There you have it.

  • It is refreshing to be asked how the writing is going, so thanks for that! In my world, this is something that I rarely am asked and am attempting to change. People often ask have you found a job yet, how’s the family, how come you don’t come by and see me, have you had your dog neutered yet? Throwing my hands up, “Hello!!!!” I am a writer, born and raised. Okay, so, not on the bookshelves or Amazon yet, but just you wait!!! The planets and stars are almost in alignment. On a positive note, my 19-year-old son who is in college for Digital Film Production, did say to me the other day (we live in the Southern US), “Mama, I have not seen you lost in your work in a long time. You should do that for you now that we are almost out of the house (four sons). Ice hockey (two ice hockey goalies in the south, lots of travel up north) is at a lull right now, you recently lost your job, don’t you think someone is telling you something?” Then I found your blog with your post on the gifts for writers. Love it and shared it on FBook.

    I currently am editing two completed Women’s suspense novels. My new WIP is a serial killer Women’s suspense based on a small po-dunk City PD, good-ole-boy society in which my seven years in law enforcement in same is very exciting. Just changing the names to protect the not-so-innocent individuals I dealt with during that time. You just can’t make this stuff up, lol.

    The most difficult thing I am dealing with right now is ensuring that there I am trying to present my antagonist in such a way that the reader will feel, at least a little something for him, it is harder than I thought to bring forth empathy for a killer.

    I am a panster and find that the best and easiest way/thing for me to do. Write. Fix later.

    I do find it surprising that my current WIP has headed another direction than my “overview/outline” had envisioned. Shrug, it is fun writing the new concept.

    What have you learned?
    That I have someone who is supporting my writing endeavors and now I have found this blog. Both very inspiring! I am not alone!

    What I need? I need a contract! :D

    How is the whole writer’s existence?
    Outstanding on the creative side. The financial side from writing at this time is nonexistent; therefore I do have to work. On the positive side, more story lines…

    Again, thank you for asking!
    Lori Kolin Mofield

  • I’m late to the party, but I’m happy to be asked, so here it goes:

    My first novel is a Sci-Fi Detective story, taking place on the orbiting Harmony Station and the ever expanding East Coast megopolis near Washington, D.C.

    I’m plugging along at it, some days just getting my 350 words in. On other days I do much better. My self-editing instinct has been a real hard-ass and taking him down has been a challenge, but I’m getting there.

    By “getting there” I mean that I’ve rewritten the first chapter about seven times.

  • I’m glad a writer friend of mine sent me a link that (eventually) led me here.

    I’ve been DOA, as far as writing’s concerned, for a while now. I’m working 3 jobs (1 full time, the other two about another 10 hours/week combined), looking for a place to live, and trying to help with my grandmother’s care as much as possible; by the time I get home all I want to do is sleep. And not wake up. Ever.

    My writing group has not gotten together for critiques in the past 3 months, but we have one coming up in two weeks. I’m just dying to send something more than a poem in, but my brain feels like mush. And seeing one of my group writing 20 pages (single spaced!) per month is not helping me motivate.

    I keep hearing myself say, “I’m going to do that in June when my 2 PT jobs cut back,” but even June is starting to terrify me. Anyone got any suggestions? I see a lot of you talking about having small kids. How do you find the energy?!

    • Wish I had words of wisdom for you, but boy does your comment strike a chord. And as the pressure to write mounts, writing gets harder and harder. All I can say – with the knowledge that it’s really not that helpful – is to just DO IT. Without concern for what it sounds like or is. Without editing. Without expectation. And maybe it’ll lead to something amazing.

      I really hear you, though. Life always manages to get in the way.

  • The amazing thing about writing is how much you have to do to be able to do it – I mean, let’s set aside all of the artistic concerns (getting inspired, getting motivated, turning off the evil editor part of the brain, shouldering aside the large chunks of writer’s block, worrying my prose is fairly awful, etc) for a moment. The part that’s making my head spin is the entirely separate art form of MARKETING. Writing pitches, queries, and hooks; researching agents and editors; trying to get comfortable with self-promotion. Yeeeee-uck.

  • Due to circumstances beyond my control I’ve been out of the writerly life other than a NaNo and some proofing work for others for over a year. Now I’m in a place where I have the time and space to write and, yeah, nothing. I mean ZIP. Part of the problem is because I’ve been off the scene for so long I now feel like I have to play catch-up. I’m reading about branding/self pub/and all manner of other shit I’m supposed to do if I want to be professional. Overwhelm much! It was much easier before I knew about any of this other crap to just sit down and write a story. Now I can’t even edit one of my own stories. Argh!

    Reading your blog un-fucks stuff, makes me laugh, and helps me put things in perspective. So along with reading a couple books to hone some weak points and learn about story structure and…gulp…plotting, I strolling through your pages looking for page one. (cause I thorough like that.)

    So what’s it mean when everything is perfect for writing but nothing comes? What do you do for that?

  • Too many ideas, I find it hard to ignore the ones I don’t need at the moment and focus on one. Then when I want the other, be able to come back to them without being sidetracked all over again. I don’t have writers block, I have writers diarrhea and no working toilets! yeeesh!

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