Keeping Score: February 21, 2020

976 words written so far this week.

I’m slowly getting back into my old habits: Walking/jogging in the morning, writing during my lunch break, getting in a language lesson at the end of the day (I’ve decided to take up Swedish. Don’t judge me).

And it shows. It’s getting easier to slip back into the novel every day, easier to make the edits I need.

I’m still daydreaming about a couple of short stories I’ve got floating around in my head, but I’m trying to keep my actual write-and-edit focus on the novel. Because I’d like to be done, or at least done enough that I can send it out to beta readers.

Which will need to include sensitivity readers, I’m realizing. Several of my POV characters are African-American, and I want to be sure I do their perspectives justice.

Depending on their feedback, that could mean I end up doing a lot more rewrites. Or having to scrap the book altogether, if doing right by those characters turns out to be beyond my reach. I hope not, but…I’m not exactly in the best place to judge that.

So I’m going to ask for help. And listen, when that help is given.

Till then, all I can do is write the book as best I can, and hope.

Keeping Score: February 14, 2020

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I finally, finally, found some time to get some writing done this week. 1,500 words worth.

Very little of that was fiction — I wrote a flash fiction piece that came to me one morning — but still it felt good to get back into the groove of writing and editing.

It helps that my office at the new house is coming together. I’ve got all the boxes of books unpacked, and actually have a path to my desk (though no chair. note to self: find an office chair).

Now all I’ve gotta do is find where all my notes for the novel edits are.

And start exercising again. As soon as I’m not sore from spending every spare minute traipsing up and down stairs with boxes, empty or full.

Keeping Score: February 7, 2020

So the move was…rougher than I expected.

As you can see above, I sliced my head open while unloading stuff into our new garage. It’s better now, but at the time we thought I’d need stitches, because it just wouldn’t stop bleeding.

(And yes, I went to Urgent Care, but they couldn’t see me, because — and I’m not making this up — they were overwhelmed with patients coming in prior to the Super Bowl).

We had help moving, but even so it took us all weekend, plus Monday and Tuesday evening, to get everything out of the old place and into the new one. I swear I had no idea how much stuff was crammed into that townhouse.

And now we’re unpacking. Or, as I’ve come to think of it, the “Where the hell are my socks?” phase. Every day is a new hunt for things I used to be able to pinpoint without thinking about.

Oh, and I didn’t take any time off after the move. Which in hindsight was maybe a mistake? Given how much we’ve had to do every night, after work.

As a result of all that, I’m tired, I’m frazzled, and I only got 250 words written this week.

But there’s a weekend coming up, and while it’ll be full-on unpacking and organizing, all day each day, it’ll bring some sense of order to this place. Reduce my cognitive load enough to where I can get back to (writing) work.

I hope.

More on the iPad Pro

In fact, the iPad Pro hardware, engineering, and silicon teams are probably the most impressive units at Apple of recent years. The problem is, almost none of the usability or productivity issues with iPads are hardware issues.

Found Craig Mod’s essay about the iPad Pro from two years ago. It’s an excellent essay, and perfectly relevant today.

It reminded me why I bought an iPad Pro to begin with: The sheer possibilities inherent in such an ultra-portable, powerful device.

But he also hits on everything that makes the iPad so frustrating to actually use. The way it wants to keep everything sequestered and hidden, when to really get some work done on it I need to have access to everything, instantly, and sometimes all at once.

I can get that on a Mac. I can’t on an iPad.

Which is why I disagree with him that the iPad is good for writing. So much of my writing time is actually spent editing, not drafting, and editing is exactly the kind of thing — lots of context switching, needing to see multiple views of the same document at once — iPad’s are terrible at.

I sincerely hope that renaming the operating system “iPadOS” means Apple will start fixing some of these glaring problems with the iPad’s software. It’s just so tragic that the hardware is being held back from its full potential by the OS.

Keeping Score: January 31, 2020

As I’d hoped, I was able to write some more over the weekend last week, and boost my total word count to 1,724.

So the fact that I’ve only got 1,121 words written so far this week is ok.

Especially now that I’m at the point where I’m mostly editing chapters again, instead of drafting new ones to fill in gaps. Easier to comb through a chapter for continuity errors than write the first draft containing said errors.

So I’m 13 chapters from being done! And 10 of those are already first drafts, so they just need editing passes to bring them in line with the rest of the book: a continuity pass, a blocking pass (to check that the setting, and the characters’ movements within it, is consistent), and a dialog pass (to make sure each character speaks like themselves).

Let’s say I’m able to finish 3 chapters a week. That might be ambitious given my schedule, but it means I could be basically done by March.

Done. As in, “let’s send this out to beta readers” done. As in, “you can work on something else now,” done.

That would feel…fantastic. I hope I can pull it off.

What about you? How far along are you in your current work? Can you see the light at the end, or are you still in the long dark of the tunnel? And how do you persuade yourself to keep going, when in that dark?

Keeping Score: January 24, 2020

Only 947 words written so far this week.

I’m not worried though; first because I’ve got the weekend coming, and I should be able to crank out another 600 words, either tonight or tomorrow.

But also because I’ve been working every day, even if that hasn’t produced any words. I’ve been outlining, and drawing up maps, and planning out blocking for scenes that need it.

So I’ve been making progress every day, at least. Keeping the story fresh in my mind, so when it is time to spin out the words, it’s not so intimidating.

What about you? Do you give yourself credit for all the work that happens around the writing, and if so, how?

Keeping Score, January 17, 2020

Only 500 words written this week.

The impending move (and sale + purchase) has absorbed most of my available head space. Every day there’s been more paperwork to fill out, more historical information I need to sift through, more obstacles to clear.

I’ve been able to work on a new short story, outlining and sketching out dialog, but that’s all. No progress on the novel, no revisions to other short stories…Nothing.

But today I should, finally, knock out the last few forms until closing day. And for closing, all I have to do is show up 🙂

So I’m hoping to do some catch-up writing this weekend, and have a head clear enough to get back on my regular schedule next week.

What about you? How do you manage to keep your writing going in the middle of a stressful event like a move?

Writing Goals for 2020

As we roll into the second week of 2020, I’m taking some time to look at where I am, writing-career-wise, and where I want to be at the end of this year.

2019 in the Rear View

In 2019, I did finally achieve one goal of mine: I got a short story accepted for publication.

Not published, yet, but accepted, at least. And that’s something I couldn’t say before.

I didn’t finish the edits to the current novel, though, like I wanted. My internal deadline slipped from October 31st, to November 31st, to Dec 31st, and still I didn’t make it.

So one win and one miss? Or one win and one delayed victory?

I’m going to work to make it the latter.

To that end, I’m adopting the following three writing goals for this year:

Four Short Stories

Maberry proposed this one at the last Writers Coffeehouse, and I think I’m going to adopt it.

It means one short story every three months, which seems doable. One month to draft, one month to solicit feedback, another to edit it into shape.

To that end, I’ve already started noodling on a new story. It’s an idea I’ve been chewing on for a few months, looking for the right angle. I’ve decided to just go ahead and write it, dammit, because sometimes the best way to know what a story’s about is to write it down.

Finish the Current Novel

And when I say finish, I mean finish. Edited, reviewed by beta readers, edited again, and polished as much as possible.

I want to be realistic, and not pick a date mid-year for finishing, this time. Progress on the book has been slow, so far. I’d rather be finished early, and not have stressed about it, then worry myself about a deadline that’s only in my head.

So I’ll aim to be done by December 1st. I’m again stealing the date from Maberry, whose reasoning is that if you finish by December 1st, you can spend all of December partying (instead of working your way through the holidays). Sounds like a good plan to me 🙂

Post More

Beyond writing fiction, I’d like to post more on this blog and on Twitter. Both to interact more with you, dear readers, and also to work on my essay skills.

Looking ahead a year or two, I’d like to be writing essays at a level I could sell. To get there, I’ll need to practice.

So, more blog posts: movie reviews, book reviews, and the occasional counter-point to articles I come across.

Keeping Score: January 10, 2020

1,774 words written this week. Managed to hit my writing goal most days, and surpass it once or twice.

I’m trying out a new schedule, where I sit down to write for 30 minutes each day, between walking the pups and doing my morning jog. It’s earlier than before, and pre-shower (thinking in the shower being my traditional way of resolving tricky plot problems).

But somehow, doing it before anything else is helping me. Like I can go on my jog and let my mind wander again, instead of trying to force it to think about the novel.

The words come a bit easier too, because I know I’m going to sit for a given block of time, and there’s not going to be any interruptions.

Granted, I’m still using tricks to get things done, like focusing on just one tiny part of the story at a time, or doing scenes piecemeal (first dialog, then blocking and description, then thoughts/reactions). But it seems to be working, for now, at least.

What about you? Have you tried changing when you set aside time to write, to see if different times of the day (or night) make it easier to put words to page?