Friday, March 29, 2013

Rock Your Plot, One More Time!

Yesterday, I plotted Book #4 of Series #1. I used the guidance of ROCK YOUR PLOT: A Simple System for Plotting Your Novel (Rock Your Writing) [Kindle Edition], with the supplemental ROCK YOUR PLOT Workbook, and within a few hours, the direction of Book #4 took shape.

The Amazon book description for ROCK YOUR PLOT includes:

Are you stuck trying to write a novel?

Have you tried writing several stories, only to stall out in the middle and move on to a new project?

Do you like the idea of plot outlines, but have difficulty figuring out what happens next, or what should happen where?

Or are you a writer who hates outlining, preferring to write a novel organically– but still feel like your story needs more plot and structure?

Outlining, whether it’s just the turning points or a comprehensive scene by scene plot outline, might help you get past your block.

ROCK YOUR PLOT: A Simple System for Plotting Your Novel teaches a clear, flexible process to help you with your:
  • Premise: test your premise for inherent conflict and sustainability.
  • Characterization: create strong characters with urgent goals, understandable motivation, and tons of obstacles.
  • Plot outline, turning points: use those characters to build logical and powerful plot points and complete character arcs.
  • Plot outline, scene-by-scene: Develop a sequence of dynamic scenes that propels your reader through your story.
This book goes straight to the point, putting theory in plain language, adding examples from blockbuster stories, and finishing each section with exercises designed to help you work with your characters to write a novel that excites you… and your readers.

Cathy Yardley's  ROCK YOUR PLOT is straight forward and easy to understand and follow. Step by step, a writer is able to build a book using the steps presented. Best $2.99 I've ever spent! What a phenomenal BARGAIN. Highly Recommend!

Current Series #1 Status:

Book #1 thru #3, First Drafts:

Book #4, First Draft begun Friday, March 29, 2013, set for First Draft completion:

Book #5, First Draft start date set for April 17, 2013, set for First Draft completion:

The second week of May 2013, Revision of Series #1 begins.

Writer's write, and this Writer Gal is loving the journey to write books and make a living doing the same.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Time to Write by Kelly L. Stone

This past week, I have been experimenting with a Writing Blitz. My former job consisted of lots of intense hours right before a deadline, then slowed somewhat before the next deadline approached. A blitz consists of intense writing for numerous hours for several days, then taking a few days away from writing. Since that type of schedule worked so well in my former day job, writing blitzes will more than likely take me to an even more productive level.

Kelly L. Stone's TIME TO WRITE explains various techniques that address Writing Schedules, Blitzes, Quotas, etc. In TIME TO WRITE, professional writers reveal how to fit writing into your busy life.

My choice of quota type is Chapters; therefore, my goal is to write 10 chapters per week. If I can write those chapters in three or four 12 to 16 hour days, then take the rest of the week to catch up on other non-writerly things and to relax all the better.

During a Writing Blitz, I get up between 4:00 and 5:00 AM to write. Except for coming out of my writing room for bathroom breaks, a quick shower, and in search of food, I do nothing else but write, with limited internet (short infrequent visits throughout the day) and a brief television escape (later in the day to rest my brain), then write until 11:00 PM.

From Kelly L. Stone's website:

TIME TO WRITE: More than 100 Professional Writers Reveal How To Fit Writing Into Your Busy Life– No Excuses, No Distractions, No More Blank Pages (Adams Media)
If you’ve ever thought or said…
  • “Someday I’ll write the great American novel…when I have time.”
  • “If I were independently wealthy, then I wouldn’t have to work, and then I could write my book.”
  • “I’d love to write for national magazines, but don’t you need an ‘in’ to get started?”
…then author Kelly L. Stone has got good news for you! For Time to Write, she interviewed more than 100 successful, professional writers from across genres, including Sandra Brown, Catherine Coulter, Wendy Corsi Staub, Merline Lovelace, Steve Berry, Tess Gerritsen, Ann Major, Cherry Adair, Christine Feehan, Julia London, Eloisa James, Barbara Delinsky, JoAnn Ross, Hallie Ephron, Jodi Picoult, Jennifer Blake, Mary Jo Putney, Rick Mofina, Pamela Morsi, Robyn Carr, Carla Neggers, Debbie Macomber, Roxanne St. Claire, Tara Taylor Quinn, and many more fiction and nonfiction writers, and she’s learned that if they could find the time to write, then so can you.Kelly breaks down the excuses and blocks you might have for not writing and gives you practical steps for carving out time to write, no matter how busy your day, your week, or your life is. From creating a schedule to holding yourself accountable, her interviews offer practical advice on how you can create adequate writing time and do it consistently enough to become published!

This is another writing book that I wish I could have read and applied the techniques shared years ago. TIME TO WRITE is a must read for anyone that has writerly inclinations. Highly Recommend!

Friday, March 22, 2013

SBICAW (Sit Butt in Chair and Write)

Years ago, in a creative writing class at a local community college, the instructor wrote SBICAW on a chalkboard in florescent blue chalk and stabbed at the chalk letters with his index finger. He said, "Sit butt in chair and write, that's how you write a book." At that time, I didn't begin to comprehend the mechanics of writing a novel; therefore, sitting my butt in a chair and writing certainly didn't accomplish much.

However, with the write tools (love that!), such as Cathy Yardley's Rock Your Plot and Rock Your Revisions, learning mechanics, although I'm always continually learning something new about writing, isn't a key issue, I am now able to apply the enthusiastic instructor's SBICAW advice.

No, I don't wait on some sort of muse or inspiration, I sit my butt in a chair and write.

To me, waiting on the muse equates to waiting for inspiration to strike like a thought lightning bolt, or waiting until you are in the mood, or holding off until your toenail polish dries, or . . . . (See where we're headed here?)

The story I want to write is my inspiration. Finishing my book is my inspiration. The desire to write books for a living serves to inspire me. I have written while suffering from an upper respiratory bug and taking cold medication (now, those were interesting chapters). I have written while suffering from anemia so severe I was unsteady on my feet.

If I waited for THE mood to write, whatever "the mood" might be, I would never make / take / claim time to write. As far as waiting on some sort of invisible muse . . . I write because I CHOOSE to write, in the SBICAW way, fifteen minutes at at time.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Series #1 Status

In reviewing the overall status of completing my five-book YA Paranormal Thriller Series, as of today, March 18, 2013, my progress is as follows:

First Drafted

Book #1 (100% Complete)

Book #2: (100% Complete)

Book #3: (75% Complete)

Book #4: (Scheduled Start Date 3/25/13)

Book #5 (Scheduled Start Date 4/15/13)


Book #1: (Scheduled Re-Start Date First Week May 2013)


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Writing a Book Fifteen Minutes at a Time

With each fifteen minutes I write, I jot a tick mark at the top of my chapter notes page. Four vertical marks and a diagonal mark across indicates five fifteen minute increments or 1 hour and 15 minutes of drafting time. Sitting before the keyboard, those fifteen minutes and only those fifteen minutes are my focus.

For fifteen minute stints, prepare by gathering and having ready the following:
  • Mechanical Timer, Digital Timer, or Phone App (Alarmed is my personal favorite)
  • 9.5" x 6" spiral notebook (not as intimidating as 11" x 8.5" size for notes)
  • 2 Pens (One neutral color, such as standard black or blue, the second a bright color, for instance gold, orange, green, etc.)
  • Neo OR 11" x 8.5" spiral notebook OR Laptop OR Computer Keyboard (whichever works for author's personal preferred first drafting needs)
  • Drafting Location (being away from the computer and internet, writing on the Neo on a lap desk in my Writing Room while sitting on the Chaise Lounge works best for me)
 The process is as follows:
  1. Set timer for 10 minutes
  2. Make bulleted list, on 9.5" x 6" spiral notebook page with neutral colored pen, of possible scene direction, conflicts, happenings, and occurrences in current scene and/or chapter
  3. Stop making notes when timer alarm sounds
  4. Set Timer for 15 minutes
  5. Write for that 15 minutes and only for that 15 minutes
  6. Stop writing when timer alarm sounds
  7. Jot down a tick mark for the completed 15 minutes at top edge of notes page
  8. Check off, with bright colored pen, any items from your bulleted list that you used in your scene/chapter
  9. Reset timer for 3 to 30 minutes (depending on needs of author for use of break)
  10. Take at least a short break, even if only for a few moments of deep breathing and closing of eyes [Longer breaks may include short housework stints, exercise (Oxycise serves as my personal outlet), reading, a few minutes of television viewing, checking email, etc.]
  11. Repeat Steps 1 thru 3, should direction of scene/chapter falter or additional potential ideas are needed
  12. Repeat Steps 4 thru 11, until first draft of scene/chapter is completed
  13. Repeat Steps 1 through 12 for next scene/chapter
I so wish I had found, understood, and applied this concept years ago. However, I have the technique in my writing toolbox now. Using this process, even with incurring a health issue that slowed productivity and lessened output, I've written 15 chapters in 10 days, fifteen minutes at a time.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

In Training - Time to Write

I have resisted with much effort using a timer as a tool to accomplish my fiction writing tasks -- as in no-way-no-how-you-can't-make-me-do-this-dig-in-heels resistance. Yet, for the past week, because I am so much more productive writing in short stints, I have been training to write using a timer.

During the last several days, I have been applying a combination of Rachel Aaron's 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writer Better, and Writing More of What You Love's ($0.99 Kindle Edition) and Ian Stable's Big Results in Less Time: The time management productivity plan that gets top results - How to get things done in the shortest time for the greatest results ($2.99 Kindle Edition) techniques.

As you can see from the tracking chart I've adapted from Rachel Aaron's process. Since I know that I draft better on the chaise lounge and revise better at the desk, I eliminated the location column. Instead of tracking # of words written, I track by chapter (for instance I might complete 1 1/2 chapters in 3 hours and 25 minutes).


With ten (10) chapters written in five (5) days, there's no denying that this the most prolific route for me to pursue. Writing more in less time is this writer gal's goal, so despite my great resistance, I must pursue what works and what assists me in achieving that goal.

First off, writing in timed blocks feels awkward and restrictive. Secondly, attempting to write within such short time-spans tends to be anxiety inducing. Thirdly, the fact that the technique works is supported by the tracking results. And finally, if it works, then despite my initial discomfort, I need to immerse myself in only allowing myself to write for fifteen minutes at a time.

Going into the second week to of this learning phase, this writer gal's gotta do what a writer gal's gotta do. Train and write.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Time for Change (Process, Goal, and Schedule Review)

In the last few months, to increase my writing productivity, I have experimented with several writing schedules, such as:
  1. Drafting and revision by writing first draft material in the morning and revising in the afternoon,
  2. Revising in the morning and first drafting in the afternoon,
  3. Setting aside three or four days for first drafting and three or four days for revision, and
  4. Alternating weeks of first drafting and revision, while during revision weeks, attempting to first draft for 15 minutes each day to maintain some sort of drafting momentum.
Currently, I am approximately 60% complete with the revision of Book #1, Series #1, while the first draft of Book #2 is complete, and the first draft of Book #3 is 26% complete.

Most of what I consider my low productivity has been due to switching back and forth from drafting one book and revising another; therefore, in order to eliminate the struggle and the slowed progress, for the next six weeks, I will focus on first drafting, while the next six weeks will be dedicated entirely to revising.

If the process ain't working, it's time for change.

I've been attempting to follow the advice of a well-known writing blogger and fiction author. Write fresh first draft material every day, in addition to revising, business activities, etc. While this everything but the kitchen sink process works for this author, the attempt to write and revise at the same time is not working for me.

Should I continue on in an attempt to do both, I will undoubtedly draft several of books, while revising or editing very few of the manuscripts. In experimenting with different time-frames, I have discovered that the blogging author's way is not a path that works for me.

Although task-oriented and able to multitask, I tend to be singularly focused; therefore, either I need to draft one book at a time, then revise and edit that most recently written book before moving on to the next, or draft several books and edit several books, such as those in a series like this one.

Since I'm approximately half way through the current five-book series, I will finish the drafts, then revise and edit, in two distinct phases.

In changing the writing process, I have drilled down the scheduling into daily writing and revision goals to move toward my mid-year series completion goal. Because of my struggle in maintaining a consistent productive pace, I am behind schedule, yet have updated and increased daily writing goals in order to meet the overall goal.

Process reviewed and updated: Check. Goals reviewed and updated: Check. Schedule reviewed and updated: Check. Time for a change: Triple Check!

Monday, March 4, 2013

15 Minutes a Day = A Book In a Year

In order not to lose my first drafting momentum during a revision week, I set aside 15 Minutes a day to draft original material. In those 15 minutes, I am able to write 1 to 1-1/2 pages (250 to 350 words). At 1 page per day or 250 words, even if a writer first drafted only 300 days out of the year, a writer could finish a 75,000-word novel.

My former mindset was that I needed larger chunks of time to be able to focus on my writing. Say three or four hour blocks set aside just to write, which with working full-time plus, of course, never happened.

I see now that this all-or-nothing thinking was a skewed mindset and that I robbed myself of a great deal of writing experience, because at 15 minutes a day, an entire first draft of a novel could be completed in the span of a year.

In order to be able to focus on those 15 minutes, a few hours (5 to 10 hours) of preplanning upfront (1-Page Character Sketch, Character Growth Arc, GMCD chart), and 10 minutes every few days of making a bulleted possible-direction list for the chapter ahead, and a writer would be set to focus on first drafting.

15 minutes a day! Such a small amount of time in our busy schedules. Even with working on average 60-hour workweeks, I could have worked in 15 minutes of doing something I truly wanted to do and that meant so much to me.

So, don't you want your 15 minutes?