Monday 11 April 2011

L is for...Life Getting in The Way

So today I finally got back to work with a vengeance. I spent the weekend editing large chunks of Storms in Teacups, but not writing any new material. I was stuck on a scene in one of my WIP's and I just couldn't resolve it. So I sat down today with my twin buddies, chocolate and caffeine, determinedto resolve it. And it worked! Now I've managed to resolve that scene it should all be plain sailing. Well...for a couple of days at least.

First drafts can be tricky for me. At this point  I'm still getting to know my characters and discovering what's happening as I go. I know some people find that outlines help, but I find the whole process too sterile. I have a rough idea when I start a novel where I'm going to go with it, but for the most part I play it by ear.

Before I finished Ravensborough and Storms in Teacups I found it a lot harder to get motivated to write. I had a pile of college work, a pile of housework and I was struggling to come to terms with illness. I enjoyed writing, but it was hard for me to prioritise it. I mean, who knew if I'd even finish my books after all? It seemed like a big waste of time.

I find it easier now that I know I can actually finish it. But if you're struggling with first drafts then there are some free applications that can help. First I used Write or Die. This ominously titled website lets you set a time limit and a word count goal. If you stop typing for a certain amount of time then it makes an annoying noise, which doesn't stop until you start typing again. I found this great, though I've recently graduated to Focus Booster, which puts a little bar at the top of your page. You set a timer, I set it for twenty five minutes, and it starts off green, then moves to orange, and finally red. It makes you much more aware that time is passing, and therefore focuses you on your writing. I like the fact that you can write in Word with this app, whereas with Write or Die you have to type in the box on the site, unless you pay for their desktop version. Both of these are handy if you have a busy life and can only commit to twenty minutes or so of writing a day. They help focus you so you get the most from your time.

For edits, I like EditMinion. It's still in beta, but is handy for identifying things like repetition of words, passive voice, that kind of thing.

What about all of you? Do you have any tricks to keep you motivated through the writing process?

Oh, and I'm going to take part in this query critique blog hop. Anyone thinking about submitting soon should think about taking part. On April 19 everyone involved posts their query and critiques at least five other queries. Like Query Shark but with less sarcasm :)


  1. I'm with you in that I have an idea of where I want to start and how I want it to end and then I kind of just fill in the rest as I go. I've heard mapping out events can be useful, but I've never actually done it. I might try your EditMinion--it sounds like something I could really use. Happy writing!

  2. Well, they're not mine. I discovered Write or Die on the Nanowrimo forums, and Editminion is from him too. And I discovered Focus Booster on Amanda Hocking's blog.

    Glad someone else writes like me! I'm overawed by all those people who manage to outline. It's a feat of organisation that is probably beyond me.

  3. I use an outline. I need to be a little more focused. Usually, it works for me. That way, when I get bored with one scene or get stuck, I flip to another. I don't have to write in order. It does still take a little time getting to know the characters, but that's what revising is for, right? :)

  4. I tend to write the same way you do. I have a general idea and then I let my characters do what they will. I've found that some of my best ideas in my novels are complete surprises to me. My characters just take off and go somewhere I never would have considered on my own.

  5. You're so right about how much easier it is to write now that I know I can actually finish! Also, the Write or Die website is a great way to force yourself to flesh out certain scenes that just aren't quite working. I forgot about that website - thats for the reminder!! :)

  6. Hey, thanks for the links. I'm going to have to check those out. :)

    So is this query bloghop set for day Q? And who's hosting it?

    :) Rosie
    East for Green Eyes

  7. Since I needed to do so much research for my novel (it's historical fiction), I found an outline to be really helpful. My first draft was pretty close to my original outline. But the second, third, and final drafts were a series of drastic departures from my original outline. And it worked out really well that way. Since I had all the research done and knew that I had the historical-accuracy part right, I was then able to focus on my characters. And once they came alive there was no way I was keeping them in the confines of an outline.

  8. @Rosie I found the blog hop over on Alicia Gregoire's blog

  9. Geez, I will have to try Write or Die... sounds ominous but good!
    Today, I will take some black coffee and chocolate chip macaroons into my writing space.
    Hopefully, that will help propel me into a high word count and inspired prose...

  10. Thanks for sharing those websites. I'm always on the lookout for anti-distraction devices.

  11. Thank you so much for the links. I understand the pains of writing, the feelings that it's pointless. I still feel that way sometimes.

  12. Once I'm ready to write, I can blaze through the first draft.