Posted by on May 2, 2016 in My Writing, On Writing: Craft and Commiseration, Pentamerone (Tale of Tales), Three Padded Walls, WoC, Word Count Updates and Writing Goals | 0 comments

“I can’t believe it’s already May,” I said to my husband. “Everything is moving so fast! …Except for the election which is taking FOREVER!”

I’m not one to talk politics much online but I will say this: Every election makes me feel like we just need to burn the whole thing down and start over and I think this year might be the very worst yet. Could the whole dang process BE more broken? Argh!

Anyway…

April 2016

Here’s what April 2016 looked like in writing…

Yearly Goal
310,900/600,000 words (52%)

Monthly Goal
 Was 50,000 words but I hit it early so I jacked it up to 85,000 because I have issues

Total Words Written
95,008 words
(My highest word count month so far this year! I said that about March and then went and upped that by another 30k+! This is my second highest word count month EVER!)

Average Words Per Day
3,167

Things completed:

  • Three big publishing deals, one of which I already told you about
  • A two character version of Three Padded Walls
  • First draft of a short play about the Sexy Lamp Test I’m feeling good about
  • First draft of the Vardiello adaptation for the Tale of Tales play

Other Works Actively in Progress this Month:

  • The MG novel nicknamed WOC1
  • Started a non-fiction book based off my Self Publishing a Stage Play series
  • Outlined, wrote a bunch of notes about a picture book about Finger (who is a recurring character with the 3 yo)
  • Wrote a piece for a collection of parenting monologues I’ve been working on here and there between everything else

Overall

The biggest argument for these monthly recap posts is that I felt I didn’t accomplish anything this month but when I’m forced to write it all out like this, it’s clear I was way more productive this month than I gave myself credit for. Honestly, so many of the things I worked on this week were me cheating on my novel revision, that it makes me wonder if I should stop forcing myself to be a monogamous writer. It’s amazing what I will write to not have to work on revision when I’m stuck. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my novel and want to get it done as soon as possible but sometimes it is a big old slog and I get so much more done when I feel like I’m cheating on my main project.

The Self-Publishing a Stage Play book is something I realized there was a market for based on both the popularity of that series on the blog and the number of times people ask about it in my playwriting group. I don’t have a firm deadline for when I’ll finish it. For now, it’s just the project I work on whenever I’m stuck or just not feeling the novel revision.

As for all the other little things, like the monologues and picture book ideas, I don’t mind giving the muse a day to get an idea out it’s on fire about, especially if it’s something short like a 10 minute play where I can finish the whole draft in one sitting. I also need a new short play for all the submission opportunities out there now that Three Padded Walls is spoken for so I welcome newcomers of that genre. I’m also collecting picture book ideas for future development and monologues for two different collections I’m working on that I hope to get done bit by bit between everything else and then, boom, I’ll have a new full length project or two to bust out.

It’s nice to have a bunch of things going on at once, makes the revision setbacks less discouraging.

This April Camp NaNoWriMo session, my goal was to finish this revision of my MG novel to get it ready for beta readers. It didn’t happen. Not for want of trying, mind you, but even giving it my all and working on it with every spare second, it was never going to happen. That said, I made a ton of progress on it and I’m really proud of what I did get done so I’m not too sad about that. The biggest reason that I was trying to race to get the book done by the end of the month was that I wanted to leave myself enough time to work on my next full length play before the summer. But what I realized is that a) there is no surety in this at all and there’s no point in stressing myself to meet a self-imposed deadline only to try to meet another self-imposed deadline when anything could happen to derail either and b) my play may be farther behind than I think it is and c) even if I do push finishing the play back another month, it’ll still leave me plenty of time to potentially get it out in time for the fall anyway so it’s stupid to stress. So I’m going to keep moving forward with this novel and see where it goes.

At the exact moment I write this, I finally burst through from a full month of circling the same five chapters over and over because something in the plot wasn’t quite right and I didn’t want to move on until it was. I think I finally have it… but when I went to go right back to editing I realized that the new section I wrote was too new to edit yet and I needed to let it sit for a bit. So I jumped ahead to the next section and started doing some work there which is hard since I haven’t’ finalized what comes directly before and is also illuminating a bunch of new issues I’m going to have to work on once I get there. So I decided to take a few days off from the novel to let the new stuff sit and have been working on the non-fiction book in the meantime.

This revision has involved a lot of circling and writing the same scenes over and over different ways. A lot of mindmapping and unplanned research too. But as futile as some of this work feels sometimes, I’ve changed the way I think about it so I don’t mind it. The football player runs a lot of boring laps and drills over and over again to be able to perform the right way in the game and I’ve come to realize that the annoying parts of writing (which, for me, means circling around and around while I try to figure out that part that’s not quite right) are those drills. They are strengthening my writing muscles and making me a better writer in the long run so they aren’t a waste of time, even when they feel like it.

Secondly, it’s teaching me a ton about my process and what I need to do better with the next book I write. I thought I outlined the hell out of this book but I’m realizing there were a lot of holes I left wide open assuming I’d figure it out as I wrote it and I shouldn’t have done that to myself. It’s meant I’ve had to stop too many times to mind map (which I’ve started to use all the time, all hail Scapple which is a great program for it) and figure out parts I would have been doing myself a big favor to just figure out ahead of time. The next novel I write, be it for NaNoWriMo or just in general, I’m going to try to do double the outlining that I did for this one with the hopes of writing a much better first draft than I usually do and therefore have to do less rewriting. I am, ever so slowly, learning how to write novels. I’m basing all these lessons off of how I write plays, because that process is still so much more effortless, but I am slowly starting to figure it out and my hope is that they’ll both get easier as I go.

Lastly, the one thing that’s been crushing my soul during this revision is that it feels like it’s taking forever. I’ve been at this for months already and I’m only at the halfway point! But then I got some much needed perspective from my good old spreadsheet. This is the first year I’ve meticulously kept track of how much time I’m spending per day on any given project and what it’s telling me is that is that I need a reality check. Because while I’m beating myself up for taking a full month to figure out this plot issue, the spreadsheet tells me that, with the chaos of life, I only actually managed less than 40 hours on this project. If I was working full time hours, like the writers I’m comparing myself to, that would have been less than a single week stuck. While it’s frustrating on one hand, I know I lose a lot of productivity time to the stop and start way I have to work these days as opposed to when I have time for a nice long session, it’s also good to know I’m not writing as painfully slow as it feels.

In all? A good month of writing and I am grateful, as ever, to NaNoWriMo for the push to get a more done than usual! I absolutely would have taken many a night off if I hadn’t had the obligation to that goal I set.

Up Next

Revision forever! I need to get this MG novel out to Betas. Can I do it by the end of May? I sure freaking hope so!

Once betas have the novel, I’ll be getting the Tale of Tales play ship shape. I have a bad feeling one of the one-acts in that play is trying to stretch into a full length and, if that happens, I’m going to have to decide which full length will take precedence. My ultimate goal is to have a new full length out by this summer but I don’t really care which one it is. And if I can get them both done? Well that’d be just dandy!

In between novel revision sessions, I’m hoping to get that Sexy Lamp Play ready to start submitting and polish up one of the other short plays I did a couple of months ago. As for the monologue plays, I’ll just keep adding to them here and there and hopefully they’ll emerge into something useful before too long.

My spreadsheet tells me I’m on track to pass 750,000 words for the year. I’m not changing my goal, lots can happen between now and the end of the year and I’d rather have a cushion, but it does make me wonder if I should take more breaks or something. I’ve been pushing myself a lot and staying up too late but it’s because I want so badly to finish this novel as soon as possible and I’m hoping, once this project is done, I’ll settle into something a bit more normal.

What is normal anyway? I sure as heck don’t know. How’d your month in writing go?