Progress Update 2

Hello again!  Last week I fell down the stairs and badly bruised my forearm (I thought it was broken for awhile); therefore, there was no blog post.

This week it is time to write another progress update.  A lot has happened since the last time I wrote one of these.  First and foremost, I have set a shoot-date for the release of my first book and have begun taking steps in that direction.  I have come up with a working publishing-plan and am in the process of finding a professional editor.  I will discuss this more as I hammer out the details in the coming months.

Secondly, I have joined the Critters Workshop critique group (www.critters.org).  It is an online workshop in the genres of fantasy, science fiction, and horror, and I have found it to be a great resource.  Basically, it’s a large community of writers who both give and receive support.  Critters has even devised a way for members to get their whole novel read and critiqued without posting the manuscript online.  Despite its name, the Critters Workshop is full of passionate writers who give thorough and helpful feedback.  😉

I would really recommend joining a critique group for your genre.  Even if you don’t have anything ready to submit yet, joining a group is a great way of investing in the writing world and potentially making some valuable connections.  And if you want to avoid paying for a professional structural edit, this is definitely a must.

That’s all I have for now.  I promise I’ll go into elaborate detail about my publishing-plan when the time is right.

Be sure to tell me about your experience with critique groups in the comments below.  I’d love to hear.

And last but not least, have a great Olympic Opening Ceremony Day!

Happy Writing!

-Courtney

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Progress Update 1

This week it’s time to write another Progress Update.  In the last one I did, my Progress Report, I discussed daily word count goals and their importance.  In this Progress Update, I am going to add a correction to that discussion.

Since I’ve been writing my third book, I’ve realized how difficult it is to switch writing genres when you’ve spent years writing in a single one.  And how writing projects always vary in intensity and difficulty.

So, based on that, here’s my correction.  Well, not a correction exactly, more like an update based on what I’ve learned since.

Word count goals change based on the project.  This may sound obvious, so let me explain.

Last time, when I discussed what I’d learned about daily word counts, my writing was going smoothly.  I had found what worked for me.  At least… for the project I was working on.  I thought that each person had a hotspot between inspiration and burnout.  That if there was a day where I struggled more than others, I should push through and make the word count anyway.

And that was true.  To an extent.

What I’ve learned from writing this third book is that every project has a different level of inspiration.  Some projects excite me more than others.

This taught me that hotspot word counts don’t come from the person only, they are the result of the person and the project together.

With my third book, I feel lucky to get 500 words out in a day.  And that’s ok.  It’s more difficult, it takes me more time, effort, and careful planning.  But at the beginning, I was frustrated with myself for struggling so hard to meet my hotspot count of 2k.  Figuring out why that was happening and learning to accept it was the biggest thing I dealt with this month.

I wasn’t quite sure if I would talk about this for the Progress Update.  Somewhere deep inside me, I think I still view it as a shortcoming of mine.  But in a larger sense, that’s what these Progress Updates are for.  To document my thoughts, my frustrations, and the things I learn along the way.  To share my writing process as it happens.

So this is one of the things I have learned.  Hotspot word counts can change.  Hotspot word counts should change, based on the project.

Hopefully this is encouraging to any of you who are struggling with something similar, maybe feeling discouraged at a sudden difficulty.  It is ok for your daily word count goal to fall.

But don’t let this become an excuse to write less than you know you can.  You must still be writing steadily, working to push through the obstacle or the project as a whole.

Be sure to discuss your thoughts in the comments, I’d love to hear what you have to say!

Happy Writing!

-Courtney

Progress Report

Every month, I plan to write a Progress Update, detailing the goings-on of my writing life.  They will include some of the struggles, victories, and lessons I’ve learned during that month of writing.  I thought it would be appropriate to start my blog with the very first of these to get you more acquainted with me and where I am in writing.

I am currently in the process of writing my third fiction book.  The first two go together, and I am only waiting until my second book is polished before I plan to begin the publishing process of book 1.  As of right now, I plan to self-publish using Amazon’s CreateSpace.  I am looking forward to riding that rollercoaster with you all, sharing what I learn along the way.

I only recently began my third book.  Last week in fact.  I’ve enjoyed it so far, although it’s been a more difficult book for me.  It has a very different mood from my first two books, a mood which I’ve gotten used to over the last year.  It’s also a mystery, which makes it a bit more structurally difficult.  But those are both good challenges which will help me grow as a writer, and I’m looking forward to struggling through the rest of the first draft.

As a writer, I’ve learned that defining your own comfortable daily word count is key.  Write too little, it’ll never get done.  Write too much, you’ll burn yourself out.  Finding a balance between the two is the key to keeping the candle of inspiration burning.  I had a lot of trouble finding this balance when I first started writing seriously.  When I had a flush of inspiration, there were times when I would write for 11 hours in a day because I knew that once that inspiration was gone, it was gone.

Unfortunately, it took me a long time to realize that those 11 hour kind of days were part of the “lack of inspiration” problem.  Every time I had one of those days, I’d burn myself out for a month or more.  Eventually, I started experimenting, trying to get “healthier” writing habits.  I read somewhere that beginning writers should start writing 500 words a day, so I tried that.  I soon began to have the opposite problem as before: frustration at how little I could write.  My candle of inspiration was burning too brightly; I wasn’t using enough of the flame.  So, carefully, I began to raise my word limit.

Eventually, I discovered that 2,000 words was about the hotspot for my inspiration candle.  Obviously, there were parts of the book that came harder than others, and some days where I just absolutely could not write.  But overall, I tried to average about 2,000 words.

This was one of the main struggles I’ve overcome in writing, and doing so has led to an explosion of productivity.

I’d love to hear about your experience with this struggle and whether you’ve found a “hotspot” word limit for yourself.  Let me know in the comments.

Happy Writing!

-Courtney