2016 was… was a year. 2017 might be better. It might be worse. We have to prepare for both, and, now, at the start of the new year, we need to look back on the year and evaluate how we did as writers. Did we tell the stories we wanted to tell? Did we write as much as we wanted to? Did we submit to magazines or publishers? Did we start those projects that we were excited about?
500 February: Thoughts
March has arrived finally, and the 500 February challenge is over. The challenge, for those who didn’t see my updates over last month, was to write 500 words every day for the month of February. The hope was that by the end of the month, the writer would have 14,500 new words in their drafts. I posted (more or less) daily updates on my progress. Unfortunately, I didn’t post from the 23-29th, and that was because I didn’t make myself write those days. I’ll touch on why that happened later in this post. I wanted to take the time, though, to make a post about the experience of doing this challenge and how that relates to the everyday life of a writer.
The Quick Details:
Total WC: 12,710
Time: ~45 minutes
Music: popular songs from the early 2000’s/ current popular songs
Thoughts on today’s writing session:
I was bouncing between working on two different things today. One of them was the short story that I’ve been writing the past few days. I wrote about 473 words for that, which tied up the end of it. I feel pretty pleased with that story. I ended it just under 1500 words, and I feel like I achieved what I set out to do with it. The other thing that I worked on today was a cover letter for a submission due tomorrow. It needs to be looked over by someone, but I feel like it’s fairly solid.
- My fingers, as per usual, are cold. I did, however, locate a pair of fingerless gloves, which are helping. My fingers could have been even colder than they are.
- I forgot to eat breakfast.
- I edited the piece that I’m submitting tomorrow, and I’m really nervous about it. I wrote that about a year ago, and it doesn’t match my current style. I’m afraid that it won’t be good enough for submission. That said, I’m also trying to remind myself that acceptance and rejection from a literary magazine is not necessarily a reflection of me as a writer, but a reflection of that specific work and how it functioned within that specific magazine.
- Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to get accepted. Being accepted would be absolutely wonderful.
- I’m less than 2,000 words away from this month’s goal of 14,500 words. I’m pretty excited to write a reflection on it!
- Rereading my work is making me realize that I need to spend more time on scenery and imagery. I get caught up with ideas and thoughts that I sometimes completely forget to actually show the scene. This is especially true in my creative nonfiction pieces.
- I’ve been keeping a sticker chart to reward myself for writing 500 words in a day, and I absolutely love looking it. I have so many great stickers. (The best three: a turtle, a seashell, and heart shaped cookies).
- Also someone else is sitting at my usual table today, and it’s throwing me off. I dislike when my routine is disrupted.
- I really love writing these additional notes, because I feel like my personality actually comes through in them. Plus it’s a nice place for me to put down what’s on my mind. Normally these sorts of thoughts are what distract me while writing. By writing them down after doing my session for the day, it allows me to push off thinking about them until now.
I hope you have a fantastic day and have the ability to make time to write today. 🙂
Total WC: 11,176
Time: ~ 1.5 hrs
Music: none/ I don’t remember
I had to write a draft for a science writing community that I’m part of. The program works so that a writer is paired with a scientist/ researcher. Unsurprisingly, I’m the writer part of that pairing. I’ve been struggling to write this piece, because I feel like so many aspects of it where up in the air until recently, that I don’t have all the information to write, and that I’m struggling with the problem of writing about someone else. I want to represent my partner in the best possible light and that I give her work the credit that it deserves. Somehow that terrifies me and has been impeding the writing process for me. I’ve been working to try to figure that out, and I’m starting to feel like I have a handle on it. Today’s writing session has been the best one that that specific piece so far.
Day 19 -20:
I didn’t write these days. I was busy with work and visitors.
Total WC: 11,635
Time: ~25 minutes
Thoughts on the writing session:
I almost forgot to include this day’s writing session in the post. I wrote at a totally different time than normal on Sunday. Normally, I write in the morning after breakfast at around 8:30. I start writing at 10:20 at night on the 21st. It was one of those times where I had a short story, and I felt the need to write it. So I decided to write for a little bit before watching television, which was all I had planned I was going to do.
Total WC: 11,686
Time: ~30 minutes
Thoughts on today’s writing session:
It felt so good to be back at the keyboard writing. I realized that I had missed doing it, since I hadn’t purposefully sat down to write in a few days. The short story I worked on yesterday was calling to spend some more time on it today, so I did. I’m not normally a short story writer, but I’m really happy with the story and format that I’m using. It’s written in what I call a “snapshot” format, which is when you write a story by combining a bunch of individual, standalone scenes. Normally there’s some sort of connecting factor to them, but the scenes don’t naturally flow into each other like they do in a normal story format. I think that the premise of the piece (superhero bandages) is just a really fun one. I’m finding that it allows me to play around with both fun/happy ideas like superheroes, and darker ones like injuries. I’m pretty happy with how it’s going to be honest.
- Earl Grey Tea Latte with two pumps of vanilla syrup from Starbucks is where it’s at. I do, however, feel really bad whenever I order it, because the baristas usually don’t know how to make it off the top of their heads. It’ll take them a moment to find the recipe for a tea latte. It’s so good, though.
- I’ve been finding that the act of sitting down to write every(ish) day has been making me a better writer. Not just in the fact that I’m actually writing, but I’ve been more tuned in with my writing self. I think about writing more often. I compose sentences in my head while walking around campus when normally I’m just thinking about where I need to go next. I also feel happier with myself, because I feel accomplished with the fact that I’m writing. One of my biggest worries is that I’ll never be an author, but I’ve been feeling, lately, that all this writing will lead to authorship at some point soonish.
- I have a literary magazine submission deadline for Wednesday, and I haven’t edited my piece for it yet.
- Actually, I have a writing deadline every week for the next month. It’s going to be a little intense.
- This week with be a practice in not letting work overwhelm me, I think.
Those are all my thoughts for now. Happy writing!
Day 16: The Quick Deet’s
Total WC: 8,960
Music: some playlist on Spotify that I forgot the name of
Day 16: Thoughts on the writing session
I underwrote yesterday do to a snow storm. (That might be the worst excuse I’ve ever used.) Basically my entire morning was kind of thrown off by the fact that I had to wade through six inches of snow to get to a dining hall for breakfast, and then I had to do it again to get to the place where I spend my morning doing homework. After having done all this, knocking me off schedule by half an hour or so, I was almost convinced that my college was going to call a snow day. I spend the majority of the morning checking my email for something saying that all classes were canceled or that my professor had canceled class. That did happen, of course. (Six inches is pretty much nothing in the snow country that I live in, although afternoon classes got canceled after we had accumulated over a foot). Because I couldn’t stop checking my phone about cancelations, I wasn’t able to focus enough to write my daily 500. I also didn’t force myself to write that afternoon either, as I elected to have snowball fights and play Portal instead. (I swear, I’m a really dedicated writer, guys!)
Anyway, I didn’t end up writing much because I let distractions have my attention. (I also might have gotten a teensy bit bored of the piece that I was writing, while I took a break from writing my novel.)
Day 17: The bit where I say my word count and stuff associated with it!
Total WC: 9,941
Time: ~50 minutes
Music: none/ I can hear the songs from the radio in the building (mostly popular stuff)
Day 17: The writing session breakdown:
Today was a different sort of writing day, because I didn’t actually write that much. I spent my time today organizing my novel. I have two main word docs that I use: one where I just write everything down when in no real order and one where I order everything into chapters. I feel like that system appeals best to my creative nature and my neat organize nature. It’s like putting random, unfinished thoughts down in random notebooks, and then transferring the best thoughts to a nice notebook with a beautiful cover. Today, as you can imagine then, consisted of me moving about 7-8k words into the organized document and then looking around for the massive dangling threads in my story. I spent my time after that scrounging around in a really old (like almost two years old) draft of my novel for a scene I wanted to repurpose for my current draft. Hence the * on my word count in the above section. I added 918 words to my draft today, but I only about 300-500 of those words were freshly written. I decided to count all of them, though, because the new words were so integrated with the old ones that, the revision looked radically different than the old version.
Also, if anyone is curious, my current (organized draft) is up to 45,074 words, while my creative space draft is at 47, 145. That 2k discrepancy comes from a series of notebook entries that my MC wrote, and I’m not sure where to put into the novel yet. I’ll have to find a place at some point.
- According to a report I saw this morning, we accumulated about a foot and a half of snow yesterday, and there’s a chance of maybe an inch or so more today.
- They’ve gotten better about heating the building I write in, and my fingers are not as cold as normal.
- One of the snowballs that I got hit with yesterday managed to get stuck behind the lens of my glasses, and I didn’t realize it was on the inside (I thought it was on the outside) for five to ten minutes.
- I have decided that I’m re-doing that post about plots that I’ve been referring to all month, because I realized that I don’t have the authority or expertise to tell other people how to plot. Instead I’m going to find a bunch of good articles on the subject and do a quick review of those methods and include the links. Like some beginning writers (if not most), plot is one of those things that I struggle with. I know the general trend of how to construct a plot, but when it gets down to how to determine what’s a plot point and what isn’t I still have some fuzziness. I don’t want to misinform anyone, and that realization took about two weeks to fully brew and come to the surface before I recognized that that was why I was hesitating about posting my plot post, which has been fully written for a week or so.
- I just realized that I could have been ordering an Earl Grey Latte at Starbucks for months, and I haven’t been. You can’t imagine the amount of disappointment and excitement I felt in line when I realized that.
- The after thoughts are not always related to writing, and I always get a little nervous when I write them to put in a post. I wonder whether anyone reads them or if they’re seen as annoying. In my head, though, they’re like the comments that actually define parts of my personality to the reader. And, if we’re honest (and I try very hard to be), there’s something very enjoyable for me, to write all these thoughts down and know that someone might read them and respond to them (either in their own thoughts or in the comments).
- I currently have 6 different word documents open. All of them are writing related. Four of them are different documents containing bits of my novel.
- I’m attending a workshop today, hosted by the English department at my school, where we’re going to go over how to submit to literary magazines, and I am so excited.
- I also have to craft and submit a piece within a next few weeks to determine which writing class I want to take next semester. I also need to talk to my advisor, because there’s a small chance that I might do a directed study course instead of a normal writing one based off of the study abroad program that I’m doing over the summer.
- Does anyone else ever feel that once they start feeling like they have everything under control that they realize there’s actually a bunch more stuff they need to figure out? (see above comment for me.)
- I am honestly so excited about this novel. I feel like I’m really starting to get to a point where I can say “here is a readable draft,” which, after three years of working with these character, I can’t even describe how far I feel like this story has come. I feel like a proud mom.
- Also, I changed the header image if anyone noticed. I was getting bored with how my blog looked using the same image every day. 🙂
Happy Writing Everyone!
While I didn’t post any updates over the weekend, I did end up writing quite a bit.
Day 13: Writing details
Total WC: 7,118
Time: ~1 hour
I wasn’t actually writing for my novel on Saturday. I’d written the ending scene of it the day before, and I need to order my scenes and see what I need to finish before I start writing for it again. Instead I wrote a short creative nonfiction piece about how, as a college student, I feel really insecure about not knowing where I’ll be in five years, or even where I want to after I graduate in two years. That piece flowed really well when I was writing it, and I would consider it mostly done. I’ll probably send it to a couple friends to edit it, and then go over it myself, and maybe submit it somewhere to see if I can get it published.
Day 14: I actually didn’t write on Sunday. I focused on homework, since I have three out of my four classes on Monday.
Day 15: Writing Details
Total WC: 8,665
Time” ~1.3 hours
Music: “Hit Rewind” Spotify playlist
Day 15: Writing Thoughts:
I’m going to 100% level with you guys. Today I wrote fanfiction. I haven’t had time to organize my novel yet, so I still don’t know what I need to write for that. I know that fanfiction gets a bad rap, and a lot of writers don’t consider it a legit thing. To be honest, I have kind of conflicting opinions about it, but I do see it as a really effective way to practice writing. Lately, I’ve been having trouble creating and executing plots. I thought writing a fanfic could help, because all of the characters are already set. I know, more or less, how they’re going to react and relate to each other, which allows me to focus more on the mechanics of the story. I also really struggle with writing short fiction (because my plots are too complicated to fit into 5,000 words), so I’m also trying to figure out how to condense a full story into a small number of words.
I also would like to mention that I got my start as a writer by writing fanfiction in high school. (I should point out that I’m not a smut writer. I don’t really find it enjoyable to write that stuff, so I don’t.) So I actually roots in the genre, and found that it was really helpful and motivating to receive positive feedback on my writing. Right now, I do feel like I’m in a bit of a rut with my writing, and I’d love to see some positive comments to remind me why I write.
That said, I’m having a lot of fun writing this. I’m playing around with a very different plot than my novel, and it’s really enjoyable. I’ve been finding that my descriptions have improved monumentally from when I first started writing, and I’m really happy with a lot of the images I put in the piece. I also have been able to write over 1,000 words without getting fidgety about wanting to finish writing. This is also the first time this month, where I actually feel like I’m probably going to continue writing after I post this update. Part of that might be because I don’t have homework looming over my head, but part of it (a large part) just wants to get back to writing. Writing this piece is sort of reminding me that, before I went to college and declared it my major, writing was my hobby. I enjoyed it instead of worrying about what was going to happen to it. Whether it was good enough to publish or not.
- I had too much caffeine this morning, and I feel like my insides are vibrating.
- My backpack is incredibly heavy this morning. I have no desire to walk up the hill to my classes in an hour or so.
- I’m more than half way through the estimated word count total for the month (14,500).
- The Smoked Butterscotch Latte at Starbucks is okay. Mine wasn’t mixed well enough, though, so all the syrup was at the bottom and it was too sweet.
- I’m actually really enjoying listening to the “Hit Rewind” playlist. It’s pretty much all the popular songs from the past few years. They’re all in the pop genre, but that makes it really easy to tune them out, and it’s been productive to write to.
- I’m kind of questioning my choice of talking about fanfiction in this post, because I’m worried that it will lessen my image as a writer, which I think is really dumb. Fanfiction isn’t the same as high literature, but I think that it’s still valid. Especially when you’re test driving a certain writing technique.
- I will actually bring my fingerless mittens to my writing spot tomorrow, because I’m tired of dealing with cold fingers.
- I should have worn warmer socks.
Day 11: The quick overview of the writing session
Total WC: 4,149
Time: ~10 minutes
Music: I kept switching between playlists to find something I liked. I didn’t like any of it.
Thoughts about the writing session:
This was the first time this month where I had sat down to write and wasn’t about to write the full 500 words. Part of that was a time constraint. On Thursdays and Tuesdays I have a 10:00 class instead of an 11:30 or a 2:30, so I generally have a few hours to write in the morning. Yesterday I had a test and a bunch of things to for my 10:00 class (and the lab following it), so I didn’t have my normal 30 minutes to write. I also didn’t write after getting back home, because I was incredibly tired. (I watched Bob’s burgers and ate chocolate for a few hours). So I really just didn’t create the time in my day to do the full 500 words, and I am a little disappointed about that.
Day 12: The quick overview of the writing session
Total WC: 5,784
Time: ~ 1.5 hrs.
Music: “Morning Commute” playlist on Spotify (not sure if I’d recommend it)
Thoughts about the writing session:
I feel like it’s safe to say that I wrote a little bit more today than I did yesterday. I actually wrote three times the 500 word goal (plus a bit). The reason? I wanted to finish the novel. I knew that I was really close to tying up the end of the novel and I just wanted to do it today. The session got off to a rough start with me checking every 100 words until about 400 to see if I’d hit the writing requirement for the day. After a bit thought, I forced myself to stop checking until I felt like I had finished writing. Often times, I get distracted by word count goals and want to just write until I’ve finished the amount. The word goal, though, doesn’t always line up with me finishing a scene or a section. So today I wrote until I finished the section. Since it’s my 2:30 class day, I felt fine spending that much time writing. I’m also really happy with the ending. I’m sure that in a month or two I’ll be thinking “This is crap!” and edit all of it to make is 1000 times better (as I do with nearly everything). For now, though, I’m incredibly pleased and excited about where I’m at in my writing process. Tomorrow will probably be an organizational day (I tend to write scenes non-linearly, so I have a document that I use to put everything in order), so I might just work on a short story instead of my novel. Overall, though, I am incredibly happy about how my writing session went today.
- The fire alarm went off while I was writing up this post.
- My fingers, as usual, are very cold right now.
- I need to back up my novel on an external hard drive tonight.
- I have a meeting in 15 minutes that I don’t really want to go to, even though I’m super excited about the subject of the meeting.
- I’m literally so happy about writing the ending of my book. I still have other work to do, BUT I WROTE THE ENDING! I know what happens at the end!!
- I’m continuing to play around with plotist.com, and it’s continuing to be interesting.
- I found out about two free websites (one of them is called zotero and I forgot the other one) that organize pdfs and you can tag them and add notes to them. So that would probably be helpful for anyone who works with a lot of research.
- I’m going to be designing a new D and D character tomorrow, and I’m pretty stoked.
- I need to find better playlists on Spotify, and I’d love suggestions if anyone wants to comment them.
That’s it for today! Happy writing everyone!!
Total WC: 4,729
Time: ~25 minutes
Music: None (I had my headphones on too, but I forgot to turn on Spotify)
I did not want to write today. Not one bit. I wanted to go back to my warm bed at home and sleep. I wanted to head down to Starbucks and get a super sugary drink. I wanted to do so many other things beside write. And then, to try to get myself in the mood, I started filling out novel details in a website called “Plotist” (which is actually a really awesome website that you should check out). Once I started doing that, though, I didn’t want to start actually writing. I wanted to keep filling out things about the book that I’ve nearly finished writing. And then I wanted to work on a different project instead of my main project.
So basically, today was one of those days where I had to force myself to open my novel document and work on it whether or not I felt like doing it. That is what I did, eventually, and once I was going it didn’t take too long to reach the 500 word goal. Although, I did get really fidgety around 411 words, because I wanted to be done writing.
I think there were for two reasons that I didn’t feel like writing. 1. Today was in-between-scene writing. I had a bunch of stuff that my character was doing that I felt like I needed to summarize (even though I’ll probably change a lot in revision if not just cut it completely) and it just wasn’t super interesting to write. I just felt like, personally, I needed to write it so I had a sense of the timeline of the last day of my book, which was enough to justify writing it at all. And 2. I’m almost done writing the ending. I’m probably less than 1,000 words away from putting the last few sentences of the novel down, which is really weird. I know that I still have a ton to do with this draft (I have dangling scenes and characters all over the place), but I feel like once I write the ending, then that’s it. Once Adam drives Vincent to the airport, their stories are effectively done. I’ve been working on various versions on this “first draft” for years (seriously, I started writing about Vincent in my senior year of high school, and I’m currently in my sophomore year of college), and to think that I’ve finally found a good ending spot for Vincent, it’s really weird. And slightly emotional? I’m sure that I’ll form more thoughts/feelings about this in a few days when I finally “finish” the story, but knowing that the ending for my characters is coming is just…. it’s so strange.
- I really wish that my Starbucks sold London Fogs.
- The literary magazine deadlines are coming up at school, and I still haven’t figured out what pieces I’m going to submit for them.
- My fingers are so cold. I might have to get a cup of tea for the sole purpose of heating them up.
- The website I mentioned earlier (http://www.plotist.com/) is actually super cool. You can put in character descriptions, timelines, settings, and stuff like that. I’m pretty stoked about it. I also heard that it has a feature that tracks your word count, but I haven’t figured out where that is yet. But if you like things to organize your stories, I’d definitely suggest looking into Plotist. It’s a free too, which is great!
- To combat the impending end of my story (even though I’ll probably be spending another year or so editing and revising it at least) I’m really in the mood to start planning another story. Some sort of sci-fi I think? Or maybe a mystery? Maybe a space murder! Imagine that, you’re stuck on a different planet with only 6 other people in your crew. One of them gets murdered. One of them is the murderer, but you don’t know which one. Plus you can’t afford to not trust your crew mates, because you’d probably die. Oh boy. Wouldn’t that be fun? A fusion of Andy Weir and Agatha Christie?
- It’s so hard to find visual representations of your characters. Google images always gives me super attractive people, but my characters are normal looking. They aren’t supposed to look like models.
- Also, Morgan (from morganpbillings) mentioned the 500 February Challenge in her most recent blog post about the effectiveness of word count. It’s a really interesting read, so you should definitely check it out. 🙂
Alright, my fingers are still cold, so I’m going to stop writing and get some tea. I hope you all are having a great day and that words come to you, like seagulls to an unsuspecting plate of french fries.
The quick facts:
Total WC: 4,219
Today’s session took me a little longer than normal, because I kept getting distracted by thoughts of other projects. I probably should have been about to get that amount done in about 20-25 minutes, but 30 still isn’t bad. The writing went really well today, though, and I’m really happy with what I produced.
I also want to point out that I’ve been doing this challenge for exactly seven days (I didn’t write over the weekend), and in that time I’ve amassed over 4k words. Those are four thousand words that I wouldn’t have had otherwise, and I really love how much I’ve felt like I’ve gotten done just by taking half an hour (pretty much) every morning to write. I also really feel like I’ve been living up to my title of “writer,” this past week, because I have actually been writing. Before my “writer” status was based on the things I’d written in the past and thought about writing, but not on my current projects. Now, I feel very content saying that I’m working on a project, and I imagine that I’ll be mostly done with it in a month. I’m really excited about it. T
hat said, if anyone wants to try this challenge (to write 500 words a day) with me in the next 20 days, you could write ~10,000 words by the end of the month, which is a huge amount.
I’ve been trying to do the 500 February challenge, where you write 500 words a day. Inevitably, I slipped. Over the weekend (6-7) I got sick, and it took a massive amount of energy just to finish the homework I needed to get down. I didn’t have the energy to write, and I realize that that’s a lame excuse. I should have made the time, but I didn’t. It happens sometimes. However, this morning (the 8th) I’m back on track with writing, and I think that it’s to remember that missing a day or two isn’t the end of the world, as long as you get back to work in a timely manner.
Day 5 quick details:
Total WC: 3,007
Time: ~30 minutes
Day 5 Thoughts:
I didn’t feel like working on my novel at all on Friday. I wrote about 12 words for it, before switching to write an idea that had been nagging me to write it all week. So I wrote a little more than 500 words of that different idea. Will I continue to pursue it? I don’t know. My new idea is very much based off the style of The Martian. It’s about a magazine sending a journalist to Mars with a NASA crew. I don’t really have a plot for it, so I’m not sure where it’s going to go. I do know, though, that I don’t want it to turn into a “being trapped” on Mars story line. That’s way to similar to the The Martian, and I wouldn’t be able to achieve it to the level and accuracy that Andy Weir does.
It was fun to write, though. I might go back to it, if I hit another wall on my current novel again.
Day 8 quick details:
Total WC: 3,641
Time: ~25 minutes
Music: “Viral Hits” playlist by Spotify
Day 8 thoughts:
After not writing at all over the weekend, I was expecting to have trouble getting back into the groove of writing. I didn’t have that problem at all. I had the best writing session that I’d had all month (save day 1). I didn’t run into the same block that I had on Friday, and the words just sort of flowed today. They went in a direction I hadn’t expected them to, and I’m really happy with the result. I can feel the ending is almost here. I have to finish the scene I wrote today. Add one scene of the different characters leaving, and then the final one of my character leaving for his plane. Then it’ll be done. Of course, I’ll need to go back and add some additional scenes, and finish up scenes that I’d left unfinished. I’m getting close to finishing my draft, though, and it’s really exciting.
Additional Thoughts that I enjoy adding:
– Using the List app on your phone is a super helpful place to write down ideas for blog posts, stories, and your novel. I can’t believe it took me this long to figure that out.
– I’m still working on that Plot blog post I promised to put up a week ago. It’s taking longer than I thought, and I’ve been busy.
– I feel like I’ve made a lot of excuses in this blog post.
– I wished that tea/coffee/latte vending machines existed, and I wish that one existed within a ten foot radius of me at all times. @Starbucks get on that.
– Has anyone ever invented latte flavored chocolate bars? Because I’d love a vanilla latte chocolate bar, oh my goodness.
– I swear, I got like nine hours of sleep last night, why am I tired?
– If you feel like procrastinating on writing, Steam (and maybe other video game sites?) are having sales right now. I got three different games for just under $10. I also got one game for $20, but that one wasn’t on sale.
-Should I be encouraging people to procrastinate? … probably not.