Monday, July 2, 2018

A new perspective on writing a novel

Have you ever given any thought to how you actually write? I mean, do you know how to go about it. Do you set yourself goals or deadlines, or do you just wing it and see where you end up?

I went very structured with my first novel. I had an outline. I had written down all the characters that were going to be in there, and what was going to happen in every single chapter. With the second book I threw that all out the door, and decided I’m a creative. I can’t outline. I’ll wing it and see what happens. Personally, I now feel like I’m lost. Or should I say, that is how I used to feel.

I listened to one of Joanna Penn’s old podcasts recently, I can’t remember which one, and she mentioned that if you know the length of the novel you are aiming for, you can break that wordcount down into smaller and more manageable chunks. Also, if you break your wordcount down into smaller goals, it seems more attainable. At least for me it does. I don’t know why I never looked at it like that. I guess I just needed to change my perspective.

For book two I am aiming for 80 000 words. And if I break that 80 000 words down into 90 days (about three months), I only need to write 889 words a day. You can even make your timeline longer or shorter if you wish. Breaking it down like that made me feel so much more hopeful. It doesn’t seem like such a monumental task.

Of course there will still be the second draft and the cleaning up of the manuscript, but that first draft is the most important, because you at least have the bones of the novel.

What used to freak me out about writing is that I would go in thinking “I want at least 80 000 words,” and my heart would sink every time I sat down to write. Now I can just tell myself, “I need 889 words.” And I can even take it a step further and break that 889 words for the day down into even smaller chunks. It doesn’t mean I have to do it all in one sitting. I can take 14 hours to write that 889 words. If you don’t reach your goal, you try and make it up over the next few days. If you write more than those 889 words, great.

This just seems like such a revelation. I know many of you might think “Duh, that’s how every one does it.” But I hadn’t, so there. Though, that is how I shall be doing it from now on.

I think it’s easy for me to feel like a failure. Especially when that depression monster hits. So I need things to be simple and uncomplicated. It really makes writing, and life so much easier for me.

So, how do you write your novel? Have you known about this tactic? Do you have another you want to share?

Monday, June 25, 2018

Keeping track of words written

When my brother was recently preparing for his wedding day, he decided it was a good time to declutter. You know, get rid of things he no longer needed, especially those from his bachelor days. While he was in this excited cleaning mode, he insisted the rest of us join him in this venture. I, one who doesn’t want to seem like a hoarder, got a few business diaries I had stashed in my room. As I got ready to toss these good looking diaries in the dumpster, a little voice (inside my head), not just some random voice, told me to look inside first. In my defence I’ve been having some problems with my memory, which is why I didn’t recognize these diaries at first. Once I opened them I found that these were the diaries I had used to keep track of which days I wrote, and how many words I had written, or if or when I was hosting someone for a guest post.

At that moment I felt like I had stumbled unto a goldmine. I could put all these numbers into an excel sheet and give myself a clue as to how much I had written since 2015 up until now. This is something that I have learnt from my researcher brother whose data I had captured for 5 years while he worked towards his PhD (which he got earlier this year). So I put it all into and excel sheet and this is what I got :

Year     Words  Months when written
2015 -    46659    (March, April, May and December)
2016 -    42674    (February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October 
                               and November)
2017 -    69884    (January, February, March and May)
2018 -    5858       (January, February and June)

I did a lot better than I thought I had. If you had asked me how the writing went, I would’ve said that I didn’t get much writing done in the past few years. But apparently I got a lot written. Unfortunately, it isn’t good enough for someone who wants to be a professional writer. The words per year don’t even add up to an average of one book a year. Maybe 2017 could be a novel.

Do you know the very sad part about the data above? All those words written were  towards my second book in my Thelum series, and maybe a few blog posts. Meaning, I have clearly rewritten this book several times since 2015. In 2016 I think I had decided to start over, which I had, and apparently last year I had decided to do so again. I have a bad habit of rewriting perfectly good books. With that I mean I was happy with the story and structure. And then for some reason I can no longer fathom, I would scratch it and start over. I am very upset with myself, and I know there is nothing I can do about it now. All I know is that I am determined to finish this second book. I feel like if I don’t finish it, I will never be able to move on to other writing projects. And I have so many new ideas.

I am still writing down my wordcount and adding to the excel document. It is such a great way for me to track my progress. On Saturday I had the urge to write and I wrote 440 words. I was happy with that. Every little bit helps.

How do you track your progress? Do you keep track of your wordcount?

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

On the agenda today . . .

Hello my beautiful friends. How are you doing today? I hope the past few months have served you well.

I am doing better. I am back in therapy and seeing a psychiatrist again, and obviously back on antidepressants. I’ve had a terrible relapse a few months ago, that was dangerous to my health. As I said, I’m doing better, but I still have a long way to go. I have to take things easy and not stress, which I’m working hard on accomplishing. Also, I’ve developed a sensitivity to sugar and am now more prone to migraines, but oh well. Things could have been worse.

I haven’t been writing, even though my therapist keeps encouraging me to write more. To at least write about how this experience is making me feel, or just vent. It’s been harder to write than I thought. Mostly because my memory keeps abandoning me. I will know what to write the one moment, and when I go to write it down, poof, the idea is gone. I often go into a room with a purpose and once I arrive there, I can’t remember what the reason for entering the room was.

I won’t lie. It has been very hard and frustrating. But I am coping better than I expected. I have definitely learned to focus more on my health. Thank you to everyone who has prayed for me and wished me well. I truly appreciate it.

On the agenda today is to do some yoga.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Taking a break

Hello Friends. How are you doing? I hope you are great. Due to health reasons I’ll be taking a break from blogging and all things “online”.

I have disabled comments, but I know many of you wish me well and a speedy recovery. Thank you for being such a supportive community, and such good friends to me. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Happy 2018

Hello beauties! Happy 2018. I wish every one of you a fantastic year. May this be the year you make your dreams come true. I have decided that no matter what, I’m going to make this a good year for myself. I’ll finish book two once and for all, even if I don’t publish it.

I want to work on balance in my life as well. It can’t be all about writing all the time. So, I’ll be trying to find new hobbies too. I’m no longer in therapy. It just wasn’t working anymore, so I’ve decided that I’ll push on on my own. I can’t let my depression win. Certain days will be write offs, but there will be more good days than bad, and I look forward to enjoying the good days again. 2018 is the year I take my life back. 

As for hobbies, I’m a bit stumped. I’ve always wanted to learn to draw, so I’ve been tackling that. I’m terrible. But it is rather fun and soothing. I’ve been coloring too. It does calm me when I’m really stressed.

So, what are your plans for 2018?

Thursday, October 26, 2017

I just have to do it my way

Today has been a pretty hectic day. I felt stressed and overwhelmed. But when I took some time to just calm down and deal with things, it struck me. Why Murees, are you stressing yourself out over a word count when clearly there is a lot of other crap you should rather be worrying about? The personal crap aside, I realized that I was putting pressure on myself to stick to a word count to make editing cheaper, and so that I didn’t have too big a book. But the truth is, this story is bigger. There’s more going on and it just won’t come in under 100 000 words as I’d hoped. It might even be closer to 110 000.

I’m the one in control of production (creation of my books), and I should give myself more freedom to write the book I want, even if it is bigger than what traditional publishing standards allow. This is my book and I can make it as long as I need to tell the story. Besides, I’m sure my readers won’t mind a bigger book. The stress and expectations were coming from myself, and nobody else. I was messing with my own head. So, I shifted focus once more and now my attention is on the story solely for now. That is why I loved writing and reading in the first place. The story is the most important thing for me. I’d forgotten that.

I had made myself a promise, that I would do things my own way. So why would that not apply to the length of my books as well? Why can’t I do this my way too? I have found that making mistakes, and taking risks is the only way I learn. Simply doing as others do or say is great for others, but it had only ever steered me wrong. So, yes, I will be going with a longer book and doing it my way, as Frank Sinatra had once sang. I have to trust my gut and follow the story.

So, do you always trust your gut and do your own thing, or do you go with the tried and trusted method? What is new with you?