Is November Over Yet?

At the suggestion of an accomplished writer friend, I picked up Goal, Motivation & Conflict by Debra Dixon. It’s a fast read and provides an incredibly useful way of developing characters. I created charts for my protagonist, antagonist, and an important secondary character. Following Dixon’s advice, I looked for what each character wants, why she wants it, and what is keeping her from getting it, both on an external and on an internal level. I discovered a couple of important things about my characters, and I saw where in my book I could focus on or enhance each character’s GMC. This is a brilliant tool, one that I will continue to use as I write.

Okay, let me be honest about something: I made those charts weeks ago. In the fury of NaNoEdMo, my blog has fallen to the wayside. I knew this might happen – I warned you – and indeed it has been hard to do much else aside from getting in my editing time each day.

When I very first decided to become a writer, I also decided, in all my fervent naïveté, that I was going to do it “like a real job” and write for 8 hours a day. My mentor (fighting the urge to laugh, I’m sure) told me that none of his successful writer friends wrote for more than 4 hours a day. Since then, that has been my goal.

Starting slow, a little at a time, is the way to build a habit. If you want to get up an hour earlier, begin in 15-minute increments. My sister told me that meditating for 5 minutes a day is better than half an hour once a week. This is how I began writing – one sentence at a time, ten minutes at a time – and it worked. I got up to an hour a day, and then an hour and a half.

But as I immersed myself in my NaNoEdMo, I found I was stuck in my pattern – after an hour and a half, it was like my brain shut off. It was a challenge to push myself for longer.

I became, dare I admit, a little burned out. I was afraid I couldn’t keep up the pace for an entire month, let alone my whole life. The charge of the early days in November, when I was writing more than the allotted hours, faded. My minutes dwindled until I was writing for only an hour some days, only half an hour, and once or twice even skipped a day completely. I discovered if I did two hours a day I could have a day off per week, but I couldn’t keep it up.

So I gave myself a break. Let my mind relax. Considered the possibility of not meeting the 50-hour goal. And then I jumped back in. Yes, I’m caught up. I am actually 20 minutes ahead. And I am determined to meet that goal.

I’m glad for the push that this has given me, glad to see that I can do more than I thought. And I will be glad when November is over!

Plotting Along a Straight Line

More novel plotting. Similar to the other sketch, this one was actually done first. I find these useful for reference, especially when I get stuck. A member of my Santa Barbara writers’ group, who is further along in his novel draft than I am in mine, suggested jumping ahead as a way to combat writers’ block. I found this advice extremely useful. When I’m stuck on one section, moving on to a completely different section can get the writing flowing again, and it’s handy to have an outline of what I’m doing.

Novel Plotting

            When I first started planning out my novel, I tried plotting with an upward trajectory, following the classic Cinderella “rags to riches” model. I felt like I had a pretty good start. I had events, details, and clothing. I started in on character sketches and other forms of plotting until a friend finally told me to just start writing. This was great advice and now, I’m 40 pages into the rough draft. Unfortunately, with 4 chapters written, I’m stuck. I don’t know what happens next. Looks like it’s time to start plotting again.