Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Resolutions - February Update

    Since it’s the last day of the month, I’m going to tally up my writing totals and report a little early. I don’t expect to get anything more written today and I’m actually fairly happy with the progress I made in the last month, even though I didn’t meet my goal of writing every day (again).
    Because of how my spreadsheet is structured, my monthly total covers January 30 through February 29. During that time, I wrote 21,574 words. This is about 100 more words than I wrote in January. It’s also nearly double how much I wrote last February. So, on that front – success!
    Yet, I only wrote on 16 days. My goal of writing daily really suffered in the last month and I’m not sure why – though work is the most likely culprit. However, when I do sit down to write, I’ve been more productive. My best day was 3,714 words, but I had several days where I wrote more than 2,500 words. I don’t know what to attribute this to, but I am listening to High Focus when I’m writing and it does seem to keep me focused and less distracted by all things shiny and internetty. 
    My other goal this year is to focus on the main WIP and the back-up novella so that one of them gets finished, hopefully soon. At this, I was a little more successful. I wrote 9,926 words on the main WIP, including an important turning point scene and a scene that sets up the ending (yay!). I wrote 3,443 words on the novella, which is the first of three books. Unfortunately, I did stray and write a couple scenes for the second in the series (6,645 words). I also had to put a couple of plot bunnies to bed by writing some notes for future projects (1,560).
    So far in 2012, that’s 42,173 words. The best part is that I’m happy with the content of those words. My critique partner gave me some great suggestions and I’ve reworked some scenes and reordered a couple others and the main WIP feels like it’s barreling toward an ending. I’m very much looking forward to writing “the end” at the end of that story. Maybe in March? Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pink is the New Green

     The valley turns a lovely shade of pink for a week or so every spring. So it's not yet spring. The trees don't know that.   
     I'm trying to write every day, but this month hasn't been a great success for keeping that routine. But my word count is pretty good for the month. Plus, there's that extra day tomorrow -- February 29th. I'll get some time tomorrow to bring my February word count up and will report back on my progress toward my goals.
    Have a happy Leap Day. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

It's Not Nice To Steal

Dante judges you.
   I don't have a lot to say today. No, that's not true. I did have a lot to say, but I let it out in emails rather than spewing it onto the internets. That's probably a better, more mature option.
   I am now stepping away from the computer before I change my mind.
   But I will say one thing:  It's not nice to steal.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Back to Work

Isleton, the town that never sleeps. Until it's dark.
     A long, relaxing weekend here. I finally slept enough to shake this damn cold and I'm feeling healthy again. Just in time to go back to work.
     As for writing progress, well, I did get another 1,000 words today. On Friday, I worked on the story's structure, moving some scenes around and writing some notes for new scenes. This is one of the things that Scrivener excels at - letting the writer move scenes or chapters around.
     This week's goal is to write every day on the big WIP, even if it's just a few words. Unfortunately, my work calendar is packed. But what the hell. I'm up for a challenge.

Friday, February 17, 2012

When You're Going Through Hell, Keep Going

Montepulciano, Italy.
    Winston Churchill said that. That's what the Internet says, so it must be true.
     Some weeks are better than others. Some weeks bring professional satisfaction, sunny days, a cooperative muse.
    Other weeks just kick you in the teeth.
    This has been one of the teeth-kicking weeks, but it is over. That light at the end of the tunnel wasn't an oncoming train. It was a way out of this terrible week. Or it was a bartender holding a Spanish coffee, the blue flame of burning 151-proof rum lighting my way to the weekend.
    Either way, it's a three-day weekend. And it's a good time for an extra day off from my day job, too. I've been writing very steadily and all of a sudden I realized that I'm actually pretty close to the end of my work in progress. The last few days weren't good for much, but I did get inspired to take out my frustrations on imaginary people. 
   I'm not there yet, but I have momentum. This is an odd feeling, since I feel like I've been wading through mud for the last few months on this project. Now suddenly, my characters have grown, they have uncovered clues, they are figuring out the mystery. They're running out of things to do, which I am pretty sure means the book is about to end. I'm not entirely sure about that. I haven't been here before.
     My strategy of writing daily and focusing on one WIP at a time is working, even though I'm totally breaking the second rule because when I'm stuck on the main novel, I've been writing on the novella project. And that one is also getting close to the end. It's working, even when I hate most of the words I'm writing.
     With three days off, I am looking forward to keeping my momentum going. There's that light again, blinking in the distance. At the end, I'll either have a finished book or a mug of coffee, mixed with Kahlua, rum and triple sec and with a rim of caramelized sugar.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

True Love

    I spent yesterday, Valentine's Day, fighting off a bad cold. My husband brought me flowers, candy, tissues and decongestants. He's a keeper.
    Tonight, I'm feeling so much better and we're having a romantic dinner and watching the most incredible documentary:  The Loving Story. The story of Mildred and Richard Loving is the sweetest love story. If you don't have HBO, you can listen to the 1966 oral arguments at The Oyez Project, though it doesn't really capture the emotional story of a couple who just wanted to live together and raise their children near their family. I love a happy ending where love overcomes ignorance and hatred. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Saturday, February 11, 2012

How to Cultivate an Attention Span

    I seem to be lacking in that thing that lets you sit down and finish a project. What’s it called? Starts with a W? Will-something? Will-promise-to-get-back-to-work-right-after-I-check-Twitter? Yeah, that’s close enough.
    Anyway. I’m always on the lookout for ways to fortify my concentration. I have found two things that are helping.
    First, Vitamin R. This program does have the willpower I lack. Set a timer, shut down the programs that distract me, and just write until the Vitamin R notification pops up in the corner of the screen. I like that it allows me to track how productive I am during the time slice and whether I felt focused or distracted. I use this on my Mac and I’m not sure if it’s available for PCs, but I’d bet there’s a similar program out there for PC users.
    Second, High Focus. I listen to this while writing (also, while working) and I seem to get more done. I have no idea if this is due to the 40hz brainwave frequency that's playing in my ears. It could be just having the white noise block out distractions helps me focus. Or it could be that when my co-workers and my husband see me wearing headphones, they don’t interrupt me as much. But it works and was totally worth the $10 I spent at iTunes. (Also, I’d like to note that I heard of this through this entry at Jennifer Crusie's blog, which can also be found at Lucy March's blog.)
    And with those two tools at the ready, I’m off to add another 2,500 words to my weekly word-count total.    

Monday, February 6, 2012

Who Are These People?

   As an expert in the art of procrastination, I thought I had found every conceivable method of avoiding tasks. I just found another, and this one is nearly guilt-free.
   It's the personality test based on the Jung and Briggs Myers approach. This weekend, I just wasted spent some time having my characters take the test. It really wasn't wasted time because I've been stalled in this story for a few weeks now. Part of that was because I knew what I needed my characters to do, but I needed it to be their idea. I needed to figure out what would motivate them to do the things I need them to do. So I needed to get to know them better. And thus, the personality test.
   Cara is an INTJ, the Mastermind. Rational, a planner, logical, and efficient. These are the sock-drawer-straighteners of the world. She works hard, plots out how to accomplish her goals, and if it doesn't go according to her plan, don't worry — she also has a Plan B and a Plan C waiting in the wings. In romance, she is slightly uncomfortable. According to the profile of INTJs, these types "have little patience and less understanding of such things as small talk and flirtation."
  Alex is a Champion — the ENFP type. He sees life as an exciting drama, filled with possibilities, and wants to experience everything he can. Champions are often reporters, which Alex is, as they not only want to live an exciting life, but also want to share it with the world and can't wait to tell or write about their experiences. Alex is not a plotter or a planner. He's spontaneous, exuberant and messy.
  How does this help me? I don't know yet. But it did serve to put me back in their story and start me thinking about how I get them from point A to B.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Welcoming the Weekend

Tiny grocery in Florence. Packed with all sorts of goodness.
   Wait. It's already Friday? This week has gone by in a blur.
   This might explain why this morning I realized I was still carrying around the grocery shopping list I wrote on Tuesday. Which is why my breakfast options were, uh, scarce. I've also been driving around with my dry-cleaning all week. My clothes are well traveled, but still not dry-cleaned.
   Anyway, this week was jammed-packed with work. I have still been writing when I can, but not as much as I'd like (of course). Today, I was looking forward to sleeping in a little since I didn't have to be at work until 10. My brain nudged me awake around 5 a.m. to remind me of all the things I need to do:  grab file for Monday morning court appearance, write letter to that one guy, call that other guy, research that thing I was thinking about in time for that meeting, find out where that meeting is going to be.
   But instead of getting up and writing a few hundred words, I picked up my phone and checked Twitter. It's been two days since I joined and OK, I get it now. Between Twitter and Pinterest, my productivity is in dire jeopardy. However, if today goes as planned (cue manic laughter), I will be writing this afternoon. Right after the grocery shopping. Seriously. There is nothing to eat here.