Open Writing. Year 1. Month 1. Day 8.

SCRIVENER!

This is how I will refer to it from now on: SCRIVENER! because a program this awesome deserves all caps and an exclamation point.

This is the application that has lifted about 800 pounds off of my shoulders. Where before I had a single Evernote document with a mixed bag of scenes that was a horror to sift through, I now I have SCRIVENER! And SCRIVENER! allows me to divide my scenes up so easily.

You know what else is easy? They have a built in word count target meter counter thingy. Which I didn’t realize until a bit of the ways through my editing, but this is AWESOME. It will keep track of how many words I’ve deleted, how many I’ve added, AND you can even set daily goals. Even better, you can put in a project deadline, then check how many days per week you want to write, and it will tell you how many words you need to write each day.

So I have no word count for today because I copy-pasted from Evernote and SCRIVENER! thinks I wrote 57,000 words yesterday. I really wrote like thirty, because I was too busy dividing my book up into scenes. I still only know how to use about 2% of the program, but that’s okay because even 2% of SCRIVENER! is better than no SCRIVENER! at all.

The goal for Day 9 is finishing up segmenting the book and then getting 1600 words out to get back on track.

On my mind: SCRIVENER!

Also:

Dean Wesley Smith wrote a great post talking about not beating yourself up over not meeting your word count. The TL;DR is basically: the number is arbitrary anyway, so be happy with all you’ve accomplished and just keep moving forward.

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Open Writing. Year 1. Month 1. Days 4-7.

Daily word count: ZERO.

Oh noes.

It’s okay, though. I was killing myself with tiny house stuff, helping Casey finish up a few projects, and most importantly BLUE GENIE. I sewed up some little wallets, which sounds like it was the simplest thing ever and not a huge learning curve process with cursing and tearing out fabric. It looks like I actually sold a few things at Blue Genie this last weekend, which is huge and awesome considering I raised my prices by about 50% and it scared the crap out of me to do so. It really came down to: do I want to lose money and keep doing this? Or earn money and keep doing this?

Writing! Back to writing.

I spent all of my energy on doing all of these things, and this is where I will rant, briefly. A lot of people say things like “I cram in 20 minutes of writing between my six full-time jobs, running a farm, and raising my twelve children, so if I can write every day SO CAN YOU!” Over the last year, the phrase “If I can do it, so can you,” has become my least favorite in the world. Looking at me, you would assume that I am a vibrant, young woman overflowing with energy. I don’t look sick. Even I forget sometimes. But I do have a chronic illness, and I do not have the energy of a typical 25 year old. I manage to do quite a few things, but I cannot do them all. I needed a few days off for my health and sanity; I had to put down one ball and this time it was writing. Long story short: everyone is different, we all make choices. /rant

Good news! Casey bought me Scrivener! I’m excited to dive in and organize my book.

Words to date: 5271

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Open Writing: Year 1. Month 1. Day 3.

It occurs to me that I’m doing too much.

I woke up today with a plan to do some sprints of sorts with my to-do list by setting my timer and working for ten and twenty minute segments at a time on: knitting, cleaning, Jack Friday stuff (sewing), and writing. So I  have clean sheets and clothes, making it several inches on a sweater sleeve, and sewing a prototype for a new product. And I also am carrying around a big pile of exhaustion. This is one of those days where my body reminds me that I cannot do everything I used to be able to do. Just completing these few things completely wiped me out.

Casey was transferring my stuff to my brand new, price-mistake-on-MacMall Macbook Air and I didn’t have access to a computer for part of the day, so I put off writing until night time when I was completely exhausted. I also was putting it off because like I mentioned yesterday, I’m really at the point where I need a good program to help me edit. Or is this an excuse? I don’t totally know.

7:30 PM I managed to finally get to the computer. I started from the very beginning of this manuscript, reading every excruciating word and trying to hold in the urge to erase the first third of my novel. Not that I’m saying the rest of it is Pulitzer-worthy or anything, but damn if I haven’t improved since those opening scenes. Wow. Amazing what 45,000 words of experience will do.

I started editing out some things and probably lost close to three hundred words before I realized I was working against my own word count for the day. I puzzled over this for a solution and hit upon, for now, bolding any words/sentences/paragraphs that need to go and leaving them to be deleted another day. I’m not close enough to my final draft to start pulling them out entirely. I still have maybe 10% of scenes that need to be written, plus ALL transitions. Right now, it’s just a ton of cleanup.

The biggest issue is that when I started writing, I literally only had the idea of dolls on doorsteps and a heroine with endometriosis and that was it. So the characters have changed a bit since my first word-vomit. One big difference is that one character changed from being Patrick Dempsey in my head to Jesse Williams. And with that his personality changed a bit as well. Then I had new story ideas as I went along, so certain sentences no longer apply. I finally know who Marion Sinclair really is, I think. And I need to change her early behavior to reflect that more clearly.

It’s hard to slog through these words and layer in more because it’s a much slower process than just word-vomiting it all up, but I got it done despite my exhaustion and overall anxiety.

1752 words today, folks, though I think it was actually closer to 2000 what with the deletions. Live and learn!

On my mind: Perfection.

Trying really hard not to delete whole scenes. Leaving them as-is as much as possible and just changing ideas where they no longer make sense.

I do feel though that once I have a few books under my belt my first drafts will get cleaner. I’m still learning how exactly to build a story!

Words this month: 5271.

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Open Writing: Year 1. Month 1. Day 2.

Day 2! The day that I realized that my time with The Dolls of Harper’s End is coming to a close. I sat down today and did the thing I really didn’t want to do: make a timeline and nail down the events of Dolls. I was terrified to do this, terrified to actually make a decision on when and how things happen, but I felt much better when it was done.

It’s funny how I’ve been afraid of my own story, like I didn’t have 100% control over what happens when I actually obviously do. I mean, I’m making the whole thing up. Sometimes I hear a little critic voice pop up in my head that says “That doesn’t make sense!” And I literally reply to that voice: “Fuck off, it’s my story.”

I knocked my writing first thing in the morning. 1,712 words.

Now I’m at the point where I need to start cutting text and layering in transitions; it scares me to think about my word count for the story going down, but the time has come.

On my mind: Scrivener!

I just found out about Scrivener, writing software that helps you organize your book (as well as format it for e-publication), and I am definitely interested in buying it. I made a deal with myself that I couldn’t buy it until I sewed a few more things for Blue Genie.

Oh, the games I play for productivity.

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Open Writing: Year 1. Month 1. Day 1.

I keep mentioning Dean Wesley Smith to anyone who will listen.

He does a series on his blog called “Writing in Public” that I really enjoy; he’s basically keeping a daily word count for all of his writing: emails, blog posts, and fiction. I really love that, so I thought I’d do my own version here (not sure I have it in me to keep track of email writing).

NaNo was hugely successful for me for a few reasons. 1) I was afraid of failing publicly. 2) I’m really competitive with myself and with others. 3) I had a visual graph to look at every single day. The last one was huge. Catching that grey line on the graph was intensely motivating for me. I thought I would challenge myself to another 50k this month, and keep track of it using a spreadsheet. Only problem is that I have zero patience with making spreadsheets, even though I love their utility. I googled a bit and found this tutorial. Perfect.

Here’s the link to my Google spreadsheet for my monthly word count. Thanks to my favorite day of the year (New Year’s Eve!) December has an extra day. This means my minimum is a measly 1,613 per day. Easy enough to hit. I can do about 1k words every twenty minutes on average. So only thirty-five minutes of writing a day.

Yesterday I woke up, ate breakfast and managed through three twenty-minute timers to get 1807 words typed on The Dolls of Harper’s End, my first novel and the one that I worked on throughout NaNo.

This was huge for me to write today, since it’s my most intense pain day of the month. I really did not feel well. It would have been really easy for me to not write at all, but I didn’t want to lose momentum from the final 4k day of writing I managed for the finale of NaNo.

Mostly: I don’t trust myself to take a day off. One day turns into two, and then three, and then it’s easy to not write at all. This segues nicely into the main topic that’s on my mind this morning.

On my mind: Creating Habits.

The name of the game this month is consistency. Throughout NaNo I basically wrote in huge spurts (up to 6k on some days), then I would take four days off with zero or almost zero writing. This month, I want to stick to my daily minimum, and stick to it every single day without taking days off; if I make it past my minimum that’s great, but no more writing 6k words and then justifying taking time off after that. If I write 6k one day, I still have to do 1613 the next day.

I want to build the habit of writing and see how that grows throughout the month.

Today’s Fiction Word count: 1807. Total on Dolls so far: 52,118.

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Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner.

I WON NANOWRIMO!!!

I am beyond excited (I made Casey look at every single “Winner” badge pinned to my ID and profile for about five minutes), but I’d be even more so if the book were 100% done. But as it stands, I am at the point where I need to organize scenes so I know what’s missing and I didn’t want to waste time doing that when I had a word count to meet for NaNo.

My new goal is to finish writing and editing The Dolls of Harper’s End by December 31st, 2014.

A few things: I only had 33k four days ago. On Thanksgiving, with Die Hard (the best Christmas movie ever) playing in the background, I pounded out 6k words. I did 17k words in four days. Don’t let anyone tell you that the NaNo minimum of 1667 words is a lot of words. It isn’t. My problem is that the first thousand and a half for the day are slow to come and all too easy to put off. But once I get past that one thousand and a half are past me, it’s like I can’t stop writing. It’s a good thing to know; that I need to be setting higher word count goals per day because I don’t get into my flow for awhile.

Even though the book isn’t finished, I still cannot believe I finally, finally have 80% of a single book completed. For years, I watched in awe as people around me did NaNo, and I wasn’t in awe of the word count so much as I was in awe of them having a clear picture of a single thing to write about.

My whole life I’ve been buying into the myth that a brilliant, perfect book idea just strolls into a writer’s head. Then the writer ruminates on that brilliant idea, without typing a word, and then several years later sits down to write and it all just comes out perfectly.

I was only partially correct about the last part. Once you sit down and actually write, plot problems and ideas come to you (imperfectly). Things start connecting. But you must, must, must write. Believe me: you will work out problems on paper. But ONLY on paper  (or electronic paper, of course).

Without the advice of Dean Wesley Smith and Heinlein’s Rules, I would not have made it this far. And of course Jessica for pushing me to sign up in the first place. And my husband for listening to my incredibly twisted ideas.

Big things are happening right now! I am so motivated it’s not even funny.

Okay. This is egregious celebrating considering the book isn’t finished.

Onward!

Posted in NaNoWriMo, writing | 6 Comments

Wriiiiiting.

Yesterday I was five thousand words behind on NaNoWriMo; I was around 18k when I should be around 23k. I’ve not written at all for about a third of the days out of this month; I’m in this pattern of binging on a large chunk of words, then the next day fasting and not writing anything or not even coming close to the NaNo suggested word count. But I got a second wind a few days ago and have been chasing hitting that grey line to catch up with where I should be.

This morning I woke up, cut out a bit of fabric, and then sat down at my computer to write. Instead I got caught up in Internet spiralling for about forty five minutes. Shameful. And typical.

Instead of beating myself up, I opened up Evernote (which is FANTASTIC for organizing novels) and told myself I need a thousand words before breakfast. A thousand words, before NaNo, seemed like a lot. Now it seems like almost nothing; in fact, it’s so little that I push myself to keep writing by doing it in increments of 1k. I’ll check my count and find I’m at, say, 17,850; and I push myself to go to 18k. What normally happens is that by the time I think to check my count again, I’m somewhere around 18,500. Which is only 500 away from that 19k mark, I tell myself, and 1k words isn’t that far to go to get there, so 500 is nothing…and that’s how I’ve been going.

This morning while writing, what seemed about 15 minutes after I’d opened up Evernote, I noticed my wrists and arms were aching horribly. “That’s weird,” I thought, “Did I strain them sewing yesterday?” I ignored it for a bit longer and then my hunger got the best of me. As I stopped typing I noticed how much my fingers and wrists hurt; in fact it was like my fingers were permanently curled over the keys. Weird, I thought again.

I checked my word count and nearly fell off the sofa. 23k!!!! I’d hit 23k!!! I’d written FIVE THOUSAND words. I checked the clock. I’d been writing for an hour and forty five minutes, non-stop. Time had *flown* by, absolutely flown.

I am so excited. I feel like the characters are writing themselves at this point, and the story is just coming to me and it’s fun to be writing it, to be hanging out with these people who feel at this point like they are real – they just needed some help getting into the world. I feel like a character midwife of sorts. Just bringing these people out into the world.

I feel like a writer.

Five thousand words! In an hour and forty five minutes! And I was having fun the entire time, wanting to be in the scenes, to be really immersed in the world. It was like a movie was playing in my head and I was just dictating what was happening onto my computer.

I could feel horribly doubtful tomorrow, or maybe not. But today I’ve already done 5k words and anything on top of that is just icing the cake.

In the words of Tobias Funke: Huzzah!

So close to catching that line!!!

Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 11.25.06 AM

Posted in NaNoWriMo, writing | 4 Comments

A Little Here, a Little There: Endometriosis and Creativity.

IMG_2043

As most of you know, I have endometriosis. This is a disease that only affects women. Generally speaking, it is caused by the lining of the uterus detaching itself and implanting in places it doesn’t belong: on and in fallopian tubes, outside of the uterus, on the spine, peritoneum, lungs, etc. It can cause pain and a multitude of other unpleasant symptoms; yet some women have endo and have no pain. It’s a weird, complex disease. It’s basically a cancer that doesn’t kill you.

After five years of pain, I was diagnosed with endo in 2008 through laparoscopic surgery. Since that surgery six years ago, my disease has grown progressively worse. Where before it used to be only pain on my  period, now I have pain in one form or another throughout the month (the back pain is a particular kind of terrible). I also have limited energy to do all the things I need to do and want to do.

I have big plans for this month. Yesterday was not a great day for me. I carried a sewing machine about forty feet and was in pain for the rest of day. I shouldn’t lift heavy things but sometimes I forget this and my independent, stubborn side just screams “You don’t need no stinkin’ help!” and I do silly things like mop, and vacuum, and scrub the bathtub, even as my husband is saying “STOP STOP STOP” and then I hurt for a few days. Silly. Silliness. I’m twenty-five years old (soon to be 26) and I can’t mop a floor. Silliness. I’m twenty-five years old and don’t always ask for help. Silliness.

There is a bit of hope on the horizon for me: another surgery. But this time, the correct kind. The kind that will make me feel somewhat better. My specialist doctor says that he doesn’t think I’ll ever be pain free, but that he can drastically reduce the pain I do have. This is WONDERFUL news. He also says that I may need months of recovery and specialized medical care to get me back to functioning almost normally. The surgery is not a silver bullet. But it’s hope. And I haven’t had hope for a long time.

Back to yesterday. I was really upset with myself over how poorly I was feeling, upset that I lifted that damn machine when my whole body was telling me not to, upset that I hadn’t already had the surgery and was already through the long recovery phase so I could be at my best for Blue Genie. I was feeling incredibly down looking at all the work people are getting done for the show on Instagram; feeling upset that I couldn’t be powering through product after product and getting my display components completely ready in the way that other people are. It was a sad place to be and I broke the cardinal rule of the Internet: never go on a lifestyle-comparison spree on Instagram when you’re feeling badly.

But instead of completely wallowing in that self-pity, I only partially wallowed. I got up when I felt like I could and did one thing. Even if that one thing was: get the pincushion and put it on the table – I did that one thing. By the end of the day I had several pieces of fabric cut out for my new Jack Friday product, and a plan for today. In addition to that, I wrote just over 3 thousand words for NaNoWriMo. I just sat and typed when I felt like it: a little in the morning, a little before dinner, a little after dinner. And by the end of the day I had 3k to show for it.

I woke up this morning feeling a little bit better physically, and realized it is November 14. Just by doing a little here and a little there over the last two weeks, I’ve written over 17,000 words for my novel, which is more than I’ve ever written for one project, ever. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’m going to have a book written by the end of the month and that is a goal I’ve had nearly my entire life; I’d just never had a plan before. I’ve designed and ordered parts for a whole new product, I’ve woven the fabric for that product, and I’ve cut out the parts for that product. In 14 days, by just doing a little here and a little there, I’ve achieved so much. It’s not what I used to be able to do, and it’s not all that I want to be able to do. But two years ago I was living by the thought that if I can’t do everything, I shouldn’t do anything.

This year I’m in Blue Genie and am writing a book. And those are beautiful things.

Posted in endometriosis, sustainable creativity | 6 Comments

NaNo and NaWeATTMo Update #1

I just broke 10,000 words on my novel! (And yes, I am behind by about 8k words).

I started a new novel instead of finishing one of the other two, and I am incredibly happy I did. It’s a mystery, and it’s pretty dark. I described the intricacies (ha) of the plot to Casey, who claims to hate creepy stuff and yet watches “Hannibal” regularly AT NIGHT WITH THE LIGHTS OUT; and it completely pinged on his “That is way fucking creepy and dark” meter which is great. If it freaks out my husband enough that he doesn’t want to read the book even in broad daylight, I’m getting somewhere.

It’s kind of amazing that the more I sit down to just. fucking. write each day, the more I have ideas. I think part of my reluctance to write is that I’m afraid I won’t come up with anything. But that doesn’t happen. The more I write the more ideas I have for the story, and the more it comes together. I started out with a creepy idea (based on a true story; not the outcome, but the outset) and had no idea where it would go. Now I have the main bones of it. It’s just a matter of sitting down and writing the scenes. It’s a little tedious, actually, but I’m forcing myself to do it. Man, it’s amazing how I can talk myself out of writing. And it’s so silly: I can easily clear 1k words in half an hour, and it’s really not that hard. It’s just a matter of putting myself in front of the computer and beginning. If it weren’t for Jessica doing NaNo too and my competitive side kicking in, well. I would have quit by now. But I have not! Even if I write twenty words in one day that’s okay. I just have to keep writing. I did 2k today, and want to clear another thousand before the day is out. It’s really not that many.

Weaving! I have my first bit of fabric done for the top secret project (ha again).

IMG_2057 I can’t believe Blue Genie Art Bazaar load-in is in TWO WEEKS FROM TODAY so yesterday I made a list of the things I absolutely need that would make me feel much better to have ASAP. Mostly this involves buying the stuff I need for my booth setup and getting all that ready. I do have tons of old product all ready to go, thankfully, and I’m really happy this show lasts for four weeks so I can continue weaving and adding things as time goes by. Hopefully I will NEED to restock. My expectations are to sell absolutely nothing. Needing a restock would be a dream come true.

I have two looms to dress, some sewing of the first new product to do, and 5k more words between today and tomorrow to write as a personal goal. I can do this.

Posted in jack friday, weaving | 2 Comments

November: NaNoWriMo + NaWeATTMo*

*National Novel Writing Month + National Weave All The Things Month

November!

Is the day after tomorrow!

All! The! Exclamation! Points!

Wow. November is going to be an exciting month. Blue Genie Art Bazaar begins, which means I have several personal deadlines for creating things. I currently have 31 Hound scarves, and 9 Lux scarves. I’d like to bulk that up a bit to 40-ish Hounds. And now I’m adding a new product that I am incredibly excited about. More later when I actually have something to show! You can follow along on my shop Instagram. Oh and now is a good time to mention that I will be, as usual, telling you all exactly how much money I make at Blue Genie. I feel like this sort of info and honesty is sorely missing from the crafting/art communities, so I like to do my part to change all of that.

How do I suddenly have all the energy for all the things? I don’t. Not really. I’ve just decided to push myself a little bit more. The last few months I’ve accidentally been doing too little, which has made me lose stamina, which has made me even more tired. So I’m trying to push back very gently. In addition to that, I might have found a solution for improving my endometriosis. It’s early days yet but I will write about it in time. I’m getting all the proverbial ducks in a row on that, so that’s a bit of a side project.

It’s nice, after being so sick for so long, to have a little hope. I’ve been carefully re-filling my days with things that need doing, trying to bridge that line between not exhausting myself and still finding fulfillment. This has come about through copious list-making, and just doing a little bit at a time on a lot of different things. I even knit an entire sweater in under two weeks! Yes, me. The queen of putting things off until they are perfect. This project has been a purposeful exercise in just fucking doing it and not stopping until it’s done. It’s been very good for me. I improvised the whole pattern. I didn’t frog anything. Not even once! I just went with it.

Now please enjoy a photo of that project in which I appear as a Dr. Seuss character (Casey: “You look very…long in this photo.” Ha! I do.). I haven’t blocked it yet, so the stitches are a little wonky. EMBRACING IMPERFECTION-ISM and just posting it anyway.

Knitted Rainbow Sweater

IN ADDITION to Blue Genie, dealing with my endometriosis, my part-time job, the tiny house, and just general life-stuff, I am excited to say I am doing NaNoWriMo for the first time! I blame my online soul sister Jessica (in a good way). Truth is, I’ve already begun two novels this year (my first ever), and I have a good plan for both of them. I was diligently working on them in July, but I let perfectionism get in my way, so I stopped working on them. Being a part of the NaNoWriMo community as well as having a friend for accountability (the aforementioned Jessica) seems like just the ticket to getting me back on track. I don’t know if it’s technically “allowed” to just keep working on a novel you’ve already started, but I gave up on rules a long time ago, so I don’t care. I’ll be picking one of them and working through the month of November to finish it. I think I only have 10k words so far on it anyway. That’s not nothing, but it’s also little enough that it will be quite enough to be getting on with for the month of November.

So, to recap: weave everything including a brand new product, get a booth setup together for Blue Genie, setup Blue Genie, closely monitor my health, support Casey with tiny house stuff, write a novel, and don’t forget the laundry.

This should be fun.

Posted in endometriosis, i made this, jack friday, knitting, weaving | 5 Comments