Friday, September 30, 2011

It's the novel that suffers

The week started out very productively.  I got a lot done Monday and Tuesday, and picked up a new client to replace some of the work I've been missing from a client that isn't as active as they used to be.  I'm feeling like I don't have quite enough client work lately, so I'm looking for maybe one or two more small-but-regular clients, preferable something fun.

The rest of the week wasn't as productive.  Wednesday my mom and I started getting organized for a doll show we sell at every year, so I guess that was a productive day, just not in work terms.  Yesterday I had my riding lesson and then just a few hours in the afternoon to do some administrative kinds of things before a friend came over for dinner, so I got virtually nothing done.

Of course, as you might have realized from the title of my post, it's my novel that has suffered from the lack of work time.  I didn't work on it much at all the two days I did work, except for a little research that I did (thankfully) get done.  I haven't added anything to the word count all week.

As a result, I ended up changing my plans for today.  I was going to go over to my in-laws' house to work with my mother-in-law's 2-year-old colt, something I've been doing once a week most weeks, but between sleeping in (apparently I was very tired!) and a last-minute babysitting job, my window of useful time today narrowed so much that I decided I'd better stay home and get some work (and some laundry) done.

It's disappointing in some ways — I really do love my time with this colt — but at the same time, it feels like the right thing to do.  Besides, if I can make a spontaneous decision to put aside work in order to do other things, I ought to be able to make the reverse decision when needed, right?

What about you?  When you lack the time to do everything you want to, what is it that suffers first?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Do you ever have those days

...where you just stare at the page (or screen), and nothing comes?  Today has been one of those days for me, and I'm not even talking about my novel.  I'm talking about before I even got to my novel, when I was still blogging.  I worked on a book review blog post and a post on my horse blog, and in both cases, I stared at the screen for a good long time before I decided what I wanted to write about.

This is an unusual occurrence, especially for my horse blog.  I always know what I want to write about on my horse blog.

As a result, I haven't gotten around to doing what I wanted to do on my novel today.  So frustrating.

Does this ever happen to you?  How do you deal with it?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Reading novels as research

I've read a lot of differing opinions on whether or not a writer should read similar novels to what they want to write.  Some say yes, because it helps you to gather information for your book and to learn about the market, while others say no, because the risk of "borrowing" tone or style from other writers is too high.  Some say only read them before you start writing, and stop once you begin working on your novel.

I've been doing a little of everything.  I read fairly quickly, so I'm constantly reading something else, and something else, and something else.  A few of those novels have been similar in some theme or another to what I'm working on, but not all that many.  When you consider that I also haven't been working on my novel consistently this entire time, I suppose the risk of "borrowing" isn't too high.  But I have found that the similar ones have all contributed something to my understanding of my setting (1920s Chicago).

One book in particular I found helpful, not only because of the book itself but also because of the author's website.  I recently read the second in a series of YA books about the 1920s, and at the end I saw a reference to the website.  I checked it out, and found this little gem: a glossary of 1920s slang.  I'd been compiling a list on my own, but finding this greatly sped up the process.

What about you?  If you write fiction, do you find that reading similar books to what you are writing helps or hurts the creative process?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My fingers fly when I'm having fun

I didn't add nearly 5,000 words to my manuscript yesterday, but I didn't do too badly, either: 2,702 in just an hour and 45 minutes.  Between that and some work on my blogs, I had a moderately productive day.

It just goes to show how productive I can be when I'm enjoying my work.  I mean, that's more than 1,500 words an hour!  Pretty fast when you consider that I'm creating something.

In the past, I've blogged a lot about burnout, and procrastination, and other productivity problems that plague me.  What if the answer, all along, was to find something I enjoyed more than what I was doing?  Not that it necessarily has to be fiction, but I think there's something to be said for the idea that procrastination is a sign that you don't like your work.

In any case, I'm finding that I enjoy my current balance quite a bit.  Part client work, part novel writing.  I know that there will be times where I'll be doing mostly client work because of upcoming deadlines, or mostly working on my novel because I don't have much client work at the moment — and that's fine.  I just hope I can maintain the balance — and my new outlook — over the long term!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fits, starts, and writing out of order

I had a couple of very busy weeks, as you probably guessed from my lack of posts.  The first week of September, Michael was off of work, so I took some time off too — hard not to when he's home, because we end up doing stuff together anyway.  After that I was busy playing catch-up on all the assignments I'd neglected while he was home.  And then when you add in all the horse and family stuff I've been doing lately — well, it's no wonder it's already fall, and I'm left wondering what happened to my summer!

Yesterday, however, I finally felt like I "got it back" — the productivity on my novel that I experienced briefly a few weeks ago, that is.  I worked hard and got all of my client projects done, and found yesterday that I had nothing to do.  Then I remembered my poor, neglected novel — oh, right, I was supposed to be transitioning to working on that more often!

I started out with a little research, and by the time I was done checking on what I wanted to check on, I was excited about my novel again.  I wrote, and wrote, and wrote.  Then hubby came home and we had to meet a friend for dinner, so I had to stop.  (Very reluctantly, I might add.)  So afterward, I came home, and wrote and wrote some more, until it was quite late and I was quite tired (underneath all the excited energy that comes from getting wrapped up in writing a novel).  When all was said and done, I had added a whopping 4,648 words to my novel, all in one day!

I'm doing something very uncharacteristic of my usual style.  I am usually a fairly linear person when it comes to novel writing, starting at the beginning and working my way to the end.  But this novel has been different.  Occasionally scenes have come to my mind and I feel I just have to get them down before I forget what I wanted to write.  Other times, like yesterday, my research triggers some ideas.  In this case, I was doing research for one character's backstory, and decided to write the entire scene (or scenes) where he tells his story, which takes place somewhere in the middle of (my vision of) the novel.  So far it's been wildly successful, and I'm about two-thirds of the way done (it's a long story).  Once I finish, I have to work out the details that will fill in between the beginning and the middle, but that won't be so hard now — since the backstory is so heavily wrapped up in the entire conflict and resolution of the novel, it turns out I actually had to write this part before I figured out the rest of the story.

Luckily, I don't have anything else pressing to do today, so I can make it another novel day!


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