How NOT to Write a Book

As I’ve mentioned, my WIP has been a work-in-progress for the past seven years.  That’s not to say it’s  the only thing I have worked on – it hasn’t been – but I have been working on it for seven years.

So, I feel qualified to write this post and give you all the ways to NOT write a book.  I haven’t conquered the how TO write a book yet, but I’m working on it.  Without further ado, here are your lessons in how NOT to write a book:

Numero Uno:  Don’t write.  Think about the book instead.  Talk to your critique partners, your friends, the mailman about your story.  Brainstorm until it hurts.  Plan the scenes out, but whatever you do, do not sit your butt in that chair and write.

Duex:  When the story gets tough, start another book.  If you ignored the first lesson, this is your key to failure.  As you work on a story and get deeper into the  details, things will get hard.  You’ll start to dislike your characters, question your plot, but don’t worry.  Just when you think you’re sunk, a different, completely fabulous and ridiculously complete story will come to you.  Be sure to write it down.    Then you can focus on that for a while – weeks, months.  Whatever it takes, go for it.

Three:  When you finish the first draft (assuming you’ve ignored the first two lessons), let it sit for a while.  A year or two is good.  During this time you can focus on your family or one of those other stories or de-cluttering your house.  By the time when you go back to the book, you’ll remember nothing about your plot or characters and will wonder why the heroine likes to work alone and how the villain came up with his dastardly plan.  That takes a while to recover from, you’ll be set.

If you find you can’t wait that long, another option is to get stuck in the revision loop.  For this, you revise the first chapter, or first three chapters for contests, submisisons, your critique partners, whatever.  The key is to just keep polishing those few pages without ever getting to the rest of the book.   This is a sure momentum-stopper.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

Hmmmm… maybe I do know how TO write a book.

# 1:  Write.

Of course, you need some time to plan, to think about your characters, your conflict, your plot.  But unless you write, you will have nothing.  Stephen King in “On Writing” says to take no more than three months to write the first draft.   THREE MONTHS.  A first draft doesn’t need to be perfect – it’s a starting place.

Two:  Revise.

Yes, this process is hard.  As your story gels and your characters become more clear you will have to re-write.  But you’re writing.  Don’t let other story ideas distract you.  Write them down in enough detail so when you get back to them you know what you were thinking, but then go back to the original and finish it.  Work all the way through it.  The best way to do this is to read through it without changing anything, but making notes on what needs to be fixed.  Then go fix it.  Start with the biggest problems first (i.e. plot issues) instead of the easy stuff like word choice or syntax.  Those sections might undergo bigger changes when your big problems are fixed, so don’t sweat the small stuff yet.  You may have to make several passes to get it right, but don’t take years to do this.

Please.  For your sake.

Finally, remember these things:

Thinking is not writing.  Writing is writing.  Revising is writing.  Writers write.

This has been my mantra lately.

Sitting Pretty

Okay, here we are, the day before my (second) self-imposed deadline, and I’m sitting pretty – pretty close to finishing!  I worked hard to wrap up some stuff this morning, then knocked out some small stuff this afternoon like making sure chapters were about even and numbered correctly, fixed the places I had marked with questions, and re-worked some rough spots.

Tomorrow I need to finish a scene and submit the query and then I’m DONE!!!

Well, and send it to a couple of beta readers and work in their feedback, but I’ll be done enough to start working on the next one.

Have I mentioned this book has been my WIP for the past seven years?

I probably shouldn’t mention it, but it’s the truth.

Can I just say I will never work on a book this long again?

Can you please hold me to it?  🙂

Thanks.

How many posts can I title “Oops”?

Dang, now that Britney Spears song is running through my head.

So, the last time I posted was Wednesday.  It’s Sunday now.  I did write Thursday and Friday, but didn’t get around to posting here.

I’m coming up on my second self-induced deadline (Tuesday) and have a lot to do to finish, but I’m SO MUCH CLOSER than I’ve ever been before!

Today I don’t have a lot of time for writing until later this evening, so hopefully my brain cells will kick in then.  Otherwise, I’ll be up early tomorrow and working hard.  I have the day off work so I’ll be pushing to finish this thing!

For now, getting to work in the little bit of time I have this morning…

Oopie!

Missed yesterday – very busy and didn’t get up early.  🙁

Almost missed today.  Not feeling well this morning, even left work a little early.  Feeling a little better now, but it’s 9:15 and I should probably go back to bed.   Gonna write for a bit instead. <save draft>

Okay, worked some and made some progress.  Off to bed for now.  Hope to be feeling better tomorrow!

Missed you!

Written 1/18/15, but never published.  Guess allergies were still affecting me.

Ooops!  I forgot to check in last night, although I did edit about 15 pages yesterday.  Today is not going nearly as well.  Allergies had me down this morning with a massive headache and tonight I can’t seem to concentrate at all.  I keep editing the same sentences on the same page over and over.

I think tomorrow will be better.   So I didn’t meet my 10 page goal today, but only got through about four.

Boo.  Hiss.

See you tomorrow.

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!*

*As said in the voice of a commercial announcer.

Confession time.  I did not edit 20 pages yesterday.  Also, I did not post here  🙁  I did do 11 pages, though, so at least I met my basic goal, which was 10 pages per day all week.  I got through about 135 total from last Sunday to Saturday – almost double my goal.  Pretty happy with that!

Today I rocked it again and got through about 49 pages.  A lot of this has been edited multiple times, just going through one last time.  I’ll probably have another pass-through since I still have two more scenes to write, then a few loose ends to tie up.

The end is in sight!

My goal for tomorrow is to finish the scene I’m almost done with, then start another one.  I’d like to have at least 3 new pages by the end of the day.  I plan to get up early and to work at lunch, unless I end up going to the store.  New words are hard for me but being in the flow of the story should help.

See you tomorrow!

Ending the week with nice progress

I got up early this morning and edited 41 pages!  Was about to head to bed tonight, but realized I hadn’t posted about it yet, and I just had to share.  What great progress to end the week with!

The hard stuff is right around the corner, so I’m taking the quick, fairly easy pages for granted while I can.  But the end is so close, I can almost taste it!

Mark me down for at least another 20 pages tomorrow before we head out to watch my daughter’s soccer team play in the freezing cold.  I got some new gloves tonight, and am excited about trying them out.  They work with my phone so I don’t have to take them off to text.  Can’t wait!

Okay, I can wait.  It’s going to be in the low 30s and could be raining.  In fact, the whole tournament might be cancelled if it gets really bad tonight, so we’ll see if I get some extra writing time tomorrow.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Conga line

I don’t have any great words of wisdom tonight, except that going back to work after two weeks off sucks.

I edited 18 pages at lunch today, 8 over my goal, so high five on that!

Tomorrow’s goal is another 10.  I might have to get up early to get them in.  I should probably get up early anyway and then maybe I can get some extra pages in again, but I didn’t sleep well last night and today my allergies started a conga line in my head making it pound for about the last six hours.

La la la la la LA!  La la la la la LA!

Now it’s stuck in your head, too, isn’t it?

Sorry.

British Morning Tea

Over the past few days, my church read through the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation in just under 80 hours.  We had thirty minute shifts starting at 12 midnight New Year’s morning and ended this morning, Sunday, Jan. 4, at about 6:20 AM.  It was a pretty cool endeavor.

While others in my family read, I followed along using one of the pew Bibles which was a different version than the one used for the reading.  As I read along, I was amazed at how different the versions were.  Word choices, sentence structures, even tenses were changed, but the meaning conveyed by both was the same.

As a writer I found these differences interesting, and a bit disturbing.  I’m in the part of revisions where I am analyzing each sentence, each word, and deciding if it works, or if there is a better choice to get my meaning across, and to be shown so dramatically how many ways there are to say the same thing raised the question about why I am agonizing over it so much.

My sister and her husband read books aloud to each other and she has told me how he inserts synonyms on the fly as he reads.  She finds it fascinating, and a part of me does, too, but as an author I know how much thought is put into each selected word.  To have it changed so frivolously seemed wrong to me.

After an all night party at our house one year, my brother-in-law asked for British Morning Tea instead of coffee.

“British Morning Tea?”  I was stumped.

“Yes, like hers.”  He pointed to my sister’s cup of English Breakfast Tea.

Similar.  But not quite right.

And so I’ll keep on agonizing over my word choices and sentence structures until I get it right.

Check-in:  I met my goal of 20 pages (and exceeded it again by about 15 pages).  Tomorrow is my first day back at work after 2 weeks off so I’m going to go easy and just set a goal of 10 pages.

Thanks for checking on me!