Writer’s Boot Camp Day 16

Today is all about figuring out my weak spots as a writer.  

The timeline given has 7 sections to think about:   

  1. Ideas- I’m pretty darn good at this.  I’m imaginative and creative.
  2. Rough Draft- no problems here generally,  sometimes I’m lazy or spend too much time in research, but the storytelling part is easy and comes naturally for me.  I like making shit up.
  3. First review- I enjoy the first reading of my work, while it’s still new.  I like making little changes, moving things around, tinkering with the characters.  This part sometimes makes me feel a little sad because I think “wow, you write like a little kid” but other times I love reading my own work.  I feel proud the first time I read through and edit a short story. Novels are different, I apparently refuse to read my novel, and the rough draft has been done 4 years!
  4. Second/Third/Fourth drafts –  I start getting a little bored, but I can do it.  I might have to take a day or two off from a project and work on something else, but I got this.  
  5. Proofreading and polishing – here things start to fall apart.   I don’t feel like I have the skill sets and tools to even try proofreading my own work.  Many of my projects dead stop right here.
  6. Sending out work – I have 12 “finished” but unpublished stories,  I have 18 “works in progress”. I have 0 places I plan to send them.  0, nada, none, zilch. I have a page on which to write deadlines, but it is blank.  I have a list of markets I should look into, but I never get around to it. I do have one piece that is scheduled for publication in September, so I do sometimes submit, but not often.  
  7. Dealing with rejection and resubmitting – Yeah, not so much.  I just cry.

That’s pretty clear.  I don’t find places to submit, so I never have to finish proofreading and then submit.  I don’t like rejection so I avoid it. Clearly, this is where I need to be focusing my attention.  It seems a little counterintuitive, but maybe for the next little while I should stop writing for this Writer’s Boot Camp and start spending the time searching markets.  That thought makes me feel a little sick.

Looking for calls and markets takes so much time, and so much reading and effort.  And once I find a place I almost always want to start a new story. I never feel like any of the ones I already have done will work.  This could be a stalling technique.

I guess I need to start adding “look for markets/submitting” to my daily tasks.  This seriously might be where I give up on this whole thing. This doesn’t sound fun at all anymore.

I’ve only been working on this half an hour and I feel emotionally drained, about to cry just thinking about it.  I’m going to feed the cats, take a break and then come back to this and start looking for story calls. Ick.

I found 12 possible magazines and anthologies to submit to in the next few months and put all the info in a spreadsheet.  

Aside from this blog post, I haven’t done any actual writing today and I’m not going to.  I just spend 1.5 hours reading calls and submission guidelines, that is enough for one day.  

Tomorrow I will put them in order by deadline date.  Then I’ll find something I already have finished and polish it up to submit or I’ll write something new to submit, but I’m doing these one at a time, trying to complete as many as possible.

Work time today was 2 hours

Writer’s Boot Camp Day 15

It’s almost 4 pm and I’m just now starting on this.  It’s all because of physical therapy. Anything that changes my routine can really throw me off.  I got up early, drove in Atlanta “oh God!  Water is falling out of the sky! What do we do?!?” traffic, and then did an hour of hard exercises.  Then drove home. I got home at 12:30 pm and I should have gotten to work then, but I changed clothes, did some of my morning tasks and took a nap.  Sorry! I didn’t mean to, but I guess I was really tired.

I was dreaming, that I was showing Dean from Supernatural a thing I had made, a health monitoring suit.  And he was telling me how we had to stop Dio (“Holy Diver” Dio) from getting enough red gold to build a throne for Satan. I was going to help him, but first, we were going to eat  Campbell’s chicken noodle soup.

Anyway, I’m awake now and ready to work.  

The book doesn’t have any exercise today,  it’s just about making sure you have enough snacks.  I normally work at home so that generally isn’t a problem.  But I’ll remember this sage advice for any time I’m out in the world.  

I guess I need to just write now.  Maybe do a few of those “obstacles” from yesterday?  I’m not that far into the new story I started, the mystery and it is really hard for me.  The main character isn’t someone I can identify with, we have very little in common which makes him very hard to write.  Also, mystery, or at least this sort of real-world rules crime story is hard, because I’m not a cop or a lawyer. I’m having to stop and research things all the time.  The worst part is that it’s set in the 1960s, so info is hard to get.

Today, I want to give up.  I honestly don’t know why I’m doing this.  I feel sort of silly working this hard, because I have very little to show for it so far and because I’m feeling like I suck.  Like I’m never going to be a very good writer no matter what I do, because of a learning disability I have. Unless I can pay someone to do tons of editing to fix the fucked up ways I write, and I don’t have much money. I’m feeling sort of isolated. Maybe I need to make friends with more writer’s. Or maybe I just need more friends.

I guess we can count that last paragraph as 5 minutes of writing down hurdles.  The fact that I am very smart, well read and creative, but have the sentence structure and punctuation of a 3rd grader is certainly a ‘hurdle”. Or the sentence structure of Hemingway, depending on how you look at it.  That bro was all about the run on sentences and weird punctuation.

I’m going to pull out one of the cards and do whatever it says now.  

60 minutes – I started a short story using a list of words on the card,  Working title “Curse at the Opera”

After that, I took about a 2-hour break.  I’m just not an awesome motivated person today.  But I’m back.

5 minutes of free writing

10 minutes putting some notes and to-dos in my writing notebook, mostly from a podcast I listened to earlier and updating my worklog.  

20 more minutes on “Curse at the Opera”

10 minutes editing “Eat the Rich”

Total writing time 2 hours 55 minutes

Writer’s Boot Camp Day 14

I’m pretty surprised I’ve gotten this far.  I have written at least an hour every day for the last 2 weeks.  I don’t know if I have ever done that before, maybe back when I did NaNo in 2013 or 2014.   One of my self-definitions is that I lack discipline, but maybe it’s time to change that label because I’ve not only done this but I’ve also been dieting for a last 3 weeks and lost about 8lbs.  I still have about 10 lb to lose to get back to my pre-leg breaking weight. Weighing less and continuing physical therapy will hopefully get me off using a cane in the next few months. Hey, there is another thing where I’m pretty damn disciplined,  I’ve done P.T at least once a day almost every day for a year, many days I manage twice. I also got my first yes.fit medal this week for finishing a 22 mile race, sadly it took 10 months because when I started it last July I could only walk about half a mile a day.

On to today’s assignments, which are called the “obstacle course”.  Looks like I’m going to be working on lots projects today and timing them.  Might be hard to get into a groove, but we’ll see.

10 minutes on the mystery story I started last week.  

5-minute sprint, also on the mystery story

So it turns out the timer I’m using only beeps when I’m on that web page because my stopwatch says 50 minutes right now.  So I did way more than 5 minutes on the mystery story sprint. I’m going to pause for a minute and go find an egg timer or something. Well, never mind, I don’t appear to have an egg timer, odd I just figured that was something everyone had.  I mean, yeah, I never bought one….but you know seemed like something that would just be there…I’ll put the timer up on my other screen, I don’t know why I didn’t think of that before.

5 minutes of free writing

Made some notes about the free writing in my notebook for later

5 minutes of “weightlifting” – worked on the outline for the mystery story

5 minutes of “hurdles” I face today,  that was pretty cathartic, I like to whine.

10 minutes of cross-training (working on something that isn’t writing, but keeping a notebook nearby to write down thoughts) – I paused my stopwatch for this.  I took my afternoon vitamins, had some soup and listened to part of a short story on “Starship Sofa” about living under the authority of Grays (classic bigged headed, flying saucer, mutilate cows and put things up your butt aliens). I didn’t have any thoughts that I wanted to write down.

10 minutes of meditative writing (I wrote a short poem about aliens, but not about them putting things up my butt)

10 minutes of reflection on the obstacle course exercises

This was a little odd.  I’m used to focusing on one project for as long as I possibly can before my brain starts to feel squishy.  I sort of power through the scenes, even when that isn’t what I really want to be working on. This was better in that I moved around, mentally.   I had lots of thoughts and ideas. But on the other hand, I didn’t get much usable material. I only have about 4 paragraphs on the mystery story, a few ideas jotted down in my notebook and part of a rather poorly written poem.  But I might be every more drained than normal. It’s only been about 1.5 hours and I feel like I have been at this all day!

I think maybe this book will help me find my own best ritual for writing, maybe a few of those 5 or 10 minutes things before focusing on my main WIP would be a nice mix for me.

Total time today 1 hour 47 minutes

 

Writer’s Boot Camp Day 12

Today’s theme is endurance but also picking what you want to put your energy into.

I feel this contradicts with yesterday’s advice about being busy and doing lots of things between writing.  Today the book is saying to give up or pull back time on things that wouldn’t have catastrophic consequences.  So which is it?  Have a balanced life that is super busy because of writing or change your priorities letting somethings slide and use that time for writing.

I finished writing my WIP yesterday.  I will grant you that 11 days to finish one short story is a little long.  I have finished short stories in a day before.  However, that was a long time again,  in the last year I have finished maybe 2?  So one in 11 days isn’t bad.  I feel like I have been writing all the time some days, which adds to feeling like 11 days is too long, but I need to remember that I’ve spent most of the “writing” time doing these blog posts, reading, and researching.

I’m going to type this up when I get home. I’m in a car now, going to the mall to hang out with one of my friends for lunch and some shopping.  Shopping is a weakness of mine, it makes me feel good. I got a Pinkie Pie glitter mud mask and the best Tokidoki unicorn today, the perfect one I that I have been hoping to get for my new house! Yay!.   After I get this typed up I’m going to edit “Eat the Rich” and maybe start on story #2.  I guess the mystery story I started working on a few days ago.

I’m home now, obviously, since this is typed. I spent about 10 minutes emailing and texting friends, relationship maintenance, and then cleaned for 30 minutes, because the litter boxes were gross.  Full disclosure, I took a few muscle relaxers because my leg is hurting and my back is feeling tight.  So maybe I should work on literary fiction because I’m about to be “artistic” if you know what I mean.   😀

I guess up until this point I was about 45 minutes in.  I worked for 30 minutes on editing and actually fell asleep at my desk, how amazingly authentic!

I finished editing the story and then emailed it to a friend to read over.  This feels like progress.

Total writing time today was  about 2.5 hours. I am now going to spend the rest of my Sunday drinking pink alcohol and binge-watching netflix. 

 

 

Writer’s Boot Camp Day 11

The theme of the day is “cross training’  but not working on another project, but more balancing writing with the other parts of life. The idea is that with all the extra writing I’m doing that all of my other tasks would have fallen behind,  but thankfully I started this project while I’m currently not working, so I have about 8 hours a day of “extra time’ and I’m only using about 3 or 4 a day tops on writing.   Some tasks have fallen behind, because I’ve added in other things in my downtime, like doctor’s appointments, working on my side job, listening to more podcasts, dieting and going to the gym more.  Yesterday I did almost nothing productive other than doctor’s appointments, driving, and writing.

I was looking at houses and I have officially started the moving process today by getting a storage locker. This makes me a little happy and excited, but also super sad.  I really don’t want to leave my home. Moving is going to be stressful and take a lot of work and time, which oddly enough something the book feels I need at this point.

The phrase “If you need something done, give it to a busy man” is used by the author.  And I know from experience that super busy Kitty is a more productive Kitty. My last year of college (in Macon, GA) I was taking more than a full load of classes, working 20 hours a week at Barnes and Noble cafe,  I lived in Monticello 45 minutes away from work and school, went to the gym 5 days a week and I was dating someone who lived on the Northside of Atlanta. I don’t know how I did it, but I got everything done. It was weird how much stuff I could fit into one day,  granted I was sometimes up until 2 am, doing homework when I knew the alarm was going off at 6:30 a.m. I was sleep deprived and probably took too many stimulants, but I sure was productive.

I’ve tried to be that productive since then and it never works.  And I think the reason is there are no actual consequences and/or no one else cares. In college, if I missed classes or didn’t study I would fail the class,  wasting time and money if I had to retake something. So I worked my ass off because I didn’t want to retake anything. If I lost my coffee shop job we would have been in serious trouble for money, because we were just barely getting by. I probably should have given up the Atlanta boyfriend, but at the time that seemed important too.  But almost nothing I do now is that import, take this project for example If I just stop working on writer’s boot camp right now nothing bad will happen. If I don’t read the books on my reading list nothing bad happens. I seldom have guests over so my house doesn’t need to be that clean. I’m stressing a little about not having a paying job right now, but I have money saved so I’m not super worried.    

I literally could just feed my cats, clean litter boxes, take out the trash a few times a week, feed myself, take my meds and shower sometimes and nothing bad would happen.  I only have about 1 hour of things I “need” to do in any given day. That will all change in about a month when I have to start moving seriously, knowing I have a deadline, and maybe at that time I’ll get more productive in everything?  

I keep a Daily Task Tracker now with lots of tasks on it.  I very seldom finish it any given day, but I normally do at least the first half.  The process is that I get up in the morning and I just start doing these things in order and most days I do ok, but there isn’t any real urgency about it.    I think the book wants me to sort of alternate between writing and the rest of life, with the theory that you are more creative when you are active. I can buy that, worth trying anyway.

I have an idea, an experiment if you will,  on this cross-training. I think parts of the day when I’m supposed to be doing stuff I’ll work on my list for some amount of time and then write for the same amount of time and then made even add in breaks too.   It is Saturday at 4 p.m and I don’t have anything I have to do until 6:30 p.m when I need to get ready for an event. So I’m going to try to create urgency.

I’ve been working on this so far for 40 minutes,  but I think I’m going to work in 30-minutes chunks until 6:30;  Writing, working on things off my list, break. (I’ll pause the writing timer of course)

In my 30 minutes of not writing work I filled up cat food at water bowls and then worked on the KonMari for dresses,  This will take a while because I need to try most of them on and I started with 74 dresses. Also, I have wonderful taste in clothing and most of these dresses are beautiful, which makes getting rid of them hard.  

For my 30 minutes of deserved break, I started a show “Altered Carbon” which everyone says is very good.  So far I have no idea what is going on, I don’t think it’s a watch in half-hour increments sort of show. 

I was supposed to then write for 30 minutes, but I got caught up in what I was doing and wrote for an hour.  :-/

Oh, well, I’ll try harder tomorrow to do this alternating between writing and other tasks.  

Total writing time today was  

Writer’s Boot Camp Day 10

I don’t want to do this, it’s 6 PM on a Friday night.  I would rather be going out with friends. I had two different concerts in my planner for tonight.  I decided which one to go to, the later show, with the more talented musicians, but I have decided against going at all for a few reasons.  One of which is I have to do this stupid writing and two is that planning is hard and I don’t want to drive out to a show alone.

I had two doctor’s appointments today,  I forgot to have any caffeine before I left the house this morning, meaning I have a headache now.  The computer screen is bright and the computer is oddly loud.

I feel like the advice in the book today isn’t currently relevant.  It is about using brainstorming, story mapping, outlines, and timelines.  How doing these things can make the writing process more efficient; saving time and helping you create a better story.

20180511_182807I agree, brainstorming is fun and has helped me when I’m having writer’s block.  I found two old brainstorming sheets from novels I started.  Both of these novels are still in the works, so if anyone is actually reading this, thank you for that, but don’t steal my ideas. I’ve never used story map, but it sounds like a good idea. I know from experience outlines can speed up your writing, while also keeping the story on track and making sense.

 I used to not be a fan of outlines, I felt like they were extra work and would stifle my raw creative genius. Then I realized I’m not some literary savant, but I normal person who loves to read, who loves to make up stories and who wants to tell stories that others want to read.  

So now I use outlines, especially in longer works.  Sometimes I don’t in short stories.

Which brings up why this exercise is irrelevant today.  I’m almost done with my current WIP, which had a rough outline.  I only need to write a few more scenes and edit, so I can’t follow the book’s advice and do an outline for my WIP.   I guess I could it for the project I was researching yesterday, but I don’t want too. I would rather finish one before getting too involved in another.

This books is encouraging multitasking a little more than I would like.  Yes, that makes it feel more like a “real” job, but also I think might decrease productivity.  But who am I to say, since clearly people buy Rachel Federman’s work and not mine, so I guess that means she knows more than I do.  

I’m going to work on my WIP for 30 minutes now.  I wish I had finished the painful emotional scene yesterday, working on it today seems really, really hard.   I hope writing this shit helps me get over some stuff. Maybe stop thinking about it so much so I can forget a little,  but not forgive.  I will never, ever forgive.

Maybe I can do editing type stuff on it instead, I don’t know.

I mostly just read what I had so far and did some edits.  I’ll do the hard stuff tomorrow.

Total time worked today is 1:25,  much less than yesterday, felt longer.

Writer’s Boot Camp Day 8

I’m frankly surprised I’m still doing this.  Focusing on one thing for this many consecutive days is hard for me.  I’m having to fight the urge stop because I feel like everything else is falling behind.

While I’m out of work with my official day job, I should be doing more of my side hustle,  It’s been over a week since I worked, and no work means no money. That is stressing me out.  I have a good bit saved, but still, steady income is important. Also because I wrote for over 2 hours yesterday I missed going to the gym.  I need to try to make that up today if I going to progress on both weight loss and getting my left leg muscles strong again. It’s been over a year since I broke my leg and I’m still walking with a cane. I know that the damage was severe and some of this will stay with me the rest of my life,  but I can try to make the best of it and get my leg as good as it’s going to get.

Yesterday was sort of hard for me emotionally too,  so I kind of want to not do anything today, except maybe sleeping or watching TV.  I’m tired, hungry and feeling like this writing thing is pointless. Why am I doing this, what do I even hope to accomplish?  If I can’t get my friends to read the things I write how can I expect that anyone else will? How can I expect to have any sort of success?  

Am I a bad writer, who is self-deluded into thinking I have talent and potential?  I wonder if I am suffering from some sort of narcissism to even for a moment believe that anyone anywhere would want to read what I write.  Is this true for everyone who tries to be successful at an artistic pursuit? How do you get past the idea that you are just a petulant child standing in the middle of the room screaming “pay attention to me!” ?  

I enjoy writing when I’m doing it for fun, but most of the time I don’t think I have anything worthwhile to say,  so why say anything? I have other fun hobbies that no one gives a shit about, why not focus my time on those?

Today’s assignment is to spend 30 minutes on my work in progress,  which is good because I’m going to do a Facebook post later with an excerpt from my WIP,  maybe in half an hour I’ll have something good to post.

 

Work Log

At 23 minutes I stopped working on the blog post and switched over to my WIP

At 1 hour 2 minutes, I stopped working on the short story

At 1 hour 7 minutes, I’m done editing this and ready to post, I don’t feel like adding pictures.  

I think I’ll try to write a little more before I post the WIP.