Day 126 – Chocolate and coffee carry the day

Day one hundred twenty-six of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 2,000

Today was a gray Sunday afternoon, the kind that calls for curling up on the couch under a blanket with a good book, dozing off to sleep in a lazy haze. This morning I promised myself that once my kids and I returned from hockey and the littlest was down for her nap, I was going to write. Oh, did I want to break that promise. I was already saying in my mind, I don’t want to do this. It would have been so easy to listen to that.

I didn’t. Instead, I made myself a cup of coffee and grabbed some chocolate. I set both down next to my laptop and opened it. Let’s do this, I thought. So I did. As I sipped my coffee and nibbled my chocolate (one of my favorite combinations), I wrote more in one sitting than I have in a while. And it felt great. It had a lot to do with sugar and caffeine, but it also had to do with the feeling one gets when they push themselves through adversity to accomplish something. The adversity was my own lack of motivation. It had no chance against sugar and caffeine sprinkled with dedication and empowerment. I don’t want to do this turned into let’s do this and finally, yeah, I did this.

I’ll be honest. My ongoing dedication to write every day and the personal empowerment I harness to make things happen weren’t enough on their own today. Without a doubt, chocolate and coffee carried the day.

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Day 125 – There is nothing wrong with setting the bar low

Day one hundred twenty-five of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words for Days 121, 122, 123, 124 and 125: 2,800

First let me clarify the title of this post. Generally speaking, I believe in setting the bar reasonably high. I say “reasonably” because I’m not a super overachiever. I’d be terrible at it. I am too committed to maintaining a life balance. Overachieving anything, in my humble opinion, requires throwing off the balance. Depending on the goal, something or perhaps a lot of things have to give. Dedicating myself to 365 days of daily writing is setting the bar reasonably high, but nothing more. And here is why: when life requires it, I set the bar for my daily word goal nice and low.

Since this was a holiday week, I gave myself the simple goal of writing at least a couple of sentences each day while we were visiting relatives. Now that’s a goal I can live up to. And guess what? The least amount I wrote in a single day between Tuesday to Saturday was 150 words. Hell yeah, knocked it out of the park. Obviously, I know that’s peanuts in a writer’s world, but I did write every day while in the throes of a holiday break with tons of relatives and activities and distractions and…food. LOTS of food. And I still managed to log a decent amount for the five days. So, yeah. Knocked it out of the park.

Day 120 – Finding time to write during a holiday break

Day one hundred twenty of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 500

It’s Thanksgiving week, which for my family (like so many others) involves traveling and spending time with a lot of relatives. With the prospect of a large snow storm on Wednesday, we may be bumping up our travel plans to tomorrow. This means that finding time to write as of now is going to be especially tricky for the next several days. In addition to coordinating a large assembly for every meal and tackling each one like an Olympic event, my family always has several other activities that take place. Because these next several days are sure to be busy, my only plan for this week is to make sure I write every day even if only a couple of sentences. Anything more than that will be a bonus.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Day 119 – Keep shoveling and hope for the best

Day one hundred nineteen of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words for Days 117, 118 and 119:  2,300

Writing is easy. Writing something you hope people will truly love is damn difficult. I’m having one of those moments when I’m unsure about my writing. I blame these moments on my over-thinking, critical mind. It never lets me go too long without letting some doubt creep in. Fortunately, I don’t doubt what I’m doing. I just doubt the quality of it.

In so many ways, writing a first draft is freeing. The writer can throw it all against the wall and not have to worry about what sticks and what doesn’t. That part comes later. But sometimes the ability to write with reckless abandon and zero refinement can leave the writer wondering what the hell she wrote.

Sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.

-Stephen King

Usually, the fundamentals are there: spelling, grammar, a logical story line, etc. But the writer knows that something about a certain chapter is missing. That’s where I was today. In that moment I tried to tell myself that I will be able to fix it later; during the editing and re-writing phase, I will know what to do to make it great. Enter doubt. What if I won’t know how to make it great? And worse yet, what if no matter how hard I try, I can’t?

Hopefully, Mr. King is right. Hopefully, even though it sometimes feels like I’m shoveling shit, it’s still good.

Day 116 – Tying plot twists together

Day one hundred sixteen of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 1,000

The book I am currently writing is trying to be a legal thriller, which means there are some significant twists and turns in the plot. Now that I am nearing the end of the first draft (“near” being a few chapters away), I have reached a point when I am tying together plot twists. And man, is it fun.

How am I tying them together? I am revisiting some of the foreshadowing I wrote into earlier chapters, and I am now bringing those pieces to fruition. I’m also linking characters who had no apparent connection before and revealing that now, (surprise!) they have been connected all along. I have found that some new ideas have surfaced because of making connections between plot twists. Like I said, this is all a bunch of fun for me.

Interestingly, I have forgotten some of the facts written into the story earlier in the novel. I’m literally leaving blanks for words or partial sentences to be filled in later because my mind has failed me in remembering all of the details. I find this hilarious. I’m the one who wrote the facts, for crying out loud. How is it possible that I have forgotten them? Well, it’s a long book. I have been writing it over the course of almost four months. I’m not sure if it is normal to forget what you’ve written, but I can assure you – I have. Which brings me to my next realization: reading the manuscript once completed is going to be a huge eye-opener. You know, since I can’t remember some of it. It will be like I’m reading someone else’s book.

Geez, I hope I like it.

Day 115 – Write, but get your rest too

Day one hundred fifteen of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 500 plus 800 for Day 114 for a two-day total of 1,300.

Last night I picked up my parents from the airport. Their flight was delayed and by the time they arrived and we returned back home, it was after 1:00 A.M. I wrote a little before I left for the airport, a little more in the car while I waited for them to land, and then I wrote some more after I returned home. Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep last night.

Tonight, I am exhausted. I quit writing after only 500 words in order to get some rest. Trying to write while I’m nodding off every ninety seconds is foolish. So I’m calling it a night. Write every day, but be sure to get your rest too.

Day 113 – The light at the end of the tunnel seems possible

Day one hundred thirteen of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 1,200

I have experienced a turning point in my book that is charging me up to write even more. I have been writing every day for over three months, I’m currently in the middle of Chapter 14 and tonight for the very first time, reaching the end of the book seems possible. The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is vaguely coming into sight.

I estimate that I still have three to five more chapters to write, with a lot to happen in those chapters. At this point, the end is still not that near. But it is coming and I can feel it. And that is quite a thrill.

Day 112 – Excitement in the story affects efficiency and productivity

Day one hundred twelve of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words for days 110, 111 and 112: 3,900

This weekend was a good one for writing. My story was exciting to write and I had some time to work on it. After my slow and difficult “Where to go from here?” Day 109, I started writing on Day 110 with a new idea. Something unexpected for my main character to go through, which totally worked. The story got exciting again, which meant so did the process of writing. And that made all the difference.

I have found my weekend writing schedule to be sporadic and unpredictable. Since I’m not working at my day job on the weekends, I sometimes get to write during the day. 200 words here, 1,000 words there. I fit it in when I can, but I don’t allow myself to get too wrapped up in it because my family deserves my time more than anything else. So I squeeze it in here and there. Last weekend that meant writing in my parked car outside a hockey rink before my daughter’s game. This weekend that meant writing in the car while my husband drove us to Massachusetts for a wedding. I seize my moments as I find them. I believe the excitement of the story in those moments makes me a more efficient and productive writer. Now if only it could always be like that…

Day 109 – Where to go from here

Day one hundred nine of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 400  (Words for Day 108: 1,000)

Yesterday I jammed out 1,000 words but didn’t blog about it. Now I wish I had, because tonight I struggled to write. I was ready and willing, which is half the battle, but when I sat here at my laptop and tried to get things rolling, I stalled out. The thing is, I know exactly what’s the culprit. It’s the story.

Let’s face it. When you’re story is rich and interesting, you don’t stall out. When it’s experiencing a lull in content, you just might have difficulty getting words on the page. That’s where I am at the moment. I’m at a loss for where the story is headed. Even more so, I’m unsure of how the story is going to get there. And this, I’m finding, is not much fun. Frustrating? Yes. Fun? Nope. All I want to do is fix the problem and get back to exciting, fun writing.

But how? What does a writer do when the story is failing her? Honestly, I don’t know. I’m hoping some of you do. For now, I think it’s time to pull out the ole’ outline to regroup and refresh the ole’ memory.

Day 107 – A change in locale was all it took

Day one hundred seven of my 365 Day Writing Project

Words: 550

What do you do when forty minutes have passed and you realize you have only written 100 words? Get up and move to a different spot. That is all it took for me to jam out another 450 words in less than half that amount of time. I left my usual place in the living room, carried my laptop into the bathroom and sat on the floor. So here I am, on the bathroom floor leaning up against the bathtub, writing. Hey, whatever works! I would have kept writing except that it is very late and I need to get some sleep before tomorrow shows up. Plus, my ass hurts. I’m stopping at 550 for today and although it isn’t stellar, it isn’t 100 and I’m thrilled about that.

Yesterday I shared on this blog that I tried ending mid-sentence so I could start mid-sentence today. The idea behind this (which comes from some writing advice from other writers) is that you can hit the ground running when you pick up in the middle of a sentence. I didn’t find it particularly useful since I could only manage about 100 words after jumping in. But maybe I’ll give it another try someday. For now, stopping for the night after a solid (.) works just fine.