Day 187 – Getting the groove back

Day one hundred-eighty seven of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words for Days 186 and 187: 500

It has been tough to get into a groove writing the last chapter of my book. The fast-paced adventure is over. The characters are returning to where they came from. The story is…well, it’s still going, but it is definitely making me re-think my plans for the ending.

The good news is, I can sleep on it. And that is exactly what I plan to do. If I have learned anything about writing fiction, it’s that the story can change very quickly no matter what plans the writer may have. So I’ll leave it where it is tonight and come back to it tomorrow. Chances are, the groove will come back too.

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” – E.L. Doctorow

Day 185 – The end is near

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

Words: 950

I’m writing the ending of my book. It’s the final chapter and although I am not completely sure how I will end it, I’m close. I should be done in the next few days and because of this, I’m experiencing a broad range of emotions. Mostly, it feels amazing to be this close to the end. But I also feel a little sad that the story – my story that I have been weaving for many months – is coming to an end.

I know it isn’t really ending, since I have a long road of revising and re-writing ahead of me. The story will even change and morph into something different than it is now. So of course, it isn’t over. There may even be a continuation in a series for me to write.

But I still feel a sort of loss I don’t quite understand right now. And that’s okay. I suppose I will understand it more when I’m truly finished with the book. Because then, I will have told the story. It will will be memorialized in print for me and hopefully others to read and enjoy anytime they want. That is, after all, the point in writing it.

Day 184 – The plot continues

Day one hundred eighty-four of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 600

I’m in wrap-it-up mode in the final chapter of my book. As much as I have a need at this point to provide closure and a sense of satisfaction to the reader, I am finding that the plot continues to keep things interesting. It’s not over by any means.

Something pivotal just occurred when my characters are supposed to be winding down. I did not expect it, but I guess that means the end of the adventure has left me – and hopefully the reader – wanting more.

I love how much I learn about the creative writing process from these little surprises.

Day 183 – Gratification oozes in anticipation of the book’s ending

Day one hundred eighty-three of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 2,000

I wrote an almost even 2,000 words tonight as I closed the loop on the story. The thrilling adventure through which my protagonist has been hurtling officially came to an end. So did Chapter Twenty. And now, I should only have one more chapter to write. That’s it. After that, my first draft will be done.

A sense of pure gratification is oozing from my core. I can’t believe I’m almost done.

Until I start re-writing and revising, of course.

Day 182 – Six month milestone!

Day one hundred eighty-two of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words for Days 180, 181 and 182: 1,900

Well, folks. Good news. I have reached the halfway point of my 365 Day Writing Project. Consider my mind blown. This is my biggest milestone yet, and I’m mystified…elated…inspired…satisfied…proud. When I started this Project last July, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do it. Write every day. Blog often. Finish writing a book. All with the goal to eventually publish my first book.

With full-time jobs as a lawyer and mom to three young kids, I knew it was going to be a huge challenge. So far, I have been doing it. I have made time to write and have been writing every day. I have been blogging often. I’m about to finish the first draft of my manuscript. I am working toward my goals one step at a time. But the purpose of this Project goes far beyond writing every day. It is about forming a strong foundation of habits and practices to become a successful writer. It is about the daily practice of self-discipline, commitment and consistent, hard work. Having accomplished this much in six months’ time, I have zero doubt that I will do everything I set out to do.

Over the last six months I have made some meaningful contacts here in the WordPress community and beyond, and I am grateful for all of them. Many of you have given me words of encouragement and support, and have welcomed me into a kind of communal knowledge base that is invaluable. You are all helping me become a better writer. I can’t thank you enough.

I will continue for another six months, and more. I hope you stick around with me. I may be halfway through the Project, but really, this is just the beginning.

Day 179 – Character conflict keeps the reader engaged

Day one hundred seventy-nine of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 500

Tonight, I brought back a character who hasn’t had a direct presence in the book since one of the early chapters. It was fun to write him again, although recalling his voice for dialogue was more challenging than I anticipated. I did the best I could and remembered that I can tighten it up later. That helps me so I don’t have to obsess about getting everything right the first time.

Conflict between characters is one of my favorite elements of fiction to write, and to read. These two characters in particular emote conflict that is both good and bad. They are fond of each other while at the same time, they can’t stand each other. There is palpable tension between them. It’s interesting to write and hopefully, interesting to read. And now that I’m at the stage of closing loops to reach an ending, it is satisfying to see them together again.

Day 178 – It’s never too late to outline

Day one hundred seventy-eight of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 1,200

After I finished writing last night, I jotted down some notes to organize changes in plot. At the time, I didn’t fully realize the value of doing that exercise. Tonight, I did.

I had been having trouble sorting out the many plot changes that developed over the last several months. Even more troubling was the difficulty I was having reconciling those changes with an eye toward an ending. While I wrote last night, the changing plot lined up in my mind and I could foresee the ending. It was an aha! moment. While it was fresh in my mind, I wrote down an outline to map out how it will work. Coming back to that outline tonight was immensely helpful because I had already forgotten some key points. My memory was instantly refreshed and I started writing with a plan and purpose in mind.

That’s exactly how I started writing this book. I created an outline that I followed for a while. Then things changed. The plot took twists and turns I had not anticipated. I loved it when that happened; it was thrilling to see the story develop organically. So I scrapped the outline and just wrote. Creating a new outline as things changed seemed like a waste of time since I figured the plot would just change some more. And it did. Now I know that it is never too late to do an outline. Even if the ending is in sight.

Since I am writing my first book, I am enjoying the learning curve. It is humbling for the most part, since I recognize how clueless I was when I started. Frankly, I’m still rather clueless. But I am learning every day and improving my writing and story-telling skills. It is definitely a journey.

Day 177 – The twenties, hooray

Day one hundred seventy-seven of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 500

As a writer, I’m so easy to please these days. I began Chapter 20 tonight and just about did a jig to celebrate. Why? Because when I outlined this book many months ago I envisioned it to be around twenty chapters in length. I am getting close to the end of the story and here it is, right around my mark. That makes me happy. Like I said, easy to please.

I expect things to change a lot after the first draft, including the number of chapters. I’m already thinking about the re-writing and revising stage. I’m even looking forward to it. Now that I am in the twenties, I feel that much closer to it. It’s probably an odd milestone to acknowledge, but a milestone it is.

Day 176 – Make. Yourself. Write.

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

Words: 1,100

I had no idea what I was going to write about tonight. Well, I knew where I left off in the story last night so obviously I had some idea, but I didn’t know where to go with it. Not knowing what to write can put a real damper on the desire to write. It makes me want to avoid my laptop.

My laptop sat on my stand-up desk, waiting, mocking me as I walked by. I tried to ignore it. I knew I needed to go over there and do my thing like I do every night, but I kept procrastinating. I hoped for inspiration, for an idea to pop into my head. Nothing happened. The pull to go to bed and wait for inspiration another day was overwhelming. But I forced myself to stand in front of my laptop. I MADE. MYSELF. WRITE. And guess what? Within a few minutes, ideas emerged and the story was flowing. I was writing as if I had known what to write all along.

This is the kind of lesson I learn from writing every day, and it is invaluable. Make it happen. Make yourself write.

Day 175 – When memory doesn’t serve your writing

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

Words for Days 173, 174 and 175: 1,800

I started the book I am writing over six months ago. Now that I am approaching the end of my first draft, I am having some difficulty circling back to previous moments in the story. I can remember generally what happened, but I have forgotten many details.

My most recent chapter has a lot of blanks and notations to consider when I’m in the revising/re-writing mode. Until then, I am following my strict policy to not go back and read previous chapters. As you may know from earlier posts on the subject, I’m an obsessive reviser. I can spend ridiculous amounts of time re-working one sentence or one paragraph, let alone a whole chapter. I used to go back to read and re-write before moving on to the next chapter. That was crippling. When I started this Project, I finally figured out that I can’t let myself do that or I’ll never finish a draft.

For now, when my memory doesn’t serve I will leave blanks in the text and notations to come back to when the time is right.