Wednesday, 31 August 2011

ROW 80 Check-in 31st August

A simple but effective three days since last check-in. Plan was to add words to my WIP with my mini-goal of reaching 30,000 words before I return to work on Friday.

Now for the word counts.

Monday - 2269 (an hour and a half of writing)

Tuesday - 828 (50 minutes of writing)

Wednesday - 1215 (57 minutes of writing)

So that is 4312 words in three days! So my WIP wordcount is 28,206 words which means today/tomorrow I need to write 1794 words which seems achievable I hope.

I have also done a walk instead of drive journey so that is one exercise done this week.

Hope everyone has had successful weeks! I am off to work on my non check-in post for this week.

3 weeks to go!!!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Row 80 Check-in 28th August

This week all goals met! Yay!

Last week I failed on my exercise goal but I have been to aqua aerobics and have walked to and from two places I would usually drive to so I am going to count them as exercise. Feels good to be moving my body so going to try and keep this up.

On Thursday I wrote for 55 minutes and hammered out 1,242 words. I wanted to do extra on the Thursday as on the Friday it was my Dad's 60th and we had a big family day planned. I managed another 40 minutes and wrote 853 words. Again the Write Anything prompt could fit in my WIP so I used it as part of a scene. This made a total word count of 2095 words that day which is my highest EVER! It did make me think at the rate I seem to write when November comes and I am aiming for 1,666 words a day for NaNo I will need to find atleast an hour if not an hour and a half each day. It is going to be tough! But I am so excited to give it a go!

On Saturday I wrote for 45 minutes and managed 845 words and today I wrote for 30 minutes and wrote 825 words. I also spent 5 minutes jotting down future plot plans as I have had lots of moments when I think of something I want to happen but with all the ideas bouncing around my head I was worried I would lose one.

So quick calculation and my WIP word count is 23, 894!! I have set myself a mini-goal of getting to 30,000 words before I start back to work on Friday. It is a bit of a steep goal but I hope to do it. 6106 words in just over 4 days...seems like a lot when I write it like that!

Plan moving forward is still to add words to my WIP and also to make a list of all the ideas I have for non check-in blog posts. I really enjoyed writing last weeks post 'Do you remember your first lines?' and thank you to everyone who commented. Not sure what this weeks will be about.

With 4 weeks left of this round of ROW 80 I hope to just keep adding words to my WIP. Knowing that for November I will be putting it to one side to start a NaNo story motivates me to write as much as I can before then.

I hope everyone has had brilliant weeks and I am looking forward to reading some check-ins!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Do you remember your first lines?

I am hopeless at remembering quotes and first lines from books. The only first line I half remember is "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." From Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Even though I struggle to remember them I know first lines are paramount. I am guilty of opening a book in a shop, reading the first line and putting the book back. It is important that you get it right else people might not read on. First lines can suck you in or turn you off a book.

Even though I am writing my WIP and have decided to go back and edit it once the first draft is finished I am on the look out for a dazzling first line (and a title but that is a different post!). I know off the top of my head that first lines are meant to grab you, interest you, make you curious to know more. They can set the scene, throw you straight into the story or in some cases shock you. I know I like being shocked by a first line.

I stood in front of my book shelves and picked up some books I know I really enjoyed reading. I looked at the first lines of these books to help me understand what draws me in as a reader. Below I have quoted them (often quoted the first paragraph) and offered a comment on why I like them.

The Lighthouse by PD James
"Commander Adam Dalgliesh was not unused to being urgently summoned to non-scheduled meetings with unspecified people at inconvenient times, but usually with one purpose in common: he could be confident that somewhere there lay a dead body awaiting his attention."

I like a murder mystery. Straight away this tells me that there is going to be a body and also shows me that a first line doesn't have to be short and snappy to grab my attention.

Watermelon by Marian Keyes
"February the fifteenth is a very special day for me. It is the day I gave birth to my first child. It is also the day my husband left me. As he was present at the birth I can only assume the two events weren't entirely unrelated."

The first line makes me want to know why the date is special but it is the following paragraph that shocked me slightly (that someone would leave someone the day they gave birth to your baby) and sucked me in. This and the following quote from The Help show me that actually the first paragraph is possibly as important as the first line. If your first line is short and snappy but your first paragraph doesn't back it up, you still might lose me as a reader.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
"Mae Mobley was born on a early Sunday morning in August, 1960. A church baby we like to call it. Taking care a white babies, that's what I do, along with all the cooking and the cleaning. I done raised seventeen kids in my lifetime. I know how to get them babies to sleep, stop crying, and go in the toilet bowl before they mamas even get out a bed in the morning."

The last quote is simple but it intrigued me. I wanted to know that 'harami' means so it made me read on.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
"Mariam was five years old the first time she heard the word harami."

After looking at actual books I did what I always do. I googled 'first lines in novels'. I uncovered articles devoted to discussing first lines and also lists of the 100 best first lines from novels.

This is a link to one of the lists of 100 best first lines from novels.
Some of the decisions I agree with, some first lines I don't rate that much but maybe if I could read the first paragraph I would.

I like this quote from one of the articles.
"Introducing a story to a reader is a lot like dropping a pickup line on someone: do it the wrong way and they’ll wind up under the covers with a different… book."

After spending some time thinking about my first line I know that even though the first line is important, I need to back it up with a strong first paragraph. I am sure a first line will come to me in my editing stage (or maybe before) and I look forward to having a eureka moment at some point, hopefully in the near future!

This link offers another list of the 100 best opening lines and has nice pictures of book covers that you move your mouse over to see the first line.
Above the list it mentions that it is often said that the first line often sells the book, the last line often sells the authors next book. Just something to mull over....

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

ROW 80 Check-in 24th August

Well week 8 is going well so far for me and I hope it continues!

On Monday I wrote for 40 minutes and wrote 1,093 words. I also officially signed up for NaNoWriMo this coming November! Now I am officially signed up I am getting really excited and I need to think about to my outline etc. I also was brave and emailed Nicole at  as she asked for volunteers to write a guest post about writing. Even though I was worried about my lack of experience it seemed like a really good opportunity so I am excited to get started on that....once I decide what to write about!

On Tuesday I wrote for 40 minutes in the morning and managed 843 words and later that day I managed to squeeze in another 15 minutes and wrote 316 words so my word count for Tuesday was 1,159.

This morning I wrote for 50 minutes and managed 956 words which takes my word count to 20,129! Champagne all around! It feels good to have broken the 20,000 word barrier. I guess I am aiming for 80,000 words so maybe I am a quarter of the way through? I do worry that I am further through my story than I should be at 20,000 words but I know I need to do A LOT of editing and adding in of descriptions etc. when I revise my first draft. But for now I will keep on writing.

I have enjoyed my writing this week as I have been writing some 'fun' scenes. I had written several emotional scenes recently and I think I was losing sight of the type of book I was trying to write. Yes I want there to be emotion but I want there to be fun scenes that help you visualise and understand the characters.

I plan to post my non check-in post tomorrow. I think it is going to be about first/opening lines as I keep thinking about this lately. Mainly because I don't think I have a good enough first line. In fact, I know I don't!

Off to check out some check-ins!

Sidebar - I am starting to think about when I return to work next Friday. I have lovely long summer breaks (this one has been 5 and a half weeks...don't hate me) and I have been able to push myself to write over a 1,000 words most days but what will happen when I am back at work? NaNo requires 1,666 words a day. This is definately going to be a tall order but I am hoping that because I will not have so much time to write I will be more productive when I can write. My logic may be warped but for now it is the logic I am sticking by.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

ROW 80 Check-in 21st August

The 80 days seem to be flying by and I feel like I have had a really productive and exciting end to my writing week.

On Thursday I wrote for 40 minutes and wrote 1,214 words. I also posted my NaNoWriMo follow up and thank you everyone for your comments. I am starting to feel more excited then scared now (fun not fear!) and am glad I have made the commitment on here so I am accountable. Looking forward to planning out my next WIP (new notebook, check!) but for the next few weeks I am still going to focus on my current WIP.

On Friday I wrote for 40 minutes and wrote 1,201 words. I used the Write Anything prompt and it gave me a good idea for a scene in my WIP so I am going to count this in my WIP word count.

On Saturday I had a day off from writing. My boyfriend was here (we live 5 hours apart so time together is precious) and I wanted to spend the time with him. I did come out of my writing closet and tell him about my blog, writing, ROW 80 and my plans to do NaNo. This was a big step for me and he reacted perfectly. He knows I have talked loosely about writing and said it was good I am doing something about it. I was worried he would be upset that I hadn't told him for the two months I have been blogging (probably me projecting how I think I would react if he told me something similiar!) and said he understood if you tell people there is pressure. I feel great no I have told him and have his support and know if I am with him and need to write he will understand.

Today I wrote for 30 mins and managed 907 words. My WIP is now up to 16,921 words!

I definately hit my 30 mins a day (3 and a half hours a week) and exceeded this goal. I used the Write Anything prompt and posted 3 times (once this is posted). The only goal that I completely failed on was the exercising two times. I wasn't feeling well during the week so plans to swim went out of the window and whilst I did a little bit of walking I don't know if I am going to count it. So need to do better on this next week.

Off to check out some check-ins. Can't believe next week is week 8!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

NaNo - She who dares may hopefully win!

Last week I posted about NaNoWriMo as I am thinking about taking part this year. I listed my concerns and the reasons I wanted to take part and had some really reassuring comments back. You can see the original post and comments here -

I have given it a lot of thought and I am 99.9% sure I am going to take part. There, I have said it. Ok, I haven't said I am 100% sure, I have left a little room to back out but I don't think I will. I found it helpful that others said they shared the same concerns and also that they might be give it a try this year.

I guess I had been seeing NaNo as something that would be separate from ROW 80 which seems crazy now and I am sure having a specific NaNo related ROW 80 goal for November as newtowritinggirl suggested in her comment would work well. I am still freaked about the daily required word count (thanks to newtowritinggirl for pointing out it is 1,666 words a day rather than 1, did I get that wrong?!) but I figure I have some time to build up my writing 'stamina' before November.

I have also been considering how to fit in planning my NaNo story as I will need something to go from on the 1st of November but I figure there is room to add this into my ROW 80 goals and work on it between rounds 3 and 4. My biggest fear is not finishing and taking a confidence knock but as newtowritinggirl pointed out, any day that I manage 1,666 words is 1,666 words more than I may have written otherwise. See her recent post about NaNo here I also have the added motivation to keep going on my current WIP so I get as much written down as possible before November.

Ok, I am going to say it, I am 100% going to do NaNoWriMo this year. Please say you will join me? Kat? Jamila? Lauren? newtowritinggirl? Anyone? Don't leave me out here on a limb!

I wrote this post yesterday in preparation to post today. Overnight I kept thinking about it, swinging between not posting and hiding fom the whole NaNo thing and posting and just giving it a go. I have decided to post this and give it a go. At best I will complete it, at worst I will do some writing on a new project. I might as well give it a go.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

ROW 80 Check-in 17th July

I entered this week excited about how much writing time I would have on my hands compared to last week. I foolishly envisaged myself writing for hours on end. Whole mornings or afternoons would pass in a daze of coffee and brilliant prose. I would ignore the phone and just lose myself in my writing. So why oh why have I struggled to sit my arse down to write? I have even done laundry in an attempt to procrastinate. Why? I am the one who has chosen to write. No-one is making me so why should I have to force myself to do it?

I had a think about it and I think it is because the sequence of things in my WIP is simply not in the sequence I want. I made a brief outline of the order of events before writing but as I wrote I realised I needed to explain the history of the central friendship in some detail but it has taken most of the first 10,000 words. At the moment it is in flash back form but that is a pretty big flash back! I know I want to tweak it. Either break it up throughout the story or split the story into sections one being the past. Now I am past this section I want to just head forward and try not to obsess over the fact the start isn't how I want it to be. I am going to persist with simply getting the words down rather than go back and editing now. I was struggling to sit down as my mind was on what I have already written rather than looking forward. I have made a conscious decision to simply look forward. Fingers crossed.

On Monday I wrote for 55 mins and managed 1,249 words. On Tuesday I wrote for 1 hour and 5 mins and wrote 1,245 words. Today I wrote 927 words in 35 minutes. I also spent 10 minutes making some notes on the new story idea that has been floating around my head. This week I have added 3421 words to my WIP which now stands at 13,599 words. Yay! When I have finally sat down I have been able to write for longer than my 30 minutes day goal. It is just the starting that seems to be the problem.

For the rest of the week to meet my goals I want to keep adding words to my WIP and will post my non check-in post a follow-up NaNoWriMo post tomorrow. Exercise has not happened this week yet but it is only Wednesday so hope to squeeze it in.

I really missed checking out other check-ins last week so guess what I am off to do now! Hope your weeks are going well.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

ROW 80 Check-in 14th August

Well what a week! I had worried that it was going to be the first week I didn't meet my goals this round but I have managed to do it! All goals met!

My check-in on wednesday was very short but wanted to do it as one of my goals was to check-in every wed and sun. I have to say my phone signal was shocking where I was and I really struggled being out of the loop! I hated not being able to write a lot and not being able to check out the check-ins of others which made me realise how important the ROW 80 community is for me. I posted my NaNoWriMo post before I left on Monday morning (if you left a comment thank you, a follow up post will be coming soon!) and todays check-in is my third post this week. Three posts - check!

On Monday - I spent 30 minutes writing from the Write Anything prompt before I left. Writing prompt goal - check!

On Tuesday I struggled. I had a BRILLIANT holiday with my friends but as I was sharing a room I was never alone and as I am currently keeping my desire to write quiet it was really hard. I try to take my frustration as a good sign that writing is becoming more of a habit for me. I didn't want to just think 'I am on holiday' and not try because I know it is a slippery slope for me and I don't go back to work until the 2nd of September so that slope of 'I am on holiday' could get very steep indeed. I found 15 minutes and made some notes about things I need to research, ideas for the history of my made up town and added bits to descriptions of my MC and her friend. (15 minutes short this day)

On Wednesday as well as my quick check-in (again thank you for comments!) I spent 5 minutes in the morning scribbling some ideas down about a new WIP which I am thinking of as a possible NaNo project (if I take part!). The idea just popped in to my head so thought I better jot it down before it pops out again! I also realised my roomie for the week is a heavy sleeper so once she dozed off I spent 20 minutes reading through my print outs of my WIP. My plan had been to edit these, scribble all over them etc but I felt I couldn't do this properly in this situation and I didn't want to edit in a half-hearted way but a simple read through taught me a lot. (5 minutes short this day)

On Thursday I spent 30 minutes (again while my friend was sleeping!) making notes about my thoughts from my read through. I made sure I had written some positives as well as negatives as I started my notes with add more dialogue, add more description, sort out order etc. and I started to panic so I wrote some things I liked aswell. I know my first draft is going to be very rough and I have lots to sort out to do with the order of things and working in the back story without constnat flashbacks.

On Friday I got home earlier than expected so had some unexpected time to add to my WIP. I caught up with the 20 minutes I had not managed whilst away, wrote my half an hour for friday and did my half an hour for saturday as I knew with my friends staying it was going to be tough. In an hour and 20 minutes I wrote 1664 words which is good but did make me think if I do have a go at NaNo am I going to need to find an hour and 20 minutes to write each day? Eeeek!

Today I added 685 words to my WIP so this week in total I have added 2349 words to my WIP so I am now at 10,178 words. Yay! Broke the 10,000 barrier! *confetti*

My exercise goal was to exercise twice. I went swimming twice and went for 2 short walks so exercise goal - check!

This week should be a lot quieter so I am going to try and aim for between half an hour and an hour of writing a day (official goal still 30 minutes). I am really looking forward to the writing week ahead!

I hope you have all had great weeks, off to check out some check-ins!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

ROW 80 Check-in 10th august

Quick check-in..tiny bits of undercover writing..lots of ideas in my head and quick notes being made in my notebook. hope to do more later today.
Hope you are having good weeks!

Monday, 8 August 2011

NaNoWriMo - Dare I try it?!

From the moment I started following writing blogs NaNoWriMo has been there. It has been there, in the background, winking at me and trying to get me to have a go. Trying to tempt me into what must be an intense month of attempting to write 50,000 words. I have read some of the good, the bad and the ugly about the challenge on other people's blogs and now I am trying to decide whether I want to have a go.    I NEED HELP!

A link to the official site is here - but in brief the description on the website is: "National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000 word, (approximately 175 page) novel by 11:59:59, November 30."

It is as simple as that. You sit, you write. You don't plan and revise during this month, you simply write. It is about output, about sheer numbers and then after the month you tweak it and edit it and I guess finish it. I know it is not until November but if I want to do it I need to start thinking of the story I want to write now so I can do some preparation.

I have read accounts of people who haven't made it to the finish line, who have found it does not fit in with their life and have found it a stressful experience. But I have also read accounts by people who have really enjoyed the challenge. Posts by people who have been able to throw themselves into it, knock out 50,000+ words and have enjoyed the community of support from other NaNoWriMo participants.

My concerns are;
1) I am doing well as part of the ROW 80 Challenge and getting so much support from that. If I do something so intense will it mess with my ROW 80 success? Will it throw me off course?
2) If I fail to write the 50,000 words will it ruin all the confidence I have been slowly building up? 50,000 words is 1612 words a day. That is a lot. I have not had many days when I have written 1000 words. In fact I think I have only had two so far. But could I push myself? Could I do more?
3) If I start looking towards the next story when my current WIP is in its baby stage will I lose my way? Will I be torn between my WIP and the story I plan for NaNoWriMo?
4) I don't have a burning story idea I am desperate to write so deciding on a concept/planning may take a lot of time. This time may be detrimental to my current WIP.

Now to the reasons I want to have a go;
1) It appeals to me. I like a challenge and I like being accountable to something. I need to be accountable to make me stick to something. ROW 80 has shown me that. By making public goals I have kept them, maybe it would push me to write more in a sitting.
2) I was excited to see the online groups and also last year there was a group of people who met in Exeter near me, so I could maybe go along!
3) It may be a good way for me to come out of the tell people I am interested in being a writer. That way when I possibly become a hermit for a month people will understand and hopefully be supportive.

I am aware that a lot of my questions above I can only answer myself but I would love to hear from anyone who has taken part about how they found the challenge. Did you love or loathe the experience? I don't want to put extra pressure on myself by taking part alongside the next round of ROW 80 but I also don't want to miss an opportunity that may well be amazing!

Do I dare try it?

Sunday, 7 August 2011

ROW 80 Check-in 7th August

I may be about to have a week when I don't manage to complete my goals but for week 5, all goals met!

From Thursday through to Sunday I added words to my WIP. On Thursday I wrote 572 words. I have to say they didn't flow but I sat there and kept going for the 30 minutes but on Friday the 848 words flowed easily. On Saturday I managed 1,222 words in half an hour which I think is my record! Today I have written 908 words as I had my morning coffee so as we stand now I am 7829 words into my WIP! I have broken the 5000 word barrier! Actually I am closer to 10,000 than I am 5,000! I have to say though I am rushing through my story like someone who is gobbling their dessert down because their mum wants to take their plate away. I don't think my first draft is going to be that long but I am aware I plan to go back and add in lots of details and descriptions and dialogue. I guess at the moment my priority is just getting the story down!

I also have exercised twice! I mentioned Aqua Aerobics already and my second exercise was a 50 length swim. I was pleased with myself as I have lots of things going on and I thought I wasn't going to squeeze it in so I went at 8am which in a School Holiday is early! So check!

Tomorrow I go away until Friday and then on Friday I will be back but have friends coming to stay for the weekend so who knows how this week will go writing wise! The good thing is I have been thinking about it and tried to work out some solutions. I have just printed off what I have so far for my WIP to take with me. I was thinking of taking my children's stories too to look at but at the moment my WIP is constantly on my mind so I want to stick with that. I will try and post a brief check-in from my phone on Wednesday. I also have my non check-in post ready to post tomorrow (about NaNoWriMo...any comments/thoughts gratefully received!) so that part of my three posts a week goal will be taken care of before I go away.

I hope you have had great weeks and wish me luck! I don't know if I will get to check out everyones check-ins but I will try!

ps. Thank you for all your lovely comments! It really is the best feeling to hear from people who are somewhat in the same boat as you! So motivated by you all, thank you!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

ROW 80 Check-in 3rd August

I can't believe I didn't make more of a fuss about the fact I managed a month of meeting my goals and stuck to the challenge! I was obviously pleased and happy with myself but I think I was aware that a month is a month and yes it is good but don't get complacent. Don't ease off. So I haven't.

First half of this week has gone well.

On Monday I wrote for just over half an hour and wrote 879 words of my WIP and on Tuesday I wrote a further 856 words. I did the maths and that is 1735 words in two days! For someone who struggles to bloody well sit down and write I am really pleased with this. I have lots of details that need filling in but I managed to stop myself rushing off to google bits and pieces and simply made a note of it or wrote FIND THIS OUT or LOCATION? in my WIP. These details can be found out at a later date and are NOT an excuse for me to go on a lovely jaunt into internet land and get lost for 30 mins. I know when I am more disciplined I will be able to do this but at the moment getting into a habit of writing is important. I distract myself way to easily!

So far so good and am 4,279 words into my WIP! I dread to think how many of these words are duds and will never make it through even a first edit but they need to be written to be able to be edited. Yay! I also am aware I want to change the order things are happening. It looked good in the outline but as I tell the story it is not sitting well with me. This is something I may try and sort on my holiday next week when hopefully I will be scribbling over print outs.

On my new goal of exercising twice a week I have been to an Aqua Aerobics session and am hoping to squeeze a swim in over the next few days if I can.

Todays writing is going to be the Write Anything prompt: Your character walks into a room of people. Everything goes uncomfortably silent and all eyes narrow in on your character. I think I will do this from the point of view of one of my WIP characters as is good practise to write as them even though I have started writing it in the third person.

Hope your weeks are going well. Off to check out some check-ins. Oh and then write, yes must write.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Should you stick to what you are starting to know?

Something that has been on my mind lately is whether it is possible to successfully write in many genres and write in them well. I have written (and not yet edited) two children's books aimed at 3 to 5 year olds. I am currently writing something that best fits into the category of 'chick-lit'. The more I get into this writing game and the more blogs I read, the more different types of book I want to write. When ever I read something by Jamila about her historical research ( it makes me excited about writing something historical and whenever I read a murder mystery novel I start to daydream about writing a thrilling masterpiece of my own.

But I have been having passing thoughts about whether it is simply better to stick to one thing.

I am on a huge learning curve at the moment. I am learning about every stage of the writing process, reading up on plotting, characters etc. I am starting to write. I haven't given much of a thought to editing and don't even mention agents or the querying process. Shudder. I had to google what a beta-reader was yesterday as I keep seeing them mentioned but had no clue what they were!

People talk of the 'conventions' of certain genres, what people expect from them. I know rules are often made to be broken but is tackling different genres with different conventions wise? Is it better to learn how to write one genre really well and put effort into that? I have also seen blog posts and articles about how hard it is for writers to be published in different genres. Now I know this is thinking way a head into the future but should I be thinking about the future? About my 'platform' as a writer? I have not completed anything but is it better I think about the future now or go with the flow? Finish my chick-lit novel (makes it sound like an easy thing to do!) and then if the next story that excites me is a mystery, write a mystery. Am I just getting over-excited by the great ideas I see and in a way being a bit greedy that I think I can conquer all these genres?

But part of me doesn't want to box myself in. Why pigeon hole myself this early? If I do get something published which seems surreal to even type, then if I write a murder mystery just for the fun of it but it never comes to anything, then I will still have had the experience. I can still say I did it.

What do you think? Do you write mainly in one genre or do you write/plan to write across several? An enquiring mind wants to know!