That Writing Sprints Journal Thingy…

I got a copy of the Writing Sprints Journal by Jennie Marts. Let’s be honest. This is one of the books I could have bought at the writers’ conference, and maybe I should have. It took me a couple weeks to decide I wanted it, though. Even after hearing the author talk, and seeing her amazing productivity.

This is a how to organize the three and a half minutes you have in a day book. It’s not how to write a novel, or how to revise, or how to write perfect characters.

It’s just how to get the most out of your time.

Jennie’s goals are a lot loftier than mine. She does four or five books a year, and still looks like a beauty queen while not cussing out the books, the schedule, or random strangers on the street.

Personally, I’d be happy with one book a year, while looking nearly human. (And I promise not to cuss out lamp posts or fire hydrants.)

Okay, so after the initial shock of Word sprints? Really? That’s it???! I thought about it, and the truth is that word sprints–in general–do work for me.

I’ve never really done them in an organized, routine way, though. More of a panicked, I’m how many words behind? during Nano.

This is more of a plan, and then sprint, and by the way, do it every single day kind of approach. It’s Organized with a capital O.

And as you may have guessed by now, organized is not my natural state. It’s something I buy or steal off others. It’s something an army of high school teachers has tried and failed to teach me. (Some of them came through remarkably well. Others… well, they do twitch a bit, now.)

As of right now, I’m in the revision phase of current book.

As of… well, a  really long time, actually.

I’m debating whether to start right off by adapting the book for revision-y sprinting, or to start with actual word-sprints for new material, or what.

Fine. So, I’m writing in my recurring events, and working my way up to the big stuff. Right now, the goals are: Finish revising book. Write Query letter and Query the book. Begin next book. Short Stories for Blog Hop and (**sigh**) 52 week challenge. Oh, yes… and try to sell at least one of those.

I’ll just sit here and stare at the journal until I wind up jumping in head-first, I think.


Revision In Rhythm

A while back, I made a list of twenty-three scenes that are either missing or completely fouled up that my novel needs to survive. I’m starting with the ones that don’t exist at all, and working my way back to the ones where there’s some material already done.

I’m writing longhand, and then typing into a project in my novel writing software.

I have three more scenes than I did at the beginning, and they’re running a little long. I have to figure out how much wiggle room I’m willing to eat up.

At this moment, the novel is scattered out across at least three projects; there’s one for the material I’m already more or less comfortable with, there’s one for the not-even close to finished scenes that I’m salvaging from my first draft, and there’s one for the shiny new scenes I’m writing right now.

Well, it cuts down on distractions, and it keeps me from looking at tens of thousands of words and being overwhelmed.  Other than that, no, I’m not sure it serves a purpose.

I also have some short-story excitement to type up.

And some short stories to write. I am slipping behind on the 52 week challenge. I’m trying to convince myself that it IS a priority.


Organization for the City Landfill and Tidying for Writers

I went all Moleskine-y at the beginning of the year, partly because 2016 dropped me into a dollar-store calendar with write-in dates morass, and partly because I happened to find an almost-new Moleskine in the basement, so why not? Blank pages, and the elastic’s still good.

I’d never realized how important having a calendar is to me, until I didn’t have one. I need to write down my progress to feel like I’m making progress. I think it helps with other good habits, too. Did I or didn’t I take that vitamin? Did I actually eat breakfast, or did I work straight through? And… just how often and how long am I sleeping in, on weekends?

I feel better, if I know I’m making progress, instead of just thinking, and I work harder, if I know just exactly how many blank pages there are in my calendar.

Right now, it seems like the answer is a lot.

And…yeah, I’m sleeping in on those weekends. Not in the sense of “until noon” but well and truly beyond what I do on a normal day.

I’m writing every day, though, and after a while, it will add up. I like to keep a daily word count, and also a running total. Monthly, yearly… I also keep track of what I’m doing for my revision, but that’s a much fuzzier kind of math.

The other notebook is a little harder to describe.

Right now, my sorta-almost idea of how to use it is… Basically all the organization and editing things that need to stay organized and accessible go in the Moleskine. It doesn’t replace all of the spiral notebooks and computer files, but the things like query letter drafts and wrangling that whole comprehensible order thing–those do go in the Moleskine.

I’m working on putting together a functional outline. When it’s finished, I’ll beat the manuscript into submission, and make it look (at least a little) more like the coherent outline. Before I revise the crap out of it.

Someday, I hope to write in chronological order. Last week would be good. I should have worked on that.

I’m not sure if my brain works that way. But I do think having the One Notebook is likely to help me keep things together until I can get it right the second time around. It’s small enough to be with me most of the time, and it can’t be mistaken for any of the other notebooks in my life. It’s also expensive enough that I don’t wind up ripping pages out left and right when I decide I don’t like something.

So… do you write in chronological order, or are you more non-linear like me? How do you organize for revision? What works for you?

Organizing Query Research: Part Two

So, I finally got up the nerve to go through my Rejection Collection, and this is what I came up with:

Small stack of index cards next to enormous stack.

The last project I queried was a thriller, and I really wasn’t envisioning myself writing outside that genre, back then, so my priorities were different. A lot of the people I wrote to were very focused on that genre, so they wouldn’t be interested in my new project.

Last time, I also wound up deciding the project needed more work, so I stopped well before I made it through every agent and agency in the universe.

So, all said and done, there were about fifteen repeaters in the Rejection Collection. Eleven of those are in the picture above. (The big stack is about 150 people deep, right now. )

Going through the Rejection Collection wasn’t bad. Actually, it was kinda… well, I enjoyed it. I recommend it, even if you aren’t actively querying a new project.

Why You Should Revisit Your Rejection Collection

  • It’s easier to see progress after the emotions cool. During submission, you’re frequently collecting rejection after rejection. After a while, you just want to shove that letter in a box and get on with it. You don’t always see how many of the letters were personalized, or the rate of requests as you’re doing it.
  • It’s not me, it’s them. My last querying marathon ended a little over a year ago. I’ve done other things, and so have a lot of the people on my list. It’s one thing to know objectively that not every rejection is about you, the quality of your writing, and the volume of blood spatter in chapter 7, it’s another to look back and actually see the number of people who have–for their own personal reasons–switched agencies, switched jobs, quit publishing. Because–**Happy Dance**–you really can’t represent my book, if you’ve run off to teach the poor, starving orphans to read.
  • What worked… and what didn’t. I’m not organizing in quite the same way, and a lot more casual in my approach. I don’t have actual numbers to support this, but Dear Joe appears to work better than Dear Mighty and Illustrious Sir.
  • Ego Boost: Believe it or not, some of those agents took the time to say some really nice things to me, even though they were clearly busy packing for that trip to the convent/orphanage/wild boar hunt in Macedonia.
  • Regain Faith in the People in Publishing Sometimes…. every now and then… the dedication and passion show through. My favorite, favorite, favorite rejection letter is just three words, handwritten on my letter. Not for me. And the handwriting is shaky. Little bit of old age, little bit of a tremor. You can tell she’s making an effort. It’s getting hard for her. But she’s still there. And she’s still answering queries. And she wouldn’t have to be.

Back to organization.

The people I’ve queried before are color-coded (pale turquoise ink, not that anyone cares). And now they’re getting re-shuffled into their appropriate sub-piles. Well, not shuffled. They’re actually a little closer to the top of their sub-piles than they would otherwise be, since they get points for being at the top of the last pile. Relevant notes from last time are color coded that same turquoise.