WFMAD Day 21 – taking stock

All of the peaches have been skinned, sliced and frozen! Now it is on to more green beans. My tomatoes have been blighted, so I might have to buy a peck or two to make salsa.

But more important than filling the freezer and pantry is writing.

I had a good day yesterday; I threw out almost everything I wrote. Why is this good? Because what I wrote and threw out helped me better understand the motivation of my character in those scenes. A long walk helped me figure out what was missing. (The character had long-term desires, but not enough immediate internal pressure.) So I am proud of what I wrote yesterday and excited to see what today brings.

If you’ve been mostly playing by the rules of The Challenge, you’ve been writing daily for three weeks now. Has it been harder than you thought? This article at Zen Habits will help you understand why you went off track. Don’t waste any time beating yourself up. Make a minor course adjustment in your life and recommit to your 15 minutes a day.

Writing makes you happy. You are allowed to write and be happy and proud about it.

Since we’re in a reflective frame of mind, please take a moment to answer the following questions in the Comments section or email them to me at laurieAtwriterladyDOTcom.

1. What interfered with your writing in the last 21 days?
2. What did you do differently to protect your writing time for the last 21 days?
3. Which prompts were the most useful?
4. What part of your writing do you need the most help with?
5. What questions do you want me to answer about writing or the writing life?

Yes, you are allowed to count the time you spend answering the questions as your fifteen minutes!

Ready…

Today’s advice: "I try to leave out the parts that people skip." Elmore Leonard


Set…

David Small has written a memoir of his childhood in graphic novel form. Read this interview with him first.

Sounds fascinating, doesn’t it?

Secrets have dark power. Their impact can be felt for generations.

Write about a secret from your childhood. Don’t be afraid – you don’t have to show this to anyone, unless you choose to. Try to write about it from your POV as a child, not with the wisdom and perspective of an adult.

OR
Write about a secret from your character’s childhood, or from someone who is close to her.

Scribble…Scribble….Scribble!

6 Replies to “WFMAD Day 21 – taking stock”

  1. Answers to Questions and more Questions

    1. What interfered with your writing in the last 21 days?

    * Out of town weddings, sister’s BAR exam, home improvement projects and general house dishevelment, bees and ants in the walls, refusal to do “work” in the summer – rebel teacher mode,video games, procrastination.

    2. What did you do differently to protect your writing time for the last 21 days?

    * I was most effective when I used a timer on my watch and announced to my husband that it was writing time, if he was around when I finally got around to writing. He was great about respecting my writing time and would tip-toe around and occupy himself until I was done. Sometimes I went over the time, because I was on a roll and that was nice too – one thing about writing at night that I like is that I can go on until I get sleepy.
    * Also, as much as I hate to admit it (being a nite owl), when I got up early and wrote first thing, that seemed to work and it made me feel productive and accomplished – especially when coupled with a walk or run early on…

    3. Which prompts were the most useful?

    * I have enjoyed all the prompts! I am a teacher and would like to direct students to your site when I meet them in a couple weeks.
    * I’m also considering creating a new blog that is just for my students that has writing prompts and advice and links to sites like yours. I realized how hard it is to write sometimes – which gave me great empathy for when my students would say “I don’t know what to write about!” and I would try in vain to help them during writing workshop. I have more ideas for how to help them.
    * I enjoyed the tweets alerting me to when your prompts were up. I feel connected to you even if I don’t really know you personally.
    * Where do you get your advice (“Ready”) from?
    * I like the links you put up – how do you find them?

    4. What part of your writing do you need the most help with?

    * I want to write a story. I haven’t really ever tried this as an adult. Mostly, I write what is happening in my daily life, thoughts about that and life, memoir poetry, and lists. You seem to wake up sometimes and have a character who wants to tell her story through you. That hasn’t happened to me yet. Advice on how to start?

    5. What questions do you want me to answer about writing or the writing life?

    * I’m sure if I searched your site, I’d find this answered, but, since you asked… What is your daily schedule? Do you read a little bit every day also? How do you find the time to blog and write and can peaches ?! What are your writing vices? (Right now, mine is LEGO Star Wars video game.)
    * Do you make time for going back and rereading your writing. You must, or you wouldn’t have thrown out all the stuff from yesterday you were writing, but I mean, do you set aside time for going back into your writing just for rereading?
    * Do you write long hand or are first drafts on a computer?
    * How much research do you do and again, is this a set part of your schedule?
    * There’s more, but I think this is enough for now… Thanks!!!! Caroline T.
    http://stuffyandarthur.blogspot.com/

  2. 1. I have written every day, probably becasue 15 mins id a doable commitment and easy to fit in. Also, if my husband is at the computer, it’s easy to lie in bed at night and write by hand.

    2. I didn’t wait until all the housework was done, just made the time, zoned in, and then did the housework later.

    3. I have anjoyed most of them. I particularly liked the ones that use a situation or motivation to challenge the character or see the character in the adiiferent light. this has challenged me to really get inside my characters head, as write what they would do, not what I imagine they could do.

    4. I struggle with going back and re-editing, as when I change a minor detail in earlier chapter, it can affect the whole piece, like pulling on a thread and then the whole thing unravelling. I get scared to do that, as it means a lot of reworking and changing of the story. I am in awe of your abandon with your work. Also, I know when certain phrases and paragraphs are crap, and can’t just seem to find the right words to tweak/fix it. this drives me crazy.

    5.
    a) Do you know what you want the ending to be? Do you try to satisfy what readers want to happen, even if it’s less plausable than real life?
    b) Do you look at your word count a lot? Does it restrain you?
    c) What is your final word count on the copy you send to your editor/have published?

    Thanks, Naomi

  3. Such writer’s block today! But I refuse to count time spent writing on non-creative pursuits as part of my fifteen minutes, simply because I want at least fifteen minutes worth of creativity. Hopefully the questions will help (along with listening to my “Janna” [protagonist] playlist).

    1. What interfered with your writing in the last 21 days?

    Fatigue, pain, self-doubt, and writer’s block. The pain probably interferes the least. To a certain degree, writing takes me into a world with much less physical pain, and that can be a great escape. Fatigue is harder, because the ability to think is generally a plus when one tries to write. Self-doubt, surprisingly enough, has had less of an effect on me than I expected. Writer’s block just started to hit the last few days and although I haven’t let it stop me yet, it’s been harder to sit down and write.

    2. What did you do differently to protect your writing time for the last 21 days?

    The biggest thing I did was really make the commitment to write everyday. I’d been wanting to, somewhat, but hadn’t had the cojones to make that public commitment. Being off school for the summer, with the mandate to simply rest, was also helpful.

    3. Which prompts were the most useful?

    I haven’t yet used prompts because until the past few days, I’ve been on a roll with my WIP. I think, however, my next course of action will be to revisit the prompts and see what will get me out of this mini-funk!

    4. What part of your writing do you need the most help with?

    Oh dear, that’s a toughie. Probably editing. I find myself completely overwhelmed with the idea of it, and how to go about creating a workable piece of fiction. I can edit essays/papers, and I can edit short fiction, but give me a novel and you’ll get a scared look in return.

    5. What questions do you want me to answer about writing or the writing life?

    Oh, fun!

    a. Just for interest, what program do you do your writing in (i.e. Word, Scrivener, OpenOffice)? I know the program does not a writer make, but the tech geek in me is curious.

    b. What do you, personally, do to combat writer’s block?

    c. What is one thing you wish someone would ask you, and what would you answer?

  4. 1. What interfered with your writing in the last 21 days?
    I started back to work as a teacher last week and I’m still getting back into the swing of the schedule.

    2. What did you do differently to protect your writing time for the last 21 days?
    I didn’t really change anything in the past few weeks. However, at the beginning of summer when I took on writing again, I made sure to spend some time each day working on it. I also chat in AIM rooms with writing friends I’ve met online. They help keep me focused.

    3. Which prompts were the most useful?
    All of the prompts were quite useful! Each one got my head spinning in a different direction. Some were useful in getting creative juices flowing, while others added something to the projects I’m working on.

    4. What part of your writing do you need the most help with?
    Verb usage. I tend to slip in and out of pass and present very easily. I’m in the first round of edits on a novel I cowrote with my sister and the verbs are all over the place!

    5. What questions do you want me to answer about writing or the writing life?
    I would like to see more about the submission process. I’ve heard so many different things about it…

  5. 1. What interfered with your writing in the last 21 days?
    I haven’t missed any days! Sometimes that’s the only thing that keeps me going…”I can’t stop now!” I think, though, that when it’s so late every night and I just want my bed that I really ought to get in the habit of doing this in the morning instead of last thing at night.

    2. What did you do differently to protect your writing time for the last 21 days?
    I did not let “not doing it today” be an option. It got done, even if it was with half-closed, exhausted eyes and brain right before bed.

    3. Which prompts were the most useful?
    I loved the ones about the forbidden desk, the mysterious plant, childhood breakfast, neighborhood map, coin toss, three lists.

    4. What part of your writing do you need the most help with?
    Probably not being so self-conscious. I need to write for the love of writing, not worrying about “who’s going to read this later?” Just write for me. Also, my main problem is plotting out a finished story arc…I get lots of little ideas, but can’t seem to put them all together into something whole that would support a story of length.

    5. What questions do you want me to answer about writing or the writing life?
    Hm…I can’t think of anything in particular. I love your blog and want to thank you for doing this challenge. It’s the first time in a long time that I’ve made writing a daily part of my life.

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