Taking our writing to the next level

2014 has been about establishing a writing routine that works for me. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m writing 1,000 words per day fairly consistently. But I recently read “Write. Publish. Repeat.” and the authors of that work have some impressive word-counts. As in, they’re writing in a week what I’d like to be writing in a month. And it got me thinking. Should I be pushing myself harder? I don’t want to burn myself out—been there, done that, took forever to recover. But part of making it as a writer has to do with how fast you can produce publishable work, and I can probably do that faster than I am at the moment.

I’m not going to shoot for some crazy word count, but in 2015, I’d like to gradually push my word count up—to 1,500, then 2K, then maybe even 3K per day—to see if I can speed up the drafting process. My revision process is even slower, but I trust that it will speed up with practice.

So, if 2014 has been about the discipline of writing every day, 2015 will be about pushing myself a little further, challenging myself a little more, stretching my writing muscles and building up my endurance.

What about you? What is your ideal daily word count? How do you push yourself to grow as a writer?

ROW80 check-in:

Writing

1.) Make measurable progress on one of my WIPs. Wrote 5,895 words in “Stolen by Magic.” First draft is finished!

2.) Read three books on the craft/business of writing. Three of three books read. Finished reading “Write. Publish. Repeat.” by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant.

Social media goals:

1.) Check in on Twitter or Facebook daily. Goal met.

2.) Blog twice a week. Goal met.

3.) Comment on three to five blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. Goal met.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

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WIPpet Wednesday: Bard of the Seelie Court

December is halfway over, there’s a week left in round four of ROW80—and there’s still so much to do. All the holiday shopping is done and I’m about halfway through wrapping presents, but I still have packages and cards to send out. And my little 13K novelette keeps getting longer and longer. I’m determined to finish a draft by the end of the year. We’ll see how long it ends up being.

Here’s a little more of that handsome, blond-haired stranger who was featured in last week’s WIPpet: Gwynn, bard of the Seelie Court. The math is simple: Three paragraphs for the month: 1+2=3. Click here to check in with other WIPpeteers.

And then he sang, words haunting and painful and beautiful. His voice broke my heart and then put it back together. He sang of love lost, of a fae man who said goodbye to the woman he loved too soon, of her journey to world beyond, of her lover’s broken heart. In that moment, caught up in the spell of his voice, I suddenly understood him better than I ever had. I saw a man who’d lost and was having trouble finding peace, moving on. In that moment, I saw the side of himself that Gwynn kept hidden, the vulnerability, the pain. I knew intuitively that this wasn’t just any song. It was his song, and I drank in every word.

When the song ended, the air seemed to buzz with the remnants of the last note. Slowly, Gwynn came back, as if awakening from a trance. His eyes locked on mine for an instant before they traveled to the darkening world outside.

“That was lovely,” I said, wonder in my voice.

ROW80 check-in:

Writing

1.) Make measurable progress on one of my WIPs. Wrote 2,183 words in “Stolen by Magic.”

2.) Read three books on the craft/business of writing. Two of three books read. Continued reading “Write. Publish. Repeat.” by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant.

Social media goals:

1.) Check in on Twitter or Facebook daily. On track to meet this goal.

2.) Blog twice a week. On track to meet this goal.

3.) Comment on three to five blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. On track to meet this goal.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

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Creating a lovable lead: Sunday ROW80 check-in

In every book I’ve ever loved is a main character I would follow to hell and back. I’d follow Frodo into the fires of Mount Doom. I’d follow Harry Potter into battle with Voldemort. I’d follow Elizabeth Bennet as she rejects and falls in love with Mr. Darcy. Creating a lovable lead is one of the most important things we can do for our story. It’s part of James Scott Bell’s LOCK formula for writing: a lead readers will want to follow.

I’m thinking about this because I’ve been struggling with my current WIP, putting words on the page but having trouble really digging into this story. Every day when I showed up at the page, a part of me was reluctant. Finally, I did what I should’ve done from the beginning. I stepped back and asked myself why I was so resistant. It didn’t take long for the answer to come to me. I didn’t love my main character. She came off as flaky when I meant her to be fearless; she came off as self-absorbed when I meant her to be open-minded and life-embracing. In short, I needed to do some character work.

So I stopped and re-envisioned her character. I realized she had the potential to be a little like Merida from “Brave,” clever and fearless and charging ahead with confidence, protective of those she loves but ready for adventure.

This story still has a long way to go. I thought it would be finished at 13K, but it’s going to be much longer. I still need to spend some time doing character work, but I now know that I’m on the right track.

Have you ever struggled with a main character? How did you resolve the issue?

ROW80 check-in…

Writing

1.) Make measurable progress on one of my WIPs. Wrote 5,132 words in “Stolen by Magic.”

2.) Read three books on the craft/business of writing. Two of three books read. Continued reading “Write. Publish. Repeat.” by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant.

Social media goals:

1.) Check in on Twitter or Facebook daily. Goal met.

2.) Blog twice a week. Goal met.

3.) Comment on three to five blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. Goal met.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

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WIPpet Wednesday: The Faerie Realm

Welcome to another installment of WIPpet Wednesday. The brain child of K.L. Schwengel, WIPpet Wednesday offers writers a chance to share their works in progress. The only catch is that the excerpt must relate to the date in some way. Click here to see what other WIPpeteers are up to.

Today’s math is simple: 10 paragraphs for Dec. 10. In this passage from “Stolen by Magic,” Laurel, who’s been practicing magic skyclad in a sacred grove that once belonged to her family, finds herself pulled into the faerie realm.

I hit the ground with a thud and rolled, dirt covering my skin. My elbow banged a rock as I tumbled, and I cried out.

If I was where I thought I was, this was bad. I had no talisman to protect me, no sacred light to guide me home. And worse, soon the grove would be gone, so I couldn’t return the way I’d come.

My spell had been simple. How had it gone so wrong? Grandma had told me how difficult it was to reach the fae world, and here I was, without even trying. No, something was off.

I was naked in another world, as far from home as anyone could be.

I sat up, rubbed my bruised elbow, and took in my surroundings. The trees were tall, wide, and ancient, oak and ash and pine towering toward the sky. I took comfort in the moon’s glow—even here her light reached me.

My body was streaked with dirt, and I was in the dark in a strange forest in what was without a doubt the fae world. I had no idea how I got here. I had no idea how to get back.

I heard the sound of hooves against the earth and prayed I wasn’t about to come face to face with a centaur. They weren’t always friendly.

A wide path wound through the wood, well trodden by many travelers before. I was just off to the side, surrounded by ferns and bluebells. I rose. I could just barely make out the rider’s features in the dark forest. Blond locks fell over a serious face. The rider pulled back on the reins.

“Are you lost?”

“More than you could ever possibly know.”

Lastly, an ROW80 check-in…

Writing

1.) Make measurable progress on one of my WIPs. Wrote 2,655 words in “Stolen by Magic.”

2.) Read three books on the craft/business of writing. Two of three books read. Continued reading “Write. Publish. Repeat.” by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant.

Social media goals:

1.) Check in on Twitter or Facebook daily. On track to meet this goal.

2.) Blog twice a week. On track to meet this goal.

3.) Comment on three to five blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. On track to meet this goal.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

Sunday Summary: The Passion Test

I recently watched an interview with Janet Attwood, author of “The Passion Test: The Effortless Path to Discovering Your Life Purpose.” In the interview, she cited a study that looked at a number of highly successful individuals in a search for common threads. And one that emerged was passion—all of these people were living their top five passions. Not surprisingly, the purpose of “The Passion Test” is to help people uncover their top five and create markers to determine how well they’re doing at living those passions.

It reminded me of a similar article I read about Warren Buffett and setting life goals. He instructed someone to make a list of twenty-five things he’d like to accomplish in his life, and then whittle it down to the five most important ones. And then Buffett instructed the man to pour all of his energy and focus into those five.

I’ve known for a long time that writing is one of my top five passions. I feel called to be a storyteller, as I think many writers do. But lately I realized I’ve been too focused on that passion. I need some balance in my life, and that’s where my other passions come in. I’m trying to listen to music while I do daily chores, thus fueling my creativity and supporting fellow artists. I’m aiming to do yoga, tai chi, or guided meditations a few days a week, thus reconnecting to my spiritual side.

And I know I want to get out into the world and do more community service. I think art is a way of changing the world and bringing enlightenment, hope, and joy to people’s lives, but there are other ways to contribute that I don’t want to overlook. I’m trying to nurture my spiritual side as well as my creative side, and to push myself to get out into the world and make a difference.

What about you? What are some of your top five passions? And what could you use more of in your life?

Lastly, an ROW80 check-in…

Writing

1.) Make measurable progress on one of my WIPs. Started a character voice journal for the Cabot Sisters series. Wrote a rough synopsis of a short story, “Under the Mistletoe’s Spell.” Wrote 3,607 words, mostly in novelette “Stolen by Magic,” some of it in a short story, “Under the Mistletoe’s Spell.”

2.) Read three books on the craft/business of writing. Two of three books read. Started reading “Write. Publish. Repeat.” by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant.

Social media goals:

1.) Check in on Twitter or Facebook daily. Met for every day except Thursday.

2.) Blog twice a week. Goal met!

3.) Comment on three to five blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. Met for three of four days.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.denise signature

WIPpet Wednesday: The dryad in the sacred grove

Here’s yet another installment of WIPpet Wednesday. Hosted by K.L. Schwengel, WIPpet Wednedays offer writers a chance to share excerpts from their work. The only catch is that the WIPpet must relate to the date in some way. Today is the third, so here are three paragraphs from “Stolen by Magic.” Click here to read other writers’ WIPpets.

Some background: Laurel Cabot, a witch, has come to a sacred grove once owned by her family. As she casts her spell, a dryad appears. The next day, the grove is going to be destroyed, taking the dryad with it.

She approached me, her brown tresses nearly dragging on the ground. Like me, she was naked, but the texture of her skin obscured her features. She reached out and touched my face. Her touch was soft as a leaf against my skin.

“Farewell, Laurel Cabot. May the Cabot witches always serve wisely and well.” She bowed her head.

Just like that, she was gone. Tears stung my eyes. I let them flow. It was okay, I told myself, to cry for this place. It was okay to say goodbye.

ROW80 check-in…

Writing

ROW80Logocopy1.) Make measurable progress on one of my WIPs. Started a character voice journal for the Cabot Sisters series. Wrote a rough synopsis of a short story, “Under the Mistletoe’s Spell.” Wrote 1,126 words on two projects, “Stolen by Magic” and “Under the Mistletoe’s Spell.” I was going to concentrate on the first project, but I just put the Christmas tree up and, well, I was filled with the holiday spirit—so, out came a story about magic and mistletoe. :)

2.) Read three books on the craft/business of writing. Two of three books read. Started reading “Write. Publish. Repeat.” by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant.

Social media goals:

1.) Check in on Twitter or Facebook daily. On track to meet this goal.

2.) Blog twice a week. On track to meet this goal.

3.) Comment on three to five blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. Totally forgot to do this on Monday. Met for Tuesday.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

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Gratitude and celebrating life’s simple luxuries

image by Louise Vansleve, accessed at WANA Commons

image by Louise Vansleve, accessed at WANA Commons

The holiday season, filled with turkey, pumpkin pie, sugar cookies, and brightly wrapped presents, is a season of abundance. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I’m reflecting on gratitude. I think part of cultivating gratitude in our lives—every day, not just during a certain time of year—is to find joy and contentment in the little things that fill our days. And I believe gratitude is the key to true, lasting happiness.

Part of gratitude is being able to see the little things in life as luxurious, the ability to revel in a pot of coffee shared with an old friend, the ability to find wonder in a majestic mountain view or to find delight in the pages of a good book.

So here are a few of the little things for which I’m grateful—year round:

  • a bar of handmade lavender soap from the local farmers market
  • a cat curled up on my lap on a cold day
  • a cup of Earl Grey and a good book (just finished reading Jessica Spotswood’s Star Cursed, perfect cold-weather reading)
  • holding hands with my husband
  • lazy Sunday mornings
  • a full moon in a clear sky
  • the feel of sand beneath my toes
  • growing basil in my tiny balcony garden
  • Sunday night chats with my two best friends
  • a cup of coffee to start the day

What about you? What simple luxuries are you most grateful for?

And, before I forget, happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Lastly, my midweek ROW80 check-in…

Writing

1.) Make measurable progress on one of my WIPs. Wrote 1,224 words in novelette “Stolen by Magic.”

2.) Read three books on the craft/business of writing. Two of three books read. No progress to report this week.

Social media goals:

1.) Check in on Twitter or Facebook daily. Met for Monday and Tuesday. Taking the rest of the week off from social media to celebrate the holidays with family.

2.) Blog twice a week. One post this week.

3.) Comment on three to five blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. Goal met for Monday and Tuesday.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

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