Spring Writing Bootcamp 2015: Check-In #3

Much as I hate to admit it, my progress has been slow this past week. I rewrote and restructured the first three chapters of Facing the Music in less than a week, but by chapter four I was stuck.

Lately, I’ve been having a lot of trouble with not caving to the Inner Editor voice when the writing itself slows down, or where I get temporarily stuck on something. Part of the reason I completed my rewrite so quickly was because I learned how to put my head down, fast draft each chapter, then clean it up enough to move forward. But for the purposes of this revision, I’m not so sure that that strategy is going to work.

If I’m going to really dig deep and reshape the big picture plot stuff or correct my characterization issues, then I need to do more than just blow through each chapter and clean it up later. I need to sit down and consider what each scene is going to accomplish, what information I need to reveal about my characters, and whether the dialogue or description I’m fussing with is actually going to propel the story forward.

So after this week, I’m starting over. I’m going back to chapter one and I’m going to take a good long look at my MC and his situation and how he’d be handling it. I’m going to take the time to put myself squarely in a wintery mindset, even though summer’s right around the corner. And I’m going to hope that a slower and more thorough revision will produce a better story than racing against myself would’ve.

 

We’re almost to May, bootcamp participants! How’s everyone doing?

Trimming the Fat

The way my life has been these past few weeks, I could either turn this into a revision-centered post or a life advice post. Also because of the way my life has been these past few weeks, I think I’m going to talk about both.

I have this terrible habit of constantly biting off more than I can chew. In school, I was that kid who participated in two or three extra-curricular activities, had a 4.0, tried to maintain a social life, and didn’t sleep or relax very much as a result. I assumed that I’d have all this free time once I finally graduated college, and instead I keep cramming all these meaningless, unimportant tasks into my schedule because I convince myself that they’re necessary.

As far as the writing goes, replace tasks with subplots. Or side characters. Or scenes that don’t really need to be in the story, but that I like. Or scenes that could serve a much more important purpose if I just combined them with other scenes.

You get the picture. Either way, my personal life and my writing life wind up a mess. I’m unable to properly utilize my time, or I’m stressed all the time. I know that wanting to write professionally is more or less like having homework for the rest of your life, but that doesn’t mean I have to be doing extra credit every single day.

When I received my feedback on this most recent draft of Facing the Music, one of my CPs said something really wise. She mentioned that I don’t necessarily over-write more than the average person, especially not for an initial draft. I just try and do too much.

I am not even slightly exaggerating when I tell you how life-changing that was. Doing too much sums up all of my teenager years, and so far my twenties aren’t looking much better. I’m all for staying busy and having a lot of hobbies, but I’m finally starting to realize that I either have to draw the line or trim the fat.

What does that mean for my life and my revisions? In terms of my writing, it means constantly evaluating to make sure that the story stays centered around my MC. It means searching for scenes that I can cut, or combine, or just simplify. It means making sure that I don’t blindly wander off into the side character swamps, or get mired down in my own subplots. It means tightening the big picture stuff first and trimming the prose itself last.

The life changes, as always, are going to be a little bit harder to make. Because I only have so much time to work with and only so many activities I can remove, I’m going to have to manage my time more wisely if I’m going to accomplish some of the goals I have in mind. I’ve been working with timers, and sticking to one specific task for a predetermined amount of time, or until it’s done. My boyfriend and I have decided on days when we do our gym time, and I need to be more consistent about showing up on those days.

Mostly, I’m going to have to prioritize. There are always little housekeeping-type chores I could do–from tidying our constantly messy kitchen to clearing out my online bookmarks to updating my journal. And honestly, I think that the biggest changes to my routine are going to come from asking myself: At the end of the day, which is going to make me happier? Fiddling with a couple unimportant tasks, or tackling projects I’m genuinely excited about?

My time management skills are always a work in progress, but I’m hoping to make a lot more progress with them here in the next couple months.

How do you manage your busy schedule? What tips or tricks would you recommend?

Spring Writing Bootcamp 2015: Check-in #2

This is going to be a kind of short update, because I haven’t actually spent a lot of time working on my MS in the last week. Meeting my April goal had the strange effect of derailing my productivity, and I’ve been trying to get back on track ever since.

In the past couple days, I’ve begun the process of piecing my MS back together–writing new scenes where it’s warranted and copying old scenes into new locations in the story. I don’t expect the new scenes to be pretty just yet, and I don’t expect them to contain all the information I need. I’d just like to put the gist of the action in order, so I can figure everything else out from there.

My Facing the Music outline consists of 26 chapters and an epilogue, for now at least. I’m currently on chapter four of this Frankenstein-type ordeal, crafting a grotesque, word-bloated monster of a manuscript that I’m hoping to clean up and trim down and turn into a man.

Or something. I might have carried this metaphor a little too far. đŸ™‚

 

Bootcamp participants: Are you on track to meet your April goals? Whether you are or aren’t, please let me know if you need encouragement. I’m always happy to cheer on fellow writers!

Spring Writing Bootcamp 2015 Check-In

I heavily touted the YA Buccaneers Spring Writing Bootcamp last year, so it shouldn’t come as much surprise that I’m once again participating. Though this is technically the second boot camp check-in, it’s the first time I’ve posted a progress report since the challenge began.

My goals for this year were very simple, and more than a little vague. Figure out a plan for my Facing the Music revisions, and actually start working on them by the end of April. Unlike last year, which was stop and go the whole way through, I’m pleased to say that I’ve stayed on track so far.

I’ve pinpointed the large scale changes I need to make during my revisions, and created a new outline where those large scale changes have been implemented. I’ve also taken the time to expand upon character motivations and personality quirks, to provide myself a consistent foundation when I’m knee deep in the mire of actually reshaping the story. To top it all off, I’ve even re-jiggered the story’s timeline so that all of the plot dominoes fall in their proper places.

Real life has prevented me from digging into the actual revisions at this point, but I’m still confident that I’ll be able to start them by the end of the month. Fingers crossed anyway!

 

If you’re a bootcamp participant: How are your own stories progressing? Has the camp experience been conducive to your productivity?

If you aren’t doing bootcamp: What other goals have you set for yourself recently? How are you managing them?