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Writer-Talk Tuesday: “We try something else.”

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I mentioned last week that my biggest short-term writing goal for 2012 is to get the first draft of Follow the Heart finished in January. But for the first eight days of the month, I was so sick that I had no energy or creativity for anything. Yesterday, however, I made myself sit down and write as soon as I got home from work. I had a goal of 1,500 words in two hours.

I wrote 1,904 words, putting my manuscript’s total word count at a hair under 27,000 words. To finish (with a length of somewhere between 80–90k), I’ll need to step that up a little bit—I’ll need to average between 2,500 and 3,000 words a day for the next twenty-one days to meet that word count by that deadline. Of course my goal is to be able to spend February, March, and April on revisions/edits. So if I have a complete story which isn’t quite up to that word count, I will still have met my goal of a complete first draft by the end of January—and I can add word count in the revision process.

How did I get those 1,900 words after so many months of not writing? As I said, I made myself write. When I got to a point at which I wanted to check e-mail or get on Pinterest or read blogs, I forced myself to write one more sentence. And then one more.

No, not all of those 1,900 words are great. But they are written. And tomorrow, my goal is to write 2,000 words. And Thursday . . . 2,100 words. And Friday . . . you guessed it, 2,200 words. Because I’m finally getting back into the rhythm of just writing without worrying about if it’s perfect, or if one of my characters has repeated something they might have said in a previous chapter. Because I can always fix it later.

Which leads me to the quotes I’d love to get your feedback on. Both are from Madeleine L’Engle:

      “With free will, we are able to try something new. Maybe it doesn’t work, or we make mistakes and learn from them. We try something else. That doesn’t work, either. So we try yet something else again. When I study the working processes of the great artists, I am awed at the hundreds and hundreds of sketches made before the painter begins to be ready to put anything on the canvas. It gives me fresh courage to know of the massive revision Dostoyevsky made of all of his books—the hundreds of pages that got written and thrown out before one was kept. A performer must rehearse and rehearse, making mistakes, discarding, trying again and again.”

      “There are in the life-works of all artists things which don’t work. But sometimes that painting which did not work, that piece of music which did not work, was a necessary preliminary for the next thing which did. And if the artist had never been free to fail, he never would have gone on to that next work.”

  1. Tuesday, January 10, 2012 12:10 am

    Happy to hear you are feeling better and well enough to write again. “The best laid plans of mice and men,” as Robbie Burns said, “sometimes gang aglay” roughly translated, ‘go south’. I have no doubt you will accomplish your daily word counts and finish your draft as planned. I liked your quote and it works for everyday life too.


  2. Tuesday, January 10, 2012 9:16 am

    Glad to hear you are feeling better, Kaye! It’s also a big temptation for me to revert to email, blogs, facebook, etc. when I’m not sure what to write next. I think I may need to force myself to follow time blocks. 🙂


  3. Tuesday, January 10, 2012 9:45 am

    Good to know you are feeling better and writing again. I always nod my head when M. L’E speaks. 🙂 Feels like I’ve approached the writing of every novel I’ve attempted in a different way. Seat of the pants, no outlining at all. Linear. Written in out of order chunks while outlining as I went. A rough outline and written linear. Outlined thoroughly before ever writing word one (but always being open to those story surprises along the way). That last method enabled me to write a book in less than a year for the first time ever, last year. I’m trying it again now. Was it a fluke? Or have I finally after twenty years hit upon the method that’s right for me? We’ll see.


  4. Tuesday, January 10, 2012 9:52 am

    Kaye, you and Lori are both encouragements! I wondered why I seemed to approach my current WIP so much differently – but I guess books are a little like raising kids. You approach them all as individuals, not just one of a set!


  5. Abigail Richmond permalink
    Tuesday, January 10, 2012 12:00 pm

    I will be praying that you will be feeling better soon.


  6. Rachel Wilder permalink
    Tuesday, January 10, 2012 3:07 pm

    Yay for words!

    Excellent quotes, both. The second one especially rings true with me. I’ve written thousands upon thousands upon thousands of words that will never see the light of day. But they were all necessary to get me where I am now.


  7. Tuesday, January 10, 2012 8:48 pm

    Glad you’re writing, I need to get moving on my MS, only one third more to write of the rough draft. Where did you get the quotes from, sounds like a book I’d like to read.


  8. Wednesday, January 11, 2012 1:31 pm

    Glad to hear you’re better, Kaye. I can totally relate, in that I made myself write two nights ago. Just made myself. I think everyone of those 1,101 words will get the ax, but that’s not the point. At least the I-haven’t-written-in-eons monkey is off my back.


  9. Thursday, January 12, 2012 10:30 am

    I have felt so remote from the writing world. I am ready to write again, but I find myself overcome with fear. I have forgotten where to begin. I blog, just to keep the thoughts flowing, but I want to get something on canvas, not just the sketch pad, so to speak. This post was just a little nudge for me to take that step. Thank you!


  10. Saturday, January 14, 2012 6:53 am

    Ugh. “Made”.
    I’m 10 months and 26 (of 33) chapters into the revision process (that I blithely thought would take 3 months) and have slowed to a stall.

    I’ve always admired your work ethic – especially when I see how hard this business is.
    I’ll keep you in prayer that you feel tons better and exceed your word count goals. =)


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