Tuesday, 2 July 2013

InCreWriJul WEEK ONE: Check In

Hello, hello, hello, lovely Readers! It is now ONE DAY (not counting today) until the official UK release of my beautimous book The Night Itself! You can read a slightly early book birthday interview with me here at the Author Allsorts (conducted by soon to be debut-author Natasha Ngan) for inside information and pretty pictures. If it's not up when you click, check back later, it's definitely scheduled for today. *Excited*

But! Today is also the first Tuesday of July! So it's time for our first InCreWriJul check-in.


The idea today is for each of us to set a realistic but challenging goal for what we'd like to achieve in July. We'll share it - me in this post, you guys in the comments - and basically make a pledge to try our best to meet it, and be there for everyone else who is trying to meet theirs, during this month.

Here goes! I started work on book #3 of The Name of the Blade last week, and I have just over 12k, which is around 16% of the projected first draft total. This is based on the word count of the first drafts of The Night Itself and Darkness Hidden, which were each about 73,000 words (subsequent drafts with my editor plumped them both up to between 78,000 and 80,000 words).

I'm not going to try to finish book #3 this month, because I know the moment I put that kind of pressure on myself things inevitably go wrong (see the story of what happened when I tried to participate in NaNo one year).

However, having finally nailed the right ending for Darkness Hidden in the last round of edits (well, I think, anyway) right now I am overwhelmed with enthusiasm for book #3, and I really want to take advantage of that and get as many words as I can down on paper before the end of this month. This is not just because of the constraints of the InCreWriJul deadline, but because I'm expecting to get the next (and hopefully final!) round of edits on DH back somewhere around the end of July/beginning of August. I'll also need to take a break then to get all my ducks in a row and do my tax return (another facet of being a self-employed author no one ever warns you about). Both those things are going to interfere with my focus on book #3 like crazy; it's inevitable. I need to make the most of the focus and time I have now, and that's where InCreWriJul comes in!

Most of you guys know that I'm a longhand drafter. 90% of my work gets scribbled in a notebook first, and then typed up and revised and re-drafted on the computer. So, keeping the idea of 'achievable and realistic' in mind, this is my goal:

For the month of July I will write five days a week, starting off with a longhand writing sprint of one and a half hours. During that one and a half hours I will not check emails or Twitter, stop to look something up on Wiki or in my series bible, pause to edit, or engage in any other procrastinatory activity. At the end of the writing sprint I will take however many scribbled pages I managed to achieve and type them up, revising and rewriting as I go. This will take as long as it takes. If I have time when I've finished typing, I'll do another writing sprint of the same duration, but the goal is to do ONE of these each day, first thing in the morning.

My final goal will be to produce around 10,000 typed up words per week.

This timed writing sprint is a new thing I've been trying over the past week, since I started book #3. It's based on the fact that when I was working full time in an office, I used to produce ridiculously huge amounts of scribbled notes during my stingy tea and lunch breaks, even while sitting on the bus to and from work. I also noticed that when I had a short-ish train journey and knew just how long I had before I arrived at my destination, I could write like crazy and end up with large quantities of scribbles which were just as good as anything that I might labour over for a full day when I had the time. I'm not sure if my years as an office drone conditioned me to like to write fast in short bursts, or if that's just the way my brain is wired, but I definitely find that knowing I have a limited time helps me to get some frelling words down without lots of umming and aaahing.

The five days a week target is based around the hours that I spend looking after my dad. Sometimes after I've done my writing sprint, I'll be too busy to write the notes up straight away. Sometimes my writing sprint might be broken up into a few different chunks because I'll be doing observations, checking meds or doing other things. But none of that matters so long as five times a week, I do that writing sprint. Even if I end up having to wait and type up several days worth of notes in one go, it won't matter. The longhand notes will be there on the page waiting.

I also think it's a good idea for me to have one day a week off - from both looking after my dad and working - in which to do all my shopping and chores and the rest, and also do a bit of baking or read a book, see friends , go to the cinema, etc. Much as I feel the urge to hole myself up in my Writing Cave in every spare moment that I have, I know it's not particularly healthy, and that making time for some Real Life (TM) is a good thing.

We'll see how I managed to do next Tuesday, when we do the Week Two check-in!

Now it's your turn, guys. What are you working on? What is your target and why do you feel that it's useful and realistic for you? What is your ultimate goal - where do you want to be at the end of July? Do you have any worries or need any encouragement? Share it all in the comments! (And remember, if you want to be included in the prize draw at the end of the month? You need to comment on THIS post and on each InCreWriJul post until the final one on the 30th of July!).

35 comments:

Liz de Jager said...

So I need to turn book 2 around in the Blackhart Legacy pretty sharpish by the end of November. I've worked out that I need to write around 20k a month to do this. So that's going to be kinda where I'd like to be at the end of July. My weekends will be timed writing sessions as will my evenings after work. I'll try and get words done before work and also during lunch time. If I can get 2k done a day, I should be able to exceed the 20k thing with EASE but we all now sometimes that just won't be possible due to Real Life. I will however do my utmost to succeed. Also: I'm planning to have SO MUCH FUN! <- this equates to things being blown up and people being skewered. Oh yes!

Barker and Jones Staff said...

I really only write for fun, but I'm going to aim for 35K words this month. I use 750words to motivate myself, so 35K won't be too hard to get. I'll use them to work on a project I've been putting off because it involves watching TV; weird, huh?

Pompoms all around!

Zoë Marriott said...

Liz: With your job (which I know is really energy and time consuming) I know your deadline is going to be really challenging, but I think your targets are really realistic and do-able. We can do this! *Fist-Clench*

B&JStaff: 750 words a day? Or per writing session a day? I think 35k in a month is a really worthwhile, challenging target, but I'm sure you'll get there :)

Barker and Jones Staff said...

At least 750 a day. 750words is a website where you sign up for an account and then write at least 750 words, on any topic you like, each day; it's completely private, no one else can see what you're writing, and it's a fantastic way to blow out the cobwebs. They have badges to encourage you, and the longer you write in a row the more badges you get. I'm currently on 850 days without a break, which is pretty awesome. And I'll only need to go a little over 750 each day to hit my target. Let's go, us! :D

Zoë Marriott said...

B&JStaff: Wow! I had no idea that even existed - what a fantastic idea! That would have been so helpful to me a few years ago, I can't even tell you. Some days when I got home from my old job I felt like a real failure because I had no motivation to write anything. Badges would definitely have helped. Maybe someone else taking part in InCreWriJul will find a new addiction after reading this...

Rebecca Lindsay said...

Since the post last Thursday I have been feeling really inspired and I have written 52 pages in my notebook!
I really want to get a large proportion of my book written and I am going to set myself an aim of writing between 5,000 and 10,000 words a week. Hopefully, I will be able to reach the top end of my goal.

Zoë Marriott said...

Rebecca: Wow, you're really going for it. 52 pages is a substantial start on that too. You go, Rebecca!

Barker and Jones Staff said...

Let's hope.

If you want to do the timed sprint while typing, you could try Write or Die. It gives you a window to type in and you set the time and severity. On the easiest level, it flashes at you if you haven't typed for a few seconds. On the hardest level, it starts deleting your words. Definitely motivates you to keep writing...

Thanks for letting us hang out on your blog and encourage each other. It's really helpful. :)

Essjay said...

I'd like to achieve 1k a day on my current wip which is and has been stuck at around 10k for weeks now. Yesterday I read it all through and, surprisingly, still like it so am ready to crack on.

Now I've actually written down what I'd like to do I'm far more likely to actually achieve it! Thank you for doing this! I need the motivation!

Zoë Marriott said...

Essjay: You're very welcome, hun. Let's go. Kick that WIP into shape!

Cherie Rosemin said...

I have a tendency to crash and burn when attempting nanowrimo, so I think I'm going to make this a lot more laid back then usual.I think instead of trying to set milestones for myself, I'm going to play around with my writing style etc a bit.
This will probably just result in fanfiction, but I've been trying to include more humour in my writing for ages now (I can never quite get it from my head to the paper without killing everything) so I'm going to work on that. And any feedback I get will be massive motivation, as I just can't see myself keeping it up otherwise.
So really, this is going to be more chilled than usual. And I've had a brilliant idea for a story that I want to map out some more as well, without having to overthink about when I'm going to start it.
(On a side note, have the seen the copy of Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher in Waterstones? The one with red birds on the sides of the pages. Normally when books have that but with just one set colour, I turn my fingers blue/green etc, but it's one of the most beautiful things I've seen)

Zoë Marriott said...

Cherie: Sounds about right. I'm a bit jealous actually - I'd love to spend a month playing with some fanfic and maybe plotting out a future book. I never get to play around anymore. *Sigh* Stupid deadlines. Good luck with everything, Cherie :)

Lucy said...

My targets are to finally finish the first draft of my novel, less than 5 thousand to go I expect. Also I want to write the first draft of my critical essay, 6-8 thousand words, and start the editing of my novel - maybe first half minimum. I also want to plan out my next novel in detail too and start that.

girlinthelens said...

Oh what a good idea! Posting my target online should force me to get my butt in gear and write. I had bad news last month that hit me emotionally, so I didn't write nearly as much as I'd have liked to. This month I'm still struggling to come to terms with it, but I'd like to delve into writing anyway and really get ahead on my manuscript.

Since THE ELITES comes out in September, and ideally I'd like my WIP done by then, my target for July will to reach 40,000 words (half of the finished draft). I'm currently at 20,000, so 20,000 over a month should be achievable if I do 3 days a week of good writing. I'd like to do more but this is probably more of a realistic target with my emotions still a bit tattered .. x

http://natashangan.com/

Zoë Marriott said...

Lucy: That's a nice variation of projects - hopefully you can go backward and forward a bit if you get stuck.

Natasha: Oh no, poor you. I really sympathise - I find it really hard to find the motivation to work when I'm sad or upset or worried. I really hope this helps very gently push you. Your target seems really realistic to me. We'll get you there :)

Rhia said...

July isn't going to be an easy month for me, as I have a non-fiction article to research and write: so the first target will be to get to at least the second draft stage by this time next week: about 5,000 words.

I've also been stuck on the denoument of the fiction WIP, which, now I've got to that point, is not as strong as I originally thought, but is the raison d'etre for the whole blessed thing. I actually dreamed about this the other night (odd - I never usually remember my dreams!) and the idea still seems quite sound. It will require an entirely new chapter: so Target Number Two will be to block this out, hopefully by this time next week.

Two targets in 7 days, then. Can I do this? Yes, I can!

Phoenixgirl said...

I'm working on revising my fantasy novel (the first draft of which was in progress during InCreWriMa last year). At the moment this mostly involves writing a new middle section, which has gotten stuck after a big inspired burst a few weeks ago.

My goal is to make some amount of progress - it doesn't matter how much - between one Tuesday and the next, so I have something to report when I check in. I think the prospect of having to say "Um... I didn't write anything this week" will be a good spur to keep me going. : )

Rhia said...

Oh, and I shall add - the ultimate target for the month is to complete and submit the article and to have the new chapter written...

Q said...

I'm not sure how much writing I can do per day at this point, so I'm going to figure out that goal later, but I would really like to work on my novel every remaining day in July, except Sundays because I like taking Sundays off. I will refine my goal in future weeks.

Zoë Marriott said...

Rhia: YES! United we are strong! You *can* do it! July will not know what hit it!

Phoenix: Heh heh. Well, if it works, then it works. I'll cross my fingers.

Q: Evolving your goal as you go seems like a good idea. Then you'll know what's realistic and what will challenge you. Good luck!

Isabel said...

Right now I'm working on thinking/planning/plotting a new book, and since I'm still in the early stages of that, I'm going to set a goal to have a more fully-formed idea of the plot/story in mind and written down by the end of the month. I'm also working on an essay for a contest that I have to write this summer, which is only supposed to be 1000 words long but requires a long process. I'm going to aim to have a good draft of that done plus try to do citations and bibliography within the next couple of weeks.

Thanks for this opportunity Zoe, good luck to everyone on their goals!

Elyndra said...

I'm going to do various projects this month.
I haven't been able to write for so long and my health is still a bit shaky, so I need to start out slow. I thought I'd try for a minimum of 500 words a day for the first week and see how that goes.

I'm (re)starting a blog. It needs some work first, before I can start to write, so I'll try to spend 2 hours a day on it for now.

I'm also learning a new language, but not sure if that counts. ^-^

Zoë Marriott said...

Isabel: Yay, I'm so glad that you're taking part, Isabel! I think your goals look very realistic and worthwhile. Good luck with all that hard work :)

Elyndra: Take care of yourself first and foremost, remember. As to the new language - if you're writing things in it, it counts. If you're not spending time on that, then no. Maybe some other blog ought to run a Learning Mandarin (or whatever) June...

Elyndra said...

Thank you, I will. But if I don't start writing again, my Muse is going to go crazy. ^-^ My health is what it is, it can't be helped.

The learning part was just a joke, sorry.
I guess I could say I'm writing Kanji so it counts, but I'm not that weird (yet).

Good luck everyone.

Zoë Marriott said...

Elyndra: Sorry - just making sure. I found your emoticon enigmatic for some reason. Poker face...

AmyLily said...

It's fantastic and exciting to see everyone's different goals on here, good luck to all of you :D

I've recently dug out an old novel I haven't worked on for awhile and given it a shake up. I want to start re-writing it, but July is going to be a tad crazy for me since I have 2 jobs & am going away for some of it, and my health has been rather sucking lately. And I want to keep doing a weekly blog post too! So with all of that in mind I've decided to aim for at least two sides of A4 of novel re-write a day. Some days I'll definitely do more, others I won't be able to do any at all.

But so long as I start making some progress with this I'll be happy!

Zoë Marriott said...

Amy: Oooh, re-writing an old novel. So tempting, yet so challenging. This sounds like a realistic goal to me - good luck, Amy! We will get you there. Just you take care of yourself.

whispering words said...

So far, July is going to be my busiest month this year work wise, So I feel silly, but my goals are going to be really small. A mere 300 words a day... and yesterday I only wrote 298!

I have 2 projects and I'm alternating between them. My YA novel which I'm officially halfway through, and the travel/journal/survival guide thing I'm trying to write about my life and adventures in China. I'm happy as long as I can keep them both moving forward!

Good luck to the rest of you! :)

Zoë Marriott said...

Whispering: So nice to see you! I don't think that those goals are the slightest bit silly - I admire you for getting words down even though you're so busy. I'm a full time writer and I don't always manage that, trust me! Good luck :)

April C Rose said...

So my novel is written. It's been read by several betas and workshopped at a writers' conference. My query is good to go. Now, I need to make some final touches and tighten up my writing. Think of the Law and Order "dun-dun." My instructor said my sentences--while grammatically correct--tend to go "dun-dun...dun." I need to get rid of those extra "duns." It's taking me far too long.

My goal? By the end of July have all the extra "duns" out so I can send my baby into the world. It's a small goal, and it doesn't push me much in terms of word count, but it does force me to get on it. Then, it will be a matter of making all the changes in my document. Tedious stuff.

Having made the goal, I'm probably going to finish early (because that's how I roll :) ), so I'll tack on another goal: once I'm done, I will complete the first three chapters of book #2. Depending on when I complete goal #1, goal #2 might be tricky.

And thanks for doing this! Not so much the prize thing, but more the push to keep myself accountable. It's so easy to say, "Eh, as long as I finish by September, I'm good," and then push it off til later.

Rebecca Lindsay said...

whispering words: That travel/ journal/ survival guide of China sounds really interesting! I am currently studying Mandarin and I would love to live and travel around China in the future.
Are you going to try and get it published in a journal or something? :)

Zoë Marriott said...

April: Oooh, ambitious. Very best of luck with the DUN removal :)

Rachel Balcombe said...

I'm a bit behind with this - I was in Sheffield this week to help a friend move - but I'd really like to get into the habit of writing every day again. I'm going to set my target as 100 words a day - it's fairly low but I haven't written regularly in ages so this should get me back in the habit. Thanks, Zoe! :)

In other news, just got my copy of TNI today - I shall be sacrificingsleep tonight in favour of reading. :)

Zoë Marriott said...

Rachel: I hope you didn't lift anything too heavy, or strain anything! 100 words a day sounds like a really good place to start, and hopefully as you get more into the project you might find you're exceeding it and then you could shift the target up. I hope you enjoy TNI Rachel... (eeep!).

whispering words said...

Rebecca Lindsay: Hey, not really sure what I'm going to do with it, maybe I'll try to publish it when I return to England. Feel free to email me if you have any questions! dancing_dragon(at)hotmail(dot)com

Although I warn you now - even though I've been here 6 months - My mandarin sucks! But China is awesome!

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