Posts Tagged ‘My writing process’

Next Steps – August 3/09

I knew this day would come, just not this soon. I’ve been looking over my next step list and have to honestly say I didn’t accomplish much. Actually, I didn’t accomplish anything that I wanted. Being out of town and getting sick certainly didn’t help much. So I’m taking last weeks unaccomplished list and moving it into this week:

  • Work on Chapter Book material – When I write, I like to write by hand so I want to set a goal of writing one to two pages a day for my story. Also I need to avoid editing any work I do write (that’s one way I knock myself off track, editing before I’m done)
  • Reading research – I think I need to find some chapter books that deal with serious topics and read them as a reference (not sure how I’ll find this list yet)
  • Review additional magazine story – I have another story I’ve written for a children’s magazine. I’m not sure if it works, but I need to revisit it and see if I can make it work or if it should just be scraped

Hopefully I’ll be more successful this week.

I need your help

MomCafe and Please Mum announced their second annual summer writing contest. And you know me, if it’s about writing a story, especially one based on my limited mom experiences, I’m all ears (or fingers). So I thought and wrote and thought and rewrote and it’s done and submitted. That should be the end of it, but it’s not.

See writing the story is only the first part of this competition. The second part is voting. Readers vote for the story they like best and that is what determines the winner. I’m not a big fan of ‘vote to win’ competitions, mainly because I don’t really know a lot of people. And it doesn’t help that my story didn’t get posted until 5 days after the contest started (so I’m a little behind)

And that’s where you come in. I’m swallowing my pride and asking you, my friends, to pop over and take a read. And hopefully if you like it, you’ll also vote.

http://www.pleasemum.com/essay_vote.php?essay_contest_id=96&story_anchor=all_96

Also please visit and vote for my friend and fellow writer of all things mom, Shanon

http://www.pleasemum.com/essay_vote.php?essay_contest_id=102&story_anchor=all_102

And thank you.

(Note: this is a sticky post. You can scroll down to see more recent posts)

Next Steps – July 27/09

Another week has passed since my last Next Steps list for working on my writing. But first, how did I do on last weeks next steps:

  • Submit my magazine story – Yup, I licked the envelop and sent it off. Now I sit and wait and pace and check the mailbox. Fingers crossed for the next six or so weeks. But it’s done.
  • Write an outline for my Chapter Book idea – I wrote a brief synopsis of my story, as well as a chapter outline. I also started to write descriptions of the main characters in the story. I was so excited I started to write the first chapter too.
  • Reading research – I haven’t done a very good job of this. I’ve been taking out picture books for my kids to read as part of the library’s Summer Reading Club. There are so many chapter books, but I think because my story idea deals with death I need to find books with a similar feel. So no Captain Underpants.
  • Picture book manuscript feedback – And this I haven’t done at all. I have found someone, an author, who’s offered to read it, but it’s based on her availability so this might have to wait a bit.

So moving forward into the next week:

  • Work on Chapter Book material – When I write, I like to write by hand so I want to set a goal of writing one to two pages a day for my story. Also I need to avoid editing any work I do write (that’s one way I knock myself off track, editing before I’m done)
  • Reading research – I think I need to find some chapter books that deal with serious topics and read them as a reference (not sure how I’ll find this list yet)
  • Review additional magazine story – I have another story I’ve written for a children’s magazine. I’m not sure if it works, but I need to revisit it and see if I can make it work or if it should just be scraped

A shorter list this week, but perhaps more writing will be involved.

Next Steps – July 20/09

It’s been a week since I first outlined my Next Steps for working on my writing. So let’s see, how did I do with last weeks tasks:

  • Renew my library card – Done. I reserved a few writing books too (Hopefully I can pick them up this week)
  • Finalize magazine stories – I’ve revised one story, ready to send out. The second story, after reviewing it, I’m not sure if it works still and I’m not sure if I can make it work.
  • Revise my picture book manuscript – Done, now I need to run it by a second pair of eyes for feedback.
  • Research the difference between Easy Reader/Chapter Book and Middle Grade Book – I’ve been reading and thinking about my story idea and I think I’ve settled on the EA/CB route.

So I’m feeling pretty good having completed the tasks I set-out for my first week. I’ll also admit they weren’t the hardest. Now we’re starting a new week and with that a new set of Next Steps:

  • Submit my magazine story –  Write a cover letter and submit the story to the children’s magazine for consideration.
  • Write an outline for my Chapter Book idea – I have a synopsis and now that I’ve decided to go the Chapter Book route, I want to develop an outline for each chapter.
  • Reading research – I need to take out and read a whole collection of Chapter Books
  • Picture book manuscript feedback – I’ve revised my picture book manuscript which needs a new set of eyes on it. I should also investigate critique groups too (I’m a member of SCBWI but have never really taken advantage of my membership).

So another week and another set of tasks. I’m always good at starting something, let’s see how good I am at continuing it.

Next Steps – July 13/09

So I’ve had some time to think about my writing/blogging dilemma (and I’ve received some great feedback and advice from people too). Instead of pitting one against the other, trying to sort out what’s more important, I’ve been thinking of ways to better use them to support each other.

One of my problems with my story writing, I think, is I don’t have any sort of deadline. It’s one of those things that gets done when it has to but if something else comes up (with a deadline) then that writing gets put aside. And the more I put it aside, the easier it gets to not pick it up. So, starting now, I’m going to set myself deadlines for my writing. And to make sure I follow through, I’m going to post them here, on my blog, every Monday. See. See how I’m using my blog to help my writing? Clever? Okay, maybe not. And this might not work, but I’m going to give it a try.

So here’s this weeks Next Steps:

  • Renew my library card. I can’t believe my library card has expired. I spend so much time there and seem to take out a lot of books (so my library fines indicate) but I’ve been using the kids library cards. I tried to reserve some writing books, which you can’t reserve with a child’s library card, and was told I couldn’t until I came in to renew my card. So that’s first on my list, renew my card.
  • Finalize magazine stories. I’ve written two stories for two different children’s magazines and have done nothing with them. I need to review them and finalized them and send them out.
  • Revise my picture book manuscript. I need to revise and get some comments on a picture book story I’ve been working on.
  • Research the differences between easy reader/chapter books and middle grade books. I have another story idea that I really like, but I’m not sure if the material is too much for an EA book. Need to get a better handle on determining which route to go.

Okay, there it is, spelled out for me (and anyone else who’s reading). Hopefully by next Monday I will have accomplished these and be ready to set a new list of Next Steps. Wish me luck.

Blogging is Killing my Writing

I love to write, especially fiction stories for children. I use to write regularly, full of new ideas. Then demands of work and my family started taking over and my writing slowly got left behind.

Recently decided to try blogging, thinking that would be a great way to get myself back into writing again. And it has, sort of. I do write on my blog fairly regularly. But now I seem to spend all my writing time working on my blogs (this one and the one at Everythingmom.com). And when I’m not writing on my blogs, I’m writing articles.

Beyond just sapping my writing time away, blogging also seems to have decreased my attention span. My mind seems to now be conditioned to write short concise pieces. I think that’s why I’ve moved into writing articles too.

Blogging also has a deadline I need to work towards. It’s sort of an unwritten deadline but if I want to keep my blog readers coming back or grow my readership from just my mom then I know I have to keep writing regularly.

I think the other reason I’m drawn to blogging over my writing is because blogging is easier. I blog based on an idea or thought. It’s just about me. Writing, even a short story or children’s picture book takes so much more work. First there’s the idea and you need characters as in more than one (most stories I’ve read don’t rely on just one character). Then you need your storyline with conflict and resolution, peeks and valleys.

And maybe I’m just tired. Maybe I’m feeling really tired lately and frustrated because I’m not spending more time on my writing. Maybe I can’t do both or maybe I need to have more discipline for both my blogging and my writing.

I’m curious what other writer/bloggers do. How do you manage your blogging time versus your writing time?

Deadline? What deadline?

I’ve said this is going to be a year of change and I think I’ve found a new thing to add to my list of things to change (someone needs to invent a year with more then 365 days in it in order for me to accomplish all I want).

I enjoy writing so once I start and get into a groove I’m usually pretty good at sticking to it. I sometimes have to force myself to stop (when everyone is in bed and all the lights are off, that usually a sign that I should stop). As I said, I’m usually good. I’ve noticed a trend with my writing lately. If I’m working on something that has a deadline I usually make that my focus and  get it done, even if it’s just hours before hand. That’s not a bad thing. But my other work, speculative writing or working on my own book material, writing that doesn’t have a deadline, that work seems to get pushed to the side.

I think I need to start scheduling my writing. I know, that seems so counter intuative to the whole creative writing process. It’s sort of like starting an exercise routine or any new routine, you have to do it over and over again before it becomes routine. I read somewhere that it takes about seven weeks of a scheduled routine before it becomes something you do automatically.

So that being said, I’m working on an article idea and I’m going to schedule that my first draft needs to be done by next weekend. There, now it’s in writing. No going back on it. Unless of course I delete this post and pretend like it never happend.

Write. Rewrite. Revise

I’ve been working on a new story for a children’s picture book. I know, I thought I had given up on the picture book genre, but I keep being drawn back in. I’m a big fan of them I guess. Plus I think this idea works best in a picture book.

I have to thank my oldest daughter for the idea. She’s been practicing her writing (and illustrating) by writing her own short stories. One of the stories she shared with me had a character I really loved. That night I started an outline for a story to see if I could make it work. A few days ago I finished my first draft. It’s funny, computers add so much ease with doing work, but I prefer to write out my outline and first draft by hand. I don’t know what it is. The words seem to flow easier with a pen I guess. Perhaps it’s because I can carry my notebook anywhere and write when the mood strikes. Sometimes it’s hard to make out my writing. I always start off very neat but as an idea builds in my head my writing becomes a little more excitable, mirroring my feelings about what I’m writing.

So now that the first draft is done I start the long phase or rewriting and revising. Although I like to write my first draft by hand, I perfer to review a typed copy, which means transcribing all my notes. Sometimes when I’m typing I catch parts of the story that don’t make sense or are in the wrong order or should be expanded or removed. I try not to edit myself when I’m transcribing, but instead just type in everything I’ve written. Only once I have a clean printed copy do I start reviewing and revising.

To some people the rewriting and revising stage may not be as exciting or as enjoyable as writing the original piece, I actually enjoy it. I can see a mini movie of the story in my head as I read it. I can see and hear where things are confusing or unnecessary or boring. Sometimes new ideas come up that I hadn’t thought of in my draft. Some that work and some that don’t. I scribble between the lines, in the margins and on the back, all my revisions. Then I edit my electronic version.  I print another clean copy and go through the process all over again.

I’ve just started this stage and I know I will be revising a number of drafts. I know the likely hood of this story being printed is very slim. I think I keep doing this because I really enjoy the creative process. I guess the day I start to write for the sole purpose of having something printed is the day I should stop writing.