Sunday, February 6, 2011

Writers Challenge Week Three

JAN: The challenge is getting harder for me for good reasons. Now I've really finished my draft and have it out with a trusted reader - which means not much to do besides a little tinkering here and there while I wait for critique. But I've been writing a lesson plan and exercises for a workshop I'm teaching in Providence, and I've started an essay. The goal, I've decided, is to keep writing no matter what.

The weird thing is this: I always expect to feel absolute joy when I write "The End," but oddly, I don't. I feel a fleeting sense of accomplishment, but it's followed by a weird sense of emptiness and loss.

All those things I've wanted to do and looked so inviting when I was still working on the novel, suddenly seem drab now that I have the time do them. I miss my characters and that quirky little world they inhabit.

Lucky I'm going on vacation Monday -- yes, I'll be bringing my IPAD and keyboard accessory with me and hoping that PAGES Ap works and translates back to my Word files when I get back home. I'll do my best to write 45 minutes before checking my email, but frankly I think the other temptations -- swimming, tennis and pretty rum drinks -- may be my undoing.

Rosemary will be filling in for me next Sunday, but I'll try to check into the comments page late on Sunday and let you all know just how disciplined I may or may not be when tempted by the Caribbean blue ocean.

So tell me everyone -- how was your week THREE? And aside from email and the Internet -- what's your toughest distraction?


  1. I had a frustrating week as well. On my WIP, I was trying to cope with critique comments that I didn't understand to hone in on meaning. I usually don't question critiques, but the comments were too wide to be of value, ie., needs more drama. While waiting, I wrote blogs.

    I'm getting better at ignoring the email and blog reading until after I write. Maybe the experts are right. It takes three weeks to establish or break habits.

  2. Stumbled a bit this week, but I'm going to blame the fact I finished the second draft of my WIP and wasn't sure what to do next. I started at 4 every day, but the last three, I checked my emails, and got into .... Oh, gosh ... Mafia Wars.

    Failed the Write First edict 3 of 7, but I did get to the WIP eventually all days and worked hard. I've started a final, line by line edit/rewrite before handing it over to a couple of readers.

  3. Week 3, a milestone week. Years ago someone told me that new habits take three weeks to "set" in the brain. After three weeks of doing something it becomes more uncomfortable to not do it than to do it. That seems to be the case with the writer's challenge. I hit my goal every day and on the one day where outside circumstances conspired to steal it I was miserable until I felt the embrace of my writing chair and heard the click-click of the keys.

    Checking email and web pages, once the springboard into my day, has become my reward for writing first. It's a good feeling!

    Biggest distraction other than internet related activities? Far and away it's my internal censor...the niggling voice that says over and over "You call that writing? Hah! That's not writing. That's barely even typing. Who would read that? Hahahahahahaha...why are you wasting your time? Give it up and get your mind back on a real job. etc. etc. blah blah blah..."

    If anyone has a fix for that one there a lot of unfinished novels trapped in my head that hope to see the light of day.

  4. Jan - I get the end of book blues too. I love the characters I've drawn and want to stay in their heads. But this week, I took care of housekeeping things. Sent my partial off (fingers crossed), dealt with snow and ice and a toothache which kept me off the keyboard a few days due to heavy drugs..

    Your vacation sounds wonderful... and snowless...


  5. I managed to ignore the internet but I'm in the middle of contest administration and that severely cut into my writing time. :( I maybe managed 45 minutes a day on one of the WIPs or on revisions but until I can get the NRCA cleared off my desk, I fear I'm doomed. Today, I making a concentrated push to get the last two categories finished so I can package and mail out tomorrow to my category coordinators.

  6. This last week, The chaos in Egypt and the weather in Illinois have been more of a distraction that e-mail. I still manage to write, at least to try and revamp the opening to create more tension, but I feel like the hamster on the wheel. I keep working on the same thing over again without no satisfactory results. Tension can't be forced.Today I left the book behind and jotted down a bit about Portland and a snowstorm.

    Hanging in there...but snow on the ground has managed to become snow on my brain.

  7. E.B. and Stephen. Three weeks, is that what they say? We should all be in great shape then by week six. I'm going to count on that.

    Jack, the WIP is what counts afterall. We're all going to stumble.
    Lynn, good luck with your partial! ANd thanks for commiserating.

    Silver James -- good luck with your contest.

    MaryAnn, I've come to believe that those awful days or periods when the writing is awful lead to the good days. And that you can't actually have the good days without them, so you are accomplishing something by getting them out of the way.

  8. Challenging weeks for all, it seems. (Was it in the stars? ;0) No! My challenge -- continuing eye problems. Had to give it a miss most days, but will be back full force on Tuesday. Wishing everyone a productive week ahead. If you enjoy your trip, Jan, it will be an inspiration.

  9. Doing fine, doing fine! ANd actually seeing the end of the book approach. I wish I knew what the ending was, it would make this all so much easier. But I have no idea!!!

    I sometimes think--if I could just sit here and never get up, I could finish.

    In about, maybe three weeks.

    SO--sigh, guess I'm not gonna try that.

  10. Ann -
    I hope your eyes feel better!

    Hank, sounds like you are closing in.

    Happy Superbowl Sunday everyone! (I watch, but am relatively clueless about football. But the superbowl means that baseball season is almost here!)

  11. Week three was a mixed bag. I didn't get my morning writing in on the day I travelled, so I couldn't meet the challenge. But I did get some good writing in on the plane and in the airport.

    I was back on track today and had a great morning!

    Funny note. My coworker was flabbergasted to learn that I hadn't read his email first thing in the morning. I said, "I don't check email until I've written for an hour." He had trouble getting his head around it.

  12. Mixed bag land here, too. But I do have a good idea for the MIDDLE of my novel. I see THE END but it's like across an ocean and I"m in a rowboat.

  13. Other than one dud of a day, I was not only writing but racking up scenes. My daily word count is still too embarrassing to mention, but yanno, after actively avoiding this book for months, not writing anything, even 250 or 500 or 900 words feels monumental.

    My husband will be away most of the coming week, and if I can show my 3 day-job clients enough daily progress on their jobs, I should have a good week.

    Here's to a killer week, everyone!

  14. Ray --
    That response from your friend shows just how strange the world has become.

    My goal is to not check email for an entire day.

    Maybe on vacation -- at least......

  15. Jan, I hope you have a wonderful vacation. Just one request, please. Could you put a fan outside your room, face it north, and turn it on to blow some of that warm weather up here for me. I am really tired of all this snow.

    I have three stories ready to go out in Monday's mail. That made me extremely happy. Of course, I have comments back from critique group on about half a dozen that need more work. I'm fine with that except for the two stories that I had hoped were final drafts and only needed proofing but they found flaws that need to be looked at. On the upside, that means I have plenty of work for this week.

    Having completed a lot of writing-related work, I'm still struggling with that Internet issue. I got my writing done on all days; however, about half of those days I checked my e-mail first. I guess because I was waiting for the comments back. I'm hoping to totally conquer this problem by the end of the six weeks.

  16. Steve R is going to be sending lashes with a wet noodle my way, all the way from Tucson. Terrible week. I was not, however, sabotaged by the Internet, but by bitterly cold weather and one domestic crisis after another (as in broken pipes, no water, etc.) Oh, and there was that pesky copy edit (still in progress), and trying to prep for an unexpected and very short notice trip to London--tomorrow!

    But this is a working trip, where I'll be finishing one copy edit, starting another, AND working on the new book, so maybe there is Writer's Challenge salvation for me yet.

    PS Jan, have a wonderful--and warm--time!

  17. Still nearing that elusive climax of my first draft - reminds me of that last hard mile of a long climb up a mountain - the actual peak is so near, yet never seems to get any closer.

    I keep putting one foot ahead of the other, can't say I'm making great progess, but moving along.

    The snow's been a distraction - as in snow-shoeing out in the woods, having a eyeful of pristine winter landscape, coming home to a hot shower - and wanting to curl up with a good book.

    Equally challenging is avoiding a peek at the e-mail before that 45 minute mark - I have six queries "out there" - two weeks and counting.

    Sticking with it!

  18. Such fun to hear from you all!
    Deb, have a great trip--Jan, a lovely vac. Jena--very exciting!


  19. Sue-ellen,
    That's the best way to get to a climax, slowly. Usually we rush and have to go back and fill.

    Jena, don't apologize for your word count, you are moving forward and sometimes you sacrifice quantity for quality (at least that's what I tell myself when my word count is low.)

    Thanks everyone for the warm wishes. And Pat, I promise to aim my fan right at you!

    I'm going to write on vacation, but I'm really, really, really going to try to stay offline. Completely, for days in a row. I think its going to bring me inner peace and wisdom (I'll let you know if I attain nirvana or anything)
    But I'll try to come back in and comment next Sunday (probably late in the day!)

    Keep Writing First!

  20. and Jack......

    Repeat after me.

    1. I admit I am powerless over Mafia Wars. I am powerless over Mafia Wars... I am powerless over Mafia Wars.
    (i had to do it with Freecell!)

  21. I did fail last Monday, but I blame my infant daughter who wanted a bottle at 3:30 am and there's not much to do at 3:30 am except check e-mail, etc.

    But the rest of the week was great.

  22. Special dispensation for mothers of infants Melissa!

  23. Coming in late with check in. I did do my morning writing, I'm really getting in the groove with that.

    Yesterday, though, I just had time to finish the writing, and had a bunch of chores that had to be done then drive my son to college- a five hour (round trip) drive, then came home just in time for the opening kick of the Super Bowl. Not a big sports fan, but after a five hour drive (and I'm not a fan of driving either) I couldn't resist just watching the game and eating party snacks and sharing in my husband's enthusiasm (Packers fan) I didn't check e-mail or blogs yesterday.
    (Great thing about driving on Super Bowl Sunday- very little traffic!)

    Biggest distraction for me- domestic issues- kids coming home from college, I still have one at home who has activities and things going on, the weather was a huge factor this week, a new kitten that gets into things and irritates the older cats. Just little things- and I am so thankful that they are little things.

    This challenge has really helped me with time management skills!

  24. Re: Deb expecting a wet noodle way am I finding fault with someone who has fourteen published novels about overcoming distractions and challenges. I'm in awe of your accomplishments, Deb, and grateful for the time you give me. Have a great time in London.