Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Goals of a Part-Time Novelist

Setting writing goals is essential for being a writer. Goals that are often self induced and self enforced. Be it writing 50k words in a month or #500wordaday, writing regularly is manditory.

This month I opted to partcipate in Camp Nanowrimo, a smaller trafficed but identical competition to Novemember's 50k in 30 days challenge. I went into Camp suspecting I would not complete the 50k challenge, but hoped to get about 30k, or the 1st half of my WIP rewritten, which ever came first.

As June draws to a close, I realize that 50k is not possible for me, but I did achieve my smaller goal. So why do I feel so...unfulfilled?

At some point mid-month, it struck me that I might be able to meet the 50k challenge. I was on target; I was writing daily. What happened?

The realization that I'm only a Part-Time Novelist, for now. I don't have the time between filming and working my real job and spending quality time with my friends and family to spend multiple months of the year writing 50k. The overachiever in me is not happy about that. But I can look back at this month and say, I worked on cleaning (there was much yard work accomplished), I helped with a short film, I didn't call in sick once!, and I rewrote the first half of Tails. That's quite an achievement. I don't feel quite so bad about myself.

So, what am I getting at? We need to remember our priorities. Set goals that are achievable. Lofty goals like 50k in a month or 500 a day are not achievable for every lifestyle. Sometimes 100 words a week is a great goal. Picking something that's reasonable for you is what's important. Then remember to take a step back and look at your accomplishments. Reward yourself when you finish that goal, even if it was a small goal.

While yes, a full time writer can often produce 50k a month without batting an eye, I'm only a part time writer. I'm returning from Camp proudly with half a novel in hand. I think that means a cocktail, and time to finally Splash Into Summer.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Researching in Unexpected Places

Camp Nano  is overtaking my soul. While I'm so happy to have 10K words worth of revision into Tails (over 5K of that through Camp), having time to go to the movies, read a book, and blog would certainly be nice. So this is my way of saying don't shoot me if I start posting irregularly.

But I have learned my 1st lesson from camp. Research may come from the most unusual places.

Since this is not my first draft, but rather a 2.5 draft that I'm hoping will be completely legible when I'm done. Pausing for research is just as valuable to me as actually writing. So when I hit my first pothole, I calmly a analyzed the best way to fill it in.

One of my characters is fascinated by electric lights. So my description of his fascination can be "ooo! electric lanterns are cool!" No, he has to caress them. Be fascinated by...how the hell do you describe a "lantern"? I think it's time for some research.

A quick google search of lanterns and I can have the whole history of lanterns, but that's not what I need. I need descriptions and diagrams. Where can I find that?

Someplace unexpected: HomeDepot.com

Now, I can look at various shapes and sizes of lamps, and read little descriptions. I found words like flourish, beveled glass, mountings, and fluted details. Words I knew, but would never have applied to a lamp. I also knew what was important when describing it.

I found four lanterns I liked, and using one picture (and inspiration from 4 descriptions), I made my own description:

"He rushed towards the first [lantern] he noticed, dropping Cora’s arm and nearly climbing the wall to get a closer look. He looked at the glowing orb inside like a small sun in captured glass. His hand touched the beveled glass, measuring the heat. A test against the cool flourished Testlite mounting. Cora smiled, proud of her kingdom’s achievements."
I had to think outside of the box to get what I needed. Site that sell products are constantly writing descriptions of products - in an informative and marketable way. They make great sources for sticky descriptions, or just to learn terminology about something you're not quite familiar with.