Shelley Widhalm

Posts Tagged ‘Writing Daily’

Inside look at a writer’s writing process

In Shelley Widhalm, Writing, Writing Novels on September 20, 2015 at 5:00 am

Typically, I blog about writing processes and the elements of writing and storytelling, as well as what I think about the writing life and my reflections on writing.

I thought this week, I’d do something a little different and reveal snippets of my journal on my reflections of writing my current novel project, which is about an unhappy waitress who wants to be a musician but is stuck from underlying, ignored trauma.

In early June I journaled: I want to write another novel, but I’m a little stuck. I know I’ll work through this and will figure out the steps I need to take. I feel a little lost. I feel like I need to be writing, but specifically, what do I write?

June 29: I ended up writing 650 words in my novel, if that’s what it is, and reached 2,000 words (including a few notes). It was a struggle to write, but I made myself keep going, and I came up with a few words.

June 30: I wasn’t going to write, but I figured I should try. I wrote 300 words.

July 1: I finally got past my writer’s block. I didn’t even know if what come out was any good, but here it came, all at once, the sound and feel of the words carrying the fury of the soul. I wrote 1,050 words, and I loved it.

July 2: I worked on my novel (I wrote 425 words).

July 5: I sat out on the balcony with my dog, Zoey, to work on my novel and wrote 1,750 words, feeling like I was done and couldn’t write more without forcing it. It’s the most I’ve written in one sitting for this novel. I’m now at 6,000 words. It seems like it’s a slow process, and I’m not sure, exactly, where I’m going with this one, but I do feel more anchored when I write.

July 9: I met my friend, Sarah, at the Coffee Tree for a write-in, where I worked on my novel. I wrote 750 words.

July 15: I wrote 1,000 words. I felt better about myself and life, because I could do it and feel like I had a purpose and a direction, even if I’m still not exactly sure where my story’s heading.

July 23: I worked on my novel, but only had 45 minutes. I wrote 560 words.

July 24: I went to the LoCo Artisan and wrote 830 words and now am at 10,000 words. I figured out a couple of the scenes and felt better about where I was going with the novel.

July 25: I took Zoey with me to the Coffee Tree to work on my novel. I stayed for three hours, spending one-and-a-half hours on the novel and writing 1,900 words.

Aug. 4: I met Sarah at the Coffee Tree and worked on my novel. I wrote 1,650 words, and it felt like the words were flowing, and I had fun writing. I felt more centered and calmer after I wrote, and it felt like I was heading somewhere with my novel.

Aug. 5: I wrote 400 words, because I didn’t have much time, maybe about 45 minutes. It was nice to sit outside on a slightly cooler day and be next to Zoey, just doing writing. That’s the life I really want.

Aug. 9: I went Dazbog to work on my novel. I wrote 1,500 words in two hours.

Aug. 10: I went to the LoCo Artisan with Zoey along and worked on my novel. I wrote 1,100 words in one-and-a-half hours.

Aug. 12: I went to the Coffee Tree to meet Sarah and worked on my novel. I wrote 1,250 words in one-and-a-half hours, bringing me to 18,000 words.

Aug. 16: I worked on my novel. It was a struggle, but I kept pushing through. I wrote 445 words in 30 minutes and then figured I’d do better at it the next day (I just didn’t feel the magic but was able to leave off at a good starting place).

Aug. 17: I went to the LoCo Artisan, where I worked on my novel by identifying character and setting traits because at nearly 20,000 words, I’m forgetting little details. I then realized the work I struggled to do yesterday was lost. This is the third time I lost stuff with this computer. I wasn’t happy about it.

Aug. 19: After work, I took Zoey out and met Sarah at the Coffee Tree for our write-in. I wrote 440 words, basically the same number I lost, and I recalled most of the scene, so I felt better about things.

Aug. 20: I went to the LoCo Artisan to work on my novel. As I wrote, it felt like my novel was slowly unfolding where I just sat down and wrote, writing one thing after another. Things were getting set up, and then the spilling out of one thing after another guided me, and I imagined my setting, and it all started coming out. I wrote nearly 1,000 words in one-and-a-half hours.

Aug. 23: I took Zoey with me to Starbucks and worked on my novel for two-and-a-half hours, stopping for pet-Zoey breaks, because she’s an attention magnet. I wrote 2,150 words, feeling good about letting it pour out and unfold as the characters worked out the storyline. It’s like you write something and then you think of what to write next, and on it goes as words or images pop in your head to be written down.

Aug. 24: I went to the LoCo Artisan to sit outside to work on journaling and my novel. I wrote 1,500 words in one-and-a-half hours. It’s odd how fiction bubbles underneath with truth. It’s like I’m telling the truth of my story with lots of made up characters and plot happenings.

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NaNoWriMo: Not the Finish Line

In 52: A Writer's Life, NaNoWriMo, Shelley Widhalm, Writing on December 1, 2013 at 11:00 am

I arrived at the NaNoWriMo finish line on Nov. 29, one day before the end of the 30-day challenge to write 50,000 words in one month.

As of Friday, I wrote 51,004 words in my young adult novel and am about two-thirds of the way through. I estimate that my novel will be 70,000 to 75,000 words and that I’ll finish it before Christmas Day. (I’m continuing NaNoWriMo into December until I reach the end of my very rough draft.)

I got so caught up in meeting my goal, I gave up a few things for the month, such as going out with friends (I went out once to see “Catching Fire” on opening weekend), spending lots of time with my dog, Zoey (she is mad at me), and blogging. I skipped two weeks of blogging despite my goal to blog weekly in 2013.

Anyway, here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of writing daily:

• I actually wrote every day, except for five days of the 30, something I never do because I write for a living and come up with lots of excuses.
• I didn’t forget the beginning part of my novel, my character identities or the plot strings after setting aside my draft because I got busy with life and excuses.
• I got excited about writing after work and couldn’t wait to find out what would happen with my plot and characters.
• I focused on word count, instead of on the story elements, and got lost in the writing, so that it felt like I was just typing away without worries about what I was producing. I just didn’t care, because all I cared about was getting to at least 1,600 words each day. Oddly, by not caring, I had more fun and let the characters take over.
• I operated on adrenaline because I had to write my daily dose of 1,600 words, but I could take off a couple days because a few days I wrote 2,000 up to 3,500 words (well, that happened once).

My least productive day was 700 words.

As far as the disadvantages, I can only think of one: I didn’t have time for much else. I made sure I went to the gym every other day – I wanted to be in physical shape for all the time I spent sitting in front of my laptop.

NaNoWriMo is now a yearly mission.

Next time, though, I’m sending my dog to my father’s house, where she’ll have a big back yard for a month. That way I won’t have to feel guilty when I look at her pouty face.

See Zoey’s blog: zoeyspaw.wordpress.com

Loving, Hating NaNoWriMo

In 52: A Writer's Life, NaNoWriMo, Shelley Widhalm, Writing on November 10, 2013 at 11:00 am

I’m having a love-hate relationship with NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month.

Initially, I wasn’t sure I wanted to participate in the annual novel writing challenge during the month of November to write 50,000 words in 30 days, or an average of 1,666 words a day.

The love part is I’m doing it, while the hate part is I have to do it. I told my family and friends about my challenge goal, plus announced it on Facebook and in my blog. I don’t want to report at the end of the month that “Oh yeah, I just didn’t feel like writing after all.”

On the first day of the challenge on Friday, Nov. 1, I had a bit of a head start with a 3,250-word short story that I plan to expand into a 60,000- to 70,000-word young adult novel, a genre I haven’t tried before.

The first three days went perfectly, when I wrote 1,300 words the first day and another 1,300 words the second day, followed by 2,500 on day 3.

I turned off the self-editor and simply wrote, knowing I had a goal of 1,666 words, even if I didn’t reach it initially. I got absorbed in telling the story, developing my characters and carrying along the plot I briefly had sketched out, thinking, “This is a really good book that I’m writing.”

On Day 4 I had excuses for not writing: 1 million errands to do, a day with my mom and a birthday dinner with my brother; plus, I felt too tired to open up my laptop after a dozen hours of constant moving.

Day 5 was better. I wrote 1,800 words, feeling the vibe of my continual writing flow. There wasn’t any time lapse between writing episodes (like a few days or weeks filled with excuses, as is my normal routine), so I had my plot, characters and setting forefront in my mind. I wrote fast in two hours and felt quite proud.

And then on Day 6, I wondered if what I was writing actually was crap. Did I really understand how a 15-year-old thinks, and did I know how being a teenager has changed over the years? Why was I working in a genre I hadn’t studied seriously enough, only reading a few young adult books and being a reporter in schools, but only occasionally?

I still wrote anyway, because I had 1,666 words to write. I wrote 1,800 because I wanted to finish the scene I somehow had developed. I closed my computer, hoping that what I wrote wasn’t really awful.

I kept on writing through the rest of the week, logging in a total of 17,348 words for days 1-9. I figured I had started, so I wasn’t going to stop because of a few insecurities.

After one week and a couple of days, I get the purpose of NaNoWriMo. It’s about discipline and just doing it, not worrying about the final draft when it’s a rough draft with lots of potential. Writing daily, or nearly every day, allows the story to unfold more organically, one scene leading to the next as you let the subconscious and your speedy fingers take over.

Because it’s all about the numbers after all. And, of course, the words.