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April Is A Good Month For Writing

April 30, 2012

Here it is, the end of another month, and time for another scintillating report on my progress. I’m pleased to announce that something magical happened this month. Not the earth-shattering, oh-my-gosh, I’m published, kind of something, but something more subtle, as if the ground beneath my feet has steadied to make my steps more sure as I go on.

I know I’ve written ad nauseam about my time management issues in the previous months, and in the middle of this month I had what felt like a meltdown in terms of having so many projects that I simply felt I could no longer keep up.

Then something happened. I began to see with clarity the amount of time each of my endeavors takes up.

  • I know it takes me twenty minutes to do my morning words.
  • I know that it takes me between an hour and a half to two hours to revise a scene.
  • I know that I can spend an hour in the blogosphere and catch up with pretty much everyone I like to hang out with.
  • I know it takes me about two hours to critique a two thousand word chapter.
  • I know that I can spend way too much time in the Holly Lisle forums, and that I need to be careful not to get caught up in that, even though I learn a lot there.
  • I know it takes me about two hours to put together a decent post for A Scenic Route.

Anyway, the key to this revelation was that, since my time is limited, knowing how long each task takes gives me the power to decide which project to engage. It probably sounds obvious, that I need to choose what to work on, but knowing how much each choice will cost me in terms of time makes this so much easier to manage.

So, based on that, I’ve cut back somewhat on my posts at Write A Book With Me, so that if I post on A Scenic Route I don’t post there, because posting on two blogs in one day seems like an unreasonable amount of effort. I’ve cut back to doing one critique per week, and let my critique partners know that I’ve done this in order to devote more time to my revision. I’ve set a timer on my blog activities. I’ve devoted mornings and morning words to developing the plot on my next book, the first book of The Dragon’s Milk Chronicles trilogy.

It seems to be working out really well, because most of the time when I am writing I am deliriously happy.

Then, this month, I finally got started on the second pass of my revision. With scene one.

Even though I had detailed notes at my side, and scene cards with comments about what I need to change in each scene, as well as a calendar with the dates and times of each scene, and a list of how each character talks, it was intimidating to start back in on this, since I have already worked so hard on it and am about to tear it to pieces again.

As a concession to my nerves, I made a back up of the entire draft and put it away. This way I felt I
had a safety net before I started hacking away at this again. It was like planting a flag in the ground, to mark my progress and saying, “This is how far I’ve come. It can’t get any worse than this.”

My first scene was a light editing scene, so all I had were changes in the timeline, the setting, and a character slated for a personality tune-up. Once I started working on it, writing the changes in the margins and the back of the manuscript I became profoundly aware that I really am making improvements on what came before. My pen seemed to be ahead of my brain sometimes, as if I had put on a pair of X-ray goggles and could suddenly see the parts of my prose that weren’t working; where a sentence slowed down the pace, where a character needed to stop for breath before his next sentence, or where a piece of description was needed to fill out the setting.

Got my X-Ray Editing Shades

In other words, in the course of my persistence, I have learned something.

I was so proud of that first scene, that I wanted to hold these words to my heart and sing, “Mine all mine!” I know there will be scenes in this revision that won’t make me feel quite as buoyant when I finish, but having this one feel so right is a big step for me.

The biggest lesson for this month then: I really am learning something as I plug away at this every day!

Have you ever had a moment when you knew, this was the best scene, the best chapter, or even the best sentence, you’ve written so far?


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