writer

Is dystopian dead?

I decided to write a book because it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do. I love to read and I love to write, so taking on the adventure of creating a story, a whole world, and putting it on paper sounded like a great idea! I brainstormed for a while until I latched onto a storyline that set my heart aflutter and got my creative juices flowing. I researched how to approach writing your first novel and things like that, but I didn’t spend much time looking into the types of stories agents/publishers want to see. I didn’t do this because getting my story published wasn’t something that was really on my radar. Finishing my story was my goal. It’s still my goal. I’ll be perfectly content to complete my book and let that be the end. The process is quite the personal journey and I’ll be proud to finish this huge undertaking. That said, I still want to leave my options open.

So, out of curiosity, I started Googling a bit about the types of work YA agents/publishers are looking for and uh… it seems dystopian is not it. In fact, it seems that many push away anything with a hint of dystopia to it. It’s overdone, they’ve seen it all, they say. (more…)

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Writing YA

I’m 25. I’m getting far enough removed from my teenage years that I don’t remember the full range of complex emotions that go along with adolescence. I’ve read a good bit about how to (and not to) approach writing from the point of view of a teenager and/or for a young adult audience. This article has some good tips to consider.

Fortunately for me (most days) my job has me surrounded by young adults of all varieties. I get to hear about what matters to them, watch how they act, and talk to them. I get to see how they respond to learning new/interesting/funny things, and I get to see how they react to discipline, disappointment, and getting hurt. There is no shortage of the adolescent voice in my world, and that helps me write. I’ve told a large handful of my students about the plot of my current WIP and it’s been nice hearing their feedback…especially in the earlier stages. I a had few ideas that more the one student shot down as weird/lame/uninteresting. I did keep a few of those reject ideas anyway because I know they’ll fit naturally in the full context of the story, even though they apparently sounded strange when isolated. Either way, I appreciate the access I have to people at least somewhat like the characters in my story.

-ED

Managing Time

So as I mentioned in my last post, I’m struggling to balance work with keeping up with my writing. I’m a high school biology teacher so summer was the most perfectly beautiful, awesome time to immerse myself in writing my first novel… and many days were still a struggle! Now, the first week of school as a teacher is chaos, but as we get going, I’ll fall into a relatively comfortable routine. Still, teaching pulls a significant amount of time outside of work. I wake up around 5:30am most weekdays, get to work around 6:45, leave at 4 on a good day, get home, relax a bit, eat something, maybe grade a few papers and BAM it’s pushing 9pm and my eyelids are getting heavy. Let’s add on top of that that I’m three classes away from my masters degree in biology and I’ve got two classes starting week after next. Ah!! Let’s not even talk about what my days will look like once it’s time to put my lacrosse coaching hat back on.

It’s alot… but I did choose this life and I do love it! (more…)

Bookmarks for Landmarks! #3

Whoop! It’s a week later than I wanted, but I’ve reached 30,000 words.

My first week back to work was far more busy than I expected. I was bouncing from meeting to meeting, trying to prep for the first week of school and scrambling to finish up my summer classes. By the time I got home each night, I was beat. Writing just wasn’t happening. Naturally, this has made me a little nervous about meeting my goal of 10,000 words per month while working. I’m not going to change anything yet though. As always, we’ll see how it goes first and I’ll rethink my goals only if necessary.

Bookmarks for landmarks

Bookmarks for landmarks

Now it’s time to get ready for work. I’ve got a bunch of 14 year olds to meet in the morning.

-ED

Strange things that work

So, Friday as I got in the car to head home from work, I was slapped in the face with a rush of ideas for my book. Usually I’ll send myself a text message summarizing what I’m thinking if I can’t get to pen and paper, but there was just way too much going on in my head to fit in a couple of texts and it was way too hot in my car to put off driving. I started the car, got the AC going and backed out of my parking space. The ideas wouldn’t stop coming and they were too good to let go of, so I just started talking. It was like I was telling someone all about my story and the world I’ve built and how things work in it, only, there was no one else the car. I talked to myself for twenty minutes straight. I was pretty disappointed that talking to yourself isn’t socially acceptable when I stopped off at the grocery store, but by the time I got home, I was able to get my ideas down. 🙂

Do you guys do anything strange, awkward or quirky that pertains to your writing process or am I alone in this?

-ED

Reading Challenge?

I need to read more.

I love to read, but I don’t do it as much as I’d like or should. I’ve probably read far fewer books than most aspiring authors and writing my first manuscript has definitely exposed a need for me to read more, but not just casually. I need to read attentively, making note of style and pacing.

Since I’ve been all about goals lately, I thought I’d set a reading goal to be accomplished by the end of the year. I’ll be extremely busy (grad school, teaching, coaching, writing) and I’m not sure what a reasonable goal would be, so I may tweak it as time passes. Right now, I’d like to read 10 books by December 31st (counting The Spectacular Now, which I started last week).  As a teacher, this last week and a half of summer, fall break, Thanksgiving break and the first half of Christmas break will surely knock out 5 or 6.

I imagine that most of the books I choose will be popular YA fiction, one because I’m writing a dystopian YA novel and two, because I teach 9th graders and I like keeping up with what they are reading, plus it gives us a good talking point other than biology now and then (even better if the book ties in with biology). I also want to do a few rereads so that I can take a closer look at some old favorites, but I won’t count any of those toward my 10 book goal.

Yay for goal-setting!

-ED

P.S. Something sure felt nice about reaching the 100th page of my manuscript today (25,899 words). 🙂

Bookmarks for landmarks! #2

Finally! 20,000 words! It took longer than it should have (24 days to be exact, which averages out to a little over 400 words per day) but I’ve reached my second mini-milestone. Yesterday I popped into a Starbucks while my boyfriend went on a big job interview down the road. I was able to pump out 1,900 words in an hour and a half. Maybe a change of scenery needs to happen more often.

Bookmarks for landmarks

Bookmarks for landmarks

Now it’s time to set a new goal. Doing this actually brings me some joy so 🙂 🙂 :). I have to go back to work July 28th. I’m feeling pretty excited about the start of a new school year but I’m definitely set to enjoy the rest of my break. I have 19 days before my days get pretty hectic; you can count on a separate post about how the heck I’m going to keep up writing while in school, working full time and coaching sports. Anyway, these last 19 days will not be obligation free either. I’m taking two summer graduate courses that end on the 31st and I have every intent to complete all my assignments before I go back to work too. That noted, I’m shooting for another 10,000 words. I know I won’t get there by writing everyday, especially when the school work piles up, but all it takes is a few very good days and I think I’ll have some of those.

(more…)

The struggle is real

I’ve had a rough time writing as much as I’d like to lately. I could give twenty different excuses for not writing everyday but none of them are 100% legitimate so I’ll skip it. The bright side is I have made some forward progress and I really enjoy writing when I’m able to get into a flow. That’s big. When I was stressing over making certain word counts, I found writing less enjoyable. I think I need to find a balance between writing organically and maintaining some degree of structure. I’m sure a big part of what makes it enjoyable or not has to do with whatever scene I’m working on. I spent a good bit of time writing chaos and despair and got a bit frustrated with it. Now my main character has just met her future love interest and it’s been fun trying to plant the seeds for that. It’s refreshing to bring her a bit a peace after a rough start, unfortunately it will be short lived but… that’s how the story goes. 🙂

Anyway, in the spirit of changing things up when they aren’t working, I’m going for setting random goals instead of the same old thing day after day. Random goal #1 : hit 20,000 words by this time next week. I’m currently at 17,463, so that goal isn’t very big, but grad school has been demanding and I’m not sure what will be going on for July 4th weekend. The World Cup is still a huge part of my life right now (despite the downfall of my beloved USMNT yesterday) but at least it’s not 3 games a day everyday anymore.

I’m gonna get this manuscript done, however long it takes.

-ED

 

Daily Word Count Check In

I haven’t gotten off to the greatest start this week but I did surpass my goal for today. Part of the problem is that I’m rapidly approaching the end of my detailed outline. I think I’m going to devote tomorrow to outlining alone. Ideally I’ll do this and still find a way to meet my word count goal for the week (5,250), despite skipping two days of working on my draft but it certainly isn’t the end of the world if I don’t.

Previous word count: 12,056

Current word count: 13,022
Today’s Progress: 966

Weekly Progress: 966
Challenges: managing distractions

-ED

 

Weekly Progress 1

Seven days ago I started tracking progress on my manuscript. I set a goal to write a minimum of 500 words a day for a total of no less than 3,500 per week. When I made the goal, I said I would adjust it if I was able to write significantly more. I want my goals to be achievable but also challenging. I surpassed my goal by 2,385 words, which tells me that I am easily capable of writing more than 500 words a day. For this reason, I am raising my goal to 750 per day/5250 per week. We’ll see how it goes. I know I seem ridiculously obsessed with the numbers right now, but again, my biggest (and very realistic) fear is not being able to finish this manuscript, despite having some really great ideas. My plan is to do daily check ins for one more week (we’ll see, I might have to return to my detailed outline sooner than that). After that, I’d like to see if I am disciplined enough to meet my goals without these frequent updates.

Previous word count: 11,483

Current word count: 12,056
Today’s Progress: 573

Weekly Progress: 5885
Challenges: nothing new

-ED