Allison Temple Blog

Awkward and Thoroughly Kissable
Posts tagged 10daysto20k
The Finish Line(ish) (10 Days to 20k, Day 10)

road-908176_1920.jpg Well. That's it folks. Except not really. I crossed 30k in 10 days today. I didn't think that was even possible when I left the office 10 days ago. I'd put my hands up and cry like an Olympic sprinter, except I haven't really finished anything. My best estimate is I've got 40k to go to get to the end of this draft, and I already know I have to completely rewrite Martin's back story for the first 30k or so.

No one said novel writing is easy.

Here are the things I've learned over the last 10 days and 30,000 words

  • Writing is work. If you want to finish writing in a timely manner, understand you've got to put the work in.
  • I write best when I'm writing fast. I'd written about 30k when I started 10 days ago. It had taken a little over 3 months to write. I had no confidence in this story, because it had no momentum and neither did I. Now, I know where this is going, and I know there's some good bits in here.
  • Just keep writing. I don't correct typos when I'm drafting. If my your and you're are out of place, if my characters right an email instead of writing an email, tough. I'll fix them later. Ain't nobody got time right now.
  • A Pomodoro timer is awesome. 25 minutes on, 5 minutes to surf the internet. My tiny attention span is a problem when I'm writing at home. The timer was a great way to keep me working even when I wanted to see if anything new had happened on Twitter in the last 5.2 milliseconds.
  • Your mileage may vary. Writing is not a race or a contest. If you take 10 days off to write, you might write 30k too. But you might write 300 words, or 60k. I am not your guru. Celebrate your successes, whatever they are.

I'm pretty proud of myself. I'm a baby writer with a tiny fledgling career. I sent Kyle and Adam to Riptide to start editing today. I have no idea what that means really, except sometime in the next several months, I'll get an email with my document all marked to hell and I'll have to do something about it. The 30k this week means hopefully I'll have time to balance both works in progress when that happens.

10 Days to 20k Summary Day: 10 Words Written Today: 3,820 Total Words Written: 30,451 Words Left: 0 Percent Complete: 152%

The Home Stretch (10 Days to 20k, Day 9)

patrick-fore-41134.jpg Back at it today. For realz.

I wrote about homes today. Seb drove Martin to his childhood home. It didn't go well because Act 2, drama, blah blah blah.

I'm going home tomorrow, except I've been home all week. When does your parent's home stop being yours? I haven't lived here full time in 17 years. It's gotta be soon, right?

When I came up with this challenge, I thought 2000 words a day was aggressive but doable. It turns out I can do that in about an hour and a half if I don't have many interruptions and my synopsis is solid. 4000 words is aggressive, and requires shutting out most of the people around me for the day. That will be harder to do when I get home and have to do things like go to work and talk to my husband. But the point is, at 2000 words a day, a 120k first draft can be written in two months. That's crazy to me, but apparently achievable, particularly if I give myself some room for gravy on the weekends.

Fortunately, I like gravy and my weekends are often quiet.

Tomorrow is the last day. I've got a three hour train ride home. I could hit 30k if I really push it. I'm traveling with an eight-year-old, so we'll see how that goes.

10 Days to 20k Summary Day: 9 Words Written Today: 4143 Total Words Written: 26,631 Words Left: 0 Percent Complete: 133%


A Day of (Not) Rest (10 Days to 20k, Day 8)

bed-linen-1149842_1920 Sometimes the best laid plans go astray.

Sometimes a freak storm blows water under the doors of your house and twists the tops off three trees in the yard.

And then sometimes you (understandably) struggle to sleep at 2 am when the next storm hits and wind starts moaning outside your windows.

And sometimes, about 3 hours later you're still awake, reading werewolf novels to keep from worrying.

And sometimes, trying to function on four hours of sleep, the words just don't come.

All this to say, there weren't many words today, despite my carefree post yesterday. I can still make 30k before the end of this challenge, but it will take some work. But then again, writing is work, so that's probably just as well.

Also, if gay werewolves and strong first person POV are your jam, read Wolf Song by TJ Klune...but maybe not at 2 am. It's a great story and has much better lists than mine.

10 Days to 20k Summary Day: 8 Words Written Today: 534 Total Words Written: 22,488 Words Left: 0 Percent Complete: 112%

The View from Here (10 Days to 20k, Day 6)

IMG_0108.JPG That sound you hear? The Jaws-theme-like music of something creeping up ominously behind you? That's me, creeping up on my goal with shark-like determination. I'm seriously so close I want to write 200 more words just so I can say I completed my challenge in six days, but I stopped in a good place where it should be fairly easy to pick up tomorrow, so it's probably better if I just stand here, Peter Pan style, with my legs apart and my hands on my hips, looking dead proud at what I've accomplished.

I don't think I've ever written so many words so fast in my entire life. I'm going to try to hit 30k before I get home next Monday. If I could take a couple more weeks off, I'd probably finish this draft completely, but let's not get too silly right?

Here's the thing: Thank god for my synopsis. When I plot, I write out every single scene in a list. Just 2-3 sentences per scene, so I know what happens next. Sometimes I move them around. Sometimes I get to that part of the story and realize that scene doesn't make sense or isn't needed anymore. Sometimes I go off-road for a couple scenes before I find my way back.

But the synopsis means when I'm drafting fast, I never have to stop to figure out what happens next, because I already did that months ago.

I know writers have different feelings about outlines and plotting, but I honestly don't know how you could write a usable first draft if you don't do some up front planning work. If you're one of those people who can, please, share your wizardry with me!

PS - today there was some actual kissing! Yes, despite the fact that I write romances, sometimes it takes my characters FOREVER to get around to actual kissing. I'm hovering at the 50k mark, and this is the first lip lock. I promise it will happen faster by the time you get to read this.

10 Days to 20k Summary Day: 6 Words Written Today: 5,045 Total Words Written: 19,843 Words Left: 157 Percent Complete: 99%

Writing on an Iron Stomach (10 Days to 20k, Day 5)

IMG_1597 In sixth grade, my mom came as a volunteer to my school and taught everyone in my class how to touch type. I have no idea if this is a skill still taught these days. It smacks of secretarial pools, but I gotta say it's been invaluable in my lifetime. It means I wrote papers at school faster than my classmates, and it's meant turning out reports on time at work, even when the crunch is on.

More importantly, it means I can type in a moving vehicle without puking my guts out, because I can look around, even as my brain and my fingers are generating stories.

Key skill. If you're a writer on the go, learn it. If you're one of those people who gets motion sick just thinking about this idea, I am very sorry. I don't know how I would cope.

I said a couple days ago I would talk about my planner. I meant to do it yesterday, but I was covered in family, so there wasn't really time for me to do it properly. I did mention yesterday that I've been part of Shaunta Grimes' Ninja Writers community for a little over a year and a half. Shaunta's tools have been invaluable to me, and one of the things she swears by is an Erin Condren LifePlanner. I try to keep my life organized on my phone, but as I stared down the barrel of finishing two books in the next twelve months, I knew I was going to need something to keep all my thoughts and ideas together.

I looked at the LifePlanners, but I admit they're pricey, especially once you work in the exchange rate to my Canadian dollar and the cost of shipping. But, lo and behold, I was at my local bookstore a couple weeks ago, and didn't they have knock off LifePlanners with all the pages I needed!

img_1567.jpgReader, I bought one. I thought the cover was appropriate as I launch my baby writing career.

The inside goes from August 1, 2017 to December 31, 2018. I doubt everything will be written, edited, and published by then, but I'll be well on my way. Each month gets a calendar-at-a-glance page where I keep track of daily word counts, important dates (publisher deadlines, conferences, days I know I'll get no writing done), and then there are note pages for each day where I can make notes to my future drafting self and editing self on things I need to remember. Sometimes they're little things like what colour are Sebastien's eyes????,  and other times they're more weighty questions like what the hell is the point of this scene???? Either way, they're good to have in one place.

How do you keep yourself organized?

We spent about six hours in the car today. I hit over 4,000 words. I'm starting to think I should have set a higher goal. 10 days to 30k? Can we do it?

10 Days to 20k Summary Day: 5 Words Written Today: 4,049 Total Words Written: 14,798 Words Left: 5,202 Percent Complete: 74%

On the Road (10 Days to 20k, Day 4)

20525952_1827568790891004_6562911098027768361_n.jpg Short day today. We hit the road early to spend the day with family in Stratford, one of Ontario's theatre meccas. Fortunately, my chauffeur likes driving. I had to marry to get him to drive full time, but it meant I squeezed in a few words.

A year and a half ago, I met Shaunta Grimes. She's a multi-talented writer and teacher. Her theory is that you set small goals and do it every day. 10 minutes. 500 words. I knew today wasn't going to be a big word day, so I told myself to just try to write 500 on the drive. The nice thing about small goals is they're easy to hit, and often times by the time you've hit them, you've picked up some momentum and want to keep going. I'm going to need more than 500 words a day to meet my goal of getting this draft done by October, but on the days when I know I won't write much with mitigating circumstances, hitting a small goal makes me feel like I've still accomplished something.

What's one small goal you can set?

10 Days to 20k Summary Day: 4 Words Written Today: 1,073 Total Words Written: 10,749 Words Left: 9,251 Percent Complete: 54%

Terrible Short Stories (10 Days to 20k, Day 3)

clock-1461689_1920 I gotta say, I'm really loving the Pomodoro timer. It means I write and don't think about time, if that makes sense. The iPad does it for me, which gives me more brain room for words.

Ray Bradbury recommends writing a short story every week for a year, because it is impossible to write 52 terrible short stories in a row.

Today's words definitely fall on the not-so-great side of terrible, but not every day can win you a Pulitzer. The point is, I showed up and moved the story forward. Seb even asked Martin on a date! Martin of course totally misread the signals, but what's a romance without a little delayed gratification? We are well and truly into the mushy middle and there's nothing written that can't be fixed in edits.

More importantly, I'm well over 9,000 words so far in this challenge. Almost halfway in the first three days. I've got family commitments tomorrow, so I might be a bit short in the word count department, but at least I prepared for it!

I'm going to talk a bit more about preparation and accountability tomorrow though, because tomorrow is August 1 and I get to bust out my shiny new project planner!! I never thought I'd be so excited about a coil bound calendar, but somehow this is my life.

10 Days to 20k Summary Day: 3 Words Written Today: 2,609 Total Words Written: 9,676 Words Left: 10,324 Percent Complete: 48%

Hangover Edition (10 Days to 20k, Day 2)

At 36, I'm getting old. I know there are some of you who will roll your eyes at this statement, but we all have to acknowledge that at any age, there are things we could do ten years ago that we can't do anymore.

Like stay up until 2 am, and still be a fully functioning adult the next day.

An old university friend talked me into going out last night to see an old cover band that used to play at our school regularly. We hadn't seen them in probably close to ten years and in that time it turns out we've all...well...aged. Me, her, the band. We're all a bit slower and bit a greyer.

I cut myself off at two drinks and told people it was because I can't write hungover. This is true, but even without the alcohol hangover, it was a slow day. Turns out taking the last subway home makes for a late night. Also, it turns out 'because writing' is a totally plausible excuse for just about anything when hanging out with non-writers. Writing is a mysterious craft and if you blame just about any behaviour on writing, many people will believe you.

A little mushroom toast and much coffee later, I felt up to tackling more words. I was worried about another kind of hangover though. After a very successful day yesterday, I was worried it wouldn't flow so well today. But I got myself set up. Laptop, pomodoro timer, feline critique partner. Off I went.

I wrote about an awkward brunch and found new conflict points. Martin's finally pushing back, and Seb's maybe deciding to be less of an asshole. There might be a romance in here after all.

Best part is, I'm checking off scenes on my outline one by one. I was worried that I'd overwrite the hell out of this story, but I'm becoming increasingly confident that 20,000 words really will take me to the halfway point of this story.

Live and hope.

Now, for a nap! I'm too old for this shit.

10 Days to 20k Summary Day: 2 Words Written Today: 3,391 Total Words Written: 7,067 Words Left: 12,933 Percent Complete: 35%

Shut Up and Write (10 Days to 20k, Day 1)

rawpixel-com-203888 About six years ago, I heard about this thing called NaNoWriMo. Apparently you wrote a 50k novel in a month? I'd dabbled in story writing as a teenager, and always felt like I had a novel in me, but had never managed to get past one messily scrawled notebook.

I decided to give it a shot. I think I googled something like "how to write a novel". Somewhere I read the famous recommendation--"Bum in Chair, Hands on Keyboard". That sounded like good advice to me. I even called the filename to my NaNo story BICHOK, which felt clever acronym and also a good way to remind myself the only way to write that many words was to show up and do it.

I wrote 50k that year. It was nowhere near a novel, was out of sequence, and generally not very good. I also lost that file shortly after in a hard drive crash.  I mourned for a while. Someday I'll rewrite it.

The thing I learned through that exercise though was that the only way the words happen is if you write them, and if you don't let yourself get distracted by going back and editing what you've already written, as an excuse for not moving forward. I know this is a controversial idea, and lots of people are successful at drafting and editing simultaneously, but I am not. Get the words out, quit whining, make them better later, that's my approach.

I christened my first day of this 20k challenge by doing exactly that. I went to my first ever Shut Up and Write. It's what it sounds like. It's a writers group only in that there are a bunch of writers in a room all writing together. No one shares. No one critiques. You don't have to talk at all if you don't want to. You just sit down, shut up, and write.

The Toronto Shut Up and Write group is on Facebook. If you're somewhere else looking for a group, try Google. The one here functions on the Pomodoro method, which I hadn't seen before. There's a timer that runs for 25 minutes, with a 5 minute break between most intervals, and a periodic 20 minute break for stretching, food, feeding the parking meter etc.

While it sounds like a pasta dish, I thought it was super effective. Twenty-five minutes doesn't feel insurmountable, and the five minute breaks are just enough to take a pause without losing your train of thought. You can find Pomodoro timers online that already have the intervals organized for you, so all you have to do is set it up and let it run. I do word sprints with online partners sometimes, but I'm always keeping half an eye on the clock while I do it, and it slows me down. A Pomodoro app means all I have to do is sit down, shut up, and write. Add eat some eggs benny, because Toronto's SUAW meets at the Glad Day Bookshop, which has an in-house kitchen and all-day brunch on the weekend, and there's no reason to leave.

Result? Over 3000 words in a little under four hours! I had visions of hitting some gigantic total that would springboard me to success in the first half of my week but, alas, I can only write about 1000 words an hour. My little fingers just don't go faster than that. So I'm going to have to put the time in every day if I want to hit that goal. 20k still 100% achievable, and I've built in a little wiggle room now, in case I've got a few days where I actually want to, you know, go out and see people while I'm off work.

10 Days to 20k Summary Day: 1 Words Written Today: 3,676 Total Words Written: 3,676 Words Left: 16, 324 Percent Complete: 18%