Tag Archives: editing

Your Words are NOT a Waste!

17 Jan

Last week, I had a conversation with one of my critique partners about first drafts—her in-progress first draft, my feels-like-forever-ago first draft.

Every now and then, she finds herself stuck writing this first draft, afraid of taking a detour that will end up being a mistake, a major waste of time.  As seems wise and logical, she’s trying to be efficient.  Efficiency is, by NO means, a bad thing.  But…in the first draft?  It can be paralyzing.  Same with perfectionism, which we both know all too well.

This got me thinking (and confessing) about how drastically my novel has changed over the course of four drafts.  I actually cracked open that first draft to see how it compared to what I remembered about it.

Oh.  Man.

It was, like, a completely bare-bones version of what I have today.  My minor characters are mere shadows of who they eventually became, my main character isn’t fully developed yet, it’s complicated but oversimplified at the same time (I know, that doesn’t make total sense, but trust me), two important minor characters don’t even exist yet, one character is WAY important in this draft but eventually became background fodder in later drafts, several plot points existed then but have morphed over time, the ending has changed completely.  I used way too many words to communicate things.  My paragraphs?  OY VEY, my paragraphs…some of them are, like, half a page long.

Basically, it was like an 85,000-word long extremely rough draft.  Which is why I scrapped most of those words and started over from a blank page for the second draft.  And then, on the third draft, though the story was mostly in place and I kept a lot of the ideas in tact, I knew I could write it better.  I started over from a blank page again.  I rewrote the beginning for this fourth draft, but mostly, this is the first time I’m actually editing words on a draft instead of rewriting them all.

All of that to say: I cut a LOT throughout that whole process.  That which I didn’t cut, morphed into better stuff.  It’s taken a while to get here.  But, hey, it’s my first attempt at writing a novel—I would have been delusional if I had thought it would turn out perfect on the first draft.  It was coherent, yes—but it’s gotten SO MUCH BETTER, much more complex, much tighter, much deeper, since then.  And, there are no more half-page-long paragraphs. *cringes*

I can say, 100% without a doubt, that it would have been a very, very pale imitation of itself had I merely tried to be efficient early on.  It’s taken all that work, and all those words, to chisel away at this story, to really know my characters, to learn how to write tight but effective prose, to spin and weave my novel’s various threads.

My words, my thousands and thousands of words, were not a waste.  Neither are yours.  Be patient with your story.  There are upsides and downsides to efficiency—don’t worry if you take detours.  You can always edit them out later, and the detours will probably spark better ideas you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise!

Happy writing, my friends!

Marathon Day of Edits…

12 Jan

…coming up right after I finish this blog post.

As you may or may not remember, I made an ambitious deadline for finishing this draft of my novel.  Well…the problem with ambitious deadlines is that they are, by nature, ambitious.

Translation: ohmygoodnessihaveSOmuchworktodo.

I’m determined to leave my deadline firmly where I carved it into stone set it.

Therefore: today. Lots of peppermint tea. Focus turned all the way up to eleven. Twitter on in the background—for sanity breaks, of course, so I don’t go crazy.  And, of course, my cat.  Most importantly: perseverance.

So.  Here I go.

*Deep breath.*

UPDATE! Thank you all—SO MUCH!—for encouraging me today, both here in the comments and on Twitter!  It helped a lot, and brightened my (very analytical, very focused) day.  In case you’re wondering about my progress, it was pretty fantastic!  I didn’t get through everything I’d hoped to, but that’s okay.  I got through most of it, then decided a) it would be good to move around, so I took a walk, and b) I can get back to work tomorrow with fresh eyes!  Again, thank you all for being awesome.  🙂

Reading, Writing, and Other Awesomeness

8 Dec

Whew!  What a week!

So, Fresh Start December?  Yeah, it’s rocking so far.  Reading, writing, chatting with delightful friends on Twitter and gmail chat—you name it, it’s happening.

And I love it.  It feels good.  Fresh, I might even say.

The writing room is just as fantastic as you might imagine it to be.  It’s got a huge, clean, antique wooden desk, a new comfy desk chair, another desk (which, I discovered yesterday, is PERFECT for scene card shuffling), windows and natural light for inspiration, and a big gray chair that’s perfect for reading.¹

Anyway.

I’m overjoyed to announce that this writing room—get this—actually leads to a Very Productive Kayla.  During the first week of Fresh Start December, I slaved over a new beginning to this Very Important Novel.  Lo and behold, I (FINALLY) actually came up with one.  This beginning has been a thorn in my side for a little while, and it’s nice to have figured out (what I think is) a viable solution to the issues it had.  I still have some work to do on it, for sure, but am super encouraged by the progress I’ve made on it.

Okay, y’all.  Time to get productive up in here.

¹Pictures are forthcoming, *promise*—as soon as I find my camera.  Alas, it is still buried in some box.  (The ONE box I didn’t color code or label, it seems.)

Fresh Start

1 Dec

You know what feels good?

DECEMBER.

That’s right—in all its frigid glory¹, December is already rocking my face off.  Why, you ask?  Because that means NOVEMBER IS OVER!

Hallelujah!

No, seriously.  Hallelujah.  November was one of the best—and one of the worst—months I can remember.  Austin is fresh and fantastic, though.  All the stress, all those days spent not writing, all the goodbyes, all the everything?  It’s ALL worth it.

We have more space (ENOUGH space! More than a one-bedroom apartment space! SPAAAAACE!), we’re surrounded by all things green and gorgeous, it’s quiet, it’s steadily becoming organized and delightful, and the Starbucks (four minutes from parking lot to garage! Wheee!) is even better than I hoped for.  Except I don’t really have to go to Starbucks as much, because a) there are a TON of coffee house options here, b) I bought a fresh bag of espresso + cleaned our fancy espresso machine, and c) I have an actual writing room!

Yes: WRITING ROOM!

Even better?  I actually get to write in it today.

After an entire month of no WIP progress—zero words!—while watching everyone lasso the moon on their NaNo projects, I am SO. FREXING. EXCITED. to get back to work today.  On the agenda: back to work on the fourth draft of WIP #1, followed by (*hopefully*) 500ish new words on the first draft of WIP #2.

Happy December to you all!  Oh, and I’m glad to have the internet again, which means a return to regular blog and Twitter interaction—YAY!  What’s on your December agenda?

¹Which, um, in Texas? Is about 37ºF at the moment.

November Eve Eve

30 Oct

It’s that time of year again—November Eve Eve!

The day before the day before November starts, and crazy hopeful writers everywhere pick up their pens (oh, who am I kidding, they take to their keyboards) and write like mad for a month.

It’s the day before the day before the day outlines will be shelved in favor of that One Magnetic Idea, the Hugely Huge One that requires a ton of planning but who cares?! I can totally write a zillion-word (50K is for wimps, yo!) epic masterpiece trilogy in a month with no prior thought whatsoever—it’s November, and that means my brain and fingers and keyboard are infused with MAGIC!

It’s also the last day where sleep is an option, because Halloween?  Pretty much backs up to November.  Bubble-clad Lady GaGas, sparkly-sexy vampires, Princess Leias, Voldemorts, and Pippi Longstockings everywhere will flock from parties to coffee houses, bust out their laptops at midnight, and FALL ASLEEP IN THEIR BOTTOMLESS CUPS OF COFFEE WRITE!

So…am I doing NaNoWriMo?

Heck no.

I’m a NaNo cheerleader, which is every bit as important!  This is a PSA to everyone who’s tempted to think November is only for participants.  No, my friends!  The participants need cheerleaders!

Who else is going to remind them to eat?  Reassure them that it’s TOTALLY OKAY if they actually heed the Inner Editor (not to be confused with the Inner Critic) when she speaks her mind?  That doing the Halloween-party-to-coffee-shop thing at midnight, dressed in bubbles, is a bad idea in more ways than one?  That sacrificing quality for mere quantity only leads to editing misery?  To be their Harry Potters when they are Dumbledores in Voldemort’s horcrux cave (“Make me finish this no matter how much I protest!”)?

No, friends—November Eve Eve (and the rest of November, for that matter) is not the time to sit back.

November Eve Eve is the day to adopt a NaNo Participant, whip out your cute little cheerleading outfits, and prepare to ENCOURAGE!

Here are some suggested adoptees to get you started:

@melissaiswrite / @LizaKane / @KristenYard / @jamieharrington / @LauraJMoss / @Anna_Dawes / @betherann / @mercedesmy / @Simone7304 / @WeronikaJanczuk

Disclaimer: these extreme examples of crazy people in no way resemble the awesome participants listed here.  These ladies have good heads on their shoulders, and I have every confidence they’ll whip November into shape and wield it to their advantage (as opposed to, uh, getting whipped by November).  All the more reason you should cheer them on!  🙂


Oh! And PS: I listed their Twitter handles because it’s easiest to follow that way.  If you prefer to follow blogs, not Tweets, click over anyway.  Links are included with their profile sections.

PPS: If any listed participants would rather be cheerleaderless, shoot me an email [olsonkayla (at) gmail (dot) com] or a comment and I’ll remove you from this post.  And, conversely, if you’re NOT on the list—and can’t face November without pompoms and pyramids—just let me know!

You Say You Want To Edit?

28 Oct

"You say you want to edit? Oh, human – what am I going to do with you? You'll have to get through me, first. And, PS: this is payback for all those hugs you give me. Only villains give hugs."

On Being Productive…and Those Days Where You Really Aren’t.

27 Sep

Inspired by the last week of my life¹, here are two lists: How to Ensure You Will Get Nothing Done and How to Get EVERYTHING Done.

Here goes.

How To Ensure You Will Get Nothing Done

  1. Sleep a LOT. Fall asleep on the couch, don’t set your alarm, and proceed to snuggle your pillow until your cat bites you into consciousness.
  2. Click EVERY link that looks interesting on Twitter. Don’t hold back.  Read everything immediately, leave novel-length comments, and generally peruse the internet at the speed of a poet in a field of dandelions.
  3. Once you’ve finished reading all those interesting posts, check Twitter again. Proceed to click every new link that looks interesting.  Rinse and repeat ad infinitum/ad nauseum.
  4. Say yes to everyone. When people ask you to do things, just say yes!  You have to eat lunch/have coffee/relax sometime, right?  Why not do it with someone else and double (maybe even TRIPLE!!) the time you would have spent doing those things alone??!
  5. Watch as much TV as possible. I’m talking Lone Star, Glee, The Biggest Loser, Survivor, America’s Next Top Model, Project Runway, and The Amazing Race. Side note: I did NOT watch all of these shows this week.  But, I like them all, so I was tempted.  Of those that I did watch, this clip from The Amazing Race is SO HILARIOUS and worth sharing.  Painful, painful, painful—but hilarious.

How To Get EVERYTHING Done

  1. Don’t deny yourself: just be wise. It kind of hurt me to write the above list because it’s so extreme.  None of those things are bad, in and of themselves.  It’s GOOD to get a healthy amount of sleep, to read links on Twitter and make new friends, to spend quality time with people, to watch some TV at the end of the day.  Denying yourself things you enjoy won’t make you more productive—you’ll probably just end up procrastinating with things you enjoy less.  Do things you enjoy, just try not to let them eat your day.  How?
  2. Have a clear idea about WHAT you need/want to accomplish. When you’re not sure where to begin, it’s easy to waste your own time.  Figure out what, specifically, you need to do.  A list of specific goals is a concrete thing to wrap your mind around and is essential toward making progress of any kind.  In my experience, it’s much easier to pull my head out of the clouds and get to work if I know where to begin.
  3. Have a clear idea WHY you need/want to do whatever it is you’re doing. Worthwhile goals usually take time and discipline to accomplish.  They are not always fun.  They are not always easy.  The WHY is your light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s also the steam for your little engine.  It’s the truth you come back to when things get hard and you forget why you started a project in the first place.  Know why you get up before the crack of dawn to write, why you allow yourself two TV shows per week instead of every show on the air, why you sacrifice like you do for your goal—you can come back to the why when things get hard.  When things get hard, it’s too easy to give in to what’s merely fun, while putting off the thing that’s a little more difficult, but worthwhile.  The WHY is essential.  Know yours.
  4. Pay attention to the clock. Not obsessively—just be aware of it.  You’re human: you have numerous passions and priorities, and like all other humans, a scant 24 hours/day to nurture them.  Know your priorities, know yourself, and get a feel for how long it takes you to do things.  Work hard, rest hard.
  5. Then (and this is the thing that seems easy, but isn’t always) DO. I realize this is a revolutionary concept and all—to be productive, you have to do stuff.  Stuff that helps your goal(s) move along, I should clarify.  It really is that simple, and it really is that difficult.  Silly brains, always convincing us we need to do the exact opposite of what’s on our agenda.  Go back to the WHATs and WHYs if when you feel stuck.
  6. Don’t beat yourself up. This is pretty much imperative in being productive.  Some days your focus will just be ornery.  You’ll have things on your heart and mind, or you’ll just be exhausted.  You try and try, but still—nothing.  Or, maybe you don’t try, and you ride the procrastination wave until it dumps you in the sand.  Some days will just be this way, and that’s okay.  The quickest way to have a more productive tomorrow is to just move on and try again, sans self-inflicted guilt trip.

Okay, I think that’s it.  I now raise my coffee mug in a toast to making the most of your time, whether we’re talking ten minutes or ten hours.  Happy productivity, y’all!

¹Which, if you’re new around here, has been completely out of the ordinary for me.  I’m taking a brief break before starting the fourth draft of my WIP, and my usual routine is all messed up.  I pretty much thrive on productivity, so being out of my routine feels very strange.