Road Trip Wednesday #100: Your Writing Journey

I haven’t participated in YA Highway’s Road Trip Wednesdays before, but since I’m a sucker for milestones and round numbers, I felt like this Road Trip Wednesday was made for me. 😀

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs.

This week’s topic:

What has your writing road trip looked like so far? Excitement? Traffic jams and detours?

Where are you going next?

My blog is sort of an answer to this question, since I keep it as an accountability tool for myself. Ever since my first posts, (“Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” “Prioritizing My Life” and “Music, Fitness, and My Muse“) (I just noticed they were posted on Star Wars Day, May 4, 2010…yes I’m a BIG nerd!), I have been focused on making the most of the time I have, and have challenged myself to finish a novel in a year.

After my declaration to pursue novel writing seriously, I have fumbled my way through my writing process, eventually participating in NaNoWriMo, and winning! My novel wasn’t complete at 50,000 words, but I eventually reached The End in December.

The satisfaction of reaching The End didn’t last since I knew my story was a Hot Mess. After a break in January, I tried to get back into the story and revise it. During that time, another story (Scrap Metal, aka WIP2) begged to be written. After scribbling down the first two chapters on post its and index cards at my pay the bills job, I dutifully ignored The Shiny so I could make my Hot Mess less messy.

I attended my very first writer conference, SCBWI. Though I enjoyed the experience of hearing from industry professionals, by far the best result from that conference was meeting local writers. (I’ve enjoyed many a business lunch with them since that conference. :D)

Then, I went to a John Green reading, and that was the aha moment that “gave me permission” to let go of my Hot Mess (for now) and start drafting WIP2.

With WIP2, I’ve learned the value of slowing down and delving into my scenes (“Stuck” “Stuck, Redux“), and that I can balance plotting and pantsing to design a story worth reading. (I’m still learning the rhythm that works best for me).

I’m currently in the Plotting portion to develop the Act 2 of WIP2. I participated in ROW 80 to keep me on track. My goal is to have a rough draft finished this month, and have a prettier draft by the end of this year.

I know that I have so much to learn about my process, but the best thing is knowing that when I’m creating stories, I am truly happy. All throughout my life, schooling, jobs, relationships, etc, everything seemed to come easily for me. I’m grateful for that, but when I look back at my life, the road seems kind of fuzzy; like, it’s all been one big dream. And then, I come to the point in my path when I committed to finishing a novel. The path from that point on sticks out in high relief. With that decision, I became aware. When I decided to follow my dream of writing stories, I awakened to the rest of my life.

I know I talk about writing in almost transcendent terms, but honestly, I don’t know how else to describe it other than an epiphany. A mindset altering, life changing decision. With writing, I have found my purpose in life. How can I treat it as less than a spiritual awakening?

*I couldn’t have gotten this far without my writing partners, alpha/beta readers, and cheerleaders. They keep me refreshed and motivated to keep pursuing my dream, and for that reason I’m ever so grateful for social media for helping me find my writing circle.

So, what has your writing road trip looked like so far? Where are you going next?



Tapping a Pencil

Image by Rennett Stowe via Flickr

Confession: I’ve never experienced “Writer’s Block.” At least, not the way other writers have described it. Sure, I’ve had to grasp for the right words sometimes, but in the end, I’ve always pushed through and found something to say.

And, I think that’s been part of my problem with my WIP now.

In favor of getting the full scope of the storyline, I just scraped the top of the story, and didn’t really dig in and get to the meat of anything. For added whimsy, or perhaps because I was so sleep deprived I didn’t know what I was writing, I even threw in some scenes that I thought may work, but didn’t really fit in with the story as a whole. The result? I got a rough draft really fast, and a WIP that hardly makes sense to me now.

Forward motion is lauded during the rough draft stage, and of course I agree that rough drafts should be about unedited words spilled onto the page. While writing the rough draft of WIP1, I just wanted to go, go, go, and thought I was doing the right thing, because rough drafts are supposed to be done fast, right? Well, the caveat that I missed was that rough drafts also need to be coherent so that I can understand what it is I wanted to say when I come back to the project months later with fresh eyes.

I haven’t thought about what an advantage it is to just stop, reread my work, and gain insight into what the people in my story will do next and why. I didn’t get the chance to really know the characters, know their motivation, and really, the Story in the WIP. I raced so much toward The End, that I didn’t allow myself to appreciate being stuck, and really think about a scene and explore it. If I had, I may have more of a story to work with now.

Some food for thought:

In the first moment people get stuck they get scared. Inexperienced writers fear being stuck means they’ve done something wrong. I know the opposite is true. This is where the real work begins. When you’re stuck, you’re forced to think and thinking is good. Thinking is the entire point to the enterprise of writing. To think and feel and, through writing, express those thoughts and feelings to others. You’re being forced to reconsider what you’re doing and good writing demands consideration.

Scott Berkun

Please visit the full blog post, “How to write 1000 words” here and also, watch a five-minute video of his writing process here.