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October 2021 Challenge - Build a Writing Habit!

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Magnus

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This is a thread open to anyone who wants to build a long-term writing habit, which can include writing, editing, research, etc. or anything else that supports your writing like self-care or just putting bread on the table.

By sharing your efforts here you'll get some accountability to help boost your motivation. And you'll be part of a community of fellow habit-builders who encourage and support each other!

Feel free to start the month out by stating your goals and to chat a little with the other participants as you report in. But it's up to each person how they wish to participate in the thread.

Here are some tips to start you on your path:

Set achievable goalsThis is by far the most important rule. Set your goals so that you can reach them consistently. That generally means aiming lower than you think; you'll want goals you can hit on the days you're feeling less motivated. Hitting a small goal will give you a confidence boost and set you up for success the next day, building momentum. A good goal is a little bit challenging but doesn't overwhelm you.

Accept failure and move on – Even with a small goal you'll inevitably fail some days. Don't worry about it. Failure is a natural part of improvement. Try to figure out why it happened and how you can prevent it in the future. Then forgive yourself and move on. Don't stack your goals, but start fresh the next day.

Be patient and persistent – It takes a long time to build a strong habit, and sometimes you won't notice the progress you're making day-to-day because it happens in tiny increments. Keep at it. Sticking with the habit gets easier with time, but that being said: don't trust it to run on autopilot. It's when you think that you've 'made it' that it's easy to stumble. If you keep at it, your progress will be slow and steady; it's the only type of progress that lasts.

Be adaptive – Not everything that works for others will work for you, and sometimes what works for you changes with time. Always be ready to mix things up if you're stuck in a rut. Does reward work better than punishment for you? Is it better to get the writing out of the way or to get other stuff done first so you can relax? Do you perhaps need different goals for different days of the week? Do you need skip days? A good habit is one that works for you.

See you on October 1st!
 

Pacific

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Hello, October
Guess I'm a little early, kind of excited. Like before a date.
 
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karasunoyashi

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Hello everyone,

Let's all do our best for another month!
My goals remain unchanged. I will try to write and post here everyday. I will have a minor surgery in October, so we will see how I handle that.
 
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Cindyt

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:snoopy:Thanks, Magnus!

  • Continue editing the 3rd draft of A DEADLY SPILL OF SCARLET.
  • Devote all or part of Saturdays to White Wolf
  • Finish formatting the DRESS HER IN CHAMELEON ebook for the paperback version.
  • Do something every day to sharpen my writing habit.
 
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CMBright

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I don't like the pressure of goals, but I will try to post accomplishments. At the moment, I am focusing a bit more on an interesting series of writing exercises that are helping me improve.

Not that it is quite October yet, but we're close.
 
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Nether

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Ze Oktober plan iz az followz:

Write ze book. Proofread ze book. Critique ze book... ehhh, different month, same stuff.

October's goals are:

1) Finishing the first draft for book 8. Just started on it today (not counting the pre-write), so I don't have a timeframe just yet. I'm shooting for 75-85k words because it's horror and, setting the floor at 2,500/day, that'd take me right about to the end of the month... so that might kinda suck. However, it shares some elements with book 5 and that only took 19 days, so there's a chance I could be done early.

2) I need to proof books 5 & 6. Because I'm going to gut book 6 anyway, I might do a set of agent queries after proofing it just in case I'm being overly conscious and it's already fine. The number of changes it'll likely receive over the next year might render it unrecognizable (although the opening pages I kinda like). I'll probably make that call after I finish proofing it. Otherwise I'll gradually work on book 6's revisions over the course of the next year to turn it into something I actually like.

3) Get the critique process underway for book 5. I'll probably start trying to look for critique partners after I do the proof, so... realistically speaking, the critique process probably won't be finished by the end of the month. I don't believe book 5 has that many major issues, but some of the chapters need to be moved around and I probably need some linking events. Considering book 4 probably won't be ready to query by Thanksgiving, I might not start querying book 5 until March (which is another reason why I'm jumping the gun on book 6 -- otherwise I'd be querying multiple projects at once).

4) Proofing, revising, & polishing that short 1k word story for submission. My other short story I wrote a lot more consciously, so the prose is better. This 1k word story I drafted in 40-45 minutes and it's going to need a lot more work.

And maybe I'll try to finish some old stories during that time, and write some new ones. Who knows.
 
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Taylor Harbin

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Mine are simple:

1. Finish both stories I’ve got in progress.

2. Find out what’s happened to my research assistant.

3. Try to write every day using prompts even if it’s gibberish unless it’s a prompt I just cannot do (like using characters in a novel I don’t have in progress yet).

Good luck everyone!
 
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Taylor Harbin

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Hi there! Is everybody awake now that September has ended?

Wrote two and a half pages on my drug story story last night. This morning I’ll go back to Story #1 before work.
 
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The Second Moon

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My goals for October:

1. Write everyday

2. Share some of my poetry with people

3. Make some progress on Vampire Loves Sunling

4. Get the spine for Barney, Mr. Thomas, and the Alligator Creature fixed.
 

Woollybear

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My goal is to keep chugging.

I sent off the novel to the formatter!!! Aaaaaaaaagggghhhhhhh!!!! Mix of joy and terror!!!!!!

p.s. and the final read through and mark up, on 110,000 words, only took three days. That's progress!
 
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Cindyt

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Day 1

WORD COUNT 703

A DEADLY SPILL OF SCARLET – Billy is blindsided in the monster’s Everglades shack.

And it’s a wrap for Draft 2! :snoopy:

I will likely let it rest until Monday, and mull the plot and particulars of the 19th Century western WHITE WOLF tomorrow,.
 

Nether

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The first day of October was... meh. Wound up writing 2,732 words. None of the sessions were particularly great, and I'd taken a nap which killed my last one.

I'd hope to make up some time this weekend, but I've got a video call for some work stuff and then my crit partner will likely have their next chapters for me, and I'll likely try to get through those quickly to speed up this process.

I also realized something I'd wanted to do in book 8 might not be feasible (without a real storyline explanation). I might roll with it anyway, and then just lampshade that it's weird and they don't have an explanation as a reason for it happening.

And I jotted down some notes for the fourth book in that YA series. I probably won't start on drafting it this year, but I want to have everything set for when I do write it, particularly given some logistical challenges associated with the books' villains (who weren't directly incorporated into the overall story-line). Honestly, I keep thinking about pushing the series out by extra books despite the fact I have no idea whether or not it'll be successful.

I should start thinking out my next book and December's novel (which has some notes)... even though I haven't really finished plotting this one. Honestly, this is a less-than-ideal way to operate.

p.s. and the final read through and mark up, on 110,000 words, only took three days. That's progress!

Geez, you're a lot faster than me with that. It feels like my read throughs take a week.
 

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October 1st wrote a short story ~1,300 words
Now I'm wondering if it was the Sword and Sorcery I was going for or if it was too simple. </sigh>
 

Woollybear

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Geez, you're a lot faster than me with that. It feels like my read throughs take a week.
They get progressively faster as the prose becomes more 'flowy.' The endless polishing does it.

My first readthrough (second draft) takes me about a month. Second one (after workshopping) takes two or three weeks. Etc. This one is about the tenth draft, which is far fewer drafts than my first novel got (42).

Based on your output, I imagine you are getting to the product you want in far fewer than ten drafts! :) And taking less than two years to get there. :)
 
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Taylor Harbin

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Wrote two and a half more pages today. I also did something that took some guts: I put two old stories back into circulation. They are good stories that usually got praise from editors, and I thought to myself "Why not try them again? Somebody ought to like them."
 
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Cindyt

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Day 2

WORD COUNT 2816

GROWING UP BUFORD BLOG – Revised three articles
  1. Part 2 of The Hunger: Crack Food Junkie – Finished the 2nd draft.
  2. The Watcher – Finished 2nd draft
  3. Wildflowers – Finished 2nd draft
CMBright – You’ll figure it out.

Woolly – I stopped counting the drafts on my first novel, but around #5 things started to fall together, and the very last one was merely grammar revision, whereas I’ve just completed the 2nd draft on the current WIP and the third and following drafts will just involve revisions.

Taylor – Good writing!

Nether – You consistently grind those words out, including yesterday.

Helix – WTG on one for one, and good writing on the other thirty!

Kara – Nice word counts!
 

Helix

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Day 3: I'm doing writing admin for the rest of the day. (Basically reading and eating.)

  • Two Medium articles published this month, and a third scheduled for 8 pm. If anyone's interested, the link is in my deets to the left. (The pieces are about wildlife, landscapes, plants, and stuff like that.)
  • One very silly short story submitted
 

Nether

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Day 2 was... 1,834 :(

Another crappy writing day. Part of the problem is just a lack of planning (including bringing in a POV and not having anything for him yet... but, at the same time, he's the most important mortal POV. And when I was thinking it out, he was supposed to come in earlier, but then I changed a few things), although I also don't feel emotionally invested in the characters (or story) at this point. The subplots don't come in right away so everything is plodding around a little.

And it doesn't help that the early going is a bit of a sausage-fest. The early chapters don't prominently feature any female characters. I guess I could add a more prominently-featured female ghost, and then write her into the earlier chapters as also being there. (And since later on I’ll have a male ghost possessing a female character, I could always have that female ghost possess a male character… although I’m probably going overboard at that point.) And I also don't have as much banter just yet.

Hopefully things will pick up after this. If I keep having bad writing days, I might just turn it from a novel to a novella.

My first readthrough (second draft) takes me about a month. Second one (after workshopping) takes two or three weeks. Etc. This one is about the tenth draft, which is far fewer drafts than my first novel got (42).

Based on your output, I imagine you are getting to the product you want in far fewer than ten drafts! :) And taking less than two years to get there. :)

Until I start to get stuff trade-published, I'm not sure how many drafts anything I'll really need :censored:

The first beta reader who colossally didn't work out was a 2-chapter exchange, where she pointed out a few things in chapter 1 which I adjusted (mostly character description) and then she barely had anything to say about chapter 2. (It was a major style clash, where she tended to over-describe everything -- including having two paragraphs of description for an unnamed stock character -- whereas I tend to stay functional and minimal.)

The later critique partners, etc, each had a comment or two about chapter 1, but far less to say onward, which is frustrating in its own way. One the other critique partner finishes exchanging chapters, I'll figure out what revisions I need to make, and then possibly do a round of betas... or, I don't know, maybe query it and if that doesn't work, I'll change the title and theming.

The other nuisance is their comments are often the opposite of what each other says. There was one remark they all basically had in common, with two understanding what it was deliberate and one or two just thinking it was an issue. (Oh, and I'll probably have to get rid of the word "ruction" because I think only one reader knew what it meant, and it doesn't really help with world-building the way I thought it would.)

Right now, I'm going to say (and I've probably run through this in the past):

Book 1 needs to be be trimmed. It's 102k words, it needs to come down to maybe 70-75k since it's YA. (Possibly even less than that, if the audience does skew younger.) I also likely need to simplify a few plot elements. The big issue is that I want YA beta readers so... that might be an issue.

Book 2 is the sequel to book 1, so one is tied into the other. The length is fine, but I have two major running storylines that connect at the end and I need to bring the first one in sooner.

Book 3 is the sequel to book 2, and it should be mostly be fine at this point since I course-corrected while writing it. (And in the process changed the series's roadmap, but that's a problem for future-Nether.)

Book 4 *mostly* came out solid. I couldn't fit everything I wanted, but it's a complete story with escalating tension and flows fairly well. It looks like I'll probably have to add more description, and then there's a weird sub-issue where because the magic system references a common thing, everybody thinks that it works like that thing (when the nature of the implementation and premise suggest otherwise). So at some point I might need to go with a different word, title, etc. The other sub-issue is that it's not a clean fit for current fantasy trends.

Book 5 is a multi-POV story set across multiple time periods, so I need to make sure that I'm not losing readers. The bigger issue is the multiple POVs in the current day, where I need to add a few more markers in there which will suggest when things are happening. I also just need to more clearly establish the setting and the house's size. The kinda cheat for a published version would be including a floor plan.

Book 6, as I often mention, is something I'm dissatisfied with. It might be fine in most regards, or it might not be. However, I need to go back and change some character descriptions, etc. Some of the handling (or much of the handling) was prompted by that very first critique partner's complaint about my tendency to under-describe things, so I went heavier in that regard.

Book 7 is so recent that it's hard to tell, but it mostly seemed in-line with the story I wanted to tell. The prose is going to need some work, and I might tone down some of the content.

But, in general, my grammar tends to be *relatively* clean, so I don't have to worry about that. My typos are mostly omitted words and sometimes substituting a word. Each of my proofreads takes about a week, though, just because I can only read so much at a time. And because I draft relatively quickly, it's a bit easier to keep track of everything (although I'll also take notes while writing)

WORD COUNT 2816

Grats on the 2.5k+ day.
 

The Second Moon

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I for got to post on the 1st so I'll post for both days

Day 1- A lot of plotting

Day 2 - 224 word on something new that I'm calling Mars Belongs to the Magical. It heavily mixes fantasy and science fiction as well as lot of myths from different cultures. I'm starting to wonder if that's too much.

Helix - Woo-hoo for the silly short story submitted.

Cindyt - Yay for finishing Draft 2

CMBright - Congrats on the short story.
 
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karasunoyashi

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Another drive by today, and tomorrow will probably be another one. Things should smooth out after that.
Day 3- 100 words.
 

Pterofan

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I think I'll just lurk this month while I attempt to put my new schedule into effect. I've already missed the first two days due to deadlines for the paid stuff.

I'll be back in force for November, when my goal for NaNoWriMo will be to finally finish book one in the series. The schedule mentioned above is being applied to books 7 and 2. Not only am I attempting to pants a closed series, I'm writing it out of order. Nether, you sound like you may know what I'm talking about. Or are you doing it the smart way and writing yours in order?
 

Cindyt

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Day 3

A bit of work on my DEDICATED DAY OFF

WORD COUNT 39

A DEADLY SPILL OF SCARLET (Draft 3) I added two folks to my Dedication page and a thank you to three people, who shared their law enforcement and forensic knowledge, to my Acknowledgements page.

Moon – Good writing on Mars Belongs to the Magical.

Nether – I never lay out formal plans. A character calls to me with an inkling or even a full plot sentence, and I sit down and let it roll out by the seat of my drawers.

Helix – Reading and eating are my fave things to do when I’m not writing. WTG on the pubs and good luck on the submit.
 
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Nether

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I think I'll just lurk this month while I attempt to put my new schedule into effect. I've already missed the first two days due to deadlines for the paid stuff.

:censored:

The month has barely begun, though.

The schedule mentioned above is being applied to books 7 and 2. Not only am I attempting to pants a closed series, I'm writing it out of order. Nether, you sound like you may know what I'm talking about. Or are you doing it the smart way and writing yours in order?

I generally try to avoid pantsing and writing out of order... although I'm not sure how much pantsing I actually do, since some of my plans can be a little loosey-goosey at times. (ie, I might know what I want, then just write one point to the next.) And when I write out of order, it's usually jumping forward from one part of the book to another.

Unless I was doing something like a multiverse, I'm not sure I'd try writing a series out of order. The one thing I was always split on was whether to write one novel or its "prequel" (a single-POV starring a POV character from other planned work, where the events would set up some underlying conflicts that exist in the background of the "first" book's major conflicts... and I was thinking about doing it in the form of a journal). My solution so far has been to not write that series, which is partly also the result of having started to write the first book on a few occasions and then just taking very long breaks from fiction-writing afterward. I just don't want to take that risk right now.

I also don't like getting "too far ahead" in a series. Until something is published and thus set in stone (ignoring that self-published ebooks can technically be tweaked/re-released), noting is canon and everything is subject to change. Which is another reason that, while I really want to write book 4 in my one series, I might not do it until I book 1 is released in some form (or, at least, a lot closer to being released).

And, on a more fundamental level, things are confusing enough for me without also trying to write a series out of order.

Is there any reason why you're writing books in a series of order? Are they going to be released out of order?

I feel weird posting before a daily update, but I'm also not sure how today will turn out. Right now, I've only managed to sleep an hour since waking up Saturday morning. I was lying down trying to sleep for a while, but it just never came, and the last time I'd gotten back up it'd been an hour before my alarm was set to ring. I imagine I'll crash at some point today since that's too little sleep, although I still don't feel tired. I have a good start on the day's writing, though, so hopefully I'll end over par. If not for that, I might have thought about the possibility of writing extra since it's a Sunday where I don't have much planned, and I'm a little behind when it comes to that arbitrary deadline I picked out of thin air based on an expectation of how much I'd write per day (itself based on progress on the last book... and I was just going to make a note of book 6 going relatively badly but I noticed that, if I exclude the first and last day, it's a daily average of 2,925 words whereas doing the same for book 7 puts me at a daily average of 3,219 which isn't massively far apart when looking at both projects as a whole; it's really just book 5 that throws things out of wack, because -- taking off the first and last days -- it has an average of 4,894 per day since I had some bigger days on the weekend, and at this point I should probably just accept that book 5 was an anomaly and I shouldn't base anything around it).
 

Elizabeth George's book Write Away