Getting Back Into The Groove

The all-knowing and all-powerful “they” say it takes 3 weeks to establish a habit. Now that September is thankfully behind me, I’m hoping to prove “them” right. September saw my creative writing crash to a halt. I was far too busy at work with a massive report due by the 30th, and I couldn’t face my computer afterward, even to spend time with some wonderful characters and their story. Then there was a family health scare that fortunately took a turn for the better. I ended up writing all of 772 words over 6 days.

But now we’re in October, and life has settled down again. As of the end of the day on October 11th, I’ve written 2,325 words over 9 days. That’s not a huge number, but it’s already a leap over September. But October isn’t about a specific word count. My aim is to regain the habit of writing something more days than not. It’s too early to reach for a specific word goal. Just as when we begin a new exercise routine after a long absence, we can’t expect to run a marathon every day from day one.

So I’m happy with my progress on the manuscript, slow as it has been. It’s just under 40,000 words. Of course, some of the toughest bits remain to be writtenโ€”namely the dreaded middle scenes. I’ve done my homework. I know how they can make or break a book. Too many books start out and finish well, but readers are let down by a saggy middle. I want to avoid that.

BT 3Maybe you remember I posted the above photo quite some time back. That’s when the idea for this story was new and not yet fully formed. I suspect my main character is groaning about seeing this image. This place causes a lot of headaches for several characters. And the supporting cast contributes to those headaches. The main has taken to calling some of them “a confrontation of Tarletons.” A murder of crows or even a kettle of vultures would be more welcome at this place.

I hope you’ve all been well since I last posted. And I hope to be visiting your blogs more frequently now that things are a bit calmer. I’m knocking on wood as I say thatโ€”I don’t want to tempt Fate to add too much more to the mix! And I know this isn’t Tuesday, but tomorrow will be really busy, so I’m posting a day early. ๐Ÿ™‚

42 thoughts on “Getting Back Into The Groove

  1. Glad to hear you’re back into it again! Hope it all comes together now. I’ve got such a lot going on at the moment I’m wondering if it’s still the right decision to do NaNo next month. I don’t want to half-heartedly start it and see how it goes, I have to fully commit or there’s no point.

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    • I continue to be in awe of writers like you who can do the full NaNo. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m hoping to use that energy again this year, but again not to write a complete novel. I would like to draft a number of those “middle” scenes that are still just rough ideas. Maybe that’s something to keep in mind for your own goals? You could do NaNo unofficially to make some progress to fit your schedule rather than shoot for the official word count. Just a thought!

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      • Well I continue to be in awe of writers like you who can just get on with it without there being some kind of challenge or deadline for motivation! The only way I can do NaNo is to fully aim to do the whole thing with the official word count otherwise I’ll just let myself off from doing much at every opportunity!

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    • After last month, baby steps are great progress. Maybe next month I can begin upping the word count, but I need to establish that groove again first. I’m of the school that any progress is good progress in an endeavor like this, especially since I’m not planning on making a living at writing.

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  2. Whew – nothing is better than getting a massive report done! Glad you’ve saddled up and are set to get that story moving. (and I am so behind reading blogs being dog(s) nanny and moving stuff from room to room, and attempting to keep the dust down ( not successfully – but able to blame it on ragweed), it’s embarrassing…you do what you can. Cheers for fall and fresh energy

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    • I’m really hoping for a more normal schedule for the rest of the year, but you never know what might pop up. I’d like to consistently hit at least 250 words per session, but it’s still hit or miss at this time. Maybe next month? I plan to tackle some of those missing middle scenes for my “personal NaNo” next month. Again, no word count goals, but at least drafting some sketches to fill out the story. I have an idea what they should beโ€”now to get that into world!

      Fall allergies can be rough for me, just like spring. This year isn’t too bad, but they’re still noticeable. Hope Molly (and the peripatetic German) give you a few minutes break from time to time!

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    • Sometimes that busy-ness has to take precedence. But writing is a lot like exercise. If we don’t keep at it, we can slip away from it unconsciously, only later to realize that we haven’t put pen to paper in months (or fingers to keyboard). I think setting reasonable “habit re-starting” goals will work best for me. I’ll definitely keep you posted.

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    • We’ll see if I can keep it up. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hopefully being content with even 75 or 100 words on some days will help. A few lines of dialog, a descriptive paragraph…. Small steps can still take us to a goal!

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    • Thanks, Carol! I really want to get back into that routine. And I think starting small (not expecting 1,000+ word days) might be the best way for me to rebuild that discipline. And finish the story. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  3. I’m so glad you’re back in the saddle after that big race (now I’m sounding silly) ๐Ÿ˜‰ I had a bit of a giggle about the ‘sag in the middle’ and Carrie’s comment about it relating to the body. I’ve read so many books that get me yawning after the action in the beginning starts to wane. It’s a fine line in writing to keep the audience interested while filling in the gaps before the big finale. I have every confidence that you can get it exactly right because you have a great way of putting the hook in the right place towards the end of each chapter ๐Ÿ˜€

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    • Yeah, my own middle needs some work, too. ๐Ÿ˜‰ We’ll see if I can tone it up as I write up the middle sections of the manuscript! It’s really disappointing to get into a book at first and then lose interest as the story seems to limp along. Long-distance runners are allowed those slow downs to get their second wind. But writers don’t usually have that luxury!

      Meghan would tell you those hooks in her short stories were all her. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m doing my best to use them in this WIP the same way. It’s a bit harder, though, in a full-length novel. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  4. It’s all about drive, JM, and you’ve got it! Glad to hear your work schedule has settled down. I completely relate to how that can throw off one’s schedule (I miss my writing!). But it sounds like you’ve got a great perspective and ethic for getting back to the story, even if it is for the dreaded middle section. You can do it! And, we’re all looking forward to reading it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Happy writing!

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    • Thanks, Mayumi! I just wish I could maintain the drive for longer periods…. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Today’s a wash, but tomorrow I’ll get something written, no matter what! I’m really hoping to use the energy around next month’s NaNo to draft out at least a few of those middle scenes. They don’t have to be perfect or complete. But I’d like to get something down that I can then work from for fleshing them out afterward. I have the ideas for what should happenโ€”it’s the translating to the page that’s been hard!

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  5. I hope you settle back into the writing and those middle bits don’t sag!
    I’ve not been around much for weeks either.
    I had to smile at finding you playing with collective nouns today because I am as well!

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    • Thanks, Clowie! Somehow, when I was replying to comments, I missed yours. That was completely unintended! Alas, my October has turned out to be far busier than I hoped. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Here’s hoping things settle into a more comfortable routine for both of us for at least a little while!

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  6. Is “Kettle of Vultures” the proper plural? That’s way cool. I love those descriptive groupings–“a business of ferrets; a parliament of rooks, a sleuth of bears, etc.”

    I’m sorry for the family emergency, but happy for the “better turn.” Also, it’s too bad that you didn’t get as much writing done as you’d like, but sometimes (as you know) life intrudes. Good writing is not about volume, but I guess you already know that.

    Hang in there!

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    • Technically, “kettle” refers to a group of vulture in flight. They’re called a “wake” when they’re feeding (appropriate enough), and a “committee,” “volt,” or “venue,” when they’re just hanging out in trees and such. Who knew there were so many ways to group vultures? Whatever you call them, the main character in this book would rather hang out with them than that confrontation of Tarletons.

      If I tried to force myself to write a certain number of words every day at this time, I’d probably fail. And they’d probably be thrown out down the line. While I never expect every sentence to be perfectly crafted and every scene perfectly laid out, I don’t want to settle for garbage just to meet a self-imposed deadline. So yes, quality does trump quantity in that regard. But getting back into the habit should also help me make more progress sooner rather than later. I really like this story, and I want to share it with othersโ€”and have some of those others enjoy it, too.

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  7. Glad to see you back, J.M., though I can relate to what you’ve written. “Life” has a way of reasserting itself and makes sure we don’t forget that it’s around. Well done on the writing ๐Ÿ˜€

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    • Thanks, Luciana! I know some writers (or some people in general) can tune out everything going on around them to concentrate on something. But that’s just not me, unless the “distractions” are minor. But if they have much substance, they’ve got my attentionโ€”admittedly, sometimes too much of it. For now, it’s baby steps to get back into that habit! ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • This has been a terrible weekend (as was last weekend) because my husband and I are still doing so much work with the new house. Now it’s fall cleanup and preparing a new flower bed for next year on top of the normal house cleaning. (My least favorite chore!) So while I’ve written more days than last month, it’s still not as many as I hoped. Maybe November?! ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Well … October ended up getting awfully busy, too. So I haven’t made as much progress as I would like. But maybe this last week will be better, and I can turn things around for November. If we keep picking ourselves up, that’s always good, too. So I hope your day one turned into many more than mine did! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  8. Congrats on getting back into the writing groove, JM We’re super excited for the book and can’t wait to get a copy of our own. The Crazy 8 was one of the hardest stints of writing Mathair and I have had in our writing career. It was our first sequel and we just couldn’t seem to get back into that flow that had once seemed so effortless.Luckily, we found our groove and finally got The Crazy 8 published. Good luck with the writing and we’re so happy to have you back .

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    • Sometimes that flow comes in fits and starts, doesn’t it? I’m so glad you were able to work through that sequel and get it out! And someday, hopefully sooner rather than later, this latest stab of mine at a novel will come to fruition, too. October hasn’t gone quite as planned, but I have written more than I did in September. So here’s to improving on that again in November!

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