The Best Laid Plans of an Author

Pickled Petunia

2020 has been a year like no other, hasn’t it? I mean, it’s been three centuries long. So much has happened that I keep forgetting random massive events that happened in January or February because it feels as though they occurred a few years ago and not months.

And like everything else, my writings plans haven’t gone….to plan. I haven’t struggled for inspiration. But trying to stay focused in a trash-fire year has seemed almost impossible.

I fully intended to start November 1st with Pickled Petunia, book 3 of my Motts Cozy Series. It’s likely I’ll start a week late as I’m wrapping up another novel.

The lessons I’ve taken from 2020 have been to try and stay open to change. And don’t get so wrapped up in what and when you think things are going to happen. Life, particularly this year, doesn’t always go how we expect.

It’s not easy as an autistic. I like my routine. I need a schedule that makes sense for me. 2020 has shredded my regular routine completely.

I’m hoping to end 2020 with four novels written. I’m 80% through my third, Ghost Light Killer. With a bit of luck and hard work, I can add Pickled Petunia to the list. We’ll see.

What about you? How has 2020 affected your writing plans?

What have I learned?

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What I learned while writing Poisoned Primrose?

1. To love writing again.  And that was a doozy.

2. How to effectively use an outline as a pantser.

3. The importance of falling in love with your characters.

4. Finding that one character who fires up your soul to tell their story.

5. To keep notes on every detail of a character and the people around them for a book series.

 

Coming up with a Title

Poisoned Primrose Cover600

It’s always fun to share the process of coming up with a title.
Primrose Poison definitely didn’t start there.
First, I had:
1. Under the Hedge
2. The Daffodil Murder
3. Lost in the Daffodils
4. Primrose Poise
5. Forgotten in the Foliage (I still kinda like this one.)
And then, at the VERY last minute, we changed it once again to Poisoned Primrose. =)

 

NaNoWriMo 2019

Primrose Poison

Post National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I’m often drained and exhausted. And while, I found myself tire and definitely in need of a break in December. It wasn’t the same.

I didn’t feel defeated or emotionally wrung out like I did in 2017 or 2018.

This NaNo, I reveled in writing for the first time in over twelve months.

Between November 2018 and November 2019, only two things  changed. I wrote a story I’d wanted to write for over a year and a half. But more importantly, I had more of an outline than I’d ever used before.

I read (well, skimmed) Save the Cat! Writes a Novel. I used a bastardized version of the beat sheet to time my chapters out. And I found it helped a great deal with pacing and not writing too quickly (one of my greatest sins as an author.)

I also outlined the who, what, where, why and when. I didn’t actually have an outline so much as putting down the details for the victim, several suspects, and the killer. It helped keep track of them all, which is important in a cosy mystery.

What I also enjoyed was writing an autistic, asexual main character who happened to have an asexual love interest. I’m going to enjoy exploring their connection more as the series continues.

I had the most enjoyable experience with NaNo ever.

And I definitely believe it showed on the page.

Did you take part in NaNo?

Remember to Breathe.

(Actual representation of me last week.)

I’ve reached the stage of NaNo where I hate words. I’m convinced I could happily burn my WIP. And I’m definitely questioning my sanity.

I’m tired.

In 2017, I wrote approximately 140k across several short stories and three novels.

This year, I’ve written a 90k novella trilogy, a 52k novel, and I’m on track to wrapping up another 65k – 70k novel. Plus a handful of flash fictions. So if all goes well, I’ll end 2018 having written over 200k words in total.

For me? That’s a lot.

In all honesty, this year, it was too much. I didn’t allow myself enough time to rest.  I didn’t set enough boundaries around my time.

Being a pantser (and not much of a plotter), my brain works best with breaks. I don’t really know where my ideas come from. I tend to just…sit and write, whatever comes out–comes out. Burning myself can be worse than writer’s block. More like writer’s too fucking tired to remember what words are.

I’ve promised myself to do better next year by taking breaks between my projects next year.

In part, my drive to do more and more comes from being autistic. I’ve an inner need to do and be more because of a less than healthy desire to make up for other areas where I can’t quite do what others do. (It’s hard to explain if you don’t experience it.)

On my list for December?

Relax, read through my massive TBR list, watch my favourite holidays movies, and wrap up this fun Urban Fantasy.

I’m not kicking myself if I don’t quite hit the NaNo deadline.

Writing should be fun, and if I add too much stress, I’m not doing myself any favours.

 

To NaNo or Not to NaNo.

The above gif is an accurate demonstration of how I’m feeling–and National Novel Writing Month hasn’t even started yet. The last five years I’ve successfully taken part in NaNoWriMo, though I think one year I didn’t quite hit 50k, but I didn’t finish the story so I consider it a win.

Ivy, Alicia, After the Scrum, The Caretaker, and One Last Heist all started life as NaNoWriMo stories.

Now, I’ll be honest. NaNo makes me lose my mind. At no other time of the year would I even attempt 50k in a month, but it’s a challenge I always find impossible to refuse.

When I started thinking about this year, I’d initially decided not to participate. My deadlines have gotten all messed up and I didn’t know if I’d have a book to work on in November.  My year has been fairly busy with writing a novella trilogy and writing a novel. But for all the chaos, I do genuinely love particpating in NaNo.

I’ll be cheating this year. My novel is going to wind up being around 80 or 90k, so my goal for November is 50k. That’s my NaNo goal, even though technically the story won’t be finished quite yet.

If I hit 50k, I’m considering it a win.

I’ll be exhausted, but a winner.

Are you taking part in NaNo this year?

 

I survived.

So, I had the brilliant idea to do  National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) once again last month.

And, I won!

I’d dance like Meryl, but I’m so damn tired. My brain melted into a pile of goo the second I’d typed out The End. December will hopefully be a quieter month, even though I have two novels to edit.  Editing is slightly easier than writing, but I still I loathe it.

My NaNoWriMo novel, One Last Heist, turned out brilliantly. It had all the twists and turns I’d hoped for, and some I never expected. It’s now in the hands of my capable betas, and I won’t worry about it for a little while.

My relationships with friends and family appear to have survived the madness. I did have to bribe my dog with many treats to forgive me for being chained to my desk. =) NaNo can be a trying adventure with words.

This year the words flowed far better than they have any other year. I’ve participated in the November madness several times. Each one feels a bit different. One Last Heist definitely had my muse’s full attention, and I didn’t necessarily struggle with my daily goals with the exception of one day early in the month.

I can’t wait to share Mack & Toshiro’s story with everyone next year.

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned through NaNo is I can’ only manage it once a year. I’m never going to be an 8k word a day author.  I barely manage 800 to 1000 words on an average day. It’s more about keeping myself steadily making progress.

But once a year in November, I indulge in a bit of insanity, and some of my best work has come from it. (After the Scrum, The Caretaker, and now One Last Heist.)

And now, I can take a nap…several naps.

Did you take part in the NaNo madness? How did you do?