Tuesday, August 16

Posted by Laurel Garver on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 15 comments
Hello, friends. I hope you are all having a lovely August. As promised, I'm dropping in briefly to give an update on my hiatus happenings.

My lovely alpha reader, who has cheered me on endlessly through book one, sent me a good, old-fashioned letter, asking to see pages from book two. How could I say no to that? I spent a week cleaning up the first six chapters (can't say how many times I changed chapter breaks), printed them and mailed them to her at the camp where she's a counselor.

I gave myself the goal of repairing and finishing chapters 7 and 8 by mid-month. I finished that up last night. I'll put those in my alpha's hands when she returns from Maine.

Some things I learned while on the road last week:

~Weak coffee is the bane of my existence.

~I do my best drafting in longhand.

~Preparation is everything. Before leaving home, I had organized a notebook with printed pages of the draft, my novel "bible," plot notes and drafting spiral-bounds. At quiet moments, I could review and add brainstorming notes.

~Asking for blocks of time away from the family to just write does wonders for my morale. A quiet museum cafeteria was my most productive venue.

~Staring out car windows at nice scenery is good for the subconscious mind to do its mysterious work.

~Understanding character motivations and desires is so foundational. Spend time freewriting about each character's psychology and scene ideas will come to you fast and furious.

Have you ever taken your writing on the road? What did you get out of it?
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  1. I do my best drafting in longhand, too. I'm old fashioned that way I guess!

    Hope you're enjoying your hiatus. :)

  2. I write my best poetry in long hand. If . . . I can read my own writing through all the scratches. It sounds like you have a wonderful crit. partner.

  3. Longhand starts out great for me, then I get frustrated when the messy starts. I know that says loads about my inner editor, but still. Lately though, I've NEEDED to write in new locations, away from my writing desk. Since I only have a desktop computer, you can imagine the frustration I've felt. Plans began today to fund a laptop. I must become untethered!

    Congrats on the forward momentum with book #2. I loved reading your hints about character motivation and organization. I'm exploring those things exactly in my new project.

    Best of luck with the rest of the book, Laurel!

  4. Laura: It's a whole different feeling from typing, isn't it?

    Angela: My handwritten drafts are super messy, and I find I usually need to type them up within a day or so for best results.

  5. Nicole: I also have only a desktop machine. At times it bugs me for the reasons you mention. However, there's something about longhand that seems to give me permission to say anything, no matter how wacky--and it's those wacky moments that often lead to the real gems. When I'm typing, the internal editor seems to hover too closely.

    I've found that I tend to stumble a lot until I know what makes the characters tick. All of them, including the minor ones. Once I have a grasp on that, I can see how they will interact far more clearly. Here's an exercise that helps me--ask each character about his or her childhood and family of origin. Good luck with your new project, too!

  6. That last bit is what bit me in the butt (no pun intended) (okay fine, pun intended). I hadn't done the backstory work to figure out my MC's motivations and I got caught out by my crit group. But my wonderful partner-in-crime helped me walk through it, and the story now feels SO MUCH MORE SOLID that I know why she's doing the things she's doing.

  7. I relate to some many items on your list. I especially love the feeling of not thinking much but just allowing my subconscious to take everything in. And weak coffee should be illegal!

  8. JEM: good for your crit group. Story events are going to feel random if there isn't a underlying motivation and drive coming from the lead character.

    Y2: "daydreaming" is really an essential task, I think, and I'm always more productive if I've had some time to do it. You wouldn't believe the coffee one motel served at its continental breakfast--I've had stronger tea!

  9. I rarely do writing long hand - except when I'm writing with the kids at school. It is a totally different experience when you do it that way! :)

  10. I have, and sometimes I have gotten a lot done, and others times, not as much. It depends on the purpose of the trip and how much time I can spare. I always come home though, with new ideas and/or a different perspective on something.

  11. Id like to invite you folks to come to Amish Stories for a recipe for "Famous Pennsylvania Dutch Sticky Cinnamon Buns" along with a book signing schedule for Amish fiction writer Wanda Brunstetter for Pennsylvania and Ohio as well as a contest to meet her. I hope everyone so far is having a great weekend. Thanks everyone. Richard from Amish Stories.

  12. Jemi: everyone's different when it comes to the typing vs. longhand issue. For me, I feel freer.

    Karen: Getting out of routine is great for creativity, I agree.

  13. Absolutely fantastic blog!!! Glad I found it! Love it!!!

    Lola x

  14. Staring out of the car window - I never thought of that but I agree, that really does churn up some interesting ideas! I also love the idea of writing in a quiet museum cafeteria. Lately, my favorite coffee house has become just too noisy. And I think they turned up the AC to make it chilly so they would get quicker turn-over at their tables!