Archives: The Century

2013 Writing Goals

2013 Writing Goals

I’ve been a steady writer for over a year now, and I’m a little over halfway done with writing my futuristic science fiction novel, The Century. See my goals for 2013 and my thoughts about my progress so far after the jump.

2013 Goals

  • Write four times a week (on track)
    • Except around certain holidays and vacations (honeymoon!)
    • Try to keep weekly wordcount closer to 5,000 (on track)
  • Finish the first draft of The Century by March (on track)
    • This may include a read-through soon (done)
  • Leave myself revision notes for the Century
    • Max. two weeks in March, then let it rest
  • Reread The Ageless
    • Max. four weeks
  • Revise The Ageless
    • Not really sure how long this will take
  • Find beta readers for The Ageless (mostly done)
  • Make a decision about how to publish The Ageless (done)
    • Currently leaning toward self-publishing this one as digital-only at first (yes)
  • Make a decision about how to publish The Century (probably done)
    • Currently leaning toward putting this one through the query machine (probably self-pub)
  • Become more involved on Goodreads or other online reading communities
  • Find moderator(s) to help me with the Speculative Fiction Writers (done)
    • I started this Google+ community one month ago — it’s reached 600 members, which means I’ll soon need help (true, done)
  • Read 20 books in the genre, and a few outside it (falling behind)
    • I need to set up my Goodreads list (falling behind)
  • Actually talk to people at conventions (on track)
  • Determine which cons to attend in 2014…
  • Figure out what to do with that short story set in the universe of The Ageless (on track)
  • Hiatus for at least half of October as I make wedding and honeymoon preparations

The past week or so I’ve been wavering on whether I’ll write Part 3 of the Century before beginning revisions on The Ageless. Some of these goals may be flipped if I decide I need more time to let Part 3 marinate.

Brief History of Conventions

The first conventions I ever went to were JACON and Necronomicon when I was in college. I went with groups of friends, then didn’t really attend any cons again until last year, when I went to ConCarolinas (see my 2012 recap), ConTemporal, and MACE.

However, I didn’t have any real conversations with anyone at those except for a brief chat with James Tuck and a longer conversation with Bill Hatfield. This year I want to try to get out of my shell a little and really talk to other writers, even if they are published authors and therefore intimidating.

Looking Back

Last year I was one month late (see six-month checkup) finishing up the The Ageless on July 10. I’m hoping to keep on track with The Century this time around, especially since I now devote an additional day a week to writing compared to most of last year.
It took me about a month and a half to finish the main research and extrapolation I needed to get the ideas for The Century lined up. Actual writing on The Century didn’t begin until September. Since then, I’ve written an average of 3,669 words a week. I’d like to get that a little closer to 5,000.
In December I began hosting the Speculative Fiction Writers community on Google+, which has been great in helping me get out of my shell and talk with other writers in the genre. I hope to really connect with more people in 2013. And I’d really like to get more involved on Goodreads.

I’ve mostly abandoned chasing Facebook and Twitter, though I will continue to post stuff there on occasion.

Word Counts

In November, I decided to try to start writing four times a week as an ante-up instead of NaNoWriMo. As expected, everything fell apart around Thanksgiving. But it should also be noted there were other times I wasn’t able to write as much, such as when the day job interfered (sending me to a conference in October) or when I was simply stressed around the holidays.
If making a distinction between writing nights and research nights… In terms of actual writing, I wrote four nights per week once. There have been several weeks in which I worked on The Century four nights a week, doing research and whatnot. I’ve tended to average about three nights of actual writing per week since The Century got underway in September.
So, unlike some writers, I do count research, outlining, blocking out scenes, and so on as “work time.” Maybe if I didn’t have a day job, I could afford to only count actual writing days toward my four-times-a-week goals, but that’s a luxury I don’t have. I’d probably scare myself off researching and then the work would be worse for it.
My average words written per week (not counting the weeks in which no writing was done) was 3,669. Total word count since I began writing The Century is about 58,700. With those kinds of numbers, it would take me six months to write a novel, if I already had everything outlined and ready to go. Too bad it never quite works out that way!

Writing Is a Marathon

In past years, when I’d miss a few days writing, I’d beat myself up and give into a self-defeating attitude, which ultimately resulted in not writing for months. But now that I’m treating my writing more seriously and holding myself accountable, I’ve decided not to let life’s little stumbles get in my way. This has kept me going even when I had an abysmal week here and there.

You can see my writing calendar (where I record my progress) on the Current Projects page. I also put the dates of published blog posts along with conventions and writing groups I attended on the calendar to chart my growth as a writer.

If you’ve checked out my Projects and found them interesting, you can sign up for my newsletter, which will only be mailed out when I have an announcement about an upcoming book or story. That might be a while, and I promise to only email you once a month anyway.

Circle me on Google+, and if you’re a fellow writer of science fiction or fantasy, come join the Speculative Fiction Writers community. I’m also on Goodreads.

Hope to see you around in 2013!
Where the Outline Fears to Tread

Where the Outline Fears to Tread

Last night I’d written a measly 90 words of a scene when I was rocked by an epiphany.

One thing I’ve struggled with since I undertook rewriting The Century is not having a firm outline.

Writing The Century

When I originally wrote The Century, it was about 60,000 words, but that was only Book 1. I considered it a trilogy at the time, until I listened to a Writing Excuses podcast that convinced me otherwise. But the structure was going to be odd, because the three books would then become three parts. And I only knew a few pivotal scenes of 2 and 3.

Future tactile touchscreens
“The future will not take away my gaudy accessories”
by B Zedan | Flickr

Since I never wrote Books 2 and 3, they were only vague in my mind. In fact, I couldn’t even outline for the new Part 2 until I was nearly finished writing the new Part 1. On Oct. 30, I began the Part 2 outline, but continued outlining as recently as Dec. 7! (See my writing record.) This was partly due to the huge jump in technology both in the real world and in my futuristic novel.

So it’s been a wild ride. I hadn’t really thought about Part 3 for a while, since I figured it would be the same—once I got near the end of Part 2, the specifics of Part 3 would begin making themselves known.

Lightning Strikes Again

I’m now slightly beyond midway (wordcount: >50,000), and as I was writing a scene I knew would foreshadow a great deal of the ending, I was struck by the epiphany. (Last time I had this feeling was in January, while working on The Ageless.) I’d assumed the scene I was writing last night would foreshadow a few things, but suddenly it was like I could see the whole ending.

Basically, it felt as mind-blowing to me as a writer as reading the end of a Brandon Sanderson novel feels to me as a reader. I hope that when I finish writing The Century, it’ll feel every bit as mind-blowing to my readers as that moment of epiphany felt to me last night.

Planners vs. Pantsters 

So my point in all of this is that writing The Century has been a weird hybrid of outlining and “discovery writing” aka “panstering.”

In general, I’m an outliner. I spend a good deal of time generating ideas, writing down notes, researching, and just putting my thoughts together. Then I start to let the coalesce into scenes, which I then try to put into some semblance of chronological order. Although sometimes scenes get added, moved around, or deleted as I begin writing, the general outline tends not to deviate too much.

At least, that’s how I used to work. And that’s how the Ageless worked, which made me comfortable that I knew what I was doing.

The Century has been an outline-as-I-go story. Every story offers its own unique challenges, and as I’ve heard before, in writing each new story, we learn to write as if for the first time. That has definitely been the case.

Extracurriculars

In addition to the holiday madness, I also started a Google+ Community for writers of science fiction and fantasy, called the Speculative Fiction Writers Community. In one week, we gained over 300 members.

Speculative Fiction Writers Community: science fiction and fantasy

It’s been great fun for me, and I already feel like I’ve learned a lot about building a community for people with similar interests. I hope to one day apply this experience to building a community of readers.

So far the Speculative Fiction Writers have covered topics ranging from biopunk to writing the near-future, from religion in fantasy to sexuality in non-romance novels, and from how to autograph digital books to finding character voice. It’s been a great resource for me so far. I hope the other members are enjoying it as much as I am.

Do you enjoy hanging out in online communities or groups where everyone shares your interests? Have you ever felt like you had a sudden moment of clarity or epiphany? Take the poll below! Then come find me as +Traci Loudin on Google+, the perfect place for fans of science fiction and fantasy to hang out.

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