I told the writers group I would give them a draft of my story by last night, no matter what, so they’d have enough time to review before our meeting Saturday. I’m not a perfectionist but I don’t like to throw something out there if I feel it isn’t ready. It was a good lesson in how hard I can push myself when motivated. The story is thin in spots but it has a beginning, a middle and an end and I stuck to my self-imposed deadline.

I very rarely write after work, especially days like yesterday which was very busy and research intensive. I was tired and fuzzy headed but as soon as I got home I went to the computer and hammered away. Later I did my taxes on my dinner break. It’s nice when you can surprise yourself.

I often hear writers talk about having a daily word goal. I’ve even seen widgets on blogs for tracking word counts.

Word counting, in terms of a daily goal, doesn’t work for me since I have very little trouble writing words. That can’t be a big surprise if you’re here. The 13th of this month is my 12 year anniversary of starting my website and for the most part it’s all original words.

The discipline for me is sticking with it until the story and characters work and sometimes that means writing in circles for a little while. (Or longer.)

A typical writing cycle for me goes: get new idea, rabid excitement, research and tons of writing, get stuck, dread the writing chair, avoid writing, hate myself for avoiding it, despair, force myself to go back to it, find what interested me in the first place, finish story.

For the record, there’s a bale of stuff in my files that’s still waiting for the part that comes after “despair.”

Some writers talk about outlining first and others talk about just sitting down and writing it and see what comes out. I do both. I write a bunch and then sit back and look at what I’m doing and where I’m going and try to map things out a bit and then jump back in and write some more.

The story I finished this week is one where I knew how I wanted it to end but wasn’t sure how I was going to get there and who I was going to take with me. Last Friday I worked all day especially on the protagonist. But later as I was thinking about the story, I realized that this wasn’t the right protagonist for this story.

Saturday I scrapped more than half of what I already had and started all over with a new take on my protagonist and worked with that until last night when I got to the end.

The story before this one I had a title I really liked but no idea what was going to happen. At first the story that came out didn’t fit the title. Also I had intended to use it for my Clarion West submission so I was trying to fit it into a specific length. In the end, I made it fit the title and keeping it shorter eliminated a stupid side part that wasn’t working so I guess the advice is: find what works best for you and trust your instincts.

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