The Road To Writing Full Time

You’ve heard the cliche: everyone thinks that they can be a writer. Or that writing a book can’t be that difficult. But anyone who has tried to write a book will probably disagree.

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Writing is hard, except when it’s easy, and even then it’s still pretty hard.

For me, writing this month has been slow but steady. Book 3 is chugging along at 15k words right now (hopefully 16k by the time you read this). Definitely not where I wanted to see my word count but it’s a start. Every book begins with a start. And then you have to keep building and adding onto it, until you finish it. For most of us, myself included, this means writing a book is a marathon and not a sprint. It can be hard to keep that in my head.

I want to be a full time writer now. I want to bang out a novel every month or every other month now, but I’m not there yet. At most, I’m a halftime writer. I write fairly consistently but not 40 hrs a week–which is where I would ultimately like to be.

3 Stages Of Being An Author

  1. Beginner: you’re working on your first story, or maybe your second story, writing when you can but not overly consistently
  2. Amatuer: maybe you write consistently but you don’t write a ton, you’re averaging a book a year
  3. Full time: you write multiple books a year, you put in 40 hours a week, you treat writing as your full time job.

A lot of people spend a long time at stage 1. I spent four years at stage 1 calling myself a “writer” but not managing to finish anything. It took me 18 months to write Duality and about 8 months to write the sequel, The Convergence Theory. I thought by the time I would start Book 3 I would be at stage 3 already but I’ve discovered that I’m really still at stage 2: writing more consistently but not putting in enough hours to call this my full time job.

That’s OK. I don’t have to be at stage 3 right this minute. Maybe I won’t get to stage 3 for a couple more years and a couple more books. That’s fine. The important part is that, just like when I’m writing a book, I add onto my writing habits a little more and a little more.

I’m not going to start busting out 10k words a day this week. Or next month. I’m not going to reach my 85k word draft goal by May 1st but I will make it by June first, which is a huge improvement over TCT’s timeline.

Composition book or Writer's NotebookBuilding A Writing Career Begins With Good Habits

Just some thoughts to chew on if you’re feeling discouraged.

  • Set goals and meet them, but if you aren’t going to meet one, don’t become so discouraged that you give up or ignore the deadline altogether
  • Have patience, both with your work and yourself
  • Increase your time commitment, word goals, and publishing milestones steadily–remember the tortoise
  • For 75% of authors, making a living is all about building a backlist (eg 10+ published titles), building a backlist takes time
  • Even though this is a marathon, don’t hesitate to do tiny sprints here and there to encourage yourself
  • Don’t stop writing.

Do as I advise, not as I do. Trust me, I’m not good at always taking my own advise no matter how good it is. That’s another reason I’m still only at stage 2 😉

duality quoteQuestions About The Blood & Bone Trilogy/Timestamps/Prompts

I’m opening the floor this week to questions about my books (Duality as well as the unpublished sequels), as well as timestamp requests (something you wanted to see more of from the first story or what came after? Give me a prompt and I’ll write you at least 500 words. This is open to pre-story events, porn, and secondary characters as well). Least a comment below or hit me up with an email 🙂

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CampNaNoWriMo 2014 Week One

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You may have noticed there was no blogpost last week–my apologies! I fully intended to write a short sum-up of my first couple days of Camp this year but Camp had a bit of a late start in Lia’s world.

News

  • The draft for Blood & Bone Book Two: The Convergence Theory is done!

word count paranormal romance

 

  • Writing has begun on Book Three! I’m a little (see: A LOT) behind on my word count but I’m steadily catching up.
  • To everyone who has volunteered to beta read book 2–my editor is about 3/4 finished so the book is still on track to reach you by the middle of the month!
  • To anyone interested in reading chapter 1 before release day, I will be sending out a sneak peak of Book 2 to mailing list subscribers 😉
  • To everyone else, be sure to check back here May 1st for The Convergence Theory cover reveal!! I’m super excited to share it with you guys, I’ve been sitting on this cover for months.

A Few Words About Camp NaNoWriMo Week 1

My goal was to write 2800 words/day. I started a couple days late and I had a couple slow days. So far my mean word count has been ~1000/day. Not great but not the end of the world. I’ve also been interviewing for a barista job and started a 7 Week Walking Challenge, all of which have no helped me be more focused on writing. Nevertheless, the month and my goal of 85,000 words is not lost!

This weekend I’m planning on doing a bit push to close the gap and get my daily word count back down to 3k/day to finish on time.

Here are my 4 strategies for beefing up my word count:

  1. Outlines: so far I’ve got an outline for the first 8 chapters of Book 3 and I’ll be adding to that the more I write. I use my daily walks to brainstorm (aloud, since I live in a pretty isolated place and I like to talk to myself :))) and then type up what I’ve worked out into scrivener.
  2. Timed Writes: these are invaluable! I set the online timer for 30 minutes and start typing in scrivener. I can’t do anything else while I’m on a TW except write (this means discipline, no checking social media, no responding to facebook IMs, no reading, nada) and I try not to check my word count until the timed write is over. I find that as long as I’ve got a general idea what needs to happen in the scene, I can bust out anywhere between 700-1000 words per timed write.
  3. Take Breaks: I break my timed writes down into 30 minute blocks and I take breaks between each block to read, check-in with my writing partner and check twitter. The key (and I don’t always do this well) is to keep the breaks to a reasonable amount of time–e.g. 20 minute break not a 60 minute break.
  4. Start Early: The day’s I’ve met my word count goals I started early (by early I mean 2 PM, or early afternoon). The day’s I’ve struggled to meet my goals or failed to meet them, I didn’t start writing until 9 PM or later. You don’t have to wake up at 6 AM and jump right into your story, you just have to give yourself enough time to write comfortably.

That is all for this week. If you have questions or comments leave a comment down below or feel free to email me ( liacooperromance AT gmail DOT com) I always love hearing from you guys! And come hang out on twitter @LiaCooperWrites 😀

Buckle up guys; week two is about to begin!

 

Lia’s WIP Corner: Pre-Camp Edition 2014, Where To Find Lia In April!

Indy's_whipThis will be my last post in the Countdown to Camp NaNoWriMo (we’ll be ~3 days out when this post goes live). April 1st you can follow my twitter for daily writing updates, word count progress, snippets from The Convergence Theory (which I’ll be editing during April while I’m writing Book 3), and TCT’s cover reveal!

For this last planning post I’m going to talk a little bit more about my Camp goals and prep.

Camp NaNoWriMo Goals 2014

  1. Write 85k draft of the Blood & Bone Trilogy Book 3
  2. Edit/revise Book 2: The Convergence Theory

Pretty simple goals, right?

Book 3: Is it too soon to announce the title?

As I head into writing Book 3, I’ve already had several brainstorming conversations with my writing partner. I’ve been thinking about what this book would be about for about 8 months–almost as long as I’ve been working on Book 2, tbh–though it’s only in the last month or so I’ve made concrete decisions about what the plot will look like.

I can tell you that Book 3 will be more of an adventure novel rather than a procedural mystery, and it will feature a LOT of Ethan & Patrick, which I think you guys will enjoy. Basically, after the first two books I figure you guys all deserve a little tooth decay WITH your badass werewolf/mage duo ;D

I like going into Camp with a general idea of what my Beginning, Middle, and End and in the last couple days of this month I will be drawing more detailed plot outlines for the book. I’ve won NaNoWriMo’s 50k challenge once before, back in 2012 and this April I’m going to try pushing myself a little further with an 85k word goal. I have a habit of writing ⅓ or ⅔’s of a book and stalling out on it, letting it sit for six or eight months before getting around to finishing it. So I think this one book from start to finish goal will be good for my process.

Get Involved!

I’m still accepting Beta Readers for Book 2. If you’re interested sign-up over here. A revised copy of the draft will be going out to beta’s in early April. Chapter 1 will be available April 1st for everyone signed up to my Mailing List as a thank you for following.

Also, stay tuned for The Convergence Theory’s COVER REVEAL which will be coming at the end of Camp. And guys, let me tell you, I’m super excited to show it to you 😀

Kind of a short post this week but I figure you’re probably sick of hearing about camp and it hasn’t even started yet, woops. I’m just excited and I want to share that excitement with everyone who reads my blog.

Cya next month!

Preparing For Camp NaNoWriMo: Outlining Your Book

There are two primary approaches to preparing for a new novel: outlining and discovering. People use many different words to describe these two terms but they all boil down to the same spectrum–and don’t get me wrong, writers definitely fall on a spectrum between these two extremes. I know that I do for sure.

Outlining

seattle mapOutline means you create a map or a timeline or maybe a traditional outline or a beat outline just something before you start writing. You make a roadmap for your book before you write. Maybe this is really detailed where you write a paragraph or half a page or a whole page for every chapter. Maybe this is as basic as writing down the Beginning, Middle, and the End of your book in bullet points.

Discovering

photo By Gandydancer

By Gandydancer

Discover writing is the opposite–big shock, I know. Maybe you start with a character or a place and you just start writing. Maybe you just give yourself some time to freewrite and see what grows out of that freewrite. The point is, pure discovery does not involve outlining. It involves writing your novel and seeing what happens, following rabbit trails without predetermining where they lead.

Most Writers Write On A Spectrum

I generally start all of my books with the protagonists–usually there are 2. I know who the story is about but not what it’s about. I might have an overarching theme, but not the plotty details. I will begin writing, a scene or two, then I’ll stop and outline the plot. I don’t really feel that I discover plots. I have to pull them out of a earth that I’ve discovered but they rarely present themselves. I spend a lot of time throwing plot ideas at my writing partner and asking: does that sound interesting? does this sound plausible? And from our discussions I begin to outline a plot.

Generally, I know the last scene in my book before I know what the plot will be, because to me the most important parts are character and character themes.

The more I write, the more I have to outline, otherwise I tend to have really bad writer’s block. For my own sanity, I cannot discovery write the middle of a book because if I left myself to do that nothing would ever get written.

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Original outline for The Source & The Wire circa 2011

My outlining methods have changed over the years as I’ve written more and as my writing programs have changed. Back in 2011 when I started writing regularly again I did all of my plotting by hand because I wrote in gdocs. I kept a notebook and I wrote the big plot outline in 1-2 pgs (sometimes with post-it notes overtop when things changed) and then I wrote chapter beats in the margins of the pages where I also hand wrote the story.

Now that I use Scrivener to write all of my stories I use Scrivener’s corkboard feature to lay out the story. I often brainstorm by hand but then I put all of those notes into Chapter and Scene files in Scrivener where I flesh them out, rearrange, and sometimes even re-write them.

Preparing For Camp NaNoWriMo 2014

An important part of NaNoWriMo is to start the event with a new project. Something that you haven’t written anything for yet and I actually think this is a good rule. This does not preclude me from planning for camp.

When I wrote The Duality Paradigm I didn’t have much planned. All I knew was that I wanted to try writing a romance novel, that it would be m/m because I hadn’t written het in a while and I often find het romances very problematic. I wanted to write something that would be quick without an eye for anything “literary,” I just wanted to write something fun. So I went with a few of my favorite trope flavors:

  • soulbonding (this link to Tv Tropes is the closest I could find though it’s not 100% what I mean by soulbonding)
  • werewolves
  • magic

I had those tropes in my head but nothing else planned. I had to discovery the characters, the plot, and the emotional arc. Suffice to say, The Duality Paradigm was one of the hardest things I’ve ever written.

Now whether you decide to outline anything before Camp starts is a personal choice. I’ve found–through trial and error–that I write more quickly if I have a goal in mind (e.g. some plot or series of points to hit). So I’ll be doing progressively more outlining as Camp approaches. I suggest trying both methods and then see where you fall between those two methods that makes you most productive.

Do you enjoying outlining or do you find it stifles your creativity? Let me know in the comments.