Thursday, July 26, 2012

Critique Groups and Editing

I feel like, after a five year hiatus from writing, I'm re-learning the craft all over again. I also feel like I am a much different writer than I used to be. Five years doesn't seem like a lot, but when it's the difference between 17 and 22 it's significant. A lot has happened in my life the past five years, and it's changed my writing quite a bit.

One thing I'm learning is I'm a messy first drafter. I try not to be, but I make lots of mistakes the first go around. I forget to add setting, use lots of overused gestures (my characters tend to smile and shrug and sigh a lot initially), and in The Hostage Heart I have a hard time keeping the tone. I'm trying to walk that delicate balance between Old World styles of speech while still being modern, and it's difficult.

Editing always overwhelms me because of the messiness of my first draft. I am guilty of starting to edit a finished WIP, deciding the whole thing is complete rubbish, and throwing the entire thing in the proverbial trash bin and starting over from scratch.

And then I joined my two critique groups. And I've learned something unexpected. Critique groups are incredibly helpful when it comes to editing.

I'm about two-thirds of the way complete with The Hostage Heart first draft (but seventh version of the story), and it's the WIP I've been taking to my critique groups. Before submitting, I go through and polish those chapters as much as I can. Then, when I get my critique back, I go through and make all the changes I feel are necessary, and polish polish polish some more. The result? I'm biting off my WIP in easily digestible chunks. I have noticed myself feeling much less overwhelmed this time around (although there are still days I want to light my manuscript on fire).

Who would have thought critique groups would help me feel less overwhelmed? Not only are they fun (critique group is tonight by the excited!!! Thursday nights are my favorite) and not only are they helpful, they also are incredibly encouraging.

I've never had a group of writer friends before. Ever. I've had writer acquaintances that I've been friendly with, but they always felt more like mentors than peers (maybe it was because I was just a teenager at the time and they were all successful and published and stuff). Never have I had peers that I feel like I can talk with as opposed to talk to. And it's incredibly helpful and incredibly relieving. I'm a lone wolf in my family and circle of personal friends. No one I associate with on a daily basis even likes to read, much less write. The value of critique groups is amazing. Not only does it help me improve my craft, but it gives me people to talk to about writing as well.

What are your opinions on critique groups? Are they valuable to you or not?


Monday, July 16, 2012

Weekly Progress Report

I really need to figure out something else to post on this blog. The truth is, though, I just don't have the time or energy to figure something else out at the moment.

I didn't actually do a word count last week, but I got LOTS of editing done, so overall I feel it was a good week.

pages edited: 139
time spent editing: 500 minutes (8 hours 20 minutes)
days spent editing: 6

I am REALLY tired today for some reason, and my babies are being difficult so here's to hoping I manage to get something done today...

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Weekly Progress Report

Well last week was a bust. Between two cranky, teething babies, the 4th of July holiday, and being gone for half the week to a family reunion, not to mention getting my hubby's present ready for our anniversary (four years today, thanks for asking), I didn't do a lot of writing. 0 words, actually. I did however edit 22 pages in 2 hours, so the week wasn't a complete loss. I will do better this week!


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Weekly Progress Report

It was a slow week. I am feeling a bit stuck right now, which makes me avoid writing (unfortunately). However, I am pushing through. I spent a lot of time thinking, re-reading, and trying to figure out where to go from here, so my totals look atrocious...

words written: 3,239 on The Hostage Heart 
time spent writing: 60 minutes (1 hour)
days spent writing: 2
WPM: 54

pages edited: 27
time spent editing: 180 minutes (3 hours)
days spent editing: 4
EPH (edits per hour): 9 pages

So I didn't do a ton of writing, but I did make progress. I have to keep reminding myself writing success and productivity is not measured solely in word counts. That's a hard switch for me to make, but I'm trying.

I'm going to participate in Tristi's Challenges this month. I'm so excited! I have two goals: 1) to finish the first draft of The Hostage Heart (I estimate that is probably about 30k of writing but I'm not sure) and 2) to spend 5 hours a week on writing. I add this last goal because I think with editing I might not always write 10k a week, and I still want to give myself a measurable goal I can meet. I know that doesn't sound like much, but nap time is slowly decreasing and I am struggling more and more to find time to write. My boy are so active now that it is impossible to do anything when they are awake because they require eyes on them constantly! It's fun though, and I'm loving it. I'm excited for July! It's my anniversary month, my favorite holiday (the 4th of July) is this month, I get to go to a family reunion this month, and overall July is just awesome.