Sunday, June 20, 2010

Another Look at Work Data

I figured while I was vacation, I really couldn't expect to get much data that would serve any purpose when I tried to use it 'back home'. But I did try a little experiment a couple nights this past week: There were a couple times when I actually got the computer for a couple hours at a stretch without any external distractions (such as my spouse asking things like, 'Are you done yet?', 'Did you see that email from ….?') So I sat down and opened up a story I'm trying to take from outline to rough draft, and I just worked through, to see how quickly I could manage it. My speed was about 500 words per hour. Wow. Am I good or what?

I suppose that doesn't sound like much. During my time as a secretary for a day job, I would have thought that a paltry amount. After all, I kept trying to get my typing speed up to 100 words per minute!

However, I now know that typing from copy and typing while composing really can't be compared like that. I already knew that typing from dictation could take 3 or 4 times as long as the voice took to say it (depending on how perfectly they wanted it replicated). When I researched these types of things, in order to set my price for free-lance typing, I discovered that composing (while typing) had an average speed of 5 words per minute, or about 300 words per hour. I'm able to work so fast on this particular story because large chunks of the 'outline' is already in rough draft form. It's too bad I wasn't paying more attention to how fast I was working when I composed the outline!

So, I would guess the rule of thumb is that if you are looking to write your rough draft, and you want to get down 1000 words per day, you should probably plan to spend at least 3 hours a day at it. Subsequent drafts would, I hope, move along faster.

I'm headed home now, and should be able to get back to something resembling a work schedule. See ya next week.    Trudy

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Stumbling Blocks

Sometime in May, I started keeping track of how much writing I get done each day. I wanted to try harder, but needed to know how much I was getting done as a starting point. Boy, am I all over the place.

Some days, I might do more than 4,000 words. Other days, I would struggle to do 300 words. And there have been a number of days when I didn't manage to do any writing at all. Well, I did go to a convention, and then drive to Florida. When we're on vacation, my spouse feels that we must spend twelve hours a day at the theme parks, so that doesn't leave much time – and even less energy – for writing.

But the thing is, I'm not managing 1,000 words a day. Frankly, I'm not even managing 100 words a day. Since the mantra is that a writer needs to write every day, does that make me a wanna be, rather than a writer?

Not in my mind. If I turn out to be a wanna-be, it'll be because I never find an audience, not because I don't manage to write every single day.

You know that old saying, "No man is an island"? Well, neither am I. I have family members who expect certain things from me, like some housework, meal cooking, and so forth. There's a certain amount of housework, yardwork and so forth that is expected of me by society, if not my family. Even as a writer, I have to spend some time researching markets where I can submit what I do write, and so forth. So I can't spend every minute of every day writing, no matter how much I want to. And I do want to, most days. I dream of taking a vacation to a place where I would need to do the minimum of housework and cooking, and could spend 90% of my awake time writing. I've had one or two like that, and I would like to schedule more of them.

Life is full of stumbling blocks, like things that need to get done before you can sit down to write. The trick is to stumble, and then get back up and move forward. So I'll work on getting some writing done as many days as I can, as well as aiming for more days where I get 4,000 words written, rather than 300. Wish me luck. See ya next week.        Trudy

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Dreams as Muse

Late with my blog again! Where do these days keep disappearing to?

I had a strange dream last night, and as I was trying to describe it to my spouse this morning, I thought back to other dreams I've had, particularly the ones I've tried to make into stories. Have you ever done that, used a dream as the basis for a story? Legend has it that Frankenstein started as Mary Shelley's nightmare, and a lot of non-writers think that all a writer has to do is convert their dreams into stories. I have tried it, and it's not as easy as those non-writers think it is.

Dreams may be extremely vivid while I'm having them, but fade quickly once I wake up. As I struggle to write down the beginning, the middle and end are fast disappearing from my memory.

Dreams may make perfect sense while I'm having them, but not in the cold light of day. When I try to explain a dream to my spouse, or write it down, I wind up using such explanations as 'somehow I know this', 'for some reason this happens', and so on. Stories don't work when they're full of somehow and unknown reasons, so I need to fill in those blanks as I convert the dream to story. Most of the time, that plays havoc with what came later in the dream. So far as I can remember it.

What limited success I've had in using dreams is when a particular dream manages to inspire a scene. A single scene. That's about the best I can hope for. And sometimes, even that doesn't work out. Of course, that doesn't keep me from dreaming.

So, how well do your dreams work as a muse? See ya next weekend. Trudy

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dare Something New

I’m late this week because I was out of town, and then because I traveled even further out of town. Sorry about that.

I attended Conquest in Kansas City. I’ve been going there for many years, and enjoy it. The first day we were there, I had some down time, and turned to the rough draft I was working on. Unfortunately, I found myself bored with it. I decided I needed some time away from that story. After all, I’d been working on it pretty exclusively for 4 or 5 months. But none of the other stories I had half-written appealed to me, either.

Like at most conventions, I attended a number of panels and discussions, some only marginally of interest. (Why is it they put all the best panels opposite each other?) Sometimes I pushed the wallflower me into a corner and actually TALKED to friends, letting the conversation wander this way and that, loop back and take another path…

Then I went back to my room and started a new story. It doesn’t take place in any of the various universes I’ve already planned out and written stories for. It involved ideas from several panels, had found encouragement in the conversation with friends, who were willing to assist in exploring ideas. I can’t say that I pounded out a 5,000 word story in a couple hours, because I wasn’t that inspired. The idea was there, but changing that idea into a rough draft has been a little more difficult as I actually tried to make it believable. But it’s come along nicely, thank you, even though I’ve only had a few hours to spend on it since I started it last weekend.

So, dare something new. Just as some women find a new pair of shoes to be refreshing, and some people find a new hobby to give a fresh flavor to their life, your writing may need an infusion of something new from time to time. Don’t get stuck in a rut. See ya Sunday. Trudy