Thursday, February 23, 2012
Getting Ready for SpeedBo
Cara here. I’m going to do SpeedBo even though I’ll be away at the Silken Sands Conference for three days in March. There are always a lot of reasons or sometimes excuses to keep me from trying to write a book in a month. Sometimes I’m on a deadline doing revisions, sometimes the task seems too daunting. I know I can’t complete a book in a short period of time. I’m a slow writer, but after pushing myself hard to make deadlines, I’ve learned I’m not nearly as slow as I once thought.
I’m going to start even though I probably won’t come close to finishing an entire manuscript. And that’s all right. For once I’m not going to worry about finding just the right words. Plowing ahead toward the finish line is more important. SpeedBo is for me so I’m going to enjoy the process of writing without worrying about my word count, sentence structure etc. And I won’t care that my attempt is awful. And it will be awful. Revisions will clean up the mess later. No hand wringing allowed at this point.
Since I’m somewhere in between a plotter and a panster, I’ll do some preliminary digging before I start. That might not work for some writers and it might destroy the fun for others. Do whatever works best for you. Don’t let anyone tell you there’s only one way to do things—their way.
I’m not even sure my way works for me, so I keep on experimenting. A copy of every book ever written on writing rests on my bookshelves. I’ve probably read them all. Most were helpful. But our methods of writing are different for each of us.
I still run into a few problems: I can’t stick to an outline because as I go along I find new and better ideas. On the other hand, if I don’t have some sort of outline I get stuck in the muck, especially in the middle. It’s like a muddy bog I can’t seem to slog through. I lose energy, interest and enthusiasm. So I need some possible scenes to get me to move forward. If I can’t think up anything better, I’ll go with those. It’s preferable to sitting in front of a blank screen wondering when my temperamental muse is going to appear. Usually I change things around, but often I keep the basic idea.
Before I begin I need to know what the story is about, the plot points, a lot about the main characters, what are their goals, motivations and conflicts, and the lessons they have to learn. Then I’ll write out where they’re going and where they’ve been. What problems do they have? How can I make them worse, even unbearable? We can do to our make believe characters what we can’t do to anyone in real life! For some of us torturing our characters can be painful, but for others—not so much. The more we torment our people by throwing problems at them, the more our readers will read on. And that’s what we want: a wide audience turning pages past midnight.
Write as fast as you can and as much as you can. Don’t revise until you’re finished. That’s hard for many of us, but that’s how we’ll get a lot written in a month. So just press those keys!
Another hard part for me is to prepare for the routine jobs I do around my house regardless of SpeedBo. Grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, bill paying, cleaning etc. don’t stop just because I’m focused on something else. I’ll allocate some chores (as many as I can) and figure out how to minimize the time involved taking care of everything I can’t ignore. We’ll have more pizza than usual, more frozen, prepared foods. I’m not proud—I’ll ask for help shopping, cooking, and cleaning. It’ll be an imposition, but it’s only for a month. My family is considerate, but they won’t think to volunteer. So I’ll ask. Nicely. And I’ll thank them.
Take all unforeseen circumstances in stride. Things happen which you can’t avoid.
If you can, please join us for the SpeedBo challenge in March! It’ll be fun and hopefully, very worthwhile.
What are you planning to do to make this easier and more productive? I’d love to hear your suggestions.
If you’d like a chance to win a copy of Todd A. Stone’s NOVELIST’S BOOT CAMP 101 WAYS TO TAKE YOUR BOOK FROM BORING TO BESTSELLER then leave your e-mail address with your comment.