Friday, October 9, 2009

Pedal to the Metal—or—Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Day one 3500
Day two 4000
Day three 3000
Day four 3800

Day five…oops that's today. And I'm writing this before…today. So, assuming I continue on tomorrow at my current pace (Saturday is going to be tough-busy day-but I'm going to try) I'll have 17,500 words written on my book by the end of BIAW. Normally, I'd have 5,000 total.

That's me. Slow and Steady Wins the Race. Yeah, I know, the tortoise, same body type as me. Yeesh.

But this week, I've been trying it a different way. Volume, volume, volume. No, I can't quite manage to turn off my internal editor. I just can't. In that I seem to be The Little Train That Couldn't.
Another fairy tale reference. Maybe I'll get to Sleeping Beauty eventually.

It's that kind of week I guess, I'm everything that is literary thanks to my glut of writing.

So what's the RIGHT way to write? The longer I'm in this writing game, the more I finding out that there are a LOT of ways to write a book. I talked to a lady once who wrote her book from the middle out. I know lots of authors who write scenes then switching those scenes until they’ve got a story laid out. This amazes me.

I start at the beginning and write through to the end. How dull. How linear. I am mostly a SOTPs author (seat of the pants) but I think a lot of the terms we have for writing styles is an attempt to put into words something that's really HARD to put into words. We're always trying to teach classes or write books on the craft.

But how do we explain exactly how to set a scene?
How do we explain why we picked a character for a POV scene?
It's just hard to explain is all, because there are so many different ways to do it, and a lot of times I think the WORDS we use to explain are different but the meaning is the same. So we get in these little debates about Seat of the Pants versus Plotting. But honestly, I think most people plot their books out at least somewhat beforehand. And I think most plotters often abandon their plots and follow the story if it leads elsewhere. So plotters or pansters? More alike than we want to admit.
Is your book character driven or story driven. Well, to me, the two are so intertwined you’ve just got to have both. So it’s BOTH driven. No one is teaching that class.

Internal and external conflict. Your story needs to have both. But to me internal conflict is character. External conflict is story. So those words aren’t exactly accurate either.

So this week on Seekerville, we've been trying to encourage everyone to go along for a wild ride and really WRITE THAT BOOK. We’re not talking about HOW to do it. The CRAFT of doing it. We’re just saying DO IT. WRITE!

And in the end, that's what it all boils down to. Write and keep writing. If you want to be a writer…write. I heard someone say once that of the people who say they're writers, only about 20% ever actually finish a book. None of that here at Seekerville of course. We've got serious writers hanging around here.
Well, except I write comedy, but serious except for the jokes.

But if that statistic is true, then just writing, hitting those keyboards, finishing that book, puts you ahead of 80% of the crowd. YAY!

I can't tell you how many people come up to me and say, "I think I've got a book in me." "I want to write a book someday." Or some variation on that. I had someone—an older man, tell me once he had this great story he always told to his kids at bedtime. And he was going to write it one of these days and it'd fund his retirement. No, I did NOT laugh in his face. I said, "Write it and let me have a look. I can tell you where it fits in the market and where you could send it. Get some addresses for you."

He said he would. I don't think he will.

A writer writes and this week, all you wonderful Seekervillians, all you gung ho SBIAW participants, have been writers.


Now, don't let up. All this writing…we want to hear how it came out. The books you've pushed toward completion, the books you've started, let us know. Let us cheer lead. Tell us today in the comment section what you've gotten done this week… YOU ARE ALL A BUNCH OF BIG SHOT WRITERS, YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  1. Gosh Mary. I like the idea of "Both". Finally both sides of my brain can agree to get this book done and edited without standing there arguing.

    I brought some of Myra's coffee cake over from her visit to Inktropolis. I've arranged the red and green dried fruits to say S B I A W.

    I made a small pot of decaf, because who else drinks decaf at 6am but me?

    Happy Friday.

  2. I rdink decaf, becuase I drink so much coffee.

  3. ilMary,
    Thanks, as usual, for your encouragement and the humor too. Boy, what would life be without that, right? ;-)

    For some reason, as much pressure as I felt this week to finish my revisions (deadline today!!AH!!), there's been this peace in knowing I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

    It's helped that I've felt the encouragement from others who are pushing themselves this week - wow, writing can feel like such an isolationg business sometimes, but being a part of BIAW has been such an encouragement.

    Thanks again,

  4. Look at you early birds!!!!

    Welcome, welcome, welcome! Deb, looking sharp and savvy as always!

    And Walt, so good to see you out of the sack!


    Not that I've seen Walt IN the sack, mind you!

    Deb, thanks for the coffee. I brought some regular to go alongside the decaf, and I loved this post, didn't you guys?

    BIAW is runner-training. You push the levels of endurance to raise the level of ability. SWEET!

    I grabbed croissants from Sams Club, fresh whipped cream and strawberries, (since I'm NOT baking this week) so pile up a breakfast yummie, jump in, check in, say hello, and then back to work with ya!


  5. Ah, Pepper, we shared keyboard time this morning, LOL!

    And you hit the nail on the head, this is so much fun because we're doing it TOGETHER.

    Loving it.

  6. Mary, wonderful post as usual. You made me feel better about my mean old internal editor because I just couldn't shut her down this week. But I still managed to get so much done. As I reported last night, I'm ten scenes shy of finishing my manuscript. And having you guys to cheer those of us doing SBIAW has been a tremendous blessing.

    Grabbing my iced coke and bowl of cheerios now--though that coffee cake sounds inviting. . .

  7. Walt have you been rdinking?

    Debra, dried fruits are talking to you?

    Pepper, what is ilMary?

    Ruthy!!! My favorite faux paus writer. Way to go, buddy.

    Okay, writers, get your fingers ready. No editing (oh you have that part covered as noted above).

    I love it we have taught all of SEEKERVILLE how NOT to EDIT.


  8. Did I mention we have SNOW IN DENVER????? Right there on my front lawn. BLEAH.

  9. Wow, Mary, you rocked this week!

    I didn't do any manuscript writing, but I overcame a major hurdle in my proposal--I finally figured out my hero's external goal and why he wants it! I'm already about 2/3 done with my synopsis for the book! Yay!


  10. Yes, I apparently hadn't drunk enough coffee when I wrote that piece.

  11. One more thing...

    Ruthy, no comment. :-)

  12. Good morning everyone! I'm still doing revisions, but I'm making progress. It's not as fast as I'd like.

    Today I write four new scenes. I guess this is my only participation in BIAW, but one day is better than nothing. I'm going to shut down that infernal (no internal) editor and start writing. If it's really, really awful I'll revise this weekend.

    Time to finish my latte.

  13. Tina,
    Hmm...ilMary, (instead of stating what it is...early morning typo), short for Illustrious? ;-)

    Thanks for the yummies, I need them this morning - especially strawberries.
    I'll have them with my hot chocolate :-)

    Off to work..

  14. SOOOO proud of all the BIAW-ers!!!! You go, guys!!

    And, hey Mare, love your statistic that we are 80% of the crowd ... that assuages my guilt over not signing up for BIAW, because let's face it, there's no way I could write one of my books in a week, so I think intimidation was working against me. That and LOTS of other deadlines on blogs, interviews, newsletters. BUT, I am writing on the book today, so YEAH ... now I get to play with the big kids!!

  15. Hi Mary and fellow BIAWers

    Many thanks for todays's encouraging blog.

    Yes! There are so many different ways to write a book- and I find it fascinating to read about all of them!

    Here's a pot of fresh South African rooibos tea for anyone who'd like to try it. Rooibos is an Afrikaans word meaing redbush. It's a refreshing herbal tea especially good for those who suffer from allergies.

    Happy writing

    Ruth Ann

  16. Mary,

    I love your theory that character driven is internal and story is external. I tend to write more character driven stories.

    I wanted to hit 4000 words on a contest entry by last night. I came up 75 words short and my brain was fried so I stopped. Didn't have a lot to do with my internal editor, more with my bad cold.

    Today I have a five hour drive to get to a children's writing conference in Grand Forks, ND but I'm planning on getting additional words written for my BIAW! Everyone cross your fingers that I get there before it snows!

    Yep, Tina, snow is in South Dakota's forecast too....

  17. Um, well, to tell you the truth, I've only written about 500 words on my ms. this week. It's been a tough week, lots of stress. During the only 30 minutes I had to write yesterday, I sent off a query letter instead. That counts for something, doesn't it?

    Mary, you say you're slow and steady, but I think you're really fast! And I'm glad, because I love to read your books. Keep writing at that steady pace!

  18. Morning everyone.

    Wow, you are all early birds. Good for you.

    PATTY! The end of your book is in sight!!!!!!!!!!!

    Yay, I'm loving it. What a great week this has been. It's been great for me. I think maybe I can try a little harder to sustain this elevated writing style.

    I've always done the 1000 words a day thing, but maybe, just maybe I could raise that to 2000 or even 3000. It's been such a good exercise in STAYING IN THE CHAIR.

  19. I think it's important to tell Tina, our beloved Tina Russo, that if I am the Whacko...then she is definitely the Whackee.

    Think rolled up newspaper across my nose people. I would not learn a THING without her.


  20. I brought a program to diginize for my embroidery machine and I have learned how to make 2 different items. so proud of myself at 66. Old dogs can learn new tricks, LOL


  21. Ruthy and this kind of like when Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs played tennis.

    I know, ancient reference. Look it up.

  22. Melanie, do NOT apologize for ONLY writing 500 words.

    That is progress. And if your week was hectic, then all the more wonderful that you accomplished some writing.

  23. Rose, Your goal was 4000 and you ONLY hit 3925. That is so fantastic, girl.

    Good for you.

  24. Yeah Mary, Great job on those words and to be honest I was relieved to see your numbers. Cheryl's numbers almost did me in. Which goes to show we do all have our own style.

    And I too am so proud of myself to have turned off the editor for three days. Did you hear that? Only three days. Yesterday I had major withdrawal and just had to go back and edit. LOL

    But this week did get me back into the swing of writing and jump started me. So I'm not complaining. I'm tickled with my daily counts of between 2,000-3,000 words. Beats zero every time.

    Hey Ruth Ann, I'm going to save some of that tea for this afternoon. I usually have tea around 4:00. A pick me up. Sounds intriguing--rooibos.

  25. Hey, Ruth Ann, we've seen rooibos at the grocery store but never tried it. Sounds like just the thing for DD.

    I'm almost through the revised last half of the Great American Novel.

    Something about just getting it done opened up my imagination.

    Happy writing, everybody!

  26. You made me feel better, Mary, with your explanations of internal and external conflict. Sometimes I complicate things more than necessary and shut myself down. That's never a good thing!

    Keep writing guys! :]

  27. Mary,

    If you're asking if I'm about to get whooped...probably.

  28. Walt, whooping is perceptively deceiving...

    But I'm happy to help, dear one!!!

    Hey, how's that wife doing? Dagnabbit, I'm still hankering for a wife. Maybe just kitchen help. You know what I really want?

    Alice from the Brady Bunch. Sure, give me an Alice, Walt-baby, and we'll call it even.


    Brought cookies. Had to bake with little kids, so baked to share. They're yummy with Ruth Ann's tea. Okay, back to threatening the demise of small people.


  29. Great post! Oh boy. Monday I rocked it. Tuesday I rocked it. Wednesday had a health issue and needed to do a bit of IV therapy and dang nabbed it been lousy every since. But boy oh boy did I get a good start and hoping to get up later and do a bit more. I did re-read what I wrote and I was pleased! Good push. Good post. Can't wait to resume!

  30. Jenny, good for you for getting the writing done when you can. An IV sounds like a reeeeeeeeealy good excuse so give yourself a break.

  31. Walt and Ruthy

    Can't we all just get along?

    And Ruthy, you PROMISED not to bake this week. What is wrong with you, girl? You could have had 2000 words written in the time it took you to crank out those snickerdoodles.

    Tell me you at least made bars instead of cookies to save time!

  32. I didn't quite finish my ms, but I did get 3 new scenes (will do one more today hopefully), so I'm happy with that. Somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 words.

    Hey it's a start to the finish line.

    Hard to do since I got feedback from a contest last week saying my whole plot is riddled with cliches and I should throw them out and start over. So I figured I'd finish the book first (since I'm three quarters done) then bang my head against a wall (or a keyboard) and see what I can do about cliches. I've pretty much decided to forgo the GH this year though. Needs too much work. Oh well, there's always next year. By that time, Seekerville island will be DESERTED!

    Hey Ruth Ann, Rooiboos (or red tea as I call it) is my absolute favourite! I'm so thrilled we can get it in Canada. Tetley even has its own brand which I hope they don't discontinue. Excellent stuff.

    Good luck everyone on this Day 5!


  33. Sandra, I'm feeling the same as you about this week giving me a boost.

    I'm loving it.

    We should do book in a week every week....we might need to rename it though. 1/5 of a book in a week.
    OFOBIAW--that'll never catch on.

  34. Susan Ann, good for you soldiering on to the end.

    One thing I'd advise, if you really do feel like the 'cliche' criticism is just consider, when you go in to fix it, UNDER revising. Sometimes we take a comment like that and severely rip up a book when tweaking is more called for.

  35. Yum, thanks for whipping up the Danish coffee cake for us this morning, Debra! And it was great visiting with y'all in Inktropolis.

    Cara, I'm so glad I'm not the only one foregoing BIAW to concentrate on revisions. But we're writing, right? That always counts!

  36. I missed the whole Book in a Week thanks to my blog holiday. But I'm happy to know many are participating!
    Thanks for the insight, Mary! I'm a SOTP writer who feels guilty about it and tries to write by a plot outline. Hmmm, perhaps I should just SOTP and see what happens. While I can't turn my inner critic off (ever) when I am typing furiously about whatever floats into my brain, the critic is so confused, she doesn't know what to complain about. Ha! Evil plan forming...

    Happy Friday!

  37. I've written just under 11k words as of last night. I'm so geeked! But I feel the other side of my brain saying, "Slow down." Because the words are not great. They're not even good. Lots of dialogue, less setting. Few action beats. Needs lots of work.

    But I like the idea of writing for a week, then maybe polishing that portion up a little--not to a spit shine but just making it presentable--before doing another week of writing, writing, writing. I'm going to try that for the remainder of the year (or until this book is done).

  38. Patricia what you said about too much dialogue not enough beats and setting is soooooooooo true.

    I've been feeling that with my own work, too.

    It'll need revision however! adding in all that will add a lot of length, too, so this is a great skeleton to work with. YAY


    I just figured out how to load my blog and Seekerville automatically to twitter. Do you realize what this means? A whole step in my marketing routine can now be skipped.

    If any one wants to follow me on twitter (wow, I think I know how to do this!) go here.
    I'll try and make it a live link, excuse me for a second.

    Follow Me on Twitter

    There, we'll see if that works.

    I am so JAZZED. The mysteries of computers and the internet are so profound. Yes I can now do this but I don't UNDERSTAND IT. I hate that. And yet, I have a book to write. Understanding is just a nuisance.

    That might explain why there is no world peace, also.

  40. Great post, Mary! It's a little after 6:00 PM here, and I'm checking Seekerville for the first time ;) Loved this post... it was so encouraging! Sometimes I get discouraged with writing because I don't write or finish my books as fast as other writers. But it's nice to know we all work differently! :)

    My original goal this week was 7, 000 words. I knew my week would be busy, so I didn't want to set an unreasonable goal. However, I'm thrilled to announce I've already passed that goal. Yay! :)

    Yesterday was my worst day of BIAW... I only wrote a few paragraphs. But hey, it's better than nothing, right? I'm hoping to get a better word count today, and I plan on writing Saturday and Sunday, too. Excited about what my final total will be! :)

  41. Way to go, Arianne. Don't even feel like you ONLY got a paragraph written. Forward progress is what we're working on this week and if that's 20,000 words (like that show off CHERYL) or a page, we are all still writing.

  42. Fun posts as always, Mary. I agree, I think plotters and pantsers have more in common than they think.

    I write linear too. Glad I'm in such good company.

    Congratulations on all the words the Seekers are compiling this week! I can't wait to hear the results.

  43. I def got that reference to Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs.

    Am thrilled to see what Patricia did accomplish and am really feeling the strain similar to Melanie's week. I thought I was the only one thinking this BIAW couldn't come at a worse time. But that's life and when I'm under deadline someday I'll be in good practice.

    So, when do we get to send in our numbers and see the collective total? huh?huh?

    PS Pepper, I thought an iMary was a new app for Mac IPhone.

  44. On Sunday post the results and take a poll.

    Here are the details of BIAW.


  45. Debra, on Sunday and/or Monday you can post your final thoughts. NO ONE HAS TO POST PAGE COUNT OR NUMBERS. That's not the point, the point is to compete with yourself only.

    Monday there will be a survey on BIAW and what you want to see in our third year of Seekerville.

    BIAW isn't done yet. My stride is Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

  46. 66 is NOT old, Edna.

    LOL at OFOABIAW, Mary!

    So far, I haven't worked on the novel at all, but I DID get those anthology competition entries in on time: one short story cobbled together from posts on Panhistoria, and the other a sonnet (English style, ABAB, CDCD, EFEF, GG). And I did at least LOOK at the ms., which was more than I'd been able to do the last couple of weeks, so this has been good for me, too.

    The Write Stuff at now has a monthly "WriMo," begun when some of us said that NaNoWriMo wasn't enough and we needed more. Beginning this past July, we've had a WriMo thread ever since. You're more than welcome to come join us, post your progress, and get cheered along!

  47. I guess I guessed right that I'd be too busy this week, but I'm in awe of those of you doing the challenge. Maybe I'll try another week.

  48. Tina, perfect point.

    Like we're surprised!!!

    It's about personal best, pushing forward, thumping it along, just gettin' it done...

    Whether it's a revision, a chapter, a book, 1/2 a book.

    Except when it comes to Walt. Yup, in Walt's case I'm demanding a count and then possibly a re-count.

    Or a wife-count, because she's probably a sweet, honest, upright little thing, eh, Walt??? :)

    Doesn't it feel two thumbs up good to just work together toward a goal??? No matter what the goal?

    You guys rock.

  49. PS I forgot to mention that Stash brand tea has a Roiboos/White Tea Blend called Red & White. It's good!

  50. Debra,

    That's a great idea. iMary - maybe it comes with her creativity, ya think? ;-)

    Okay - at 11:30 EST, I'm gonna send my full to my agent to be shipped off monday. I've worked and worked all week for BIAW to rewrite the last five chapters and the next hour and forty-five minutes, I'm finishing up.

    If someone hears a loud chattering sound, it's probably my teeth...or my fingertips on the keyboard :-) Wait, I'm hearing it from everywhere, because we're all writing. Yipee!

  51. Hi!

    I was interested to read about rooibos tea being available in other parts of the world! Many thanks for the info.

    Hope or someone please enlighten me as to what white tea is!!!

    Ruth Ann

  52. Hi, Ruth Ann! White tea is "real" tea--not herbal--and it grows in China and for centuries no one was allowed to drink it except the Chinese emperor and the royal family. At least, that's I've read.

    And I love rooibos tea! Celestial Seasonings makes it (or used to make it, I haven't seen it lately) with vanilla, and I love that stuff!

  53. See, even when you're writing non-fiction (articles) you're a lot of fun!

    I'm going to try to jump in on this SBIAW. We'll see how it goes!