A Chapter a Day Keeps Panic Away

I’ve started writing THE BODY IN THE TRENCH, my seventh Jazzi and Ansel cozy. I had plot points–one for every chapter–so I knew how the story flowed in my head. So what did I do? I moved things around as soon as I reached chapter 2. I thought it would make the pace faster. Moving plot points and changing my mind doesn’t bother me at all. It’s like cooking. If I have all of the ingredients and a recipe I trust, I can tinker with it all I want, as long as I write a chapter a day most week days.

A chapter a day–most days–gives me enough progress to keep me motivated. Some take longer than others. There are those nice, happy scenes where the words flow and the ideas stream onto the page. On those days, I can quit early or sneak in another chapter. Then there are scenes that fight me every other sentence. The dialogue feels stilted. The descriptions make me yawn. If I squint, I see word repetitions sprinkled in every other paragraph. Doesn’t matter. I pound out the chapter anyway. When I go back to it the next day, I can make it better.

Some scenes are just plain tricky to deal with. Too many characters doing too many different things and yapping at each other. Or two or three scenes in the same chapter. I sit at my computer longer on days like that. Even the rewrites take more time. But good and bad days even out eventually, and if I just keep pounding keys, the book keeps growing.

I’m slow and methodical, but that works for me. I’m more of a perspiration than inspiration type writer. I like having deadlines, but I don’t like having to worry if I’ll meet them. I don’t write as well when I’m stressed. I’m like the tortoise, not built for speed. When I feel scrunched, I’m stressed. Arrgh! I have to force myself not to write shorter chapters to move the book along. Sure, I’d get to the end faster, but my word count would be pitiful.

What about you? Do you like deadlines? Do you write better under pressure? I know some people do. Or does pressure mess with you? Are you a marathon writer or a sprinter?

However you work best, I hope the words flow. And happy writing!

October

My birthday’s actually at the end of September, but according to the zodiac my birthday month is September 23 to Oct. 22.  So October is a special month for me.  Every year, when I reach it, I feel more energized, like I’m starting a new year.

Also, October is the month in Indiana when the leaves change color and the air grows nippier.  And at the end of the month, there’s Halloween.  I’ve always liked fairytales, paranormal, and supernatural.  And All Hallow’s Eve is when the veil between our world and the spirit realm thins.  Witches celebrate Samhain and put out a saucer of milk for Cat Sith.

Cat Sith inspired me to write a short story for Muddy River.  No horror or ghosts or goblins.  It’s how the supernaturals in Muddy River celebrate the holiday.  You can find it on the Muddy River Snippets page here: https://writingmusings.com/snippets-page/.  

And today, for the Thursday Snippet, I put up a Halloween story for Jazzi and Ansel.  The body on their front stoop isn’t a stuffed dummy.  It’s real.  https://writingmusings.com/the-body-in-the-lake-a-jazzi-short-story/.

Another reason for me to celebrate lately is that I finally finished the plot points for Muddy River Four.  I’m often tempted by the desire to just wing it and see what happens, but it never works for me.  It always costs me more time and effort than if I make myself pound out ideas for chapters so I can see the cause and effect that take me to a book’s end.  When I write willy-nilly, letting my characters lead me, I run amok.  My characters must not be trustworthy.  Not sure what that says about me:)

Anyway, I’m going to try to pound out a Muddy River by the end of November, because my next Jazzi mystery is due on May 4th, and I’ve learned the hard way that I don’t get as much writing time in December as I usually do, so I’ll rub my hands together and plot out Jazzi 6 in-between holiday things.  I mean, it’s more important to see friends and family and have fun:)  Once January hits, I can hibernate and hit the keys every week day to make my Jazzi deadline.

At least, that’s the plan.  For now.   But you know how Life goes.  The best laid plans and all that….

So, I’m wishing you an awesome October, and happy writing!

 

Don’t Panic

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I’ve been blithely writing away, Ta da da, happy as can be, on Muddy River mysteries for a while now.  As if I didn’t have a care in the world.  I mean, I’m self-publishing this series, so there are no deadlines.  Right?

Except there IS a deadline for the next Jazzi Zanders mystery due–number 5.  But it’s not until Nov. 4th, months away.  Except…it takes me months to write a Jazzi cozy.  I still wouldn’t have actually counted out the months on my fingers except that I went to Amazon and accidentally found this: https://www.amazon.com/Body-Apartment-Jazzi-Zanders-Mystery-ebook/dp/B07TT2RWQ5/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=The+Body+in+the+Apartment%2C+Judi+Lynn&qid=1562355467&s=gateway&sr=8-3.    A blurb for book 4, that doesn’t even come out until March 17, 2020.  Kensington was way ahead of me…again.

That made me seriously look at how much time I had to do what.  And all of a sudden, the lazy days of summer didn’t look as lazy anymore.  Yes, I panicked.  I couldn’t dawdle around finishing Muddy River 3.  I glued my fanny in chair, hit the keyboard, and wrote like the crazed person I occasionally become.  And today, at last, I finished the last chapter of the first draft.  RELIEF!  I can pass the pages on to my trusty critique partners and start work on Jazzi 5 on Monday.

And I’m even pretty much on track.  I shouldn’t have to buy stronger hair dye to cover any more gray hairs trying to get it done in time.  I won’t have to rush it.  I think that always shows (at least when I do it).

So, now that I can take a deep breath, I can settle down in front of my computer and write one scene or chapter a day every open weekday for months and months without having to try to write a kazillion pages in a short period of time.  I can breathe again.  And enjoy the summer.

Hope you had a great Fourth and happy writing!

(And if you live elsewhere in the world, hope your fourth was great anyway:)

Writing & Boys

I didn’t write my blog on Sunday, like I usually do.  Why?  I rented the movie Jack the Giant Slayer and watched it with Tyler and Nathan.  A fun movie, but a great evening.  I didn’t dust the house or weed my flower beds on Saturday.  I spent the afternoon watching repeats of the TV show Psych with Tyler–one of his favorites.  He intends to watch every segment before he goes back to IU this Fall–a worthy challenge:)  And I’ll watch quite a few of them, right along with him.

I take my writing goals seriously and make deadlines for myself that I intend to meet…and usually do.  But my grandsons are staying with us this summer, and this will be the last summer that Tyler means to come home.  He’s moving into an apartment in Bloomington before college starts and plans to live there year-round.  Nate will be a senior in high school this year and after he graduates, he’s itching to move away, too.  I have to enjoy them while I can.  Even now, while they zoom in and out of the house, they’re usually too “busy” for me.  That’s the way of kids.  They have jobs, friends, and plenty of things to do.  So when they finally want to spend time with me, I make time.

I learned a long time ago that kids talk to you when the moment strikes, not before and not after.  When I ask, “How was your day?”–I usually get “Okay” or a few mumbled words for an answer.  Over supper, we might get a few more sentences about this or that, but a kid only really talks to you when he’s in the mood.  And if you’re too busy to listen?  The moment passes.

So, for this summer, I write while the boys are out and about, and when a boy wants to “hang with me,” I save whatever I’m working on, put my writing aside, and make myself available.

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