Progress Report: A Slow Couple of Weeks

Okay, so, it was entirely justifiable to take a week off after Keya started having cluster seizures. I feel perfectly fine about doing that.

She’s doing well — the only drug she’s on now is Phenobarb and that seems to be enough to keep the seizures from returning (knock on wood!). She’s adjusted to it much (MUCH) faster than Pippa did, probably because she is, after all, two years younger. This past Monday I put away the x-pen because I decided she could handle the furniture. Yesterday I let her go down stairs by herself for the first time since all this started. Her feet do sometimes slide out from under her on tile, but even that is much better than it was. That’s great because even though she theoretically weighs less than Pippa, Keya is an amazingly solid chunk of a dog and I’m not keen on heaving her around if she can handle stairs on her own.

So that’s all great!

But I was perfectly aware that losing momentum is never great; that picking a project back up after coming to a full stop is hard. That’s exactly why I hadn’t stopped for a break yet this year.

Rather than picking Invictus back up, I’ve taken this week to slowly proofread Shines Now and Suelen in paper format and make corrections and various tiny adjustments. That’s mostly finished. I sent Shines Now to my final proofreader (Hi, Linda!) and I’ll send her Suelen probably on Monday. Since Shines Now will be released May 21 and I’ll set Suelen to release probably a month later — provided the cover is ready, and it should be — there’s plenty of time for final proofreading.

So this needed to be done and it was nice to have a quiet week, but it would be nice to pick Invictus back up , revise these last few scenes that require revision, move ahead with the story and get it finished. Since I’ve lost momentum and have no enthusiasm for this project at the moment, how’s that going to work?

How to regain momentum (or move ahead without momentum):

For me, momentum arises from living in the world I’m writing, so to speak. It means that I’m thinking about scenes I just wrote or upcoming scenes a lot, pretty much all the time when I’m not doing something else. This creates enthusiasm to write the upcoming scenes and also helps pull later scenes into focus. As I’ve probably mentioned from time to time, I often don’t know the ending until I get pretty close to it. I don’t know whether I’ve mentioned this, but all sorts of important details fall into place because I have momentum and I’m therefore thinking about the book a lot (eg, “living in the world of the story”). I suppose all this is a lot like saying writing with flow, but I think of flow as something that happens while hitting the keys of the laptop, while momentum is something that keeps me coming back to the laptop with enthusiasm. Lacking momentum is therefore not a good thing.

I’ve been here before! (Oh yes, have I ever been here before. I’ve written entire books without ever gaining real momentum. (They were under deadline; I didn’t have any choice.))

So, after a project grinds to a halt, for whatever reason that might have happened, I find that what works for me to get it moving again is simply to set a minimum word count and stick to it. This is where I actually start list the day and the wordcount achieved and stick to the set minimum unless derailed by a real emergency. Depending on what else is going on, I may set a daily requirement of 1000 words, or 1500, or 3000. It doesn’t matter. Once I start moving forward, I ought to be able to complete the novel in a reasonable amount of time.

In this case, I have about 40 pages that still need revision. For me, revision is seldom (or never) as hard as moving forward, plus I have detailed, exact notes about what needs to happen in the next couple of scenes. I should therefore be able to get through this remaining revision this weekend. Unless anything dire happens, I should therefore be moving ahead with Invictus by Monday. Or sometime next week anyway. Then I will start a daily minimum — 1500 words sounds good to begin with — and see how it goes.

I don’t really think this story is cursed. Not really. Probably not. But if something else happens next week just after I start moving forward, I may change my mind about that.

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3 thoughts on “Progress Report: A Slow Couple of Weeks”

  1. Minimum word counts. Great things.

    And you can’t run them up in advance. a quota of 200 words, and if you do 12,000 today, tomorrow — still 200.

  2. Extremely timely post! I’m off work with a bad back, trying to figure out how to write lying on my side. It’s hard to make progress. I’ll set (very) small goals!

  3. Mary, I totally agree! Missing the minimum = make it up. Going over the minimum = no effect on the next day’s minimum.

    Evelyn, ouch, that’s no fun! Good luck!

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