Chronicling the journey of writing

10,000 Hours Countdown Log

Countdown Log: 2013.01.25 The thing about writing is that you got to be really strict with your daily writing schedule. This past week my writing took a backseat to stuff that just kept on popping up, and by the end of the week I almost felt upset for not putting my writing first. Next week will be better.

Countdown Log: 2013.02.12 The highlight of last week was getting to interview prolific author and poet Dany Laferrière and talk about his latest books, writing and Haiti. In my next blog entry I will write about our very interesting conversation and the amazing advice Laferrière had on the art of writing.

Countdown Log: 2013.02.22 For the longest time, I did not know what to name my novel’s two main characters, so I kept on writing with aliases. Somehow, almost miraculously this week, one night, one name became so evident to me I wondered how I did not see it before. Shortly after, the name of the other character just came to me as if I was Shaw’s Saint-Joan hearing voices floating to me in the wind. A small victory for me, I’d say!

Countdown Log: 2013.06.18 There are some days where words just flow like an open water faucet, and there are others where it is a mere drip. Regardless of the flow, what matters is to keep the writing tap open. Finding a 14-year-old journal entry about my writing ideals back when I was 16 reminded me to enjoy my writing journey without putting any pressure on myself. Booya!

Countdown Log: 2013.07.01 It’s quintessential to schedule in personal writing time and to stick to the schedule. Especially for freelancers like me who are working on different contracts and projects. If the necessary time slots are not set in stone and allotted to writing, then there just won’t be any time.

Countdown Log: 2013.07.09 I’m finding more and more inspiration from real life. I might hear something at random and think, “I’ve got to use that line! It’s classic!”
Art imitating life.

Countdown Log: 2013.07.17 On my journey to becoming an expert writer I’m discovering just how much it is important to rewrite. Writing is the first step. Rewriting is the second, third, fourth and fifth step. And it’s actually an enjoyable process because for the first draft I just let the words flow not worrying about details. And lo and behold, I can go back and change and improve things to create a better story. It’s really satisfying actually.

Countdown Log: 2013.07.26 I’m allowing my protagonist to be more and more vulnerable. My main character has many flaws, and exposing her faults is somehow liberating. The truth is, nobody’s perfect, so why would my protagonist be?

Countdown Log: 2013.08.03 As I’m writing, I find it’s important to not get bogged down by the details. When I come across something that stumps me I write a simple note in the text, highlight it and keep on writing. The idea is to not stop the flow of ideas and to keep the rhythm going. The fact is, there will always be plenty of time to return to that spot later on and develop the thought or fill in the missing information. After all, writing is all about the rewrite.

Countdown Log: 2013.08.13 I go to the park every morning to work on my novel. I sit at the same picnic table. I listen to the same two albums on repeat and shuffle. I drink chamomile tea from the same thermos. I focus and I dive into the world of my characters.

It took me awhile to develop the perfect writing conditions and patterns, but now that I’ve found the right formula to write, I will keep at it until the very last word of my novel is written (and then rewritten).

Countdown Log: 2013.08.21 Naming my main characters was no biggie. But it’s been a challenge naming other, secondary characters. It’s almost like naming a kid (over and over again). You’re racking your brain for the perfect name or researching the perfect name on the Internet. Sometimes I have to keep on writing the character without a name until his or her name comes to me, because their personality dictates it. Other times the name comes first, and their personality in some way resembles their name. I have a newfound respect for J.K. Rowling and the wonderful names she came up with for the plethora of characters in the Harry Potter series.

Countdown Log: 2013.09.24 The last couple of weeks had been hard for writing. Circumstances in my life resulted in a very agitated mind where I had a hard time concentrating and focusing on anything. But then this past weekend, I went to a Vipassana meditation course, and I relearned how to calm my mind. My mental state made a complete 180. I went from feeling internal chaos, to feeling completely at peace and liberated. Now, my writing is back on track, and I’m truly enjoying the journey the story is taking me on.

Countdown Log: 2013.10.08 The end is so near. We’re talking about the last few chapters of How to Be 30. Part of me wants to start celebrating now, and the other part is saying, “Whoa, not so fast, little darling… just enjoy the process of first completing your creation.” And so I gladly put a hold on the celebrating for the moment as I continue steadily onward, towards the end. Booya Kasha!

Countdown Log: 2013.10.11 One more chapter! One more chapter before the first draft of How to Be 30 is completed. Totally and utterly excited!

Countdown Log: 2013.10.18 And it’s done! On Tuesday, I wrote the last chapter of How to Be 30. It’s funny, because I think I was more excited about the idea of finishing the first draft than actually finishing it. Maybe it’s because I know what lies ahead… the rewrite: the editing, the copy-editing, the fact-checking, the adding of missing details, the removing or adding chapters. I know it’s going to require a lot of hard work and perseverance, but I’m up for the challenge. The hardest part of writing the book is completed: having a first, rough draft. High-five Veronica!

Countdown Log: 2014.01.08 Rewrites on the novel are going slower than expected. Taking on a new full-time job at a radio station and balancing other contracts slowed down progress. I had to learn to let go of the guilty feelings of not writing as much as I was last summer and learn to accept the limitations of my current situation. Regardless of whatever, I am resolved to see this project through to completion in 2014.

Countdown Log: 2014.02.19 Writing took a back seat to full-time work opportunities that required all my attention. And I missed writing every day. But now, I’m back on the writing track. Back to the rewrites. Back to the writing schedule. And interestingly, the first draft of the book was written in the third person, and I’m rewriting it all in the first person. Writing is most definitely a process.

Countdown Log: 2014.03.01 I’m in Europe! There is nothing like a change in environment to be inspired by new and exciting things to write about. It’s as if the beauty set before me is too unique and special to be captured only through photography and only words can truly transcribe this amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Countdown Log: 2014.06.24 Woe is me! Months of writer’s block. I think I was blocked because I was limiting myself within the constraints of my first draft. One day an idea just popped into my head, that was different from what I thought my novel should be. But I just started typing, and before I knew it I couldn’t stop typing, and I’ve been writing everyday developing the new story, letting it take me where it wants to take me without forcing it into my mold. And just like that, the writer’s block was no more. Incidentally, I’m currently working on a contract with a company where my role is to design and write web-content. The writing part allows me to write even more on a daily basis. The subject matter might be more technical than creative, but the way I see it, writing is writing.

Countdown Log: 2014.09.23 The first draft of the book I’m working on was written in the third person. However, with this brand new direction I’m taking, the second draft is being re-written entirely in the first person in a completely different style… a style that mimics the art form of story-telling, a style I’m having more fun playing with. And unlike the first time around, I’m taking a different approach, I’m editing, and re-editing and re-re-editing as I write, as to always be on top of the story progression and character details. Two drafts, with two completely different ways of approaching the writing process: I have still so much more to learn about novel writing.

Countdown Log: 2015.02.03 The end is in sight! Today I estimated that I’m two thirds into my second draft and have a very clear idea as to which direction that final third will take. It’s entirely different from the first draft.

I’m at that point in the writing process where I’m constantly dreaming and thinking about my characters. My friends might say something, and I would reply, “That reminds me of something Jane once said…” (Jane, being my main protagonist).

The title of the book has changed a couple of times and I reckon it will keep on changing until I’ve found the exact perfect fit.

Countdown Log: 2015.07.13 Yes, I’m still writing. And yes, I thought that after my contract as a corporate writer and designer ended that I would have more time for my personal writing. But then I got sidetracked with the organizing of WordCamp Montreal 2015. But now, there are no more excuses. The main priority in my life is to finish those last few chapters of the book, make my edits and rewrites and have a very solid “final” draft. I swear, when this book is all completely done with and published I’m going to do something extreme to celebrate the mere fact that I completed the project. And the work continues…

Countdown Log: 2015.09.08 The struggle continues. After a considerable break in writing, going back to the table with a fresh perspective made me realize that one of my main characters lacked complexity. He’s too nice, too one-dimensional. And so I’ve gone back to the beginning, changing his words, his behaviour and his actions so that he is an actual person and not my idealistic notion of how he should be.

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