Tag Archives: First Draft

I’m Psyched

It’s crazy to realize today’s the last day of February, but I think it’s almost crazier still to look back and realize that, on February 1st, twenty eight days ago, I started writing the first draft of Artemis Smith and the Steam Powered Fallacy.

And today, I surpassed 40,000 words.

Meaning I’m writing, on average, 10,000 words a week, over a span of six days (but usually five).

dule hill happy dance GIF

I’m seriously excited about this, friends.

Especially since today’s writing session almost stopped at 600 words.

I just wasn’t feeling it. I couldn’t stop thinking about all of the problems this story has and how difficult it’s going to be to ever get this story published in the first place. I started to feel, honestly, a little hopeless, as I know this story started too slow and we’re just about to start getting into the thick of it and yet I’m almost 90 pages in, so I’m going to have to do a lot of work on the half I’ve already written. My brain kept being drawn to all the “negatives” around this story right now and how problematic it is, even though it’s a first draft and they’re honestly meant to be this way.

I’d already closed out of all my social media accounts, so that wasn’t distracting me, but I couldn’t help looking at my To-Do List and wondering if there was something else I could do to take up my time, instead of trying to push through and make my writing goal for the day. I was already ahead, so what if I feel a little behind again after one bad day?

Yet I kept pushing and I kept writing. I knew where this scene was headed, I just needed to do the work and actually write it.

3,000 words later and I’m not feeling to shabby.

psych GIF

I actually really like how this scene turned out. Do all those problems I worried about before still exist? Oh, absolutely, without a doubt. Yet the best parts of this novel, I still have to write. And I’ve already been so pleasantly surprised with some of the scene and events that have popped up already, that were never in my original outline. I’ve put in the work and I’m in a great spot to have a finished draft (or at least reach my word count goal of 80,000 words) by March 31st. And that’s including starting two weeks late, thanks to the flu. That’s including the days were I couldn’t push through and either missed writing or didn’t meet my word count goal. That’s in spite of the fact that, the last two attempts I tried at writing a new novel, I stopped 40 pages ago.

I’ve developed a pretty regular routine over the past 28 days, writing at least five times a week consistently. I have a story that is just the bare bones of what it needs to be, but it’s also so much more than that. It’s a reflection of hope, a result of work, a symbol of persistence and the product of following my dreams, no matter what.

And for that (and for the sake of puns), I am positively psyched.



Permission To Be Shit

I’ve needed this a lot lately.


Because I started writing a new book.

Granted, it’s going pretty well, considering I’ve written more in this book than I did the last two books I attempted to write (I made it to roughly 50 pages each before I tabled both of them for other projects, whereas with this one, I’m almost at 80 pages and still going strong at almost 40,000 words).

It’s been really amazing, to get back into the swing of things, writing wise, and form a routine once again (and even more amazing to actually stick with it). It’s also been pretty difficult, to try and keep up with writing practically 2,000 words a day, five times a week, with another 1,000 on Fridays (which I’ve consistently not done, which is telling for when I start a new project later this year). I’ve had a mix of sessions, as a result.

Some days, I’m checking my word count every other second, just trying to reach the minimum of what I need to stay on track. Other days, I am flying past my goal and actually have to force myself to stop writing, sometimes, if only so I can get the rest of my To-Do List accomplished. Part of this is, in thanks, to me being stubborn, and I’m giving a lot of credit to using WriteTrack, a program I’ve mentioned before.

But another huge reason, I think, is because I’ve accepted that what I’m writing is shit.

Okay, maybe not necessarily that bad, but I’ve given myself permission to let it be so, if it comes to that, if only so I can get the story down. And that’s really important, especially when you’re working on a first draft. Especially since I’m coming from editing the first book of this series, the last edits being draft…four, I think? Maybe even five? I’m forcing myself to switch from a mindset of trying to “perfect” every element within that story, so I could query it, to trying to write a brand new story–even if it’s a sequel–down once.

That’s not always the easiest switch to make, especially when you’re trying to keep up meeting word counts, to boot.

It’s almost harder when I know, in the back of my mind, that most of what I’ve already written is going to need to change or be edited, in the future. There are already elements I know I want to improve upon: increase the settling details, make the characters more realistic, figure out the nuances of the technology I’m implementing, etc. Yet if I continue trying to edit and perfect the story now, without having a full draft to work with, I’m going to run into roadblocks and get discouraged, which is a road that dangerously sets up to unfinished first drafts.

And it’s really hard to tell a story without a finished draft, first.

I’ve just been reminding myself that, no matter how “shit” this story potentially is right now, that’s kinda where it’s meant to be, right now. That’s the whole purpose of first drafts and, honestly, is one of the hardest parts of writing. Getting the story down is difficult and editing is no easier. But at least, with editing, you already have something to work with and someone to improve upon. At this point, I’m not trying to write the next bestseller. I’m trying to write consistently and get the basic plot written, being surprised by it as I go, no matter what my outline says.

With that in mind, so far, it’s going surprisingly well and with one more month to reach 80,000 words, I’m ready to see what the next 40,000 bring.


A Writing Update

the hobbit writing GIF

In February, I started writing the next book in the The Adventures of Artemis Smith quintet, Artemis Smith and the Steam-Powered Fallacy. I had originally planned to start writing it on the 15th of January, but after some plotting woes and then coming down with the flu from hell that knocked me out for two weeks, I got a late start. Yet still, I didn’t want to change my deadline of having a complete first draft by March 31st.

Through using the amazing WriteTrack program, if I wrote five times a week (plus an additional 1,000 words on Fridays), writing roughly 2,000 words a day, I’d reach my goal of 80,000 words by my deadline.

I thought that was totally doable.

And it is.

Yet it’s also proving quite…grueling.

Don’t get me wrong: I love this story. I’m stoked to see where it goes, especially based on what I have outlined. Already I’ve had some scenes pop up that I wasn’t expecting, but they’ve always surprised me in the most wonderful ways. And it’s such a neat feeling to write something new that’s inside my head and see it come to life on paper. This sounds braggy–and I apologize–but sometimes, my own creativity just surprises me. Like when I read back a scene and I just sit back and think, Seriously? came up with this? That’s brilliant. 

(I mean, usually I spent most of my time thinking my writing is shit, my characters are pointless, my stories are going nowhere and I’ll never make it as an author, so I’m going to take my braggy moments when I can.)

I’ve never written with a “rigid” deadline before. Granted, nothing is going to happen if I don’t make my 31st deadline, yet it is something I really want to do. And some days, writing 2,000 words is a breeze. I’ve even doubled that in one session, so far. Yet other days, it’s constantly checking my word count and wondering how I’ve only managed to write 50 words in thirty minutes.

But it’s also a really neat process, to be using WriteTrack and have a specific word count I need to hit in order to keep that goal (I also love the “weighting” feature on there, that allows me to change the percentage of how much I think I’ll be able to write one day so that my word goal for that day changes, e.g., if I think it’ll be a normal writing day, 100%. If I’m crunched for time, I lower it to 50% and then my word count goal drops and the rest of the challenge adjusts also).

Usually, my goals around writing are a little less structured. Write for 30 minutes. Write four times a week. Finish this chapter, things like that. But with trying to keep pace with this deadline, I’ve forced myself to keep writing when I’d normally stop, which has resulted in some pretty killer writing sessions that wouldn’t have happened with my old habits. It’s also forced me to rearrange when I write. When I look at my To-Do list, I do writing first, not last, not after I accomplished everything else that day. I’ve been making writing more of a priority.

Damn, did I need that.

It’s just been a really neat experience. Since I started on February 2nd, I’ve written 15,000 words. Which is fantastic. I have no idea how long this book is going to be. 80,000 words is just the benchmark since that’s how long the first book in the series is, roughly. I have a feeling this one might be a little bit longer. And because I’ve stayed tenacious, consistent and stubborn, I’m now 2,000 words–or one day–ahead of where I need to be to stay on schedule. If I can keep this up and reach my goal by the end of March, then not only will I have the second book in his quintet “done” (!!) but I’ll also have proved to myself that my goal of editing two books and writing two new ones this year is totally, utterly and completely achievable.

All it takes is a little work.



Two Steps Back, A Million Steps Forward

Oh boy, do I have work ahead of me.

Remember reading this post, where I described my revelation of recognizing when you send a manuscript out too early to be read, because it’s still at the “this-book-is-shit” stage? Yeah, so I read through all of that beta feedback referenced in that post this afternoon and that status still stands.

As it sits right now, as a draft, THE RESISTANCE is, indeed, shit.

When I wrote that post, I felt really disheartened about that fact (and also embarrassed that I sent out such an shoddy example of my work). Knowing that mindset, I purposefully didn’t read through any of the feedback in-depth, because I knew it would either a) tear me apart or b) I’d feel really defensive and want to argue every criticism they made, becoming irrational and doing my betas a disservice.

Reading it today, in a much better mindset, having already accepted that my story is in its earliest stage and what my betas are claiming is most likely the truth, I could actually see the merit of my betas insight without taking it as a personal attack. I also realized another important thing.


I have a two page document filled with notes of things that I need to focus on. Namely plot, character and exposition. My main character was so passive, it drove my readers crazy and made them not care about him or his struggles in the slightest. They had no idea about his motivations or his drives and got tired of him being dragged around and forced to do things by other characters, instead of initiating anything himself. And there was no character arc, no growth, so by the ending, readers were left unsatisfied–not to mention that this was a straight-up tragedy, with no happy ending in sight.

Speaking of the ending, the dissatisfaction with the ending was also tied into my second main flaw: the plot. While I had the basic idea and conflict, the execution and finer details were desperately lacking. And the questions that my beta readers brought up, I couldn’t answer (hint: that’s a warning flag if I’ve ever seen one). Not to mention the specifics of the science and the magic system within it were…not present. A lot of plot holes. A lot.

Finally, there was the writing itself, which reflected my uncertainty of the plot and my unfamiliarity with the main character because it was overrun with exposition, constantly barraging my readers with info dumps and explanations instead of showing them what I wanted them to know and putting them in-scene. Not to mention I had two betas out of four who thought switching from third person to first person might be the better option.

I have so much to fix, so much to understand and so much to heighten that I got overwhelmed and wrote this blog post instead of getting started. However, I think writing this helped me get a better sense of direction.

First, I need to understand the plot. I need to understand the world, the mechanics, the conflict, the rationale, the stakes. I need to understand every angle and figure out what I’m trying to say with this book. Because that ending that everyone hated? I want that to stay. I really want to write a book where the ending that I have fits. But in order to do that, I need to make it still feel complete and rewarding while also heartbreaking.

But once I understand the plot, I can figure out the character that’s stuck within it. Figure out their past, their history, their quirks, their attitudes, their beliefs, their situation and then I’ll understand what they’ll do when I throw them into an apocalypse where 5% of the population is all that remains of the human race.

Once I understand the plot and the character and how they interact, I’ll map out the story. The beats. How we get from start to finish.

And then I’ll write it, which will be an interesting process, because I’ll mostly be starting out with a new draft–especially since I’m considering not only changing the POV, but also the gender of the protagonist–but I’ll also be salvaging scenes from the old one.

Plot. Character. Beats. Words.

A lot of revision ahead and lessons learned from this story, friends. Let’s hope I stay up to the task, hm?



Respect the Stages

I entered into Pitch Wars. Since, I’ve been trying (<— read, failing) not to just stalk all my potential mentors’ feeds and see if they say anything that resembles my book at all; trying (<— read, still failing) not to refresh my email every ten seconds in hopes that a request for a partial or a full might come through; trying (<— read, forever failing) not to get lost in the feed while glancing at my calendar and wondering why it isn’t August 25th yet. Those nervous, contest butterflies fueled by fragile threads and hope and anxiety are in full swing and it’s only been two days.

So, this morning, I thought, Hey. Instead of obsessing over a book you can’t do anything with at the moment, perhaps you should work on polishing up another novel? Hmm? 

When I made a call for beta readers for ARTEMIS last year, I also asked for betas for the only science fiction novel I’ve written, THE RESISTANCE, so that when I was done editing one, I could go straight into editing the other. I hadn’t looked at that feedback yet (because I wanted to look at it when I actually had time to implement it), so I figured that was as good a place to start as any. Look at the feedback, see how people felt about the novel, make an editing game plan, maybe start getting into the actual manuscript next week.

And then I read the feedback.

The consensus was clear.

The book sucked.

That was…hard to swallow, especially right now, when I’m pillaging through the teasers from the contest and that nefarious doubt is in the back of my mind, whispering lies like, You know your book isn’t good enough, why even hope at all? I didn’t read through the feedback in-depth, yet, just glanced through the general summations they gave, but the trend was the same: my main character was annoying and didn’t have enough to work for, the pacing was slow/off, the world-building was confusing, none of the characters had enough depth and the ending was disappointing, if not downright depressing.

Image result for hiccup you just gestured to all of me

Cool premise, though.

Seeing that kind of response, I immediately felt deflated. My stomach twisted in knots, an overwhelming wave of disappointment washing over me. My mind panicked, thinking about the other manuscript I’d just entered into Pitch Wars, one of the most prestigious and well-known Twitter contests you can enter. Had I just made a huge mistake? Is ARTEMIS truly as bad as RESISTANCE? Have I bitten off more than I can chew?

Before I let myself completely give into despair and woeful lies, I had to pause and recognize another emotion in the mix, buried beneath all of those questions and sick feelings of shame.

Non-surprised expectation.

Though I hadn’t glanced at that feedback before today, in the back of my mind, I knew it wasn’t going to be positive, in the sense that there would be a lot more constructive criticism than there would be praise. It’s not that the feedback itself is negative or that receiving only criticism is a negative thing (quite the opposite, in fact; how can we improve if we only experience praise?). It’s just that I knew RESISTANCE was not going to receive glowing reviews from my beta readers.

I knew without admitting it that book wasn’t ready for the eyes of others yet. That was only the first draft I’d written. Hell, haven’t even read it more than once. I hadn’t edited anything yet, hadn’t done anything to it beside try and get the ideas I had in my head down on paper in some sort of comprehensible fashion. In every sense, what I sent out to my beta readers was the worst possible draft I could have sent them. Yet I was putting out a call for my other book, so in my brain, I was like, Hey, why not get feedback on two books at once? 

That was a mistake.

Because both of those books were at different stages.

With ARTEMIS, I had written a draft and then went back through and edited it once myself. I know that may not seem like a lot, but trust me, that second read through makes a huge difference. I’d already worked out a lot of kinks that typically result from a first draft attempt before I sent it out to betas, whereas with RESISTANCE, all of those problems were still present. I hadn’t given RESISTANCE the time it needed and deserved to make it at least resemble a story, not just being the bare, confusing bones of one like all my first drafts are.

So of course my betas had tons of problems with every aspect of the book.

Similar to how I wasn’t surprised when there were more aspects betas liked about ARTEMIS than they found to critique about it.* And what they did critique was exactly what I needed, locating the places I was blind to, things I hadn’t even considered would need improving because I was at a loss as to how to make the story better, hence looking for an outside opinion.

With RESISTANCE, if I would have paused to really think, I could point out many of the same weaknesses my betas did. I was just so excited about the idea of someone else reading my work and offering feedback that I didn’t stop to consider whether my novel was ready for that kind of attention.

And for that mistake, my RESISTANCE betas, I apologize profusely. It was not my intention to waste your time and your feedback is valued to me. I will read through everything, thoroughly, and incorporate your thoughts into my next round of edits.

I learned a couple different things this morning, I think. The most important lesson was figuring out how to know when my book is ready for beta feedback–not only so I never waste anyone else’s time again, but also so that my book has the chance to benefit the most from another pair of eyes, i.e., if the obvious, glaring issues that I would have caught aren’t there, my betas can actually look for more complex, complicated issues to help elevate the story.

I have been reminding myself (and seeing the reminder in the Pitch Wars feed) that so many writers who entered are in different stages of their career, so I should stop comparing myself to them. Similarly to how, if I don’t become a mentee or, if I did become a mentee and didn’t become agented afterwards, I can’t consider that a failure when I look at those who did win or did become agented; because every journey is different and we’re all at different stages. Yet I was also reminded that I’m at different stages across my own works. 

I know that probably seems obvious. One book that has been undergone twelve drafts is obviously different than a book that’s only been written once. Yet, for a moment, I assumed that because RESISTANCE is still in such a bad shape, that obviously that means ARTEMIS sucks just as much. And that’s simply not the case, because I’ve put so much more work into ARTEMIS. Multiple rounds of revision, including a round implementing beta feedback. Not to mention that I understand that story so much more and feel so much more confident about it. My writing reflects that, whereas my writing in RESISTANCE shows my hesitancy and uncertainty I have for that narrative.

This is a really long post to basically say this: recognize the various stages your writing and your career are in and then respect them. Take the time to work on a novel to get it ready for betas. Rewrite as many drafts as you need to, to make it work. Don’t forget that your first draft usually sucks and that’s okay. It’s also okay if your tenth draft sucks. Every book is different. Every career is different. Focus on yours and doing everything you can to make it the best of your ability. Recognize your mistakes, admit them and then keep pushing forward.

And never give up. Our world needs your stories.


* When I say this, I’m not trying to come off as conceited and say that I assumed my book was so great, all my betas would love it. What I meant was that my gut was telling me ARTEMIS was ready for their eyes, whereas RESISTANCE was not.