Writing Challenge…Can I Do It? The Lessons So Far….

Photo by Lasaye Hommes on Unsplash

I started the Ninja Writers 31 day writing challenge on May 1…separate journal and everything. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I wanted to revisit the problem of getting started with Book 2 of the The Secession Wars. (TSW1, also known as Detention Center 1, and TSW2, also known as Border Wars)

I have learned way more than I anticipated. I was hoping to get outlining and research done for articles and perhaps deal with Book 2. Way more…and we are only into day 10 of the 31.

First, I realized why I had trouble moving forward in TSW2.

I didn’t know where I was going.

I got 40,000 words in three years ago and stopped — the story seemed unrealistic, and I had no plan for the multiple story lines. In TSWI knew exactly where I was going and how it would end — I hadn’t anticipated how involved and fun it would be…although the subject matter isn’t fun…session, religious rule, detention centers…pretty dark research and writing.

Second, I realized I would be a plotter, not a pantser.

Photo by Ben Weber on Unsplash

The latter got me through the first book, but not this time around…not until I knew what I was doing. For several days I reviewed my data base of characters from TSW1 and figured out the rest of their stories. I was surprised that one of my main characters would turn into a secondary character in TSW2. I started listing characters and what would happen to move the story along, as well as know where I wanted to be at the end of 2. I’m now ready to take the plunge into the next in this series.

Third, I decided, after the Ninja Writers discussion on words we need to eliminate, that perhaps TSW1 needed another edit.

Oy, does it ever. Adverbs glared at me and I opened my trusty thesaurus to determine better verbs. I tightened sentences. I ended up cutting 86 words from chapter 1, but added new descriptions — something at which I’ve been weak. You can see my addressing that issue here.

I’m almost through editing chapter 2 with the same issues. I am finding I am too enamored of the gerund….I’m almost through editing chapter 2 with the same issues. I am finding I am too enamored of the gerund….

Fourth, I am a much better writer because of Medium.

I write more than ever (every day in a journal AM and PM, plus my writing journal), and process better. There is something about hand-writing that speaks to me. I tend to write on the computer, as I can type as quickly as I can think, and for so long it was important to save as much time as possible.

However, I enjoy seeing the number of pages accumulate….handwriting, ideas, zentangles, other doodling, quilt designs…for the first time my journal is really mine. You can see my discovering my journal process here.

Fifth, the handwriting gives my brain additional time to think and process.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

I didn’t realize how valuable this is until this past week. During both daily journaling sessions, I’m having insights about something, and I end up with bullet ideas for an article or an idea to research.

Plus, I’m in the groove and don’t have time to edit. During TSW1 I would go back and edit during the process, and now I don’t. I want to stay with the scene, dialogue, whatever throughout the growth of the story. I love editing, so having that at the end of the process is like an extra dessert. You can see my editing issues here.

I’ve struggled over the years trying to keep various types of journals — all because I thought it was “important.” Nah. It’s important for me to have a place to process what I think and do…it’s just taken decades to get to this point…but I’m here now, so Onward and Upward.

(I looked up the words to all the verses of Onward, Christian Soldiers yesterday and wrote them in my journal, but that’s a story for another day….)

If you are interested in my further adventures in writing….

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Renaissance woman, teacher, fiber artist, lover of history and mathematics, and world citizen; defender of the truth. #twocrones

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Linda Moran

Linda Moran

Renaissance woman, teacher, fiber artist, lover of history and mathematics, and world citizen; defender of the truth. #twocrones

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