Yesterday, I posted about authors getting into shape. That got me thinking about the physical fitness habits of fictional characters. “Person versus nature” is a classic literary theme. A character engaged in an outdoor activity like backpacking, skiing, or trekking might find themselves combating nature’s fury in the form of a landslide, earthquake, or avalanche. A character might undergo physical training as preparation for battle against their antagonist. Even if you’re not a fan of sports films or boxing, when someone says, “Rocky,” you imagine Sylvester Stallone’s triumphant run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. “Dr. Strange” features several scenes of Benedict Cumberbatch enduring physical as well as magical training. Superheroes require physical toughness to fight the forces of evil. Two my favorite movies, “Stripes” and “Private Benjamin,” present the rigors of military physical fitness as both a literal antagonist to overcome and as metaphorical antagonist for the characters’ battles against themselves and others who are betting on them to fail. Christine Sneed, one of the authors interviewed for the article, “How the bookish stay in shape,” (William Hageman, Chicago Tribune, November 11, 2015) includes college athletes and distance runners as characters in her novels. Author Philip Brewer wrote a 2013 blog post, “Fictional characters getting in shape,” describing how he enjoys scenes showing the protagonist engaged in fitness activities. He lists Man on Fire, Wise Man’s Fear, Critical Space, and, of course, “Rocky,” as examples. Commenters on the post mentioned the Travis McGee, Doc Ford, and Elvis Cole series as others. What about you? Are you a fan of physical fitness in fiction? As a plot device to put a character in jeopardy? As preparation for the ultimate battle? As a metaphor for a battle against self-doubt? Or as a way to show that characters are as human as we are? Leave a comment on the blog or come over to Facebook to share and discuss.Read more
Month: August 2018
Lifting a pen burns calories, doesn't it?
I’m on a diet. Not some trendy, named diet that makes me give up carbs or give up fats or eat both carbs and fats but only on alternating Tuesdays. No cleanses or detoxes. I joined a free program, sponsored by my health insurance company, that combines good, old-fashioned calorie reduction with increased physical activity. I earned a free weight scale and pedometer for signing up. There’s online access to a health coach and video lessons on topics like, “Be a [Fat] Detective,” “Eating Out,” and “Manage Stress”. I confess the videos aren’t super-helpful to me. I’ve always known what I should do, I just lacked the motivation to do it. Then a visit to my doctor, and the resultant lab report, provided all the motivation I needed. My test results were only a point or two away from being diagnostic of a variety of illnesses. Time to change my sedentary ways. The plan seems to be working. Approximately 1200 calories a day and a combination of barre and Pilates three-to-four times a week translated to a six-pound weight loss since my doctor’s appointment. The temptation to sit and eat hasn’t left me. It lurks in the background like a prowling hyena. You don’t realize how much chocolate there is in the world until you’re actively trying to avoid it. When my motivation wanes, I pull out my lab report to remind me why I started this. Or I try on clothes that had been relegated to the back of the closet because they were too tight. Those adorable pencil skirts fit now. And the pants I bought several months ago in “the size I am now”? They need a belt to hold them up. Yipee! Although eating less doesn’t require juggling between my day job and my writing, physical activity certainly does. I have to be at the office between 7:30 and 8:00 am. The thought of getting up at oh-dark-thirty to exercise, shower, and change before reporting to work leaves me cold. I found barre classes in the evening and Pilates classes on Saturday morning. Pilates gets me out of bed on Saturday (buh-bye, sleeping-in) but barre in the evening makes for long days. I come home, eat, shower, and fall into bed. Writing on weekdays has suffered as a result. Fortunately, I’m between rounds of edits on book four right now so I have some time to get back on the writing track. I suspect I’m not the only author who struggles to balance a healthy lifestyle with writing. A Google search turned up an article, “How the Bookish Stay in Shape,” by William Hageman in the November 11, 2015 issue of the Chicago Tribune. He interviewed three female authors, all over-forty, who described engaging in a variety of physical activities such as cycling, hiking, weight training, and, in one author’s case, baling hay on her farm. Three authors. Only three. Did he only try to find three physically active authors? Or maybe he tried, but failed, to find more than three. Writing is a sedentary, solitary activity that lends itself to over-eating and under-exercising. Combating this tendency requires conscious effort. What are your tips and tricks for staying in shape in a bookish world? Leave a comment or visit us on Facebook to share and discuss.Read more
Writers, Politics, and Social Media
In June, the New York Times ran an article (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/29/books/review/david-lynch-elin-hilderbrand-best-seller.html) that started, “Though it probably gives their publicists heart palpitations, some best-selling novelists are choosing to enter the political fray on social media.” It went on to site Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and other best-selling authors. I wondered how mid-list authors who aren’t already on the New York Times best-sellers list were handling the same dilemma, so I asked my talented writing colleagues, the Miss Demeanors these questions: Are you giving your publicist/publisher palpitations by making political comments on social media? Whether you have decided to jump into the political waters or sit on the shore, what was the basis of your decision? If you’re neck deep in political hot water, do you have a strategy for containing your involvement? Do you fear offending readers? If you’ve chosen not to enter the political conversation on social media, do you have concerns you may be criticized or that? Michele: When I was an adolescent, I angrily challenged my father about why Americans seem to stand by silently during the Holocaust. He tried to explain how communications were different then and how later many people were horrified by their own ignorance and apparent indifference. That conversation lingers in my mind and is the reason I will speak about issues that affect the rights of human beings, especially children, on social media. I try to limit my comments to substantive conversations. Jabbing at someone’s hair color, etc. does nothing. I also try very hard to actively listen to what others are saying. I think the reason we are having so much discord today is because we don’t really take the time to listen to each other. Cate:I have lost followers when I have posted political opinions on Facebook. However, I think some issues (such as separating little children from parents seeking asylum in the U.S., the need for gun laws that prevent people with histories of violence and mental problems—often reported to police by family members—from legally purchasing semi automatic weapons, and the importance of having a functioning fourth estate) are too important not to say something about. Some things go beyond politics and are about who we are as human beings and who we hope other people are too. And silence can be interpreted as tolerance of things that are dangerous to our kids or flat out in humane. Paula:I do a lot of social media, but I stick to what interests me: books, writing, writers, publishing, literature, dogs and dog handlers, cats, wildlife, nature, yoga, the art of happiness, and to a lesser extent, architecture and interior design, as we’re remodeling an 18th century Colonial.I try to avoid politics, simply because for me it’s a rabbit hole I choose not to go down. I’m at my happiest and most productive when I’m calm and rational, and calm and rational do not describe the current state of political discourse. I’d rather read The Paris Review. Tracee:I agree with Cate, that surely there are many things which are beyond politics and in the realm of humanity. Unfortunately, in today’s environment, any comment about the news of the day will likely fall into the realm of politics. So be it. That said, I don’t think of my online profile as a place for politics writ large. I do comment occasionally and I’m sure people can suss out my affiliations and beliefs if they care to. I have a deep distaste for the politicization of everything. In the past how someone voted didn’t put them in a friend or foe box and I think this is dangerous and the political noise shuts people out to the words of those they feel are in opposition. I’d like to believe we can share beliefs and values and not always agree. Although I am am beginning to think that is nostalgia talking. Robin:I actually raised this with a publicist not too long ago. I do step into the fray on Twitter, particularly around issues involving cyber security matters in a post-2016 election world. I watched the run-up and see the aftermath happen in real time (I was one of many, many people who helped try to stop it before, and rectify it after). What I continue to find surprising is that I gain followers when I shoot my mouth off (via keyboard). The only followers I’ve lost have been bots. The publicist said what people are probably reacting to is my authenticity. So, do I go on long tirades? Not on Twitter, no. But, I’m not going to stay silent about human rights abuses, or keep certain bits of knowledge to myself if sharing can help keep people safe, or at least raise awareness. But it is a very conscious balancing act. Susan:I’m very active politically in person, but I tend to tone it down a bit on social media, mainly because I don’t think it does any good. Twitter has become so strident. It’s much more exciting to me when I connect with someone from a different part of the country and a different background and I can feel like maybe by having a conversation, I can influence her opinion. Vote by vote. My minister always says he’d rather make a friend than be right, and I subscribe to that. Susan Alexia:I try to keep my politics to my personal page. I use my author page to share news about topics related to my books (at least tangentially), promote my books and fellow authors, and share information about conferences and literary news. I’m used to compartmentalizing my life because my day job has certain limits on what you can and can’t do. My political views are personal so I feel my personal page is the place to express them. I also keep the politics to the personal page because my posts are limited (not public). Not because of fear of offending anyone, more out of fear of bringing the extremist whack jobs out of the woodwork. I’ve been (unpleasantly) surprised by some of the views expressed by people I thought I knew. I want to avoid the social media crapshow many people find themselves mired in. It’s counterproductive. When I find myself getting angry at the way the world seems to be moving, I can let off some steam on my “friends only” personal page then try to live a life that leaves the world a little better than I found it. I am so impressed with the intelligence, insight, and thoughtfulness of my fellow Miss Demeanors! Nice to hang out with smart women.MicheleRead more
An Artist's Date through the Secret Gardens of Provincetown
When the well runs dry and the words won’t come, it’s time to get up out of your chair or wherever you perch while you write and go for a walk. I’m a big fan of what Julia Cameron calls an Artist’s Date, a little expedition aimed at refilling the creative well. I go on Artists Dates regularly and want to take you with me on my most recent one. The annual Secret Garden Tour in Provincetown, Massachusetts is a testament to the bodies and souls of those who battle sandy soil, wild wind, and salty air. But beyond admiring the stamina and artistic abilities of these hardy gardeners, I accept their invitations into their secret gardens as an opportunity to reawaken my imagination. Who lives in a house with a shrine to David? Why does the person who lives here walk the beach and collect these stones? Is she heartbroken? Is she a hoarder? Does she know she’s breaking the law? Who lives behind this purple door? Who paints a door purple? Is it to keep people off guard or to attract attention? Who are the people who sit outdoors in this garden? Do they have wild parties slamming down margaritas while they talk politics and art? Or is it the garden of a lonely man who listens to the hum from his bee hives in the background while he waits, hoping someone will join him? What about these wild flowers? Does the woman who is trying to contain them within her garden want to control the people in her life? Take a look at these photos and see if they are whispering stories to you. Then get up from your chair, talk a walk, and refill your dry empty well.Read more
You Can Never Go Home Again
I’ve noticed that a lot of novels use the premise that the protagonist is compelled to return home after years of absence. The reasons vary. A parent may be ill. Often, a distant relative has willed a dilapidated home, once magnificent, and our hero encounters resistance when she begins repairs or dares to move into the home. Some of these stories work brilliantly. Most, not so much. Because, as Thomas Wolfe reminded us, you can’t go home again. I wasn’t sure about this until I decided my fiftieth high school reunion (please applaud while I break a multi-generation family tradition and do not lie about my age) might be the opportunity to explore writing a novel about just that. I dragged my husband away from the splendor of Cape Cod in June to the hellish heat and humidity of West Hartford, Connecticut, which sinks deep into the Connecticut River Valley suffocating its residents into a state of fugue. I’d attended two previous reunions and had pledged that was enough. High school wasn’t the happiest time in my life. I was humbled after the first reunion I attended to realize the classmates I had been fortunate enough to be placed with in what they called “accelerated” classes then were not nerds, but bright decent human beings I would have done well to hang around with. This time I decided to tour the nearly empty school with my husband after most of my classmates had headed off to cocktails. The first room I peered into was the gym, well the old gym, because now there were two in the private Catholic high school. I could smell sweat, hear the roar when Billy landed another basket, and the refrain, “Milady, Milady, he’s our man. If he can’t do it no one can.” I could feel my shoeless feet at the freshman sock hop on the shiny floor paralyzed while waiting to see if someone would ask me to dance. Lots of nostalgia, but no great inspiration for my story. We moved past the cafeteria where I pointed out to my husband the table I had sat at with what I thought was the “in crowd” at the time. I can still remember the taste of a salty potato chip after a bite from a chocolate Ring-Ding. I was a foodie ahead of my time. I also remember being at the very least indifferent to the classmates I spent most of my day with. Sometimes even mean. The music room was where I sat when I learned President Kennedy had been shot, when I suffered the first of a lifetime of political wounds. I felt empty looking at the idle instruments. The dark corridor I marched my husband through was dark and empty, not filled with teens lugging books, so hopelessly awkward, not sure if they dared say hi to one another. I remembered my first experience with sexual misconduct when a troubled classmate crossed a line one day in that hallway and I had to decide whether to be silent. I was not. The auditorium, silent and empty, reminded me not of endless, boring assemblies, but of the one time I felt I shone. Class Night, where I appeared in a skit I had pretty much written, and performed in. It was daringly edgy, but hilarious so we got away with it, and I was very good. “I wish we’d known about your theatrical talent sooner,” one nun swooned. Me too. But I was heading to nursing school, not Hollywood. I never gave another thought about acting until I returned to the dark empty stage and told my husband about that magical night. End of story. Definitely not a story. As we headed out, we passed a long line of lockers. One had belonged to my first husband. Let’s call him, “Bad Boy.” He had stolen the textbooks from a student who had come from Cuba, who was smart enough to write his name on page 51 of each of them. When the nuns, immune to First Amendment concerns, discovered the books in his locker, Bad Boy insisted they were his. Until the good sisters turned to page 51. How did a nice girl like me end up as Bad Boy’s girlfriend? Is it plausible I ended up marrying him and having two darling babies with him? Can you believe he ended up being a cop? I can barely believe that story. I walked through the glass doors out of my high school knowing I would never go back. You can never go home again. Home becomes part of you and that’s where the story begins.Read more
D.A. Bartley's Blessed Be the Wicked
How lucky am I to be blogging the week that our own Miss Demeanor, D.A. Bartley’s Bless Be the Wicked, is launched. I got to hear her fascinating answers to these questions first. Your book releases today, what’s the day look like for you? Alison: I’m in Utah visiting my Dad, which makes the pub date particularly special because I get to share it with him. Tomorrow, I’ll be reading and signing at The King’s English. If you know Salt Lake, you know that TKE is one of the world’s most wonderful independent bookstores. It’s a place run by book lovers for book lovers. If you’re in the area, please stop by at 7:00 pm. I’d love to see you! You live in New York City, but the Abish Taylor series is set in Utah. Why? Alison: My grandma loved to point out that I come from sturdy pioneer stock. I do. My ancestors arrived in Deseret—now Utah—in the late 1840s and 50s. Most pushed handcarts from New York to the Salt Lake valley, although it’s rumored a few could afford covered wagons. Whenever I feel like complaining about walking a few extra blocks, I think of walking across the plains in winter. Suddenly, ten blocks in mid-town Manhattan isn’t so bad. You’re an attorney with a Ph.D. in political science. How did you come to write a murder mystery? Alison: The very first grown up book I ever read was an Agatha Christie. Both my mom and grandma were big readers, especially of murder mysteries. My mom passed away a few years ago after a ten-year struggle with Alzheimer’s. I was in Utah a lot during those years. On one visit, I went to a friend’s house north of Salt Lake. There was an enormous home at the end of her street with an amazing view of the mountains. It had been empty for a few years after the housing bubble burst. When I got back to New York, I couldn’t get that house out of my head. What could happen in a place like that? One morning, I just sat down and wrote. That might have been the end of it except for a week later my daughter suffered a moderate concussion and couldn’t read or look at screens. (She’s fine now and off to college next week!) She didn’t like the audio books I’d gotten her. She asked me to read what I was writing. When I finished the seventh chapter, she asked me what happened next. I didn’t know. She said, “Mom, go write more.” So I did. That’s how it went until she recovered. By then, I had written a good chunk of the story. What can you tell us about your protagonist, Detective Abish Taylor? Alison: Abbie is trying to re-start her life. In Blessed be the Wicked, she’s still reeling from having lost her husband. She had been living in New York, having left her state, family, and religion behind. Suddenly alone, she decides to move back to Utah to be near family, but her relationship with them is strained. Her father, a respected LDS historian, doesn’t understand why his daughter left the Church, and she doesn’t understand why he’s still a member. Family is just the first of Abbie’s problems. The death is a reminder of a dark history, a history powerful people would prefer stays forgotten. I hear the first murder has some religious overtones, is that true? Alison: Yes. When Abbie sees the first body, she recognizes the hallmarks of a ritual discussed in the early days of the Mormon Church. LDS scholars and historians debated blood atonement as late as the 1970s, but there are no verifiable examples that anyone was ever killed this way. Of course, as a writer, it’s just too much fun to play around with a macabre doctrine from the 19th century in today’s world. It reminds me how important it is to be mindful about what we believe, and how we believe. What is your schedule after this? Alison: Besides helping my daughter move into her dorm next week? I’ll be at Bouchercon in St. Petersburg, Florida where I’ll be on the panel discussing religion in mysteries on September 9th. On September 17th, I’ll be reading and signing books at The Mysterious Bookshop in New York City.Read more
You Can Never Go Down the Drain
You can never go down
Can never go down Can never go down the drain.
You can never go down
Can never go down
Can never go down the drain.
You’re bigger than the water,
You’re bigger than the soap,
You’re much bigger than all the bubbles
And bigger than your telescope, so you see…
You can never go down
Can never go down
Can never go down the drain.
You can never go down
Can never go down
Can never go down the drain.
The rain my go down
But you can’t go down
You’re bigger than any bathroom drain.
You can never go down
Can never go down
Can never go down the drain. This may seem like a silly song, but if you’re a writer and know what fear is, you might want to sing along with the newly rediscovered Fred Rogers. Considered a super hero in these dark times, albeit wearing a cardigan instead of a cape, people are flocking to see the hit documentary, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” this summer featuring the unlikely superstar. Fred Rogers has been a hero of mine for a long time. When my kids were little and hit the hungry horrors right before supper, I’d turn on the television and let Fred and his neighbors calm them down. I loved the lessons he taught them about being empathetic, inclusive, kind, and how to embrace the ordinary joys in life. When I was finally able to admit to myself that I wanted to write, that it was too important for me to keep calling it a hobby, I was terrified. Once you declare to the world you are a writer, you are “out there,” meaning you have just invited a cargo ship packed with containers of pain into your life. Sure, there is also joy, but who needs help dealing with joy?
No one would argue that rejection feels good. Writers have been known to publish, post, and cover their walls with rejections. Even the mighty Stephen King. Writers expect rejection and are usually surprised if it doesn’t come. But rejection isn’t the worse pain for many writers. It’s fear. And it comes in as many genres as there are writers. Yes, fear of rejection is a big one. But there are others. A huge fear is not writing “perfect.” (Author Brene Brown has written a library filled with books on how to deal with imperfection. The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, and Braving the Wilderness, just to name a few.)Then there’s fear of humiliation. Fear of failure. Fear you won’t get an agent. Fear your agent won’t sell your book. Fear no one will blurb you. Fear no one will show up for your appearances. Fear no one will review your book. Fear that if they do, they’ll trash it. Fear you won’t sell enough books to earn out your advance. Fear your publisher will drop you. Fear your second book wont’ be as good as the first. Fear is flipping exhausting. It’s counterproductive, depleting, and often irrational. It can also be distracting, taking you away from the one thing you want to do, which is to write. It’s my biggest demon, much to the surprise of many who know me as the lawyer who can stand before a judge, advocating for a client passionately and articulately, seemingly fearless. Well, no one is immune from fear and I’m no longer afraid to admit it. I may be a tiger in a courtroom, but put a pen in my hand and I quiver. I’m dealing with it because the alternative would be not to write and that’s unthinkable to me. I’ve been wearing a bracelet that sometimes is mistaken for a medical alert tag for about ten years. You guessed it. It says, “You can never go down the drain, Fred Rogers.” It reminds me that I’m bigger than my words, my publisher, my readers, and my critics. While they are all important to me as a writer, I can never go down the drain.
Tracee: Do you ever have ‘readers’ block? If you do…. what do you do about it? Susan: I have found there are times in my life that have been incredibly stressful when I’ve been unable to process the word on the page. Watching Law & Order has pulled me through some harrowing moments. But there are some authors, such as Dickens and Agatha Christie, who offer such comfort that they pull me into the story. Paula: The times in my life where books did not comfort me are few and decades between. That said, I read for a living. And what I read is mostly unpublished, projects which typically need revising and editing and polishing. So reading becomes work, as I articulate what issues each story has and how the writer might address those issues. Therefore I occasionally suffer from reader’s fatigue. The only cure for that is to read something fabulous that’s already published, preferably by one of my favorite authors. This way I not only banish my reader’s fatigue, I also remind myself how high the bar is for publication. Writers who hit that bar are the ones I want to represent! Tracee: Watching Law and Order must be a universal stress reliever. My father would fall asleep to Law and Order after particularly stressful days in the ER. We thought it was bizarre until realizing that the soothing voices, lack of any real need to ‘watch’, and knowledge that justice would prevail was soothing. No wonder it’s been on TV for decades! Susan: Paula makes a really good point (as always)! I also read for a living and I always read my students’ manuscripts twice. Once to get a sense of what it’s about and once to make a critique. Sometimes that second read is really tough to do. Susan Robin: I think I’m one of the last people on Earth who’s never seen a full episode of CSI, Law & Order, or NCIS. I’m not sure why, really. I love me some police procedurals but I guess I’ve been busy watching Rizzoli & Isles (which I was very sad to see end) and Elementary instead. Anyway, “reader’s block” is a new term to me. Although I’m obviously a fan of suspense and thrillers, I do get to a point after reading 3 or 4 in a row when I’ll seek out a palate cleanser so I’ll turn to another genre. Once I’m halfway through an out-of-my-own-genre book I’ll discover the titles I’m drawn to end up containing a mystery of some sort – Little Fires Everywhere, The Hate U Give, and Where’d You Go, Bernadette all jump to mind. Tracee: Sometimes I can’t read for pleasure because every word makes me think I should get back to writing. Does that happen to anyone else? Robin: Tracee, when I’ve felt that I remind myself that reading for pleasure is part of the writing process. Basically, I give myself permission. Alexia: Tracee,I sometimes compare myself to authors I read for pleasure (and I don’t always come out on the short end of the writing stick 😉)–then I remind myself that I’m reading for pleasure and I force myself to stop analyzing every word and to just enjoy it. And, yes, I sometimes hesitate to pick up a book (or to finish one) because I feel I should be writing one instead. I read policy memos, regulations, and directives for work. Rules and Regs-overload does sometimes make it hard for me to pick up reading material when I get home, even though what I read at home has nothing to do with what I read at work. Mostly, the stress and aggravation of reading official documents that make less sense than the worst penny dreadful make me too agitated to sit down to read a good book. When that happens, I watch crime shows (yes, Law and Order is a favorite, although I prefer the Criminal Intent spin-off. Midsomer Murders is another fave. I watch a few of the episodes over and over and over for the same reason Tracee’s dad watched Law and Order–soothing voices, no need to pay real attention because I know the lines by heart, and the knowledge justice will prevail) and science fiction movies. I also listen to paranormal and true crime podcasts. Then I try to find a book in a genre I don’t read often (i.e., not crime fiction) to ease me back into the reading groove. Alison: I second what all of you have said. I try to keep up with what’s going on in mystery/suspense, so I have at least two books on that front that I’m reading at any one time. I have a soft spot in my heart for self-help books. I’ve read books on hygge when the Danish art of keeping cozy was all the rage and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. My love of BBC mystery shows knows no bounds…I feel about them the way Lily Bollinger does champagne: I watch them when I’m happy and when I’m sad. I watch them when I have reader’s block and when I don’t! Cate: I tend to read most psychological and domestic thrillers in the top 25 so I understand the market. Since I consider it a form of work, I don’t really get readers block. After I binge on my market books, I’ll read something literary or, at least, not a murder mystery, to exorcise the voices of other characters. I don’t read when I am writing, which I guess is a form or reader’s block. I am too afraid of subconsciously adopting another author’s tone or style. Tracee: Thanks all…. I would replied sooner but I was too busy reading (for pleasure!) Right now I’m enjoying The Alice Network…..soon to finish….Read more
Tracking the words
I’m starting a new project and this means setting goals. There is always a balance between outlining, researching, and writing. In the end, there must be words on the page. For this project I have an idea, but it is malleable. I’m choosing to do background research while writing certain parts I have in my head. Usually I have an idea, get a good start on an outline, and then write….. so I’m in slightly uncharted territory. Using an outline as a guiding principle, I pinpoint the major plot points and go into detail for at least the first 20% before writing anything. At that point, I know the beginning and pretend to know the end (that always changes but it’s a starting target). Recently a writer friend shared that she can calculate progress on a manuscript by hours worked. She doesn’t have a firm daily word count goal, and instead tracks the hours she’s spent, knowing that it will take 600 hours to finish. Much like a daily word count chart, she draws a chart with dates on the left while on the top she lists what she’s working on (outline, first draft, social media, etc.) and marks in how much time she spent that day on each part of the process. She uses Scrivener for the first draft, which also keeps an eye on word count, then imports the first draft into Word and uses that for the rest. As a side note, she doesn’t count researching as part of the 600 hours. I’m tempted to start tracking my own work this way, and wonder how others feels about tracking the hours and not the words.Read more