DTD: 799 words and Ring Around The Rosie

I got carried away. Hell, I was so sleepy I didn’t even want to write tonight, but then I got into the story, and my detective was standing there looking at the crime scene.

I like this bit.

The smell was nagging him—not the death, not the perfume, but the herbal note. It reminded him of something. … Something familiar, something bad. But what that something might have been wasn’t coming to him.

The feel of the scene, though, also reminded him of something, and it whispered murder down his spine even as the evidence in front of him looked exactly like some weird cult suicide.

Pretty girls drinking poison and dancing ring around the rosie ’til they all fell down.

Tonight was happy writing, with everything flowing together, and the story grabbing me. I could easily write more—the way my heart is racing right now, a lot more. But I’m going to leave that in the tank for tomorrow night.

If you’re playing “Write a book with me” at level two, your max wordcount is 500, NOT 799.

How’s it going?

And thank you for your good wishes to my overseas kid. I’ll pass them on the next time I hear from him.

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60 responses to “DTD: 799 words and Ring Around The Rosie”

  1. Erin Kendall Avatar

    312 words. Being that I haven’t had much sleep in the past few days, that’s fantastic.

    Erin K.

  2. Ieva Avatar

    Arg. *catching up, leaving a note* 1000 words. I didn’t have the time/brain to post yesterday.

  3. Danielle Lanois Avatar

    421, and finally starting to get a feeling for the new character! And he’s getting a bit more of a backbone… slowly.

  4. Gabby Avatar

    Exciting day today. My word count focus was worrying me actually since I felt like I spend more time calculating my word count than actually writing. So I’m trying out a new approach and focusing on trying to complete a scene (or at least half a scene), coming to a natural break or pause between action, and then stopping for the night. Today it helped. I hope so much it will help going forward. i just have to keep making writing a priority.

    Today I got 1574 words for new total of 12,349.

    Holly, thanks again for this blog. My thoughts are with you and your son. I wish they could all just come home. It’s so courageous what all the soldiers do every day to protect us.

  5. Don Avatar

    I know what you mean by happy writing. Put in 686 words not great but considering the amout of cutting I’m still doing but us is part of my process. Hope everyone is well.

  6. Tori Avatar

    Thank you for reminding me I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. I just need to keep going, keep doing my lessons when I can and ultimately…write this thing, this project that has been eating at me for months. Thank you again for your advice. It was very helpful.

    I am steadily moving along now and should be finishing up Lesson Five tomorrow. This course is amazing.

  7. Karen van Wyk Avatar

    Argh! Only 292 words today. I spent most of the time staring at the computer or playing online Scrabble. Not very productive.

  8. Tori Avatar

    I’ll be honest….I’ve been held back by Safe AGAIN. When I started How To Think Sideways I did every lesson as they came and spent the rest of the week waiting impatiently for the next. Now I find myself about three lessons behind and no hope of catching up. I feel like a failure, i feel stupid. What did I do wrong? I obsessed over The Sentence and now I’m paying for it. I had hoped to be participating in Write a Novel With Me by this month…now I am not so sure when it will happen. I just hope things start to click soon. I don’t want to be stuck because of Safe and Perfect. Am I doing something wrong?

    1. SCBrazil Avatar

      Turn everything off – most importantly your mind. Relax. Give yourself a break.
      I’ve been trying to whip my internal critic for years but mostly he’s the one doing the whipping. I can come up with a book idea a day and have obliterated a holocaust of characters. In the past, I have given up because of just ONE word. All because I could only see what was WRONG.
      First time perfectionism is agonising and so destructive. The more pressure I put on myself, the more of a failure I felt.
      So nowadays I just keep reminding myself – don’t get it right, get it written. I do not allow myself to see what is wrong.
      When you realise there is no ‘right’ you’ll discover there is also no ‘wrong’. There is just ‘learning’.
      Another (odd) inspiration that calms my desperation to perfect every comma first time round is to watch stone sculptors working. Five minutes on YouTube and I’m set. It’s kind of an inverse process to ours but I love the way they have to discard hundreds of seemingly useless shards before they unveil the gem. Like us they can SEE what the shapeless lump will become but it is one chip at a time to get there.
      Stick at it and good luck.

      1. Gabby Avatar

        Cool! I really like this post. I will have to remember that about the sculptors. …sometimes I do think that it’s a bit like archeology or an onion just gradually revealing all the hidden scenes as I go along. And it’s definitely helping to keep focusing on moving forward rather than getting anything perfect [what an absolutely deadly word].

  9. Treelight Avatar

    I managed 259 words. Not much, but at last I still write on.

  10. SCBrazil Avatar

    The first blind scene is harder work than I imagined. Or has my internal critic been guzzling Redbull?
    Persistence is my goal now. I love my plot outline, the book itself is worth writing and besides my mother, I know at least five people who are going to want to read it. I just gotta convince myself I CAN get to the end.
    My motion is forwards – 291 down today and ideas slurping away on the slow burner to kick me off tomorrow.

  11. Dawn K. Avatar
    Dawn K.

    1,874 words today. I’m not sure of my main romance. I know there’s an attraction there, but I think to everyone else it’s going to come as a shock or at least a surprise. I know I need to add hints of it to the beginning but I keep thinking those can wait for the rewrite. I’m afraid of backing up and loosing my forward momentum.

  12. Scarlett Avatar

    A bit late today. Amazingly 2025 words today inbetween everything else.
    Holly I’m thinking of your son and wishing him all the best, it must be hard for you

  13. Ceallai Avatar

    “Pretty girls drinking poison and dancing ring around the rosie ’til they all fell down.” – I love it! Can’t wait to read this when it’s published.

    Too tired to write anything. I did try, but my brain won’t work. I really shouldn’t wait until after work to write.

    I did have this really cool idea on the way to work, which I jotted down before going in… this time it was a teen story idea. Why do I keep getting ideas for stories that have nothing to do with the one I’m trying to write? And why aren’t any of them epic fantasy ideas like I want? The last two feel like short story ideas, which is unusual for me. I’m usually rubbish at short stories. Confused…

  14. Clare K. R. Miller Avatar

    I sort of inadvertently took the night off last night. Tuesdays are when both of my TV shows are on, and right when the second show ended, which is when I would have been doing my writing, the pest control guy showed up to fix the raccoon traps. He needed my desk chair to get out the window (one trap is on the roof right outside my bedroom window) and the raccoons had screwed the trap up good, so he was out there fixing it for almost an hour. By the time I had my chair back, I was tired and had a headache, and I just wanted to talk to my boyfriend on Skype and go to bed. At least I got started with the project of rearranging my books on their shelves…

  15. Faith Avatar

    I’ve been terrible at keeping a regular schedule lately… exhaustion/stress/etc really kills the desire to sit down & write. Read a few good books last week, at least! 🙂

    But, I got into a really good head space today (and happened to be highly caffeinated), and wrote 1,318 words. Developed a supporting character, introduced a ‘quickie engagement’ subplot, and found out that my MC is the prime suspect for Murder #1. Planted some evidence on an answering machine to keep the police on her… finally, I feel like this is going somewhere, like I can keep this going for a full novel. I’d been wondering if I could sustain the storyline, even after plotting, but I’m feeling much better about it today… confident, even! Huzzah!

  16. Sarah Avatar

    I’m on lesson 7 of HtTS, but I couldn’t wait anymore. I opened a fresh word document and started penning the first scene of my new novel. 422 words, and a massive planning session later in the evening.
    Yay! I’m so glad to have a new project started!

  17. Mikaela Avatar

    I got 800 words today. A good chunk of the word count came from tweaking an earlier version of the scene. It is better now. To much telling before.

  18. Greg Avatar

    536 words today. And a God in the form of a woodpecker!

    1. Holly Avatar

      I suspected as much.

      1. Greg Avatar

        He’s not particularly happy about it! Just thinking back now and wondering ‘Where DID I get that idea from?’!
        Ah, the Muse…it tormented me for a while because I was working with wood pigeon, but knew it wasn’t quite right…

  19. Sarah Collins Avatar

    Precisely 14 words Tuesday, and only in a note. Inspiration struck in the shower (it always does) and I wanted to write down the exact words in my head before they left me. Otherwise, I spent the day on my paying gigs. Boo! LOL.

  20. Cessena Avatar

    I’ve been feeling kindof stuck lately as far as moving my story forward, so I decided to write ascene that happens before the first scene I started with from a totally different point of view. ( prologue?) I ended up writing about 400 words of prologue that allowed me to do a bunch of worldbuilding, and now I have some ideas for new scenes. Yay for getting back into it!

  21. Lisa R Avatar
    Lisa R

    524 words last night. I hit about 200 and just suddenly felt like I was drowning in a mud bog. I took a break and when I came back the next 300+ words just flowed. I don’t know if they work, but they are there and can be determined later for their merit. I am excited because I believe I found a new character who can help my MC begin to work on her goal which is being blocked by the princess.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Congrats on the direction your new character offers. And good luck.

  22. Rob Avatar

    1102 words for me. And I think I’ve figured out why I’m feeling so doubtful about the writing…it’s going too well. 🙂

    Seriously, I think I’m worried because I’m 25k into the book and so far I haven’t had any major breakdowns or stalls. But I feel like I *should* by now. Stupid. I’m not trusting myself. I have to quit that. Accept that maybe what I’m working on really is a damn good story like I imagined it would be when I started planning it.

    Muse, don’t fail me now!

    1. Holly Avatar

      Hang in, keep going. Odds are you ARE working on a damn good story. 😀

  23. Jim Mitchel Avatar

    Chapter 7. Learned more history about a character’s culture today. This is the calm before the storm.

    All hell breaks loose tomorrow.

    Word count for today: 389

  24. Lisa Avatar

    Wow, reading everybody else’s word counts makes me feel like a lazy slacker. I’ve been too busy to even come in and post, but I’ve been plugging along at about 300 words a day, with the occasional missed day. Today I wrote 364 words. And–even more exciting–a couple days ago I finally broke down and decided to become a How to Think Sideways student. 🙂 🙂 🙂 Reading references to the exercises in these threads was what convinced me! Anyway, I’ve already finished most of the first month’s exercises, and the clustering technique has helped a lot with my WIP. I never would have thought that using pen and paper would lead to so much more successful brainstorming than typing–but I should have known it would. When I was in school I always wrote every paper by hand first and then typed it because my writing was better that way. But now I’m so used to typing that I never write anything by hand. I will definitely be doing more brainstorming on paper in the future, though. Thanks, Holly!

    1. Holly Avatar

      You’re very welcome, Lisa. I’m delighted you’re finding the course useful.

      Pen and paper have some wonderful uses. I’ll be doing more with them when I finally get around to writing the Create A World Clinic.

  25. Erin T Avatar
    Erin T

    1007 words yesterday getting to know my male protag. Also a breakthrough – I don’t know where I’ve been trying to start this story, but it sure as heck wasn’t at the beginning. Now, I know where that is. I know my protag’s motivations. I know what he needs. It was an awesome writing night. 🙂

    1. Holly Avatar


  26. Belle Avatar

    I love the words you shared with us. My stomach twitched at the first smells, then un-twisted at the “herbal note.” Very nicely turned phrases. Even this tidbit produced a tactile response.

    Add my own well wishes to send to your son.

    Yesterday, I wrote 832 words. I did not know what scene to work on, so I picked a kinder viewpoint at my MC’s sick bed than her angry husband. Then the words started to fly, I could not get them down fast enough. And, much to my surprise, I found my narrator, the glue to hold the story together.

    This is so opposite of the struggling I have done for YEARS trying to get a full story written. I am still a triple newbie at this, and I am enjoying every minute of it. I know there will be tougher days, but getting some good days under my belt is huge for me.

    1. Holly Avatar

      😀 It’s called “creating a pattern of success.” Congratulations on discovering what fun writing can be.

      I created my own pattern of success when I was getting started.

      Here’s how: You work to goals that prove to yourself you can do what you want to do, and that allow you to succeed every single time you do it. After a while, you may raise the goals. So long as you always leave yourself knowing that you could have done more than you just did—COMFORTABLY—you can gradually continue raising the goals.

      At the point where you’re exhausted or not having fun, you back off. At some point in the future, you may discover that you want to push higher again… but the thing is, you can always just push yourself to write the same number of words, but to write them BETTER. To think smarter, to create richer and deeper story, to understand more about your conflicts and characters, to learn something new about the writing process, and work that into your writing.

      People get this idea that writing a book in a month is in and of itself some worthy objective (it IS a fun game, but speed for speed’s sake is a lousy goal for someone who is creating). Writers often program themselves to think that if they write their current book faster than the previous one, they’ve done something good.

      Finishing faster should never trump finishing better.

      The objective should be to make every book better than the last. Sometimes that means backing off on the speed. Publishing deadlines, length restrictions, and genre straightjackets are not, after all, designed to create great stories. They’re designed to get consumable product on the shelves. Period.

  27. Jessica Avatar

    137 and I’ve hit a wall. I think I can break through it today though, yesterday had quite different work schedule so I think that threw me off.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Ask yourself questions. What’s the MC doing? What will screw him/her up? What is the absolute worst thing that could happen to him right now?

      Good luck.

  28. Khena Avatar

    Yesterday was just one of those days. Among other things my basement flooded, so a lot of my time in the next few days will be spent cleaning up the mess. 200 words though, and the begininning of my scene.

  29. Debora Avatar

    441 words yesterday. Finished the setup — finally — and now get to write the payoff, when what is supposed to be a wonderful day turns out disastrously and leaves my MC with a paralyzing legacy of fear and self-doubt. (No, it’s not my autobiography, she says, only half joking.) Tomorrow I’ll tackle the payoff. Got to get my dog to the vet to have his phenylbarbitol levels checked (he has seizures), then my not-so evil-day job, plus I gotta mow the lawn.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Cool on the writing. Good luck with your dog.

  30. Larkk Avatar

    I was pretty happy with what this amount of words can do, especially since going back over them helped them make sense and actually led to a better understanding of how the scene works.
    I was just going to try pacing with Holly for while, (unless I get another “Scene That Must Be Written NOW” ) and start doing some of the other great stuff at this site to try to get my literary act together, but 799 ?!- maybe I’ll go for the 500 today.
    Had a bit of trouble quieting my mind today. Usually I pop on the headphones and I’m there. But luckily I found a playlist called “Songs without Words”, and there were a quite a few I really loved to get me back on track. So whoever you are out there in iTunes land who made this playlist-thank you!
    Found out that Nick (MMC) calls Libra (FMC) “Sunshine” as in “Hello, Sunshine!” Sunshine? Where did that come from?

  31. Gerhi Janse van Vuuren Avatar

    I am now back again, writing with a vengeance. I did 2199 words this morning but my plan says I still need to do 331 words today to keep my writing on the safe side of getting it done in time. Or in other words, on a five day week I need to write 2530 words a day.

    I started of at the bottom end only doing at least 250 words a day but the interminable length of time stretching out in front of me made me lose hope. I re-conceived the book idea. Started from scratch and am working to a tighter deadline. So far so good.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Good luck, Gerhi, and congrats on the words.

  32. Cat (from HtTS) Avatar

    I promised my agent that I’d rewrite the first part of the story NOW-ASAP- so that she can shop it around before the next book-fair. I don’t like it but I promised. So I don’t expect high word counts for the next few days. Time to reread Holly’s One-Pass-Revision technique from HtTS and get started. Meanwhile, I’ll keep my Muse busy thinking about part two. I’ll pop back in here when I return to writing.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Good luck, Cat. Huge cheers on the agent, the rewrite, and the upcoming book fair. Hope you get a bunch of offers and start a bidding war. 😀

    2. laurel Avatar

      Hi Cat,

      Wonderful news!

      May it all unfold abundantly so that you are thrilled.

  33. Meghan Avatar

    Yeay, I made it! First night participating in Holly’s Write a Book with Me though I’ve been wanting to join in since day one.

    Tonight’s progress: I edited the opening scene to my novel, E2F. I deleted some words, added 305 words, and the scene is wrapped up at 1,175 words. Took me nearly 2 hours to get those words because the main character immediately gets in a showdown with her arch nemesis and frankly it’s been a long time since I got in a verbal battle with anyone so I was pretty rusty at slinging the insults without getting too over the top or too tame. Hubby helped me out when I got stuck. I think it will be easier to write Scene 2 tomorrow because I finally set the tone that I wanted for the story.

    Good luck to everyone else! Hope you had a fruitful writing day or evening!

    Holly, your scene sounds like it was a lot of fun to write and I love the snippet you shared. I’m eager to buy your book once it’s ready!

  34. Elise Avatar

    Holly, I love this sentence: The feel of the scene, though, also reminded him of something, and it whispered murder down his spine even as the evidence in front of him looked exactly like some weird cult suicide.
    1126 words today. I reworked the scene I copied in yesterday. I knew it couldn’t stand the way it was. Then I went ahead and wrote half of the next one. We’ll see how leaving a scene in the middle works for me.

  35. red_dot Avatar

    816 words my emotions are all over the board, I should continue the book, I should give up on the book. I have no skills, I have skills, I think this scene came out ok. I think the scene sucks. I feel the clock is ticking now. I worry that I will have to actually start working at work in 2 months, I’ll have to learn how to write at home soon. I better get in as much research as I can now.

    Thanks Holly, tell your boy to keep his head down and stay safe.

    1. Lucca Avatar

      Dear red_dot:

      No words for me yesterday.

      I’m almost in the same place, and I had been here before (in the last couple of months). I got out of the woods thinking of “Is this scene what sucks or the whole book?”, “What scene would I like to write instead?” (replacing or delaying writing that one) and sometimes just that got me unstucked. Other times it was more difficult and I had to re-read part of the manuscript to find I was good and that this massive book deserved a couple of fights.

      I have to start producing a film festival in four weeks, so go figure. I’m committed to finish this draft, it doesnt matter if I’m “the next anybody”, just matters to me. I’m sure I will improve it later.

    2. Holly Avatar

      Thank you. I’ll pass your good wishes on to the Kid.

      Writing-wise, you’re letting your feelings direct your thoughts. You’re doing something your mind values, but your emotions are questioning that value—does the whole book suck? Just the scene? If it sucks, we should run away, do something else, something easier.

      (The mind knows a bad scene or a bad first draft doesn’t matter. The mind knows this is first draft, and first draft is allowed to suck. The emotions want everything to be magically perfect, without any process of work whereby eventual wonderfulness is achieved.)

      Move that around, put it in the right order. Thoughts first, then feelings.


      When you think about it, does writing offer you something that will make your life better? Will it allow you to pursue and achieve goals you value? Will it allow you to become the person you wish to be? Or will its pursuit and practice make your life worse and move you away from that which you wish to accomplish?

      If the former, keep writing, don’t stress over the suckage, such as it is, and tell your doubts to shut up. If the latter, stop writing and do something that WILL make your life better.

      1. Red_dot Avatar

        Thank you Holly. Your wisdom and guidance really helps. I went through the laundry list in my head of how this is helping and I feel writing this has been a positive influence on me. I just had a weak moment because I’m awaiting results on my wife. I’m scared but I don’t show her that. I’m at a point in my life where I am getting older 42 and have had one leave the nest. So I am trying to do things that enrich me, picked up photography, writing, things like that. Plus after almost 24 years of marriage I am finally learning how to be a husband….slow learner. I bounced you a facebook request. I don’t want to put my real name on here. I have an evil family member who I don’t want to know I am writing until I publish, part of that motivation thing I read on your site.

        1. Lucca Avatar

          Thanks both for sharing, it helped me a lot.
          Both of you, take care 🙂

          1. red_dot Avatar

            Hey where is this film festival at? What kind of movies?

          2. Lucca Avatar

            It’s in Madrid, Spain. This one is gay and lesbian. Fun stuff, loads of work, though… I need to finish the draft BEFORE that start 🙂

          3. Red_dot Avatar

            Wow, Spain…never been on a plane.

      2. Gabby Avatar

        Holly, your posts are always so wise! Thank you– you’ve helped me too. Thoughts first, emotions later. Writing offers me something I can’t get anywhere else. And I like my story. And it’s worth finishing so why do I worry about the end product now. Thank you, thank you.

  36. laurel Avatar


    Your Ring around the Circle makes me smile. Wishing your family well and safe.

    I am pleased to be immersed in the writing my novel worlds, in between night mares. (slight exaggeration, perhaps)

    I am feeling lost with writing the scenes out of order. I like the experience of creating in this way; but how to wisely choreograph a flowing dance between the scenes feels elusive and just beyond my reach. I first typed out of reach but beyond my reach feels closer to the wayward truth. It feels like I have many leaves (scenes) that are in the first draft stage, (almost transparent leaves), and I can pick them up on (3 x 5 cards) and drop them thirteen times, each time the configuration/constellation/order the cards fall into is intriguing. How to choose?

    Is this a metaphor for my life?

    Help…. ( very wry grin)

    1. Holly Avatar

      If your process is getting in the way of your progress, change the process.

      If writing out of order, in other words, is screwing you up, then figure out what the order should be, and write linearly. You can still add things in as you think of them (I do it ALL the time). But I’m working with a clearly defined direction, which allows me to focus on what needs to be in each scene.

      Writing out of order, it’s impossible to even guess what needs to be in each scene, because you don’t know what has come before, or what will come after.

      I’m not telling you how to write. I am suggesting that if the way you’re currently writing is causing problems, that’s the easiest thing to fix.

      1. laurel Avatar

        The rhythm of the book began to transform, nascent segues find themselves reaching for a particular leaf, pages begin to whisper to other pages, a voice of reason grasps non- sense in a welcoming way, reading how others are faring navigating the writing journey stirs kindredness , to some a sea journey, to others a landing, and those that became strong swimmers sometimes also learn to fly, not to drown, and to walk all the way home to completing the novel on the dangerous coast path in Wales.

        Thank you Holly

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