Drafts, writing plans and mind the gap


How does it feel to achieve a most desired milestone? Awesome!

But how many times we can boast about achieving one? Not as many as we should.

If we could just stick to the writing plan!!!

Nevertheless, I believe writing must be thought in increments, different phases, almost all of them composed by long and arduous stretches of work, that culminate in a finished piece.

First, the idea. Then working out all the most relevant aspects of this idea (plot, subplot, characters...). Research and first draft. Then first/second draft... and all that are needed. Then multiple revisions... and so on... until beta reading... alfa reading... submitting...

At least, that’s how I’ve been working all this stuff in my head. Some milestones to get me properly focused on minor parts that contribute to the major work.

For those who follow my other blog – in portuguese, my vlog – VLook, or my social media presence – Instagram, there is no secret about my last writing milestone achievement:

I have finished the second draft of my currently-working-on novel. 

Originally named ‘Os Metamorfos’ and a straightforward translation as ‘The Shapeshifters’.

book covers
I do love to design covers for my writing projects.

By the time I’ll hit Publish on this post, another milestone has been achieved…

As you may have read in the previous article, and even though it wasn’t what I planned to do, it was a most welcome change.

Building this story is a roller-coaster of emotions. Mainly because, I have been trying to formulate it, without seeming to find the right way to make it work.

I’ve tried some former iterations without any result to show for. 20K and I would abandon the manuscript and would go sulk in a nearby sofa… I’ve tried this approach for three times.

It has been a not so joyous procedure.

What changed? What got me from Idea to Writing things down?

Last year, in 2021, I decided to enroll in a challenge called the 100 day challenge.

It was my second time participating, so I chose to do a writing related project. For one hundred days straight, I would write approximately for one hour, and this time around – because I had enrolled twice before with some mixed media projects – I chose some short quotes from other authors as a starting point, or a theme for each day, and would allow for a short text, in whatever form or genre, to evolve from that.

Another cover design for the 100 day project, named Impromptuarium.

I wasn’t planning to come back to this story concept but it kind of materialised itself that way.

In my the 100 day challenge I’ve written a few poems, short-stories, snippets of texts, sorts of diary entries and, right about the 47th day of the challenge, I started writing about these characters, and this story, that have been trying to get out of my head, and into the page, without much success.

It’s been years since I first thought about this story for the first time.

In the middle of Impromptuarium this story started to emerge. And right in the middle of itself. The long, dull, big bulk of the middle… and I had to work my way to the end. After that, I resumed to the starting point and wrote the beginning. It took me an extra twenty days of this challenge to complete the first big chunk of the work.

The 100 day challenge ended for me at 120 days straight of writing, one hour a day, of whatever fit my fancy. Which helped me getting the writing flow going. And I ended up with a very unpolished first draft (can I call it a first draft?)

What now?

After finishing this first round, I got a bit lost. I let it stew for a few months without looking at it, in pains that it would show me another big chunk of wasted time.

feeling tired
This is what imposter syndrome feels like. Exposed, broken, cold, water in a bedroom kind of feel and a bed calling for our bones to hide from the world…

In the meantime, I felt like crap. All of it felt like absolute sh**… and then I started to remind myself of that speech of shitty first drafts and all (from a very wise writer called Anne Lamott). I couldn’t fix what didn’t exist, but I could work with a shitty first draft.

And then came September… and October… I felt November approaching and knew I should give this story a go… again.

It was my tenth year on NaNoWriMo and I couldn’t forget that I had a pretty successful run in 2020, producing another novel (which, until today, I haven’t reviewed… yet).

And, it was NaNoWriMo that got me going into a second rewrite.

Mind the gap…

I finished November with a little bit more than the 50k needed to complete this challenge, but Oh, I definitely went through a hard time.

The story was born crooked, missing big chunks of information. In a very confusing manner by being thought out from the middle to the end, to the beginning, to the middle again.

I got really confused with myself.

I had a huge gap somewhere in there, that I fondly named ‘mind the gap’ in tribute to my love of London and its tube. And was just trying to smooth out a part that was driving me crazy.

November comes to an end…

The end of November approached and I was not even near finished my second draft.

So, I put it on a new goal. I would finish my second draft until the end of 2021. How’s that saying ‘man plans, god laughs’, or something like that.

December came, and went, and ‘The Shapeshifters’ kept being slowly written. Then I got kind of lazy… or had an impostor’s syndrome attack.

Dealing with the imposter in me…

I started feeling a huge amount of fears, and doubts, regarding the quality of this story, and a lot of shame associated with the high fantasy concept that I BELIEVED I SHOULD be writing.

I had to convince myself, all over again, that I didn’t need to come up with some high whatever concept, difficult to craft, boring, unsellable, gender and cultural dominated, and just NOT ME, to finish this story. And let all that nonsense go.

All I care about is giving it all I have, do my best, and keep crafting stories. 

I had to remind myself, again and again, that I know my soft spots and strengths in my writing. That I could finish the draft and then make it better. I ended up with 79341 words on this draft.

As for making it better, I will leave it to the following efforts to prove or disprove me. But I am carving the will to start my third draft, to put in the work I think it needs, and make it one of my stories, full of those nuggets that turn a simple tale in something to think about.


Still working on it…

I am not near completion with this story but I am focused and willing to give it my best… and to edit like a maniac, cutting all darlings out of there.

Meanwhile, this isn’t my only ongoing project, so I’m trying to be organised here, and juggle a lot of projects all around… including all of life’s projects.

But, about these other writing projects, I will tell you all about it in another post.

Hope to see you soon here at writer.sarafarinha.com and please let me know…

How are your writing projects going? Do you find it hard to finish a second draft? And if you use NaNoWriMo as an added motivation to write your stories?

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Bye and see you soon.

Writing update and a Camp NaNo redirection

camp nano

So… let’s talk about writing. Last time I posted, I was kind of working out some possibilities for my first Camp NaNo.

Even though it was nearly July, and I had a surgery scheduled, and two weeks vacation planned, and absolutely no respect for my need to rest… Camp NaNo was a given in my To Do List.

You can read more about this here…

I started planning, or better yet replanning, the chosen writing project, intending to write a third draft. All the preparatory tasks were being dealt with, and I was confident that I could expect a productive month of writing.

I am a fool!

With a surgery scheduled for the last day of June, in a non-mentionable body part, and… I got rendered useless a few days after the cut and cauterize procedure.

I wasn’t able to sit, stand, or to lay in any other position than on my sides, and in so much pain that got my head scrambling for relief… and there goes my best writing intentions out the window.

While the painkillers were working their magic, I felt kind of okay, and the first three days of July saw a 4942 word count. But then I had to stop some of the medication, and the pain intensified.

Puffy face at my first sitting attempt…

What changed in this writing project?

The biggest novelty in ‘The Shapeshifters’ was… I started the third draft in English!!!

Believe me, this is huge!

I did wrote the first two drafts in Portuguese, but suddenly, as I opened a new google doc, I got swayed into the english language.

I kept assuaging myself saying “It’s okay” or “I can change it later” or “What the heck am I doing???”, but decided to push through my doubts.

Camp NaNo also saw the birth of new scenes and a promise to rewrite the entirety of the scene plan. There’s still so much work to do in this story. I wasn’t pleased with some of it, and I will use these twists and turns to rewrite it, in a somewhat better manner. 

Finally, I thought ‘The Shapeshifters’ needed a new cover image. I designed two possibilities and put them to the public vote, on Instagram @saragfarinha.

And this was the winner! Love it!

the shapeshifters

Meanwhile, I have been released from Surgery Consultations and am feeling quite recovered… and back to writing.

I need to go back to the drawing board and write a new plan for this story. There are some changes that I want to make regarding characters and story line. I’ve noticed that I designed a lot of backstory but failed to put it to good use. 

Characters backstory, connections and past traumas are important and need to be carefully embedded in the story. How could I write a story with 79341 words and not put enough density is beyond me.

I’m always careful about not overdoing on what might be considered the boring stuff, an excess of whatever isn’t required. But it seems I trimmed it too much, leaving out even the important story details.

I’m looking forward to getting back to this manuscript and put my english to good use.

Have you done Camp NaNo in July? How did your project faired? What other distractions interfered in your writings?


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Bye and see you soon.

Camp NaNoWriMo: who’s in?

Camp NaNo

First, some context on my first Camp NaNo participation. I know I must be deranged to consider this because…

I’m having a minor surgery tomorrow. Minor in size, but massive in pains, or so I was told.

I have decided to launch this blog today. It’s kind of missing some bits and bobs but… it is what it is! I am not waiting around for the unforeseen problem, which will show itself more speedily, if I go live right now.

And I’m waiting for a few stuff to evolve, on the personal side. And it’s summer and almost vacations time, so…

Camp NaNo it is!

camp nano
Shouldn’t the reminder be in front of me?!

For some years that I have been subscribing a few (okay! not a few but some) blogs and websites, and yesterday I read something from Robin Sharma that got me thinking on lost time.

Do you know Robin Sharma’s work?

Yes, take it with a grain of salt, but I try looking at it as if I could achieve a more perfect mindset anyhow.

So, it was a list containing ‘The 49 Laws of Monumental Leadership’. And in that massive list of items, what did catch my eye?

N.15 They (leaders) are extremely physically fit because weak health is a massive vulnerability. – Robin Sharma

I agree. And I wish I’d convinced myself of this sooner.

Don’t get me wrong, I know there are tons of other valuable insights on this list but, as I am facing some health hardships for the last hand full of years, and I do know that I was never a disciplined, or even interested, fitness geek this sounded so very true… after all we are supposed to be our own life leaders.

A corporate desk job AND a writer’s desk job has been my perfect storm. And then I added some more stuff. So, now I’m invested in starting slow, but starting nevertheless.

And I started by taking care of issues that I must do something about… and do it fast. So, an operation it is, to avoid more pains throughout all of my foreseeable future.

I know that accumulating is never good. We tend to fill our plates with too much, and then get very upset when we can’t do it all properly.


Except if we are talking about accumulating with Camp NaNo. In this case I am in!!

I figured I needed a boost on my writing, as well as a distracting activity from the rest of the ongoing suff.

I have a story to construct further, and I need this incentive to get back to the construction board, and keep writing.

About Camp NaNo Project

I’ve started this first draft, called ‘The Shapeshifters’ on #the100dayproject in 2021. Continued with my second draft on NaNoWriMo of 2021. And now I’m hoping July’s Camp NaNo will help me get through an icky kind of third draft.

You see, I have focused too much on the main story, and didn’t pay due much attention to a good placement of subplots , or the evolving characters that surrounded my hero.

Even my main character is kind of lost in all that, and needing my help to get things sorted out.

So I plan to do that on Camp, and maybe I will be able to rewrite the entire book, or who know’s, start the second book of this series in November.

Ah!!! it’s so nice to dream!

I do not know how it’ll go. But I will try all of this out. Can I master more physical pain?!? I don’t know!!! LOL

But I sure as hell will have to try!

So… are you doing Camp NaNo? On what project will you be working on? Do you find health issues distracting from your writing?


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Bye and see you soon.

To start or not to start a writer’s blog… going full-on English mode

sara farinha writer

Hello world! Welcome to my new blog. 

My new writing blog.

I have been pondering about starting another blog for a really long time. Now seemed a good choice.

I’m a Portuguese writer, with a few published works, in paper and online, and have been blogging, more or less frequently, for the last fifteen years (my other blog).

On blog.sarafarinha.com I focus mostly on themes related with discovering our Creativity, Pursuing an Artistic Life, Readings and other Writing related themes… the How to’s and How many’s articles about the writing craft, are usually the one’s with more traction with my readers.

I also write in a poetry blog, full of poetry for poets, called Ser Poeta, that I have been maintaining for a few years.

How did I got to writer.sarafarinha.com?

I have always been an enthusiastic for the english language.

I started learning English by myself (at six years old) at the same time I started Portuguese formal teachings, in a time when English wasn’t part of the curricula until the fifth year of public school.

Sometimes I pretend I can get away with publishing english written articles on my Portuguese platform, which is fine, but not something that I think I should do.

My readers have found me online because I wrote in Portuguese, it wouldn’t be nice to switch things just because I fancied it.

Another thing that bugged me was that I kind of avoided talking about my personal writing efforts.

I was supposed to be sharing my writing journey, I have stated that much in a lot of articles through the years. But I found myself engrossed in helping others find their way around writing basics, and finding creativity, and allow ourselves to do our crafts without judgements… and usually didn’t share much about my personal efforts towards my writing craft.

I didn’t want to make it all about me and my writings. So I focused on helping the community, on writing about useful stuff and availing most of my sources (books, articles, documentaries, and referencing other creative people in all kinds of different but creative journey’s).

Allowing myself to write about writing

As for my writing journey, I was convinced people wouldn’t be interested in THAT!!!

And, it would be lame to share my own difficulties in pursuing this craft… in Portugal, and writing in Portuguese, in a so closed off market, striving to put my efforts and time into such a difficult area, in this tiny sea bathed country… it kind of seemed like whining to me.

Now I think it’s time to start talking with an english speaking world.

Stop denying my english writing practices, and give something for all to read. And it’s definitely time to talk about my writings and the writing craft, which is just my cup of coffee (sorry, not a tea person over here).

I really wanted to start a blog where I could post my english writings, and that it would be fully devoted to the writing craft, by sharing my own journey and related issues.

I feel stoked to be here, writing this first article, and putting it out in the world… and a bit scared. Anyway…

And this is how writer.sarafarinha.com came to be…

I will write about:

  • writing experiences
  • daily challenges I encounter on this path
  • different writing projects
  • favorite genres
  • personal choices
  • editing and revising
  • markets specificities
  • self-published and tradicional publishing
  • writing career
  • all sorts of writing related themes

I hope you keep me company on this writing journey, which is my life’s chosen path.

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Bye and see you soon.