Toe Hold On That Wagon

Yep, it happened. I fell off the daily writing wagon. I barely even managed to keep writing in my personal journal.

The past month has been fairly busy. I took a trip with Fin back to the family farm. That did disrupt our routine quite a bit.

I joined a book club. Now I have actual deadlines to finish books that I never have time for anymore.

Fin is now completely mobile. He crawls everywhere, pulls himself up on things and falls down a lot. I now literally do not have a free moment unless he’s asleep (where he is right now), and even then I have to keep a constant ear open for him being awake.

Only 9 months in and he’s no longer just my cuddly baby boy anymore. He’s constantly wanting to go outside, see people, DO things. He’s like his father. He’s bored of my homebody routines of laundry and house chores… he wants to explore the world and our apartment is too small for his curious mind.

An ex colleague–and a friend–has also offered me a job at my old company. I wasn’t sure I was going to take it because I wasn’t comfortable with putting Fin in daycare. This was three weeks ago, before Fin started to constantly go off by himself.

Now that he’s reveling in his new found freedom, I realise that daycare has its upsides. He’ll have a much bigger space there. He’ll have other kids and various people there to entertain him and help his development. He would be better off there than being stuck with just his momma all day long.

In an ideal world, we’d be close to a large support group of family and friends, with whom we could visit all the time. But we’re not. We’re here in a busy city, all by our lonesome and it’s time that I admit we need to make more friends. All three of us.

Daycare will only be three days out of a seven day week, anyway. And I don’t have to start until May… (option to work from home until then). I just don’t know how much work I can realistically get done at home when Fin’s yelling at me to take him outside.

Owning It

Yesterday was the first day that I didn’t write, at all. I didn’t write on my current projects. I didn’t write in my personal journal. I didn’t even study writing.

Going to be honest here, but how else will I learn if I’m not:

The main project I’m working on is in a stall right now because I’ve simply gotten bored of setting the story up. I’m at the part where the hero of my story is on her adventure, but before much action can take place, the world has to be set. There has to be motives that are laid out and subplots introduced. And for some reason writing this part of it really really bores me.

The other side project that I’m working on is stalled for a different reason: things are happening too fast. When I go back to read it, I feel that the narrator is rushing me, and I don’t get to know the characters well enough to care about what’s happening to them at all. So that’s not working out very well, which in turn makes me feel like this project is just going to shit and I don’t want to keep working on it.

I’ve considered uploading these projects to one of the writing groups I’ve joined, in the hopes that maybe someone who’s not in my head will be able to help me see a way around these two problems… but I’m also scared of the criticism they might receive. But right now that seems to be the only way out of this hole.

I even tried to tell myself that it’s okay–that I can just go back to working on the short story collection I’ve been meaning to put together… but that’s really just me making excuses not to tackle the problems with the main projects.

On another note, I’ve pledged to read 36 books for 2018 (three books a month). I’m on book 2 of the year right now so it looks like I’m on schedule. Though I did cheat with my 1st book because I actually started reading it when we were still in 2017… and I was 90% done with it before the New Year turned over.

Honesty is refreshing.

Chapter One Finished

Now that I have plot, it’s much easier to write the character because I now know what I want to have happen to her in the long term. I’ve finished Chapter One of the story and I’ve begun chapter two. I haven’t lost momentum.

There are a few spots in my current progress that I was concerned about… I wanted to stop the story right then and there and start editing the bits I didn’t like. It took some effort to stop myself and say, “just keep going–you can edit when you are done”.

So here’s to getting the story finished. I expect to really dislike my first draft, but here goes.

Racing Ahead

I have a complete plot.

For the first time in ever, I have a complete plot. It feels really damn good right now.

After finishing my first plot line, I began writing the first chapter. The main difference I noticed with my writing is that it’s much easier to keep the Leader character’s personality consistent. It’s almost as if I am now writing about a person I have a better understanding of. Whereas before when I would just write whatever scene and person that popped into my head, the character wouldn’t stay in character for very long–they’d waver and sometimes become almost somebody else.

I think because I now know the whole story before actually committing it to be written, I am more confident about setting up my character and letting the story unfold around him/her.

It feels great. I never realised how much I could learn before I decided to actually treat creative writing as a STUDY. I had been under the impression that creative writing couldn’t be taught; that you’re either creative or your not. And lately, I had been feeling like perhaps creative writing wasn’t for me, that I was hanging on to a child’s dream and I had to just grow up already.

This new improvement with my writing gives me hope. It lets me know that I’m finally on the right path to having something finished. Getting that something published will be a whole other battle, but I am ready.

The Study of Writing

I had no idea that you could study writing. 

That was a stupid thing to write. What I mean is that I had no belief that a person can get better at writing a novel. I thought you were either born a great writer, or you were shit out of luck.

Since I took the Pledge last week, I’ve tried to hold myself accountable to it. Part of taking writing seriously is to accept that I need to be an information sponge. Since then, I’ve resolved to try all the things I’ve previously thought ridiculous/pointless when it comes to writing.

As mentioned previously, I’ve joined a few online writing groups and participated in peer sessions. Today I wrote the first of lengthy critiques of other writers’ works in order to gain enough “karma” points to post my own work for review.

Another habit I’ve adopted is listening to various podcasts where the hosts interview contemporary writers. I found there are a great deal to learn from published writers there and it’s also a source of inspiration.

In regards to producing actual written work, this is currently slow going. I have written a short scene each day. Gone are the frantic three hour writing sessions spurred by a random creative burst–now instead I have a daily word dump.

But that’s okay. I can only assume that this is expected. I’m doing a bit of reading each day and I’m finding out that everything I thought about How To Write a Novel (start a scene and go from there is how I always used to do it) is wrong (sorry, “unsuccessful”). Instead there is so much technique involved in the art of creating a story that people want to read that I’m back to taking baby steps with writing.

Not to mention that a 7 month old baby doesn’t allow for 3 hour creative keyboard mashing. My son demands a great deal of attention, so I’m taking an hour or twenty minutes at a time.

But I’m optimistic. I feel better about my current plan than I have ever felt about ANY plan (maybe because I never had a proper plan). I feel like I will really get something out of myself if I just continue doing what I’m doing.

Here’s to hoping I have something read-worthy by this time next year.

Forging Ahead

Posting before bed. In the last two days I have:

  • Wrote two scenes
  • Participated in peer reviews for my first online writing group

The new story I have started is currently dialogue heavy. Though now I feel better about writing with mistakes because that’s what being part of a writing group is about–trusting other writers to tell you what works and what doesn’t.

Good Start

I did good today. Spent an hour in the morning with some written exercises from Bell’s book. I wrote a short scene I saw in my mind based on the exercise asking to write a scene by answering the question: “What I most want to write about at this moment is…”

I liked the characters I introduced in that scene. So this afternoon I took that character and applied the LOCK system to create a simple plot. The way LOCK works:

Lead: Who is the lead character?

Objective: What is the lead character’s objective? The lead of a story is usually trying to get something or get away from something.

Confrontation: What obstacles does the lead face in obtaining their objective?

Knockout: What is the climax of the story? Does the lead succeed in their objective? Make a knockout event of the result.

And now I have a general plot and some scene ideas to flesh it out. I have characters, incidents, etc etc! The plot took me about an hour and a half this afternoon to draw up.

I’m excited. I have never tried writing a project with this approach before. I have always just started by writing a scene and tried to free form it. I never took plotting seriously. I was so arrogant as to believe that creativity means not having to follow a plot! How ridiculous is that…

Tools Used:

Productive by Apalon Apps on iPhone: A habit tracker that reminds me to write for at least an hour twice a day.

Lock system from James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure.