I Did It! (Sort Of)

I finished plotting a whole story, and not just in my head, but on writing. And not just a one page plot summary on the back of a book flap, but a whole chapter-by-chapter plot summary, along with background information on characters and places important to the story.

This may sound boring… but it’s a huge accomplishment for me as I have actually never plotting something out on paper before in almost 20 years of writing stories. This resulted in a lot of energetic false starts to these long ambitious projects that would eventually die off once the newest of world building and getting to know my character wore off. I’d then spend more time trying to perfect the few chapters I was able to punch out without actually expanding on the story and actually trying to move any plot forward. I’d even get to the point of getting the beginning of the “book” all nicely written as if I was polishing a complete piece of work.

Today I have a complete skeleton of a piece of work. I finished it two nights ago after a couple of days of intensively plotting for two hours each morning. Now I keep staring at this skeleton and I’m not sure what to do next. Do I start fleshing it out completely? Or layer by layer? Do I perfect the story chapter by chapter? Or do I write out the whole story completely before trying to fix it? Do I get second opinions on my story plot to see if it makes sense or is even interesting? (I’m actually really worried about doing this, as I fear my dedication to this story hangs on the balance on how others would view it. I worry that at the first sign of criticism, all the motivation I had mustered up to plot out a complete story would evaporate and I’d toss this project aside once and for all).

Or I could give my brain a break and read a book.

“A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.”

Charles Darwin

This past Sunday we gained an hour when the clock fell back. I find myself with an extra hour of time each morning with which to do whatever I wanted.

This is of course conditional based on how long our son sleeps in. Case in point: yesterday. There was no “hour of free time” as our son woke the same time as we did. So the extra hour was still Finley time (which, while enjoyable and rewarding, is not free time).

This morning I woke up at 4:30 (body clock 5:30). I spent the usual half hour browsing my phone in bed while boobing Finley (an early morning snack keeps him asleep for longer some days). I fully got up at 5:00 (body clock 6:00) and found myself with 2 hours to spend before I actually needed to get ready for work and get Finley ready for daycare.

I think about how I missed another daily quote for yesterday, so I set out to schedule some daily quotes for upcoming days that I just might not have time. Mondays and Wednesdays are the most difficult as half an hour in the mornings are already deadlocked for a morning jog, and those are also workdays where I must be ready to leave the house at 8:00.

I’m really proud of myself this morning for making proper use of the extra hour. It won’t be long before my body clock aligns with the adjusted time, so I should milk this for as long as I can.

On Writing Projects:

This has been stalled for the past couple of months. I had a burst of inspiration for a project a few months ago, started it, and now it’s stalled. It’s an interesting story (or so I think) with a not-so-popular perspective, which is why I really really want to be able to finish it and get it out there. It’s now become a Lost Work, in the pile with the others that I’ve started and stalled on.

And now I find myself revisiting an old idea yet again. I wrote a short story a long, long time ago about a girl who was different. The story was well-received by a lot of people and I received a lot of praise for it. Back then, I had the idea of turning the short story into a novel. Over the years I’d revisited this idea over and over, only to start and then stall whenever motivation left me.

I’m struggling to find a way to make myself accountable for finishing my Lost Works. I have a whole digital folder of these… the oldest of which dating back more than 12 years. The folder transferred and backed up over the years as I migrated from machine to machine, always looking for the perfect writing Medium.

During my time researching authors from the daily quotes I’m doing, I learn more and more about their Becoming stories. How they got their First Big Break and how they toiled to get there. I have a general idea of how old they were when they finally published their first novel and I know that there is always still time for me. That it’s not a completely lost dream for me just because I am a 33 year old mother of a young child. Some authors took more than ten years to finish their first work.

So I guess the point is that I still have time, as long as I choose to make time.

Away We Go

Right. So in my most recent writing post, I wrote about how I was needing to solve the dilemma of how to work on my writing seamlessly between two devices running incompatible OS. Windows 10 on a PC (for when I want to sit and plunk out a few serious pages in one long session) and iOS 12 on an iPad (for when I have random inspiration for a short passage and would like to note it down and am away from my workstation).

I bemoaned that I haven’t really found anything that would work the way I wanted it. Turned out, I had the perfect tool all along and I was just failing to use it properly.

Scrivener

I first started using Scrivener back in 2016. It came highly recommended by several writing blogs and articles and I thought I’d try it. At the time, I only worked with devices running Windows OS. Scrivener on Windows doesn’t really look that great (the layout and design look like something from Windows 7), but overall I liked how it let me organise everything about a story into one “desktop” and I could reference notes about character, plot and theme at any given time without having to flip through a folder or notebook.

I continued to use Scrivener for writing off and on on my Surface 3 tablet, but the writing obviously died off after life happened. Then the Surface 3 started crapping out on me (won’t charge properly) and that was annoying. I got an iPad for my last birthday (thank you, Jamie), and I downloaded Scrivener from the Apple App Store in the hopes of continuing my writing on the iPad for convenience.

What I came to find was that I STILL wasn’t getting much writing done. The iPad was full of too many distractions and it was TOO portable. This meant it was too easy for me to just get up and do something else while taking the iPad with me, and then the whole idea of writing something down will soon be forgotten.

So I dug out my large clunky Lenovo gaming laptop, originally purchased in 2011. I don’t recall exactly my reasoning for purchasing such a big machine, but I believe I was probably “into” gaming back then. I like using this large clunky laptop for writing now because it’s huge and inconvenient. Which means that if want to write on it, I am more or less rooted to this workspace for however long. It became part of how I wanted to take writing more seriously.

Then came the trouble of finding something I can write with that would allow me to edit my work from both the PC and the iPad without having to do too much manual uploading and downloading, and that’s what led me to doing another round of researching of other tools because I was convinced that it was not possible with Scrivener.

How wrong I was. After messing around with various other tools and finding them inadequate for what I needed, I decided to have another go with Scrivener. I installed it on the PC and made peace with having to choose using either the PC or the iPad to write with. I made peace with having to just export files entirely from one device, uploading them on google drive/one drive/whatever else, and just having to import them to the second device.

Turns out I never connected Scrivener to dropbox correctly on a PC. I tried it again, and I reconnected Scrivener to dropbox on my iPad, and viola! Everything I edit on either device would update directly on the other device.

And now that I’m finally done tinkering around, there really is no excuse to not write. I have a workspace, I have the tools. I just need to actually do it. 

So away we go.

Tools

Now that I have a proper work space set up, I’m trying to find the right tools that would be comfortable for me to write with. Here are the hardware I’m working with:

  • Windows PC laptop (main)
  • Windows Surface 3
  • Apple iPad
  • Apple iPhone

I have used all four of these devices to write over the years, and I haven’t found any tool that I really stuck with that would allow me to seamlessly save and edit files across all platforms. Here are the software I’ve tried over the years:

The issue: I want to use one tool that allows me to access/edit my writing from anywhere. I also want to be able to organize my work. This means my options are limited to a tool that seamlessly saves my work from iPad to Windows PC. So begins my journal to finding something that would work. The last time I really put in any effort researching this was probably four years ago. As I look into this again right now, I’m seeing that there’s been even more tools developed since I last looked.

New tools that I’m planning on trying:

The four tools I’ve listed above all share one thing in common–they are text editors that you can launch in a browser. This means I can launch these on ANY device, but the limitation is that I must have internet access. This can be tricky as I now live in Australia, where internet access is not always guaranteed.

So I begin my trials today. I’ll check back in about a week and let everyone know my thoughts.

Workspace

It’s funny how much someone’s attitude can change in the right setting.

I haven’t had my own desk in years. In fact, my last desk was my childhood desk, and back then I never understood the importance of having one’s own desk. So instead I treated it like a storage space and I let it clutter.

I found a plain looking desk off of Facebook marketplace. $20. I had to unscrew all of the legs and collapse them down in order to fit in the trunk of our sedan, but I did it. Then I built it all back up again. Now it just has my laptop, my mouse, and my folder with printed copies of book review questions.

Now I have a workspace to write. I have no excuse not to write. Fin loves sitting here, too. This will do.

Coming Soon…

I’m still planning on content for this section. I previously thought I would post some of my work here, but soon realised how silly that idea was. So this space is temporarily under renovations.