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.

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.

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.

 

Failures and New Starts

I have been trying to write. I dabbled with different exercises and techniques to get me to stick to writing. None has worked so far.

There was the 52 week writing exercise, which lasted for one short story (not a very good one).

Before that there was daily writing prompts. That didn’t work, either.

During all this, I also attempted to write in my personal journal once a day. That worked off and on.

Yesterday morning I had another brilliant idea. I would create a Google Form called “Discovery for Writing” and in it I would make myself answer a list of questions about a writing project before I even began the project.

Building this form led me to research various things about writing such as PLOT, CHARACTERIZATION, and POINT OF VIEW. I was pleasantly surprised at the wealth of information out there that was easily accessible to me without having to sign up for a university course. (I am not sure why I was surprised… in this day and age of the free Internets).

I wrote a Pledge yesterday. That was actually part of an exercise I am doing by following James Scott Bell’s book on Plot and Structure. I stumbled across Bell’s informative book by a long series of article jumps that I won’t bore you with here (I was looking to learn more about PLOT, my greatest weakness).

As part of the new exercise, I’m going to to document each step of my learning and writing here–I’m going to try to post something about what I’ve done each day so I can hold myself accountable.

Today:

  • Joined a couple of online writing groups.
    • Critiqued someone’s work
    • Posted some of my own work
  • Finished Chapter 1 exercises from Bell’s book.

See you all tomorrow, then!

A Writing Project

I have several of these. I find that I enjoy it this way. When I am bored of one story, I jump to the other.

Sometimes I take stock of my on-going work, and I ask myself what I’m writing them for. I think by doing this, I’ll be more motivated to finish them.

This is what I’ve came up with.

Understanding My Past

There’s a story I’m writing that’s loosely based on my parents and their family. I think I do this as to try to understand my childhood. I feel like in order to fix the mental and emotional baggage from my childhood, I need to write about their lives before me. I need to see them as the young adults they were then and to understand and sympathize with their motivations. Above all, I need to feel like they must have all loved each other deeply at one time.

Escaping a Present Circumstance

There’s another story I’m writing that’s based on a random thought. It’s somewhat science fiction, because it involves a multi-verse. It’s about escaping our disappointment and dissatisfaction with daily life and getting a fresh start. I think I started writing this because I felt trapped in my work situation and felt I could do nothing about it.

Drawing a Different Future 

This other story is about a single mother, and how she’s lost her only son to a better life. This story makes me sad to write, but for some reason I have to write it. It’s about sacrifice, and how a mother’s love can endure many hardships. It’s one of the random scenarios I run through my head when I can’t sleep at night. It’s a thing I’ve done ever since I was a small child. I make up scenarios in my head, put myself in the place of one of the characters, and I wonder: How would I feel, in that situation?

So, that’s what I’ve been busy doing lately.

My Writing Process – And How It Led to an Uncomfortable Argument

Confounded

When people ask me what my writing process is, I have no idea.

Recently Hubs tried to help me through a long stretch of writer’s block by giving me a daily writing exercise. While I appreciate the thought, I wasn’t able to continue with the exercise after just a week.

What happened? Did I get lazy? Did I get so stuck for words that I couldn’t even write even just a paragraph a day?

Not really. The opposite happened. I stumbled across a topic that I enjoyed writing about so much that it became a full short story project. The project went from a one-day project to a one week project.

The Argument

The Hubs made an observation tonight about “see what happened the moment you took the daily exercise into your own hands; you stopped doing it.”

I resented the implication. I explained what I had been doing.

And he insisted his point; that I should have stuck to writing short daily exercises so that it became a routine.

What he wasn’t seeing was that I was using the time I spent writing the short daily exercises on the work that’s inspired me. I said that I simply didn’t have the time in my day between my day job & my writing projects to complete the daily exercise he held me accountable for.

I told him so; only to be met with, “you can use whatever excuse you want. You can always make time.”

At that point I got up from our week night talk and said, “fine, I’ll go write right now. I should be making time to be writing, right? Then I don’t need to spend time talking to you about this.”

Immature? Yes, I thought so. I was upset. I felt that he wasn’t hearing me. I also felt that he wasn’t the best person to give me writing advice; I resented the implications that he made towards me lacking discipline.

The Process

Even though the discussion upset me, I took away from it what I could. I need to write, every day. Doesn’t matter what, doesn’t matter where. So… expect to see a lot more content here as I continue this uphill struggle with getting these words out of my head.