25/03/18: 2812. Yep, having a plan is important. This co-writing project, even without as much momentum as I had last week, is so much easier to sit down and write than anything else I’ve got going on just because I’ve got a plan to refer to when I get stuck. Even if I don’t end up writing any of my own projects this week, I think it’s important that I get a plan for each of them written down. I’ve had bad luck with over-planning in the past, but I want to reclaim that habit and turn it into a healthy one.
No okay but today was very big for me, in ways that I didn’t realise until the big thing about it was actually happening. Tonight was the last night of the personal development course I’ve been doing with Youthline for the past 9 weeks; there is a second part of it that I and almost every other person involved has signed on to do, so it’s not really a goodbye or anything, but it hit me tonight just how much of a difference it’s made to me, even though I don’t necessarily feel very different. I don’t think I would ever have done this Weekly Words thing without it, pushed myself this much or been able to break down my goals into manageable pieces quite so clearly. It’s been very confronting and on reflection I’m almost surprised I was never tempted to give up, because the middle portion of the course was very difficult for me. I felt lost and directionless, and like I was unable to contribute to the group as much as I wanted, or as much as other people were doing. But now, it feels like I’ve shifted so many blockages that have been holding me back for so long by going through that personal gauntlet. It’s got quite a smooth narrative progression to it, actually. I should put it in a book or something.
On the plus side – no more classes for a couple of weeks, so Tuesdays should no longer be dead writing days, at least until the second part of the course starts up.
28/03/18: 784. I did finish a scene in the co-writing project, so that’s definitely something to count.
However, more importantly for me: I have been slacking on my initiative to go back and re-read/make revision plans for my already-drafted books, and today I did get started on it. Amazingly, Tallulah opened up for me when I went back to look at what I had; the gunk that had been clogging my mind seems to have gone, and I have a new plan. I do mean new, too; the fancy new premise I had been toying with is now seeming not only new and exciting, but useful to help make this story actually feel like a story instead of a random sequence of thematically-related events. It does, however, mean that a lot of what I’ve written is kind of useless in terms of recycling material – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it might be a great thing. I never did finish reading Mark and Jessie’s Christmas, though, and I’m not happy about that. So I will have to look at my plan again and see where I can fit it in – I’m feeling almost done with the new Tallulah plan except for a chapter-by-chapter map (that’s a big “except for”, I hear you say; trust me it’s the thinking part that takes up most of my time with my writing projects), so it’s entirely possible that I can just shift my focus to Mark and Jessie sometime before the 3rd, which is my cutoff date for Tallulah planning.
Plus … Wolf Gang just doesn’t seem salvageable anymore. I’m not sure why it ever did. I’ll still look at it and perhaps it will surprise me, but that book is just garbage, and becomes even more garbage the more I think about it. However, it is part of my plan, and while the plan has not gone according to … itself … so far, I aim to get back on track.
And to do more writing this week, because I do want to hit 10k regularly, because I have the time to do so.
29/03/18: 1351. Better. Still have like 6k words to make up this week, but at least I got some writing done today.
Let me explain: today, I had to get up far earlier than I am used to in order to be around for when the people who are going to upgrade our internet connection showed up. I was sitting around waiting for three and a half hours, and then another three hours once they arrived and were not quite able to install the internet hardware anyway, so they’ll be coming back on the weekend to finish up – they say it should only take half an hour, though today was only supposed to take up to two and a half hours, so we’ll see. My point is that I have not had the best day; it hasn’t been the worst either, but energy-wise I’ve had better.
I am also keenly aware of how much anxiety I currently feel about trying to write my own projects, and trying to get myself back into my Wolf Gang headspace, where I was able to put aside my perfectionist procrastinatory tendencies and just get the fucking writing done. It’s not working yet, and I think it’s because my ideas aren’t clear enough to run with in that way – I need a clearer vision than I currently have. And this is a huge problem for a lot of my projects, and has been for a while. Just a case of needing to get back into the groove, I think.
At least planning is still going okay, and I still think it’s going to help when I get it done. But I also know it’s just one of the reasons why the co-writing project is still going so well, even on my off days. The other reasons are because it’s fun, I have a clear vision for it that I’m invested in, and it’s fun. Did I mention it’s fun? Because it is. Co-writing – well, I guess it’s like anything else; it depends who you’re doing it with, but this is something I’m doing with a friend, we get on really well and are able to bounce ideas off each other and generate energy and motivation that way. It’s way harder to do that on your own. I still don’t know how to substitute it, and I think that’s going to be the next step – figuring out how to do that.
I mean … yeah. It happens. It will continue to happen, every now and then. I’ve been trying this week to get myself to write some of my own stuff and deliberately de-emphasising the co-writing project as a result, and I think it only makes sense that therefore this week’s writing was hardly as productive as it has been in the past. It’s so easy to write. Everything I need to motivate me – external accountability, having someone else to bounce ideas and energy back and forth with, a clear, step-by-step plan for every segment I’m planning to write, fun – it’s almost silly how easy it’s been, especially since beginning this initiative.
However, the lack of writing this week has come with many upsides in other areas. And one of them is working out how exactly I want to approach my own projects. Jumping in and writing them isn’t working; planning isn’t working. But for one of them at least, I have found what I think is a perfect solution.
Realm of the Myth – it’s time to call it a day, one way or the other. Either I call it a day on the whole project, or I call it a day on meandering around and never committing to it enough to actually get it started. What helps me write is having a clear idea of what I want to do in a story. Not what I want to write, not ideas that I like thinking about; a sense of having something to do. With Realm of the Myth, that’s a handful of scenes.
So that’s what I’m going to write. I’ve had this idea in the past, and would normally be frustrated that I keep having to re-learn things about writing that I already know and that have already worked for me. However, I now realise that because I am such a terrible record-keeper when it comes to things that help me out, it’s actually just me remembering despite not ever writing them down in such a way that I’m likely to refer back to them. Which is good. Though also a hint that, seriously, I need to make a list of writing tips that I’ve worked out over the years and stick it on my wall or something.
And there’s no worst-case-scenario here, either. There are options, but they’re both good. In one scenario, I write these scenes, realise that there is nothing else I have any energy for regarding the project, and can at least walk away from it knowing that I wrote down the parts that I did have figured out, the parts that appealed to me. In the other, I write these scenes, realise that I really want to tell this story all the way through, and I have a project underway, half a lifetime’s worth of effort finally paying off with an actual goddamn book to write.
Trying to make these plans for my own projects is proving to be more difficult than I had anticipated. I think that’s the takeaway here. As well as the need to establish a more solid schedule for myself regarding the time and energy I spend planning my own projects versus continuing with the co-writing project, which is where the bulk of my writing is being done. I can do both. I think I have been putting too much focus on making myself not work on the co-writing project, when what I need to do is just deliberately put time aside to work on my own projects – which, at this point, is the planning stage. And I think scene-writing, going out-of-order and just writing down what I’ve got rather than trying to string it all together, is the key.
This week may not have had a lot of writing in it – well it is a lot of writing, just not as much as I feel I could do, which is what makes it disappointing – but looking back on it, it was also a learning week. I have learnt that I need a different approach to planning and working on my own projects, and to not sacrifice everything else I’m trying to do in the process. I need to establish boundaries, set up a healthy balance that is practical and I know I will actually do, rather than some lofty ideal of how I’d like it to go. The word-count goal may be part of that, but I’m going to keep it at 10k for one more week and just see how it turns out, now that I know what I need to do regarding my own projects – theoretically, it should meant that I don’t hemorrhage so much time not knowing how to approach them, and consequently spend more time writing.
Or, put more simply: I didn’t get as much writing done this week as I would like, but I did learn some valuable lessons about managing my time and energy in the process – and as far as I’m concerned, that is well worth the trade. It’s only a week. Or two. And in the grand scheme of things, I really have just gotten started with this initiative, so there’s no sense in getting upset about it yet. Difficult not to, but this project is about getting perspective as much as it is about getting writing done. I’m doing pretty well, considering that it’s still early days yet. This is just a hump. Once I’m over it – well, I’m over it.
So, it’s time to get over it.