Monthly Words 1-28/04/2018

28/04/18: 52986

My god I love doing these monthly wrap-ups I feel like such a badass because I AM A BADASS AND HAVE THE EVIDENCE TO PROVE IT BYLLHOYEUIHAHUGOARHRUGHGIAMAMAZING

SO much writing. Worked on my own projects more than I have in a very long time; obviously at the time it didn’t feel like enough, but looking back on it now it feels like a ton, because compared to what I usually manage it is – and not just that, but it’s motivating me all over again, even though I haven’t looked at that stuff since I put it down earlier in the month. It really does look like I’m starting to figure out how to make my own momentum: keep records, and then look at them!

Worked on the co-writing project like it was an actual job that I was being paid for and also enjoyed; I went through so many ups and downs emotionally with these two episodes I’ve been working on, but the one thing that remained consistent was the stupid-good word-count tally each week, given that my goal has been 10k per week and this month it’s been exceeded three weeks out of four. Amazing stuff. I deserve a gold medal.

Yeah you fucking heard me this is the anti-humble zone right here I am the greatest.

The most interesting thing for me, writing-wise this month, is seeing how much other shit I had going on this month that I had to write around, given that this month had me writing over 15k words two weeks in a row, while last month, which was much quieter, my word-counts were considerably lower each week. Correlation is not causation, but I really do feel that having more to do can actually get you to do more.

I think what I’m happiest about this month, though, is the stuff that I did other than writing. I got some life shit done this month, and it didn’t seem very big at the time, but looking back on it now it’s huge for me. I have been more social this month than in any month I can remember since I was still doing shows with the university drama club, and it feels good. It’s still not a lot, I definitely still have social anxiety and need to take steps to actively address it, but this month I actually have done that. And that’s really good. I’m quite proud of myself for it, and I find that quite hard to say usually, of myself or others. That’s another area I want to improve in. And another area that, after this month, I’m beginning to feel might be one that I actually can, realistically, improve in.

As for the writing – I did a lot of it, and while I am thoroughly disgusted with how awesome I am right now, it’s also made me keenly aware of how much I’m not doing because everything else has to be worked in around the writing. As such, I have identified the next step of this initiative: to set time aside to do specific things with during the week that are not writing.

The flexible structure of weekly words has worked really well for me – in terms of getting writing done. But everything else that I might want to do gets held hostage until I decide when, exactly, I’m going to begin writing each day. I’ve left myself so much free time that it’s given me the perfect excuse to avoid doing other things. I have been stuck on this problem for most of this month, and for a while I found it just as hard to make myself try to come up with a viable solution. I thought of imposing a “window” restriction on myself each day, only allowing myself to write between certain hours, but the whole point of weekly words is the flexible schedule – that’s part of how I’ve gotten so much done, and kept up an almost-daily writing habit for the past two months. Beyond that, I was pretty much stumped, and had no motivation to try and find another solution. And it was a shame, too, because I’ve been writing so well this month that I haven’t always used my random day off each week.

Sometimes, obvious solutions are only obvious in retrospect – but that’s not important, what’s important is that you get there in the end.

My “day off” is now a “day on”, specifically a “day spent on doing anything except for writing”. I’ll keep the flexibility of it, because writing motivation comes and goes, but it does mean that every week I am forcing myself to take a break and do something the hell else.

Coupled with this, I might have to start measuring my other project ideas in terms of months instead of weeks – or take more than one day off per week. For now, I’m just going to try having my day off be a once a week thing (not including Saturdays, which are always a day off, partly so that I can write these weekly wrap-ups), and make it a day specifically devoted to doing stuff other than writing, and go from there. It’s not going to be enough to cover absolutely everything that I want to do aside from writing, but I think it’s a really intuitive solution given the constraints of weekly words – and the fact that I want it to keep working as well as it has been so far. And I think that, while I want to keep Saturdays as a fixed day off, I also want to use them with more intention, to go along with this update to my weekly flexible schedule.

I do enjoy elegance, and this seems like an elegant solution, at least to make a starting-point of. This week will be the trial run. And I’ll need a trigger for “activating” my “day spent on other things than writing” so that I don’t spend the whole day in a state of indecision – and to identify the things that I’d want to do with all of this free time I’m always terrified of losing out on. I think one of the big other reasons I’m so hesitant to take these kinds of days off is because my old fallback is gaming, and I barely ever feel like I’ve accomplished anything in a game, oddly enough, and while it’s reliable it’s also often unsatisfying, because with the kinds of games I’m looking at playing – big exploration-focused RPGs – there are no natural stopping points. So maybe I need to look into some more “closed” games – or just something other than games. There are a bunch of TV shows I want to catch up on, for instance …

Screw it. It’s a whole day. This week, my goal for my “day on” is to watch at least one episode of at least one show I want to finally get around to seeing, start investigating something like a dance class for exercise/general life-living purposes, read over some of my old stuff (and maybe make some notes), and play some games with whatever time is remaining. I’ll be ticking these things off, too, so I might set up a private blog for all of these other life-projects I want to keep track of.

Like I said, I really do feel that sometimes having more things to do ends up getting you to do more, and even to enjoy it. It’s a lot of stuff to inject into my current schedule, and it already sounds quite daunting – but manageable. And I don’t think I would feel this way if I hadn’t started weekly words to begin with.

Guess I’d better keep doing it.

Also: totally won nanowrimo.

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Weekly Words 22-27/04/2018

22/04/18: 766

Nice, easy start to the week. I had a plan for this episode, and I deviated from it, and now I am really wishing that I had not – but hey, that’s what revision is for. I have written too much to turn back now, and that’s something I am making an effort to train myself into getting used to. Writing is good, and unless something goes horribly wrong – which it has not, it’s just a bit awkward to steer myself back on-track – just keep moving forward, not because it will make the story better – again, that’s what revision is for – but because it makes the story exist. And during the first draft, that is all that matters.

Speaking of first drafts, my co-writing friend did me the great honour of reading me some of her old work today, and it reminded me that, at the end of last year, I got a huge boost of creativity (which I turned into my Nanowrimo attempt) after going back and looking over some of my old stuff.

I’m gonna do some more of that.

As I’ve been saying for quite some time now, I am feeling stuck when it comes to making progress on my own projects. But after my friend started reading her old stuff, I decided to have a look at some of mine, and found that I have a villain character that I’m really proud of who I want to do something with. As for the projects that I actually came up with at the end of last year – I don’t think I’ll go back to them. They’re just a bit basic, a bit thin, and I want to be coming up with ideas that feel a bit fuller. But I definitely want to go back into my archives and see what I’ve got in there. I never throw anything away, and right now I feel like I’m only just realising how much that investment is going to pay off.

My initiative writing-wise for this week is to go back through my old ideas and find some new – or old, as the case may be – toys to play with. And to actually write them to find out if they’re things that I want to work on going forward. This is less of a writing thing and more of a general life thing: the new Youthline course I’ve started is one that I don’t quite feel sold on yet, but I’m sticking with it because I want to see where I’m at by the end, if it’s a path that I want to continue with. After telling my friend about this today, she suggested that the same could apply to writing. I think she’s right. Normally I take writing lessons and apply them to other aspects of my life, but in this case it’s the other way around. And that’s nice, actually. It’s nice to have experiences besides writing to draw on. I’ve wanted this for a while now.

So yeah. Lots of writing-related stuff to add to the initiative. I really like the way I’ve set up Weekly Words, the flexible yet organised structure of having a weekly word-count and a daily writing commitment, as opposed to a daily word-count. I want to do something like that with returning to my old projects and working on new ones – word-count obviously goes towards the weekly goal, but as for reading, tracking my progress in terms of how much research or whatever I do – I think maybe to have a commitment of two projects per week to revisit and play around with could be a good start. Doesn’t feel quite right, but the important thing is to have a starting-point. After all, everything can be fixed during revision.

23/04/18: 9084

… so. That happened.

I mean, I’ve already crossed the 40k word mark this month at this point. Why not see if I can hit 50k, given that Camp Nanowrimo is happening this month?

This episode really got away from me. I kind of pulled it back on-track, but the reason it got off-track is because I let myself try to make too many different things happen – I let my darlings dictate my agenda, and the result was a unfocused, haphazard, unwieldy and disorganised agenda that didn’t work as well as my previous, de-darling-ed plan did. I miss that plan. I want to have stuck to that plan.

But the upshot is that this episode is actually almost finished; I wrote one scene tonight – yes, all of those words went into once scene – which is also basically the entire second act all on its own, and what’s left is not only very straightforward and short, but also actually lets me stick to my original plan. While I do like my original plan, it is also possible that too much happened in it, just in a different way – rather than cramming a whole bunch of stuff together into one gigantic scene, I had a whole bunch of different threads going that eventually linked back together. I like that kind of storytelling, and it’s fun to plan, but I think perhaps it’s not necessarily the worst thing in the world that I ended up going in this (in some respects) more condensed, self-contained direction instead.

And I’m still pretty confident that this is going to be shorter than not just my previous, ridiculously long episode, but shorter than any of my other episodes to date, which I am actually pretty excited about, because I can write some long-ass episodes. If every page of a screenplay is supposed to be 1 minute of screen-time, my episodes are all feature-length films at this point. Yes, revision fixes everything and it’s better to have too much to work with than too little, but it’s just nice to think that I’m coming to a point where I can make my first drafts a bit easier to work with during revision.

But I guess there’s only one way to find out for sure, and it requires more writing. I think I can get this episode finished by the end of this week – actually maybe not, as this is my birthday week. We’ll see how things go. Also, for my birthday week, I definitely want to get some of my own shit worked on.

Also holy fuck I’m 31 this week I am not reeeaaadyyy I don’t think I’ll ever be ready for another birthday for the rest of my life.

Never thought about it that way before …

It actually kind of makes it exciting.

Interesting.

25/04/18: 2223

Making some decisions today.

Co-writing is going well, have finished act 2 of this episode I’m writing, leaving just act 3 to go, and it’s pretty straightforward. Might even get it done this week after all.

The decisions revolve around some of my own projects. I’m continuing to identify ideas that feel vital and engaging to me, and I am trying to make decisions based on following and playing with those ideas, as opposed to ideas that I think will be, I dunno, marketable or whatever. I have to care about it, and I am starting to realise that I have said many, many times over the years I’ve been working on this blog that I have not cared about any of my own ideas for quite some time. There have been moments that proved exceptions to the rule – I definitely cared about Tallulah, for instance – but by and large it’s just nothing. And I think it could be that it’s because a lot of the time, I’m still stuck on thinking about turning my ideas into books instead of just taking the ideas themselves and exploring them. I kill the momentum before it begins by trying to take the direction I feel myself naturally going in with an idea and trying to force it to go somewhere else.

I am starting to discover that I am a fucking killjoy, specifically a killer of my own joy, and that is just ass. I do not like this.

So, time to start fixing that.

26/04/18: 796

My last day as a 30-year-old.

Writing-wise – well, I’ve already done a shitload this week, and it is my birthday week. We went to see Infinity War, and it was a Marvel movie. I did enjoy myself, but I will not be at all sad when the superhero film industry finally either evolves or just dies. The stakes are so high that they don’t even matter. I grew up with Dragon Ball Z, so I know when a story is suffering from characters with inflated power-levels and power-creep, and the MCU is definitely struggling in that area. Also the writing just hasn’t been that inspired since … well, ever, to be fair. Maybe I should revisit my policy of swearing off Hollywood entirely, which I was first tempted to do when I saw The Way, Way Back.

But anyway, I had a good day. I enjoyed Infinity War, regardless of my macro-level issues with the MCU; I hung out with my bestie and had curly fries for lunch, which was very nice; and hey, I did do some writing. Finished act 2 of my episode, and act 3 pretty much writes itself. Though if I don’t write tomorrow …

It’s because it’s my birthday.

I feel I should allow myself to make an exception for birthday celebrations, writing-wise. I’m quite happy with that compromise.

27/04/18: 3274

And a bit of birthday writing to wrap up this final week (for weekly word) of April.

Thought I was just going to do a little bit, ended up doing a fairly impressive chunk. The episode is almost done now, and while I’m going to wrap up this month with regards to weekly words before April actually ends – which I need to maybe reconsider regarding my monthly wrap-ups – I am very certain that the episode will be finished before the calendar tells me April has ended. Which will be good; I wanted to get this one done quickly so my friend and I could move on to our co-written episodes, and I’m looking forward to doing them.

Also, not to blow my own horn, but I am also looking forward to tallying up this month’s word-count total. It’s only been two months with weekly words, but in that time I feel like my writing habits have changed entirely. It feels unrecognisable. I think the true test is still ahead of me, which is applying it to projects that I find harder to work on than the magical trove of writing enthusiasm that is this co-writing project, but I think I have the tools I need to pass that test.

28/04/18: 16143

Yusss.

It’s been a good week. It’s been a good month, for that matter, but I’ll save that rant for the wrap-up post. This week in particular was full of energy for me; no, I did not follow up on everything that I wanted to do with that energy, but the word-count speaks for itself – I did something with it, and that feels good. It’s a bit of a milestone week, or at least that’s how it feels to me. Did a ton of writing, finished an episode, made it most of the way through the next one – it’s been a good run over these past 7 days.

 

Also I am now 31 and it feels wrong. But I have finally made peace with my ever-increasing age – not only am I finally able to concede the point that 31 seriously is not that old, but also the realisation that I will never feel ready to grow a year older for the rest of my life has been surprisingly liberating. It’s always going to feel wrong. I’m never going to feel my age. But at least I can be certain that I’m never going to feel my age. And that seems to have done the trick.

Almost as effectively as weekly words, seriously I have no idea how I got any writing done before I started doing this …

Weekly Words 15-20/04/2018

15/04/18: 7903

Why yes, I would say this week is off to a good start.

Today’s word-count was going to be 1043 before I decided to just round off the day’s efforts with a bit of work on Realm of the Myth, and obviously that was a good move on my part. I got almost as much done with it in 15 minutes as I got done with the co-writing project in 2 hours. To be fair, the co-writing project is mostly dialogue because it’s a screenplay, while Realm of the Myth is prose, but while it has historically been very difficult to write, today it was astoundingly easy, while my co-writing efforts were much harder to follow through with. I seem to have transferred my perfectionism from my own projects to the co-writing one, which tells me that it is very good to have a couple of projects going simultaneously, and for one of them to be a co-writing project.

Speaking of which: some time after I did some work on Realm of the Myth, and inspired by the fact that my friend finished the episode she was working on today, which was very awesome, I made another push with my episode, and ended up with an extra 5926 words. I mean, I’m almost done for the week. No, I will not stop for the rest of the week; I wanted to finish this episode, and I did. That’s just using motivation while I have it; that’s a nice bonus, and definitely something to appreciate – but it is not a reason to ease up on the rest of the week, because honestly, this was not that hard. That’s what motivation can do for you, and after getting used to making myself write even without motivation, having it to lean on tonight was a very welcome change, a bit of a reward. Though honestly, I’m realising that I am starting to learn how to generate my own motivation, rather than waiting for it to come to me, through doing this weekly words thing. It has really changed the way that I write, and is starting to change other things as well. Who would have thought that a weekly blog update could have such far-reaching effects?

A promising start to the week. And also, I might take it easy after today, because I’m still marking for the rest of the week – although to be fair, I was also marking last week and I hit over 10k words that week, so perhaps having more to do is actually getting me energised to do more. But my point is that, while I don’t want to use this huge surge of writing as an excuse, I think it’s okay for me to use it as a buffer. If I need to.

And right now, I don’t feel like I do need to.

17/04/18: 130

First night back at Youthline doing the beginning of counselling training, which is exciting and energising – in retrospect. I was quite fatigued today, and definitely brought some of that with me to this first session, but looking back on it I feel very ready and enthusiastic to continue.

Sadly that fatigue affected my writing today – I actually did a ton of writing yesterday, but it was all planning out the next episode I’m writing, which I ended up writing two plans for. Revision, yay. I don’t count planning, but maybe I should, because it took up my entire day and did directly contribute to something I was going to write … I don’t know. I’m not counting it for now, because it’s so easy to just plan and never follow through, but I may have to think of making certain exceptions.

The fatigue was also exacerbated by anxiety for the group this evening; I always feel very anxious when I’ve got an event that I have to go to, or just a thing I am scheduled to do in general. It makes me fear for my free time, and I respond to this stress by squandering what free time I do have, which obviously doesn’t help. It’s a habit I’m working to try and break. And I did do fairly well today; I got my marking done, and I did make a start on my episode. And to be fair, counted or not, the fact of the matter is that I did do a ton of writing yesterday, over most of the day, which I think took it out of me more than I expected.

18/04/18: 3601

I wasn’t expecting to be quite this true to my word that the huge burst of writing on Sunday wouldn’t put me off for the rest of the week, but I’m certainly not complaining.

I’m still tweaking my episode plan, but I’m tweaking it in my head as I write it now, rather than trying to pin it all down on paper. Should probably make some notes at some stage.

It also occurs to me that I haven’t even considered doing Camp Nanowrimo – though the reason is also fairly obvious: Weekly Words basically gets me to do my own Nanowrimo every month. I might join up anyway, just so that I can enter my word-count for this month at the end and see if I “win”. I “won” last November because I decided to count a whole bunch of writing that I wasn’t planning on counting, but now that I have a narrower range of types of writing that I am willing to count towards my weekly word-count goal, I am curious to see how it compares to the 50k goal of Nanowrimo. I mean last month I was just under 40k, so that’s an answer in and of itself, but still, it was only one month. Might be fun.

Also might be pointless as I already have my own metric for success writing-wise and it’s working really well – and in the end, that’s the whole point of Nanowrimo: to keep yourself on track. Which I have been doing without Nanowrimo.

Without this co-writing project, on the other hand … I am pretty certain this initiative would not have been nearly as successful. The sad fact of the matter is that none of my own projects appeal to me as much as this co-writing project – which isn’t that sad, because I am writing this co-writing project – but I can’t help wishing I could get the same kind of satisfaction out of one of my own projects. I think I have identified the problem, though: I don’t think about what I want to happen. I think about what would be neat to have happen, but not what I actually want to happen. I don’t give myself enough to invest in. So I’m going to start working specifically on that. Mostly I think it’s going to have to come from character-arcs and interesting personalities, because that’s how I tend to get invested in stories, apart from good structure.

Speaking of which, I am really interested to actually start reading some craft books, for the first time ever, in my life. I think I’ll do a little googling on that tonight. And also keep chipping away at that Realm of the Myth scene I started working on, have fallen off the wagon with, but still think I can get done now that I’ve started. Also a good way for me to start getting particular and deliberate with what I want to have happen in my own projects, instead of just fantasising about what, hypothetically speaking, could be kinda cool.

Although I will totally keep doing that as well, because cool things are, well, cool.

19/04/18: 3401

Wow, what is with this week? I’ve had to do more marking per day than last week, I spend a huge amount of energy making not one but two different plans for the co-writing episode I’m doing, and I’ve been waking up later than I normally do. Yet somehow the writing is just pouring out of me.

And that’s the way I like it.

Uh-huh.

I can’t predict when or why this happens, so I’ll just enjoy it while it is happening. Still haven’t gone back to my Realm of the Myth scene, but I might tinker with that a bit tomorrow when I finish up the final few assignments I need to mark.

I might also tinker with something else, because much as I have enjoyed what I’ve done with that scene so far, actually making myself write Realm of the Myth is proving to be the most effective method I’ve ever found of making myself enthusiastic to move the fuck on and write something else, to pour all the energy and time and dedication that I put into Realm of the Myth into something more rewarding, something more enjoyable – something better for me. Which, I guess, makes total sense. A lot of problems prove much less resilient than we think they are if we can find a way to confront them directly, and my problem for so long has been trying to decide whether or not it’s worth my time trying to write Realm of the Myth. I’m still committed to at least finishing this one scene and seeing how that turns out, but I’m also actually really thankful that I feel, very viscerally, that it is time to move on. I’ve wanted to feel it, ever since I caved the first time I gave up on it. Well, second time. I have a bad track record of giving up on this project. But I think part of that is because I never actually sat down and wrote the scenes and ideas that I actually had. It’s so easy to distract myself by making up new things to try and hold everything together, but these ideas and scenes keep recurring for me, no matter what version of the story it is currently in my head. These are the core foundations of Realm of the Myth, and in finally examining and interacting with them … well, I’m seeing what they’re really made of, what they can withstand.

And whether it’s something I want to continue to commit to, after all this time.

We’ll see.

20/04/18: 3232

I have finished the first act of my episode, and also holy shit the past 3 days I have clocked in at over 3k words. I am very not unhappy about this.

I went back and read what I’d written of one of my other projects to try and get some motivation to keep writing it. I … kind of? found some, but most of it was reminding me that I wanted to start it over again. I might do it, I might not.

And since I’m writing this the day after, let’s just cut to the chase and tally up the weekly total.

21/04/18: 18267

Niiiiiiiiiiice.

I realised today that I haven’t worked this hard or consistently on a writing project since Tallulah. I think I’ve actually worked on this thing for about as long as it took to finish the first draft by now. And I still wish any of my own projects were as easy – or fun – to write as this co-writing thing. I just am not having the ideas. I know I want to move on from my older ones, just not what I want to move on to.

But, dude, whatever, I am doing so much goddamn writing, and I’m still enjoying it. I will make an effort from next week to work on some of my other projects. Might pick one a week or something, and just see how it feels to actually work on them. Got a lot of good data from going back to write Realm of the Myth already – yes, that data is that I want to write other things, but that is valuable.

I dunno I don’t really have anything to say I’m tired.

Must have been all the writing I’ve been doing.

I’ve done a lot of writing.

Because I’m awesome.

Weekly Words 07-13/04/2018

07/04/18: 1125

I wrote a new scene in the episode of the co-writing project I’m doing, and then spent some time trying to lay out some plans for a potential revision/rewrite of Wolf Gang. And pretty much immediately it became obvious to me that I just can’t be bothered. Yes, there’s potential, but it’s for a story that, while I probably wouldn’t at all mind reading it, I have absolutely no energy to try and write it myself – some of which, on the plus side, it reminded me of, because while I was writing down my ideas for this story’s potential reboot, all I could think was: “wow, this idea would work so much better in this other project that I actually give a shit about writing someday possibly”.

But even that story …

A lot of the ideas for books that I have, I’m now realising, are very similar to Wolf Gang: a neat idea that I don’t have the vision to grow into anything more than just kind of a neat premise. I run out of energy for them as soon as I think about having to actually write them down. Like, how? What words? What are the right words? There’s my perfectionist streak that always gets in the way, yes, but there’s also the part of me that actually cares about the form, the use of words to best effect, because that’s kind of the whole point of telling stories in writing.

And then I thought: but what if it was a screenplay instead of a book?

Today, for the first time, I’m starting to wonder if I just find it easier to convey my ideas via screenplay – or the bastardised guesswork version of screenplay-writing I am capable of producing – than through traditional prose. I don’t think that’s true for everything I’m trying to write, but I do think certain stories and certain tones fit that format for me better. The language of it, the structure on the page itself, suits certain types of stories more than others, and I’m starting to think that I actually need to investigate this with more of my projects. I was starting to put together a panel treatment for a comic version of one of my old projects; I haven’t done anything with it for a while, but it seemed to be working quite well when I did it. And the co-writing project – I’ve already mentioned the various reasons for why it’s so easy to write, but I really think it might not have been this easy if it wasn’t for the fact that it was a screenplay. It’s more direct, in terms of getting ideas down in writing, than prose, I feel. Obviously it doesn’t read as well from a reader’s perspective, but from a person-with-ideas perspective, it’s pretty damn good.

For some stories. And the one I’m thinking of right now is one that I think would suit that style. So, whenever I have time – probably after I’m done marking, but perhaps during as well – I’m going to give that a shot and see how it works out.

09/04/18: 1053

Well, today was more productive than it feels like the entire past three weeks have been. I went for a walk this morning despite it being shitty and grey and cold outside, marked the first 5 assignments for the lecturer of the paper I’m marking for to look over, wrote another scene of the co-writing project (leading to today’s word-count) – and made a plan for the first/pilot episode of one of my own personal projects.

I am very pleased.

I think the idea of turning that project into a TV show rather than trying to force it to be a book just because that’s what I’m used to was exactly what I needed to get the ball rolling again; the pacing feels right, the tone and energy feels right, and even the ideas that I think are kind of crap and unoriginal feel right with this format. It has also gotten me to start confronting what exactly it is about prose writing that makes me so much more of a perfectionist than writing a screenplay. I think it’s the type of language typically used – lots of utilitarian descriptions rather than trying to make it “read well” with elegant prose. I get really stuck on that. So while on the one hand I feel good about this move, I am wary of using it as an excuse to not work on the issue that I have with writing prose, because that is something that I want to overcome and get comfortable with. I think it’s just that my expectations are too high, and the language used in screenplays bypasses that particular anxiety of mine, because it’s very objective. What reads well to one person in prose might be very purple to another, or too dry to someone else, but with a screenplay it’s always dry, direct, flat – and that’s why there’s nothing to worry about. It’s not meant to be good in that kind of qualitative sense; it’s almost clinical in a way, and a huge stress that comes with prose that I just don’t have to deal with at all. I mean sure, maybe dialogue, but I’m actually fine writing shit dialogue in a way I’m not when it comes to prose. So I do want to explore this hang-up of mine more closely.

But in the meantime, while I do have a number of episodes that I want to write plans for, I think I might actually just get stuck into this first one and see how it feels. Maybe it just needs one episode for me to be satisfied that I’ve explored the idea – and more to the point, I want to get started on the actual writing sooner rather than later, and this first episode is definitely the one that I’ve had the clearest, most coherent ideas for, and that’s what I want to get into the habit of working with going forward, instead of waiting until I have an entire story. That’s been a huge problem for me historically, but I even feel that the screenplay format helps with that as well. It’s the directness of the language you’re expected to use, I think, that makes it so much easier for me to get stuck into. And I think I kind of deserve to make things easy for myself when it comes to the things that I do just for myself. That’s a habit I would like to pick up.

10/04/18: 1362

I am appreciating how consistent my daily word-count numbers have been this week. I am feeling optimistic that I will not need to take a day off this week either, even with marking having come in – it hasn’t taxed my energy or focus like I was worried it might yet, so here’s hoping.

I did try to get started on my personal project that has been turned from a book into a script – and wouldn’t you know it, I found it exactly as difficult to get started on as I did when it was a book. I’ve actually written the first chapter of this project in book form, a couple of times, so maybe I just need to go back to that.

The reason I got tripped up was because of, surprise surprise, perfectionism. I looked up what a screenplay format is supposed to look like, and realised that I’m doing it wrong, and for some reason that became an insurmountable challenge for me. I might spend my time on this project tomorrow just trying to get the format down right, as opposed to focusing on getting actual writing done – but I’m also thinking, seriously, I may as well just write it as a book and try to embrace shitty writing like I’ve been avoiding committing to for the past few months/year. It’s just supposed to get done to start with, and I firmly believe that, and yet I find it so hard to practice what I preach. But I think this wake-up call might be just the push I need to continue chipping away at my insecurities regarding how well I write during the early stages of a project – it’s not the format; it’s me. And the circumstances of the project. I don’t have anyone to write this thing with; I don’t want anyone to write this thing with, either, but god it helps. External accountability, yes, but also external motivation, energy, and enthusiasm.

Well, at least I tried it out and saw that it didn’t get any easier just because I changed formats; I just found a bunch of new problems to fret over instead of getting on with the writing. It’s liberating, in a way. I know what the problem is now, so I can stop worrying about what it might be, and what I might have to try and learn or think of in order to fix it. I just need to stop being such a fucking elitist, and I might actually get something done for a change. Or just make up the format, like I have for my scenes of the co-writing project.

In any event, despite the setback today I do honestly feel like I’ve learnt something, taken a step closer towards being able to write freely and unselfconsciously like I’ve been hoping I would learn to do, ever since I found that I could do it with Wolf GangWolf Gang is also a irredeemable pile of garbage, but hey, it got written. And I’ve got a plan for this project, so I may as well find a way to use it, if I can – and I do feel like I can.

11/04/18: 960

12/04/18: 2144

There’s no particular reason for why I didn’t write something about yesterday’s progress; I think I literally just got distracted and forgot about it.

Today was pretty good; the words just kind of flew by. Had a really good flow. I left it until pretty late, but enjoyed having a bit more of a chill day as a result, so I think I might aim for this a bit more often, if I can leave writing until relatively late and still get a fair amount done. And it only took about an hour, which I think is more than I generally get done in an hour writing-wise, so that’s exciting.

Less exciting is that this episode is shaping up to be extremely repetitive. It’s just people having big stupid dramatic arguments, one after another, all the way through. It’s also already the longest of my episodes, and there’s still quite a lot left to go. And also, looking at my plans for it now, absolutely nothing about this episode makes sense in the grand scheme of the season’s story – yes, everything can be fixed in revision, but in the moment it’s just really frustrating. Though perhaps the repetitive nature of this episode is part of what’s made it easy to write.

Whatever; I got a bunch of writing done, the most I’ve done in a single day for a while, so I’m happy with that.

13/04/18: 4571

You know, I was actually thinking of taking today off, but once I got through my marking for today I remembered that it doesn’t take nearly as much out of me as I expect it will once I’m actually done with it for the day. Finished three scenes in my episode – the scenes for this episode have been shorter on the whole than for the previous episodes I’ve written, and I’m making an effort to not pick at that knowledge like a scab, which is my wont currently.

And I also finally started working on my own projects. As in actual writing. 2k words’ worth.

I feel pretty good about it.

This story feels old as I write it, and it is old. It’s full of old sentiments, old sensibilities, an old sense of priorities – and humour. But even with that gut feeling of outdatedness, it also feels totally relevant to me, even after all this time.

It’s Realm of the Myth, to be specific, the project that I have finally made peace with the idea of never getting around to writing all the way through. It might still happen – part of my breaking it up into scenes that I have in my mind to write instead of trying to get a whole book done is testing the waters in that regard, as I mentioned a few posts back – but the point is that even if it doesn’t, I have made my peace with the project.

It’s just that, honestly, it’s turning out to be more fun that I thought it would to actually be writing it. So, we’ll see.

It’s been a good day for writing.

14/04/18: 11215

THAT IS MORE FUCKING LIKE IT GO MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEe

Making myself do some work on one of my personal projects, as well as not taking a day off this week – I never felt like I needed one – and just sticking at it rather than letting previous weeks’ efforts get me down, all contributed to being able to achieve 10k+ this week, I would also like to thank the academy …

Yeah, a good week. I’m happy about this. Very happy. When I did finally start writing my own thing, late yesterday – like I said, it felt relevant even though it also felt old, a relic from my past I decided to pick up and play with. But the main thing is that it was engaging. I lost track of time while I was writing it, and part of that was because I made myself keep going. There were a couple of points while writing it where I felt “you know what, this has been a good effort, I’ll pick this up tomorrow”, and that happens a lot when I have trouble getting started with something, especially something I haven’t actually done any “real” writing for beforehand. I’ll get started, hit a stride, and then having gotten over my anxiety tell myself that I’ve done a good job and I can call it a day, coming back to it tomorrow. Every single time I do that, I never come back to it. And I knew that I would do exactly the same thing if I let myself stop with this project. So I didn’t. And as a result, I actually feel compelled to continue writing it today. This is supposed to be my day off writing, so if I do work on it today I’m not sure how I’ll count that towards my overall progress – maybe I’ll just say I didn’t have a weekend this week or something, because I don’t think stopping myself from writing when I have the energy for it is necessary, I don’t think I need to be that much of a pedant about the rules I’ve set for Weekly Words. I feel like writing, therefore, I should do some writing.

And honestly, I felt that same sense of time passing without me noticing while writing my scenes for the co-writing project as well, also because I made myself keep going after hitting a point of satisfaction with what I’d accomplished. Satisfaction is a reward, not a referee blowing their whistle. I will remember that.

Also, apparently I completely missed that last week’s post was my 600th on this blog. I can’t believe, looking back on it now, that there was a point not too long ago when I actually wanted to quit this blog. True, all that this blog is right now is a home for my weekly words initiative so that I have a form of external obligation – a weekly blog update – and I would like to do some book reviews or something (still on the urban fantasy wagon, still simultaneously uncomfortable and fascinated with it), but actually, the whole point of this blog in the first place was to chronicle my experiences as a writer. Weekly Words has just been the most direct, organised, and reliable method I’ve found of meeting those goals, after five years of running this blog. I might as well change the name of the blog at this point. Actually I want to change the name of this blog anyway.

But that’s a discussion for another time. Right now: thanks for reading, and those of you who have stuck around, thanks for following. And to anyone feeling the writer’s struggle right now, I strongly encourage you to keep some kind of tally that doesn’t just record your progress on a day-to-day basis, but gives you a reason to look back at that progress regularly and take stock of it. Because that perspective on your own work is absolutely invaluable with a task that requires as much self-motivation as writing. It’s hard, y’all. So give yourself a hand.

Weekly Words 1-7/04/2018

01/04/18: 334

There was a reason for this: I was planning. Plans were happening, because I was doing them. Plans for my own projects, even. This week, I am going to be focusing on fleshing out these plans, and am realising that this is actually a learning opportunity for me: how to write meaningful action scenes.

Over the years, I have come to firmly believe that any part of a story should help to tell that story. If it doesn’t, it feels like a digression – filler. I do not like filler. And a big part of my learning this lesson probably ties in with why I’ve had such a hard time ever writing Realm of the Myth: so much of it is filler, because the story has always been very vague, hand-wavey, amorphous, a consequence of me trying to make it my own ultimate wish-fulfillment, trying to do too many things at once and ending up doing several shitty jobs instead of one or a handful of good ones. This always hurts – going back and reading Tallulah taught me that, very painfully – but action scenes are possibly the worst offenders, because if a fight scene is filler, then not only does it not have anything to do with the story, but it can also potentially have nothing to do with the characters. They can so easily become action figures being smashed against each other over and over again, devoid of personality, desires, agendas, or a sense of agency, resulting in action that feels contrived, forced, and pointless.

I think a good word to sum up my history with Realm of the Myth is that very word. It has been a fruitless endeavour for almost 17 years now, because I couldn’t bring myself to settle on any clear story, to limit it in any way that would give it a clear, definite shape as a story – because that would mean leaving some things out, and this was supposed to be the perfect project that did everything, and did it better than anything else. I never put it in those terms, but it was definitely my underlying, perhaps unacknowledged goal in keeping it alive for so long.

But just in writing these brief plan outlines for these scenes, most of which are action scenes, I’m finding myself intuitively creating choreography for them. I’ve always felt pretty bad with fight choreography, almost unprepared to write action scenes even if I set out intended to write one. And yet, despite this historic difficulty of mine, I’m finding that the plans I have so far that have that deliberation present through the choreography, the plotting and sequence of events, feel much better and more appealing than the plans with more broad details. I don’t think it would help to have a super-detailed breakdown of every single move in every single scene, but identifying key moments where something changes in the situation really helps to clarify the action, gives it a purpose – makes it feel like there’s a point to this happening, because what is happening is defined, precise – limited, yes, but only in that it has purpose. It is limited because it is specific. And this is something that Realm of the Myth has sorely lacked for most of its existence, so this development has gotten me looking forward to writing these scenes, rather than just feeling motivated out of a sense of “I should confront this issue because it would be healthier than sitting on it and pretending it’s not a huge developmental block to me creatively and emotionally”. What was once a problem for me with this project – setting boundaries on what could and could not happen – seems like it’s becoming a strength. Which makes sense, because when I think about it now, what’s fun about action scenes is the specifics. I started off feeling quite disappointed in myself for only having action scenes to write, but now I’m seeing that it’s exactly what this project needs – the best chance that is has of surviving, because action scenes really need focus and deliberation to work, and it’s so easy to spot when it doesn’t work. If this project has a chance of surviving beyond this set of scenes I’m aiming to write, it is through finding that intentionality, and writing action scenes, I now realise, is such a perfect way to do that, because of the ingredients that action scenes need in order to work are the same ingredients that Realm of the Myth needs to work.

03/04/18: 168

Yeah, more slow progress – however, I have been doing other stuff today, writing stuff even, just for fun. Nothing I’d count, but it’s been enjoyable.

Today was also a pretty rough start for me: I had a doctor’s appointment that I totally forgot about and my alarm that I set up last week didn’t actually go off for this morning; I realised when I got out of the shower to go to the appointment that all of my underwear was in the wash; and by the time I got home I just wanted to recuperate my energy, return to a point of emotional stability. Which I did. And hey, I did do some writing today, even writing that I would count towards my weekly word-count goal. I am keeping up the habit.

But I am aware now of just how much I need mornings for productivity, and so from tomorrow onwards that is what I will be focusing on doing. Get up, walk, shower, eat, and then write. Even if I only write for a bit and then take a break and come back to it later, I want to kick off my daily routine like that. I want to be writing as early as possible, while I’ve got energy to turn into momentum, before it gets turned into momentum for watching YouTube or something.

04/04/18/: 2100

MUCH better.

This spurt of writing was brought on partly by guilt at not having written much this week, and partly because I needed a distraction. I’ve been watching the American version of The Office, which I have never seen before because I am a purist and how could it ever be as good or even close to as good as the British version, but it’s just very watchable and enjoyable and real enough to not be completely ridiculous. However, it’s also made me kind of hyper-aware of my social anxiety, specifically the fact that it has prevented me from being able to participate in what most people find to be normal social situations, or have anything much of a social life. I think when The Office, of all things, makes you feel like you’re missing out, it’s probably time to take stock of your life, be honest about what’s really going on with yourself emotionally, and make an actionable plan for dealing with it, including seeking professional help if you can afford it.

Or write some pseudo-fanfiction for a couple of hours. That’s totally the same.

No it was a good writing session, but wow. The Office. I really do have problems.

05/04/18: 1881

Now if only the previous three days of this week could have been so good …

Yes, I do still want a 10k-per-week word-count goal, because I feel that I can do it. I’m just doing stupid, obvious shit to sabotage myself, like refusing to uninstall WOW despite hating how dull and monotonous it is, or allowing myself to watch YouTube not because there’s stuff I actually want to watch but because I want to distract myself from various anxiety-induced shit that affects my mindset on a daily basis. I’ve just got to set up a better process to habituate myself to. Like my morning walks. I’ve been going for walks first thing every day for about a month now, not every single day, but most days out of the week, pretty consistently. I need to do something like that for writing. I am still also stuck on wanting it to be my own projects, rather than the co-writing thing, but the co-writing thing seems to be the only reliable source of word-generation that I have – and you know what, I may as well just accept it, because refusing to work on it is not the same as actively working on something else. Which would be fine, but I’m not doing it, so I may as well be working on the co-writing thing.

Which is going a bit better this week than it has for the past couple, where I’ve started feeling a bit resentful of the fact that it’s so easy to write compared to my own stuff. I don’t think I’ve mentioned the resentment specifically; I’ve talked a bit about how the process that me and my friend have set up for this co-writing project has made it so much easier to just sit down and write than my own projects, but not how that contrast in ease of access makes me feel. But I can’t let that rule my decisions. If it’s easy to write, I should embrace the fact that I’ve got a writing project to work on that I actually not only find easy to write but still enjoy working on, even after … what, five months now? It’s been a while. That’s kind of miraculous, honestly. Yes, there was a bit of a lull, and I definitely gave myself a lot of momentum with this weekly words thing that I’m still coasting on a bit, but still, five months is a long time to commit to anything. There are relationships that don’t last that long. That’s a lot of binge-watching I could have done, but instead I chose to be productive.

But, by the same token, feeling satisfied with the work I’ve done on this co-writing project – and I do – is not the same as getting myself to work on my own shit. Once again, I am feeling disillusioned with my own shit because so much of it is so old already, projects that I had energy for in the past and never acted on, but kept the dream of alive after the fact. It’s starting to feel really unhealthy. I’m having the same kinds of ideas for stories and characters as I did as a teenager, only way less original and creative. I want to write something my age, if that makes sense at all. It probably doesn’t. I’m probably just grumpy because it’s been a slow writing week, I always have ridiculously high expectations of myself, and it’s late. Not a winning combination of factors regarding emotional health, even at the best of times.

But on the other other hand, this week has been a pretty good one in non-writing areas of my life, and I’m going to take that as a win, because I’ve been really worried about the non-writing areas of my life for a long time, and it’s starting to feel like they’re improving. Very slowly, but noticeably. I can’t put a weekly numerical value-judgement on that; I just have to do it, and it takes time and energy that I could be spending writing. But it’s also stuff that I need to prioritise.

What I need, basically, is better time-management. A schedule, as I have lamented time and time again, and found myself unable to stick to time and time again. But it might actually work now, because I’m at a point in my life when there are not only numerous things that I want to get done, but have actually been getting done as well. Since I’m already doing them, making some sort of schedule or priority system to organise them by is probably going to be easier than trying to make that schedule before I’ve even gotten started.

I guess we’ll see. But I’m probably spending most of tomorrow with a friend, and that’s going to eat into my writing time too – but in a good, necessary way. Like I keep saying, I don’t want to be a writer anymore. I just want to write a lot. And I think that, actually, keeping a 10k-word-goal per week is going to help with that – if it’s a goal that I can look at over the course of, say, a year, and find that more often than not I’m hitting that goal or something close to it. It doesn’t have to get met every single week. It’s just what I’m striving for, under ideal circumstances, and when I look back over my progress in a big-picture sort of way, it’s a way for me to gauge how I’ve handled that expectation, when I’ve been able to meet – or surpass – it, and what’s contributed to it, and the same when I fall short of this lofty mark. It is quite a lofty mark. 10k words a week is a lot, unless you’re Stephen King or something. And I am not Stephen King.

Nor do I have to be. I just have to figure out the best way to do the things that I want to do, and live the life I want to live. And it’s getting there. I really do feel like it’s getting there.

06/04/18: 2878

Not a bad wrap-up to the week. I almost didn’t write anything today, but I made myself sit down and do it – and then, when I thought I had finished, I made myself stick with it and write what I thought was going to be a little bit more, and ended up pretty much doubling the amount I’d managed to write. Which is good to know not only that I can do, but have done. I have made myself write when I didn’t feel like it, and it went well.

I still have yet to make any writing progress on my own projects, but I feel it’s getting there with the planning and stuff. It’s going to take a backseat for the next week or two anyway, though, as the first round of marking has just come in and I’m very keen to get that out of the way in a timely manner. While I’m doing that, I will also try to get this schedule idea rolling, work out a way to divide my time between all the different writing-related stuff I want to get done. Hopefully, it will go well.

07/04/18: 7361

Still not 10k, but closer to it than I thought I was going to get. Not a bad effort for what has felt like a very disruptive week writing-wise, and life-wise.

I was not planning on writing today, but had to shift some things around regarding the sunday writing session with my friend, so will be writing today instead of Sunday and counting this next “week” from today instead of Sunday as a result – Sunday will also be my “weekend” this week. That just means that despite the fact that I will be writing today, it will not be added to this week’s total of 7361, because if it was then next week would be only 5 days long for writing purposes.

The word-count is getting up there again. It feels nice. I think my idea to have 10k as an ideal rather than a practical goal is also working well; I am still striving to hit it, but accepting that even when I don’t, it doesn’t mean I haven’t done some good work over the week, and I feel that’s a good place to be mentally and emotionally for this habit I am trying to develop.

I have also had some ideas for Wolf Gang, which I might spend today’s writing session working on, and see if it’s something I’m actually remotely interested in pursuing. It’s going back to the original idea, which when I first came up with it, two or three years ago now, I described roughly as a mix between Vampire Academy and Fight Club, but with werewolves. I still like that premise, but the characters are going to have to change, a lot, for me to be able to stomach it, because currently my two main characters are, on the one hand, an insufferable, jealous, insecure, brainless everyboy who I should have let the main villain kill when he had the chance, and his cardboard cutout girl best friend who seems to serve as a sort of anti-wish fulfillment figure, but still not an actual character. The side characters are, for the most part, at least good at fulfilling their roles as side characters, and the villain definitely has potential, but yeah, many things will need to be changed. And I’m kind of looking forward to getting started on that.

So all in all, not a bad week for writing, and in fact better than the past couple of weeks, despite feeling in many ways quite a lot rougher. Here’s to trending upwards!