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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!