Weekly Words 22-28/07/2019, Camp Nanowrimo Edition

22/07/2019

Writing: 403

And that’s it, because today is The Lost Day Off and I intend to fucking take it.

To ponder for me in the meantime: writing slowly gives you time to think. I tend to write on a laptop basically exclusively, the only exceptions being my little notebooks that I jot down my plans and goals for the day in, and now my therapy journal. I know there are writers (I’m thinking specifically of Neil Gaiman) who write their zero draft with pen and paper, and then revise on a computer. I really like the thought of that, but the thought of trying to find somewhere to put all that fucking paper really puts me off. Because I don’t ever throw away any of my writing, as a rule, and it’s a rule that I don’t want to break – besides, having everything on my computer makes it a lot more accessible.

But, on the other hand, writing by hand seems like a good way to be more deliberate with my writing. Maybe not for a zero draft; maybe for the revision process, actually. So, after today, I think it might be worth my time to see what I can manage with my Wacom Bamboo tablet in Microsoft Word.

Something to look forward to, after I spend today doing things that aren’t writing, or thinking about writing, or worrying about not doing any writing … I need this.

23/07/2019

Writing: 1836

I have a new plan.

There is no way in hell I’m hitting 50k by the 31st – but, I think I’m fine with that now. I’ve learnt some important things about this project: it’s not Wolf Gang and I can’t expect to have the same glorious, giddy, writing-by-the-seat-of-my-pants experience that I had with it; it’s not the trope treasure-trove I expected it to me, not one of those stories that writes itself – I have to be the one to show up and make shit happen; it’s open and vague and new, despite also being two years old, and that’s caught me off-guard …

And it’s fun. I am having fun with this project, and what’s more I had to make my own fun with this project, because unlike Wolf Gang the process didn’t bring it to me right from the get-go. The initial idea was fun, and the ideas that I’ve been having since writing it are fun, but it was up to me to bridge the gap and make it all fit.

I’m also excited by the very things that bothered me about it for so long: how undefined it is, how open; I had thought for so long that this was a problem of me getting “sidetracked” whenever I sat down to try and put my ideas into writing, but now I realise that 1) that was inevitable because my ideas were so vague to begin with, and 2) it’s not me getting sidetracked, but having to create the track to stick to in the first place. And I’m having fun doing that.

And it’s also reminded me what a zero draft is, and what it isn’t: it is the process by which you get down your base ideas for the story, in whatever form is necessary for them to be written at all, and after that’s all been done you can start getting to work on the “real” story. It isn’t where you will create the majority of the material that you will end up keeping, necessarily, and therefore is not the time or place where that should be your concern. I’m sure there are projects that come so fully-formed that they can be written in one shot, and if you have a project like that then, yeah, go do that, congrats. But if you need to discover the story as you go because you have a good idea but aren’t certain about what kind of story will come from it, then I think you have to do it like this. Or at least this is how I have to do it.

I have learnt to be less precious with this process, and with this month of Camp Nano where I dedicate my time and energy to building up a full head of steam to propel this project through to completion, however long that might take. And I have learnt to be less precious with the iconic, OG ideas that came to me on that first day, listening to Hypnotize on repeat because goddamn that shit is catchy – they’re fun ideas, but they’re not a story. And while it would be really nice to have them be part of the final product, I have learnt to be okay with the idea that, in fact, they might not be. I’ve started to feel excited at what might end up being that final product, too, and I have finally gotten to the point where I want to get there more than I want to cling on to the creation myth of this project – which is the only thing I’ve had to work with for the past two years, to be fair. But I have more now, and I’m enjoying working with it.

So, the plan is to take these ideas of mine, embrace the openness inherent in this project being so new in terms of actually being worked on by me as its author, and just explore the shit out of those ideas. Where might they go? How might they link up to other ideas, or lead into new, better ones? What new ideas will I have while discovery-writing? I think this Camp Nano has been my best discovery-writing since I was in my early teens and just writing for the fun of it, a big part of which was precisely the joy of my own discovery. It’s even taking that silly double-dip, cheat-code-for-writing idea and making it a more manageable, actually-possible plan, where I get to explore the story by spring-boarding off the ideas that I do have, while also embracing the fact that those ideas aren’t fully-formed on their own and giving me the opportunity to fill them in creatively, no longer restrained by some weird, perfectionist compulsion to “get it right” – I know now that I never had any idea what “right” looked like, and am instead now excited to find out.

And in terms of word-count: 1.4k per day, from now until/including the 31st. I’ve already exceeded that expectation, and that’s fine; I’m happy to exceed this goal, but I’m also happy just to meet it, and I think it’s reasonable to expect of myself that I will meet it. Not only can I do it, but I also feel that my level of enthusiasm is such that I would be dissatisfied with less – on the whole. I don’t have to write exactly 1.4k per day; I just want that as the average. I want to have written 7k words by this Sunday, and another 4.2 by the end of the 31st. That’s about 32k words all told for Camp Nano, which, while nowhere near 50k, is still a very impressive amount in my estimation.

And, I mean, after accounting for these Camp Nanowrimo Edition blog posts, it might actually hit 50k. Who knows? I won’t count it for Nano, but I will sure as shit count it for me.

And … yeah. I’m just kind of excited. The writing that I did tonight was actually kinda tropey, so I’m getting excited about that, as it’s something I’ve felt has been lacking from the Camp Nano draft of Bad Guys up until now.

Looking forward to more tomorrow. So much so that I don’t even know if I’ll do my Wolf Gang revision. I might save that until Camp is over.

I have found a project that I want to invest in again – and, unlike the last one, I had to make that desire on my own, and I did make it.

Man. Is this what being A Writer is like?

24/07/2019

Writing: 6621

Is this what being A Writer is like?

When I do write my next Monthly Words, which will have to encompass both June and July, I am rather looking forward to trying to reconcile one of the worst-feeling months that I’ve had in a long time (June) with one of the best (July), not just for feelings but for writing.

Because, I’m fairly sure, 6621 is just slightly above the 1400 daily word-count goal I set for myself on, um, Monday.

This new plan, dudes. Seriously. I have been hype since it emerged from the fetid marshes of my brain like some sort of Swamp-Christ to rescue me from years of toxic writing habits, or at least add to the ongoing process. I finished at around 1800 words today before heading off to see my psychologist, took longer to get home than I had anticipated and had an upsetting experience on the bus (nothing happened to me, just to be clear, not even a “nothing happened” kind of thing, I was just present for a situation and was confused/upset by it and still don’t quite know what to make of it but anyway), and kind of expected today to be like the last post-psychologist-session Wednesday, where the whole day would be shot and I’d spend it in downtime and self-care.

But fuck, maybe that is what I’ve done, because right now Bad Guys is giving me LIIIFFFEEE.

Bad Guys, of all things; the little project that couldn’t, for the past two years, and now, with nothing more than a time-constraint, word-sprints, an active cabin and an awesome writing buddy, it fucking can, and it can can harder than most projects I’ve ever worked on.

Like, I set my Camp Nano goal to 32k words last night; today I’m over 29k. I have a daily word-count average of just over 300 necessary to meet my goal.

But I don’t want to stop writing.

Which was the entire reason I decided to write Bad Guys for my Camp Nano project.

This thing, where you have a plan, and then do the plan, and it happens?

It feels nice.

Also, it feels possible.

All right, enough gushing; this is great and fantastic and happening now, and whatever happens next I am very pleased and grateful that this is where I am today with this project, and very proud of myself that I managed to get myself to this point, by doing things that I know work, even when I wanted to do other things out of fear or panic or genuinely thinking “hey, this other thing that isn’t my plan, yeah, that’ll work better”. I have altered the plan, but in broad strokes it’s still the same plan, just with more added to it – it was a very short-term plan, now that I’m able to think back to the start of Camp and where my expectations were sitting. But now that I’m here, and have accomplished what I’ve accomplished …

I said that this project wasn’t Wolf Gang and that I couldn’t expect to write it the same way. Which, I still think, is right and true.

But it feels just as good.

Hell, it might actually feel better.

And I feel better, just in general, for working on this project, finding a way to make it work that came from my efforts, and finding that it’s rewarded me in ways that I couldn’t possibly have foreseen. I think I’ll have to make a note to return to this series of blog posts when things get tough with other projects, just to remind myself that I can make shit work – and how I have made it work. But, then again, just like Bad Guys can’t be Wolf Gang, the next project can’t be Bad Guys, either.

Also, I am not finished yet; I don’t want to count my eggs before they hatch. It’s just, right now …

Damn I feel good. I didn’t know that I would. But going forward, I now know that I can. And that’s …

Good. It’s very good.

25/07/2019

Writing: 1709

Well, I am definitely off the reservation now: I have written past the point where I had some sort of plan for how to proceed. Which is fine; I’m just trying to maintain the momentum that I have built up so far, and …

Yeah, I do need to start expanding outward.

The Camp Nano draft “version” of Bad Guys – I’m pretty much finished with it, because it’s really just an introduction to the story and lead character, and that’s all happened now. I’m on to the introduction to perhaps the most important character, the one I feel the least comfortable writing and the most perfectionist anxiety about “getting right” – but, they too need the benefit of my being able to suspend judgement and expectation and just explore my ideas, of which they are one.

I still have these other events that haven’t been fully formed or explored very much at all, and I am eager to see what I can do with them. But I still feel anxious about getting started on them, partly because of how they very much represent The Unknown to me, and partly because I am worried about losing my momentum if I start. It also doesn’t help that I’m having huge doubts about how I ended the last chapter; I had a neat idea of how to introduce this super-important character and ended up not doing it, and now I have regret and feel like I should change what I did to compensate for it. I decided, in the end, to stick with the plan because that’s what’s been consistently working, and just not worry about what I’ve “missed out on” – there’s always revision for that. But it’s still a challenge to make myself do it, just as it’s a challenge to make myself confront these unformed ideas and be okay with seeing what comes from exploring them.

So, I think that’s my plan for tomorrow: get started on those scenes, and risk losing momentum with what I have got – because it’s starting to devolve into filler. And filler is okay for a zero draft, but honestly as much as that is true, it’s just fucking hard to be enthusiastic at the prospect of writing it, and I feel like that’s what I’m going to end up doing if I keep forging ahead. I’m not sure where the end-point for this new chapter is, so that’s something for me to consider as well – probably after tomorrow. I’ll give myself the chance to work on some other idea that does sort of have a plan to it, even if it’s incomplete, and hopefully return to the current chapter with a fresh perspective on how to approach it.

But, while I’ve got a lot of doubt and anxiety right at this moment, I still feel very positive about how the project is going. And I’m less than one thousand words off my Camp Nano goal! So, whatever way I decide to forge ahead tomorrow and for the rest of the week, at least I’m going to win Nanowrimo – for the first time ever, I think. I might have won the last time I tried it, but only by including a whole bunch of writing that didn’t “count”. All of this writing will count, though, and I’m excited about that.

It’s going well, even though it’s rough going tonight. It’s nice to know that I can handle it being both.

26/07/2019

Writing: 3290

And …

I’ve won Camp Nanowrimo.

I’m not actually going to claim the win just yet because I’m finding postponing it quite good for motivation – brain-hacks for the win – but, yeah, totally won.

With sprints! Sprints are great. Go try them if you haven’t.

So, that went well. Another chapter finished; another bunch of notes made – and, actually, another huge, project-redefining brainwave to manage responsibly. Which I did; I wrote it down right away, put it in a separate document all to itself …

And just kept working with what I had.

I’m very comfortable with this draft now, which I assume is why this massive revelation didn’t upturn everything I’d been working towards like the last one did. It’s actually an even better idea, one that solves one of the two major issues with this project: the fact that there isn’t really a story, just a plot and a bunch of vaguely-defined turning-point events and a cast of characters I really like and want to do justice to. This idea brings the story; it also shifts up my “plans” for this project – but, hey, I’m here to experiment, right? Explore and imagine and speculate and discovery-write my way to victory?

Well, now that I’ve finished this chapter – that’s honestly the end of the line for the Camp Nano iteration of Bad Guys. I’ve covered a lot of ground, made a lot of progress; and from this point it it basically merged back into the “main” version of the story anyway, so the next step is to do all of that exploration of my original ideas and see where they lead, at long last. I haven’t done it so far because, to be frank, it was more important to keep up momentum. I’m not saying that I won’t continue writing this version of the story; but I am saying that I am out of ideas for where to go next, because the ideas that come “next” are the ideas that I’ve had from day one, and I actually really want to play with them. In fact I’m looking forward to taking this opportunity to “revert” back to the original “version” of Bad Guys, step away from this new vein and get re-grounded in the initial tone of the project …

But, having said that, I am pretty invested in this new version; and in the spirit of exploration and discovery-writing and whatnot, I don’t feel like it would be wrong to continue with it.

I have options, is what I’m saying. Maybe I just need to step away from the project for a bit and get some perspective before making up my mind (read: doing whatever I feel like when it next comes time to write).

And wouldn’t you know it, tomorrow is my day off, and having learnt my lesson from last week I am taking the day the fuck off this time around. I will still do a bit of writing in the … morning? God, I might even wake up in the morning; today I woke up in the morning and it felt quite nice. I had forgotten that feeling. At least partly because it’s winter and I fucking hate waking up in the morning in winter.

But, whatever – I done good, by George, and tomorrow is going to be good for entirely different reasons, and I’m going to indulge the fuck out of myself. I might even try watching the rest of The Order, which is so amazingly basic and problematic that I can’t help but be a little inspired by it. Maybe there will come a day, when I’m as used to revising as I am powering through zero drafts without pausing to reflect, when such media does not inspire me; but it is not this day.

Also, on that note: I did take those good notes today, but I was also reminded of the big pitfall of taking too many notes while writing: it can start to become a list of revision notes, and that’s not what you want while working on your zero draft. Definitely take notes of moments of inspiration so that you can give them their moment without losing momentum with what you’re writing – but, just do it responsibly. Be aware of how much time and energy is going into those notes, and trust yourself to be able to come back to and understand them even if you don’t go into exacting detail. Be concise. Yes, this is me advising myself; I’m hoping you might find it useful as well.

And if not, well, this is Vevacha, where we write about writing, and I should probably find a new tagline at this point because that one is definitely taken.

WINNING.

… ah hell I’ll just claim my win.

27/07/2019

So, my word-count total came up slightly short (but still enough to win), as part of it consists of non-starter attempts that I made on the first couple of days; but I’ve already validated it, I’ve won, and I can’t be bothered winning even harder than I already did. I know I wrote those extra thousand or so words. Maybe if I keep pushing and try for 50k I’ll add them back in.

But I got the facebook banner and digital certificate, and at the end of the day that’s what really matters.

Writing: 817

I’m getting pretty good at navigating the recurring obstacle of feeling like I have to plot out exactly where I’m going and how I’m going to get there with Bad Guys. I start getting into my head about the ideas that I have, where they’re leading, how it doesn’t quite make sense, how I should probably fix that …

And then remember that none of that actually matters, because none of it is written, so I can’t actually do anything with it or about it yet. So it’s not a problem at all, and I should just write.

That being said, there was an episode of Writing Excuses that covered a bit of the issue behind the advice “just write”, which I appreciated – there are a lot of different factors that go into writer’s block and lack of motivation, and responding to someone expressing this difficulty with “just write” is incredibly dismissive of what’s really going on with them. To be fair, nobody is a mind-reader, and sometimes it is just a matter of needing the discipline to make yourself get started writing, after which the words will start to flow and the process will sort itself out. But a lot of the time it’s something totally unrelated to writing – mental illness, unresolved conflict or trauma, plain old exhaustion and/or fatigue – that, when we’re in the mindset of Needing To Write, we find hard to acknowledge (and even without that mindset, may find it difficult, or it may not even occur to us that one of these reasons might apply).

I do think that “just write” has been appropriate advice for my writing process during Camp Nano, but I also know I’ve used it very dismissively in the (sometimes very recent) past to myself – and I hope I haven’t done it to anyone else. And I want to acknowledge this issue because, well, we should be good to ourselves and each other, and being dismissive is shitty. If it’s helpful, then use it for yourself; but if you’ve got other shit to deal with and Just Write isn’t right for you, then remember that, like any other piece of writing advice, it’s just a tool, and we should all feel free to choose how we use it – or choose not to.

As for what I’m now writing – the Camp Nano line of continuity for Bad Guys has pretty much ended, and now I’m in a position where it can merge pretty neatly with the original thread of continuity I began writing last year; that version I feel is more suited to a sequel (and I am thinking of this as a potential series, but we’ll see how this first one goes), but the nice thing for being at this part of the draft is that I could use either – and what I’ve got left to write is just a couple of thorny bits, and then actually surprisingly smooth sailing from then on out.

So, I’m employing the Wolf Gang strategy of skipping the awkward bits and getting right to the meat of the matter. It’s also made me realise that yet another part of my “plan” was holding me back from actual writing, holding my process ransom to meeting particular goals that aren’t good for the story. And yes, I have just said that getting hung up on continuity in a zero draft is kind of pointless, and I agree with that – but at the same time, it’s good to have some consideration of the connective tissue of your story even at the zero draft stage. It certainly doesn’t have to be a fully-fledged, in-depth plan or plot summary, but if you can identify a dead end before you end up writing it, I don’t think acting on that information is a bad thing.

Also, choosing to skip this particular part of the “story” has made me aware of where the story actually resides within my little portfolio of story-seed ideas for this project, and I think focusing on expanding in those areas and not being afraid to ditch ideas that only lead to dead ends (including the way in which they make it very easy to give up on even trying to get started writing) is the way forward.

But, more on that tomorrow, because today is my day off, and I have already spent too much of it thinking about writing. Time for something completely different.

28/07/2019

Writing: 1862

Momentum is a wonderful thing.

I’m enjoying getting stuck into a closer approximation of my original ideas for these characters, and at the same time it still feel like, if I wanted to, I could quite easily fit it in with the Camp Nano continuity in terms of their characterisation. It’s been a very easy transition, and I was worried that it wouldn’t be, that I’d be too nervous to give up on the Camp Nano continuity because of how much momentum I’d gained with it, and would lose it if I tried. Instead, the shift to a slightly different tone feels very natural. I do love it when things just work out.

Also, my co-writing friend finished her novel, which is awesome! I am intending to finish this zero draft of Bad Guys this year; I haven’t made a timeline for myself or anything, but if I keep up this pace I’d expect to be done around about the end of September. I’m keeping “real” Nanowrimo in the back pocket for a final push, though, and I definitely want that to be the absolute last resort if I need to use it to wrap things up. Ideally I’d like to use it to either revise something, or try my hand at another project – something like Bad Guys, a project that I’ve been wanting to write for ages but just haven’t quite been able to find my way into in a way that sticks. I’m feeling very confident in my abilities at the moment, and while I know confidence, like any other feeling, comes and goes, I also now know that, well, it comes as well as goes. I have a bit more faith in myself than I did a month ago, and that’s nice.

Revision: 15 minutes(?)

Also the co-writing project still exists; I think it’s been really good having a different project to focus on, so that I can come back to making those revision notes all refreshed and energised and whatnot. Feels healthy.

Weekly Total

Writing: 21110

Revision: 15 minutes(?)

And of that writing total, 16538 words were devoted to Bad Guys. A banner week, this has been. Not complaining.

And you know what? For this week, I think I’ll leave it there.

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Weekly Words 15-21/07/2019, Camp Nanowrimo 2019 Edition

15/07/2019

Words Per Day To Finish On Time: 2080

That’s a nice, round number. If I split my daily writing into four parts, that’s 520 words at a time; if I split it into two parts, that’s 1040 words at a time. I have already proven that I can hit over 2k words in a day, with the help of some co-sprinters. And, as I see things now, speed really is the goal for me with Camp Nanowrimo. I want to not only keep momentum, but build it. I want this project to be moving too fast to stop by the time Camp ends. I’m very sure about what I want to happen as far as writing Bad Guys is concerned.

I’m just not sure that I can make it happen.

I’m also really starting to feel the fragility of the mechanism by which my momentum is being kept up right now, which is the moment-to-moment writing. This isn’t Wolf Gang; this isn’t a stream-of-trope-savvy-consciousness writing exercise that flows freely and easily. Writing Bad Guys is tough going, even when it’s been fun and rewarding; I can find the energy to write it, but I don’t get energy from writing it. I don’t find the ideas for what happens next, really, but what should have happened already. And I think perhaps because I have these set-in-stone ideas of what needs to happen at some point, because I’ve been so fixated on them and also conflicted about them given that I am holding on to them with such rigidity, that this writing process is being compromised in terms of how much flexibility I’m willing to allow myself just for the sake of getting words written. I’m very anxious at the thought that my writing has already started turning to filler, and that I’ll be unable to write myself out of it because the ideas just aren’t coming, and even if I hit the 50k word mark by July 31, it’ll be 50k words that I’d rather forget than build on. I’m afraid that I’m going to feed all of my fuel into an engine doomed to stall. And on top of all of that, I don’t want this to be a repeat of Mark and Jessie, where I had such clear ideas to begin with and never ended up even putting them in the initial draft, and now if I still want those things to happen – which I do – I’m going to have to rewrite the whole fucking thing to make them happen.

I know the words-per-day count that I currently need to hit. Sure, if I write like 10k words today then that average will dip down to around 1500 words per day, which is still a lot. Even if I pumped out 20k words today, it would only go down to around 1000 words per day. Which honestly isn’t a lot, but it feels like a lot – and, I mean, I’d have to write 20k words today to get there.

Basically what I’m saying is that I know my end goals, but not the means by which I can achieve them.

Specifically, what I’m saying is that I don’t know how to make myself have the right kind of ideas at the right kind of speed to make this project move as fast as I want it to.

Because, if I had the ideas, then there would be no problem, or at least not this pretty fucking insurmountable one; there would be the usual issues of energy levels, risk of burnout, time management, etc. I could write up a whole plan for this manuscript, but I feel that with the kind of ideas I’m having right now I would just ignore it anyway – maybe it would be enough to loosen up the gears, though, so I will keep that in the back pocket.

I could just skip ahead to some of those scenes that I want to have happen -but I’ve tried that with this project, and they’ve turned into something else, something harder to manage, which forces me to confront the fact that those set-in-stone ideas are actually pretty damn open and I’m not as enamoured with or clear about them as I’d like to be.

What I’m saying is that I am feeling very lost right now with my project, and I don’t know how to get un-lost.

Writing: 1415

I actually do have ideas.

I have ideas for little moments, snippets of action or drama, and these moments have their own internal logic that works. There’s character motivation; there’s plot points; there’s blocking … they work.

But I’m not using these ideas as I write.

And the reason is that these ideas – it’s not that they don’t work; it’s that they work by themselves. I have not done the work of figuring out how to link them up, not just to each other, but with the story that I’m actually currently telling.

There is a clash between the ideas that I have about where I want to write up to, and the ideas that are coming out in my writing as I write.

So, this week, I’m going to try and reconcile the two, and find some way of navigating this project that lets me do both.

How?

Look, it’s Monday, everybody hates Mondays, I’m not going to try and be smart on a Monday. But this is the goal for this week: think harder about how to link up the pieces. What is happening in these scenes that I do have in mind? What makes the most sense in terms of getting from point A to point B? I have to put some planning time aside for this; this week I am saying, you know what, maybe I do actually need a goddamn plan.

Let’s see how that goes, shall we?

Writing: 679

For a grand total of 2094.

Well.

Also, fuck everything that I just wrote, I was right in week one: having set goals with flexibility in how I reach them is actually exactly correct.

How do I know this, you may ask, and I will tell you that it is because my life guru Lindsay Ellis made a video about Game of Thrones that I really want to watch the second part of whenever that comes out man I wonder what it’s like to wait for content related to Game of Thrones in some way kek but anyway her general argument for the big issue with the series is that the showrunners had set ideas about where they were going with characters, plot, and events in the story, and it ended up being what undermined the progress of those elements. Characters behaved in contrived ways for contrived reasons, plot elements were hand-waved away and ignored into obsolescence, and events that are stupid happened because of this pre-determined set of goals that they were intending to reach, at the expense of the organic development that occurred during the course of the show. Basically, the show naturally developed in a certain direction – or number of directions, really – and the showrunners realised it was going to ruin their big plans, so they just sort of forced things back on-course with no regard to whether or not it made sense, was satisfying, or if it would destroy their mortal souls to do so.

And I realise now that that’s the problem that I’ve been facing with Bad Guys … and Mark and Jessie … and Tallulah … and fucking Wolf Gang

She also gives the counter-example of Breaking Bad where, assuming that Breaking Bad is a really good show and has a really good ending (I’ve never watched so I’m all for hypotheticals in this case), a different method was employed: the showrunners knew that the story was finite, would end, and how it would end. But along the way, they allowed for the story to develop organically as it progressed, and it ultimately changed the way that they arrived at that end-point – but it was still the same end-point as they had planned.

Or that’s my understanding of Ellis’s thesis in her video, at least. It makes sense to me. Stories do develop as you write them, whether you want them to or not, and while it can be frustrating to see that your carefully-preserved plans, half-baked as they may be, are falling apart literally as you write them, that might just mean that the ideas are doing their job: giving you a story to tell. Even if it’s not the one you predicted that you would. If you even had a clear prediction of that storytelling process to begin with. Which, I am trying to make myself admit here, I did not, and even though it’s been a year and a half since I had those first story-germinating ideas, time has not made those ideas any stronger, clearer … or better.

As I learnt while writing the zero draft of Tallulah, the amount of time you spend writing is not a measure of how much progress you make with your writing. It’s only a measure of how long it’s taken. It’s already taken me a year and a half to get this far, and I’m fucking nowhere. It’s starting to make me think that, actually, those first couple of chapters I wrote last year … they’re probably worth looking into again. I don’t mind what I’ve got now, but it’s definitely something that I did because I thought I had to try and bring my story back on-track, rather than embracing what I’d started to create once I actually sat down to start creating.

But, then again, that would just be trying to pull things back on-track and retrofit the current state of this project to how it was a year ago, and I doubt that would be any healthier than trying to force it to fit the original, shallow-but-exciting concept I had at the very beginning. It is what it is; those chapters are still there for me to return to if I so desire …

So I think I’ll just write.

16/07/2019

Writing: 341

Word-sprints continue to be effective at getting writing done. I would have done more, but something horrible happened.

I had an idea.

A great, story-making, mortifyingly obvious idea.

One that requires me to start all over again.

And, as you might imagine, this dilemma stumped me for the rest of the evening, which could have otherwise been spent happily puttering along until I reached a somewhat larger word-count for the day.

It’s fine. I’ll go ham tomorrow; I’m in a fine place in terms of picking up the pace and getting shit going.

It’s just …

God damn this was a good idea that I can’t believe I never even considered until now, which is, what, almost two years after I first had the idea?

Something that really embarrasses and frustrates me is that I tend to not think of the most obvious ideas when it comes to stories: the tropes, the classics, the never-gets-olds. In other words, the things that I love to see in stories. I’m not sure quite what the disconnect is, why it is that I can appreciate these things when I see them and kind of crave the shit out of them when looking for new stories to indulge in, yet my own creative process just doesn’t go there.

The only reason I even thought of it was because of a question my co-writing friend’s boyfriend asked me when I told him about Bad Guys. Basically he asked if X trope was in the story. At the time I thought that it was a really good idea, but felt comfortable not having it in my story because, well, that’s not what the story was about. And I’m happy with myself for that, because there was definitely a time when I would have beaten myself up for not immediately coming up with that sort of idea all on my own right from the very start.

But then I was thinking today about the issue of filler, and how so much of the filler that’s getting written with Bad Guys is due to me forcing myself to write but not having any fucking clue what to write, and sort of stalling for time while I try to figure out what the best course of action to take storytelling-wise might be. And a really big cause of that right now, in fact the biggest cause, and the one that has, truthfully, been the bump in the road for the past year and a half with this project, was how to bring all the characters together in a way that both made sense and felt natural – felt like something that would happen in a story, rather than just going “and then they all teamed up so that the story could continue”. Now, going with the philosophy of Write Now, Fix Later, this wasn’t a problem, on paper. However, this being a philosophy that I was attempting to follow, it triggered every perfectionist neurosis that I have, and basically up until this Camp Nano it is the problem that I have been unable to let go without solving, the ransom I’ve held my story hostage for and can’t find the storytelling resources to pay.

I remembered the question of if X trope was in my story.

And I realised that, if it were in my story …

It would solve EVERYTHING.

Not because of the trope itself, but because of the premise that it implies must also be present in the story – at least to me. And from there, well, all the ideas that I’ve had for the past two years suddenly seemed so incredibly … pointless.

All the writing that I’ve done this month, all the effort I’ve been putting into doing my daily writing … pointless. Made completely redundant by the idea that I had, the exact kind of Good Idea I’d been holding out hope for.

Be careful what you wish for, I guess …

Except fuck that, because after wallowing in existential misery for about half an hour I brought out my trust Notes word document that I’ve been keeping with me while writing Bad Guys, wrote out all of this shit, and realised that, actually, incorporating this idea could actually let me use everything I’ve written for Bad Guys OVER THE PAST TWO YEARS.

Which is somewhat better than having everything I’ve done up until now be totally fucking redundant.

Granted, it still means that I’d have to tell the story differently to how I’d … planned? This is the thing, though: I’ve been lamenting my lack of a plan for so long that this is basically the inevitable result of trying really hard and … succeeding. I’ve found the idea. I did think of the most obvious thing, with a bit of prodding.

And actually …

It’s still kind of not what I want this story to be about.

But, it could still help me to unify all of the ideas that I’ve had, solve all of the problems that I’m currently facing with the project. I just can’t write and think about it at the same time.

I thought that today was going to be the worst day in the two-year history of trying to get Bad Guys written – but, thankfully, I thought about it for more than a second (eventually), and it turns out that it might be the best day in the two-year history of trying to get Bad Guys written.

Which highlights something else that I realised today, before the Big Idea came down the pipleine: it’s been two years since I had the idea, two years of thinking “hey, this is a great, fun, trashy premise that I should do something with because it would be fun”, and thinking that all that I’d done with it had been developing the story much more than it actually was. Time spent does not equal progress made when it comes to writing; and with that in mind, even in terms of the actual time I’ve spent trying to get Bad Guys written during these past two years … it’s, like, maybe a month in total, all put together. Including these past two weeks of Camp Nano. And that’s what the process feels like right now; it feels like the kind of ideas that I’m having at the moment are the kinds of ideas and brainwaves that you have when you’re in the very earliest stages of a writing project, sparks are flying, energy is racing through you, and it comes out in interesting, unexpected, and often exciting ways. It’s just that this one-month writing period has been spread out over the past twenty-plus months, so I haven’t even benefited from the momentum that would have come from a focused one-and-a-half-month period of actually getting my hands dirty with the ideas that I do have.

Maybe I would have thought of that super obvious idea all on my own eventually. Maybe not. It still bothers me that I don’t have a good track record with “classic” ideas coming to me; it’s a skill that I want to develop.

But either way, what I realise now is just how very early in the process of writing this book I actually am – and how much I actually do want to write it, in whatever form it might end up taking. Because it is a great idea, it is a fun idea, and goddammit I want to see that justice is done to it. Or as much justice as I can provide.

I think I am still pretty stumped right now, but it’s a good kind of stumped. It’s time to make some big decisions, and I have a lot of good reasons for making most of them. Choice-paralysis is definitely a problem of mine – but at least this time they’re all good choices. I think I can work with that.

17/07/2019

Writing: 1492

How is it this late in the year already …

So all of that huge fuss I kicked up yesterday over the Brilliant Idea That Ruined/Solved Everything turns out to be a little less of a big, huge, life-changing deal than it felt like it was yesterday.

That does happen sometimes.

However, I’m still of the opinion that it was a good thing; it shook me up a bit, got me thinking outside the box I’d constructed around this project, treating years of not bothering to try and actually work with the ideas that I had as the same thing as having ideas strong enough that they keep snapping back into place no matter how much I tweak them, and made me aware that I was doing that to begin with.

Today, I just wrote more of what I’d been writing yesterday, and it’s working about as well as you might reasonably hope a zero draft would.

Also, note to self: I am getting tropes in here. They’re just not the big, classic tropes that yesterday’s revelation was me being fixated on.

Also-also, note to self: I can think of classic shit. It just takes a while. And it also takes exposure to other ideas (hence my co-writing friend’s boyfriend’s question being very helpful, and my actually writing this project giving me ideas about it that I haven’t had before). It takes having something to work with.

Case in point …

Revision: 40 minutes

Wolf Gang revision planning is … well, I’ve hit a snag, and it’s the classic snag of having to decide whether to stick with the manuscript I’ve got and just try to squeeze every last ounce of potential out of it while going to almost unreasonable lengths to find reasons to not write anything new, or whether to go full-on revision mode and just add and cut and swap and tweak to my heart’s desire. I’ve opted for the latter, because seriously some of the things that happen in this story are real stupid and I can’t stand it – and I’m having ideas that I prefer to the ones that currently litter the manuscript. The only issue is that, well, it’s all new stuff, and it keeps coming. Today I thought I was going to pin something down; instead I have a veritable flock of new ideas flapping around, and none of them stand out as the best or most appropriate. They’re all pretty good ideas, at least – just not in the context of the current manuscript. Which makes figuring out how to work them in somewhat awkward.

But I’m certain that, eventually, I’ll figure it out. Just not today. I was definitely spending too much time trying to develop the new ideas and not enough time on looking over what I had to make the two fit together. It’s fine. There’s always tomorrow. I think that I will actually keep up the revision-plan-train tomorrow, rather than letting it sit for another week; I’ve got so much momentum with Bad Guys right now that it feels a little selfish to not spread the love around.

So, all in all, a pretty solid day writing-wise. I am still very much behind with my Camp Nano daily average goals, and I do want to make a big push this week. Just have to set a day or two aside to do it.

18/07/2019

Writing: 623

I am currently six days’ worth of writing behind with my Camp Nano goal of 50k words by the end of the month.

Good to know.

I have felt like absolute horseshit today, and in an unsettling way, because it’s so familiar – and old. I haven’t felt this kind of bad since my teen years – yes, that’s right: today’s angst has been retro angst. I’m not going to go into why (partly because that’s not what I want to use this blog for, partly because I feel better now and it was stupidly easy to achieve), but suffice to say that it made doing most things other than perpetuating self-distracting habits very … unappealing. I just wanted to escape, not even the feeling necessarily but my thoughts about why I was feeling like that, what I could do about it, how it was my responsibility and I needed to do something about it and how unfair that was …

And then I did a 10-minute word-sprint with one of my cabin-mates and now I feel great.

I mean, it is funny, it’s just that it’s also really infuriating that this is the kind of problem that I have to deal with in my life, this is what becomes basically debilitating for me: something that I can solve in ten fucking minutes with a little bit of help from someone else, if I’m willing to reach out.

Of course, I wasn’t willing, because when I get this way I get very anti-social, but thankfully after years of counselling and some Youthline training I have made it to the point where, eventually, I will force myself to do the thing that I know works, and, well, it works.

Which is what I’m thinking about now with regards to continuing with Bad Guys. I am going to finish this current chapter/sequence that I’m on because I’ve committed to it, and I’m going to aim to finish it by Saturday evening. Then I’m going to start planning.

And I’m going to base that plan off something that I’m now going to remind myself of, in writing, so that I can’t ignore it until I finish this blog post: I don’t have to write a book for Camp Nanowrimo. I just have to commit 50k words in writing to my Camp Nanowrimo project.

In other words: it’s time to jump around.

Jump up, jump up and get down to writing some scenes, yo, because that’s about all I’ve got with this project.

Well, not quite. It is developing and evolving and I don’t want that to stop; but I do have some fairly clear-cut, finalised ideas that I’ve had from day one – maybe less finalised than I’d thought they were initially, but still finalised enough that I actually do want to get them down in writing.

So, there’s that: these are the most fully-formed ideas that I have for this project, so it seems sensible to start with them and see where that takes me, but also so that I have options, a wealth of material to pick and choose from when I do finally decide what it is that I want this project to ultimately be. It also gives me the chance to “start over” without discounting any of the work that I’ve done up to this point, because rather than retconning the events of the story that I have created over the past two and a half weeks, I’m just adding what I’ve written to this collection of scenes that I can pick and choose from when compiling the final version of this zero draft.

Now, the obvious downside to this is the momentum shift; I am not writing with a plan right now and that is making it very easy to slip up and get distracted, but even if the word-count is lower than I’d like it to be at this point, it is still going, and that is an extremely important, invaluable thing for a project. As long as it’s going, the speed – I mean it matters in terms of morale, but if you’re getting morale from other sources then it kind of doesn’t matter at all. And doing this would basically be saying, “okay, this thing that’s currently working, yeah we’re not doing that anymore, let’s do this thing instead because it seemed like a good idea at the time”.

But hell, maybe it is a good idea. Maybe I do need to actually not just shift my priorities concerning Bad Guys, but leave it behind altogether. I shouldn’t be afraid to give up a bad job just because I’ve invested a lot of time into it, right? I’ve made that mistake before; I’m trying to learn shit here. Because while the current momentum-train I’m riding is getting me … well, somewhere, and that’s valuable, I would also like to be working on something that feels a bit more predictable and safe, a bit more planned. It’s just that, man, I do want that daily word-count average to go up, and I think I’ve finally figured out that the Wolf Gang, writing-by-the-seat-of-my-pants approach just isn’t cutting it for Bad Guys in terms of word-count. Maybe something that I can sit down and plan out would work better.

No, you know what, that’s stupid. I’m going to keep working on Bad Guys – I just might have to concede that I’m not going to hit that 50k-word goal. And that’s fine; right from the start I pretty much said that was the plan anyway. I can just cut back on my goal, keep the momentum up and not stop writing it, but leave myself enough breathing-room to also work on some other project, I don’t know what yet. But something that feels more clear to me, where the vision is more fully-formed, and it’s not so much mental work for me to just write the damn thing. And I’ve already proven to myself that, when I’m stuck for what to write, having a bunch of different projects to jump around between is a good solution, at least for a while.

So, I think that’s my plan: cut back on Bad Guys for the sake of getting Bad Guys written in any form at all, and find some other project to write alongside it. It’s not really what I want to do, but I do think it’s the wise decision to make, and I’d like to get better at making those.

It’s just a shame that Bad Guys can’t be two different projects.

I mean, it kind of is, though; there’s the version of Bad Guys that I’m currently writing, which is all pretty much improv, and then there’s the version of Bad Guys that I’ve had in my head since day one, two years ago, which is just a handful of not-fully-developed-but-very-compelling scenes and scene-seeds that feels much more deterministic.

And, I mean, it would be an entirely different process for either version: this current one is all going in blind and seeing where I end up, without the structure that I’m starting to really miss, while the other, “OG” version is the one that needs planning to work, and improv is what’s going to mess it up …

So, actually, if I were to try to continue my current Camp Nano version of Bad Guys and also work on getting those few, close-to-finished scenes that I have in mind down in writing, it actually would be two different projects …

Both of which I could count towards my Camp Nano daily word-count average …

Did I just find a fucking cheat-code for writing?

Guys.

I think I know how I’m getting my daily word-count average up.

19/07/2019

Writing: 3

Maybe I blew my mind a little too hard with that word-count hack yesterday; I have been a little sleepy today. Is it because my genius is too much for my feeble human cerebral cortex to contain? Is it because some evil spirit is siphoning my vital essence out of jealousy? Is it because I stayed up until after 4 AM last night talking to my brother, got to sleep after 5 AM, and then woke up at 9 AM? It’s a mystery, but whatever the cause, the result is me writing 3 words today and that being quite enough, thank you.

I am looking forward to my stupid “hack”, double-dip, feels-like-cheating-but-really-seriously-is-not-even-a-little-bit-cheating act of self-delusion for the purposes of upping my daily word-count average, but it’s going to be very time-consuming. So tomorrow, Saturday, my official “day off” (today was my unofficial “day off”), is where I’m hoping to 1) get a bit more writing done and 2) plot out the things that I need to plot out to get those movie-trailer scenes down in writing, just the way I want them to be. I am predicting a very sharp drop in daily word-count totals for the end of this week and maybe the start of next week, but the plan is to get that way back up there once I’ve got everything ready and I know what I’m doing, so that I can just do it.

It is also possible that my jokey “hey I’ll just work on two things and not prioritise either of them very highly’ plan was actually the totally correct move for me, or that I should just have the discipline to either forge ahead with the version of the story I’m currently writing or start over again like I thought I would have to originally to make it all nice and neat and coherent from the start.

But this is a zero draft, and “neat” doesn’t quite fit the bill. I think I just have to accept that, one way or another, my brain is so screwy that I have to hack it to get it to work sometimes, and as long as I can figure out how to do that, what’s the big deal?

20/07/2019

Writing: 1008

This after basically deciding I was going to write another 1 word today. This is supposed to be my day off, but I felt so fucking antsy just sitting around, trying to “chill” and “relax” and “enjoy my downtime”, that I had to do something. So, writing. A couple of sprints, momentum maintained …

I do think I need to start over with Bad Guys.

It’s frustrating, because I still want to make the most of the momentum that I have, but if I’m being honest then this version of the story isn’t one that I’m interested in continuing with. I can still use it for something, of course, and at the very least it has given me a whole bunch of perspective on this project, what it’s lacking, what actually works, and how to solve some of the issues I’m having with getting from A to B. Starting over wouldn’t invalidate the work that I’ve done.

I mean, not entirely.

It would invalidate it enough that it upsets me to think about it.

But, that’s just it: these are all just thoughts. I think starting over will be better for the project in the long run; I think it’ll kill my momentum if I do it and I’ll just end up leaving it for another year and a half; I think that continuing with what I’ve got right now is ultimately a waste of time that could and should be spent on doing this thing properly. And I have no idea what to do with any of these thoughts.

But maybe that’s for the best; maybe just doing what I set out to do and not acting on these big, paradigm-shifting ideas of mine is very wise. It sounds wise, to not make decisions in the heat of the moment when I have a perfectly sound plan that, while perhaps not perfect, is at least a fucking plan that I can fall back on for guidance and direction when things are spiraling out of control. Things like my brain, for instance. It happens more than I think is healthy.

Lots of thinking going on today.

Which has also been a total ruin of a day off, and I also think I need to compensate for that. I keep saying that I need to make a plan for this, for that, for the other thing; well maybe I do, and maybe the very simple reason for why I keep falling into the same holding pattern of not quite “getting there” with shit I want to do is because of this lack of planning. Or just not sticking to what plans I do actually end up making. Maybe I need to do what so many other creative people have advised others to do and get flashcards, print out my plan and hang it on the wall or stick it on a corkboard or something, so that it’s right there in front of me and I can’t easily ignore it.

I want to enjoy my days off, goddammit!

Well, that can be the goal for next week I guess. For now, I’ve done my writing for the day, and now it’s time to try and salvage at least an evening off out of this failure of a chillout session. Still planning tomorrow. Still eager to make it work, though less and less sure it’s even remotely possible given what the plan is.

But that’s tomorrow, and I will deal with it then.

21/07/2019

Writing: 256

Didn’t do “planning” per se, but did get a bit of much-needed perspective. A day off tomorrow to kick off the week; will still write, but will get that done first thing so that the rest of the day can just be … well, I should have a think about that.

Today was also fun; I went to look at a flat with my co-writing friend that she and her partner are interested in; I was almost sad that I wasn’t looking myself. The place was nice, and apparently the property manager liked me a lot (which I didn’t pick up on but everyone else seemed to, and I’m definitely vain enough to take their word for it). Then a longer-than-usual D&D session that almost wraps up the campaign we’ve been playing for most of 2019 up to this point … yeah. A full day, and a fun one.

Weekly Total

Writing: 12175

Revision: 40 minutes

If there is one lesson I feel like I need to take away from this week, it’s to keep perspective. I definitely get tunnel-vision when I’m writing, and my perfectionism makes it so easy for me to make the worst out of what are really quite minor problems, get distracted, and lose sight of my game plan.

Thankfully, I decided last night to return to a favourite pasttime of mine: listening to podcasts while gaming. It was back to Writing Excuses, which I love, yet haven’t listened to in over a year. I went back to it last night, and fortuitously, I started with an episode on doing Nanowrimo, where all four of the successful, published career author hosts emphasised not only the importance of developing the skill of Just Writing, but how your story only really starts to take shape once you’ve already written a full draft and have something to work with. Which is all stuff that I know and have iterated myself, but have found really hard to bear in mind this month. I needed to hear it, and once I did it became much clearer what I needed to do: exactly what I’ve been doing up to this point. Writing.

And I’ve also realised that I need to start thinking of what comes after Camp Nano, and it’s actually starting to make me excited. I think a lot of my panic over “what to do” with Bad Guys this Camp Nano had to do with the time constraint of the month-long writing period; but maybe because I’ve finally gotten started in earnest, I’m really looking forward to the continuation of this project, and getting to tell this story …

Which I think I’m finally comfortable with the idea of being more of a “discovery writing” project. I think, maybe rather than trying hard to bring my original ideas to life, I should be more embracing the openness of this project, the opportunities that come from not having clear ideas to work with, and just running with it. I don’t think that I had the enthusiasm to do that before Camp Nano, but I feel it now. It’s weird to think that this wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t decided to do Camp Nano – and, very importantly, if my co-writing friend hadn’t wanted to do it, too. I’ve tried doing it on my own before, but besides Wolf Gang it just hasn’t worked out. Now that I’ve seen the benefits of doing Nano with a friend, I can’t go back to riding solo.

Writing solo?

Look, I’m down one day off this month, I’ll be clever after tomorrow.

Weekly Words 8-14/07/2019 Camp Nanowrimo Edition

08/07/2019

Writing: 962

Definitely hit a snag today in terms of direction, not so much with writing as with just everything. Much as I was exulting in my plan-less-ness yesterday was far as Bad Guys is concerned, I do think that I need a bit more of a plan in terms of just getting the writing done. That being said, I did make a plan once I realised that I was lacking structure; I just found it really difficult to make myself stick to it. But that’s okay. I have my writing goal for this week, which I could easily hit tonight by doing a bit more writing but I’m going to leave it instead because … well, because I feel like it. Things feel very hard right now and I kind of want them to be hard. I want an excuse to not have to write at this moment.

I wonder why?

Oh right I have my psychologist appointment this Wednesday and, because I’m me, I am freaking out about it. I tend to freak about a lot of things that probably don’t warrant it, and it interferes with my ability to live a normal and healthy life. I should probably see someone about it.

I just feel … unprepared. How can you “prepare” to see a psychologist, anyway? Aren’t they supposed to be the ones to get you prepared for life and shit? Why is the onus of responsibility on me to get my shit together? That’s what the psychologist is for!

I don’t know which of the several/innumerable neurotic processes that masquerade as a psyche in this brain of mine is responsible for this spoke of panic and dread, but what I do know is that I need some self-care, stat. Thankfully, Stranger Things 3 is out on Netflix now, and since I do keep trying to force myself to chill out while watching Netflix (no but actually) …

I am actually really looking forward to working on Wolf Gang on Wednesday. And hey, I didn’t even think of that; that can be my reward for surviving my psychologist appointment. Nice work, extremely dysfunctional brain.

Oh well. I did get some writing done, and now I feel a bit better about how today has gone. I feel like I need to have been more productive with my life in the time between this psychologist meeting and the last, like I need to impress them with my initiative that I don’t have that I’m seeing them to help me improve with.

And I know that I can’t logic myself out of this little panicky hole, so I’m just going to stop trying and, instead, do something nice for myself. Hell, maybe I’ll go do some more work on the Wolf Gang novella that I still haven’t finished because I can’t think of how to end it; it’s not that I don’t know what happens, it’s that there’s no natural stopping-point for the events that I’m trying to present as a story. Guess this is a project that might actually need a step-by-step plan.

Not something for tonight, then.

09/07/2019

Writing: 1

I am getting that fucking trophy.

Technically I didn’t earn it, because that one word was written at 00:02 a.m., but it was updated to my Camp Nano word-count at 11:59 p.m., and as far as gamification algorithms are concerned that’s all that matters. And hey, I did actually write the word, and to me the day ends when I fall unconscious, not when some stupid clock tells me it ends.

Today has been an exercise in why planning is useful even when you don’t actually stick to the plan. My plan for today was to brush up on my “homework” that my psychologist gave me during our first session, which I will probably do on the drive over tomorrow before I go, or right after I finish writing this entry before going to bed. I was going to brush up, and I was going to make some notes based on my responses to that homework, and use that exercise as a warm-up to me making a list of the things that are at the forefront of my thoughts when thinking about what I want to get out of even seeing a psychologist in the first place. I need this to work.

More than that, I need me to work. I need to do what it takes to put myself in the best possible position to take advantage of this opportunity, blah blah blah, maximise potential, god I hate what has happened to me as a person on pretty much ever conceivable level, when the fuck did I get this way, how the fuck did I get this way, was this inevitable or was there something I could have done to prevent it like joined a sports team and learnt the value of alpha male aggression by way of male privilege maybe then I’d feel like I had some sort of intrinsic worth as a human being it would be a lie of course but what’s the harm in believing a lie if it gets you through the day that’s what our entire society is predicated on anyway right go do your shitty job that doesn’t fulfill you where you aren’t treated with respect and never will be and that makes you a Productive Member of Society because you contribute to The Economy by producing toxic waste labelled as “fast food” for people to pay money for the right to legally consume man why am I sad that I can’t even think about going to a job interview without getting triggered again I should be fucking ecstatic that this shit seems to be inimical to my psychological makeup I’m living the real truth out here that’s what social anxiety is I’ve finally figured it out it’s not that I’m unable to function like a normal human being because I’m irrationally afraid of people it’s that the world is a fucking shithole and I’m supposed to be okay with it well let me tell you something buster –

***

… and, like, I want to appreciate how Stranger Things 3 tries to do something a bit more original and break away from the whole ’80s retro pastiche nostalgia-cash-in that made it so popular to begin with, except that at this point while there are still plenty of references they’re not incorporated particularly well in many cases and the season 4 teaser ending just really highlights how it should have been a one-season show to begin with, just hit that nostalgia button hard and then leave it alone and not turn into another fucking endless franchise, the magic is gone is what I’m saying and while I did enjoy ST3 I can’t say I’d be sad to hear that a potential season 4 had been cancelled, shoutout to Cary Elwes though I can’t not love the shit out of that glorious man.

So I don’t want to see my psychologist tomorrow, and I didn’t do any of the preparations that I told myself I was going to do after panicking about it over the weekend and the past couple of days …

And it’s fine.

It’s good, even.

Because fuck it, I don’t know how the fuck you See A Psychologist; I’ve never done this before, and I don’t know if I’m doing something wrong by not being more prepared or if it’s exactly right that I shouldn’t be trying to prepare or know what’s expected of me on my end as the person trying to improve or recover or whatever the shit it is I’m supposed to be doing in my role as client/patient/whatever …

So the only issue, really, is the panic.

And I’m not panicking anymore.

Because I spent the day watching ST3, and it was fun. I enjoyed myself. I also got flying in the latest WOW expansion, after two weeks of daily quest grinding, and I achieved the in-game money milestone I was aiming for, and got to the point that I’ve been to many times before by now which is that, okay, I’ve reached the goal of being able to pay for more game-time not with real-life money but in-game money, this shit is great … if I want to keep playing WOW. Where my goal is to make enough in-game money to keep playing WOW. Where my goal is to make enough in-game money to keep playing WOW. Where my goal is to you know I think I may have a problem …

I had a plan.

I didn’t follow it.

But, I’m pretty sure it’s fine, and maybe even good. I just needed a way to control my panic, and the plan did that – not doing the plan, just having the plan. And sometimes that’s enough.

Mind you if I had been given an actual homework assignment or something then I would have done it but I wasn’t it was just very broad and general and I already completed it anyway I think I just panicked because I always panic and thought “hey I’m not doing enough there has to be something else I’m meant to have done by now this is totally a real problem that requires me to try and find a solution for it”, when really …

Yeah, I dunno. Maybe today was just a sign of how deeply dysfunctional and maladjusted and unable to participate in what we know as Real Life and I should have stuck to the plan and, more to the point, have been better-prepared long before today, or even this week, or even this month, this month has only been a week long look you know what I mean. I could be wrong. I have no idea.

I just know that I’m not panicking now, and it’s because I had a plan. Not because I followed the plan. Sometimes, the plan works because you follow it. But other times, the plan works because it gets you started. And sometimes that’s all you need the plan for.

And that’s how I feel. Yes, perhaps I did sabotage myself, but I genuinely don’t feel like I did. I think I handled this rather well.

This is a writing blog. I write about writing. Trust me on this.

10/07/2019

Writing: 191

And …

Revision: I forgot

I had a day today.

Of course when I say that, it’s probably about a tenth of what most people mean when they say they’ve “had a day”, but still, everything’s relative.

Saw my psychologist, had a really good session though it’s still clear we have a lot of ground to cover, did some soul-searching that I’m still sort of processing the potential ramifications of and trying not to jump to any conclusions …

And I had a Discord conversation with someone in my WOW guild that lasted for, like, an hour.

I don’t really know who I am anymore.

Okay that’s maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but maybe it’s not. The reason I had this conversation was because I was trying to get into a dungeon run with a group, and this person was trying to put the group together. I don’t do that, as in play WOW the Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game with other players; the very idea of using a voice chat program terrifies me – and yet, today, it just didn’t. I decided that I actually wanted to get into this dungeon, and was willing to jump through the hoop of installing (and learning how to use) Discord in order to do so, because … well, that’s what’s bugging me. I don’t know what it was about today. Maybe it was the therapy session giving me more of a boost or change in perspective than I’d anticipated; maybe I finally just wore out my own reluctance to take certain risks in order to get what I want out of WOW.

In any event the group never actually came together so we’re thinking of trying again tomorrow, so we just chatted. More like he chatted and I listened, and it was quite surreal, and reminded me of being a teenager growing up with the internet as this brand new unexplored territory where all sorts of crazy shit could happen and the possibilities were endless and there were people online and you could talk to them. It’s been a trip. I’m questioning the very core of my identity.

I forgot today was Werewolf Wednesday.

But I also think that’s fine; tomorrow can be ‘Thrope Thursday or something, if I really must be so anal as to retain my alliteration-based organisation schedule. I definitely think that planning around needing time to recover from my psychologist appointments in future will serve me well. I also did actually do quite a lot of writing today, it’s just that it was all taking notes and writing out my thoughts after the session, debriefing and processing and whatnot. This might just be a slow week for writing as I take the time to regain my equilibrium and try and endure my confrontation with a few difficult questions I’m asking myself right now.

But, hey, that’s life sometimes. It’s not like I’ve never done anything “wild” before, even with really bad social anxiety (though maybe “wild” is a bit of an exaggeration), and perhaps this conversation with a person I met online will be the one huge life-threatening risk that I take this year and now I’m back to being a hermit again. I feel frustrated that I’m still on this same goddamn chapter with Bad Guys, the first chapter, and that I could have been so much farther ahead with just a little bit more discipline or motivation or whatever …

But it’s fine.

And I miss my werewolves.

11/07/2019

Writing: 583

This might just be a recovery week for me. That’s okay. We all have those. Therapy is hard.

I think plans are definitely important, though. I have made up my mind. I tend to think of plans as things that take the long-term into account, far-reaching organisational schemes that encompass the entirety of a project, task, undertaking, whatever it is that you’re using the plan for. But I realise now that that’s not the only kind of plan there is, and particularly in my case, short-term plans – the kind of plans that get made on the day, for instance – are the ones that work for me and my writing. At least with Bad Guys. And I didn’t do that today, so I spent far too much time distracting myself with Youtube and …

Yeah. It’s fine. It happens. I assume I will eventually get used to seeing a psychologist and not be totally bottomed-out for days at a time after each session, but clearly that’s not where I am at right now. And hey, I may have only written 583 words today, taking me up to a total of 11,547 words on day 11 when the goal if I want to reach 50k words by the end of the month is 17,741, but I finished the chapter at long, long last and can now move on to I hate this fucking project I don’t want to write it anymore it’s not fun it’s not exciting it’s not doing the things that I want it to do why did I ever think this was a good idea why do I ever think any of my ideas are good I should just go sit under a beached boat and wait for it to fall on top of me maybe that would “feel like a story” enough for my liking …

Le sigh.

I think it might be time for a time-skip, except that, goddammit, this project actually seems to require thought. I don’t want it to require thought. It’s just … so much is missing. So many opportunities aren’t being taken; so many elements aren’t being developed or explored or even acknowledged as I write right past them like they’re not even there. So many references gone un-referenced. I’m writing a story called Bad Guys for fuck’s sake; how can this not be the most fun I’ve ever had with a writing project?

I don’t think I need a plan for the plot; I think I need a plan for how the fuck to actually write this project at all. Yes, I’ve dumped 11.5k words into it so far, that is quite a bit, and taking my own advice would suggest that I just keep on truckin’ and not give credence to this pedantry – but at the same time, at least some of my anal retentive perfectionism is being triggered by the fact that I can almost feel the fun I’m missing out on by writing this book the way that I am.

On the other hand …

This is a zero draft.

Maybe I just need to calm down.

I felt like a fraud yesterday for doing something out of character for me that I would, ideally, like to feel that I’m able to do if I want to; I feel like a fraud today for being disappointed with the zero draft of a chapter of a book that I wrote and haven’t planned out and don’t have a clear overarching vision for. There is no logic here. I have no useful reason to be upset about any of this.

Then again, when has being upset ever been a matter of utility? I just am, all right? The feelings are too strong right now and I don’t like it.

Plans are good. My plan is to Just Write and Fix It All In Revision, which is the same advice that I try to pass on to anyone else who asks, because it’s the method that I think actually works based on prior experience.

So maybe I should just do that, regardless of how I feel right now, and just trust that I’m on to something with it.

… but also work out a way to have fun with this draft because.

Because.

If I can’t have fun while I’m writing it, then straight-up I’m just going to stop fucking writing it. So something here has to change …

NOTES.

I’m taking notes.

I’ll go add to them … ah fuck today was make-up Werewolf day wasn’t it, hang on a minute …

Revision: 30 minutes

All right, it’s getting a bit interesting now.

I have 2 new chapters … well, “planned” is a strong word, especially for me, but the premises have been established, and they should make the story feel more like a story when they are implemented.

I’m still avoiding the issue of whether or not to try and maintain the “pulpy” feel of this story; but to be real “pulpy” is not and never has been the right word, it’s “trashy”. So far I’m not planning around that; I’m planning around “make it feel like a story”, and beyond that honestly I’m sort of just leaving it up to fate.

But I’m sort of looking forward to the actual revision part of this revision process now, whenever that might happen.

I guess today hasn’t been a total loss. My Bad Guys notes have served the purpose of restoring my faith in myself as an ubermensch super-genius storyteller, so that’s good; the Wolf Gang revision is, if delayed a little, ticking along nicely …

And now I don’t know what to do for the rest of the evening. I wonder what trash is on Netflix that I can start bingeing …

12/07/2019

Writing: 2372

I thought today was going to be another slow one, difficult, stiff, uncooperative, and had kind of resigned myself to it. But I also decided to be pro-active and at least get some writing done. I thought, hey, if I can pump out a few hundred words tonight, at least that’s keeping momentum up, and that’s all that really matters.

I headed over to my Camp Nano cabin and announced that I was going to be doing a word-sprint, open to anyone who wanted to join. Someone else was online, so we did a 10-minute sprint, and I ended up with about 280 words. Not bad for ten minutes. Took a bit of a break, someone else wanted to join in for the next one; we went for 15 minutes, and I got over 600 words. I was quite pleased with myself. Had another break, yet another cabin-mate was keen, so we went for a final stretch of 15 minutes. I got past the 1k mark in total with that.

And I thought: hey, this sprinting thing (which is really intense if you’ve never done it, just fyi, learn by doing) is actually super useful, and I’m suddenly really glad that I have an active cabin and that I’ve taken the initiative to, like, reach out and make use of this support base. It’s actually awesome, and I didn’t think it would be, probably because of years of ingrained avoidant behaviour that I am now trying to unlearn with the help of a psychologist. In any event, I was pleased with myself, and feeling both chuffed and very grateful for my cabin, I was ready to call it a night.

But … I could always write a bit more … sure, the ideas aren’t quite as amazing as I’d like them to be, but I’ve got a lot of momentum here, I do have some ideas, and I’m actually having fun – also I do want to get my daily average up so that I can trick the Nano algorithm into thinking that I’ll actually finish 50k words on time …

And, voila! 2372 words tonight, momentum gained, an idea-wall pushed through and opened out into a new room full of new ideas that I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t pushed myself, and had help from my fellow Campers doing it, hadn’t braved the waters of social interaction to follow through with my promises that I’ve made to myself …

Basically it’s been a good writing session tonight, I surprised myself, and Camp Nanowrimo and the people who do it are awesome.

And, shit, word sprints. You guys. You guys. They are amazing. I mean I don’t think they’re a one-size-fits-all panacea for writer’s block or anything – but then again maybe they are. I only really started using them tonight; I guess I did do a couple of sprints with my co-writing friend last Sunday, and that was also a very beneficial experience … yeah, maybe I’ve just discovered a stupidly effective way to break through writer’s block.

And it all comes back to writing buddies, and that’s no surprise. Also an obvious downside to the method: you need someone else for it to work. But, thankfully, I am in the fantastic position of having other people who I can write with as writing-buddies, so shit is getting did, yo.

I was actually more ambitious than even that today: I was going to do some more Wolf Gang revision, because I was feeling a bit down and thought it would give me a pick-me-up. But now I’m 1) very mentally drained and 2) picked-up way more than I had even hoped a hypothetical Wolf Gang revision-planning session would make me.

Tomorrow, though – well, tomorrow is my one fixed “day off” during Camp Nano, and while I will do a bit of writing anyway because that’s one of my writing goals for this month, the Wolf Gang revision might have to wait until next week. But, since I’m not really working on any other writing projects except for Bad Guys, I can devote pretty much any day – or every day – next week to a bit of Wolf Gang revision time, which I think could be a lot of fun. And quite exciting.

Guys. I have things going on in my life right now. Writing things. After the first half of this year, this feels good. Very good.

And I think I’ll leave it there for the night.

… okay one last thing the fact that I’ve found it really hard to come up with “good” ideas for Bad Guys while writing it thus far but found writing sprints really generative in terms of ideas proves a point for me: I was right when I set out to Just Write and Fix It All In Revision after all, because ideas come while you write as well. In fact often more than when you just kind of sit there trying to come up with ideas; ideas are grown, and to grow something you need somewhere to plant it, and something to feed it – like other ideas. Makes sense. I shall try to remember it.

But also, seriously, word sprints. Just Writing is all well and good, but just adding other people to the equation makes it actually … well, work. In a way that it really doesn’t, or hasn’t been for me so far, when I try it on my own. Wolf Gang, I think, was a special case, an exception, and that’s fine. This time, I need a bit of help, and I’m very grateful to have it.

13/07/2019

Writing: 228

Day of schmay off.

Where did that trope come from?

Anyway I did some writing. Now I can sleep at night, tonight, I probably won’t sleep my sleep patterns are horribly unhealthy, but whatever it’s done.

Also I got a haircut and rather like it. It’s the first haircut that I haven’t given myself, besides one that my mum gave me, in like two or three years. I was told that my hair was pretty healthy, which is quite validating considering that I haven’t used shampoo or conditioner for, also, about two or three years.

Writing blog. Totes.

14/07/2019

Writing: 500

I still haven’t my Monthly Words post for last month, have I?

I don’t think I’ll even bother at this point; I’ll do this month and last month in the same post after Camp Nano is over.

I’m thinking I’m almost certainly not going to hit 50k words by the end of the month – at least not from Bad Guys alone. Including whatever I write on the blog, it might add up to that, but that definitely doesn’t “count” for Camp Nano.

That’s fine, though. I have momentum now, and enthusiasm, too, which was equal parts unexpected and encouraging. My goal with Camp Nanowrimo is to finish having written enough of Bad Guys that I’ll feel encouraged to continue writing it after the month is up, and that I’ll have set a fast enough pace that I feel I can get to the revision process nice and quick. The one thing I want to ensure is that the pace is good, and to that end I do need to pick up said pace over the next couple of weeks – even if I don’t hit 50k by the end of the month, I want to have gotten a decent way into the story, too far to back out easily.

Which means that I also need a bit more of a plan than what I have. It’s pretty easy to write a whole bunch of words in a short span of time, much harder to have those words mean something. I could write 50k words of filler that doesn’t keep me invested in the slightest, and that’s what I want to avoid. So, this part of the story that I’m still working on – the beginning, the intro portion – I need to get past quickly. I want to be on to the next phase of the story by Friday, and hopefully the next phase after that by this time next week.

So, yes, some planning needs to be done. And that’s fine. Planning as I go does seem to be working fairly well, so I may as well continue with it.

Revision: 5 minutes

My co-writing friend and I 1) both got haircuts this week and 2) didn’t really feel like writing today for our weekly meet-up, so we discussed Stranger Things 3 instead. I also did the aforementioned five minutes of making revision notes on our co-writing project, and I feel like that was enough for this week.

Weekly Total

Writing: 9584

Revision: 35 minutes

What a week it’s been.

Not quite as epic of a word-count as last week, but hey, this was also a big self-care week for me and kind of needed to be. If I keep up this sort of pace over the month I’ll hit around 30k with Camp Nano (4837 words this week were devoted to Bad Guys), and that’s a pretty decent chunk. I’d like to hit closer to 40k though, so, yes, pace definitely needs picking up.

But for this week: done; done, and on to the next one.

Weekly Words 01-07/07/2019, Camp Nanowrimo Edition

01/07/2019

Writing: 4595

Hoooly shit.

That feels GOOD.

And it’s almost all going to be thrown out, but after I finish this manuscruipt.

Okay, today was a good writing day, no question. This was me using the “All-In Method”, for those interested; I’m rather pleased with the results – having said that, though, the idea of word-sprints, with or without another writer to compete against, is appealing to me pretty hard. Think I’ll play around with them tomorrow.

I say that all the stuff I wrote today is going to be eventually thrown out, but that’s mainly because, through writing it, I got a better understand of what the core of the appeal of this entire premise is to me: the comedy side of things. I’ve been a bit fixed on the more serious, dramatic aspects of what semblance of a story I’ve managed to develop over the past year and a half – which is weird, because the original idea was literally a movie trailer that I arranged to “Hypnotize” by Notorious B.I.G. All in my head, of course, because to do it for real would require actors and sets and costumes and money and networking and … well, it’s cheaper this way. But it was most definitely not serious and dramatic and filled with pathos, and yet that’s what it’s slowly morphed into over time – and I don’t like it. More than anything, it’s just made it harder to actually start writing. I can write silly jokey crap pretty easily (whether or not it’s actually funny is another matter, but at least it gets written), but once it gets Serious then I get Serious and it has to Matter and, just, no. Not this time, dammit!

So, basically, I did a ton of writing today and came away from it with a better understanding of what this story ought to be if I want to enjoy writing it, and I’m pretty happy with that.

02/07/2019

Writing: 255

Didn’t want to take a day off today, but I did want to spend some time in a state of down, so I did. The writing that I did was from a little “window” of 5 minutes that I just kind of randomly set for myself while watching Critical Role; I like the idea of fitting in writing micro-sessions around doing other things – but, this is me, and “doing things” is not so much my, well, thing.

The salient point here being that, hey, maybe there is a massive deficit between the amount of writing that I did today compared to yesterday, but you know what? I still did writing both yesterday and today. In fact, I quite like the fact that I approached my daily writing process differently over the past two days; I feel so much more flexible and, honestly, capable for having put two different writing strategies into practice, to tackle two different days. Yesterday was all in on writing because I really had nothing else to do; today I was watching Critical Role and taking some time to play games to recover from the intensity of yesterday’s writing session, and I had a different strategy for writing on each day and they both worked. The writing was done! The situations were different, my mood was different, the strategies were different, and the writing got done.

I am now also a bit worried about this project, though, and well that’s kind of a lie, I have always been worried about this project and now I’m just, I dunno, less able to deny it or something and it feels more immediate and confronting – which, I mean, that’s good right? It’s forcing me to face the problem head-on, which means it’ll either get solved, which is great, or it won’t, in which case it actually still kind of gets solved because it means I will probably let it go and move on to something else that isn’t a problem and work on that instead, I don’t have a plan I thought I could write this stupid book that I don’t have a plan for without a plan and I found myself writing just utter nothing today because I have no fucking plan I don’t know what to do or why to do it I need a fucking plan.

So, tomorrow, when I will also be looking at making a revision plan for Wolf Gang, actually maybe I shouldn’t do that while Nano is on and I’m focusing on a different project, also it’s too early for a plan I don’t even have a good feel for this story or the characters or anything …

Yeah.

I think it’s all right, for this first week, to just get a feel for the project. Today I did so little writing that I can’t really judge where I’m “at” with it, if it’s going wrong or whatever; I think I’m just panicking and blowing things out of proportion because I’m very good at doing that, unfortunately. Today I got sidetracked because the vague plan that I had for what I’d write today didn’t appeal to me, and because I let myself follow that feeling of aversion I ended up writing something that I wasn’t happy with in the end.

However, that’s fine, because it was only 255 words. What I wrote yesterday, the stuff I said I would have to throw out – well, more like reframe. It’s actually pretty much how I had imagined things going, it just needs to be tweaked a bit. What I actually ought to do is follow on from that writing tomorrow, because insofar as I have any sort of plan or vision for this story, yesterday’s writing is taking me in that direction. Also, to be fair, what I wrote today – well, what I was trying to write today – also takes me in that direction; it’s just that 255 words isn’t a lot, and also I had no real idea going into it so it was mostly just filler as I stalled for time to come up with a brilliant idea. I gave myself 5 minutes so, yeah, no brilliant idea came, but I feel like I at least have a decent one now, looking back on it.

So, overall, I would say that today was also a success, and for the same reasons as yesterday: I learnt something. Somethings, in fact. I’m looking forward to being really busy with my writing projects tomorrow; I don’t know if Wolf Gang will actually be revised, but I do want to draw up a revision plan at the very least – and, as for Bad Guys, I think that as long as I can continue to recover from my inevitable fits of hysteria about it, it’s going to go well.

03/07/2019

Wolf Gang Revision Planning: 1 hour

It’s actually going quite well. I was afraid I was going to open my revision notes and find that they were totally useless, but they weren’t, and so I’ve managed to make the start of a revision plan. I think trying to do it all today is possible, but I also want to do more than just make revision plans today; I’m using the turn-about method so that I can get a bunch of things done or at least started. And it worked out that I ended my revision plan push with the start of the plan for an entirely new, and I feel very necessary, chapter – so that’s something to look forward to coming back to, and also something I will probably need some time to prepare for.

Writing: 1076

Much better.

I feel quite … irresponsible? I suppose that is exactly the right word, actually; I feel irresponsible for insisting on making Bad Guys my Camp Nano project when I really do not have any sort of a solid foundation to work from. It’s not even about having a plan; it’s the simple fact that I have nothing other than an imaginary movie trailer that I am way too pleased with myself for conjuring up …

And this is it. For a month.

However, what I’m finding so far is that, lost and unwise as I may be in this endeavour, the project is actually developing as I work on it. This isn’t a case of it being a doomed-to-failure project, where there’s just something about it inherently lacking that no amount of effort will ever compensate for. This is a project that is, I think I have to admit, a really bad investment at more than first glance – but even just in these past three days of committing to making it work somehow, it has started to actually work. Emphasis on the “started to”, but still.

It’s working.

Today I wrote something that didn’t follow on from either of the two bits of writing I did over the past two days; instead I actually followed on from the synopsis that I spent all that time writing in preparation for Camp Nano that gave me the closest semblance of a vision or plan for this project that has ever existed. Is the lesson simply to follow the goddamn plan from the start? I think it’s more about resilience. This is such an experimental project that I think “sticking to the plan” is kind of … empty, I guess, as a mission statement, because there is no plan. Not one that you could really follow, at any rate; so much is open, up in the air, yet-to-be-decided that the project is basically an improv exercise – much like Wolf Gang, the writing process for which I wish I could tap into the inspired euphoria of right now. I don’t know what it was about werewolves and werewolf story tropes that possessed me back in 2015 that isn’t doing it for me now with high fantasy villains. I guess I just really like werewolves.

Which, I mean, I do, and I’m actually really happy that I put some time and effort into Wolf Gang today. I just wonder if there is going to be a point with this project where that same giddy abandon will take hold again – but, even if it doesn’t, I think I’m proving to myself that I don’t need it in order to get shit done, and even enjoy it.

I guess it’s just going well.

Nice.

04/07/2019

Writing: 731

And this was supposed to be my day off, too.

To be fair, though, I wrote all of that in the last 20 minutes; it’s just gone midnight now, and all the rest of today has been spent doing decidedly un-productive things, so I feel okay about writing even though this was a day off. Besides, I want that Nano badge for updating every single day during the month. What can I say? Gamification works.

I’m also starting to get more imaginative with this project; after feeling very unprepared and, honestly, pretty uninspired yesterday, it’s starting to come together now. It’s starting to feel a bit more like a “me” project; it’s got a bit of “attitude” – I’m starting to have fun with it. I’ve also started taking notes as I go; I’m not going to revise as I go (or, rather, I’m going to try very hard not to revise as I go), so to compensate for all the “oh shit I should have done this” moments I’m inevitably going to have, a Word document for running commentary of exactly that sort has been created. And from that, the fun factor has already started to escalate. So simple; so effective. I’m a fan.

05/07/2019

Writing: 1656

I was also going to make this my day off, to make up for yesterday, but fuck it when you’re on a roll you’re on a roll, and when I’m on a roll I don’t need to make myself take time off.

Also because when I’m on a roll I write without thinking about how long it’s taking or what else I could be doing; as it happened I did spend a lot of time doing other non-writing things (gaming, shocking I know), and that to me feels even better, knowing that I wrote a nice big chunk and got in my recreation time and none of it felt like it was clashing or compromised or anything.

That’s all there is to say, really. Short and sweet; a day well spent in my estimation.

06/07/2019

Writing: 29

Okay. THIS is my day off.

Besides, tomorrow is Sunday, which means heading over to my co-writing friend’s place for our usual writing session EXCEPT it’s also Camp Nano and we’re both doing it so we’re going to be spending EVEN MORE TIME on our writing session, also probably some other stuff that has nothing to do with writing because that’s how we roll.

The only reason I even wrote those 29 words today is because I want that damn Nano badge; if I find out that Camp Nano doesn’t do badges then I shall be very put out – but, on the other hand, I could just check and I’m choosing not to do that, so let’s just get it out of the way right now: clearly I want to be writing every day. Or at least feel like I should write every day. And no, I don’t like doing things that I “should” do because it’s a horrible habit to get into when those “shoulds” are really nothing of the sort, but … I like the momentum. I like knowing that I’m keeping an iron in the fire, even when I’m taking a break.

I’m enjoying this project.

God, this is so weird; I haven’t been through this process in so long, starting a new project and getting into the groove of it and feeling not just the construction of the story but the feeling of doing that construction developing along the way … it feels good. Very good.

All right. Resuming day off.

07/07/2019

Writing: 1468

Today, my co-writing friend and I did a couple of word-sprints, each at 15 minutes long. We also then did a bit of extra writing after the second sprint; I got 590 words in first sprint and about 513 in the second, so that’s a thousand-plus words in half an hour. I am very excited with this result, and foresee many more word-sprints in my future.

No revision today, because we also watched The Last Summer, which we’ve been trying to organise ourselves enough to do for a little while now. It was … well, I’ll put it this way: of the made-for-Netflix films that I have watched that seem aimed at a young/new adult market, the bar set by The Kissing Booth still has yet to be cleared in my estimation. The Last Summer has professional adorable person Tyler Posey in it and even that isn’t enough to keep it from being perhaps the most pointless, unremarkable film I have seen … I think that’s the end of that sentence. Though to be fair, trying to remember what film that I’ve seen that could be more unremarkable than The Last Summer might be impossible, seeing as that level of unremarkability would be very difficult to sustain a working memory of. We both thought it was trying to be Love Actually or He’s Just Not That Into You for millennials, which fits in the sense that people old enough to be making movies are probably of the age that induces utter disdain towards millennials and refuses to treat them with any level of respect as human beings with functioning brains.

It got me thinking, though – maybe my writing project for November’s Nanowrimo will be to write a YA coming-of-age romantic comedy novel that I upload to Wattpad as I write it. I would say “it can’t be that hard” except for the fact that I know full well that trying to make myself write something as banal and lacking in effort as The Last Summer would never get past my inner critic, and might even be a situation in which my inner critic would actually come in handy.

Fuck it who am I kidding if you can’t let yourself write trash for fun and/or profit then what is even the point in being a writer?

Bad Guys is turning out to be … not as trashy as I had anticipated it being once it started being written. And kind of hoping for, but let’s be real I would need to actually have a plan for that level of coherence in the tone of this project, and I’m currently operating under the belief that consistent tone is something that has absolutely no place in a zero draft. I have also worked out a way to “plan” my writing for Bad Guys: checkpoints. I may not have a beat-by-beat plan, but I do have some key story events that I want to get to, and thinking about this the other day I realised that I could use this as both an impetus to do my weekly writing and a way to organise my writing, just by giving myself a goal to reach through doing the writing. It also leaves me free to interpret how I reach each of these story events while still giving me some kind of concrete method of measuring my progress.

It also makes me think that there is no way this novel is getting finished this Nano – which is fine. I wasn’t really expecting to; fifty thousand words is quite a lot to write over the span of a month, but not enough words to tell this story in. I mean even Wolf Gang, paint-by-numbers garbage though it aspires to be, clocks in at just over eighty thousand words. Tallulah – well, Tallulah‘s zero draft was quite ambitious stream-of-consciousness filler, so the zero draft was around 120k words, which I then whittled down to eight-eight thousand through revision. Fifty thousand, I feel, is never going to be long enough for me to tell one of my stories in (or, in the case of short stories, too long).

But I can get a big chunk of it done, and having Camp Nano to use as a way to just knuckle down and pump out some words has proven really valuable so far. After a year and a half of being unable to get any real momentum on this semi-passion project of mine, finally it is underway.

And I feel very strongly that it would not be the case if it were not for the fact that I was doing it with a friend. It is definitely the best way to write, and probably to do most things in life, really. Friends are good like that.

Weekly Total

Revision: 1 hour

Writing: 13122

And of that word-count total, 9810 words were all focused on my project. What was my original Weekly Words word-count goal, way back in the early days? Ten thousand? I mean, “goal” was a very symbolic, intentionally impractical and idealised word for the purposes of giving myself big aspirations to motivate me, but I did actually hit that goal pretty consistently for the first few months.

And now, here I am again. Yes, obviously this is counting the writing done in this here blog post, which I’m going to stay consistent with throughout the year because that’s how I started it – but wow. This feels good.

It feels like this is the right time for me to be writing again, focusing on word-count goals, keeping the ball rolling. I have had many experiences of getting stuck in a rut with writing, trying to break out and finding it hard to sustain momentum. Much rarer are the occasions where I come back to writing after a hiatus and re-discovering my love for it – but it does happen, eventually, and it looks like this is one of those occasions. The day that it stops happening is the day I stop writing, and I’m glad that today is not that day.

Day, week, whatever; it’s good to be back.

Flex Zone

Today is the first day of Camp Nanowrimo for July 2019, and I am already way behind where I want to be with my writing.

Still, writing block happens, and sometimes it’s not a lack of enthusiasm but the interruptions that come just from living life, little bumps and hiccups, twists and turns that we’re not expecting that throw us off-course regardless of our plans or intentions, yeah something weird happened today and I don’t feel as hyped up to write as I did about an hour ago – but, that’s life, and I’m here to write.

As I have said and experienced multiple times, a one-size-fits-all strategy for getting writing done simply doesn’t work for me, and I’m beginning to see how maybe I’m not even a little bit alone in that regard. Having options is good; being flexible increases one’s resilience, and resilience is definitely something I’m going to need to achieve my Camp Nano goals. So, here is a list of the strategies I have currently identified as being potentially helpful, based on past experience, in getting me through writer’s block, whatever it’s source. I hope you find them helpful, and to that end I may as well start with the best one I’ve found so far.

Writing Buddies

I thought I came up with this idea all on my own – and to be fair, I did, but I’m not the only person who got the bright idea to write in company. And, I mean, that’s basically it: find another person or a couple of people who are looking to get some words down in writing, make a time to meet up, and then write your stuff together. It’s not a critique group, it’s not a competition; it’s moral support and company for an undertaking that can be very isolating and lonely. Do it. It works. End of story.

Well, sort of. Like anything where other people are involved, it can be very easy to get sidetracked, even with the best of intentions and most steadfast self-control (which I don’t have). Therefore, it’s good to have something – or things – to fall back on when it looks like you’re getting off-track.

Windows Method

The Windows Method is one that I’ve talked about a bit before on this blog, and while I’m not at all sure that I’ve coined this phrase I haven’t heard it used anywhere else, so I’m definitely all right with taking the credit.

The general idea is very simple: you give yourself a window of opportunity in which X thing can be done – and outside of that window, it can’t. In terms of writing, this goes something like “Between 2 and 6 PM I can work on X writing project; before and after that window of time I must not work on X writing project”. This does two things: it establishes clear boundaries on your time and how you spend it, and it it gives you a time-crunch.

I’ll be the first to admit that the Windows Method is, at best, what scientists like to call “iffy”. But as time goes on I have kept working on it, and recently I’ve realised that it’s the length of time I’m giving myself that’s the problem. Hours-long windows are too long; it’s too easy to fall into the trap of procrastinating for the majority of your window so that, when it comes down to the last little bit, you tell yourself “well there’s basically no point now, I might as well not even bother”, and nothing gets done. So, for Camp Nanowrimo, I’m going to be putting a very strict, very short limit on the size of my windows, as in no longer than 15 minutes at a time (and probably much shorter than that anyway).

This brings me to the second method, which requires a partner but also sounds quite fun:

Word Sprinting

This is definitely not an original method of my own creation, and in fact I had to look it up to understand exactly what it means, after seeing the phrase used a few times (usually in connection to Nanowrimo events). The idea is similar to the Windows Method in that you set out to write for a set amount of time – however, in a Word Sprint, you are competing against another writer, or even competing in a group of writers, to see who can write the most words within the time-limit. I’m sort of a competitive person, but I have definitely had some not-great experiences with people who take competition a little too seriously. Nevertheless, with the right group of people any kind of activity can be fun and fulfilling, and this sounds like something I’d be keen to try out this Nano.

Everything’s Fine Method

I don’t know that this deserves to be called a “method”, per say, but the idea is what it says on the tin: when the going gets tough, sweep that shit under the rug (for now). For me, this pragmatic tactic became part of my repertoire while writing Wolf Gang, when I got to a part of the story that I found dull, boring, necessary but utterly uninspiring.

So I skipped it, and wrote the rest of the story first.

For anyone who’s been following this blog since those days, you will know that this did not come without downsides: it took me another year to finish that dull, boring, necessary but uninspiring part of the book, and it almost killed the project dead. But in terms of keeping up the momentum that I had, it was crucial to keeping the project going. This is a strategy to definitely use with caution, but a valuable one nonetheless – just remember, you will have to deal with all of that unpleasant writing at some point if you want your project to, like, exist in a completed form. But it could be that taking the easy way out is exactly what your project needs in the moment, and we should not be afraid to do just that.

As for the stuff we’re sweeping under the rug: take notes. Why is it unpleasant? What’s difficult/confronting/irritating about it that is causing such aversion to writing it? Make honest notes about these things, and put them aside somewhere that you can easily access them. It gives you the opportunity to come back to the problem when you’ve gotten some distance and have a fresh perspective – and it could well be that, through allowing yourself to just stick to the stuff that you like, you might come up with a solution to whatever the problem is. Positivity begets positivity.

Turn-About Method

Here’s one that’s definitely a work in progress for me in terms of practice, but the idea is one that appeals to me deeply: set a (manageable) number of specific, manageable, achievable, realistic, and timely goals, some of which are writing-related, and some of which are not. Then, alternate between them throughout the day.

This is definitely one to keep in the back pocket as far as I’m concerned, not something I’d use as a solid foundation for a daily routine – but certainly useful in those situations where I want but don’t necessarily need a break from writing. It’s basically a compromise system, where you get to make sure you’re sticking to your writing commitments while also getting what you need and want out of life beyond just sitting in front of a computer and typing for hours on end. And on a macro scale, that’s how writing should be anyway – this is just taking that guiding principle of work-life balance and condensing it into the activities of a single day.

All In Method

On the other hand, sometimes the way you get things done is to go to the extreme. This isn’t really a “method” so much as a fairly common tactic that people just intuitively employ, which is just to devote yourself to Getting Shit Done.

In this case, I have the most experience with this “method” from my academic life, both last year as a way of coping with the massive almost-panic-attack I had when I fell way behind with marking the comics paper, and during my masters degree when I had a lot of shit to get done. And it’s incredibly simple: you aren’t doing anything else today except for X thing – in this case, writing my goddamn book.

This is also why it often doesn’t work: it’s bleak. On the face of it, this is a horrible experience to put yourself through, especially if you’re at a low point in your writing enthusiasm and nothing could be more off-putting than the prospect of losing an entire day to running around in circles getting nowhere with your project while feeling increasingly guilty as time goes by and writing continues to not get done. It’s another back-pocket strategy, an emergency button that I’ve found most useful in periods of extreme enthusiasm (in which case I want to make the most of that enthusiasm), or periods of extreme reluctance (in which case I want to kick my ass into gear and get out of whatever rut I’m stuck in). It works because, as soon as you make the decision to sacrifice every other want and desire you could potentially follow through on that day, it’s incredibly freeing, even empowering, to have a single, clear goal to put all of your energy towards – for today.

And to be real, this isn’t a strict thing like the Windows Method or a word sprint; this is all about attitude. If we’re talking about SMART goals, this one is pretty much the antithesis of it; you’re going to burn out, especially if you try to do it over a prolonged period of time. Never mind that people might sometimes need to take breaks, eat, sleep, maybe experience human contact, that sort of thing. And that’s good. That’s healthy. This “method” doesn’t “fail” if you do any of those things; it succeeds when you get the kick that you need out of clearing the path before you, making the sacrifice of your free time for the sake of achieving an ambition of yours, and making a commitment to yourself that you care about keeping. It’s actually not about being hard on yourself, nor is it about literally doing nothing but writing for a whole day; it’s about giving yourself the benefit of the doubt, being your own cheerleader, and embracing your own willingness to make some sacrifices in the short-term to achieve your long-term goals. It’s about building a good-faith relationship with yourself that you can fall back on when times get tough, and build on with more good, self-empowering habits.

Breaks

And, at the other extreme: sometimes you just have to call it a day and do something other than write.

This is a hard one for a lot of writers, myself definitely included, because of the guilt that comes from not writing or being in a constant state of concern over whether or not writing is getting done. But we need breaks; we need to look after ourselves, and taking breaks is part of doing that successfully.

There is always the issue of taking too long of a break, and that’s what these other methods are here to try and counter – at least that’s my plan. I know I tend to take whatever I can get when it comes to avoidant behaviour, and that it’s definitely not good for me. But that doesn’t mean that taking breaks is wrong; it just means that I need to get better at taking meaningful time out that actually benefits me, lets me regroup and recharge so that I can come back to writing feeling refreshed and eager. And I think a big part of that is just making sure that you have a surefire way to get back on the wagon, because once you’re off it can be very tempting to stay off. And sometimes that is the right decision, but I think we all know when we’ve gone from recuperating to procrastinating – and that’s when strategies for getting yourself to write come into play.

That’s All (for now)

These are the ways of managing my writing time and energy that I’ve come up with over the past 19 years. Yeah, I thought I might have a few more by now, too. But hey, gotta start somewhere; and I’m looking forward to putting them to the test this Camp Nano, and finding more useful methods for staying on-target going forward.

How about you? What are some writing strategies that you’ve found useful? What makes them work? What are their shortcomings? I think the last time I explicitly asked for any kind of response to a blog post of mine was like a year ago because I am definitely not a Blogger, but I would genuinely be interested to hear other perspectives on this topic. It’s the bread and butter of how us writers do what we do, and having or not having the motivation to write is such a weird, existential, neurotic process sometimes, and I think keeping it to ourselves can make it even more difficult to deal with than it already is.

In any case, I hope something here has been helpful or made you think; good writing to you all – and for those of you participating in Camp Nano this year: good luck!

Weekly Words 24-30/06/2019

25/06/2019

Okay.

Last week was more “interesting” for me than the past few have been, but part of that was getting a sty in my lower eyelid, part of it was re-installing WOW as I tend to do when I get into a bad headspace …

And part of it was actually doing some shit to change this bad headspace into a better one, so I’ll start there.

First of all, my co-writing friend taking the initiative and asking if she and I could get an invite to a Camp Nanowrimo cabin gave me a much-needed kick of energy, and now I’m currently trying to decide whether I want to go with my shitty High Fantasy going-to-try-and-rip-off-Dragonlance project, or the slightly more ambitious dark fantasy satire project, Bad Guys (working title but honestly I probably won’t change it). I’ve ended up deferring this decision to how good of a synopsis I can write for either of these projects, and so today I’m going to be focusing on doing that.

Second of all, on either Friday or Saturday night I decided that I needed to start keeping an idea-journal again. I did this for a bit when I was in my late teens, and it led to my huge burst of inspired ideas that culminated in the most me-feeling story ideas I’ve ever conceived of to date, or such is my feeling on the subject. When I’ve lamented in the past that my story ideas don’t feel like they “come from me”, in some regard I am mentally comparing those ideas to the ones that I came up with almost ten years ago. Also, one of those ideas was a D&D-inspired High Fantasy story, and I do have the one episodic chapter that I wrote for that kicking around, so I will have a look at that and see if that’s the kick I need to get started on this shitty High Fantasy novel. To be fair, my idea-bubble also had other factors, such as partaking of my first ever alcoholic beverage which was also probably spiked with something because I was very quickly aware of the inhibition-blocker coming up – thankfully nothing bad happened, and in fact only good things happened, because I was chattier than I normally am and the next day is when the idea-bubble burst, and I reveled in my genius.

But the idea-journal thing is what I’m going to start with, and it’s a very simple concept that works very well: when you have an idea that you like, write it down.

The end.

What ends up happening is that you get really good ideas after a while; even if you normally have good ideas, your ideas will get even gooder, and if you don’t have what you consider to be good ideas, you’ll start liking what you come up with more. The important part here (I think) is that you just write the idea down; you don’t try to build on it or speculate on where it might lead, just write it down and move on. That way, you get used to 1) being able to have ideas without judgement or pressure on them to fulfill some sort of agenda or obligation to “do something” with them, and 2) you build a repository of ideas that you can mine for inspiration in the future. Also 3) you learn to be able to manage your time and energy and to let things go, and all of these things are things that I want to develop some more proficiency with.

Now I just need to give myself the opportunity to have ideas, which brings me to third of all: time-management. It’s schedule-time, and while I hate schedules I need one for this initiative, at least right now. As time goes on I may be able to take the training-wheels off and self-regulate, yes I said I need to stop trying to “manage” myself but no seriously I need it for this.

Starting today, I’m going to employ my tried-and-I-have-nothing-better-at-my-disposal “windows method” once again. Until 6 PM, I am not doing anything except for working on the synopses for my potential Nanowrimo projects. Because that will probably not take two and a half hours, I will also fit in a revisiting of that D&D-inspired story to see what, if anything, I can take away from it. If I still have some free time after that, I will continue to chip away at episode 5 of the co-writing project’s revision notes (and keep time so that I can quantify) – or, if I’m feeling particularly inspired after revisiting my old writing, I will start doing some pre-writing in preparation for Nanowrimo and get the ideas flowing.

And after 6, I will be free to indulge in my horrible WOW habit, because surprisingly I have actually found some fun to be had in the game this time around, and fun is acceptable. I will, however, also keep a notepad handy so that I can start identifying what it is that I keep coming back to with WOW that I can start looking for elsewhere – and not just in the form of games. Not that there is anything wrong with games, but with my history of using games as an escapist, self-distraction tactic, I feel that I should put some effort into broadening my horizons.

So, that’s today. Tomorrow will be the finishing touches on my Wolf Gang revision notes, and my god I will actually have revision notes for Wolf Gang, that’s an interesting thought. I have also dictated to myself that I have to watch one episode of a Netflix show every day during the week. Somehow, surely, this will make me better at not only taking downtime, but get me to thinking about what I actually want to do with it – to look forward to having it.

And then, goals! Goals are good, right? I have goals so that makes me a good person; my goals for this week are to 1) finish Wolf Gang‘s revision notes, 2) have decided on what my Nanowrimo project is going to be/get in touch with our potential cabin leader to let them know what that project is, 3) watch dat Netflix and start building up a “portfolio” of self-care options and needs, 4) give myself time/space/opportunity to have ideas through time-management (starting with windows today, but aiming to move on on to something a bit less rigid going forward) and keep that idea-journal handy to jot them down, 5) in the same vein keep a note of my mental health, noting context and triggers, and then separately keeping a note of how I coped with these instances (or didn’t), 6) re-commit to regular exercise and healthy eating habits, and 7) be able to look back on the week and see that I have done all of this. How much of it that I did is not important, I just want to see that I did it at all, because that’s how you start anything.

I’m feeling a bit ambitious, but also this part of this blog post has taken like forty minutes to write – so, on to those synopses.

Some Time Later …

It is now almost 6:20 and, holy shit, writing synopses is hard. But I think I’ve got it; I still want to trim it down but the general idea is there – and, holy shit, it actually helped me finally settle on an overarching plot for this story that I actually like. That’s been the problem for the past year and a half, because while the general premise has always seemed fun and alluring to me, coming up with any kind of actual structure that meant I had to make a decision has never gone well. I guess this goes back to that old bit of writing advice about pitching your story: if you can’t pitch your story in less than two sentences, your story needs work. I definitely took longer than two sentences (and like I said, I still want to trim it down), but there are different kinds of pitches, and a synopsis isn’t really a pitch – I’m just sort of making it one because that’s where my brain goes, and I’m all about catchy back-of-the-book blurbs.

And, I mean, a year and a half’s suffering resolved – in large part, if not total – over the course of two hours and change. If nothing else I want to achieve this week ends up happening, I think this victory is still going to taste pretty sweet.

Now to do literally anything except write for the rest of the day, just as soon as I hurriedly write down this one last idea seriously I will go play WOW right after this I promise I can take time off I am an adult …

26/06/2019

Revision: oh wait I’m supposed to be timing myself now

Well, there’s always tomorrow.

In any event: I now have a full set of revision notes for Wolf Gang! And just like the last time I read it through, I was pleasantly surprised by how well it holds together, on the whole, as a coherent story, and little bits and pieces here and there that could be shifted around or developed to flesh it out some more. The issue of whether or not to abandon the “pulpy” feel of the story for the sake of making it “actually good”, or if not good then at least something I wouldn’t mind people knowing that I was responsible for putting out into the world, has yet to be resolved – but whatever. I’ve accomplished a thing, and it feels pretty good.

It also feels pretty easy, I have to say. This was actually a pretty smooth experience; the actual revision itself, if and when that ever takes place, is another matter, but just reading and making notes was, honestly, quite enjoyable.

Now if I can just tighten up my synopsis/pitch for Bad Guys and finally get back to the potential Nanowrimo cabinmaster, I will consider this a day well-spent and totter off to do things that don’t involve writing for the rest of it. I think I do want to go with Bad Guys rather than a shitty High Fantasy novel, at least for Nanowrimo – and for the sake of just getting back to the cabinmaster in a relatively timely manner. I can always change my mind, but I don’t want to keep them hanging.

Man, look at me, being all pro-active and shit, relatively speaking at least. This week is already much more fulfilling to live through than the past … well, they are just that: past. Onward and … onward.

28/06/2019

Co-Writing Project Revision: 60-ish minutes

Rounding it up to an hour-ish, because only after I started did I realise that I was supposed to be timing myself, but it’s probably more like 55 minutes. Anyway, revision! I’m halfway through episode 5 now so will probably be able to wrap up on Sunday, and considering that I started last Sunday I am pleased at this prospect.

Yesterday was a day off, and tomorrow will be one as well, so today I’m keen to get some stuff done. Gonna have a go at writing a synopsis for my D&D-inspired high fantasy novel; I’ve settled on the Nano project, but writing that synopsis was a very productive exercise for me and I’d like to repeat it today – or see if it can be repeated at least.

Also, the more “flexible” schedule that I want to move on to – yesterday was just WOW all day, pretty much, and it got me thinking about what it is that I actually get out of the game. In a nutshell: self-set goals. No, that’s not the whole game, and in fact when you’re thinking of the “main” gameplay of WOW a lot of it isn’t that at all – but it is there. So, when my month’s subscription runs out, I’m looking for something/s that meet that need for me, because not only is it something I like doing in games, but it’s also something that I think could help me work out a more flexible schedule for writing (which is also a self-set goals-based activity). I don’t really like the whole “only write between the hours of X and Y, then do anything but write after that for the rest of the day” approach that I took over Tuesday and Wednesday – not for the whole week, at least. I like having set tasks to complete, and think I work much better under those conditions, rather than arbitrary time-limits.

Thus, I will do some experimenting today; I’ve done (roughly) an hour of revision and gotten halfway through episode 5’s revision notes, and that was not a clear goal but it was vaguely what I had in mind. I’ve got some WOW-related stuff that I want to get done, and I also want to get onto those synopses – and I also want to do a bit of character-writing for this D&D-inspired high fantasy project. I did go back yesterday and read that short story/episode that I wrote, and it actually did give me a bit of inspiration, so I’m keen to keep that momentum. But, after an hour of revision notes, I think I need a break from writing for a little bit.

And goals. Clear, specific, achievable goals. SMART goals or whatever. What does it stand for again? Specific, Manageable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely; well something like that is what I need right now. Where’s that notepad at …

Weekly Total

Revision: more than 60 minutes-ish

Writing: 2975

Doing things is hard.

Or maybe just annoying; but in any case, this week is over, and it wasn’t a bad one. Now for Camp nano and writing five days a week. I haven’t changed my goal from the default 50k words, but I’m thinking I might go for a goal of X hours across the month, like an hour a day or something. I like the idea of the Stephen King method of writing 5k words every day, but I really am not “there yet”.

But, regardless, I know that the important thing is just to get into a routine. This idea has been kicking around in my head for the past year and a half, and it is way past time that I just dove in. It’s not particularly well-developed or clear-cut in terms of what my writing process should be for this project, and I haven’t come up with a plan yet, like I kept saying I would. But I think that’s fine. I think I have what I need; I just need to trust myself a bit more. I can do this. I can tell this story. Or, rather, I can tell a story with this idea, and I can make it up as I go along.

And I miss doing that, honestly. I complain a lot about how I don’t have any story ideas and how trying to force random little ideas that I have into full-blown stories never works out, but this time I’m just going to focus on having some fun. I have a fun idea; I’m going to take it and run with it and see where I end up. I’m going to take what I learnt from writing Wolf Gang, which is 1) allow myself to write badly (but not insist on writing badly, because that doesn’t work), and 2) get it done quick. I tend to get my best ideas when I’m looking at a story told all the way through and can see how it could be improved as a whole package, rather than trying to make some kind of clear-cut plan from the start – which is a lot of long-term work. But that makes Nanowrimo a great opportunity to get into the habit of a writing process that might work better for me than what I’ve been doing up to this point.

Or maybe I’m full of shit and just making up meaningful-sounding excuses for not making a plan and sticking to it because it’s boring/scary. One of the two.

My plan to try a more “flexible” schedule, weaving in and out between writing-related goals and recreation-related goals … well, it went more in favour of recreation, let’s put it that way. I think it’s definitely a tool that I can use in terms of organising my time, but not a blanket approach that I’d want to have as my “default”, because quite frankly it doesn’t work very well in the long-term. But short-term, I think it’s not bad.

And for this July, I think I’m going to need a lot of strategies like that to come through the month with my goal of completing a manuscript achieved. I don’t think I can use a one-size-fits-all approach; I think I need to have some options to fall back on, to get the engine running again when it inevitably stalls. I think this is pretty common writing (and just general) advice for getting things done, so I do feel a bit silly for only starting to realise that it makes sense now. I’ve been very pig-headed about doing things a certain way and no other way for a very long time, and it hasn’t gotten me where I want to get to. It’s when I’ve been able to adapt and be flexible that I’ve found the most success.

So, on top of the writing-done goal that I have for July, my other goal is to be more flexible – and that means being prepared. I have a bunch of strategies that, while not long-term life-organising principles on their own, make for a robust collection of resources that I can draw on in different situations, and Camp Nano seems like a good opportunity to try them out. I foresee a lot of note-taking in my future, and I have to be honest, I’m sort of looking forward to it.

Forward we go!