A nice little start to the week, co-writing again, and looking to try my hand at writing Teen Drama.
I was considering just not writing this week at all, but I think instead I’m just going to shift my priority from writing in a general sense to focusing on a few specific writing exercises – and reading. I need to finish Mark and Jessie this month, and to move on to revision time. At the moment, it’s really seeming like I can’t take much away from this manuscript story-wise, at least not stuff that I want to keep. There’s plenty that I’d want to change, but even more that just shouldn’t be there to begin with. It’s also making me see, in quite graphic detail, how utterly wretched my two leads are, how insufferable my “cool” character is, and overall I’m astounded that I ever thought that what I was writing in any way matched up to the vision I had for the story. I went into this sort of vaguely intending to take a story away from the reading experience, one that I’d have to alter and refine but would generally work out to be something that I’d want to work on. I’m not sure that that’s what I have, and it mostly comes down to the characters. I have one character who I actually like, and I’m glad that I like them, but they’re not one of the two main characters, and that is a problem. And honestly, I don’t know how to fix my main characters, or if they even can be fixed. I wonder if maybe I should not even bother reading the rest of this manuscript and just start over from scratch.
But on the other hand, having something to work against kind of makes it easier for me to come up with a revision plan. Hating what I’ve got drives me towards identifying the things that I want but don’t have, and I want two new writing habits, which I am going to focus on this month: planning instead of pantsing, and planning based on things that I actually, actively want to write, instead of what I think is functional in a structural way. So, in that sense, I think continuing to read and make notes on this manuscript is a good idea.
This is also a way for me to meet my goal of having a more structured routine in general, the feeling of having work to do, only in this case work I set for myself. Writing I find I can’t really treat like work, because it’s a hobby. But a book project could be a bit different, and that’s because it doesn’t just involve writing. It also involves reading, revision, consideration, taking notes, making adjustments, doing research – and I think I can treat that as a job. At least the reading part anyway, to start with. It’s pretty easy, and I’m actually glad that this book is so long now, where I was complaining about it before – it’s long because I changed the margins and page size when I converted it to a PDF file, and while that means there’s a high total page count, it also means that when I sit down to do a reading session, I have a sense of getting a lot done, like 20 pages in a session or something, and somehow this distracts me from the potential discouragement that comes with looking at a page total of 622.
Related to this, I also want to spend some time this week reflecting on what I managed to accomplish, versus what my expectations were, going into this last round of marking. Setting goals is important, as is sticking to a plan, both of which I feel like I failed at in this case – however, the deciding factor, which I did not really consider until after the fact, was how realistic my expectations were. Or, as I’m starting to suspect, unrealistic. And as someone who historically has a lot of things they want to do and a bad track record of actually getting them done, these particular data categories are important to me.
So, I’ve got some goals for this week. The word-count is being de-prioritised – quality over quantity. And in terms of writing – there’s the writing exercises that I want to do, starting with taking that whole “show don’t tell” idea and just blatantly flipping it, making it so that I have to tell and force myself to do it in a way that is engaging and satisfying to read, but there’s also wanting to follow my natural inclination to edit my writing as I go, rather than forcing myself to “just write”. I do think I need to emphasise the “just write” part for, like, first drafts, but as I identified last week in the midst of an emotional dumpster fire, I need to care about what I’m writing, and tweaking it as I go so that it makes sense is part of that. I think this is probably just because I take everything way too literally, and “just write” to me is basically an instruction to freewrite all of my first drafts, which I do not think is a good or productive plan when I frame it like that. So yeah. Going to experiment a bit with that, too, just pull things back on track instead of letting them veer off into the distance just because it’s a first attempt – I don’t want to do so much on-the-fly revision that I get stuck, but I don’t want to stop myself from doing it just on principle either. Just like I want to find my voice as a writer, I want to find my style of writing, too, and I think this is part of it.
Or maybe just a shorter draft-revise cycle, like a couple of days – write a big piece, leave it for a bit, then come back and tuck it in a bit more snugly – maybe after getting started on the next part, if it’s part of a longer project.
Ideas. I have ideas, and that’s always a good space to be in.
Definitely a nice start to the week.
On the other hand …
For all my talk of experimenting, shaking up my established order, finding my voice, all of this new shit – and I do want to do it – I cannot overstate how comforting it is to know that on any given day, I can just hit up google docs and put some writing into me and my friend’s co-writing project. It’s just so gratifying to have that resource. In the same way that I value urban fantasy novels for the fact that they make reading easy when I just want to read, I value our co-writing project for the fact that I can always get some writing done when I want to write.
And yes, as has ever been the case, I wish I felt that sense of ease with my own personal projects – but at the same time, I just love how easy and enjoyable this one is.
On that note, I am actually very eager to get back to the established schedule that I had before this month – technically I’ve had it this month, I just let it slip. I want to get back on the wagon. I went for a walk today, which was my official starting-point, so it’s back to daily exercise and co-writing as my go-to, regular habits, but not the extent of those habits. I want new stuff, and I want to get used to it – but I also want the old stuff back. I’ll have to work on finding a balance between new and old, and also short-term and long-term. There are a couple of short-term things that I need to do this week, that I actually wanted to get done today and didn’t – part of that is just having the old habits to fall back on, letting myself go on autopilot and allowing the newer priorities to just kind of fade away. Gotta keep perspective. It’s all about perspective.
But right now, it’s about returning to form. That’s the most important thing, and today it felt like that was happening. A good start.
Got some other stuff done today, stuff that needed to get done – well, got started on it at least.
But yeah, I wanted to do more writing than this. I have a lot of distracting habits that I need to cut down on. That is the lesson for today.
Now that’s a bit more like it.
Today was still more distraction-filled than I’d like, but I also took care of two important, priority tasks for me out of the three that I’ve set myself for this week, so that just leaves one to take care of tomorrow. Feels good.
And yes, the writing feels good, too. Yesterday, while I didn’t do very much writing, I did start writing something that was important for me to get started on – moving beyond the Chapter 1 doldrums that I historically get stuck on. As with Wolf Gang, I solved the issue of a clunky opening and not getting to the ideas that I actually care about by skipping ahead; I tried to keep the momentum going today but it scared me off. That’s okay, though. I have a clearer sense of what exactly has been scaring me about this writing process, which in turn is giving me insight into pretty much every new project I feel uncertain about, and it’s just the fact that, once I actually start writing, I start second-guessing myself. Not with the co-writing project, though, which is what I worked on tonight. I mean, there’s still some, but I find it so much easier to push through with. I wonder if that’s just because I’ve already written so much of it now – maybe that’s all it takes. Which, I mean, it’s kind of a catch 22, but at least it’s something.
But come Sunday I can put some more work into what I started yesterday – I feel more able to override the panic I feel at not knowing what to write, how to start, not having a “voice” to fall back on. I feel a bit more confident in my ability to just write and not care about the quality of that writing, and since that’s exactly what I’ve been trying to train myself into feeling for the past couple of years, I am eager to get started on that on Sunday …
While for now, I am looking forward to not having any self-imposed writing obligations for the next two days. I needed this week to re-establish a bit of equilibrium, and I’m still getting there, but I think it’s been a good start.
And as for what I have to show for it:
Weekly Total: 4364
Hey, it’s a start. And right now, that’s all I need.