Weekly Words 12-18/8/2019

12/8/2019

On today’s episode of Jason Uses His “Writing” Blog Like A Stream-Of-Consciousness Day Planner …

Plan experiment time.

First of all: my goal for Bad Guys is to have the zero draft finished by August 31, which gives me 20 days including today to finish it. I have some things that I need to be mentally prepared for going forward in order to accomplish this, and the first of these is when I’m going to be writing every day.

Daytime works better than evening, and for that reason I’m actually giving myself today off because this entire day has been spent distracting myself and I am in no good headspace to do any writing. I also know that if I get a good, timely start that I can have my writing done fairly quickly, and feel much freer to spend the rest of the day doing things that I want to do. Wake up, miscellaneous post-wake-up activities, then write, and then whatever. Sounds good – I just have to do it.

However, I also have a ton of ideas about this project rattling around in my head and taking up imagination real estate, so evenings are my reflection and brainstorming time. Evening is a good time for speculation for me, not so much for productivity, so I’ll leverage that. This also sets me up to be mentally prepared for writing the following day, and will solve one of the issues that I have right now, which is feeling like I’m diving off a cliff with a blindfold on every time I sit down at my laptop to write.

And with those two tasks set out – let’s put a time-limit on them I think; no more than 2 hours for each – I can work in the rest of the stuff that I want to do in the day/week around them. Good. I feel a little better-prepared already.

That’s all I think I need right now; other needs may arise as I put this plan into action, and I’ll tackle those as they come. But, for now, here is my first draft at a successful writing month to come, and a completed Bad Guys manuscript come August 31. I’m looking forward to it.

13/8/2019

Writing: 2035

Sometimes, when you hit a wall, you brainstorm. You try to find a solution that you haven’t found yet, take ideas and try to expand on their implications for your project before you commit to them, to try and ensure that whatever you decide to do, it will be the choice that gives the most benefit to your project. You may go through this process a number of times, each time feeling just as hypothetical and lacking in assurance as the last, and have no idea how you’re going to proceed the next time you sit down to write.

And then you do, and while you’re writing you just kinda figure it out.

How do you solve writing problems? With writing.

That’s what I did today, and it felt good; this chapter that has been giving me hell is now giving me life, and I’m glad to be done with writing for the day – I think I even stuck to my deal with myself to only spend 2 hours max on writing in a day – as well as being glad with what I wrote. This is shit that might actually make it into the final manuscript.

And, most importantly, I have momentum back. Time to not let it slip away from me …

14/8/2019

Writing: 1461

Writing at 11:43 pm still counts. Momentum maintained. Ha!

And … that’s that chapter done.

I’m basically on the home stretch!

And no, nowhere near enough has happened in this story up to this point, but while on the one hand I do think that “more is more” when it comes to a zero draft, I also don’t honestly feel like I have more – not that I can write. I can start putting it down in writing, and what I am afraid will happen is that, because it’s so vague and uncertain and limited in my head, trying to write it will in and of itself actually slow my momentum to a crawl, just like this chapter did. This was a chapter where I took an idea that I thought was neat and wanted to expand on it, and it almost killed the project dead. I don’t want that to happen again.

Having said that, I do still have the better part of a month to play with. At the very least, I will finish this zero draft before the month is out – and, once that’s done, if I have time, I can use it to fit in some of this other stuff. Also there is a scene or chapter that I need to write in just to bridge a little continuity gap at some stage. Shouldn’t be too hard.

I think I was right, though, in thinking that, well, thinking about these ideas is what’s going to make this zero draft, and this project throughout its writing process, really come together. I do have good ideas, and when I have the time to develop and expand and explore them the project begins to come to life. I’m definitely in a bit of a brain-drain at the moment, and while part of that is due to dealing with the anxiety of the possibility that I might have lost all momentum yet again with this project, the other part is that I’m just keeping up a really brisk pace of writing. I’m fairly certain that, if I were to tally up my daily word-count average since I put my 1400-words-per-day goal into effect, I would be way over that, even with the 5 days between the 8th and the 12th basically being write-offs. And … I mean, that’s a lot.

Like, a lot. Especially in terms of my own metric for personal achievement; I remember starting Weekly Words and thinking that my 1000 words-per-day goal was astronomically huge, given my writing output history. Now 1400 words seems like it’s right in the centre of what I find comfortable; too much under and I feel like I’ve been undisciplined, while going over happens fairly often and naturally. Brain-drain aside, Bad Guys has been a really rewarding project to work on, and the pace is part of that. It feels good to be doing a ton of writing these days. I feel better about myself for doing it.

I just need to start thinking ahead to the portion of this writing process where I will need to be able to maybe even put writing aside for a day or two, or even more, and just give myself time to think my ideas up until they transform into exciting possibilities that I’m eager to explore, and then get back to writing – without losing momentum.

I think I need to make sure that my days off this week really are days off from writing – not necessarily Writing, but if for no other reason than that it’s fun for me to indulge in hypothetical revision plans while I’m in the midst of a zero draft that I’m really enthusiastic about … though I have to be careful about that, too. That might be part of the brain-drain, actually, spending too much time dwelling on the possibilities that will open up once I’m done. Yep. Good catch, brain. I need to focus more on this current zero draft, not less.

That’s where the good ideas will come from: writing. That’s what’s been proven true over the course of Camp Nano. Gotta remember these things.

Man, tunnel-vision is so … insidious. But I think I’m the most aware of my tendency to slip into it now that I’ve been in my whole life.

Fuck theory for now; I’ve got some practice to attend.

16/8/2019

I was sure I wrote something yesterday … hmm.

Oh well.

Writing: 1113

I am starting to consider the option of just leaving the rest of this zero draft for November. The enthusiasm I had throughout July has definitely dwindled – which is to be expected. And I think it’s fine, in terms of momentum, for me to take a break from this, focus on something/s else until November, and plan to wrap it up there. In terms of self-care, I think this is reasonable.

The only issue is that such a long break will probably be really evident when I come back to it, not remembering where I was going with it, and basically putting my brain into revision mode before the project is ready for it. Yes, it would “free up” my brain and I’d probably have new ideas for the project, but I’d rather save that creative burst for the revision process – much as I’ve been complaining about brain-drain recently, it is at least resulting in a zero draft that feels coherent and consistent within itself, and that’s going to be easier to work with in terms of revision.

Also, I was considering that before I made myself write tonight. Now that I really am into the part of the story that pretty much tells itself from this point on, the anticipation of getting to the end is taking over the role that enthusiasm has played up to this point, and I don’t want to cut myself off before I can take advantage of this. This is going to help me get the zero draft written, and that’s what I want one way or another – if I don’t need a break to accomplish that, then I don’t want to make myself arbitrarily take one because, out of context, it seems like maybe something I should consider doing.

But I do think I should plan on cutting back on my daily and weekly writing goals for the rest of the draft – 1400 words per day is, quite frankly, too damn much to sustain, at least at this part in the process. It worked wonders when I decided on it initially; it got me writing, it kept me writing; and now that Camp Nano is over, it’s done its job. I don’t actually need it as a goal anymore; my goal is now to be done writing this zero draft by the end of the day on the 31st, which is in two weeks. And to be honest, I don’t think a word-count goal is going to help me get there, because fuck knows how many words it’s going to take me to finish. It’s not going to be the number of words; it’s going to be the right words – and in a zero draft, that’s a bit of an issue.

It probably shouldn’t be my goal …

It’s just events. That’s all I’m doing now: ticking boxes on my story-event list. I should make that list. Yes. That is what I will do over this weekend, which will also serve as my source of days off for the week, even though I’ve already had two. I may still write, I’ll just not be intending to write. But I will sketch out the final remaining set of events, just so that I’m clear about what goals I’m moving towards, and when I’ve moved past each of them. No more word counts for the rest of this draft; we’re way beyond word count now.

Weekly Total

Writing: 6716

I need more hobbies.

Seriously, I think that’s it. I know what’s going to work with this zero draft. I know the first pass of revisions is basically when I start working on the Real Story, and that everything I’ve been doing up to this point has just been a very prolonged brainstorming session. I know this.

But I also know that this week, like most weeks, honestly, is just another return to the same part of the Jason’s Writing Process Spiral; this is the part where I have so much tunnel-vision from moment to moment and so little perspective from lack of downtime and just, like, doing shit that isn’t writing or braincell-killing distraction-crutches, that I’m losing sight of the goal, and the method of getting there, even though I know and have proved, many times, that they are solid and work when I use them.

So, while I do need to focus more on this draft than on what comes next in terms of my writing process, I also need to focus more on what I do with my time that has absolutely fucking nothing to do with writing – and that is engrossing and engaging and will actually be something that I spend not only time and energy but enthusiasm on doing.

That’s next week’s task. And for the good of this project, I should get to it.

Advertisements

Weekly Words 5-11/8/2019

5/8/2019

Revision: 16 minutes

Writing: 1701

Episode 6 revision-note-taking continues, and I continue to feel uncertain of how useful my revision notes actually are. Similarly, I continue to question my own methods while writing Bad Guys.

Specifically: if I’m only writing this zero draft to pretty much discard it as soon as it’s done …

What’s the point?

I’m conscious of certain things ever since I took on that approach: I’m conscious of the ideas that I’m leaving out, for instance, in the interest of getting this zero draft finished quickly. Entire characters have fallen by the wayside, never mind the scenes they’re in; this zero draft is lean, discarding all unnecessary baggage for a quick sprint to the finish-line. I’ll get there. Fast. Probably before the end of the month.

And then I’ll have to go back and add in all of this shit anyway.

Or will I? Because I’ve been thinking that I really need to start including these ideas and characters while the zero draft is still in progress, make my mistakes with them now so that I don’t have to make time to fix them later, and do this zero draft right.

But, on the other hand, Bad Guys has been really hard for me to settle on when it comes to the cast, and there are only six characters who keep coming back – which are the six I’m working with in this draft. Maybe it’s actually better to do it this way, just work with the core ideas that I know are the most stable, and be willing to “build out” once it’s written.

Or perhaps I need to be more open to adding new characters I haven’t thought up yet, rather than trying to force the ones I’ve thought up before the writing process started into a place that might not actually suit them in this story.

Whatever I end up doing, I get the feeling that this might be the most infuriating zero draft I have ever written, in terms of coming back to make revision notes.

Ah well. Learn by doing and all that …

6/8/2019

Writing: 1418

I had a ton of new ideas today, and did almost skip another chapter just to avoid dealing with the frustration of not immediately incorporating them and letting them patch up the holes I thought I had to cover for the sake of keeping up momentum.

But I didn’t; I wrote down those ideas in my ideas document and then just kept writing, and I think I’m doing the right thing.

Also, this is a zero draft, and I’m going to incorporate a couple of those ideas that help me out of a jam …

And I’m going to use those ideas I have that will slow my writing down by making the zero draft longer by including them, because it’s the right thing to do.

And also, I think, the more fun thing to do.

7/8/2019

Revision: 1 hour 32 minutes

And now I have two revision plans for Wolf Gang, and there will probably be a third one in the near future because it still doesn’t feel quite right.

I also think that I do just need to start a new werewolf story, one that better satisfies my need for werewolves – much as I hate to admit it, Wolf Gang suffers from a fairly similar issue to The Wereling, where the werewolves could be replaced with some other thing and it wouldn’t make much of a difference. And, I mean, that’s fine for Wolf Gang; it’s the result of a writing experiment, it’s “not meant to be good”, and that’s part of the fun …

But it’s also made me realise that I do actually want to try my hand at a “good” werewolf story, and this can’t be it. It’s quite freeing, actually, because now I can focus on making Wolf Gang the shittiest YA werewolf novel it can be.

Writing: 1662

Got over a bump in the road, and the rest of the story should play out pretty smoothly going forward. We’ll see.

I’m starting to think about other projects that I could start once I’m done with Bad Guys, or at least once I’m done with the zero draft, now that I feel more confident about my ability to power through the initial block of how to approach a story that doesn’t present a clear path forward when I look at how to get started with it. I’ve got an idea of how to “reboot” a very old project of mine that I still really love, have had a certain set of ideas about for many years – almost half my life, actually – and now that I’ve gotten used to opening up with projects and being more willing to let go of long-entrenched plans and designs once the writing gets started, I’m excited about the opportunities this presents.

I’m also starting to think ahead with Bad Guys, in terms of what else the story could – and perhaps should – be. The ability to let go of old ideas and embrace new ones has really made me aware of just how many old ideas are in this thing, and how many are holding it back from feeling like a real story. It’s the issue of the cast with this story, more than anything, that causes this problem, and that’s where my thoughts are going right now: when this zero draft is finished, I have the suspicion that, even if I do include the characters I’ve planned to include from the start and can see where they do and don’t work, I’m just going to replace them all anyway, because I already know that they don’t work.

Basically I think my observation on Monday about needing to be open to new characters who emerge from the needs of the story was correct, and for the rest of this zero draft, that is the agenda I’m going to be working from. Sounds like chaos. Hope it’s fun along the way.

8/8/2019

Writing: 181

Be prepared. If I keep repeating this advice to myself, I will eventually feel like taking it. That’s how it works.

Yep.

I have to be honest: I am in a strange place in my life. Having Bad Guys as a source of focus and self-centering in my life has been so amazingly beneficial that I find it hard to describe. At the same time, I feel so disorganised, and I think it’s not that I’m any more disorganised than usual – it’s just that, with this priority of having 1400 words to write every day, my lack of organisation is becoming more apparent to me, because I haven’t adapted to having this huge thing to organise myself around. I’m going on with business as usual, and just sort of expecting myself to “deal” and include this massive, ongoing project.

Which is not being fair to myself.

Thus, the plan going forward is to, um, have a plan.

And part of that plan really needs to incorporate having days off; I haven’t had days off from writing basically since the start of Camp Nano, which I only decided to do because I wanted that stupid achievement; well guess what I didn’t even get the trophy because while I was writing every day I wasn’t updating my word-count every day and also you probably don’t even get the trophy at Camp Nano it’s probably only for real Nano well also writing every day does feel right but.

But.

I need, and have needed for a long time, to get better at taking care of myself on a holistic level; I’m doing pretty well in terms of the writing right now, and the rest of the stuff I’d like to be doing well at is actually getting dragged along in the wake of that momentum, which is great, but it’s also starting to get tangled up together and it needs to get de-tangled. I need to get de-tangled.

Which means morning writing! Well, “morning” is a strong word; first-thing-after-I-have-breakfast/lunch-writing! Because once it’s done, it’s done, and I can get on with the business of having some downtime. Which I have to also start to understand that I actually need, despite the fact that I “don’t do anything with my time”; I do a lot with my time, it’s just that it’s mostly self-distracting garbage that I shouldn’t be doing. Or at least not doing as much as I have been and currently am. I mean, shit, I was hot on the reading train, and the last batch of library books I got I’ve renewed twice because I hadn’t taken the time out of my schedule of self-distracting techniques to read them.

Also, to be honest, this zero draft – I didn’t get over the bump I thought I had, and it’s making all the new ideas of how to change the story and Make It Better are becoming increasingly more seductive and appealing. I don’t want to go back on my commitment to just keep writing, but I also don’t want to spend another fucking month on writing a manuscript that I’m never going to even use. So while I’m taking the next two days “off”, I think it really is time to try and make some plans. Not necessarily plans for this draft, but plans. At the very least, it’ll give me the chance to get these ideas down in writing so that I don’t have to keep them in my brain.

9/8/2019

Writing: 208

Well, I didn’t write first-thing-after-I-have-breakfast/lunch, and I spent a lot of the day creating a D&D character for a one-shot this Sunday – but hey, it’s one of my days off, I’m fine with that. I will be writing much earlier in the day tomorrow, though, because I know it’ll be good for me and I’ll be glad when I do it.

I also did the brainstorming, or at least some of it. More tomorrow, and more forward-looking, seeing where I can take these ideas that isn’t tethered to the current version of the story that I’m writing. Today’s brainstorming was more on this current version of the story, because I realised that I have been spending the past week working on a chapter that literally doesn’t need to exist because it adds nothing to the story …

Until I started writing about it, and realised that, actually, this is a perfect place for a lot of quite important stuff to go down.

The issue is that I can’t just write it off the top of my head; it actually requires, like, thought and shit – and if I’m going to do that, well then I may as well actually start over and write a zero draft that I am putting thought and deliberation into. I probably won’t be able to get my 1400 words written each day that way; I’ll risk losing momentum and enthusiasm the longer it drags on – but right now that’s happening anyway, because until I stopped to take stock of this chapter and the ideas being presented in it, I had no idea what to do to keep this story moving. I was considering skipping writing it altogether for the sake of keeping up momentum; I might still do exactly that. And so many ideas that I have are just not getting explored because I’m insisting on this breakneck writing pace for myself.

I mean, I know what I’m going to do, which is just keep writing – but if that turns out to be the wrong decision, then I want to have a clear record of events that tells me why it’s the wrong decision, so that I can look back on it and learn from it. And I want that because right now I’m starting to think that it really is the wrong decision, because I’m writing too fast for my ideas to keep up, and that’s been killing my momentum just as much as spending too much time deliberating has done in the past.

So, maybe what I need is a mix of both. Maybe day-about for planning/brainstorming and writing, or spend a couple of days brainstorming what I’m about to be writing for the rest of the week, and then spend the rest of the week just taking those ideas and going wild, rinse and repeat. I don’t think I can afford to keep up the 1400 words per day at this rate; I’m not getting the opportunity to direct myself in my writing, and while that worked for Wolf Gang, the ideas came way more easily with that project, because they were so much more basic.

It might also just be this chapter: it’s a new one, I never had any sort of plan or even idea for it before I started writing it, and maybe I do actually need to just ditch it, “skip” it, or whatever, for the sake of getting to the parts of the story where I do have some ideas to work with.

I dunno. I’ll see how it goes tomorrow; I do have some ideas now for this current chapter, but in the end I still think it’s kind of trying to make the best of a bad situation that didn’t need to exist in the first place. Whatever I do, I definitely need to give myself time in my writing schedule to stop and think and brainstorm, not necessarily to make a plan for myself but just to, I dunno, refuel, stock up on ideas and energy instead of trying to write my way to them – it works sometimes, but when it doesn’t, I need to know what to do.

Be prepared. If I keep saying it …

10/8/2019

Writing: DAY OFF MUTHAFUKKA

I’m an adult.

What do I want my age to be when it comes to acting like it? That’s a story-seed I’ll stow away for a rainy day …

Today, incidentally, was quite rainy, so this is day 4 of no exercise this week, and it bothers me that I’m making it so easy to miss my daily exercise. I also did absolutely no writing, or planning, or brainstorming; I did nothing involving writing at all today, and I’m not sure if it’s a good thing.

However, I did come to a realisation. I was running some old WOW raids and listening to the Writing Excuses podcast. They were discussing ‘literary fiction’ (season 12, episode 5, for those interested/the purposes of appeasing my lingering academic research habits), and the way that two of the hosts had been to creative writing classes where they were told they weren’t allowed to write fantasy or science fiction for the course. One host offered two ‘little’ defences of this act of artistic censorship. The first was that the lecturers ‘don’t read it and don’t know how to critique it’; she then went on to say that, when she challenged this and suggested that they could still critique the aspects that they did understand, like character, theme, structure, etc., they actually agreed to do it, which was nice to hear (though I wonder how common).

The second was that she found, in the classes that she herself has taught, that when her students did write fantasy and science fiction, it was very generic and derivative. Now, as an aspiring born-again hack, this kind of stung. The gist of the episode was “literary and genre fiction can learn from each other yay”, but what I took away from this particular anecdote was that one should feel bad about writing generic, derivative work in a creative writing course …

Which, maybe, is totally legit. I mean you don’t need a class to write generic, derivative work, right? You can just do that shit on your own why take a class to just do the same thing you could do for free in your own time instead of learning something new and taking the opportunity to challenge yourself and grow as an artist let me tell you as the author of the as-of-yet-unpublished-and-probably-never-will-be shitty YA werewolf novel Wolf Gang writing generic, derivative work is hard. It’s fucking hard. I wouldn’t say that it takes a great deal of writerly skill, but it absolutely takes effort. Because you still have to understand the tropes, devices, themes, conventions, cliches, and so on that you are deploying in your work, and what I have learnt is that I really don’t understand those things as much as I thought I did when I wrote Wolf Gang. I could recognise them, I could shove a bunch of them together in ways that I’d seen done before, but I did not understand how to make them work together as a well-told story. I still don’t, to be perfectly frank. I am far too disorganised of a writer to pull that shit off in a zero draft; and so far, with Wolf Gang and now Bad Guys, that’s something I’ve embraced as My Style.

Until I heard this episode of Writing Excuses, and I realised that the problem I’m having with Bad Guys is that I’ve been making myself focus on how tropey and pulpy and fun in those ways that I can make it – when what I’ve actually always wanted to get out of this project, right from the start, was the experience of taking those tropes and conventions and cliches and not so much upending them, but filling in the gaps, going behind the scenes.

Which, as far as I can see, clashes wildly with the other thing that I’ve wanted out of this project right from the start, which was basically writing a Suicide Squad fix-fic and being able to make money from it by changing the characters and setting and certain aspects of the plot.

And then I started actually writing the damn thing, and now that I’m at this point where I’m really stuck and don’t feel good about moving forward, where I’m having all of these second thoughts and foreboding feelings about the direction that the zero draft is moving in, it’s given me the opportunity to take stock of where I, the writer, am at with the project, and where I’m at is a land of confusion, with no genesis of new ideas or solutions coming in the air tonight, or any other night, okay I don’t even like Genesis not like I dislike them I’m just totally unfamiliar with their work outside of memes what was I talking about again …

I’ve been thinking the thought: “if I just started over from scratch with these new ideas, this would be a better story and use of my drafting time” for what feels like the entirety of this week. I’ve also been countering this thought with the thought: “if I stop-and-start with this project one more fucking time it’s never going to get written”, and that’s kept me from starting over – but, well, today I have finally ground to a halt. I’m not going to say that this is writer’s block, more like writer’s reflection. I’ve come to a crossroads disguised as a wall, and I can’t go both ways at once. Either path is going to consume my energy and prevent me from taking the other path – for a while. Probably a long while. Maybe this isn’t a bad thing; I think that I’d actually be fine doing that and then jumping off onto another project to write a zero draft of. I think I’d still have energy. I just wouldn’t have energy for this project; and I think it’s actually a good idea for me to do a bit more of this long-term thinking.

But I also think that I’m really feeling the lack of a solid grounding in the Craft, as they say. I have been a proud self-taught writer since I was 13 years old, yes I did one creative writing paper during my undergraduate days but, while that was actually very helpful, it didn’t teach me basic shit that I don’t know – and am sort of expected to know by now. Like, what the hell is theme? How do you identify it; how do you discuss it? I didn’t stay in the school system long enough to even have that basic level of technical knowledge given to me, and as such, while I feel like I can and do recognise all of these things, because I don’t have the language to articulate a lot of it, I’m missing a whole bunch of tools that could make my struggles as a writer a lot less struggle-y. That’s my thesis anyway …

And it’s important to me right now. Without going into detail, my most recent therapy session brought to my awareness the fact that I have all of these interests that I don’t follow through on – something that I’ve been aware of for a long time, but hearing it from a psychologist gave it a little more impact. I am interested in learning the craft. So, I want to get around to doing it.

And I can start with these damn books I bought myself from Christmas and still haven’t read that are all about the craft, and take some damn notes, and Learn A Thing. Will it help me make Bad Guys a good story? Maybe not, but it might help me better understand not just the parts that work, but why they work. Maybe it’ll make me the most basic, white-bread author ever produced by human evolution – but you know what, I’m already trying to be a hack, so maybe I’ll just become the Uberhack, and hack like no-one has ever hacked before.

Sounds like a plan.

My body is ready.

What the fuck am I going to do about this book?

Weekly Total

Revision: 1 hour 48 minutes

Writing: 9325

5170 of which was devoted to Bad Guys.

This wrap-up section of the weekly blog post is being written the following Monday, because Sunday was pretty full and there was no writing done whatsoever.

Okay. This week has been one of those weeks that tries to give me a hint, and it’s up to me to take it.

I think the hint is that I need to just keep fucking going.

Because I don’t have any other clear plan; and really, that’s the only thing that matters. I have tons of ideas that I’m letting circulate in my short-term memory, and even writing them down hasn’t made it easier to move past them and get the hell on with it. I just keep thinking about and developing those ideas, and the zero draft just feels futile and pointless and like there’s no way for me to actually resolve the issue that I’m having right now.

The issue is regret, in a nutshell. Regret that I haven’t put certain elements into play yet and have thus given myself more work to do when I come back for revision passes; regret that I don’t have certain characters’ voices and that they’re just filling space when they’re on the page, completely unnecessary to the goings-on of the plot (and the problem with the chapter I’ve currently stalled on is that all the characters feel like that); regret that I haven’t been a better writer throughout this process, giving myself the resources that I need to make it smoother and more manageable for myself. And now, frustration that when I think about trying to put those things right going forward, I feel my energy and momentum take a steep dive into the abyss at the mere prospect of it, and I have no idea what the fuck I’m supposed to do with that particular portent.

Also I still haven’t done my Monthly Words post, for the past two months, and now it’s looking like it’ll have to wait until the end of this month, because I can’t focus on it while I’m focusing on getting Bad Guys written …

Yes.

Yes I can. I just need to be more prepared.

This week has been a string of problems that have stemmed from a lack of preparation on my part. I haven’t set myself up with a workable schedule or routine for getting all the stuff done that I am trying to get done, and trying to wing it instead has caused me to grind to a halt. This is a fail week – and to be real, if this is what failure for me is looking like lately then I have nothing to fucking complain about. At least where writing is concerned.

I can do this. I kinda don’t want to, but I know that I can, and that in itself is actually pretty motivating. And after two days of no writing, I also have the motivation of knowing what will happen if I let this slump continue: exactly the same thing that happened every other time I tried to get this project off the ground. Well, I’ve gotten it off the ground, and I’m going to fucking keep it there.

Here’s to a better week. Let’s get it started.

Weekly Words 29/7-4/8/2019

29/7/2019

Writing: 1426

I’m realising just how little 1400-ish words is as I’ve continued to keep this pace up post-Camp Nanowrimo. I’m sure that more concise writers could do more with 1400 words than myself – but, then again, I do write those 1400 words pretty quick. I’m feeling myself gearing up to make a harder push soon, try and do multiple writing sets per day or something. Though I’ll be honest, I have no idea how I’m going to do it without sprints. Sprints are so helpful it’s kind of scary.

But, anyway, Bad Guys is still chugging along pretty damn nicely. I had a long day today: I slept like shit last night, then had a film festival film today (the only one I’ve booked for this year, which is one more than I saw last year and I’m pretty sure the year before that, too) which involved me missing my first bus, having to walk up a hill to get the second one, then sit next to someone playing music on their phone for the benefit of every other passenger (I didn’t ask them to stop because they looked and acted like the might have been a gang member; thankfully I always bring headphones but I did feel bad for everyone else) for most of the ride into town drenched in sweat from the hike up the hill. I hope I didn’t smell too bad.

The movie was great: In Fabric, a fashion-horror-satire-comedy that is freaking brilliant, I unreservedly praise and recommend it to literally everyone. So fucked-up. So good. And took me back to my Gothic theory days; good times. I’m almost sad that I ever left university.

And then I had the train ride back, which was fine, and the long wait to get home after the train ride, which was not so fine – but, hey, I’m alive, I’ve done my writing, and I am so fucking tired that I want to kill something. Maybe in my dreams. Maybe people who play music on their phones without earphones on the bus. They definitely deserve it.

30/7/2019

Writing: 1753

Well, someone was upset yesterday.

Ah well, life happens.

Writing also happens, on occasion, and on this second-to-last day of Nanowrimo I am still feeling the momentum. I think it’s because, at this point, I actually am genuinely enjoying writing this book, as I have for (almost) all of this month, which means that I don’t have to worry about trying to find ways to keep up momentum anymore – I’ve found a daily writing goal that works for me (and that I tend to surpass every day, which is a nice little bonus), I’m actually enjoying the process of writing a zero draft … it’s just all kind of working well.

Sometimes writing just goes well, and it’s not very interesting to write about. But it took a lot of work to get to this point, especially with this project – and I’m very glad that I decided to put that work in, and put myself in a situation where it was likely that I would do it. That was smart thinking, me, good job. More of this, please.

31/7/2019

Revision: 2 Hours

Finally, after probably more than a month, Episode 5 of the co-writing project has had notes made upon it, and I have realised after writing them that the way I’m doing it is fucking useless and utterly unhelpful … probably.

Mostly it’s because the notes are made within the document of each episode, rather than in a separate document; on the one hand it helps being able to look over the episode itself and have the commentary attached, but on the other hand trying to find particular comments is more difficult than it would be if it was in its own document where I could use headings and stuff.

It’s probably fine. I tend to exaggerate problems for myself, it’s very annoying – but at least I’m becoming more aware of doing it. That’s progress, right? And I guess to be real the fact that each episode is its own document, and the fact that we’re going to come together to talk about these episodes once we’re done making our own notes on them, does mitigate the organisational issue somewhat.

In fact, this is probably a zero draft issue more than anything, where this time around the note-making is a zero draft for me in and of itself. I have made revision notes on three different novels that I’ve written a zero draft of – if you count the first revision draft of Tallulah as its own novel, at least. But I still have not found a way of making revision notes that I feel really works effectively for me.

However – I also spent most of those two hours making revision plans for Wolf Gang, and I’m close to finished. I added in, I think, four new chapters? I’ve lost one that I quite like but it’s also not particularly important to the story – and my revision plans tend to change. I say “tend to” like I have some long history of experience in making revision plans; what I mean is that when I was making the revision plans for Tallulah, they definitely changed as I wrote them, thought about how plan X affected the story, and then went back and made a new plan to try and keep the feel of the story true.

Given that this is Wolf Gang, the Shitty YA Werewolf Novel, there’s an argument that there is nothing but room for improvement, which clashes brilliantly with the argument that, from a certain point of view, it’s almost perfect the way it is as a zero draft, because it’s “meant to be bad”. Although to be accurate, it’s “meant to be a writing exercise” – and so is this revision-planning process. Writing the revision notes was easy in some places and hard in others, and the hard parts were the parts where I got caught up in speculation and couldn’t focus on what was actually happening in the chapter I was trying to make notes on, and as such the notes themselves lost clarity. This tended to depend on how much I liked the chapter, and I feel like this is not a reliable methodology for constructing effective and helpful revision notes with which to make a revision plan. And I’m not sure what would be a reliable methodology for doing so.

Then again, so far it’s working out pretty well the way I’ve done it. I still have a less-than-airtight grip over my thoughts while I’m planning, but that’s not even necessarily a bad thing, just something I have to account for. Besides, this revision planning is not just about trying to get Wolf Gang to the point where I’d consider submitting it for publishing; it’s also about setting me up to be able to revise other projects effectively, stories that I care a little more about …

Writing: 4046

… which are maybe getting a little long in the telling.

I mean, it is a zero draft, and I don’t really mind how long it is, but I am conscious of the fact that quite a bit of it is filler and that means that, of the words I’m writing, not all of them are devoted to getting the ideas that I’m working with down on paper.

It’s almost like writing a zero draft is an imperfect process and that’s why revisions exist or something.

Sigh.

It’s fine. Fuck that; it’s great. Bad Guys is going great; and for the final day of Camp Nanowrimo, 4046 words is a very nice way to close out. I think I’ll even update my final word-count to account for the past five days’ worth of writing I’ve done, and just see where I got up to …

44517.

Shit. I almost hit 50k after all.

Bring on November, baby!

1/8/2019

Writing: 2360

Yay another chapter finished! Lots of ideas that definitely need expanding when I come back for revision – but, from this point on, I basically have the rest of the story.

Well, one version of the story. Because there’s another version of the story, a new-ish one, that I think would work really well for what I’m trying to do. Basically it’s a framing device, and while I’m not going to step on my own toes here to try and make it work before I’ve finished this zero draft, it is an idea that, if I’m looking at making quite big changes when I come back to revise, might actually make those changes easier to implement. I guess time will tell – and it’s not time yet.

2/8/2019

Writing: 511

This was, basically, a poorly-planned day off for me; if I had decided right from the start that this was going to be a day off, I would have gotten my writing done first thing after breakfast – and probably would have gotten more writing done – and enjoyed my “time off” more than I ended up doing.

But, whatever. This is also a weird point in the story for me, because now that I “know what happens”, I’m finding it difficult to pick a point to start telling that sequence of events from. I’m also starting to realise just how, well, short this story could end up being, and that feels wrong. Especially since I am most definitely of the opinion that it’s better to start big and whittle things down until you’ve only got the good parts left, as opposed to starting small and building it up until it’s better than it was to start with …

But, then again, that’s just a holdover, and Bad Guys has thrived because I’ve been willing to give up on my holdover ideas of how it was supposed to go. This is still an experiment; yes, I “know what happens” from this point on – but that doesn’t mean I have to not run with new ideas when I have them. No, I don’t want the Mark and Jessie issue where none of my favourite ideas for the story make it in, but even then, maybe that was a blessing in disguise for Mark and Jessie, in the sense that even after a decade, I still want those awesome little moments in the story. If they’ve lasted this long, then maybe they’re worth keeping.

Maybe I just need to take a proper day off tomorrow and not think about this stuff too much, which I am definitely doing right now. I just need to remain open to the new, not be so precious about the old, and above all, just keep writing while the writing’s good.

3/8/2019

Writing: 1477

Plan for a day off, and you can get a lot done. That’s the lesson I’ve learnt today.

Also that ideas start coming and don’t stop coming while writing a zero draft for a project that I actually give a shit about; I have not been keeping notes but have a bunch to make right now. It’s quite interesting being back at this stage of writing again, where I’ll write some character interaction or event that has strong story potential that I just can’t quite see how to capitalise on yet and tell myself: ‘I’ll get back to that in revision’, because I know that when I do come back to it I’ll pick up on it – and kind of forget that I made the plan to do so, and thus be really harsh on my past self (present self as of the present moment) for writing such a shitty section.

Ah well. Maybe this time I’ll maintain perspective.

Speaking of which, a dilemma has arisen. It’s one I’ve faced before, with this very project, during this very same zero draft: what to do when I have really good ideas for making the story better than require telling the story differently.

And last time, I just wrote those ideas down and then ignored the ever-loving shit out of them, and it’s worked great so far. But, I mean, I did endure the Mark and Jessie re-read, and found that while there were bits and pieces of a workable story there, it wasn’t enough for me to justify taking the manuscript as it is and using it as the foundation for a revision. And that has to do with a lack of planning.

I mean, here’s the thing: the last Great Idea For Making The Story Better that I had for Bad Guys – I waited, and it stopped being so Great. Still not bad, could be useful in future revisions, but definitely not the big this-changes-everything moment I thought it was at the time. And then, I had this big idea, the one that I’m a bit stuck on today – not so much as the last one, which is great, but enough so that I’m reconsidering things and really feeling the allure of the project reset button that I, as author, can press as often and with as little provocation as I see fit.

And the reason that this one is difficult to just move past is the same as the last one, but even more so: it will actually make a better story. To be specific, this is the version of the story where I tell it through a framing device, having one character tell another the first half or so in flashback form, and then the second half taking place in the present and playing out from there. It would be a stronger story.

Then again, I also think that the current story I’m telling would be stronger in its own right if it wasn’t a zero draft and had a bit more intention behind the writing. And even if this is a ‘nothing matters until revision’ zero draft – well, maybe I could stand to do a bit of planning even during the zero draft phase. So perhaps I’ll just focus on implementing that going forward.

There. Problem solved, right?

Well, no, because then I have the biggest angst of this project: the title. Bad Guys. It promises a lot, and I feel like I’m not delivering.

Yes, zero draft, nothing matters at this point except getting it written – and yeah, I think that’s very true, and even more true the longer it takes for me to write this thing to completion. I want this draft finished by the end of this month at the latest, and I think that’s feasible. It’d also be the first time I finished a novel’s zero draft in two months, which would be, like, dope.

I guess today is a good day to take off, then, while I have a lot on my mind and need time to work through it – or just wait for it to pass.

4/8/2019

Revision: 23 minutes

Writing: 1722

Which brings us to a grand total of:

Weekly Total

Revision: 2 hours 23 minutes

Writing: 16259

And as far as Bad Guys goes, it is 13,295 words longer than it was this time last week.

Lots of questions to myself this week, about my process, my goals, my … plan? I mean, kind of. More like my intentions, I guess. Am I doing the right things for the right reasons? Are the things that have been working for me so far still the right things to be doing, or should I be more open to adapting? Have I gone right back to my habits of rigidity, or simply found a process that works well for what I’m trying to accomplish?

And honestly, at this point, I think it’s fine to be thinking these things and not doing anything what-so-fucking-ever about them, because shit is getting done and I feel good about myself doing it. It is astounding how much better I feel for being steeped in the process of writing a book – a zero draft, to be precise. Revision is always where I get tripped up, where the excitement has worn off and it’s time to actually do some critical thinking, making important decisions that I have to at least somewhat think through the ramifications of – makes it hard to want this part of the process to end.

But, on the other hand, today’s writing came with a really big batch of questions for the story, and they’re questions that I actually don’t think I can even attempt to answer until this zero draft is done – and the longer it takes for me to finish, the longer it’ll be until I can make that attempt. So as much fun as I’m having now, I know that it has to come to an end for the good of the project and my creative drive, and the sooner the better. Hell, maybe I’ll find that finishing a zero draft and getting to work on the ideas that I’ve thrown out onto the page is actually really fun when it’s not coming after a year-long writing process. Now that I’m thinking about it, a quick turnaround with this zero draft might actually mean that my first revision is less like a revision and more like actually starting to put the story together – which this zero draft is not. It’s just taking what I have and running with it, because I don’t have anything else yet.

Maybe I need to finish this thing before the end of the month. Maybe I should try and push to finish it by this time next week.

Or maybe I won’t be any more of a crazy person than I already am and stick to what’s working – because, to be honest, it is getting pretty close to wrapping up at this point. I’m on-target, insofar as I even have a target clearly-defined enough to count as one. The point where I run out of the story ideas that I currently have; that’s my target.

Here’s to a bullseye by the end of August!

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.

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.