I recently started a new job, finally I’m on a real career path (in the gaming industry). Unfortunately for my writing this means I have even less time to not write, woohoo. It’s been a couple weeks and every day I feel inspired to get something down, and everyday I put it off until ‘I’m in the write mood’. For some reason I’m feeling punny. Anyways I wake up and make breakfast sit around and relax, maybe watch youtube, maybe read a bit, but never write. It’s the worst. The reason I tell myself is I don’t want to get started and get really into it only to have to leave to head to work. Most definitely a thing I’m sure.
During work I am simply to busy to get any time to even think about writing.
On my way home I think about it though, all the new stuff to get down, character’s to fill out and new plot points or scenes to do. Then I get home. Make dinner is first, then discuss the days events with my significant other, then maybe relax a bit and watch tv, or go rock climbing, or go for a run, or watch a new movie, or go to DnD or… You get it, right? There’s always something, plus when someone is around it’s impossible to write! Anyone else feel this way?
So now it’s 10:30 at night, I sit down at my computer, crack my knuckles and promplty watch at least one more episode of a show. One that my significant other doesn’t like. All of a sudden it’s midnight and I’m too tired to start writing. Or at least that’s what I tell myself.
I wish I had advice for this problem, if I had solved it I would tell you. If it isn’t clear I haven’t. I will let you know though if I do come across one. I have a feeling it will be a combination of suck it up (as in stop making excuses) and… nope that’s it, just the first one.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
If you have read my previous posts about my novel you would know that I’m not much of a planner. I started by thinking about the concept for a while (several months) until I got fed up and just started writing. 30,000 some words later I realized I should probably figure out some things. So I did the basics, I developed a simple timeline and list of characters with their traits and whatnot. It didn’t take long and I had a what I thought was a decent base to work off.
I’m sure more experienced writers see this coming. I was wrong. Now I’m at the 50,000 word mark and have hit a wall, my meager plans were not enough. I finished a chapter the other day and thought, what’s next. I have several ideas but they swirl and shift and I can’t decide on any of them. So now I have to go back to planning. I’m currently in the process of figuring out my characters motivations so I can thoroughly understand what they will do next, not to mention figure out where the specifics of the story are headed.
This is the part I don’t enjoy, I write because I myself want to know what happens. My favourite part of writing is when I’m in the ‘zone’, the story flows almost without conscious thought and I’m watching it play out in my mind. But now I’m stuck in slogging my way through the planning swamp, full of misteps and disjointed paths (thoughts). Which is where the title for this entry comes from, life being the writing, I want to get back to writing instead of planning.
So I might just do that, I’ve been thinking maybe I’ll just choose a path and write, fuck planning. There’s always the edit, right?
I’m going to try something to keep me a little more on the ball. I’ve been following a few different writers on tumblr and saw a few of them doing writing updates. They all use a similar format, with a writing goal and the words completed, then a blurb about the writing session and how it went along with other random things like songs listened to or a haiku about the session. Then finish off the post with a rating of the session and an excerpt.
I find them interesting to read, to see someone else struggling or accomplishing, so I to will give it a shot. Lately I’ve been stuck on a scene and had put it off for the better part of week. Finally though I have slogged through it (it’s gonna need edits). But now I get to move on to a scene I’m more excited about. Part of the motivation to get this done came from doing my first writing update, so I’ve decided I’m going to try doing at least 3 writing updates a week. Which also means I’m going to have to write at least 3 times a week!
This is an experiment, so who knows if it’s going to work, if it’s going to stress me out, if it’s going to get me off my lazy butt, who knows. I’m curious though and will keep you updated with how it goes.
If you want to see my writing updates you can follow my tumblr here.
This week has been another slog. I find it frustrating how much I love to write but when I finally have a few hours to actually do it… nothing. My brain blanks, my creativity stalls, it makes me want to throw my computer across the room. Ok, I’m being hyperbolic but you get my drift, it’s annoying. This week was particularily vexing because I realized midway through the week part of the reason for my struggles is because I haven’t filled out my characters enough.
This is a whole other, deeper, far more frustrating issue. First I’ll preface by saying, I am glad I realized this now and not later. I’m not too far into the novel, 45,000 words is a ways but the story is far from over. Anyways, so my characters are not done. Part of this stems from my writing style. I like to plan rough ideas and then write to fill in the gaps. Unfortunately I did this not only with the plot but also with the characters. I realize my mistake now of course, after writing a large chunk of book.
The problem I ran into was my characters don’t feel different enough, their motivations are relatively bland or unrealized in what I’ve written. The dialogue from one character to another is not very different. They probably all read pretty similarily. Which is because I forgot to fill them in as characters. I have an idea of who they are but without little details they don’t feel real or 3 dimensional.
So, its been frustrating. Again, I’m glad I realized this now, although I’m not looking forward to rewriting a bunch of things (I know I will have to anyways, but I want to write the rest of the story first). Now I’m struggling to decide whether to go back and fix some of the most recent scenes just to adjust them to my more fully realized characters or if I should push on and just write them properly going forward. I’m sure every writer has struggled with this to some degree. If you have leave a comment or like. I’d like to know I’m not the only one.
Technically this doesn’t have to do directly with my current novel in progress, forwarning. On this fine afternoon I was discussing writing with some fellow wordsmiths and we decided to compare short stories. I found one I had written a few years ago but was still relatively proud of and showed it off. Immediately I got feedback and felt an urge I hadn’t really ever felt. I wanted to edit.
I have always dreaded the edit, in my earlier writing days I hated the process. I never wanted to sit down with something I had finished and re-write the bloody thing, I was done with it. I wanted to move on to the next thing. Or, I thought it was good enough, no need to go over it again. Such a naive, stupid thing to think. As I grew older I realized the editing process was important, my first drafts (no matter if it was fiction or non-fiction) were never even nearly perfect. A great deal of editing was always, always, always required. Often though I would spend hours writing and then feel sick of the piece, I never wanted to go back and have to re-do it all over again. So I often put it off until I forgot about the piece.
Then today happened. I took out an old piece that I had actually edited around the time of writing it, even letting others look at it, and eventually posting it on this blog. I let some writers take a look and they had some suggestions. I read through it again, I noticed so many things that I wanted to change. I turned on the change tracker in word and set to work. It took several hours to go through, line by line, meticulously examining and re-examining each sentence and word and comma.
Finally after an hour or two passed I was finished. I read through it again. It was so clearly better. I hadn’t reduced the word count by much if at all but it was smoother, the flow better realized. I felt proud and reposted it to the group. The feedback was even better.
This experience showed me not only is editing not as terrible as I had so foolishly believed but it also is important for your writing. In order to improve we need to see the mistakes we make and realize they are mistakes, they need to fixed or worked on. I used to constantly use the word seem, everything in my writing used to seem a certain way to the viewpoint characters. I never noticed it much before, until this meticulous line edit. Now I avoid using that word at all costs, unless absolutely necessary.
Editing is good and absolutely necessary to become a better writer. Don’t be afraid of it, like I foolishly was.
Based on previous posts you may know that I have been struggling to write lately. The block has become a wall, one that I have yet to surmount. The odd thing is, I know what I want to write. I’m currently working on a chapter, which I have totally planned out, I managed to get about halfway through and ran into the wall. Last week I had a day where I basically sat in front of the screen knowing what I wanted to write but the words did not come.
It has been very odd. So I turned to YouTube and blogs, what have other writers been using to get over the wall? Based on my not so extensive research I have figured out that most successful writers tend to figure out there own method that works best for them. Some use planning and deadlines, they have to hit a daily wordcount. Some write other things as a distraction to warm up their fingers and minds. Some outline in even more detail until the block is worked through.
I haven’t used or tried any yet. The block still persists. However I watched a lecture by an author and I really want to try what he said. He said to set achievable goals (it’s what he did to finish his book). So during a time of block instead of trying to set wordcounts or planning intricate outlines, set a more simple achievable goal. Write something. Write a sentence or a paragraph or a page. But just write something.
So I’m going to try that.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
This week was a tougher week. I barely managed to write a hundred words. So unfortunately I still am sitting at the 30,000 word mark. Luckily though it’s not as if I didn’t get anything done. I didn’t get much chance to write because life kept getting in the way but I had time to think. Which I did quite a lot. I have 20 sticky notes of thoughts in fact to show for it. These notes range from ideas on the climax, to timelines of the different relationships and lots of other random ideas.
This is something I have been doing since I started writing. See before I started writing my novel I would have said that I am an ‘architect’ or planner. I would have told you I need to plan out everything before ever writing a word. That I would need to have a detailed list of all the characters and the plot, of each chapter and the titles and on and on. However on when I sat down for the first time to start my novel, I had done none of these things. I hadn’t even really intended to write much. I was going to jot a short story quickly and that was all. Several days later of course I found myself 10,000 words into a novel that seemed never ending. I’m clearly not an architect. I’m a gardener, or as some youtubing authors say, ‘a pantser’. Gardener meaning the ideas grow and change as you write the story.
Personally I find being a Gardener interesting, as I write it feels as though I’m watching the story unfold, rather than knowing everything that will happen before it happens. However I’m reaching a point where I need notes to stay on top of all the characters and the plot and make sure everything makes sense. I’m blending the traits, this week it was architecture. Hopefully next week I’ll have some hours lined up for gardening.