It was a good weekend. Spent time with the family. The weather was beautiful.
And I got some writing done.
Between the Diet Mountain Dew, my wife’s ever present loving support and the feeling that the words were just going to burst through my forehead on their own unless I started typing, I managed to get 4500 words down. Not all of them are good, but I’ve been paying attention and comparing to the original draft. The writing’s tighter. I like where I am 6 years later. I’ve still got a long way to go, but I like where I am on that road.
I came into the weekend extremely stressed (life stuff, I won’t bore you with the details) which usually means I don’t write. Not this time.
Until now stress tended to bottle me up. The ensuing brain constipation always made it hard to put words down. It’s the kind of situation that makes me shut down, turn on the TV and go full vegetable as long as I can manage it.
This time, I feel a shift in my head. Writing was a soothing experience, an exciting experience. It was something that eased the nerves. The difficulty in getting my butt in the chair was still there, but attenuated and easy to overcome. I won’t say the words flowed, they didn’t, but finding them in my head and getting down on paper wasn’t a chore, it was a joy.
I gave up several hours of sleep to the feeling, I’m a bit tired, but it was totally worth it.
I can’t be completely sure why this is, because I’m trying several different things this time around but here’s what I’m noticing:
1) I’ve got a serious outline (ie: more than a dozen lines scribbled on a napkin) I know what I want to do, where I’m going and ideally how I want to get there. Rather than stifling my creativity, it’s comforting and guiding and I know that if I get a better idea, I will ruthlessly hack it away until I am comfortable with it again. My outline is a guide. It’s not a stone tablet from on high. It’s my outline, I brought it into existence, I can take it out.
2) I’ve got a ton of notes. I’ve written down every idea or notion I’ve come across these last few months (and found my notes from 2006 and my other attempted re-writes)
3) I know the main character so much better. I’ve been workshopping Thyson Bell for the last 3 months and it’s been a HUGE eye-opener. Several ideas that I’ve come up with for the workshop assignments are finding their way into my manuscript. While I’m not going to do all of this for my other characters, I am asking myself a lot of questions about them, which helps me write them more effectively.
4) This Isn’t NaNoWriMo. I bolded and underlined the last because it’s very important. This isn’t NaNo. I don’t HAVE to put in 1700 words every single day. My goal is to write ONE scene per day at the least. If I feel like doing more, I do more, but there’s no pushing words that don’t work well just to get word count. I’m taking my time and going over what I’ve written in an effort to craft my story better. This isn’t a headlong rush to 50K but a marathon to 100K with an aim to edit down to a tight 80-90K.
5)I’ve written this story before. I know this story. I’ve lived with it since 2006. I know what works with it and I know what didn’t work with it in 2006. I know what I wanted to put in, I know what I want to put in now. It’s a part of me.
6)I’m not writing alone. I’ve mentioned before the incredible support I get right at home. I couldn’t do anything without it. I’ve also been lucky to have two friends who are working on their own works as part of my writing group. The fact that we all have similar goals helps push me forward. Writing groups can be hit or miss, but do not discount the value of a good one. I should also mention the workshop too, while it’s a more of short story workshop (not a bad thing really), it has hammered home some key points about writing. Some of these I already knew but hadn’t really embraced and some that are new and are now invaluable. The people in it are talented and genuine and it’s kept my butt in the chair, my mind on my writing in general, which is all to the good. I will be sad when it ends.
I’m going to push to keep this momentum going. I’ve reached the first interesting point in my rewrite. I’m at the point where my new outline diverges significantly from my first draft so it’s all new scenery for me. This should be interesting and fun.