It feels strange to say this, but for the first time in ages I’m going to blog about writing.
Is that weird? I think it is. I haven’t been doing a whole lot of writing writing lately; life and other stuff has managed to entangle itself around me. That happens, of course. May was a very busy month in loads of ways, and I probably haven’t managed to decompress from that yet. I (apparently) took some time off over the past few weeks, too, during which I didn’t work on my current WiP (at the moment it’s nameless, but let’s call it ‘Web’ for now), and during which I didn’t get much time to work on any shorts or stories, either. I made a successful submission, and I’m very much looking forward to getting myself a copy of that publication when it’s ready. I wrote a non-fiction piece for a website, and I read a few novels for review.
But working on the new book? Well.
In the last couple of days, though, I’ve begun to remedy that. I’ve added about 4,000 new words to the total (I’m almost at 30,000 now), which involved some back-weaving and editing. The prodigious output you might remember me describing when this project began has ground right down to a crawl.
But – strangely enough – that’s okay.
I really like the idea I’m working on – perhaps not as much as I enjoyed ‘Emmeline’, but I’m not sure I’ll ever write anything I love as much as I loved that – and it deserves my best effort, of course. However, I am finally beginning to realise that I can’t expect myself to churn out words from 6,30 a.m. to 6,30 p.m. without cease, day after day, and that I have a rhythm which works best for me. Not only that but I owe it to myself to work during those times of day when my brain is kicking at its highest revolution and my energy is at its best, which is usually in the morning. So, I’ve been trying to log out of my work just after lunchtime (say, around 2 p.m.) these last few days in order to focus on other stuff, whether that be the errands that build up, peskily, like dust, or one of the magazines I’m involved with, or my various social media profiles. My days are busy, but rewarding, and even though I’m working (as distinct from ‘earning’ – hopefully that will come in time!) it doesn’t feel like it.
Starting early in the morning gives you scope to do so much with the day. I never would have imagined myself saying such a thing as a teenager…
…when I spent approximately 98% of my time either in bed or screaming at people, but it really is true.
I think I might also have been putting off my work on ‘Web’ because I feared I had written myself into an insurmountable situation, and the longer I spent away from it the worse it seemed to become. My mind has a dreadful tendency to be overwrought and ‘woe is me!’ about things like this; no first draft is perfect, of course, and they all have problem areas which need fixing, but I convince myself that problems I half-remember are a thousand times worse than they, in all actuality, are. When I do eventually revisit the work I often find it’s not half as traumatic as I thought, but the challenge is getting over the fear of opening the document and actually having a look.
It’s important not to let this fear keep you from your words. If you don’t finish something, you can never fix it. If you don’t get the story out – even if it’s only in a grotty first draft – you can never make anything good out of it.
In any case, the insurmountable situation in ‘Web’ was tricky, all right (mainly because I felt I’d written a scene which wasn’t ‘authentic’, or which was an unrealistic reaction on my characters’ part to an event in the plot), but it wasn’t as clunky as I’d feared. I ended up largely keeping the problematic scene as it was, simply adding a little clarification to it, and now I feel it works just fine. Best of all, it’s led me to another scene, one I hadn’t imagined, which will further underline my antagonist’s methods and motivation, and also give me a chance to explore my protagonist’s sense of adventure and risk-taking, which is important.
So, sometimes these huge blocks we think are standing in our way are actually designed to get us to change course and see our work in a different light.
I have another busy day today – largely out-of-office based, unfortunately – so I’m not sure how it will affect my word count. But, as I’m realising, effective writing is about the quality of what I produce, and not hitting an arbitrary target. And, of course, tomorrow is another day, filled with just the same chances and opportunities, and plenty of space to create words in.
How is your writing going these days?