To some, this might not matter at all. To others–I think many–this can mean a lot. Those like me, that can’t finish a project to safe a starving animal’s life. That tried and tried and tried and never just hard enough.
Last night, I finished the first full part of this damn novel I’m working on. I want it to have three distinct parts throughout the book, so this is now a major milestone for me. It’s not going as fast as I wanted it to, back when I decided that I’m a writer now–not later. But I was (and still am) fighting this damned-to-heaven flu, so I allow myself to be excused. Thank you. It took me about three weeks to get to this point. Which, given that I–again–suck at pulling through with just about anything, is a huge accomplishment.
I’d like to talk about two things here. First, what I’ve been doing, and how I feel about it. Second, about my personal process as novice wordsmith. (Am I a novice? How does one rank up?) I figure it can help one or two people with no guidance and stuff. Probably not. Enjoy it anyways.
Oh, it’s a first draft alright. It’s dirty and ugly and a huge stinking pile of shit. But it’s my huge stinking pile of shit. I’m very proud of it. Clocking in at around 22,600 words (I know, what does that mean, anyways?), bringing some interesting characters to the stage and upping the drama to the end of the part. Stand-alone, it could work. I through in a punch and a hook at the end, hoping to entice jumping into bed with part number 2.
My three protagonists–Mitch, Sarah, Nathan–battle their way through crazy meth-heads, super crazy meth-heads and friendly fire until all hope is gone. Almost gone, because there will be more after this part.
My theme for the whole thing is: To survive the unsurvivable, man has to not only face his inner demons, but he needs to become them. By “theme” I mean the statement this story is going to make, explore, and then to disprove, or confirm. Fitting to that, the first part is called “The Demons We Face”. Horror/Thriller with a sort of noir-style over-realism and dash urban-fantasy. Max Payne meets Planet Terror. Something like that.
I’m not sure if I nailed the horror element as well as I’d like to. But, it sure grosses out a bit. Post-nuclear b-movie survival thriller. Love it. Scary, maybe. Maybe not. Next draft, for sure.
I already noticed that the style of writing evolves with every scene. At first, I now find it some-what dull. Not bad, but not strong. The first-person narrative is not punchy enough, not diverse enough between the characters at first. Towards the end, though, it develops a certain feel depending on what character is blabbering away at the time.
I’m not going to fix that, though. This is what the next draft will be for. Before that, however, I will succumb to more dirty word-on-word action to finish the first draft of the entire thing. Then, when all the words are there, I can look at them and start to actual write something meaningful with them.
My process is simple. I started getting up thirty minutes early before work. 0400 instead of 0430. This gives me a good half hour to just write. Anything. Even plotting, idea-fetching, brainless word-smuhsing (technical term, read it in a magazine, I think). I do about 300-600 words in this time. It’s just me, my coffee and I. And the laptop. And a lamp. And my Fitbit on my wrist just waiting until it’s 0430 to remind to get ready for work with a silent brrrr brrrr vibration. Until then, it’s dark, quiet, lonely. Lovely. Perfect. Tired or not, here I come.
On my days off, though, it’s a toss-up. I’m off Sunday to Tuesday. I try to get up with my Beloved around 0700 or 0800 (really, she gets up whenever, I think). If I do, I might write. Or not. Fuck, I don’t know. On my days off, I get lazy. Also, there’s daylight. And my birds. And noise form outside. But, still, I’m pushing for those 2000 words a day.
That’s right, the deal is the number–the quota. Two-thousand. Two-zero-double-zero. I think writing-for-living people might laugh at this number, but for me it’s a good threshold. The more I stick to it, the easier it gets. Hell, when I first started this getting-up-early thingy, I was impressed by 200 words in 30 minutes. Now I do 400 in 20. Or 0 if the coffee is too weak.
This is to say: Keep at it. Make it a routine. Don’t let the lack of fun-factor stop you. Get this shit out of you. Write the words. They’re just words. If you want fun, go do something, you know, fun. Read a book. Writing those words and spitting out the first draft of drafts will hurt like passing a kidney stone. A very large kidney stone. Finding the story and yourself, your voice, your soul in it later on when the real writing begins will be the fun. At least that’s how I see it.
Kind of like putting on that condom. Yeah.
Huh, okay. Plotting–the next great idea. I talked about that a bit right here, so I won’t bother you too long with this again. I plotted a bit here and there throughout the first part. It helped when I did. Did me no good when I didn’t (duh). I really want to give this a better shot. So before I get writing the words for Part 2, I will plot a course through the nether of my creative cracks and nooks. See where these characters can go next, now that I established some retail-time data on them in the current setting (NSA, much?). And again, nobody needs to stick to the course, of better shit pops up later on. But it nice to have a rope to pull oneself through the fog with.
What else … I talk about it a lot. My fiancee is important to the entire process. As the one-and-only in my heart, of course, she is biased to the story, the writing and my work in general. Won’t help beta-reading this stuff. However, she lets me ramble on about the characters, where they’re from, what they did, do and will have done. Plot ideas, hooks, the whole-nine, and she tells me what she thinks. Again, biased, sure, but honest nonetheless. I think it can be beneficial to have one person involved in the creative process, just as punching bag for words and ideas. Usually, I tell her stuff after I’ve written it down. This way I have a better idea of what I wanted to do with this and are not so easily dismissed when she counters with a valid argument. And if it still don’t fit, I know for sure. She’s also a book-lover and loves all sorts of (spoiler) books.
I actually type it all in courier font with a 1.5 line spacing. Easy on the eyes. Less text bunched together means less distractions.
Knowing my distraction-sins is important. Running TV, social media and such. I know when shit will distract me. I’m aware of it. People always say, UNPLUGG AND WRITE. Well, might work for some. I find that distraction can be useful when I’m stuck on a scene. I will stare at the TV–my girl watching some nonsense tv show for the nineteenth hour straight on netflix–but not paying attention. Just let the pictures and sounds sink into my brain, while I do anything but write. It’s like meditation. Doesn’t always work, but it can get my gears spinning again. Oh, just in case you were wondering: No, I don’t have a designated writing room. Sad, very sad.
Other distractions are just that, though. Facebook is nonsense. Forget about it. Unless you’re writing a piece that plays out on an over-bearing platform like this, it will harm you more than it will help. If you ask me, that is. Twitter can be inspiring if you follow the right kind of crowd. Articles to writing related issues, tips and tricks, and what-have-you. This can spark more ideas, help to focus, and so on. But again, too much is too much. Even if it’s just 140 characters, the feed never stops. Ever.
I see people on google+ posting partial work in different writing groups for feedback or self-aceptence or something. That’s cool. But don’t spend your next two hours refreshing your browser to see if there is feedback. Instead, write. Or read something else. An article on how to not distract yourself away, for example.
Lastly, writer’s block. I start to not like this term. The only fucking thing blocking you from writing is, hell, YOU. For me, I block myself when I want to write something in a way, but can’t figure out what way that is. I’m afraid of putting down the words, because I know I won’t be able to do it the way I want to. Because I don’t know what way I want to. In that case: Skip over. Next scene. Puzzle it back later. Or: Just do it. Write like a six-year-old with a fucking crayon on the wall. Three words per sentence. Someone does something. Something happens next. After someone did-something (that’s still just three words). Who cares of it sucks? It gets the scene going. The ideas pouring. Usually, the writing gets better as this goes on. The beginning can be fixed later. Or, another idea: Start in the middle. The end. Pick a random part of that pretty picture in your melon and draw circles around it with words. Work your way from the inside out like a chest buster. Like eating a baked potato. If the first few lines suck, hey, it can only get better from there.
I think that’s it for this thing with that guy at the blog.
Thanks for tuning in.