When I was younger, writing was something I did with my weekends. (Honestly, I had no social life.) It was basically something I did when inspiration hit. That is not to say it’s something I regret. I learned a lot from play writing. I used to say I wanted to be a writer, but I eventually learned that at that point in my life, I just wanted to write.
It shows in the stuff I worked on. They meander. There’s no beginning or end. I never finished a story because I never had one to finish. But I was laying the groundwork for the stuff I’m writing today.
Recently, I’ve made more of a push to write daily on a focused project. This is something I was doing before, kind of, only now I’m more conscious of it. I can write whatever I’d like but unless I write some words on my intended project, it doesn’t count. It means that at some point, I’m going to have to seek quiet time and add some words.
You know, I’ve discovered that I don’t like first drafting! At least not when I have a goal in mind. It’s not the plotting things out that’s the problem. It’s just the act of getting this shaped story out of my head. Often it sounds so good in there and then so good on paper when I write out my plan. Then I get to actually writing the thing, and I hate it. Problems crop up, and I have to find a way to push on through until I can get to the end.
I’ll be honest, I do some editing as I go. That might be part of the problem. I’m not a great planner, so sometimes ideas occur to me while I’m writing and then I have to fix it to carry on. It doesn’t always mean abandoning whole bits of story, but sometimes things will require a realigning which is dangerous work itself.
I still love play writing. Those are the stories that crop up out of nowhere and probably have nowhere to go. They’re still fun. I don’t consider those first drafts because I rarely intend to get anywhere with them. I think they just serve as a nice break from focused writing.
As for writing daily, whether inspired or not, I have to say it’s working. If I miss a day, there is no catch up day. I need to seize each day for the precious commodity it is. I do try to ease into the writing daily by working on blog posts or play stories. I make a deal that at some particular point (usually 4pm for me), I will sit down and write on the project. It’s been a little bit of a fight lately. That’s why this post is late and I haven’t spent too much time online. But it’s been getting done. Last night, I sat down and wrote before bed, adding something like 1,000 crappy words which may help me get past a difficult part.
My intent is to have a first draft soon. I’m almost there. I have a lot of work ahead.
For me, the most difficult part of a project isn’t the end but the beginning.
I’m lazy, by nature. So I see a long clear stretch before me where I can write anything I want now. It’s exhilarating and frightening at the same time. Do I start working on another companion book? I have almost half a story written out already, just there’s the whole question of, “Where is this story going and how does it get there?”, which still hangs over it, but it’s another short one that I can probably knock out in two months like I did with the most recent project.
Or do I start on the next novel which I already have plotted out with scenes on my mind? The problem here is that I can plot all I want, but once I get writing, I’m going to be a mess of disorganized scenes, and multiple notes to myself. I’ll have to break in a new notebook and drive myself nuts with the free writing about each character. I have three new ones to delve into deeply, new and untested ones too, which is different from the characters in Ruin who are all old characters I’ve been working on since forever.
OR do I try working on one of the random stories I have laying around my head, the ones I’ve partially written out or described in detail?
See my dilemma? I am standing at an intersection, and I need to pick a direction. Once I have a direction, things fall into place. None of the directions I have to choose from are bad, and once I pick a direction, I can always continue working on one of the other projects on the side. (That is sort of my plan at the moment.)
But when I start a project, I become completely consumed. I think about it all day, I write about it, I take notes on scraps of paper, my computer, even my phone. I can’t let go of it until I figure it out and unravel the puzzle of it and figure out how the story is meant to go. It’s an exercise in trusting myself and my subconscious, as well as an exercise for my brain. It’s a balancing act for me. I can’t have too much of one or the other, but both in perfect harmony. I guess I’m technically a pantser, but really I’m a -whatever-gets-the-job-done kind of girl.
What do you do at the end of a project and the start of a new one?