I’ve been listening to Stephen King’s On Writing, in which he shows some disregard for the act of painstakingly plotting your work before you get writing, saying that this often kills the story. So I’ve been working on that and the still very vague outline I have for the project in Scrivener, and I’ve been focusing on writing, to get to know the characters and to get them into some situations so I can see how they deal with them. It’s been mostly fun and kind of productive.
- Word count total: 5300 (6.4%)
- Words this week: (since Wednesday) 3218
- Best day: Thursday (at 1500-ish words), followed by today (at just over 1000 – will take better notes over the next week).
Some of the challenges I’ve had this week have been about actually getting stuck in. It’s very scary to start. Self-doubt sucks. The writing itself is a lot of fun, but like, argh.
I have a feeling my main character is going to get away from me at some stage. She’s quite headstrong (this is not a surprise, but still, I’m waiting for the big moment of non-compliance from her at some point).
I’ve been writing bits and pieces, without much flow from one section to the next. I think I’m faffing in the initial shallows, and avoiding the meaty interactions. I wrote the bit up to the first plot-point (shock horror, a murder) on Thursday, and I loved it, but I have to go into the room with the body at some point soon, and I am worried I will make mistakes. (Stupid, coz I will definitely make mistakes, so I should just write, and then, well, that’s why there is a subsequent time-consuming process called editing, right?)
I feel like I am doing okay at the ‘writing dialogue’ bit. I was concerned that it was going to sound wooden, but I think it sounds natural enough to me. Which may well mean that I need to bring it down to be more conversational, because my internal dialogue is a bit prim for what I’m intending, but hey, at least it’s flowing okay. I also like writing dialogue, because it’s relatively easy and quick to move stuff forward.
A big win: I’ve actually met my meagre words goal (of 600 words per session) for three days straight, on top of publishing a blog a day. (Note: at some point, I think this is going to be the thing that causes me to miss a day of blogging. If I have time to write 1500 words per day, and 500 of them are blog, then it is going to take me about 30 percent longer to get a rough draft out. No matter, the blog is part of the writing practice, and it is serving me well in building a regular habit.)
And another thing: I think I’m doing okay at the rough pantsing that this writing has become. I have a vague shape for what I want to happen, and I have kind of planned the main pinch points and plot points, but I haven’t planned a scene-by-scene breakdown or anything. I’m looking forward to buying my Writers HQ subscription so I can go through their plotstormers course, and see how they manage this difficult balance between gleeful creation and herding your beautiful story peacocks into some semblance of order.
I don’t have ducks… there is no row… I have squirrels, and they’re at a rave.Someone funny on the internet once.
Goals for next week
Early stages of this book still, so my goal is simple. I want to write 5000 new words before next Sunday evening.
I’m always interested to know what King has to say about writing considering that many of his novels, like IT for example, far exceed 1000 pages. Maybe his not-planning-every-moment approach is part of the reason for this…? In the writing class I do with my 17-year olds, they learn about writing to discover. They also learn that about 80% of this discovery writing will never see the light of day. That’s why I think it’s great that you’re channeling your practice into a blog!
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Yeah, I think that there is lots to be said for a plan helping gain some control of the baggy monster a novel-length project can become. I have the confession to make that I’ve never actually read any other Stephen King… did a quick check and his first published novel was about 200 pages – much more manageable. I wonder if, the more famous you become, the less your editor tells you to cut? (Consider Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix vs any of the first three).
In past novel attempts, I have used outlining and plotting as a way of procrastination about writing, and by the time I was 40% plotted, I’d killed it for myself, so I was keen to avoid that here. I think there is a balance, and I’m sure time will get me to discover it.
Your point on discovery writing is definitely also one I should take note of; I think that some of the initial fluff I’ve written will likely not make it past an edit either – but for now, it’s teaching me stuff. I’m unlikely to stop blogging though, because I get to be me here 🙂