This one is about how screwed up and inconsistent my writing process is. And how much I love and hate it.
So, if you’ve been following along, you know that between March and August I was in a REALLY bad writing slump. It seemed like I didn’t have any time and every time I thought about writing, something else came up. I mean, I was getting words down here and there but it was a fight and I wasn’t happy about it. Even though I wrote two short stories and got a good start on my blog series (Guild of Tears,) no accomplishment was good enough and writing wasn’t fun.
Then, one night about 3 weeks ago, I sat down at my computer a little before midnight, after we had finished watching TV all evening (my idea, BTW,) and stared blankly at my screen. After a minute or so, completely frustrated, I turned and complained to my husband that I never had time to write and that there was no point in starting now because I just had to go to bed in a few minutes. That, apparently, was the last straw for him. For the next 10 minutes or so, he outlined all the excuses I’d been making to avoid writing. I would come home and do everything but write. I initiated watching Netflix or I chose to read or I chose to do pretty much anything except write. And if I did happen to choose to write, I never sat down long enough to be productive. I was constantly remembering things I HAD to do.
The switch flipped. He was absolutely right and I was so glad I had him there to show me what I’d been doing or I would have given up. I was too close to giving up.
What does that mean now?
Well, for one, I’m doing my best not to make excuses. And that has started with making my writing time unique from other activities. BTW, this was not a conscious decision. I found I was doing things and they were helpful, after the fact. I fully expect to have to change things up again in about 6 months to keep the writing process fresh. Because that’s how screwed up my process is. It HAS to change or I get in a rut.
Here’s what’s working for me right now.
I work from home 3 out of 5 days a week. This means, that when I sit down at my desk my brain thinks it’s time to work or get on Twitter or blog. This is bad. It’s way too easy to get distracted and make excuses. My solution was to not sit at my desk. This was not an active decision. I did this without even knowing that’s what I was doing. I just decided to sit in bed one day and write and it felt good so I kept doing it. LOL Stupid brain.
Also, I just discovered that if I turn off my trackpad it’s harder for me to back up and edit. I had gotten into the bad habit of spellchecking and inline editing. Making this difficult forces me to keep writing. Instead of backing up, I just write the line again the way I would have edited so I have both versions and I can choose between them later.
The only other thing I can think of that has made the biggest impact is that I’m forcing myself to work on one WIP until it’s finished. Again, I didn’t sit down with this as a rule but it’s become one. As long as it’s working!
Speaking of my current WIP, I’m over 10K words in 3 weeks!
Which brings me to my actual writing and how that has changed.
I’m around 88% pantser. I get an idea. Usually, one vivid scene that will become one of the major plot points, then come up with a starting point that I think could lead up to that scene, then start writing. Sometimes, I world-build a little before I start. Sometimes, I’ll write a few chapters, do some world building, write a bit more, etc…
But the one thing I’ve never done is outline. I’ve sat down with a finished draft and outlined the completed scenes and added scenes I thought it still needed, but never outlined before a draft was finished.
Wait! That’s a lie. I have and it killed the book. Mainly, because it introduced all kinds of problems. Mostly with the world building or magic system or character development. Yeah… pretty much everything.
Imagine my horror when this happened with my current WIP!
I was at work and couldn’t concentrate because this scene just kept playing over and over in my head. After about a half an hour of trying to avoid it but not getting any of my work done, I decided I’d just write the gist of the scene down so I could get back to work.
~1400 words later…
I accidentally outlined! It just snowballed. That one scene led to another and that one to the next and so on until I hit the end of the book. I felt like I had to write it down or I would forget and the ideas were so good!
Now, we’ll see how this pans out. It’s not a real outline. It’s more like a really, REALLY short draft. There’s dialogue in some places and placeholders like I know I want a character to address a certain issue or ask a complicated question and after it wrote: “Then she explains this to him.”
I don’t feel like this has ruined it for me this time. I’m still really excited to write these scenes. Probably because I’m really excited about this story and these characters. More excited, I think, than I was about the stories that this kind of outlining killed. Or maybe it’s because my process has changed enough to allow this step to happen. I don’t know but I’m feeling good about it! Especially, because what ended up being the end of the book, I thought was going to be the 3/4 mark! This means I have an ending for this book and a set up for the next one!
I know there’s nothing revolutionary about my process. I didn’t find the cure to writer’s block or anything… Well, what my husband did to get me back on track was pretty close to a cure but you can’t have him. He’s mine! LOL
Maybe that’s the best advice I could give? Not that I meant to give advice in this post. But if you need some… Find someone who will call you out on your BS. He could have just hugged me and told me it would be OK and I’d figure it out. But he would have been supporting my self-destructive behavior and that doesn’t lead anywhere good.
So, here’s to finding someone who loves you enough to tell you when you’re being an ass and need to get back to following your dreams!
I love how The Office has a gif for everything!
Thanks for reading! Good luck out there!