My Colorado vacation highlight was hearing Gary D. Schmidt talk about writing and publishing. His advice was similar to what you may hear from other sources e.g. write every day. He recommended 500 words. Disciplined. Committed. Daily. No excuses.
I considered my writing process and the rationale behind it. Early on I determined every day didn’t work for me. It was too much. I needed time to ruminate, rejuvenate, etc.
Then I decided that word counts could be weekly instead of daily since I wasn’t writing every day anyway. It made sense.
And then, I figured my writing goals could be worked monthly so long as I donated some of my time to it. It’s not like it’s my ‘job’ right? Who needs deadlines? It will get done in its own time.
Four years later …
When my writing process seeped out of its dedicated-routine sized pitcher and leaked into a-hobby-I’ll-get-to later sized bucket, I didn’t notice. Until I kicked the bucket over making a huge puddle sized mess to mop up. A puddle, I promptly pulled up my pant legs and stepped over it.
I thought, “I’ll deal with you later,” because it was like trying to drink the ocean with a straw. A salty impossible mess.
Better for it to be out of sight, out of mind. (But not really.)
I realized, my process was broken. And broken processes are an irritation, a pet peeve. Ask my husband the number of times he listened to my rants about this topic on vacation. Processes are meant to run smoothly and efficiently. When they don’t, they’re meant to be improved.
Stay with me …
Gary also talked about how he’s not actively engaged in social media. He stated (and I’m paraphrasing), if you only write 500 words a day, should it be a blog post? Or tweets or whatever? Or should it be 500 words toward your fiction or non-fiction pieces? At the end of the year you’ll have 183,000 words to edit into the story you want to tell. You can get it done.
Ouch! That hit home.
Remember, my blog was supposed to be the place where I practiced writing? Okay, maybe it’s become a distractor or an “out” from doing the “real work” that’s hard and terrifying.
Again, broken process.
I know, I know, I just posted that writer’s write and it doesn’t matter what they write, but hmmm … I am rethinking that philosophy.
While I was on vacation my characters came-a-calling. They’ve lain silent for almost a year, only to shake me awake at 5 AM when I could be sleeping in for a change.
“Come out, come out, wherever you are,” they screamed.
I was game. I sat in the dark of our hotel room writing feverishly while my family slept quiet and peaceful.
There’s something about this time of year. Summer and vacation, being away from my normal seems to unleash my creativity, the playful side.
Hold on, we’re getting there …
While I thought about my recent reads (which were so good) and all of Gary’s encouragement, I realized the story scope on my novel was too broad; aggressive for a newbie. I started in the wrong place. I needed to plot the plot even though I am a pantser. The list of first-timer mistakes I’ve made is long.
I tweeted my epiphany which came in one of those 5AM moments:
From 40K to zero because starting over feels right. #plotting #AmWriting
Yes, I am scrapping it all. I am giving this WIP a clean slate to reinvent itself.
In working through this I found a new beginning to the story (4 unique versions of the beginning to be exact). A new direction and manageable scale which can help me past my writer’s block. I hope.
There’s a new working title: The Way to Wonderland, which makes me smile.
Character names, purposes, and motivations will change. Locations will evolve. Villains and heroes will get an unexpected twist, I never saw coming. And somehow it will all come together.
Here it is …
The culmination of events leads to the real reason for today’s post …
I am signing off.
No, not forever.
I am dedicating the entire month of August 2014 to writing; working on the novel in progress which technically is a new angle on an existing idea. I’m in pursuit.
31 days of 500 words a day. No exceptions. No excuses. It will be my little writing experiment,
Let’s see if I can fix my broken writing process. I’m nervous but hopeful.
Wish me luck. Live in the suspense. I’ll chat with you in September around the 9th. Be well!
NOTE: I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago, thinking the timing would allow for character development and plotting. Unfortunately, I didn’t get it done. I will spend the first part of August completing the important task of planning. Then I will write 500 words a day. I’ll still check in with you early September but it’s likely I will need more off time to hit 31 days.