If you’re here in hope of finding news of disasters, missed deadlines and too low word counts, I have to disappoint you. So what happened in the fifth month in my 365k Club challenge? I probably should have report May has been dull, filled with steady progress, and nothing more, but I’ve made several discoveries about my writing process along the way, which I’d like to share with you.
The first one and the most important one just confirmed what I’ve observed in the past months: now, that I’ve prove I’m capable of getting the 1000 words down every day, accountability is working for me. Many of the people in the writing challenge are reporting the word count is stressing them out, and I find it quite opposite. If I instead told myself I’d be writing for 2 hours, I’d fail more often and produce less than when I set to meet the dreaded thousand. On the days when I really don’t feel like writing word count keeps me focused, while telling myself “I’ll just write for an hour” would end up in gleeful procrastination. But then, I’m not really afraid that I will fail one day: I know I will, and I’m actually curious what will be the breaking point. And more important: whether I’ll be able to get back to the routine.
Secondly, I tried to write a story without a prior plan. It started as one of the Friday Phrases I wrote, and somehow “When he said “I’ll meet you on the other side” I thought he meant the other side of a shopping mall, not the afterlife.” seemed like a perfect opening line to a story. I had nothing more, but every once a while I’d open the text file and add a sentence more or two, until last month I decided to actually write it. I needed a bit of a break from my fantasy novel, and diving into a cyberpunk and sci-fi world appealed to me.
Writing without knowing where the story is going has an interesting feeling to it, though not even knowing what’s about to happen in the next scene might be quite challenging, and I enjoyed the experience, but I don’t necessarily want to repeat it. Although the story didn’t turn out bad, I feel it’s missing something. Or maybe, as my partner claims, it’s just beginning to a novel.
Thirdly, I learned how to utilize any free moments for planning and plotting. On my way to work, brewing tea, on my lunch break, while shopping or doing dishes: I think of the stories, of the scenes and dialogues. This way, when I sit down, I have ideas I can write down, so even if I’m not inspired to continue what I worked on the previous day, I still have something to write, and using Scrivener supports jumping between the scenes and chapters.
And last but not least, I’ve learned to … stop writing. That might not be something that would work well for people who need time to get into the writerly zone, but I tend to stop shortly after I hit my daily goal, to save some of the joy of writing for the next day. Going back to a scene I didn’t finish, instantly reminds why I found it exciting helps me to get back into writing almost immediately.
All of these little discoveries help me to find time for other things too. Not much yet, especially in the week days, but I’ve managed to watch some movies and do a bit of editing too. And as a reward for working regularly, every Friday I have the pleasure of reading new scenes to my partner, who provides feedback and encouragement.
Another month passed filled with words, and I only now realize June will mark half a year of the challenge. It also might be the month when I finish my novel’s first draft, so I’ll have to find a lot more time for editing. Now that will be the real challenge, won’t it?
This post is a part of the “A Month of Writing” series – a monthly report on my progress in the 365k Club challenge.
Joanna Maciejewska is a fantasy and science fiction author who enjoys all things SFF: books, movies, and video games.
Her short stories appeared in magazines and anthologies in Polish and in English.
Her epic fantasy adventure series, starting with By the Pact, is available in ebook and paperback at all major retailers.