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.
This Post Has 6 Comments
What a great accomplishment Joanna! I am so glad you learning exactly what I’ve been learning too! Well done! I’m proud of you!
Thank you, Katharine! 365k Club gave me exactly what I needed: the push that made me prove to myself I can do it. 🙂
Next month I’ll try to write 1k words a day. Next month ;p.
I think you should replace “next” with an actual month’s name, you know… 😉
It’s a wonderful feeling when you make any one of those breakthroughs – to have had a slew of them come together like that is very heartening. And a solid testament to your hard work. Congratulations!
I’m interested in your thoughts about writing a short story and taking it ‘for a walk’ and your partner’s feedback that it sounds like the start of a novel. I think writing a successful short story is more technically demanding than writing a successful novel. I know I managed to write a passable novel before I nailed writing a publishable short story… Any thoughts about taking that particular piece of work further?
Thank you, Sarah.
Interesting perspective, I started with short stories and can write one with ease (this one was unusual, because I didn’t have anything planned and didn’t know the ending), while getting to write a novel was a bit of a struggle at first (they’ve always came out too short or too “linear” 😉 ).
I don’t know if writing a short story is more demanding, but it definitely requires different approach and more focus. On Pyrkon I attended a panel on writing short stories with Joe Haldeman and Ted Chiang (he’s a true master of the short form) and they said something along the lines of “A novel is about the most important time in the character’s life, while a short story is about the most important event in the character’s life”.
The story I wrote feels like a beginning to a novel because it doesn’t seem to be about a single event, but about an event that triggers a change. On the other hand, my partner sees “novel potential” everywhere 😀 (he’s not a fan of short stories). With so many projects in the pipe I don’t think I’ll be coming back to this particular story any time soon, but I won’t be surprised if in 3-4 years I re-read it and an idea for a novel will come.