Tuesday, January 21, 2014

On Resolutions and Ideas: Keeping the Writing on Track

Last week, I wrote four days of the seven! That may not seem very monumental, but it certainly feels like it. I wrote even when I didn't want to. I checked off those boxes like a champ. I don't have a minimum word count, but I don't let myself check a box if I only write something piddly like 60 words. I have to do at least a chunk of a page to let it count. I ended up with 3000 new words last week.

I know it's not a lot. I don't fucking care. I am proud I made myself sit down and pound out some words, and I now have a scene and a half to add to my WIP. I know I am not going to be one of those people who can bang out 3k words in a day. I was able to get 17k in the first 15 days of NaNo, but I fizzled out after that. Slow and steady, my friend. It's all about not overdosing. I tend to go hog-wild obsessive over something, and then once that fades I don't want anything more to do with it for a while. Writing is not something I am going to let myself ignore. I have STORIES and they are TRYING TO GET OUT. If I go a month without writing (something that is way too easy for me to do) I will have to completely reset myself and I am back at square one.

I've been cleaning and organizing and chucking crap and making the things in my life pretty. The front room now has a huge set of industrial shelves (that do NOT fit in the closet they were supposed to fit in, god fucking DAMMIT) where P's tools and my crafting stuff can live. I got an external hard drive for Christmas, and now everything is not only backed up, but organized into convenient folders. (It was not an easy task, by the way.) The upside to this is that now my laptop only has the few things I am working on. All those random files with three-line snippets of ideas are consolidated into one place. The ideas that went nowhere are on the external drive where they can be forgotten, leaving my brain clear to think of the more important stories. I have a file for each of my two WIPs, and two files of notes for ideas that are ringing all kinds of bells in my head.

And this is what I wanted to talk about. IDEAS. Or more specifically, other ideas. I was reading during a lunch break (it was Still Writing by Dani Shapiro) and one sentence resonated with me. It wasn't even a sentence about writing. It wasn't even an important sentence. It was just a normal, run of the mill line that set off fireworks and suddenly I had a movie playing in my head. I wrote it all down (of course), but now that makes three stories banging around in the headspace.

Sunday night, P and I were watching the newest episode of Sherlock. The same thing happened. One throwaway aspect of the show jumped out at me, and I suddenly saw a whole story laid out, begging to be told. It wasn't about a sociopathic detective (it wasn't even a mystery), it wasn't about two men with a remarkable friendship, it wasn't about the first twenty things you think would have inspired me in an episode of Sherlock. But it happened, and I felt the burn that is so important when an idea flashes by, and now I have four stories competing for attention.

Of course I want to write the newest thing. It's powerful and shiny and I haven't thought of everything I haven't thought of yet, so it's still a miraculous wonder-baby of awesome. But I need to finish something. Since March 15, 2011, when I decided to take this whole storytelling thing seriously (sorry, The Voices decided) I have started countless stories only to abandon them around the 30k mark. Seriously, I have four or five sitting around, waiting for me to Bilbo-up and finish one of them. (I just heard that today, Bilbo-up. A non-male, SFW version of sack-up (though I am a fan of that one, too). I can't remember who said it, and it was really only a few hours ago. Somewhere in the Twittersphere of Unending Knowledge.)

(I will always remember that date--the day I decided This Story Needs to be Told or I Am Going to Go Fucking Insane. I know I haven't been doing this writing thing for very long. I wasn't a writer in high school or college. I was a reader. I devoured stories. That was the day my role shifted, and I will never forget it.)

I would loooove to bang out the beginning of each of those stories. But then I still haven't learned anything, I still won't have gotten past the one thing that has been holding me back. I need to finish something. I need to write a complete story arc. I need to get the emotional growth of the characters to make sense and burn. Hell, I need to get to the goddamned middle, and then I need to make it out of the goddamned middle.

So far, I've been doing okay. At first I told myself that if I met my goal for the day, I could work on one of the other stories. But I think that is only inviting temptation. If I have an idea, by all means that needs to be written down and remembered. But maybe the other stories can be the carrot that gets me to finish this one. I wrote four days last week, and all on my main WIP. I looked at those other three ideas, and then I refocused and went back to my current one. I didn't stray. Two days into this week and I'm still doing okay.

I know it's still only January. One day at a time. I am at 24k, after all. The danger zone.

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