Good Afternoon, World 🙂
So! We’ve made it through our first week of August, or at least the first seven days. Whatever. The point is, we are now about a quarter of the way through this month, and we are charging ahead like a bull on rollerblades, but a graceful bull, a thoughtful bull, a bull who spent his life studying figure skating to win the approval of people who would only sell him to the circus, anyway.
We’re winning, folks! We’re winning!
As a recap, my August goals are:
- To write one thousand words a day.
- To publish one article on medium a week.
- To finish my paranormal romance novella, “Warmth.”
So far, I’ve knocked my 1,000 words a day goal out of the park. I thought I would struggle a bit more with this one, but I’m completely engrossed in the story outline I’m creating. Outlines are challenging, because as you may have supposed, they contain the lion’s share of one’s creative effort.
You have to… You know, come up with the entire book, scene by scene.
You have to discover who your characters are, then rediscover who they are half-way through, because something in the beginning of your outline has changed, or you’ve figured out a critical detail anew, or you’ve brainstormed up a better twist than the half-baked casserole that you slopped together in the first Act.
This means going back, deleting some paragraphs, RECORDING YOUR WORD COUNT, rewriting those paragraphs, then reading back up to the place where you left off, tidying up as you go.
This is sculpting, not writing.
But this stage is worth a month of my time.
I’m not carving teeny-tiny fairy wings or creases between knuckles or folds of cloth. I’m getting the shape of the story down, the body, then increasingly zooming in on the details of every scene. I’ll get to the finer details later, but only after I’m certain that I won’t need to plow a wrecking ball through one wing of my story to fix a structural infirmity. I’ve had to do that shit.
Fuck, I’ve had to do that to entire books.
In fact, you know this whole “Blood of the Witch”? novel series I’m working on? It used to be one book. One. Book. A book that I had already written when we lived in New York City, while I worked for an appliance store’s customer service call center. Talk about a shitty gig. I spent ten hours a day listening to irate motherfuckers from across the country whip themselves into a tirade about their broken dishwashers and missing fridges, and every second of every hour had me wishing for the moment when I could finally make a sustainable living off of writing.
This job had one perk, however.
I arrived at my desk at 7am, and the calls of shrieking, pissed off customers did not start pouring through the receiver until about 9am.
This meant I got two hours to myself, almost uninterrupted, with a computer and an open Google Doc.
I made it my mission to write 1,000 words before lunch no matter what. I didn’t always know where my story was going, but that did not matter. I wasn’t going to stop until I had 80,000 words in that document, the length of a standard-issue novel.
I’ll give myself this much: I made it to 80,000 words. I surpassed that, even. And there were many ideas in this story that I liked. I came to know and understand my characters better. I developed the world in which they lived. I examined the themes of the text, and saw what underlying messages of the story were most important to me and to the overarching message of the piece.
Writing my novel “Blood of the Witch” in such a breakneck, reckless frenzy was not a mistake. This practice yielded fruit, and it showed me I was capable of sitting down every day and putting in a consistent amount of work, even if this work was shoddy, desperate, and bound to end up on the cutting room floor.
But… (there’s always a but, eh?)
Writing a novel without preparing an outline ahead of time condemned me to a harrowing, labor-intensive editing phase. The thought of straightening this novel out filled me with dread. I’d have to rewrite swathes of text, including parts of the story that I loved. I printed out my book, went through it with a highlighter, and promptly put the binder in my computer bag. It stayed there for almost a year.
I almost gave up on this story.
As it turns out, I’m even worse at “giving up” than I am at writing.
Putting so much distance between myself and my project really helped me to look at it again with fresh eyes. I knew what I needed to fix, or at least where to start. And I could see opportunities to begin the story anew, and even continue the plot in another direction. I realized that this 80,000 word book contained far more stories than just one. In fact, it had room grow outside of the 80k pot that I had placed it in, and overflowed from the brim like an unruly patch of ivy.
So, I’ve decided to step into this garden again, but with another plan this time. I will not write one 80,000 word book. I will write three books, maybe four or five, and I will outline them as thoroughly as I can before even penning the words “Chapter One.”
Then, outline in hand, I will write.
Which brings me back to my August goals.
The most important thing I have to do this month is to finish my outline of “Blood of the Witch, Book One.” This is my top priority. When I wake up every morning, this has to be the first project I work on.
Finish editing “Warmth.” I’ve made some headway on this novella, but no substantial rewriting. You guessed it – I wrote this story without an outline, and now I have to go back through it and clean up the mess. At least it’s only 25k words, not 80k this time.
Write, edit, and published four articles on Medium. This should secured done by the end of today. I’m going to take a shower before Felicity wakes up, then I’m going to continue working on this. It’s almost done, anyway, but I need to look up when the best time to publish posts on Medium is. Blogging is tricky like that.
Wow, this post is about 1,100 word long. That’s insane. I just wrote 700 words on my outline, so our daily total is (so far) 1,700. GOOD JOB, SELF! 🙂
How’s your August going so far?
Keep your head up, good things are gonna happen this month!