My what a year! I can’t believe 2011 is nearly over. The changes that have occurred for me are all over the board: new baby, the passing of family, a new, exciting book nearly done with the first draft, the webcomic ShadowBytes.com was started and then stopped and much more.
First, let’s get the embarrassment over. My 2010 NaNoWriMo entry (which has become Felling Abberfaun) was supposed to be done with the first draft in January 2011, but is now on pace to be done in January 2012... I had hoped to return to Hammerblood’s book: Veil of a Warrior early in 2011, now it will be early 2012. My wordcount for the year is only in the realm of 100-110k for actual story writing. That breaks down to only 2k/week or about 9k/month. Not great, but a few months had very little writing, so it is to be expected. The Shadow Bytes webcomic began life as The Cat Bytes, lost its name, gained a new, cooler one and then went on hiatus—I still plan to return to it, but I’m trying to gain some regularity in my life first.
You've written and re-written Chapter 1 a dozen times, you have an endless stack of story ideas from the techno-thriller, starring a maniacal Jack Frost, to the Victorian Mystery starring a fashion-obtuse Conan The Barbarian, but what you really want to do is actually finish something.
Question is: What is holding you back? Perhaps you're trying to make the story too perfect on the first draft? Because first drafts SHOULD suck and just be about what people are doing, why, where they are and how. All the pretty prose, good grammar, riveting action, clever dialogue should could come later (unless the muse is in).
I'm no Writer Extraordinaire, but I've got some completed projects under my belt, and others that are close, so it takes me back to my own path. If you are so interested, come walk with me for a moment while I reminisce.
Where did the year go? Seriously! Who stole it, took it, and hid it away? I want answers!
If it wasn’t for my lovely wife, I know I wouldn’t be even half prepared for Christmas. (Thank you Anneli!) As it is, the kids will be well taken care of—without a doubt. As a parent surveying the mass of various toys scattered thither and yonder, it surprises me how many our four year old has. Christmas and a certain large, ungainly, but merry, old elf are only bound to increase the condition. The mind staggers to think of what the house will be like when little baby Nemo is old enough.
My study is messy enough—AS IS. I’m putting a double-deadbolt on it now, best to be on the safe side to keep some of that mountain of toys from crashing in here.
The family will be a bit fractured this year, what with new babies and long drives. But we will have a grand time nonetheless and will be thinking of everyone near and far.
Here’s hoping you and yours are having a joyous Holiday Season, no matter your economic condition and no matter what you may celebrate.
Seriously incredible post by Rachel Aaron on increasing your writing word count. It makes total sense and will probably have you backhanding yourself in the forehead *ouch*.
Read her post, but to quickly summarize, her three key things are:
Knowledge - Before you write, brainstorm for 5+ minutes about what you are going to write. We all did this in school, it was called brilliantly enough: Brainstorming. Block action, make plot decisions, do it rough and quick and then when you are feeling full of writerly fire, turn to the computer and start unloading those words.
Time - Find the time of day and location where you are most productive. This takes some tracking and organization to pull off.
Enthusiasm - There are scenes we love to write and scenes we hate to. Sometimes we are outside of our comfort zone, but it may be that most of the time we are merely writing something that is boring to us. Skip that, find a way to tell the scene that interests you. If it doesn't, then why should your reader be interested.
Side note: Perhaps obvious, but perhaps not, eloquence and word choice are not what any first draft should be about. Make your story pretty (or gruesome) after you figure out what your characters are doing and when they are doing it.
I've just barely tackled this method, but I think I can see that results will follow with perseverance. Thank you Rachel for an awesome post!
Here's a screen grab of how I've set up my own spreadsheet to track everything. Not necessarily perfect, but I think it will work for me.