Quite a bit of time has passed since my last post. Pretty much par for the course with any other blog I’ve ever attempted to run, though not for a lack of things to talk about. A lot has been going on since that last post way back in March. I’ve continued to plug away at my story, and for a while, things were going very well. My outline was coming along and the ideas were flowing, but I eventually hit a wall. I realized that even though I had crafted these characters, I didn’t really know them like I should, little details that make them real that you cannot simply plan in advance. I knew what I needed to do, I needed to write. The problem was that I had been so committed to the idea of fully outlining the story before writing the first draft that making such a concession felt like a failure. My progress stagnated.
I was unbelievably frustrated at this point. I turned to the advice I had received in numerous writing manuals, take a week or two off and see if the creative juices start flowing again. So for a few weeks I did a little more reading than usual, watched a little more TV than usual, and in general, just tried to not think about my story. The break helped a bit, when I returned my creative juices were flowing again and I was able to plot out several more scenes. But just as quickly as I had seemed to turn the corner I had a relapse. Again I felt that my lack of knowledge of my characters, of not having seen them operate outside of of my mind, had handcuffed me. I was not going to take a break again so soon, I felt that would be the first step towards shelving this particular story that I have been working on since October. So I finally put my ego aside and decided to write a draft of the first act. This paid immediate dividends as seeing my characters in action led to me discovering new things about them. Still something wasn’t quite right.
My outline was rather heavy handed. Jammed too full of notes and minor details to make for easy consumption while trying to write a draft. So I took a week to go back and reformat a much more compact and concise outline that I am now updating in tandem with the original. Every step of this process has been a learning experience, going forward I will be doing this for all of my works. Still, even though things were going better, I wasn’t quite happy with where I was. I felt like I needed to be making more progress each day with my writing and that somehow this first draft had become an exhausting thing to work on. I tried to use my analytical mind and determined that I had become too picky about how my first draft was. Every book I’ve ever read on writing always encourages just plunging through the first draft, even some of the comments I’ve received from people on this blog have encouraged such a thing. But just hearing that advice wasn’t enough. Even though I’ve known for a long time that’s what I should do, I could never bring myself to actually follow through and do it. I hadn’t read a writing manual for some time so I decided to peruse Amazon for a manual focused exclusively on draft writing. The manual I found, reiterated the basic information that everyone had already been telling me, but also gave me a few specific tidbits of information that, in retrospect, seem so obvious. Research had become a major drain on my time and energy during writing, now I simply place notes in the draft to remind myself to research the information I need later, and if I’m having trouble getting exactly what I want in terms of phrasing I simply leave another note detailing what I’m looking for, and to work on it when I get to revision. Really obvious stuff to be honest. But its helped tremendously. One other thing the book does touch on is examining your writing progress through the use of data analysis. Just for fun I’ve been tracking mine. Hopefully in another month or so I’ll have compiled enough data to start culling conclusions from.
Anyway, the point is, things are going very well now. It has been a long time coming,but I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, and no, it’s not a train.