Getting Out of the Way

I finally eclipsed 40,000 words this week.  It took a little longer than I anticipated (what doesn’t?) but I did it.  Forty percent of the way to completion, by standard measure, of a manuscript.  That’s not quite halfway, but it is a significant chunk of text.  At this point in the game I find myself thinking that at a hypothetical pace of one thousand words per day I would be done in two months.   I could be finished with a first draft in sixty days if I could maintain that pace.  IF.

Today I’ve written not quite six hundred words.  It took a little over an hour.  A thousand words a day is a doable thing, but looking up at it like a mountain is daunting.  Even as I write this I see the words ‘sixty days’ and wonder what the hell I’m thinking.  For me the secret of finishing a task of herculean proportions is to attack it in small chunks, until I have devoured it en masse.

That having been said, six hundred words is not one thousand, so after a little sustenance break I suppose I’ll get back to it.  After all, in sixty days I’ll have either done it or not, but sixty days will still have passed.  It’s pretty exciting to think that the only thing keeping me from a finished draft in the next two months in myself.  Hope I can learn to get the fuck out of my own way.

Dragging my damn feet

I’ve been effectively dragging my feet for the last week or so with my writing, getting my minimum daily words down most days but little more.  I’m not sure what the funk I’m in is all about, and I’m not sure how I’m supposed to fix it.  Or if I’m even supposed to fix it for that matter.

I know the advice I would get if I asked for it:  Barrel through.  Get your minimum down and keep going every day.  So that’s exactly what I’m doing.  Doesn’t make it much easier, but it gives me the perspective I need.

I’m closing in on 39,000 words right now, and should hit it in the next day or two.  Despite my lack of enthusiasm at the moment, it’s still a wondrous thing for me to watch the ticker and realize I’m only about 10,000 words from what would typically be the halfway point (100k words being the target).

10,000 words is a thing I can do.  I’ve done it three times already, nearly four now. Thinking of my goal in terms of repeating things I’ve already accomplished reminds me that it is indeed something I can make happen.  I’ve already done it, after all.  I just have to do it a few more times, and I’ll have written a book.  A BOOK.  WRITTEN A BOOK MYSELF WITH MY OWN TWO HANDS.  And it’s a thing I can do.

Well pffft.

So, I’m typing this out on a lunch break at work (on a tablet no less), you’ll just have to forgive me any typos I may make.  Its been a solid two months since my last blog update and I’m happy to say I’ve actually been quite productive in the meantime.  My novel is now clocking in at just over 37,000 words (that’s about 37% completion for those of you keeping track at home) and some of those words are even good.  I wish I knew which ones they were…
Regardless, I plan to schedule these little updates once a week now so you can keep tabs on my progress or lack thereof.  Shouldn’t be much in the way of posts with no progress anymore though, thanks to the magic spreadsheet.  If you know about it, then you know what I mean.  If you don’t then you’ll have to wait for me to be on a device with which I can easily provide you a handy link.  Til then, have a good one! 

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…

Some days it’s cake, other days it’s like pulling teeth.  But doing it every day is the key.  I’ve been using a spreadsheet to track my progress and over the last twelve days I’ve added approximately 390 words each day on average.  Some more, some less, but all around there.  It’s not a ton, not quite even two full pages double-spaced, but it is forward momentum and that equals progress.  For me, it’s far more  effective to be on it every single day than it is to try and do it in dribs and drabs.

Ironically, along with progress comes feeling better about what’s actually going on the page (most of the time).  I know some of it is crap, but that’s for sifting later.  Right now, in the “oh my God too many of these pages are blank” stage, I just have to keep plowing forward, dropping words every day like clockwork.  Or a person with a high fiber intake.  Anyway, those are my tidbits for the day, back to it!

10,100 words and counting

It’s been a good long while since I’ve updated this blog, and for good reason.  There hasn’t been much of anything to say.  I’ve been writing, slowly, in little chunks, here and there, for several weeks.  But this last week I turned on the faucet and let the words go.  I’ve written close to 3000 words in the last few days, a large bit of it just this morning.  For me, that is a veritable torrent of wordage.  I’d like to say that all I had to do was sit down and vomit the words onto my keyboard, but that’s not quite how it happened.  Hell, I’d like to say I was able to just look at my outline and the words unfolded fully formed from that into semi-coherent prose on the screen.  That’s not how it happened either.  I sat down at the keyboard and STARED at the screen.  And then stared some more.  At which point I’d be slightly more certain of what I wanted to type, and then I would put my fingers on the keys and start typing.  And then midsentence I would stop and look at it, and think yeah, ok.  We’ll go with this.  And start typing again.

Sure there were points where the words came out with ease, but most of it was actually work, and it took stretching my brain a bit to make it happen.  You hear that?  It was WORK.  But, that being said, it was a damn sight better than the work I actually get paid for.  There’s something to be said for the satisfaction I get out of doing some actual creating.  I’m still a good long ways from done, so there are no champagne bottles opening yet, no glory be hallelujah’s or even thank God that’s overwith’s.  But 10k is a lot of words, and it’s progress.  So, I’m going to get some food and then get back to it.  We’re not done til we hit The End.

Outline is wrapped!

This project has been kicking my ass for years now.  Or rather, I’ve been letting it do so.  In one reincarnation or another I have been working on this particular story for at least five years.  Eventually you get to a place where you’re done playing at being a writer, and just decide that yes, you are a writer.  Writing is what you do, so you do it.  Quality of said writing is always another issue, but it’s something you can worry about after you’ve got the words on the page.

I can now happily say that after lots of messing around, stops and starts, revisions and reimaginings, I have finished an outline that I like, and am committed to writing.  One way or another, this is the outline that will become my full length manuscript, for better or for worse.  That having been said, I rather like the few thousand words or so that I’ve slammed down so far.

I still struggle with making the time to do this, and don’t hit the keyboard every day like I know I ought to.  But I know that quitting isn’t an option, and each day I let slip without putting new words down is another day added before reaching The End.

So, I will leave you with this today.  If writing is something you want to do, just do it.  Don’t fall into the trap of making excuses for yourself to keep you from the keyboard.  You never finish if you don’t start.

-Paul Andrew