After a first week of story writing that I was pretty happy with, I was determined not to falter. Has this been NaNoWriMo, I probably would have done just that. After a couple of days. It feels so pressure-some, and I get overwhelmed with the task ahead. 50,000 words? Sheesh.
Another article on Lauren Sapala’s blog, written by another writing coach – Anna-Marie O’Brien, was timely. It was titled “Writing progress does NOT always equal word count” and it really resonated. It spoke about the typical “writing rules” not fitting. About pausing, and reflecting, and going with the flow. So I don’t have to write every day? I thought. Hallelujah. This took off some pressure.
Daily habit (ish)
That said, I am finding that I do feel better when I’ve written at least something. I remember listening to author + writer Joanna Penn on this podcast episode, talking about a post-it note she has on her wall which says something like “Have I created art today?” Yes, this goes against the article I read which I said really resonated, but there’s something about little-by-little and momentum for me. (Joanna Penn is, though, a freak of nature it seems). Whilst I feel that creative writing is, for me, more challenging and requires more energy and focus, my journalling/writing for my other blog has helped me maintain a daily habit for the last 5 weeks (bar one or two days). Stream-of-consciousness writing, or just putting pen to paper and writing about whatever’s occupying your mind, has become easier for me the more I’ve done it. That also counts towards my daily writing. Even though it may be cheating slightly. Oh well.
Thing is, some mornings (like this Monday just gone) I wake up and just feel very demotivated and not at all in the mood to write. On Monday, after a couple of hours of TV/YouTube/procrastination, I forced myself to sit down at my desk and get started on my story-writing. It wasn’t easy, but it came. Even if I heavily edit later on, I did it. I put pen to paper.
Whilst I’m not working at the moment, my writing is also contributing to my fairly lax routine. But routine is routine, and I’m also figuring I should be trying to make the most of the free time I have. Though, conversely, sometimes when I have more things to do, I can be more effective and plough through tasks. I imagine though, with creative writing, pressure and time constraints will not help – especially for sensitive, lil me.
So, as long as I write something every day, whether it’s journalling, blogging or creative writing. Or a combination of those. All good. I don’t count my words, or even time myself. It just has to be something.
Starting to type / edit
Whilst initially thinking I might type up my story only when it was all written down, I actually started writing it up this week. Last week, I’d already starting looking at writing software. I’m keeping it simple and going for something free if possible, for now. Annoyingly, I realised that I am unable to download any Apps on my Mac from the App Store. In short, a little while back I installed the latest Mac OS, and it crashed my Mac. I lost everything, and luckily it wasn’t so much of a big deal. Just annoying. Anyhow, it meant I was limited to some sort of online writer, rather than an App one.
I scanned a couple of articles like this one for free writing software apps. I settled on Reedsy. It looked clean and minimal, plus with basic sections you can add for different chapters/segments. Pretty much what I needed. It looks like it also doubles up as a writers’ marketplace, for freelance, editors, proof-readers, marketers as such. Not something I need just yet, but this could be handy further down the line.
I started typing my story up this week. It’s actually been useful, to kinda start editing but also remind myself of the detail earlier on in the story vs where it’s currently at (i.e. where I am with writing it). This typing up is a way where I feel like I am working on the story, when I’m not feeling so creatively inspired to actually write new words.
Where I’m currently at
Week 1: 21 A5 pages
Week 2: 27.5 A5 pages
To my pleasant surprise, not only have I written as much as I did in the first week, but even more. News to my ears. Or eyes. Or both. Well, all four. You know what I mean.
Structure vs pantsing
Following the very basic outline of week 1, shortly into week 2 I realised I was in danger of my story going haywire. So, this week, I’ve been reverting to the outline, adding sub-points to it to keep me on track. It’s a delicate balance between having enough structure there, with some flexibility for me to just write and go with the flow and see how it turns out.
So far, it’s working. Kinda. I’m winging it still, but I’m making progress. Which is all the matters.
If I were to estimate, it feels like I’m about half-way through with this short story. I’m fairly sure it will, indeed, be on the mediocre-to-longish side of a short story, but fall short of being a novella. PS. Phillip McCollum’s output is slightly putting mine to shame. PPS. Don’t compare yourself to others, AB. Stop it. *hits himself on hand*
Thinking ahead aka losing my mind a bit
I’ll be honest now… as is *typical* of what I do (I loooove freaking myself out), I’ve been thinking ahead like an excitable-yet-worried little puppy. When I’ve finished writing and typing it all up… Do I need a professional editor? Am I going to self-publish? Will I have to release it ‘free’, indefinitely? How the hell am I gonna get people to actually read the damn thing? Will they even like it? Should I even be telling the world about my first ever short story, seeing as it’s likely to be crap?
Aaaaaarrrrrggggghhhhh! Wait, no, more like aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh! That’s better. More freaked out vibes, less scary-monster vibes.
But seriously, I have to try to reign myself in with these thoughts – as otherwise there’s the risk I’ll get overwhelmed, feel hopeless and that this is a thankless task. I just can’t help myself, though.
I’m aware that I’m sooo early in my writing journey, and I mustn’t get ahead of myself. But I just can’t help thinking about others reading the words I’ve written, the story I’ve crafted. And wanting to know what they’ll make of it.
As I write this and I crystallise my thoughts, I have resigned myself to the fact that very few people are likely to even start reading the finished piece, initially at least. This whole writing lark sounds like a long-term thing. Hopefully – if it’s meant to be – this story will form just part of a body of work. F*ck that sounds overwhelming and daunting even to put down.
Perhaps, I’ll slowly get more people who hear about my stuff, and even one day be able to charge for my stuff. Or find a traditional publisher. I’m doing it again. Thinking too far into the future and freaking out.
For now, I’m just trying to ground myself and just be happy with putting one foot in front of the other.
✏ Written: Wednesday, 14th March 2018 @ 10.24pm
What about you? 📖
Do any other early-journey authors + writers think ahead like this? If you’re further down the line, I’d love to hear what happened after your first story (or two) were ready to be shared with the world. What happened? Your perspective would really be appreciated 💙