After last week’s post on avoiding burn out, I thought I’d give myself a break. But, I’ve got a few confessions to make…
On Accepting Limits
Writer Confession #1: I am, indeed, quite bad at taking my own advice.
Once I’ve accomplished a thing two or three times, I have trouble letting myself stop. See: this blog. See also: my NaNo word count. Even when it might not be the healthiest choice for me.
Instead of accepting the inevitable, I’ve buckled down and written past my bedtime every night since we last spoke. I wrote while on a date, I wrote at one of the three Thanksgiving’s I attended, I wrote through an evening visiting my mother. As a coder-by-day, I’ve taken my work laptop home to meet deadlines and wrote during the 3 minute breaks while my new code was compiling.
As expected, everything non-essential in my life is being sorely neglected and I’m eagerly burning the candle at both ends, praying for December.
On being a Plantser
Writer Confession #2: My story looks nothing like I intended. (or at least, expected)
I’ve written about being a plantser before, but every time, it looks a little different.
Instead of kids saving parents from a brain-washing book, my story is ninety percent about a school play. Then again, as I sort of had the 90’s TV show “Wishbone” in my head as my mental concept of what sort of story to aim at a Middle Grade audience, I suppose it shouldn’t be too surprising.
There are several meal scenes that likely serve no purpose — although, of course, I can probably fix that in edits. Although, I probably shouldn’t repeat a breakfast scene unless I make it part of my character’s preferences? Why have I decided that my characters love bacon and breakfast foods? Well, I mean, who (whose diet includes pork) doesn’t?
Warning — if you write a story that centers around books and a play, that means you’re gonna have to sort of plot ALL of these things. Separately!
My play currently has roles such as “Sworsdswoman”, “Storyteller”, and “Sidekick”. I made up half a song from another non-existent kids’ musical about “The Flannel Bear” (my world’s Velveteen Rabbit, which my sister was in during OUR middle-school years). [If enough people ask, I might post a video singing it for you. Although, be warned, I can follow a tune, but I can’t carry one.]
With the changes in my story, I’m not really sure what a satisfying ending will look like, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to end at the cast party, so that’s what I’m writing towards now.
On Novel Prep Work
Writer Confession #3: My prep work wasn’t actually a waste of time.
Despite my story looking nothing like I intended, my first 9 chapters almost aligned, and then it kinda went sideways because of the new direction.
But! Working out the main characters, their personalities and families was helpful. Charting out that the two main characters would alternate chapters and would be friends but NOT romantically invested has been a cornerstone of my novel.
And? My massive list of random names definitely came in handy to help me keep up my pace while writing. Although, next time, I should note who they got assigned to. Especially when they only get mentioned once or twice.
On Writing Sprints
Writer Confession #4: My novel would NOT exist without these.
Three years ago, I started using Twitter to ‘clock in’, as sort of a type of accountability. Usually something like, “It’s 9pm and I’m clocking in”. Last year, NaNoWriMo.org created sprint timers integrated in their website where you could invite people to your sprints and race each other for the most words. Or, at least, have a focused 15 minutes where you could usually convince yourself to ignore social media and just write.
The timer breaks this massive “must write all the words” into an achievable chunk. 50,000 words sounds intimidating. 1,666 words a day seem to drag on forever. But 10 minutes? 15 minutes? I can sprint that long.
This year? My NaNo region has a Discord channel. It’s a chat application (often used by online gamer and, it can do audio), that has a sprint feature built in. You type in “_sprint” and anyone can join in. When the timer goes off, you enter how many words you’ve written and it tallies the ‘winner’.
Knowing you’re not writing alone, seeing everyone else’s progress, and comparing your own words-per-minute against your results last sprint can be very encouraging. Or shame you into focusing better next sprint. I’ll even sprint against myself, if no one else is on. But, there are early writers, day writers, and evening writers. You can usually find someone on the channel
On Rewarding Myself
Writer Confession #5: It’s all about TV and chocolate.
I got a large box of dark chocolate and orange truffles as my NaNo writing treat. They’ve lasted a lot better than I’d feared. I’m not sure if I’ve slowed down my consumption as I’ve gotten used to them, or if I greatly overestimated how fast I was going through them. Because the store sell them in bags of 15, and I got a box of a 150.
My daily reward for getting my words in? Getting to go to bed.
And if I have a spare hour, I’ve been catching up on the new Doctor Who. But really? I’m looking at the December 5th arrival of season two of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel as my reward for making it through NaNoWriMo.
Confess to me!
Does your writing look like you expected it to?
What about your writing process?
If you’re not a writer, how do you handle deadlines and staying focused?