It’s interesting that I have wanted to be a writer of books for pretty much my whole life, and yet, so far, no books have materialized (*kicks materialize machine I got off the internet* I think I’m going to have to give this thing a bad review). As a child, I just expected it to happen. As a teen I angsty-ied my way through the same thoughts (Ha ha, am I a teen still? Could it be? Maybe I just have an old soul that may or may not match my face! Mwahahahahaha!!…Um, where was I?). When I started working, I found that all of those dreams fell away, because, man, even menial work was hard! Coming home and slapping my face into a pillow seemed to be about all I could manage, aside from eating dinner (and desert – duh!) and watching TV or reading books. The desire to do it was still there, but it was sort of like an old book that fell behind the couch, remembered, but lost. It’s funny how your perspective changes (and how excited I get when I find things under my couch!…But I digress).
Fast forward to now, (however long it took me to get here) and I have learned a few things, quite recently in fact. The first of which is that I do still want to write. That old desire that saw me through some darker times is still as fresh and vibrant as it was when I was in grade two and my teacher said I would probably grow up to write stories. I think she actually was right. And maybe so was I, for still believing her all these years later. I guess it took me a little longer to grow up.
You see, for the first time in a while, I’ve picked up one of the novels that I started and then forgot/gave up/dropped behind the couch, and I’m actually working on it (I’d like to give a wee shout out to stuart danker, as it was a post on his blog that inspired me to try again. You might want to check his stuff out)!!
It’s funny, I forgot how easy the writing process can sometimes be for me. I just start, and the story pops out like a jack-in-the-box. I can keep this going for a few thousand words, but then, it gets a little touchier, like trying to stir, or even walk through, molasses. I start and stop, start and stop, madly edit, but the effort of going where I want to go gets harder and harder. Then I either stop because I’ve found the end, or more often, I stop because the molasses has turned to concrete. I have become the horse in the quicksand in the Never Ending Story. It’s sad. I’m sad. I am unsure how to connect the portion of the story I’m writing with the end I have in mind. I flounder. I lose my momentum. Then I stop.
Well, this time it seems to be different. One, because I started and there were actually more words to write (!!!), and two, because of something very obvious-pants that someone told me that I now understand. If the part I’m writing isn’t working, try tackling another scene. Huh. Well…why didn’t I think of that? I think on some level I did, but there was some weird part of me that didn’t think that I should move through my story out of sequence, (Perhaps I was afraid of the dreaded self spoiler? Is that a thing?) like it was somehow wrong to not write it like you would read it. I am always a sucker for following rules, but when one’s proverbial truck is stuck in the muck, pressing on the gas and going nowhere but deeper in said muck – well, one is not really being that smart, is one? As for writing another scene, I could totally do that. I just wouldn’t, because I am a stubborn old teenage goat. Then, just for sits and giggles, (I’m positive that’s the way that saying goes, really. I’m not trying to keep this blog PG at all *Ahem*) I did. And I found if I get stuck and move to another scene, it’s not hard to keep writing at all, because I have more then one scene ready to go in my mind. I have the whole book, and it’s just missing a few pesky bridges. When I teleport over the soon-to-be-built bridge, there seems to be a change in perspective here. There were whole areas I couldn’t see from the old vantage point that became clear. I guess I really did just need a change in perspective. Sometimes change is a beautiful thing.
The other thing that I’ve found interesting while trying to write like a real writer, is that I’ve read a few articles about some of my favorite authors and how many words they try to write in a day to kind of see how I was keeping up (that is so very like me, isn’t it? For those interested parties it is said that Ernest Hemingway did about 500, Holly Black does about 1000, Stephen King does about 2000, Anne Rice is about 3000 and Michael Crichton was at 10,000!). I had always pictured the writers life as one where they are stuck in front of a keyboard for hours, like a 9-5 job, eeking out each word as they can, writing and rewriting, but trying for that perfect thing all day long. Apparently, this might not be the case. You see, I also read another technique for boosting word counts, where you set a timer for a set amount of time, 5, 10, 20 or even 60 mins and you just write. This isn’t the kind of read-a-bit, go-back-and-edit-what-you-write kind of writing, this is much more full-steam-ignore-all-the-typeos-just-go-go-go!!! kind of writing. If you think you have more to say in a day, take a break and then repeat as necessary. It’s a bit gimmicky, but I thought, what the heck, I’d give it a go. I set the timer at a respectable 20 mins. On my own, I was happy with a word count around 700 a day. At least I was writing! With this technique, however, I seem to be able to consistently hit around 1000 words per session, so only two sessions and I’m at a more regular 2000 each day. The kicker? It only takes me about 40 minutes to do it. Huh. Imagine working for only 40 minutes a day? Is that what it’s like to be a writer? Well, then. I can do that! To think I thought this was actually hard. I guess in the end it was just me, getting in my own way. Much like one of my favorite kids books about a monster at the end of the book, it was just me, holding myself back this whole time. I was the monster.
In the end, it looks like maybe I can finish my novel, finally, by just writing for about 40 minutes a day. And I might actually do it in about 3 months, maybe less. In the past five days, I’ve managed to clock over 9000 words! So, apparently we’ve got this party started! And if I can keep this up, then I’d not only have a monster movie script, but also a novel!! I think I like that idea. It’s funny what a little change in perspective can bring. Best, I guess, to just try a shift from time to time, even if it’s just to a new cushion on the couch. Maybe I just have to give myself permission to do those things I always wanted to do. And maybe stop getting in my own way. Should I dare I to dream?
How about you? Anything holding you back from your goals in life? Do you have a daily word count you set for yourself? Tried any of the techniques above? If you have input, I’d love to hear about it. 😉