30 Days of NaNoWriMo 2 – Day 10: The Old Ways

I seem to have forgotten the old ways.

Today, I had a day off. Actually, today was the beginning of my last chain of days off for the year, before the holiday season hits at my job.

I’d told myself I was going to start off with a ton of work. I wound up doing 400 words and a bit of editing on a different project.

The thing is . . . my third eye was opened when I realized that a simple change made the writing became easy.

See, when I have a day off, I sit on my couch, with my laptop. Starting to write turns into a wash of distractions. Make coffee. Check gaming news. What’s up on Twitter? Youtube! . . . I had a few false starts.

And then I picked up my note pad and walked to a different room.

Immediately, the words came. And it made me remember the old ways. 30 Days 1, writing at different spots all over New York. The searching for a spot was always time consuming and there were just the days when I wasn’t having it, but I remember coming out of that experience thinking, “I have to write outside. It’s the only way I can get things done.” Two years later, I’m convinced there’s no one way to write anything–outlines work, but eyeballing scenes also works; typing at a computer was my bible, but 80% of my current words on H&T were done freehand–so, my reflex is to challenge the writing outside thing.

But I think that a nice alternative… would be sticking with that note pad. Maybe buying a new one using one of the countless spare notebooks I have as a dedicated H&T draft book. One that I can just grab, walk to another room with, and write–away from my computer and my PS4.

We’ll see how it goes tomorrow.

Words for the Day: 400

NaNoWriMo Total: 2,865

30 Days of NaNoWriMo 2 – Day 9: Calm in the Storm

It rained today.

Of course it did. Never has the weather felt so wildly appropriate.

The thing is, it would have been so easy to not write at all. It would have been so natural to just wallow–take another day off.

But . . . it rained. And, because everyone was sad, there were no visitors at my job. And that meant . . .

I got to spend a few hours with my notebook, no one bothering me. I still didn’t turn out as many words as I feel I should be, but I did start on a scene I was super excited to get to.

And I did get back some of the faith I’ve been slowly losing in myself as a writer–the sinking sensation that I’ve been a hack this whole time, or that the one short story was my prime and my work already has a receding quality line.

Remembering that I’m writing a first draft–and that my first drafts always need a lot of work–helped bring me back. Aspiring to reach the plot points I already have planned helped get past the hurdle of uncertain transitions. I managed to do both of these things today, stopping at a point where I know exactly what’s coming up (instead of being worried about absolutely everything that came before). On a good day, that’s progress.

On a day like today, you better believe I’ll take it.

Words for the Day: 733

NaNoWriMo Total: 2,465

30 Days of NaNoWriMo 2 – Day 8: Sprucing Up

So, after much deliberation about a transition, requiring me to find an old outline and read it over, I decided to spend the day working through what I already had, seeing if it worked with the solid themes I wanted to keep from the outline. I also added dynamic worldbuilding details as I went (my initial sprints were really bare bones, which I thought would be okay until I reflexively started adding clumsy bits of expository worldbuilding as I went; better to avoid that and add key details where they make sense).

Anyway, for the most part, the answer is yes, what little there is of the story so far supports the original themes I had in mind for it . . . for the most part. Sydney Tempest still needs a tonal overhaul to her introduction, which I’m fixing with the addition of a new, short scene instead of drastically rewriting what’s already there (i.e. adding in her chronic exhaustion and frustration next to her original humorous intro, tweaking the laughs so they’re not too intense or campy for her portion [because having humor in Modis’ intro and then no humor whatsoever in her intro would feel a little jarring to me]).

But, also, hey, welcome to what I do with my stories sometimes. The few times I’ve edited other people’s work, I’ve always had to warn that I emphasize flow. Flow is the heart of my style–I always want things to read well with minimal distractions. Emotions always have to feel natural, and plot points have to roll into each other.

So, that means these moments will happen; I feel something doesn’t work, and finding a solution doesn’t just mean removing Element A and dropping in Element B–it means removing Element A, backpedaling, and seeding Element B so it feels natural. I can’t just make the improv world building better, I have to scrap it and find natural spots to add worldbuilding, delivering only as much as feels natural for the moment.

Doing things this way eats up time (my words look no different today than they did yesterday), but eh, it’s just how I do it.

Words for the Day: N/A (I just spent my writing time editing)

NaNoWriMo Total: 1732 (I ultimately lost words, but progress is progress)

30 Days of NaNoWriMo 2 – Day 7: Not Going Well

Words for the Day: 0

. . . I feel like if I explain first, it’s just going to sound like an excuse.

So, hey . . . I didn’t write today.

There was work.

There was forgetting to refill my metrocard and needing to walk home after work.

There was a bit of writing time, taken before work, at the library, as planned. However, that started off well with the intended research… and turned into getting a sudden email from someone I didn’t want to hear from. Responding took the rest of my writing time, required that I hurry to work, thus forgetting to refill the card. Thus taking an hour longer than usual to get home. Thus getting home, having time, but being exhausted and bitter.

I’m pretty good at writing in a lot of annoying situations these days. I can write on the train, for example. I can write sitting out in public. I can write with other people in the room, not worrying about the awkwardness of my silence.

But, I have a really hard time struggling with depression in the first place. So, when something goes genuinely bad–when I hear from the wrong person or get the wrong news–that is a day I can’t write on.

But, whatever. I say “can’t,” I mean “don’t.” Of course I can. I just have to try to. Add “not writing when in a bad place” to the list of tendencies I need to overcome.

At the very least, I did find the outline I mentioned last time, and it was beautiful. It was part of an “Idea File” for H&T. Can’t be sure how many other writers have these, but it was basically a type of document where I record every idea I have for a story, from its theme down to character habits. My idea file for H&T was super thorough, detailing plot nuances I liked but forgot about. So, I’m excited to take that information and use it tomorrow.

But not today. Today’s just a bust.

Words for the Day: 0

NaNoWriMo Total: 1837

30 Days of NaNoWriMo 2 – Day 6: Well on My Wrong Way

 

Barely wrote today. Not the triumph I was hoping for.

On one hand, it’s because I met up with a good friend, saw a movie. Afterward, he found out he was potentially getting stood up for a date and I just . . . refused to shrug and say, “Whelp, I gotta go write! Sorry! Good luck being sad, bro!”

So, we had dinner, chatted. I didn’t look at the time.

When I finally did, it was while I was waited for a train. Intent on writing something, I grabbed a seat, pulled out my notebook.

And found myself in the kind of weird, transitional scene I often don’t plot.

And these . . . can be a problem for me. Sometimes, the transition is essential, but I take the most boring angle possible with it. Sometimes, the transition is essential and I find an awesome way to do it. Sometimes, the transition is totally non-essential, but I do it anyway.

Usually, I write a transition blind, stick with it for a few thousand words, then decide I hate it and scrap it.

So, the moment I started writing this one, I got wary. My reflex was to use it as a way to drop a bit of lore, and that feels right . . . but I’m immediately not sure.

So, tomorrow, before work, it’s a stop at the library with every scrap of outlining and worldbuilding I’ve ever done for this story. I have flash cards for nearly the entire plot on the wall in my room, and I thought that would be enough, but a quick check through a random notebook earlier today reminded me that I have a detailed outline somewhere (from the days when I rolled with those).

I figure it’ll at least help me decide if I actually want to go in the direction I took earlier. Before I drop another few hundred words going that way.

Words for the Day: 289

NaNoWriMo Total: 1837

30 Days of NaNoWriMo 2 – Day 3: A Good Intro

So, as I’ve continued growing as a writer, one of the things I realize I’m not perfect at is writing intros. Often, I get excited to start a story in one way, and then, no matter how little sense that one intro makes, I stick with it, trying to make elements of the story work with it. This actually turned out to be the major problem with my second novel, Memory; editing it boiled down to reworking the intro into something entertaining that also made sense.

So, this year, sitting down with H&T, already aware of how the plot would shake out and already knowing my tendency to write my intros with blinders, I was able to find a first few pages that . . . I at least hope work. They’re entertaining and they hit major emotional beats that I think the story needs to start with, so I’m satisfied. I know I’ll need to round out the first few pages–make sure the dialogue flows well and the world feels unique–but I’m glad to have found an intro that is engaging, casual, and natural. Instead of going for one that’s action-packed and super confusing.

That’s the thing with my style though; I always want to create interesting, unique worlds, but I also always want to jump right into the action. In my earlier days, that meant starting stories out of sequence–some grandiose moment first, then going into the past to talk about how a character got to that moment. And that’s a nightmare; that just never ended well.

It was also bad when I used to invent confrontations to start stories with–throwaway confrontations that, at best, introduced an aspect of a protagonists’ life . . . but still went on for twenty or thirty pages because, “Whoa, this monster he’s fighting is wicked sick.”

So, today, I wrote an intro that didn’t do that. And it feels like a victory, which is awesome. Especially because I still don’t dive into heavy worldbuilding immediately, which is something that I’ll still always be against (not worldbuilding itself, but the fantasy tendency to flood an intro with worldbuilding exposition first thing).

Now, with a few actual pages under my belt, I just have to keep it rolling. Today’s part of the intro was all about Modis. Tomorrow, it’ll be all about my second protagonist, Sydney Tempest. Hopefully, my ol’ NaNo tradition of spending-the-day-imagining-a-scene-until-it-basically-forces-itself-out-of-my-head-and-onto-paper holds up. Cause, at the moment, I have absolutely no idea how I’m actually going to introduce her. I love her–possibly more than Modis–but her actual first scene somehow escaped me (I was probably too busy fawning over her big emotional moments).

Whatever. My point is, wish me luck, and thanks for reading!

Words for the Day: 769

NaNoWriMo Total: 769