Weekly Digest, Episode 2

The week was good. It started off right with The Hateful Eight, the new Quentin Tarantino film. I won’t go into a review or spoilers here, but I’m again impressed by his use of dialogue and his ability to keep me invested in the story and the characters. I learned a lot from it (and was entertained). A win-win.

The week started with me missing one writing sprint, so only 30 minutes of writing on Sunday. But I wrote 800 words, which wasn’t a bad clip. Sunday was the only day this week that I did less than two sprints per day. I took vacation from my day job, so I had a long weekend. Nice, but it got me out of my routine and a few of those days it was touch and go with getting both sprints in. But I did, even with New Year’s Eve and all that. Getting them early makes a big difference.

I won’t break it down by day to keep from boring you, but total words written last week hit 8,734. That’s an average of around 1,250 per day. Progress was a little slow since I got bogged down in the story for a while.

Let’s talk about that for a bit. Everybody gets bogged down at some point; some detail about your story isn’t working, some plot line isn’t tying out or you hit a brick wall in terms of the dreaded question: What Happens Next?

It happens. The solution? Write through it.

I know that sounds like I’m being flippant, but I’m not. When I get stuck I sometimes take a short break. I get up and walk around or listen to music. Sometimes I read. Sometimes I watch TV. The key is that it’s only a short break. I can’t keep up production if I’m constantly fretting about how my critical voice is reminding me that I’m not a special snowflake. I can’t worry that my prose doesn’t sing like McCarthy or my characters don’t engage like Tarantino’s or my story doesn’t seem real as real as Stephen King’s. That’s self-doubt coming through. Critical voice. As Dean Wesley Smith says, critical voice is there to stop you. That’s its job.

After I’ve taken a few minutes away, I sit down and start typing again. Sometimes it’s sloooooow, but eventually it picks up and I’m back on track again.

Or I could sit and fret and not produce a goddamn word. That gets me nowhere fast which, by my definition, is dumb. Nobody ever wrote anything by not writing.

Case in point: I’m working on a weird western novel right now. I got to a point in my pseudo-outline where something was supposed to happen a certain way. I had it all planned out and then I started to bog down and lose interest.

Eventually I remembered a cardinal rule of mine: if I’m getting bored then the reader is surely getting bored too.

So I scrapped the outline, hopped in the shower and got to thinking. I surprised my characters with something I didn’t see coming, hence they didn’t see it coming and–you guessed it–the reader shouldn’t see coming either. Suddenly the story was fun again and trucking along full speed.

As of today I’ve written for 47 days unbroken. Not a bad streak. Looks like my estimate for December’s totals was a little too high: I hit 37,634 words for the month, not the 39-40k I’d hoped for. Again, probably because I got bogged down there for a bit.

Estimates are this weird western novel will hit around 75k words, which means that I’m around 80% through it. That feels about right. That’ll put me finishing around mid-January. I don’t force a book to a particular word length; rather I forecast how long I think the story might be, which means it could change. Probably will.

Either way 2016 is off to a great start.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *