Redirection Required

There’s a little bit of freefaller in all of us, even if you’re a planner.

I’ve been offline lately because I’ve been concentrating on getting my novel finished.  I had a bit of a shock in the last few days.  I finished a chapter and referred back to my ‘disaster plan’ to see if I was still on track, and found that one of my paths wasn’t going to end where I’d planned.  Enter huge panic attack, frantic checking of whether this mattered or not, and vehement questioning of myself along the lines of if I didn’t go there, would my story be stuffed?

After a few days of panic, I’ve decided it’s OK, but I need to get back on track now or I’ll waste a lot of time drifting off target as far as what I need to say is concerned.  What I learned, though, is that even though I plan, I must free fall as well, because how would I drift if I ran strictly to the plan?  I like keeping things flexible, because I can respond to the unexpected that my characters often throw at me and  it makes the writing more alive.  However, I’m also glad I checked my progress, because now I’m more confident that my story is progressing OK.

It’s got me thinking about my writing process, though, and I thought I might write about that in my next post so I can reflect on it.  Stay tuned.

Nothing Beats Achievement for Motivation, No Matter How Small

It’s funny what things motivate you.  I’ve got a ‘word tally’ spreadsheet for my current project, which I use to keep track of how many words I’m writing.  I have a column each for date, words written, accumulative total and total words to go until I hit my target of 100,000 words.  I’ve worked out the sums so that all I have to do is enter the latest total, and the spreadsheet calculates the rest.

While the sight of the increasing number of words I’ve written is fantastic, it’s nothing compared to the thrill of seeing the number of words I’ve got to go decreasing.  I’ve recently passed the halfway point, and I’ve never been more driven to get those words down.  It doesn’t take much to get me to the desk now that the ‘words to go’ number is less than the words I’ve done!

So if you’re having trouble getting focused, start a word tally.  Soon you’ll find you won’t be worrying whether the words are good or bad, just so long as they come off your target.  A great way of getting that first draft done.

Getting over stagnation

I’ve just read a great post over at LifeDev:  Empowering Creative People (in case you missed it, that’s a link – this theme doesn’t make them obvious).  It’s about how to avoid failing, but it’s the bit about laziness that caught my attention, particularly about the role that fear plays in moving things forward.  It got me thinking about why I keep writing, even when my project seems to be overwhelming.  

I asked myself the big ‘why’ question a couple of months ago.  Why do I do this when it’s so hard and exhausting?  Why don’t I choose something with a faster result, like art?  Then I thought about what would happen if I just gave the whole thing up and stopped writing.  I sat down and pictured myself putting down the pen, shelving the manuscript and turning to something else.  I felt the weight of the project lifting from my shoulders, and imagined myself rejoining the world out there where books are things you read, not write.

Truth is, it didn’t feel good.  In fact, it felt downright rotten.  Somewhere deep down, it feels like I’ve got something to say and I need to say it.  It might not be profound, it might not be important, it might not even be sensible, but it’s there and it’s mine.

The fact is, I love my craft.  To give it up doesn’t feel right.    To live without it feels empty and boring.  So next time I whinge about it, just remind me of that, OK?