• Writing on a Schedule

    3 May, 2012 • 2 Comments

    All right, time for some rambling. The time is rapidly approaching midnight, and if I am to stick to my schedule I need something to go up, and I have no good ideas popping up.

    The thing is, I do have a few ideas. I have a list of draft posts which consist mainly of a title and maybe a few words describing the core of the idea, but these are ideas I think are pretty good, and they require a certain amount of time and effort to do right. Lately, I have not found much of that time. My writing, as a result suffers, as I try to squeeze out something passable despite lack of inspiration and time to polish.

    Now, forcing yourself to write regardless of quality has some merit. That’s part of the reason why I made this schedule in the first place. It’s also the core idea behind NaNoWriMo; quantity can in some cases be better than quality. If you don’t write some crap first, you won’t get to the good part later. I read a book on writing once that said the first million words you write are practice, and don’t count. Even if you publish books and win awards, put them away, and keep practising. I don’t recall who wrote that book, but presumably he’d written a fair bit himself, and the message seems sound. You have to write through the crap and the duds to get good enough to write the real things.

    I’ve tried my hand at NaNoWriMo a couple of times. Once, I even made the target, 50 000 words written in November. The other time I petered out after 14 000, as I found myself without time – there’s that word again – to devote to the project. November just isn’t a very good month for that sort of undertaking, I think.

    In neither project did I have a clear idea of what I wanted to write. I had some characters in mind, and a couple of settings that I still think are pretty neat, but no clue whatsoever on plot. Both of the texts ended up being mostly a series of events without much conflict attached – a very long introduction, essentially. The first go, the one where I actually finished, was a story about a young ghost. The idea was that ghosts and goblins and all manner of mythological creatures were actually related beings made of some dark energy, and they had set up a society of their own on the other side of reflections – not mirrors, mind you, reflections. The story was basically this young ghost, having been born in the real world, travelling there and settling in … and that’s that, the end. 50 000 words of exposition. Like I said, no good ideas for plot materialised. I might go back to it at some point, though, I think there’s something good to extract from it.

    The other attempt was much less developed, but also a concept I’m more excited about and which I absolutely intend to return to. It was a fantasy about a group belonging to a monastic religion focused on fire worship establishing a small foothold in a Victorianesque industrial city on the far side of the world. Picture a Buddhist missionary monastery opening in 1850s London. Except they can control fire. Anyway, I didn’t really get far enough for much plot in that one either, but I’m real invested in the world building there.

    Right, that’s stream of conciousness for you. Started with whining about blogging, ended up talking about writing fiction. The point of it all was the idea of forcing production, as I’ve done for this very post here. Actually, I think it ended up not being half bad. Made me want to star up the fiction writing again, too, though I doubt I’ll find the time before the holiday. Still, not bad, twenty minutes before the deadline.

    2 Responses to Writing on a Schedule

    1. 3 May, 2012 at 11:46

      Yeah, you can get away with this kind of meta “I didn’t find anything for the deadline, here are some fleeting thoughts I had whilst trying to figure a post out” once or twice, but they’ll get increasingly tough as you go. How about setting Fridays and Tuesdays as mandatory “write down two ideas for blog posts, regardless of quality”-days? That way your ideas for posts won’t all be Big Cool Things You Wish To Put Effort Into, and when Sunday and Wednesday night approaches, you are guaranteed some ideas for headlines to start from, if nothing else.

    2. David Sanchez
      5 May, 2012 at 19:09

      I think your ghost story sounds great, (and always thought so, but I didn’t know all the details, which make it sound even more interesting).

      Also, I’m kind of in the “it doesn’t really need to have a story to be a good” camp.

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