So, I’m writing a book. Or rather, I’m attempting to write a book.
It hasn’t been quite the same process I envisioned when I was younger, and I dreamed of becoming a writer. I used to imagine writer’s as elusive and ethereal beings. In my imagination, they would have a sudden stroke of inspiration, and the entire story would just pop into their heads like a little gift. No writers block. No frustration. It would just flow effortlessly.
As I’ve come to find out, this is not the case. For me, writing has been a difficult and stressful process. My idea did pop into my head in an unexpected way, but it wasn’t fully formed. It was more like a hurried sketch on a napkin than a little gift wrapped in a pretty bow. It was a rough skeleton of a “could be” story, and I still had a lot of filling in to do. I spent six months just going over the little pieces of information in my head before I decided I might as well give it a go. This was last November. I told myself I would have my first draft done by the end of 2013. No big deal, right? That gave me over a year. I had researched some tips from published writers, and most of them agreed that your first draft is complete crap. How hard could it be, really? I would just bang out a paragraph or so every day and then by the end of the year it would be finished!
Again, I had unrealistic expectations.
Apparently, there is more to it than just sitting down and typing. For example, my story doesn’t take place within the confines of our own society, so there’s a lot of detail about the setting that just comes from my own head. I quickly found it’s almost impossible for me to force creativity. No matter how long I stared at my blank notebook, it wasn’t getting any easier. I kept waiting for that second little wave of thought to crash over me.
It never did.
So I’ve realized that although the idea may have been put into my head by some elusive inspiration, the rest was completely up to me. I started to do the only thing I know how to do when I feel pressured. I made lists. I made lists of things I still needed to figure out about this world and the people in it. I made lists of names I still needed for characters and places. I made lists of the character traits and setting descriptions. I even made a list of any twists and turns I wanted to include in the story. The planning paid off; I had the framework for 85% of the story and the characters.
However, I still wasn’t writing. I had typed out a few pages here and there. Instead of writing every day, as I told myself I would, I just “planned” instead.
You can imagine my horror when I realized that it is now July, and I am not even close to halfway done. It would be an understatement to say panic has now set in. It may not be a life or death situation, but if I can’t even complete the first goal I set for myself in my writing career then I am off to a terrible start. I’ve been jumping ahead worrying about the book not being published or ever read. In reality, I need to worry more about actually writing it.
It was time for extreme measures.
Say hello to my militant writing schedule (by my standards anyways). I will be writing 2 pages every week day and 4 pages every day of the weekend. There are 182 days left in the year so that should leave me with roughly 420 pages on top of what I already have. If you can tell, math was never my strong suit.
So maybe my writing process isn’t what I imagined it would be. I am not able to calmly sit and type out wonderfully written prose at the drop of a hat. Every single word I’ve put into this story has come with its fair share of sweat and frustration. There may have even been moments where I was reduced to tears (when I realized I had used 25 of the most overly used words). However, if I can stick to this schedule then I will complete my first draft by the end of the year. Then I can set it aside and ignore it for 3 weeks while I try to regain my sanity.
I decided to start this blog as a way to release my writing frustrations, and also as a way to hold myself accountable for my work. So if we’re friends and you see me out and about then you should ask me if I’ve done my 2 (or 4) pages. If I back away from you slowly and avoid eye contact then you know what that means. Please find the nearest (soft) object and (gently) hit me over the head with it.
As for Day One, I completed my 2 pages (and an extra half for good measure). So that’s one day down and 183 more to go.