Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Writing update: Making story progress

If you've been following me on Twitter this year, you've probably seen me tweet daily writing updates as part of my New Year's resolution to write every day. You may have also noticed that those tweets have stopped lately -- but that doesn't mean I've stopped writing. Allow me to explain.

More than three years ago, I started working on a novel -- well, actually it started as a serialized story, but at some point early in the process I converted it to a novel when I realized the serialized format wasn't the best for the story I was trying to tell or the pace I worked at. So it became a novel. Then, a couple years ago, it became an ignored novel. From about some time in 2014 until this past December, I might have opened the file a half-dozen times or so, and I'd only written in it once. But I never stopped thinking about it.

At the beginning of this year, I set a goal to start writing again. I didn't expect to make much progress quickly, but that's exactly what happened. By the end of January, I'd written nearly 30,000 words, posting a progress tweet every day. But there were definitely days when I found myself writing just so I could post that tweet, and increasingly I found that the words I wrote on those days weren't as good as the ones I wrote on the days when I wasn't focused on hitting a quota.

So I stopped posting the daily update, but I didn't stop working. Sometimes that resulted in actual writing. Sometimes I'd focus on outlining the next few chapters I had to work on, refining details, getting things in place. And sometimes I'd just read what I'd already written, making mental notes on what edits I needed to go back and make once my first draft was done.

Now, some of of that may not seem like "writing" but it's all part of the process (not to be confused with The Process -- which is taking about as long as it's taken me to write this novel). My ability to recognize that and focus less on a daily word count has helped immensely, and today I reached a milestone. I finished Chapter 13, leaving me just a final chapter and an epilogue to write. I'm not going to set a goal for when I want to finish -- that'd barely be different from those daily word count updates that were stifling my creative process -- but I can see the end of the tunnel.

As of now, only one person other than me has seen any of this story (not counting the occasional screenshot of an out-of-context excerpt I was posting on social media), but once I finish the first draft I'm going share it with a few more people. Then I'll make some edits, share it with a few more, and maybe one day I'll share it with the world. But for the time being, just making progress this year and eventually having a start-to-finish complete story will be achievement enough for me.

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