When you write, it’s usually only you and your story (at least while you are on the first draft). While that reduces complexity regarding the process, it also allows for more leniency. Chapter not done yet? Oh well, tomorrow is another day, I just wasn’t feeling it today. Too lazy to research? Let’s be vague in our description and no one will notice.
Especially when writing doesn’t come with the responsibility of supporting yourself financially and/or delivering to an agent or publisher on a deadline, developing a structured process is probably one of the things writers struggle with most. I know I do.
Writing is, essentially, a craft. In a best case scenario, you become so skilled at it that you manage to turn your raw material – words – into art. Mastery of any craft, however, requires constant training, and for any training to be successful, it needs to be administered within the framework of a fucntional structure.
In writing, this structure will look very different for everyone. I have no idea yet what mine is or could be.
What I do know is that my writing usually falls through when I am approaching the middle part of the story and/or once I hit a certain amount of difficulty. Sometimes, I don’t even reach that point because I become disenchanted with my idea even earlier and just turn towards newer, more fluffy plot bunnies.
To figure out how to combat all of this and become more consistent in and commited to my writing, I need to know what my actual writing process looks like.
There is a very simple tool to achieve that: a writing journal or diary. While I’ve been vaguely aware of this being a thing, I never considered keeping one myself. Mainly because I never really understood how I could benefit from one and more crucially, what I’d put in it. After giving the whole idea a bit more thought, I came up with a few ways to utilize it that actually might yield a lot of insight:
- Chronical sources of inspiration (I have a biography that I am reading atm plus a historical period to list already, both of which have helped my plotting process tremendously.)
- Keep track of the plot development. (I don’t save drafts. I re-write/ re-plot within the same document. Older ideas just vanish. In the diary, I can list alterations and reasons for them)
- Track mood/ inclination towards project. (In every project, I usually hit the point where I think everything is crap and all my old ones went much smoother. Having a continuous diary helps to understand that there is an ebb and flow to every creative process. Re-reading old high points might serve as inspirationt o keep going.)
- Track (daily) output. (Daily word counts help to make realistic estimates of how long a manuscript of a certain length might take in the future.)
- Record obstacles (Might help to figure out recurring patterns and help to overcome them.)
As you can probably deduce from the list, those are still theoretical concepts. I haven’t kept a diary for this first project week but will do so from tomorrow on. The weekly round-up will then be a summary of what went on during the week as recorded in the diary.
Last but not least, since the blog title promises a round-up for this week, here we go:
- Finished 7 point plot lines for all 4 major characters (I might tweak a few things for the two guys, I am not entirely satisfied with them. The girls’ character arcs make me fairly happy, though. Antagonists are still missing, some of the background for them is still vague.)
- Wrote 4 A5 notebook pages of political background down (there are still blanks to fill, especially certain structural issues but I start to get a good feel for the whole political set-up of Ediria.)
- Named two major characters – Eleari and Raeven. (Raeven came first and I wanted Elearis name to be recognisable as one stemming from the same culture. It’s an alteration of the Welsh Name Eleri.)
- Named the country the story starts in (Meldera) as well as one people (Mitori).
- Decided to base a few of the conflict dynamics on the Italian war during the Renaissance, found research material to browse for inspiration (I have a blog post coming up on that topic, so keep your eyes peeled.)
- Started on the novella early (yay, writing inspiration struck!) and wrote an intro of 868 words that I am really happy with.