Monday, April 30, 2012

Priorities

It's the bane of most yet-to-be-published writers: with everything else going on in my life, how do I make space to write?

I'm hardly an exception. Between requirements at the Day Job and personal obligations like heading to the gym, spending time with the spouse, taking care of household chores and the like, it can be hard to block out time for writing. Worse, when I've finally sat down with some writing time to use, sometimes there's just nothing left to pour onto the page.

This really comes down to priorities. If working on the novel is important enough, making time becomes simpler (if not necessarily easier). But there's a subtler level, too: none of us is infinite. We all have to marshal our time and our energy. Just because I've managed to score some free time doesn't mean that I'll be able to use it effectively. If I've been shorting myself on sleep (and I frequently do) or failing to take care of myself in some other way (eating well, exercising, keeping my personal life as drama-free as possible), I won't have enough left to do anything like a good job, or to get any sort of fulfillment out of the experience.

The temptation is there to gut it out, to stay up until all hours and bleed onto the page--damn the torpedoes! sleep is for the weak!--but I know that I don't accomplish much by clawing a few hours clear if my brain is tapioca and all I can do is stare at the screen or write journal entries about how I'm so tired and nothing's coming to me. People at work have a right to the best you can do for them; why is your novel worth anything less?

Summing up: one mark of having your priorities in order is carving out the time you need. Another mark is spending yourself wisely: if writing is important, do what you can to make yourself--your best self--available for it.

-Rich

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Plotting and Scheming

I haven't posted here much lately because I've been focused on making progress on the Darwin Colossus rewrite. I gave an introductory scene to the Magic City Writers group for critique, and it was universally seen as an improvement. This is great news. I still have plans for horror novel The Work, but I'm giving Darwin Colossus priority for now, because A) I think it's a more complete concept right now, and B) there are a few steampunky movies debuting in the next few years, and since I enjoy writing it anyway...

I may or may not use much actual prose from the original short story in the novel, but I've been characterizing, plotting and analyzing the material I have and want to add to a fare-thee-well, working toward a Big Novel-Writing Push. I do, however, need to expand the scope and complexity of the plot to support a novel-length treatment. I think I have a handle on that, as of this evening: I have six major arcs identified, a three-act structure roughed out, and a theme of sorts to bring it all together.

Next up is a detailed series of milestones. I'd normally call it an outline, but I've come to realize that I split the difference between strict outlining and "discovery writing": I come up with goals for each scene and/or chapter to accomplish, and then in the process of writing each scene or chapter, I tend to find and figure stuff out about the characters and story that I might not have known going in. Thus, rather than easily calling myself an outliner or a discovery writer, I call myself a milestoner.

In any event, I'm excited about the story and writing marathon to come. As they come, I'll post interesting work-in-progress excerpts (WIPs), as I did during this past NaNoWriMo. I've got a visit with the parents coming up this weekend; I'll give myself until then to get my prewriting done, but after the visit, it's Damn the Torpedoes: nothing but work, sleep, exercise and hard-charging drafting.

-Rich