You’ve been there, I’m sure. I have been there for a while. In the doldrums. The Horse Latitudes. A period when little seems to be happening, so you just sit back and wait for the horse to come back so you can climb back on.
How’s that for mixed metaphors!
For the past six months or so I have been playing a waiting game on a proposal for a project that I was really fired up about. But over the last while have simply been blowing air on the few coals of enthusiasm that I could muster while I awaited The Word. (I know. More metaphor.)
But I am hoping to hear the final outcome of the proposal in the next week or so, and then will have a better idea of where to go from here.
Meanwhile? I have been learning to paint with watercolours. Presenting virtually to schools and libraries in three provinces during Canadian Children’s Book Week. Following the progress of SHELTER as it made its way into the world. Writing a few pieces of memoir poetry. Teaching writing, and most recently – and thanks to a group in Alison’s Acheson’s Unschool For Writers – digging back into a few picture book stories that have been languishing for a while.
But now it’s summer. Camping calls. Hanging out with my grandson. Enjoying our lovely environment here on Vancouver Island.
And on August 26 I leave for a two-week holiday in Sicily. Sun. Sea. History. And good food. That’s what I am going in search of. And as long as I don’t get hung up on delayed or cancelled flights or lost luggage, I plan to make the very best of every minute.
I hope your summer is interesting and satisfying. However you spend it. And that if your writing has been languishing in recent months, here’s hoping a spark soon alights your interest and energy and you can get back to it.
Seven days to go. And I am SO done with outlining.
It is not my natural way of working, but I thought I would try it this time, as I am working from scratch on a new project, and many other writers suggest this is a good way of working.
So far, I have:
Identified the Six Big Scenes in the story – Inciting Incident, First Plot Point, Mid Point, Second Plot Point, Climax and Resolution.
Listed 26 other scenes that I will cobble together – possibly combining or extending some into full chapters – once I have reached the end, wherever and whenever that is.
Drafted notes of background and motivation for each of the three main characters and four secondary ones.
Some days used my First 500 Words daily sprint sessions to brainstrom thoughts about setting and plot details, and the entire story overall.
Collected a gallery of images to represent my main characters and three main settings.
Started a section of Random Notes to add anything and everything as it occurs to me – so far three pages of handwritten notes.
And I am done.
And ready for the next – and my favourite part – of any fiction project.
This is when the actual act of writing tends to throw up all kinds of ‘spooky writing stuff’ on the page. Leaving me to respond – internally or out loud – “Ah, so that’s what happens.” “Who are you, and why are you here?” “Oh, I didn’t know that.” “Yes. That could work.” “No. Not a chance.”
One advantage of using my writing muscle regularly is that I am usually able to write ‘quick and dirty’. Which for the most part helps silence that monkey-mind editor that sits on my shoulder as I unconsciously delve into all the stuff that’s below the surface, or hiding in the deeper recesses of my overloaded brain.
Usually I can just keep going to see where the writing takes me without too much judgement and a lot of curiosity.
I will be interested to see what happens this time.
I tried NANOWRIMO once before, making it to 39,000+ words on a YA historical novel THE ROUGH DRESS by the end of the month of November. But without an outline, or a clear plan of where I was going and how to get there, I ended up with a lot of words but not much structure.
Four years later, that book is still a Work in Progress (WIP)!
I’ll be trying again this year with a midgrade contemporary realistic novel WHEREVER YOU ARE. This time, I’m outlining it in a rather hybrid way, drawing on some of the following tools, but not sticking faithfully to one or another.
Posts at K.M. Weiland’s Helping Writers Become Authors https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com I have also ordered her Outlining Your Novel Workbook in print. I did buy and download the program of the same name, only to find that I cannot do planning and note taking on-screen, I work better with pen on paper.
I am still in the process of grabbing other bits of outlining advice as it shows up on various writers’ and writely website and blogs. I hope that by time November 1 rolls around – the first official day of National Novel Writing Month – I will have condensed all my notes, tables and index cards into one coherent outline. And be ready to write 50,000 words in 30 days. (That’s an average of 1,666 words a day. But who’s counting!)
Meanwhile, this is what I am working with:
I’ll check back in a week to let you know how far I have got.