Massive Productivity as a form of Procrastination? Indeed.

Well, there’s nothing like the difficulty of doing something that scares me a little (like writing a short story) to inspire me to get other work done.

In the last two days I’ve written roughly 7,500 words and completely planned out the plot for Red Lands Book 3 (Red Lands Book 2, City of the Dead, is currently with the trusted first reader getting checked over).  I wrote a lot of dialogue (as I tend to do when I’m outlining), and planned out several specific scenes.

Now, granted, I had been thinking about Book 3 for a long time, but I’m glad to finally have a solid grip on it.  My problems in writing Book 2 (City of the Dead) all came out of trying to make it something the series isn’t.  I wrote too many “character interaction” scenes that didn’t have sufficient personal conflict to keep the “fist of broken nails” pace and feel of Book 1 (Toward Darkness).  Once I finally figured that out, I was able to fix it. I don’t think that will be a danger in Book 3 (which I haven’t named yet).

But, to adapt a phrase from Bruce Cockburn, “I was writin’ this stuff to keep from writin’ something else,” namely, the short story challenge I set myself up on.  I don’t know why I’m so nervous about writing short stories, but I am.  But hey, if 3600+word days are the result of my procrastination, I’ll take it.

So, have you ever had that situation, where dodging something unpleasant led, not to laziness and stagnation, but massive productivity?  Is it even worth pushing through to write the short story, or should I just milk it for every massive word-count day I can get?

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May Word Count Madness (Plotting and Planning)

Okay, So I want to apologize for not updating sooner, but I was caught in the midst of a whirlwind of creative mojo.  In the first five days of May, 2012, I wrote just under 10,000 words, while working full time, not taking any days off work.  I was absolutely blown away by how much I got written, and I am extremely happy with it.  Not only did I write some final text that’s going to end up in the novels, but I planned out two potential new series and did a great deal of plotting for Red Lands Book 3.

In the intervening days, my writing has slowed, but I’m still more than meeting my 250 words/day goal, even not averaging in that amazingly productive first week.

As you may know, my writing process doesn’t involve a lot of rewriting (unless I absolutely have to, I only edit, not rewrite.  I fix errors, whether typographical, factual, or plot-based, but I don’t go in an polish all the originality out of my prose.  I’ve done that in the past, and it created a dry, soulless style that even my own family members couldn’t stomach … and if you think reading it was bad, trying writing it), nor does my writing style include a lot of formal outlining.

What I tend to do is get somewhat inspired about an idea or topic and write a large number of notes, typing as quickly as my clumsy fingers can fly, including dialog snippets, occasional full scenes, descriptions, plans for the long term, etc.  I’d say better than half of these ideas die off in the development stage, because they don’t have enough complexity and depth to really engage me (and if I’m bored or unhappy when writing something, the reader will be too).

Somewhere in the developmental phase I tend to write two ‘plot summaries,’ one based on Algis Budrys’ seven parts of a story, the other based on Don Miller’s definition of a story as “someone who wants something and overcomes obstacles to get it.”  Between the two, they keep me focused on maintaining a solid, flowing narrative, with an active main character (one that things don’t just happen to, but who makes things happen), with solid motivations, who overcomes hardships and even makes sacrifices in order to get what he (or she) wants.

How far they’ll go, and how much they’ll risk or give up, is often what makes the story worth reading.  Or writing, for that matter.

Achievement … unlocked!!!

Okay, some of you may have noticed the little word meter on the upper-right side of the screen:  if not, take a look at it now:

That’s “write” – I’ve filled it all the way up!  I set a goal of 250 words per day when I made my New Year’s resolution, and that came to 91,500 words (366 days x 250 = 91,500 … gotta love leap year).  250 words may not seem like a lot, and it’s not, but it’s a very achievable goal that keeps me moving forward, in large part because it’s so easy to reach.  Success encourages persistence, after all (you can read a more detailed explanation of my reasons here).

I am VERY excited about this, clearly.  It represents a very big milestone, a massive success, a real sense of sticking to my goals.

So the question is, ‘What now?’  Do I just keep adding my word count to the word meter, happily zooming above 100%?  Or do I set a new goal, and create a new word meter?

I may end up doing the last one (if so, I’ll set it at 250 words x the number of days remaining in the year), but I worry that it will suck some of the fun of my success away, by moving the goal lines just when I reach them.  The point of this is psychological reinforcement (morale) as much as actual word count, so I have to be careful to play this right.

So for now, I’m just going to enjoy my greater than 100% word count, with a smile on my face.

 

Later!

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