Progress Report: One Million Words, week 6

This week my wordcount has been 3,456. This is more than previous weeks, with an average of 494 words per day, but it’s been a week of extremes, with both my best and worst days so far. I’ve struggled this week, and contemplated not writing at all today just to take a break from it.

My overall total is 17,786/1,000,000, or 1.78%. My streak is 36.

Day-by-day breakdown

Monday: 283 words

Tuesday: 1,018 words

Wednesday: 581 words

Thursday: 172 words

Friday: 598 words

Saturday: 705 words

Sunday: 99 words

Analysis

On Tuesday I logged my best day of the challenge so far, with 1,018 words. I believe there are two reasons for this high number: firstly, I was working on something “just for fun”, a scene from the novel I’ve been trying to make work for ages where things start to come to come to a point. Secondly, I was typing. It honestly is a lot faster. I think I run out of steam at about the same amount of time however I am writing, but I get more words down in that time when I type than when I write longhand. That doesn’t necessaily mean they’re better, but that’s how it works.

The thing that my two worst days of this week – Thursday and today – have in common is that I was not feeling what I was trying to write. The difference was kittens (I was babysitting, the kid I was babysitting had two kittens, so after he’d gone to bed my writing time got a little interrupted by kittens).

I’m worried I’m burning out here. Sure, I managed to write a lot this week, on some days at least, but what I wrote on the good days wasn’t working towards something real, it was really very much writing for myself, and not in a good way. What I produced isn’t usable, even if I ever manage to salvage the novel it’s connected to. I think realising that is why today’s wordcount, on the same story, is so abysmal.

Meanwhile what I wrote on the other story, on Monday and Thursday, has stalled after a decent start last week.

I don’t think the day of the week has had much of an effect this week on how much I wrote, so much as what I was writing and how I felt about it.

The Story

This week I’ve worked on two stories. The Tooth Fairy story has stalled after a good start last weekend, and I only worked on it on two days. At this point I think I’ve got two choices: either push through my doubts, finish the story and put it aside to worry about later, or take a break for a week or two, try to work out what’s missing, and start again from scratch when I’m ready.

This was only intended to be a very short story to begin with. I had a thousand words in mind, but surpassed that with the second word I wrote on Monday, with a great deal of the story still to tell. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; it doesn’t have to be the length I first think of, and the length will undoubtedly change with editing anyway. But I think I ended up rambling, and additionally spent too much time getting to the point to begin with.

On the one hand, I’ve got the beginnings of an idea for how to continue with it tomorrow which adds something that was previously missing, without the need to restart. On the other hand, I’ve felt since last Sunday that the original start starts too early and needs a lot of cutting. Plus now I’ve got an idea of how to continue, I can add in some sort of setup or foreshadowing if I start from scratch. I guess I’ll just have to see how things turn out tomorrow.

In the other piece I was working on, a scene from later in the novel I’ve been grappling with for months, my protagonist comes face to face once more with my redemption arc character who started out in an antagonistic sort of role. The problem is that I begin to realise that the scene in particular, but also the novel in general, is little more than a vessel for my favourite tropes. There is little that is original about any of it, nothing that says anything interesting.  I’m writing to please the side of me that loves the movie Princess Diaries 2, the one with Chris Pine. But because I know what I want and, as writer, have the power to take things there quickly, it’s just crap.

Maybe I need to abandon the whole concept, this whole please-my-trope-loving-part approach to building a story. I’ve been trying and failing to write something in this vein for a long time, and maybe the reason I’m failing is because when I control it I make it too easy. I should stick to watching Princess Diaries 2 when I get these urges, get it out of my system, and focus on writing stories that really interest me, rather than merely please me.

Take Away Points

  1. I’m still missing a piece from the Tooth Fairy story; it needs a bit more time to stew, but perhaps writing the current version was part of letting it stew.
  2. Kittens negatively affect productivity. I should not get a kitten. Next time I babysit at the same place I should write before I go.
  3. Writing to please myself might give good wordcounts in the short term, but it doesn’t hold my attention for long and it doesn’t end up producing anything worthwhile. I need to focus on more intellectually challenging stories.
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