Progress Report: One Million Words, week 13

This week has seen even more of a slow down. I’ve written 2,867 words this week, which averages at just 410 words a day. So this week at least I’m back at the same kind of level that I was in the first few weeks.

I’ve written a total of 45,368/1,000,000 words, or 4.54%.

Day by day summary

Monday: 316 words

Tuesday: 268 words

Wednesday: 826 words

Thursday: 455 words

Friday: 616 words

Saturday: 169 words

Sunday: 217 words.

Analysis

This week I’ve started to feel that it’s time for a holiday. I haven’t had a day off, a complete day off, in a while. I’ve been doing extra shifts at work, babysitting once or twice a week in the evenings, taxiing for my fiance for his job, visiting friends two hours away, running errands and all sorts without a day just doing nothing in weeks, or indeed a day just chilling with more local friends.

I’ve been writing every day for 85 days now, and it’s been less difficult to do that that I anticipated, but even that is starting to wear.

I don’t mean to break my streak, but perhaps spending a few days writing something else, something perhaps more whimsical or in a different style – maybe even poetry (this idea prompted by my local library, which on Wednesday is hosting a poetry writing workshop with a focus on haiku, which I think would be interesting) – might give me the break I need. Combined with taking the time at least one day in the next week just to maybe have a short autumn walk and drink hot chocolate and have a bubble bath and other such relaxing and rejuvenating things.

The Story

Rejuvenating activities may well help my writing too. I’ve struggled with it this week, and not just because of the feeling of needing a holiday. At the start of this week I crossed out pretty much everything I wrote the week before, and then on Friday I realised that everything I’d written so far this week might need crossing out too. I wasn’t quite happy with chapter 2 of the Kell story, and subsequently with how chapter 3 happens, so I went back to where the trouble began, which turned out to be earlier than I had realised, and pin-pointed the problem, which was how Kell acted for one pivotal decision. It was a decision she should have protested, but didn’t.

But then what came out of the new version was something I felt lacked structure or conflict. And the realisation that I’d set up something that I’d failed to follow through with – a subplot I’d forgotten about – left things even worse.

At this stage I wonder if the general idea for chapter two should be held back, set aside, given time to stew, and a new plot should be substituted, something I can better use to get into the characters’ heads and establish their relationships and the general group dynamic – and how the addition of Kell and Meyri, and the removal of another character, as well as the addition of three years of experience and maturity and settled living has changed the group dynamic compared to the group last time they were travelling. I could try a group dynamics plot for chapter two, then put my solving a village’s problem plot into chapter three. Then with the benefit of a better grasp of group dynamics and the leader of the group, Ekan, in particular, I could maybe manage the original chapter three as the new chapter four.

This weekend I have written different things, mostly to give myself time to think. I will need, at the very least, a solid Monday, a productive Monday, to even know where things stand; possibly a few days, also, to think some more. (Mondays, it seems, are good days to make progress. I tend to do research and studying in the mornings – I’m currently signed up to an interesting FutureLearn course about the Bronze Age in the eastern Mediterranean. This leaves me with sense of being productive, and fresh knowledge and ideas to inspire the writing process. A good Monday can set me up all week.)

Yesterday I wrote the start of a backstory piece on Kell. I wasn’t happy with it. I set myself up to fail; I was unproductive all day, in my PJs til about 3pm, and babysitting in the evening. I didn’t write before babysitting, even knowing the kid in question has no firm bed time and is more energetic than I can really bear over four hours. I got my notebook out at half past eleven, and didn’t write a word til ten to twelve.

Today I determined to write before Downton Abbey at 9pm. And again, I whiled away rather too much time. I’d already decided I wasn’t going to be working on the Kell story. So with 7 minutes to go, I just picked a playlist, put on my headset, and set a timer on my phone. What I came out with was about music and dancing and prejudices, or at least had the seeds of being about that. Maybe it could go somewhere, I don’t know.

Take away points

  1. Next week I’m taking time out from the Kell story to try some different things. And I’m going to feed those different things with some rejuvenating experiences too – and some wider reading and researching. I’m signed up to get emails from Daily Science Fiction, but there’s now dozens in my inbox I haven’t read yet, so that could be a good start.
  2. I need to have a proper think about this Kell story. There’s something there but I’m not into the characters enough. I’ll have to think of something for a group dynamics plot for a chapter, and maybe work on some short stories about each of the characters in the group – including the one that’s left.
  3. It is clear that my feelings about real life impact my ability to write. I need to take care of myself, mentally and emotionally, if I want to be a productive writer. That means not getting run down, taking time to do different things every once in a while, and taking the time to have a day off from doing anything too.
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