Put something on the page. The story will come.
Yesterday, I remembered I’d signed up for Camp NaNo. The day before, I’d remembered I’d signed up for RWA’s The End, and had been meeting my goal there for the last two months, so this one couldn’t be any different. This means that I am doing two writing challenges at once. I’m using the same project, Her Last First Kiss, and this is very much a rough draft I’m using for both.
Initially, I wasn’t going to do either. Word count and I are not friends. Not that it doesn’t matter how long a work is, but if I focus on that aspect during a rough draft, I am not going to get anywhere. I know myself well enough by this point that how I work doesn’t allow for that. Let me tell the story first, and then we’ll work the rest out later. So, how, or more importantly, why did I find myself participating in two -no, I tell a lie (and thank you, research on the vernacular of Northern Ireland for that one,) it’s actually three, as CRRWA is tracking member word count for this year, though I haven’t reported in there yet- at the same time?
Part of it is the way real life has swept through recently, and carefully made plans get shoved to the side when there is caregiving that needs to be done right this minute. As a person whose only reason not to have started a notebook notebook (that is, a notebook devoted to keeping track of my other notebooks) being that I have not yet found the perfect notebook to used for such a purpose, I like to have things well planned out, both in life and in writing. Good plan, but it doesn’t always work that way, in either area.
Which is basically how I found myself, yesterday, moving my laptop around the coffee house table, trying to evade the sunlight streaming in (because I have not yet comprehended that my favorite seat in that section will result in me being unable to see the screen due to aforementioned sunlight, which counters the whole going there to write thing, but I am both stubborn and determined) onto my screen and figuring out where I record my progress on two out of the three. I was going to do this, and that was that. I love this book and these characters and their story more than I’ve loved any project I’ve worked on in a long time. Years, really, so this is happening, and on my terms.
I spent some time staring at the blank Scrivener screen, stymied by where a new chapter goes, and how many scenes should be in a chapter, anyway? To which my writer brain screamed a loud, insistent, STOP. No math now. None of it. Close Scrivener. Open Word. Blink at blank Word screen. Close Word. Stick in earbuds, open hero notebook and take out pen. Write bullet points. What happens next? Wite that. How did hero react to that? Write what happens next after that, all the way to the end of the scene. When that’s done, open Word again and transcribe. Kind of comfortable, that. Punch word count button and enter number in appropriate blanks, then go play Sims. That, I can do.
Getting distracted from what works is all too easy for some writers to do. There are a lot of shoulds floating around out there. This person’s career is taking off. That one’s tanked. That other one had a great career, it tanked, and then they came back with another name or subgenre and all of that in the time I’ve been stomping around in the woods with a bucket on my head and both feet stuck in rotten logs. But those are their journeys, and this one is mine. I’m the one who gets to say how I do it, because I’m the one who knows this story the best, and I’m the one who’s in the best place to see what actually gets the story told. If there happen to be bullet points in pretty notebooks along the way, I’m fine with that. I’d rather have fun getting the story told than bash my head bloody against a brick wall to reach a particular number.
It’s not about the numbers for me, or even about the words themselves. It’s about this hero and this heroine, two broken people who find wholeness is within their reach after all, both individually and together. I can’t think of anything more delightful to do with my time. It’s on.