Well, the first part of the testing for my new writing method is now complete.
I spent some good, quality time on the keyboard this weekend, starting Friday night. I watched my son and daughter play video games until dinner, and afterward, my son asked if I wanted to play Mass Effect.
Like any true addict, it was much harder to decline than I thought it would be. The Mass Effect universe has been my home for the better part of the last four months. My loving wife asked if I’d reached my last play through of my beloved video franchise. The answer is no, I haven’t, but for now, I have to return to my first love: writing.
I put a lot of stuff down the first night. It took a minute to get going, no two ways about that, but once I was going, I hit stride pretty well. I ended up with something like 2500 words Friday night, and that included cycling back through the work to clean it up, reorganize, reword, then move on. So good progress that session.
Day Two, Saturday, I had some things to do with my loving spouse and first reader, but nothing which interfered with my adding another 3000+ words to the new WIP. The stops were actually refreshing, and brief, so she got to have some unencumbered fun at the store, and I got to pound the keys until I needed a break. All in all, not too bad a day.
Sunday was almost a disaster, though. I woke up with a sinus headache on rails toward Migraineville. I had to hit it, and hard, before it got there. It didn’t take as much medicine as usual, but did require a little less time in front of the screen than either of the prior days. When I could again stand the glare of the monitor on my retinas, it was nearly dinner. And so, just as the method prescribes, I backed up a thousand words or so, made a run through for corrections, adjustments, and inspiration, and then took another couple of cycles on.
By the time bedtime rolled around – and on Pre-Monday, I have a lot of things I have to get ready for the coming week so I don’t have to deal with them during said week – I’d added another 2000-2500 words to get near 8K.
So, from the standpoint of being able to get started and really move, this method appeared to work great. I gave myself permission to write without knowing what was going on, what direction the story was headed, and only the prompt of “write the next sentence, even if it’s not the next thing the reader will read.”
Turns out, I didn’t really need permission to break the timeframe of the story. I got close, though. I was a little stuck – nothing traumatic – and thought, “Well, I can always just write what I see, even if it’s not in the right place in the story.” But, the trick seemed to work; I broke loose and was able to write lineal scenes from start to current location. And now I know, if the need arises to move ahead in time, or if I get stuck and only see a picture in my mind’s eye out of place, I can write it anyway.
So, this weekend was an experiment. I’m tempted to call the experiment successful, except for a couple of factors.
- I can’t tell whether I’m running on the excitement of a new storytelling method which appears, from all indications, to suit me ideally. I don’t recall well enough whether pumping out this volume of words is good, or pretty standard with me, when in the initial, enamored with the idea, stages of writing.
- The word count is definitely higher than I’ve output in quite some time. But it’s impossible to tell whether this is due to the creative voice being “unshackled” for the first time in about eight years, or whether it’s because I’m just excited and enamored by a new writing technique (see point 1 above). I can do that; I get all amped up about a new method or technique and it works great for a time, then I run out of steam. This happened when I finished my first book using the four-part story structure framework, and then stalled for every book thereafter when I tried to use it again. So time will have to show.
- A major stall for almost all writers universally is the 1/3 mark. When I get there – and I’m not writing to word count, only to story – I should bog down. That’s normal. The real test will be whether that point presents a “speed bump” in the process, or whether it presents a “wall” which becomes a block. By eliminating the restraints of writing in the linear flow of the story, this method is supposed to allow me to easily keep moving on a different part of the story and get back to the sticky point when the creative voice has worked out the problem. So that mark, whenever it comes in this story, will be a true test of the method’s effectiveness. Right now, only the minor test of getting me going has been overcome.
- I don’t know, because I didn’t try, whether or not I could have done as well writing with the four-part structure framework and not outlining as deep. This had a lot of benefit for me when I did it last time; I knew where the story needed to go but didn’t limit creativity on getting there.
So, with those things in mind, I’m not yet prepared to say this method works. So far, though, so good, and I’ll be the first to say that. This got me farther than anything else in the last couple of years. I’m closer to finishing a book today than I was on Friday, and that’s more than I could say about anything else I’ve tried to break the inertia.
My First Reader says what’s down isn’t boring, even though I haven’t hit anything “action-y” yet, and that’s good. I have to hurry up and get a reader involved though, because…8,000 words.
So that’s the first test. Can this help me at least get started? Yes. Can it help me finish?
I guess we’ll see.
How was your weekend?
Image from here.