When I start a story I am not worried about the word count because I am usually sucked into the story and letting the words flow. But usually about the middle of things I start to wonder whether I will have enough words to make a full novel. It feels like I could wrap up the whole story in only ten thousand words. Is there enough story to fill in the word count? Do I have to add more threads in to make it?
Except the story has already made that decision. If I continue to let the words flow, they will come out to a word count close to what I want. I try to remind myself of the matter every time my mind brings it up to worry over, but it will always come up at some point in writing the story. The best solution is to lose myself in the story so that nothing else matters until it is done. It is hard but so is blocking out any editing voice from my head.
I find when I sit down to write for the day the first thousand words of the day are the hardest to get down. I struggle through the first hundred and the slowly crawl through the second hundred. I’m likely to give up before I get to the third hundred if I don’t have something pushing me to keep going. This can be true of a story I am really into and couldn’t wait to get started for the day. I could be in the middle of the best scene in the whole book and if it within the first thousand words of the day, I struggle. After the first five hundred words it gets a little easier.
But after I hit the first thousand, it is like the muse has decided I am serious about writing and opens the flow gates. It goes from forcing words on to the page to the fingers trying to keep up with the thoughts. The second thousand comes easy. Sometimes I forget the time and when I come back to reality I find I’ve written ten thousand words. Those are the good days.
However, most days I struggle getting to that first thousand. With some many other distractions, a hundred is an accomplishment. But as I writer I live for those days when I can get through those first thousand words and let the rest fly.
According to many people’s thinking all writing is the same, so if you are a writer than writing essays must be easy. Except that there is a vast difference between writing fiction and writing essays. Fiction writing I find much easier than essay writing. With fiction writing, I am making everything up as I go. A few things require research and when the story does the subject it usually something I am interested in. Essays are an argument written down with the evidence provided. This requires serious analysis and thought. And research. Usually the research is a lot of boring reading. Also as an assigned piece of writing so the subject is one I am not as interested in, which makes the whole thing harder.
There are different kinds of writing and they all take different sorts of energy and thought processes. A poem comes from a more emotional place. Stories come from escapism. Essays come from research and deep thought. Technical writing is logic based. Each uses parts of the brain that other do not. So, as I fiction writer I write essays only when necessary and usually in the stressed, adrenaline fueled last hours before it is due.
Sometimes a piece of writing requires a soundtrack. Music which inspire and helps move the story along. The reader may never connect the music to the finished product unless the writer provides that information. I tend to use music in two ways. The first is to keep up the inspiration for a story. I will find music that reminds me of things that have to do with the piece I am writing. So, I will find songs of the sea if I am working on a pirate story, or I will find older country music to help me write on a western. This is where I make a play list and just let to play as I write.
The second way I use music is as inspiration itself. A specific song will give me an idea for a story. This has happened a couple times this year and the result has been a couple short stories. The song Somewhere on a Beach by Dierks Bentley gave me the idea for the story What Happened. The song The Hanging Tree from the movie The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 inspired me to write the short story Innocence Hung. The right song can sometimes be just what a piece needs.
For some reason I have a fascination with pirates and westerns. They seem to hold an idealized fantasy that I am drawn into. I would never want to live during the time period most westerns are set in and I definitely don’t want to find myself on board a pirate ship. I understand these are not pleasant places to be. However, I keep being drawn to stories about them.
Movie western are my favourite type. I try occasionally to read western stories, but the only ones I really enjoy are Robert B. Parker’s Virgil Cole & Everett Hitch books. I didn’t really enjoy the movie made of the first one though. Most westerns I like. The stories of riding on a journey with gun duels somehow trigger my imagination.
Likewise stepping on board a ship and sailing for parts unknown in search of treasure are great. But with pirates I actually prefer books over movies, though I enjoy both. I fully understand that sailing with pirates was a dangerous and awful thing to endure, but without hardships a story wouldn’t be as exciting.
Lately I seem to be writing more random bits than anything else. A scene will come to me and I will write it down, but it has nothing to do with anything else I am working on. These pieces are also short. They are usually not whole stories, but there is nothing else to go with them. They feel like they are pieces from a longer story, but where the rest of the story is I don’t know.
One I am calling a short story, but it too feels like it is a longer piece. I wasn’t sure where it was going when I started. I thought it might be a short story and thus I started. It turned out to be two scenes. The beginning scene and the end scene, but whatever was supposed to be in the middle isn’t there. The main character was drunk and has no memory of that period and the other characters aren’t willing to talk to me. Leaving little choice, but declare it a short story and finished. At least for now.
Maybe someday I will put all the short bits into a book together. I don’t know if I will put them together as they are or try to find a story to connect them. For now they are just random bits of story sitting around waiting.
There are times when I can’t think of what to write. I can stare at the piece of paper, or computer document, for hours without any idea on how to start or continue to story. The page taunts me as I stare at it and nothing comes through my fingers. It is frustrating and every time I hope I never suffer from it again. However, there are things that can be done when this feeling shows up.
The first thing I do is think about whether this is the story my brain truly wants to write on. Sometimes there is another story coming to mind and it is easier to write on that story before going back to what I was trying to work on. This works like grease to get the gears moving.
The second thing that works is to walk away from the story. Go for a walk, do some housework, or run some errands. Get away from the story for a while, but do something that gets you moving.
The worst thing to do is usually to sit there and stare at the page. Because frustration is does not help with writing. It just leaves the story stuck.
I write a story and when I go back to read it I find that I’ve written about a character who is similar to another character from a different story. That female archetype seems to be my brain’s favourite to put into a story. The backgrounds are different and the story itself is different, but the character is practically the same.
I know why I write her. She is the person who I spent many years wanting to be. Maybe is some ways, I still want to be her. But I write stories about her instead. I don’t get tires of writing about her, but I get worried about not growing as a writer because I only write one character.
I don’t want readers to skip my books because they see the same character by a different name. I do write stories with other characters, but that one archetype keeps popping up. I don’t want to get rid of her, but I don’t want my readers to tire of her either.
I’m not sure the answer, but I am sure that she will show up in another story with a different name and new background details. In the meantime, enjoy the story.
At two o’clock in the morning, I would very much prefer to be in the deep oblivion known as sleep. Yet time after time I find myself awake and getting more done than I did the rest of the day. The rest of my body is tuned toward sleep, but my brain is busy. I get story ideas and the urge to work on them. Limericks flow without work. And reading seems like a good idea. But I really want to sleep.
I want to be able to do all these things during daylight hours when the rest of the world is also at work. I’m expected to do things during the day. Other people make noise as they daytime activities. And I try to move my natural schedule hours when the sun is up.
None of it helps. My brain claims to have no ability to work at any other times. We are at odds with each other as I want to sleep at night and work during the day and it only does things the other way around. Currently I have no way to work on its schedule, but sometimes I hope for a time when I can. Until then I have to either hope for some work time during the day or accept that I’m not going to get the recommended number of hours of sleep.
I’m not good at waiting for things. Once I know something is coming I would rather skip the waiting and get on with it. Christmas, dentist appointments, birthdays, or needles, it doesn’t matter I don’t like the wait. I was supposed to pick someone up at the airport, but their schedule got mixed up and their noon flight was changed to coming in at midnight. The wait to hear what was happening was the worst part of the day.
When I can distract myself I don’t mind the wait. If you fill the December days with baking and shopping, Christmas comes much faster. Sometimes I can get so distracted I forget that I am waiting for something, but that is rare.
This dislike of waiting makes things frustrating at times. I get tired of writing the middle of the story and can’t wait to get to the end. Many times this leads to me either giving up in the middle or writing the ending before finishing the rest and not getting back to the rest.
I can also tell if the book I’m reading is really good by whether I get caught up in the story that waiting to read the ending is all right. Many times I skip to the last few pages and read them before getting through the middle of the book.
Lately it seems I’ve been doing a lot of waiting and lack the concentration to distract myself. Hopefully this period is over soon. Until then I’ll have to find myself something to make time go faster, like maybe a short story or two.