Sketchbook #21

This has been a strange month. (Another one.) Not bad, just… strange. In a number of ways.

I’m currently planning the second draft of the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo last year, and I’m in the earliest stages of planning a different novel. I’d worried that it would be confusing, trying to work on two different stories, but it’s not; they complement one another, but they don’t get tangled up together.

It does mean that I’m working on two different stories, but not actually writing either of them right now. I’m not putting words on the page. And the writing routine I built over the last five months doesn’t quite work when I’m outlining, or researching, or trying to make sense of the notes I made last November. I’ve been trying to do some free writing, but… meh. I don’t quite have the hang of that—I always reach a point where it feels like I’m just typing, rather than writing.

So, keeping myself on track—and feeling like I’m actually being productive—has been a bit of a struggle.

What I really want is something like my daily photo project, but for writing: a low-pressure way to give myself a little bit of structure and a reason to actually do the work. I’ve been really happy with the 365 project so far: not every photo is great (or even particularly good), but I’ve produced a few that I really like, and I’ve seen an improvement in my work in general, just in the last three months. Even posting the pictures to Instagram is part of it—I’m not chasing likes, but I’m not going to deny that the only reason the project hasn’t stalled out already is because I’ve got people who notice when I post, and who comment when I post a particularly good shot.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past couple of weeks trying to come up with a way to do something similar with writing, without much luck. I did have one idea that ticked all of the boxes, but… it’s not something I want to do. (And I realize I’m being vague. But. It’s not a good idea, and I’m just going to leave it at that.)

(I also realize that I’m saying this on a blog, and that a pretty good solution would be to just post more often. And that might be what I end up doing, but I’d rather focus on writing fiction.)

On a brighter note, this whole thing inspired me to dig out the unfinished drafts I was working on a couple of years ago, when I made my first attempt to ease myself back into writing. My goal at the time was to write 500 words of fiction a day, with no real plan or outline, just to see if I still could (and get some of the ideas out of my head). The attempt was ultimately unsuccessful, but… a couple of those drafts are actually really good. The stories themselves aren’t going to go anywhere (I abandoned them for a good reason), but… I think I came closer to “finding my voice”—or just finding a prose style that really works for me—in those stories than I have before or since. It’s a good time to remind myself of that, right when I’m about to start the rewriting process.

So! What’s coming next?

April’s going to be a busy month for me, which… isn’t great, but it’ll be a good time to think about my options and try to figure out how to bring some structure to my writing time. And, now that I’ve started, I want to get the outline for draft 2 of the NaNoWriMo novel done ASAP; if at all possible, I’d like to start the writing process sometime in May.

I’m taking my time with the outline for the next story. I rushed the process for the NaNoWriMo outline (trying to get a plan in place for 1 November), and I regret it now. But I’m still working on it, and I want to see real progress by the end of the month.

I’m also hoping to get out and take some proper photos sometime soon. But, really, I’m pleased with how my photography is going. If I can keep it up, I’ll be happy.