First-Quarter Report! What’s Working, What’s Not

First Quarter ChartHey-nonny-nonny and a ha-cha-cha! Last week I finished drafting the first of four major sections of my novel-in-progress. I am very happy, not just because I finished, but because I think the results aren’t too terribly awful (responsible persons may disagree).

It seems, then, that this is a good time to take stock.

What’s working:

Regular, yet flexible writing habits. I’m doing my best to put in an hour a day each weekday and to remain worriless should I happen to miss a day. This is allowing me to produce 1-2000 words a week.

Working in the right location. The right location is the one in which I can be undisturbed to write. Sometimes this is the local coffee shop, sometimes it’s a lightly-traveled hallway (a wide one with easy chairs) at work, sometimes it’s my basement office.

Having a plan. I made a plan this summer based on principles in Story Engineering and Outlining You Novel. The result was a streamlined story that has drama, humor and a demon that looks like a human made of asphalt. Best of all, I can follow it without the thing sliding out from underneath me.

Weekends off. I know there are many writers with more stamina or time than I have. To them, congratulations and Godspeed. I take weekends off to refresh by spending time with my family and to pursue other interests. By the time Monday rolls around, I’m ready to make with the fiction again.

Trusting my gut. If a scene doesn’t feel right, or if I’m not having fun writing it, I stop at some point and take a second look. I might do this after the scene is completely drafted or somewhere in the middle of it.

Eschewing perfectionism. Sorry, I know I mention this a lot. I guess that’s because I’m always struggling with my perfectionist tendencies and the misery they can cause. Anyway, I try to get things right, not perfect. That keeps me going.

Notes along the way. If I find a plot hole or an administrative task that needs doing, I don’t interrupt the writing to fix or do it. I make a note to do it later. That’s what I’m doing right now, in fact—cleaning up items from that first quarter of the book. This includes filling in gaps in character profiles, making setting notes to refer to later, etc., since many of those details crop up during the writing, rather than beforehand.

What’s not working:

Anxiety. If I let myself get anxious about the quality of the work, or not getting to write one day, or whether I’ll ever finish, or the possibility that I’m a fool wasting his time, or anything, I’m screwed. Writing drags. People I love suffer from my crabbiness.

Fear. Every time I start a new scene I am intimidated by the prospect. It hasn’t stopped me yet, but I have to remain vigilant against it.

Doing too much. I want to do a lot. I want to write more, be on all the social networks, go to all the local writers’ meetings, blabbity blah. Trying to fit all that it makes me crazy and I have to dial back once in a while. Oh, and there’s the fact that these other things steal writing time.

Luckily for me, the list of what’s not working is shorter than the list of what is. Let’s hope it stays that way. Now, on to the second quarter!

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