Monday, 8 August 2016

"Our great weariness comes from work not done."

The shocking realisation has hit me that it's August, it's bloody well August, August is actually here and is a thing that is happening now and I still haven't finished In Cold Blood. I started working on it in all earnest in April, and given that it was supposed to be a nice, quick 30k novella, I really should be done with it by now. Unfortunately, it's currently a nice 35k novella and still not done and oh my god what am I doing with my time?

The answer, perhaps obviously, is "not writing." Between April and now, a lot of stuff has happened. Kyle has had back surgery, which he's still recovering from. We lost Rem. The day job has been manic. Common Brimstone has been manic. Brexit happened. I wrote a 21k novella under my Amber Morgan pen name. Okay, so that was writing, it just wasn't writing on In Cold Blood.

I really am determined to get this book done this month, because the only reason I've been stalling is that I'm worried it's rubbish. Which...I mean, it could be, but I can't improve it by leaving it unfinished. And it's probably not rubbish; I'm just somewhere in the middle of this handy chart right now:

Why am I so worried? I guess because this book has a lot to do. It's set in the Urban Wolf world, but Ayla and Shannon are nowhere to be seen. It needs to set up an entirely new aspect of the world, as well as expand on a previously mentioned one. My heroine is a nervous wreck and my love interest isn't very good at being a human and they're quite hard characters to write. I stalled for four weeks on the last chapter because I kept panicking over whether these two people would do this thing, and every time I opened the manuscript to get shit the fuck done, I just found myself reading articles about Brexit instead. Thanks, Brexit.

I really was starting to feel like I would have to abandon the whole book, and that feeling came around the same time we had to have Rem put to sleep, so basically I was not having a good time at all, which made it even harder to figure out whether to carry on writing or give this up as a lost cause. I really, really, really did not want to quit. I'm very precious and selfish about my writing time, because between everything else I do and the state of my shoulders, arms, and wrists, there isn't a lot of it. To admit that I'd wasted nearly five months of writing time on a book that I couldn't finish would have been maddening.

But I couldn't figure out how to break through this block, and then I convinced myself it was because I'm a terrible writer who writes terribly and is too terrible to realise it. And that spurred me on to research loads of techniques for just sitting down, shutting up, and fucking writing, because I got sick of my own anxious internal monologue.

That lead to me sitting down last weekend with a timer app on my phone, setting it for five minutes, and just...writing. Maybe that sounds like a "well, duh, what the fuck were you doing before?" kind of thing, but honestly it's been a bit of a revelation for me. Instead of pottering around the internet all day and hopefully cranking out 1000 words (which is what I aim for each day), I worked like this for half an hour and wrote 1500 words. This is freaking awesome, and all I had to do was put my brain on notice for five minute intervals, like "THIS IS IT, GO GO GO OR SOMETHING BAD WILL HAPPEN MAYBE!"

A revelation. It works. I just have to take away the time to worry about what I'm writing. Unfortunately, because work and Common Brimstone both stayed manic last week, I didn't have time to use this sprint-method again until this Saturday just gone, but hey - in one hour on Saturday I got over 2k written. I can't be unhappy with that when I got precisely 0k written for most of July.

And best of all, I broke the back of that chapter that was causing me so much doubt and stress, and now the end is realistically in sight. Huzzahs! So this is my plan going forward - sprint-writing for five minutes at a time, for as long as my arms will stand up to it. Every day if possible, but we'll see. I'm confident I can finish In Cold Blood by the end of August that way, and then I can assess whether or not it's an actual dumpster fire or a good book. Wish me luck!

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