I began this 1000 day writing habit on August 13th 2007. I recall on that day not knowing what I’d produce in the next thousand. I recall my uncertainty I’d make it through a week, but I did. I recall my next uncertainty I’d make it a month, but I did.
Then I started failing to write on one day or another. Sometimes my misses were circumstance, sometimes laxity, sometimes prideful justification. Weekends soon presented themselves as a waste of effort: a poor combination of circumstance and quality. The quality and length of writing done on Saturday and Sunday didn’t measure up to rules I don’t have for such things. Rules I still leave uncodified. Then there would be other gaps: vacations, ennui, whatever.
Whatever habit you begin wants to continue until you introduce a new habit. Try to make the new introductions positive.
So here I am. Here I am at 500 days of writing. Here I am past my 1000 day mark by 99 days. As much as I’ve accomplished and as much as I’ve learned in 500 days of writing I’m disappointed I don’t have twice as much experience at this time.
At day 500 my accomplishments in 1000 Days please me, but I’m not ecstatic. Not joyful, not celebratory.
I hereby renew my efforts to write each day. I hereby vow to write each day even when my words are crap–even when they are few. I hereby resolve to figure out the mystery of the weekend writing. I hereby swear that come 12/29/2011 I’ll not be disappointed.
263 words on day 500
I’ve been working on an exercise suggested by a writing website. Make generalized notes summarizing the actions of each scene in a movie: Introduction of Bad Guy; Main Character discovers Evil Plan; Main Character set back by Bad Guy Henchmen. The notations should be non-specific enough that another reader couldn’t easily identify the movie you’d reviewed. Which presumably makes them generic enough to be used as an outline for your original story.
I can see how the notes I’ve made would be useful to another writer or a better writer than I am. If I used them as an outline not recalling the movie to mind would be difficult. It’s a few more scenes before I can get to that point anyhow.
What I am discovering is the volume of information conveyed in each scene of a well made story like the one I’m using. My expectations going in were that I’d be using phrases as succinct as the examples above. I’m not. Objectifying the factors inherent in the story is easier on a per scene basis than it is when you then have to string those scenes together. One object that started off as New Partner soon evolved into Other Main because New Partner implied too much. Even using Henchmen, which could be interpreted loosely if one chose, likely conveys too much so I re-termed them Bad Guy Proxy. I suspect Bad Guy could even carry descriptive conotations that would direct a writer’s hand more than I’d intended.
I do like that I described the arrival of Police as “Story Appropriate Environmental Factors”.
Another aspect of story telling I’m uncovering is the bulk of story in a story. Before as I’d laid out parts of my aborted NaNoWriMo I’d not put in nearly the amount of action in each outlined scene as I’m decanting from this effort.
I’d thought to pick up yesterday’s efforts again this morning yesterday. Today I’m feeling more tabula rasa. I’ll bow to that.
“Grunga had taken our thalpot and we, the Narimen, were after it—and him.”
I suppose that’s all there is to creating conflict. Or at least to defining the scope of the conflict. If I wanted actual conflict and not just its scope I’d need to describe the value of the thalpot to both the Narimen and Grunga. I’d need to outline Grunga’s abilities to capture the thing and the skills he possessed to get it away first and maintain control of it second. His Invisibility Boots and his Fist of Doom ought to do the trick. Somewhere in there it might make sense to learn how the Narimen planned to get the thalpot back and with what or who’s help.
Then of course they fail, regroup, plan again, and re-fail. Third times a charm after that of course, but I’d still need to have the reader thinking the return of the thalpot to the Narimen was in jeopardy right up to the moment it wasn’t…in jeopardy.
So there you go. There I go. A rescue plot or a quest plot or whatever.
As I think back on nearly everything I’ve written here on 1000 Days I realize that I’ve been creating mystery not conflict. I’ve set a scene where I want the reader to wonder what or why the character is doing what they are doing. Of course most of these mysteries could become conflicts, but that wasn’t where I was headed with them. Presenting conflict was my hope, but not my intent. Obviously hoping conflict would come along results in very little conflict coming along.
Shit or get off the pot.
No need to worry about the Narimen or the return of their thalpot. This post was a Mad Libs style hypothetical.
I write. I do it every single day.
Maybe you hadn’t noticed?
In the context of this 1000 days I’m losing my stride somewhat because life and work intervene. I think this is OK, but I’d like to better dodge these obstacles then to simply step out of the race till they’re gone. Regardless, I do write everyday. I compose emails. I jot down notes. I twitter.
Writing when I’m writing keeps my words sharp and my attention honed. These other contexts hold a different purpose than does this blog. Each have different audiences: co-workers, myself, or disinterested others, but each requires my writing to be succinct.
I am reading a book in the evenings in which the main character continually rehashes her previous medical experience in the context of her new magical skills. My perception of this character is that she’s standing at a locked door holding a key and can’t work out what to do on the next page. I suppose the author felt as if she were building to this scenario more than I feel she did. Each similar scene subtly different than the previous one. Possibly she sees the events I find repetitive as progressing: character sees key, picks up key, wanders, wanders into door, matches key to lock, etc. I don’t.
I don’t know that I could structure a novel of my own with such a repetitive theme. Once I say something I find it hard to say it again. I work at extending the things I’ve said once to make sure I’ve covered them well enough for a reader to follow. I still feel as if I’ve shorted them.
Going to give myself another pass of narrative tonight.
I keep a record of every writing idea I’ve had or stolen in Evernote. This past week I organized the straggly bits it and discovered I am frequently drawn to stealing photos and art of mech. Robotic exoskeletons, pure robots, scifi weaponry and vehicles, and armored soldiers. I probably never write about such things though—once (I checked).
Each time I see these martial themes in print I respond as most men might, “That’s bad ass.” As I consider writing though, I struggle to find ideas that do more than just shoot shit up. I’m all for explosions and improbably aerial vehicles–the starker and more angled the line the better—but I how do you wrap a storyline around pyrotechnics and gunships? My instinct tells me the Millennium Falcon suffers serious loss of cool points in an all text rendition.
Not that it couldn’t be done. I think you’d need to treat the mech as a character of sorts or maybe like a pet. Give it coincidental dialogue or make it an aspect of a character’s personality the same way you might a horse or dog. You’d need a memorable possibly poetic name. A name that could stand in for the whole character when needed.
You risk humanizing a piece of metal, of giving a bolt more significance than a nail and both more significance than they deserve.
Also, I don’t know how well I’d do at a military storyline implied by many of these types of inspiration. I often career off opposite to the initial reaction I have about such things. How can I make this weapon an instrument of peace? How can I make this robot a gardener? How can I make this soldier a life bringer?
I wish I didn’t do that. Writing anything is hard enough without me making it harder.
In part to remind myself what I’d written regarding the Chronicaller thread and in part out of curiosity for what someone else recently read on 1000 Days I just read back through about ten of my entries. I suspect my positive opinion of what I’ve written is a shortcoming of an inexperienced writer. If I knew better I would have been scandalized by the terrible things I’d written and the terrible ways I’d written them.
I wasn’t. Or at least not universally.
Enjoying reading your own writing is a good feeling. I’m left somewhat more heartened about what I might write in the future than I have been in the past months.
Screenwriter John August edits dull or bad passages from scripts in videos on his blog. His near complete replacement of the original words reminds me of these house remodeling shows. The episodes where the photogenic carpenter opens with a house situated on a particular parcel of land, then brings in a bulldozer to raze the house, then closes with a shiny new home. Sure there is a home where another home once stood, but not exactly what I’d define as a remodel.
This analogy is unfair because words and walls aren’t exactly equal, but still technically correct in that John’s edits aren’t tweaks of grammar or upgrades on non-visual words. He starts with a boy stealing a car and he ends with a boy stealing a car, but much better. Either the result is more efficiently lined or more compellingly visual.
I hope I’m not overlooking portions of my own writing in need of wholesale razing.
I flit between various freebie writing apps to do my writing on this here blog. I suspect that it lends to my recent bout of half-assery, but may increase the likelihood I’ll write. Increase it because I have more toys to play with. The trouble is that there are part I like about each but none I like fully enough to employ indefinitely. Today I’ve lighted on Celtx.
An obscure search recently landed some floundering soul on the beaches of 1000 Days. He or she wanted to find a ‘sentence for the word depatic’. Google is aware of only three instances on the whole web that can potentially fulfill such a request. 1000 Days is at the top of the list. Too bad for the intrepid searcher that I made up a fantastical context–and no true meaning–for the real world word. It’s a dumb search. Are there many words you can search for on the web that are not in sentences?
There are two posts that use the word depatic. One is an edit of the other so no need to read both. Reading over the post reminded me when I found this daily writing effort more effortless. More free. Thanks for reminding me.
For the searcher wondering ‘what is rain called that never hits the’ [ground] I’d like to give another bit of thanks. It’s been a long time since I recalled learning and using that word.