Oh yes. These are back. Hopefully for good (at least through next May or so).
Let’s back up.
In, what, mid-July? I think? I completely lost motivation and inspiration for…everything, really, for various reasons. I never quite “gave up” on this project but I definitely shoved it to the back of my mind and the end of my priority list, saying “maybe once I get all this other shit worked out I’ll be able to figure something out for that.” (When I wasn’t saying that, I was scolding myself and feeling guilty for stalling and sputtering so easily.)
Here’s the thing. Short stories (however you define them) are not my thing, really. No matter what I do, the plots and characters I come up with are big and complex and sprawling and I just have no idea how I can possibly contain them all into something that wouldn’t at least be called a novella. There’s something about structuring and telling short tales I just have never really been able to grasp. But I wanted to do something different than say “This year I’m going to write my novel!” so this little project was born.
July, August, and September passed and I (mostly) picked myself up and got (mostly) back on track. I’m still in the process of getting more clarity and revising some business systems and making short- and long-term plans, but the motivation and momentum is back.
Except for fiction writing. I made a few half-hearted attempts, here and there, but nothing substantial.
Then, earlier this week, I was walking Onyx and somehow, NaNoWriMo popped into my head. I don’t know, maybe I saw something on Instagram or skimmed a blog post that mentioned it (since October is the unofficial “planning and pre-writing” month for many NaNoWriMo participants). I had sort of already written it off, since I’m not (supposed to be) writing a novel and didn’t want yet another thing pulling my focus away from where I need it to be right now.
But then I thought, who’s to say I can’t make my own NaNoWriMo attempt? Who says I have to write a “novel” in November? What if I just use it as more of a jump-start to get back on track with what I still want to accomplish before my 30th birthday?
I mulled it over a little but I think I’d already made the snap decision.
2,000 words a day, every day in November — on 30 different stories.
Most likely these stories won’t be “complete” at 2,000 words or 5,000 words or 10,00 words. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just end up with 30 collections of scenes from 30 different (probably crappy) novels. Maybe I’ll find the one story that pulls me in and I decide to devote the next few months to completing the draft, revising, editing, workshopping, and finishing it. Maybe I find five or six stories I can possibly tell in 10-20K words and start pouring more energy into them. Maybe on December 1st I’ll wake up and think “man, did I really spend that much time on that? What was I thinking?” (Maybe I’ll start thinking that by November 5th…)
I think the main point is to start practicing, really practicing, “butt in chair” time, if nothing else. If by the end of November, I don’t have a single piece that’s workable or interesting, fine, at least I’ll have built up the habit of sitting down for an hour a day (or however long it takes) to work on making up stories and writing them down.
I mean, I hope I come up with at least one or two pieces that could be worked into something good.
So what am I doing now? Well, we’re just over halfway through October already (wtf?) and I’m committed to three things for the rest of the month:
- Free-writing on 750words every day.
- Brainstorming and very roughly outlining two potential stories a day (so I go into November with some ideas already prepped and “ready to go,” as much as possible).
- Completing at least two character sketches each day. These may be characters for the stories I outline or just other random ideas that come to me.
I’ve been doing the outlining and character sketching by hand, so I probably need to either type those up at some point or scan them into Evernote or something. One in particular has really grabbed hold of me and I find myself going back to that one and adding little bits and ideas. I think that’s a good sign.