Officially, I seem to recall that I began writing this story on Friday, 7th June. Now, this is fairly hard to dispute, since the creation date on the Scrivener file reads plain as day ‘7th June 2013,’ yet when I look at my page count, I see that the number is a pretty solid ’59.’ It blew me away, I have to confess. That’s a higher average than I’ve ever managed before. Not that I expect it to last forever. I’ve also reached the half way point in the 3rd draft of Long May Men Have Voices, which is also good.
As far as this story goes, it’s changed pretty dramatically already. I still expect it to be very much a work of ‘grey fantasy’ or ‘high-brow low fantasy,’ since both terms are applicable. I wonder if they exist in any recognised form, or can I coin them? I quite like them though, they have a ring to them. Anyway, the story is becoming a bit of character investigation. I’m very much letting my two protagonists lead the way whilst keeping them to a pretty obscurely defined path. I think it’s working out quite well so far. I guess in terms of storyline, the basic premise has been approached plenty of times, but I like my characters. They feel new and fresh and big in a way that I was hoping to achieve with Long May Men Have Voices.
Regardless, I’m going to keep pursuing this story, letting my characters lead me blindly into the dark. I’m learning ALOT about character development along the way.
On the topic of writing a lot, and word/page counts though, I’d like to talk a little bit.
Applying any degree of research should pretty quickly deliver you to some interviews or Q&A’s with authors who talk about their writing process or writing habits, their daily/weekly/monthly word counts and all that jazz. I’ve just written around 20,000 words in four days. This is wonderful for me. I’ve never written quite so much, and remain utterly convinced that before long, that word count is going to dwindle a bit, and probably a lot before much longer. But, and I’m going to use caps here because I want to shout it from the rooftops. IT REALLY DOES NOT FUCKING MATTER HOW MUCH YOU TYPE IN THE SPACE OF A DAY. Just keep writing. Don’t give up, don’t give in, don’t think ‘I’ve only done 200 words today, that’s shit,’ only to close your laptop, turn off your pc or throw your pen carelessly across your desk only to watch it slide across the surface to fall down the back.
If I write 200 words, I tend to think, ‘no, I want more,’ which leads me to write more. Sometimes I might push on to 3/4/5k words, other times I might struggle to push 250. Again, let me use caps here, to more effectively illustrate my point. IT DOESN’T MATTER. Write another 250 tomorrow, push on to 300, or 3/4/5k or any arbitrary number in between. The most significant thing I took away from completing the first draft of my novel, regardless of its quality, is that the page counts and the word counts will take care of themselves. As a writer, all that you need to do is decide what story you want to tell. and then tell it. It’s easy…. It’s slow, but it’s only as hard as you make it. Writer’s block is another story for another day, and one I’ll write about when I’ve encountered it.
Balls to it. In the immortal, paraphrased words of Janny Wurtz, if you encounter writer’s block, write yourself into a corner or in any way find yourself unable to push on, then retreat, re-evaulate, re-direct. As much as you may want your story to go a particular way, if you get stuck, you have to accept the painful and unpleasant reality that something has to change. It could be a minor thing, it could be a huge boulder of a thing that changes the course of your story so completely that you’re honestly, almost more tempted to struggle against the wall instead. Don’t do that. Scraping your knuckles into a pulp as you try to bludgeon your way through is just plain daft. Make the sacrifice, take the dive, change something.