61 Days – Have I learned anything?

A small check in to say that I’ve just hit 40k words on my longer project -OPERATION MEZZANINE.

I’ve been aiming to write 300 words every day as a very small and manageable goal to keep me sane as I work from home Monday to Friday.

But, roughly, I’ve managed about 655 words a day on average for 61 days.

Nyaaaatt bad.

Ran (1985) - Akira Kurosawa : CineShots
One of the many cool shots from ‘Ran’

I’d hoped to be a little bit further ahead by now, but no matter, the work is still alive and each day I’m finding something new to excite me about the project and writing, generally.

I’ve also had time to pen a couple of much smaller things and submit them. So it’s been a very productive time.

Here’s a couple of things I’ve learned writing half (I’d guess) of my novel over the last two months, in no particular order…

  • I like rough drafting scenes and then trying to fix them the next day. Fixing sentences and nuances every other day makes me a fan of what I’m actually writing. I feel less like I’m jumping from plot point to plot point and actually crafting a story someone other than me might enjoy reading.
  • Characters need to want something (yes) in every scene (pretty obvious, Johnny) but giving them a reason to not satisfy that desire for something else they hope is far better in the long run makes scenes spring alive. (I assume at this point every writing manual in the world is moaning a prolonged duhhhhhhhhhhhhhh… but shush.)
  • Making characters lie is fun.
  • Being cruel to my characters doesn’t come naturally to me… but the writing is much better when I do.
  • I don’t seem to work well on Thursdays…
  • But Mondays are my JAM!
  • If I don’t read something for more than a day I start to feel sluggish on the page. I can still write and I do but words/ideas/images don’t spring as quickly into my head.
  • If I don’t write for more than 2 days I become incredibly irritable and begin to question what even is the point…
Baltimore, Vol. 1: The Plague Ships by Mike Mignola
  • Every other week I become obsessed with a new writer, director, or musician and they are fuel to me. This past two months, among others I’m sure I’m forgetting, there’s been Denis Johnson, Akira Kurosawa, Mike Mignola, Thundercat, Joe Begos, Marlon James, Michael McDowell, Blake Butler, and this week China Mieville with an emerging appreciation for Jeff VanderMeer.

What any of this means is oblivious to me at the moment. But I’m looking forward to the next 40k or so more words.

Hopefully it won’t take as long.

Six Easy Steps to Never Get Published

My housemate and I were recently talking about jiu jitsu and goals. I say recently, but really we talk about these things every other day. 

Essentially, we were talking about having hard and soft goals. 

With jiu jitsu, for example, I aim to get to AT LEAST 1 class per week – this is my HARD goal. A goal that I pinky-promise CANNOT break. 

But *ideally* I’d love to get to 3 or even BONUS ROUND 4 – this is my SOFT goal. A goal that would be cool to get but if I don’t no big deal. Life happens. 

It helps my mental state because if I hit 1 class then I’ve done my job for the week. I’m never going to compete in ADCC or a huge international IBJJF tournament. Nor am I looking to transition to the world of MMA. So training SUPER HARD isn’t really very important to me. 

I do jiu jitsu because it’s exciting, invigorating, and is really different from most of my other hobbies which are largely spent sitting about on my bum. 

“Write every day” will kill you

Well maybe not you per se, but quite possibly your will to create and isn’t that the same thing? 

It seems reasonable on the surface but there are a rake of reasons why this might not work for you. And as you miss days you’re going to feel shittier and shittier about yourself and your writing.  

Writing every day is the Soft goal.  

Livia Llewellyn only writes on the weekends and she’s amazing so, take that as your model, if you want. 

Six steps to obscurity 

So now you’re on board, what else can you do to add to the HARD/SOFT game? 

My new addition is “actually submitting stories.”

I’ve been writing in a serious capacity for about 6 years now. But I have practically zero publications. 

Why’s that? I hear you half-heartedly ask, worried I’ll continue on. 

Well, I’ll tell you, eager reader, in the form of a list. 

Below I give you Jonathan Cosgrove’s 6 Step Guide to Never Getting Published

  1. Spend an inordinate amount of time writing a story 
  2. Show it to one or two people 
  3. (Optional Step: Submit to one magazine)  
  4. Throw in digital-drawer 
  5. Forget about story
  6. Repeat 

If I were to show you my Submission Grinder it would be hella embarrassing. I just don’t set aside the time to submit and I genuinely wonder why I’m not getting published. 

But this year/decade/I’m changing all that. I’ve added Submitting to my goal setting. It’s equally as important as the writing, I think. Especially if you’re looking to actually get anywhere with the aul writing. 

So my goal is now 1 day to submit a week. 1 story – 1 magazine. 

At the moment I have three stories out so I’m well above average but likely some of them will be rejected.

Hopefully when the rejections come in I’ll hop back on Submission Grinder and submit that shit right away! 

Happy hunting.