When it comes to setting and tracking writing goals, many of the websites and apps I've come across allow writers to measure their progress only by way of word counts, and while numerical word goals may be useful to many writers, I find it very narrowminded to limit users of these apps and websites to measuring progress via only word count. There are many goals writers may want to set and many types of writing where word counts will not provide an efficient way of tracking progress.
Beginnings are hard. For me, one of the most difficult parts of writing a first draft is deciding at what point I should start my story's timeline. What opening scene will catch a reader's attention? How early is too far from the action, leaving them bogged down with mundane character introductions? How late into the action will leave them confused rather than engaged? Is it worth throwing in a prologue to give readers background information, setting the backdrop of future events? Or should all of the pertinent background information get woven into the storytelling as exposition?
One of my favorite parts about starting a new writing project is doing research. My writing consists primarily of fantasy, and this allows for a wide range of research directions. Much of what I look into before starting to lay out a plot deals with history of technology and daily living in order to make the setting and characters believable. Sometimes during the course of this research, I'll run into some, little factoid I never considered significant before, and it will lead me down another trail of exploration that has significant impacts on my plotline.
Again, my weekend was not as productive as I had hoped it would be. After fighting with sinus headaches for most of Saturday and Sunday, I ran into a scene during my editing sessions which reads clunky and rough compared to previous scenes. I know this is the type of writing I produce when following the advice of "just get it written and fix it later," and now I am stuck in a position I hate when it comes to writing. I find myself asking if the current text is worth salvaging or if I should simply start over from scratch. Which will be easier? Which will be more time efficient? Which will get me to a point of being happy with the quality of the scene? This dilemma is why I prefer to address quality during my drafting process. Why write something I know will never make the final cut?
Friday I participated in an educators' workshop hosted by a center at which I interned during my college years. While the topics and presentations given were familiar to me, seeing them again after so many years helped me to recognize teaching techniques missing from my own lesson plans and has inspired me to dig deeper into topics I would like to add to my class repertoire. I now plan to revamp my educator's teaching guide for my current workplace for a second time.
Today I decided to take a pause in listening to lecture series on my way to and from work to listen to some music instead. Over the weekend I got a song stuck in my head from one of the first CDs I bought as a teenager. It's from The Chieftains' "Tears of Stone" album, and once upon a time, I used some of the music on this CD to help inspire some character and world development in my writing. By listening to this music, I'm hoping to spur my desire to write and edit into action. Again I'm finding that long days at the office are killing my energy to do much of anything once I get some free time, and I want to put an end to this lethargic procrastination.
Fantasy and science fiction are my two favorite genres of storytelling whether those stories are told through the written word or through film. Part of my favoritism is due to my use of books, TV series, and movies as a means to escape from my everyday world with all its stresses and mundanity. But another part of my favoritism is due to the fact that within fiction, most real-world stories that I am interested in reading fail to create characters, settings, and communities that I find believable. They are an outsider's impressions looking in and creating stereotypes and over-simplified cause and effect. This is why one common piece of advice for writers is to write what you know.
So with the start of November on Thursday, we will once again see the start of NaNoWriMo. I have yet to decide if I'm participating formally or not, but I do see a number of writers on social media gearing up for their projects. I love the encouragement and community that NaNoWriMo and its additional camps creates for writers both new and old, but the writing process itself, pushing to hit daily word count goals, doesn't work well for me.
I think all of us who write fiction will agree that most of us have things we will not write into stories. The obvious topics or scenes would be things we find to be boring or tedious to read, those things that make us skip ahead in books or put them down altogether. No one wants to find their own works boring, correct? Other omitted items may include those things we find fascinating but don't lend themselves to our preferred writing genres...