This weekend, western Pennsylvania and the surrounding region had to deal with some relatively common winter weather. So most people in our region spent the weekend at home, avoiding the cold as much as possible. I took advantage of the long, uneventful hours by working on some fanart. I know I should have probably spent part of the weekend writing or editing, but it's been nearly a year since I took time to work on a piece solely for my enjoyment. And the time spent on sketching, painting, and coloring helped distract my mind from other things.
For me, New Year's Eve is a night to stay in and relax. I may watch one of the First Night countdowns on TV, but chances are better that you'll find me tuning in to some educational marathon or a good movie. Many of my friends and relatives do the same. We're not late-night party people. (Most of us prefer caffeine to alcohol!) But with 2019 starting in just a few hours, we are trying to set some goals and make plans for the new year.
Despite having a long weekend to go with the Thanksgiving holiday, I have gotten very little done in the past few days, at least in the way of writing or photo-editing. Early in the week, the cooling fan for my laptop decided to go on the fritz, and I'm afraid to do too much work on any of my files due to the warning messages I keep getting about the fan. I often run through hardware before my software becomes obsolete, but each time it happens, I always wonder if it's worth getting repairs done or if I would be better served buying a new computer.
There is a lot of advice floating around out there concerning growing your social media followers and how to promote yourself (something every writer wanting an audience needs to do), but the marketing gurus I watch don't seem to receive much interaction from their tens or hundreds of thousands of followers. Maybe their analytics show that their posts are getting a lot of views, but I can't help but notice that they aren't getting very many likes or retweets... So how effective is their advice if their followers don't seem to believe it's worth sharing?
One of the things that I've found helps me in my editing (particularly dialogue) is when I assign a specific voice to my characters. This may be a celebrity or a person I know from life, but no matter where the voice comes from, it's always distinctive to me. Someone I've heard talk a lot. Someone who I've seen and heard express a wide range of emotions.
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...
This past week, I began editing the abandoned novel manuscript I mentioned in last Monday's post, and for the first time in several months, I feel like I am making progress on a worthwhile project. While this feels amazing after so many weeks of struggle and frustration, I also want to keep in mind the other goals I set while on vacation. It's easy to get distracted by my old habits and to fall back into my routines, but these won't allow me to move forward.
I haven't talked much about the progress I've made on my writing during the past month because it's been a struggle. I love my current project's characters; I can hear their voices and I know their personalities. But what I can't seem to see is their actual story. Yes, I know the general plot points, the details of the setting, the characters' goals and motivations, and the solutions and final ending, but how all of these things interlace continues to escape me.
I believe most if not all storytellers will agree that characters are important to them. They also will probably agree that characters are important to their audience too. But when it comes to the interpretation of a character, who's input is more valuable?