In my last entry, I talked about setting down something I’d overplanned and lost steam on, the “Laura Palmer Project”. In this entry, I’ll tell you how I got back on my feet after I put it on the shelf.
During my early planning stages for LPP, I began to use something called 750Words. I could sing the praises of this site, but that is another post for another day! All you need to know is that I began to write at least 750 words a day on my projects, and that I went from barely maybe 5k a month to clearing between 55k-75k since June 2015 in experimental, personal prose. (Note: “Experimental” and “Personal”. The type of prose is important to this post!)
From April 1 to April 30, I put down a total 33,605 words. Out of those words, 27,675 were for LPP. I paused at the beginning of May 2015 because I scheduled a plotting session with a great writing coach and didn’t want to get too far into things before we hammered out timelines and character motivations. And it is then, in the middle of that waiting and feeling burnt out on my Big Project, that I recognized the Power of Personal Prose.
While I was waiting for I had to keep up my “streak” (the amount of days you write 750 words sequentially) — I had a few shared projects with L that I always like dabbling in, so I wrote a few character pieces. First was about Graham Aker, the second about Kaburagi T. Kotetsu. I threw around some original prose one day. Then I decided on some self-indulgent things for various other fandoms (mostly DC Comics Universe), and that lasted a good long while. And then, completely by accident, I decided to write something I wasn’t going to show L because I was a little too embarrassed. I went back to my very first fandom, my very first self-insert character, and I wrote three full days and 5k worth of prose about her and her ladyfriends.
In the above paragraph, I used the term “self-indulgent” describing what I wrote in the first half of May. Let me tell you that nothing in the English language can grasp the sheer over-indulgence in those three days of writing. I have written more combined in a single day since, with great joy, but those days were extremely freeing. I imagined a world I’d known so well and wrapped all my nearly twenty years of writing knowledge into m words. I wrote without worry. I changed and retconned things that I’d written only paragraphs before to suit what *I* wanted. And something inside my head clicked.
The next day I wrote a short Captain America sprint, based on a prompt from L to gift to her. The next two days, I took another old, old fandom (Les Miserables) and went whole hog on writing what *I* wanted all over again. I was clearing well over 750 a day at this point.
And then, I had my paid session with my writing coach. I wrote my first chapter of LPP. And I knew, while writing the new opener and finding nothing but drudgery in it, that I had to put it down.
The next day: another Captain America sprint, and then for the rest of May until the beginning of June, I wrote a 26k draft on re-mapping The Winter Soldier movie and all the Captain America-related characters to our personal DC Comics Universe for the heck of it. It was a project that came out of nowhere. I paused a few times in the middle to write anything and everything else I wanted without feeling the slightest bit guilty about putting the experimental project down. I was not burdened with deadlines or expectations. Only one person knew about this project and I didn’t even show her everything because I’d written so much I’d forgotten what I’d sent her in the first place!
I wouldn’t have been able to start and finish something like that without first remembering the basic reason that I write: writing for myself. Writing fiction for personal reasons. Writing without thinking about showing anyone, without worrying that it followed any sort of rules, canon, or even continuity.
Since April, I have written a total of 358,453 words. I’ve already cleared 22k as of October 13. Some days are personal assessments. Some days are list of things I need to do, or posts for my blogs. But most of those words are prose that will never be viewed by another human being. None of my time or effort has been wasted because I have gotten back to the basic joy of simply *writing*.
I feel there’s no real gimmick to this. You certainly don’t have to write every day– that isn’t for everyone– but if you’re feeling stuck, if you’re feeling backed up and uninspired, just write for yourself. Write how you feel about your job. Write a rant, a fake blog post. A fanfic tailored just for yourself. Let it start there. It will change how you write. Maybe not in numbers, or drafts, or however you were measuring your quality of output before, but it will change for the better. (And when it does, let me know!)
Last in the series “Writing Again”: I talk on the things I touched on in the other articles, summarize what made me successful at writing plain o’ prose again, how that’s helped me feel overall, and how it’s helped me prepare to write things people might actually read. Stay Tuned!