Tense, nervous headache

I realised this morning that I hadn’t done a writing post since July 2011. I sincerely hope this doesn’t mean that I’ve failed to do any actual writing since July 2011, because that would be deeply embarrassing.

Confession time: I really haven’t done that much writing for quite some time – whether it really is six months, I don’t know, but it’s been a long time. A number of things got in the way: work, a holiday, housework, my other blogs and similar hugely exciting things of that nature. I planned to really make some serious headway at Christmas, but like so many other festive plans, it got lost somewhere between eating all the cheese I could find in the fridge and two hours’ worth of Downton Abbey on Christmas Day. If I were the sort to make New Year’s resolutions, then I would’ve resolved to write more; however, I know I never stick to New Year’s resolutions, so instead I decided to set myself a deadline: finish the first draft by my 31st birthday. (The end of March, in case anyone’s wondering. Send me nice things.)

I’ll understand if you look at that and laugh, considering it’s taken me the best part of four years to write four-and-a-half chapters so far, but I felt like I needed a kick up the bum, and there’s no sense in setting a deadline if it’s not going to inspire at least a faint sense of panic. Whether I stand any chance of actually achieving this goal, I have no idea – but I intend to give it a damn good go.

While I got no actual writing done over Christmas, I did manage to do something important that I’d been putting off for ages – writing down all the events that I wanted to happen before the last page of the story, and arranging them into some sort of approximate timeline so that I could sit down and start writing with a knowledge of what ground I needed to have covered by the time I put my pen down. (Yes, pen. I actually do my writing in a spiral-bound notebook with a biro. It takes me far longer, but it has no internet connection to distract me.)

So far that’s been pretty helpful – I did some writing on Sunday for the first time in months, and actually checked off a major plot point that I’d been looking forward to covering. I even re-read some of what I’ve got so far, and while it’s still very much a first draft (believe me when I say that some of the stuff in there is dreadful, some of it is nonsensical, and rather more of it than I would like is both), I’m reasonably pleased with how it’s going.

However, I have still landed myself with a few problems. A definitive tense for the narrative continues to elude me: I think I’ve switched from present to past and back again about six times now, because I just can’t decide which one suits the story. Obviously this was easier to amend when I was writing on my laptop, but now that it’s a pen-and-paper job I have to just accept that when I come to edit it, one very long and boring job will be to actually get the whole damn thing in the same tense, once I’ve decided which tense that will actually be. Another issue is my main character’s sudden leap towards the plot: I decided that I’d spent far too long having him dance around his involvement in the main story and I wanted him to embrace it, so I wrote him accordingly – the problem now is that everything in the latest chapter is completely out of character. Or rather, what comes before it is out of character, but just happens to have the advantage in terms of percentage of written content thus far. Again, this is all fine, and something I fully intend to fix in the edit, but already my heart is sinking about the amount of restructuring that will need to be done in order to make that happen organically.

On top of all of this, as if I didn’t have enough things stopping me from getting on with writing this story, I had a brilliant idea the other day for a plot point – one for a completely different story involving completely different people. I’m going to make sure I write it down so I don’t forget it, but now I’m torn between trying to work on them both and never getting anything finished, or leaving it languishing and risk not getting around to it until five years’ time by which point I’ll have completely lost all enthusiasm for it. Still, that’s all part of the fun, I suppose. Really, it’s the least of my problems right now: finding time to do any writing at all remains a serious obstacle, but I have a feeling that if I could just conquer my desire to sit on the sofa eating biscuits and watching Playing It Straight, I might find myself becoming oddly more productive.

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2 thoughts on “Tense, nervous headache

  1. Kat says:

    Yay for deadlines! I have the same problem finding time, always – especially now, after Christmas and in a particularly sluggish January. I need to pick myself up and get back to the writing board.

    Engagement with your story is a big thing. I’ve often fought my way through scenes even though I’m not enjoying them, or would rather be writing something else, and then you have to ask, why would anyone read this if I can’t be bothered to write it? Maybe you should write the story that interests you the most right now. That said, my interest in my story comes and goes in waves, depending on my mood or confidence level, so perhaps ploughing on is better. I’m not very good at giving advice, am I?

    I also love Playing It Straight. Really, how are we supposed to get anything done with stuff like that on telly?

    • Definitely – as much as I’d like to be getting on with things, I keep just finding that time gets away from me. But I really do want to actually make more of an effort this year – although given that I can’t really hold a pen right now because my thumb’s all bandaged up, I may have to take a short break!

      That’s actually a very good question – I think at the moment, because I’m still very much in first draft mode, that I just want to get the scenes written so that I’ve got the framework of the story all set up, and then once I know when and where everything happens, I can go back and figure out what it is about it that isn’t exciting me and find a way to make it more compelling. At least, that’s the plan right now…

      Hahaha! I know. I still haven’t seen this week’s, and I’m desperately trying to avoid spoilers…

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