Here we are in the middle of week 26 of my challenge, where, once again, I did not post for a while (this time it has been 8 weeks).
However, I do have a pretty good reason for it.
From Last Time
I hope to be done with the Elves by the end of the week, and with the rest of the worldbuilding by the end of the month. Strengths for Writers also lasts until the end of the month, so it’ll be fun to compare changes in my process after that.
Unsurprisingly, Strengths for Writers sucked me in completely, and I’ve also taken one intensive class about my top strength in addition to the SFW course. Studying my strengths has literally been a rabbit hole of insight which I couldn’t be more grateful to have entered.
I’m not at all done with worldbuilding/plotting, but I am ecstatic about what I have accomplished in October and especially November.
What I’ve Been Up To
October was definitely the month of learning, and the writing fell slightly by the wayside. I logged 6425 total words, writing just shy of 500 words on an average day. My longest writing streak was 5 days.
I dove deep into studying my strengths and the coaching was so incredibly helpful. I’m not sure how much I can say about it, but I will share some of my takeaways and the things I’ve started doing since.
Starting in November, I resolved I would write every day. I joined NaNoWriMo with some friends, counting my plotting words, but knew I likely wouldn’t hit 50k. I wasn’t chasing a word count related goal. Instead, I opted to be consistent and to make sure I stop writing each day before my tank is empty.
The goal was to raise my word counts through consistent work and making sure I take into account that I have a very slow, background churn of ideas. Apparently, it’s important for me not to exhaust it all each day, and to free up my mind from other things so that it has the capacity to work on my stories in the background.
This, as I found, is a little tricky, but what works is writing in the early morning, before anything else demands my attention. I’ve had some success with writing in the afternoons too, but only when I’ve been between editing projects for clients.
Questioning the Premises
One of the things that my SFW coach Becca teaches is questioning the premise (there are QTP videos on her YouTube channel, which inspired me at first, even before our coaching call). A premise I questioned for myself was that I need to have a super-detailed outline.
I’ve learned that what I actually need is to get to know my characters on a deeper level and see them develop on the page as I’m writing. A super-detailed outline impedes that process, and thinking that I need to have one has also brought me into blocked spots in the past. I couldn’t figure out what would happen next for ages—because I didn’t have a close enough insight into my characters while I just wrote the outlines.
So I’ve made the decision to take a step back and simplify my outlines. What’s more, I’m focusing on the characters more now, asking myself what they would do instead of what needs to happen in the story. It seems like a subtle shift in thinking, but it has made a world of difference.
It’s the end of November now, end of NaNoWriMo, and I have a 30-day writing streak.
This has never happened in all the years since I started writing. And not for lack of trying!
But I’m even happier with the drastic improvement of my daily average word count, which went from anywhere between 500-700 per day up to 1200 words per day, and it felt effortless. I’m sitting on 35 thousand words in November, which is almost as much as I’ve written in all the previous months of this year combined.
My plan for December and onward is pretty fluid—just to keep doing what I’ve been doing. I’m back to doing character work these days, as part of the new process, and toying with the idea of four books instead of five.
I also have an idea simmering in my head about a short story or novella, as a prequel that will represent my new direction in writing better than Halfblood’s Destiny does. Not yet sure when I’m going to work on that—when the idea crystallizes—but it might be sooner rather than later.
Future of the 52-Week Challenge
This is one writer’s journey to finding joy in writing again.
That’s the sentence and the aspiration that I started this accountability challenge with. And I think I’ve accomplished that, though it hasn’t taken me 52 weeks. I also found the one type of accountability I needed most, as evidenced by the previous 30 days: accountability to myself.
A part of me feels like the challenge is complete. In its absence, I’m not sure what will take its place, if anything. Once I start building my newsletter, these types of progress updates will probably be in it, so I might stick with the blog until I’ve done that. But I don’t know, so I’ll see how I feel.
I’d love to end on a less uncertain note than that, so here’s one: whether the blog continues or not, the writing surely will.
Wishing you all a blessed holiday season and a warm, cozy winter.