Two weeks ago, I finally declared an emergency. I’ve been struggling to work on a novel for a while. My intent was to produce both a novel and get short stories submitted. Neither was really happening.
Time was not the issue. I could make the time.
The problem has been that my job is a currently a creative drain. We just had a reorganization — really, do I need to say more? I think they’re the one thing all employees really hate, and ours will probably take a year to work out the bugs.
So I can get home and need two hours before I can even attempt writing, and sometimes I end up in front of the computer for another two hours and not much to speak for it because I just can’t wrap my brain around a large project like a novel.
Even when I got to the weekend, I needed time to decompress by going out to places and just getting out. Meanwhile, my head’s going, “But all that is writing time,” and I’m thinking, “But I need me time, too.”
Then I got Jay Lake’s Writing Rules. He passed away a few weeks ago, but the rules are one of his legacies. One of them was a typical one I’ve seen: Finish a project a week. Then I saw this part:
Length is irrelevant. This is important for two reasons — time management and idea sizing. Even on a terrible week with sick kids and overtime at work, you can carve out an hour somewhere to rip off a 500 word flash piece. Then you’ve met your goal. On an easy week, you can work on a novella. This helps you meet the goal more consistently, where a word-count target would be in greater jeopardy.
I could do that. Flash fiction is very manageable and regular short stories can be done on weeks when things are less of a creative suck. So I’m going to set aside novels for right now and do a story a week, each with two goals.
For Week 2, I did Flash fiction, contemporary science fiction/time travel.
- Don’t go dark: This has been a problem I’m battling since I veer toward such dark ideas that I can’t sell them (as in small situation resolved; big situation not resolved).
- Get temperature into the story: As a pantser, I tend to leave out a lot of the details, like the setting . So I picked an element to make sure I did something with it. In this case, I used the humidity of Washington, DC that we had last week.