Story a Week: Week 4

This week I’m playing a bit of catch up.  I went to a science fiction convention in North Carolina over the weekend and just got back yesterday.  I knew this was scheduled, so I decided to do flash fiction.  The catch was that I had to get it done before Friday.

Goals for this story:

  1. Ramp up the style.  I was shooting for the literary genre this time, and style is a genre requirement.
  2. Write it in one sitting.

But, as it turned out, I did a bit more than I thought I would.

On the train, I was inspired to write a poem.  I haven’t done one of those in years, so why not?  I did not do much of any writing on the train trip up to North Carolina.  Honestly, it was just nice to be able to sit back and watch the world go by without having to race around and do stuff.  Trains have a way of slowing you down.

Then at the con, I attended the tail end of a workshop on writing organizations.  The panelists actually weren’t discussing the topic; it was more on being productive.  One of the hardest things for writers, especially part time with a day job, is that other things can interfere with it.  You have to make time for it, and usually goals of some kind are associated with it.

The typical goal is 2,000 words a day.  That’s tough for me as a writer who doesn’t outline.  Sometimes things pop into the story, and then I take them out as part of this creative process.  Word count can actually go into the negative numbers.  I also recently something in passing that said most of the writers who claim they’re hitting 2K a day probably aren’t.

Another type of goal is a project goal, like doing a scene.  That was also problematic for me because I don’t get ideas in order, so it is possible a scene may be unfinished because I haven’t gotten far enough into the story to fill things in.

But at this workshop, one of the writers mention Kim Stanley Robinson’s goal of five pages a day.  I thought about that.  Could I do that?  That goal doesn’t require the scene to be complete, not is it as subject to the ups and downs of not outlining.  So I went back that night and wrote 5 pages, and it was fun — something novel writing hasn’t been for a while.

But one thing I did do was I had to say not to worry about description, setting, and world building.  Those three things can turn a writing session into a nightmare of trying to make any goal.  I think some of it just that I haven’t quite processed what I need for the scene, and it takes more time.  But I’ve found that if I “leave it for later,” I end up with massive revision that affects the story itself.

So what I did was type notes in the file where I thought the description should go (and counted as part of the 5 pages).  The notes were all different.  Some were just like “Describe this character.”  Others had notes of things to make sure I did, and things to avoid.  There were some where I got additional ideas and put those in as well.

I ended up doing another 5 pages the following day and 10 on travel day.  Writing 5 pages like this took maybe an hour because I didn’t have to stop and think about describing stuff.  I could just add notes and come back to it.

We’ll see how it goes in the coming weeks.