I’ve had several revelations revolving around writing recently, and I thought I would share.
One of the things that Kris said at the SF workshop was that when I got stressed or tired, I would drop out of character voice, drop out of depth.
On the plane ride home from the workshop, I started editing a novel. (This was actually the perfect time to start this process, as I was so tired my critical voice had nothing to say.) It was really obvious to me where I had dropped out of depth, where I had description with no opinion. I went through the entire 60K novel, laying in depth and opinion, adding about 4000 words to the total length.
This was a great exercise and the perfect thing to do right after the workshop.
I had another novel I needed to go through. Again, ended up adding about 4000 words of depth and opinion by the time I was finished. Also edited a short story, adding about 1000 words.
One of the exercises we did at the workshop involved using all five senses – describe a scene just using the sense of touch, or taste, etc. These were more difficult for me to do than I had expected.
After I got home, I started thinking about, okay, how does this feel? What am I tasting at this time? How would I describe this smell? Etc.
Having those specific times of experiential living felt very familiar to me. It finally dawned on me that I used to do that sort of thing all the time.
What happened? Why did I stop?
The answer should surprise no one.
When I started getting so many migraines every month, I shut down, in terms of experiencing things through all my senses. I was already so overloaded. More sensation was likely to trigger yet another migraine.
Yesterday, I started a new short story. Critical voice is tuned a little high currently, wanting me to stop and make sure that I have the correct information flow, that there’s depth, that I’m using all five senses, that every description has opinion, etc. It means the writing is going slower than usual.
At some point, I’ll integrate depth back into my writing and it will be automatic. Right now, I’m not certain what my process is. Do I just write the thing and then go back in and add depth? Probably. At least until it’s all integrated.
Which brings me back to word count. Of course I count all the new words and depth I’m layering in. But it’s a slow process. Maybe only 1000 words a day. And it takes me four days to go through a novel.
This really screws with my word count goals for the year.
However, I think that the work I’m doing is more important than generating a lot of words.
I figure at some point this year everything will be integrated and I’ll be back up to speed.
In the meantime, I’m still fighting to let go of that number of words written every week/month, to not judge the work I’m doing based on my output.
What is your big writing related task that you’ve set for yourself this year? Me – it’s now get back to depth all the time, not word count.