“Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:
‘Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.'”
W. H. Murray. The Scottish Himalayan Expedition. J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd, London 1951.
It’s easy for me to measure my output–or lack thereof–in pages or words written per day. But as I mentioned in How Do You Measure Preparation?, it’s harder to do that with things like story research, note-writing, plotting, character-building, and other Very Important Bits of writing work.
The title of this post is a reminder to myself that, now that I’m serious about my work, there’s more to writing than just putting words on a page. There’s marketing to do, searching for story markets, making story submissions, formatting my work for different platforms (including print editions), and getting my work listed on those platforms. All of which are important–none of which help with getting words on a page.
I need to allow myself time to do these things and to not feel guilty that I’m “not writing.”
I began work today in earnest on codename FUTURE after unearthing it a few days ago and blowing off the dust.
How funny-odd it is to come back to the blank page (or screen). To a set of jumbled notes and thoughts and things ending in question marks. To a pile of acquired flotsam that I will endeavor to turn into something that resembles a coherent narrative.
I remember a quote (that I cannot now find online; a fail for google and a fail for my own notes) that went something like:
You don’t learn how to write books. You just learn how to write the book you’re writing.
The idea is that you learn to write the current WIP, but when it comes time to fire up a new one, you’re back at square one again.
And so far, it’s held true.
So I set about revising notes, asking questions and then dredging my mind for answers, and generally filling in breaks and trying to make connections. I tried not to worry when I asked, “What does this character want?” and had no answers. Instead, I just moved on to something else. Right now all the characters are mere shades that should take form as I move along.
That’s the plan, at least.
I also did a bit of research this morning.
The work I did today got me to thinking: How do you measure preparation? With an actual Writing Day, I can measure my progress in pages or words: I did x. X is good. Y is better. And Z is so awesome that I totally deserve a cookie right now.
But it’s harder to do that with preparation. I suppose if I was writing a codex or other background works, I could measure the progress in words, but for the rest of this stuff that consists mostly of thinking and jotting and arrows and question marks, there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of metrics. I suppose I could measure in hours spent, but that fails to include daydreaming and coffee and petting the cat.
Which are all necessary parts of the workday.