Complex characters.

A writing teacher once told me that the most successful movies and books were simple plots about complex characters…you should be able to articulate your concept in a couple of lines.

– James Scott Bell, Fiction Attack

Too much of a rookie to know whether I agree or disagree with the ‘simple plot’ part of this, but I have been thinking about this quote for a couple days now and I know my character could benefit from being more complex.

Getting stuck as I go along.

Keep hitting little rough patches in my story where I’ll pause because I don’t know how to continue. So far, I’ve just forced myself to power through it, even if it leads to bad dialogue or character doing silly things. I  feel like I can’t slow down right now or I’ll eventually slow down too much and come to a complete stop.

I’m nervous that pushing through it like this might lead to my first draft spiraling out of control or heading in some unwanted direction, but I feel like I just have to keep going for now. I can’t pause and brainstorm  when I hit these places where I feel stuck, because I know myself well enough to know one of my ‘brainstorms’ can last months or even years, because it really just means putting a project on the backburner to simmer in the back of my head until I eventually forget it or give up on it.

It’s something.

Word count for today: 776.

(Captain Picard is clapping for me like, ‘Good job!’ but then he’s turning to Data and he’s all like, ‘Jesus, 776? I write more than that in the Captain’s Log when I describe how I prepare my tea.’ Shut up, Picard.)

Anyways, I’m out of red wine so I’m sitting here with a glass of bourbon, since I drank about 8 cups of coffee earlier today while writing and now I need something to unwind (it’s such a healthy cycle!). Well, it’s not straight up bourbon because I’m not that badass, but I made myself a milk punch because I almost hit a thousand words today and I feel it’s well deserved (and also because, you know, no more wine).

I feel good about the progress I made today! It’s still not much, but it’s more than yesterday. And maybe tomorrow I’ll hit a thousand words! One can hope.

The story is still slogging along and I’m having to force it to progress, but I’m hoping it’s just because I’m rusty and I need to power through it in order to get things moving again. Or it could just mean this story is horrible, but you know what? It’s the first novel I’m ever trying to write, so I think that’s okay. I just feel so much pressure about it since I quit my job to pursue this. But I need to store that anxiety away somewhere and not let it creep over me until I’m paralyzed.

So, I’m off for more milk punch and Buffy. I feel good about today.

Something I realized while on the freeway today.

Blogger Katie May was kind enough to point out to me in my last post that I shouldn’t get down on myself for only writing 517 words in a day – that even if I just wrote 517 words in every day, it would still be 15,510 words in a month.

I was thinking about that today while on the road and suddenly it hit me: I quit my job back at the end of May, and have been floundering around since then, worrying about whether I made a mistake and whether or not I should be a writer.

If instead of worrying, I had simply sat down and wrote 500 words a day, even if they were terrible, even if it was the worst story ever – I would probably have somewhere around 42,000 words now (I’m terrible at math, so don’t quote me on that).

42,000 words.

So I need to stop hussing and fussing and just sit down and write. Yes, there is the possibility that it will end up being awful, but I won’t know until it’s done.

A pittance.

517 words. That’s it. That’s all I got done today. 517 more words towards the novel. That’s a fingernail where I need a whole body.

Why can’t I seem to focus and make real progress?