Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Quarterly Report - Lessons

Things I've learned in the last four months -

1) A daily wordcount is crucial to production. 250 words or 2,500 words, whatever. Set a limit as high as you can consistently make it, and stick with it. Producing new words of fiction on a regular basis is the essence of being a fiction writer, and producing a volume of new words on a regular basis is the essence of being prolific. Unless you're one of those binge writers, which I'm not, mostly. Although I am considering doubling my wordcount and only writing every other day.

2) Have a one sentence idea written out for every story. This simplifies the hell out of actually writing the story, and keeps me from writing something that I'm not sure how to finish. In other words, it's much harder to get stuck if I have path to follow, even if I don't know the features of the path (story or plot) beforehand.

3) Keep an idea bank. This keeps the ideas flowing, keeps my imagination in shape, and ensures that I never have to sit around wondering what to write about. For a guy that had no concept of how to plot a story four months ago, this has been crucial in developing my storytelling basic skill set.

4) Power days. This is the opposite of the steady wordcount theory above, or the next level of it, if you add in the concept of blurting. Basically, once a week I set aside a day to write my ass off. This is also known as the Day Off Story Challenge, and has been another really useful way to expand my storytelling skills. The next level of this is taking every writing day and turning it into a power day. I'm not there quite yet, but hopefully soon.

5) Miscellaneous smaller lessons - The seven point story structure is another, useful way to look at novels. Heroes and happy endings are worth writing, too. Plot is what happens when characters interact. The math of writing as a career heavily favors the prolific. Voice recorders are really useful. Touch typing, on a keyboard, is way faster than pecking, and way way faster than typing on a touchscreen. Android tablets are great for tweeting, but suck for writing blogs. Tweeting and posting on other people's blogs about your own work (especially "buy me, buy me" is mostly just irritating and counter-productive. Podcasting takes work, and possibly money.

6) Final lesson - I can do this, at least for four months. And next quarter makes half a year, and that twice is a full year. More math, and it says that all this adds up, eventually.

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