Writer’s Log: 1821

Two years into this writing effort and I’m just now starting to shift from tactics to strategy.

I started writing Blue Across the Sea in the summer of 2016. I literally pumped it out in 90 days. I had no idea what I was doing aside from telling a story I’d had in my head for some time. Then came the realization that story is nothing without proper delivery. Imagine a stuttering bard. Alright, I said, if this writing pastime is important to me — I’d better learn how to do it well.

I’ve kept at it. And as I sit down these days to write, I find I’ve now shifted from focusing on the technical aspect of putting words to paper to strategizing the story. I’ve learned to trust, perhaps falsely, in my semi-developed skills at avoiding passive voice. At creating rhythm in sentence structure. At controlling dialog, the tags, the punctuation, the brevity. These and many other nitty-gritty functional aspects of writing, skills I should have learned much earlier, have been subsumed by my writer’s conscious (or so I tell myself).

My “sit down and get to it” tasks now feel as if they’ve taken on an elevated approach. The scene is ending, how to slip in a bit of suspense? This character feels thin, what nuance or foible can I add to make them feel more real? I’ve pounded this character to a pulp, they need a bit of a reprieve so that the reader can breathe easy for a time.

The scope of my writing has expanded. I’ve leveled up — finally.

Have you noticed stages in your writing ability? What stage are you at now?

11 thoughts on “Writer’s Log: 1821

  1. Congrats on leveling up!

    I’m back to the put-your-butt-in-the-chair-and-just-write-already stage. Once I get to writing I do pretty well at finding flow and creating something worth reading, but it’s finding the time and inclination to actually do it that I struggle with right now.

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    1. Transform from human into writer, for a time, as long as it lasts.
      “Prepare to enter writerly transcendental slipstream… Ah damn, my coffee cup is empty.”


  2. I failed to mention that you need one of those writerly headshots, horn rim glasses and pipe and ascot, all authorly looking, you know? So you could say things like “We all polish turds, old chap”, and “oOh that cover was bit of a bugger,” with your vowels all bumbly and tweedy.

    When I sit down to write I hope I run the dogs off with a fart before they get a chance to run me out of my own room with their weapon grade gas.

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  3. I’m at that stage where I wonder when all the sentient, growth oriented writers out there will stop writing “asked” after a question mark, even if the question begs loudly for an “ly” modifier and as such will be re-worded for directness. When “said” will become more than a nervous tick for timing.

    Fair advice gets fair returned – the second you think you’re in control you just hit dead man’s curve at 105 a week after that brake job you put off to polish the cover of a —

    As Baryshnikov said, “Art happens when technique becomes invisible.” As he says, again. “I don’t try to dance better than anyone else, I try to dance better than myself.”

    Both far more important concepts I think than the mathematical calcuations of “story.” The doing of a thing with the freedom to let it be what it will be is the thing. If you pick that up.

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    1. Self-reflective progress marking is merely an acknowledgement of the mind’s ability to practice and get better at a task. The task will always remain just ahead. The fact that it might get easier must, in large part, be due to focused effort on specific techniques and treatments.
      Baryshnikov’s success is due to strict adherence to practice of a thousand dancing details, no doubt dogmatically Russian.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. He left Russia because they wouldn’t let him dance, it was all equational. Practice is mandatory. Improvisation in the realm of brilliance, unimaginable. Better than you were last week, priceless. Knowing where it comes from and having the wisdom to listen and not interfere…sublime.

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  4. I hammered out a three book trilogy in a year. And have spent the 9 months since trying to reorganize the books into something resembling a plot. This means that the third book requires a total rewrite (a bummer), but over the course of that rewrite I’ve found that I’m much better at certain things: weaving exposition in more naturally, structuring it so that the reader doesn’t learn too-much-too-soon, and increasing the conflict-resolution arcs for characters. There is SO MUCH MORE to learn, though, and at times it’s overwhelming.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is overwhelming. Your points triggered a thought that of all the writer’s guides I’ve read, none have laid down the barest-boned outline of: ‘do this, followed by these 119 other things, one a month, for 10 years, and you will have learned how to write.’
      Right now, it’s just a munged up mess in my head as to what I might want to focus on next.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think the only way to learn it is to do it, but it certainly would be helpful if there was a writer’s guide out there that outlined some of the stages of development, so that beginning fiction writers wouldn’t feel so baseless and confused for so long.

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