Writer’s Log: 2500 – one quarter complete

In my endeavor to learn to write well, I’ve fixated on Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 hours to expert” theme.

Thus far I calculate I’ve spent 2500 hours on the task. How many words might that be? Four hundred thousand could get me close.

Regardless, the journey has presented numerous obstacles, time, or the lack thereof, being the most egregious. Had I the time, I’d have applied myself tenfold.

Creative energy certainly offers a close second. A writer writes, they say. Well, a slave slaves. A programmer programs, a father fathers, a husband husbands and so it goes. What is left for writing after such a list?

No little distraction includes my infected life’s philosophy. As a self-professed existential Nihilist, what is the point in learning to write well? A rhetorical question. From this perspective there is no valid answer. To forge through is not an option. Around is the only path.

And so around we went. And here we are, 2500 hours complete. Was there nothing learned, gained, accomplished. A few things come to mind:

  • Do more with less. Err with too few.
  • Passive kills the energy.
  • A square block of text is a visual turnoff. It need not be read, its presence on the page cripples the reader.
  • Conflict, always. A constant struggle for me.
  • Any critique is worth understanding.

Accomplishments? Aside from two early, sophomoric novels, not much more than fragments. But in those fragments, some polish could be detected, some self-satisfaction. Write for yourself and you’ll never disappoint. What starving baker wouldn’t eat their own failed cake?

Future? At this rate the next 2500 hours will take years and years. 10,000? Yeah, right.

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?