Today’s word count report should list my current work-in-progress as “Pine & Meyer,” but it does not. Instead, today’s working title is for another half-baked short story (definitely on its way to becoming another novella), because coming up with ideas and vomiting them out onto a page is my favorite part of the process. I’ll start up again on my dreadfully neglected schizophrenic house story in the next couple of days, but at least I’ve written something. I promised my editor I would write at least a little each day, and adding the report to the end of the evening blog post is so far proving an effective way to keep me on track. We’ll see if it keeps up.
In the meantime I’m still spending way too much time analyzing and considering my best hours of the day to write, certain that if I plan often enough and schedule well enough I’ll eventually hit on that magic window in which my stories flow like water and writing them doesn’t feel like work. I’ve tried multiple times to try out the early-hours that everyone promises is the best time to get the worm, but I keep on falling back on night shift. At this point in my “career” (such as it is) I can’t tell if evening legitimately belongs in my schedule as my most productive work hours, or if habit has finally built up around the 8 p.m to midnight time block (or, even more commonly, the 9 or 10 to 0200 hours). Through the years I’ve gotten into the habit of putting off the inevitable close of the day by reading through some of my work before I finally crawl into bed, which naturally leads to a bit of editing. A bit of editing leads to fussing, fussing leads to an additional sentence or sometimes even a paragraph, and then of course we end up on the dark side, as all of Yoda’s failed students do.
Honestly, thinking about writing–planning how and when and sometimes even what–is a great way to feel like I’m working on my writing without actually have to do the work of writing. I’m self aware enough to recognize what I’m doing, but even with the map of known habits, behaviors, and detours laid out in my head, the old self-control remains a vehicle that doesn’t really like to be driven. In fact, that’s the reason I never read books on writing. These are simultaneously fascinating and generally unhelpful, as they’re typically a series of short, academically-detailed stories on how that particular author writes; you can glean advice but you’ll never write the same way and it’s tempting to assure yourself that – if you could just follow this advice perfectly – the book you have been planning for the past fifteen years will follow. (I can assure you: it does not.) So worse: they are an exceptionally sneaky way to feel satisfied with the progress you’re making in your plans while never actually getting around to writing. I google specific problems instead, and if I ever re-find that website bookmarked on an old desktop that was my go-to for story structure, I’ll share it with you.
Not that I have any strong opinions on the subject. Over-analyzing at a quarter to midnight is simply a hobby of mine.
Word count report: Alex Byrnes is a Double-Crossing Weasel, 1,034 words