Sunday, February 16, 2014

Trying to Cut Back "Zero Days"

Happy Belated Valentine's Day! Especially to every single one of you, my readers, who are my Valentines! You show me so much love and patience, and I want to take this time to really thank you guys!
As far as writing goes, this was just a dead week. A week of "Zero-Days". Unless you're big on Reddit, I'm sure you're at least a little confused.

Well, my one friend from college found a Reddit comment a user named Ryan wrote to try to help out another user - Max - who was feeling way down. This comment is pretty much self-help gold. So much so, that I wouldn't be surprised if Ryan gets convinced to at least start up a blog; if not write a self-help book.

Anyway, she wrote a more succinct and slightly easier to read version for her own blog; mostly quoting Ryan with a few add-ins of her own: How to Start Loving Your Unmotivated Self.

The real key point in the whole article/comment that hit home for me was the idea of "Non-Zero Days". Days in which you put at least the slightest bit of effort to push yourself forward towards your goal; whatever it is. Obviously, for me that would be being a professional writer. Therefore, Non-Zero Days would be any day I do SOMETHING that will help me get closer to being that professional writer.

Did I write something today in order to help hone my craft? Did I work more on the research needed to world build for a possible future story idea? Did I work more on a manuscript or another chapter for the fanfictions I have going on? Did I do more work in finding a way of converting X-Future in to an original tale? Did I read any books or articles that will help me on my way to turning writing in to a career? Did I search for a new job opportunity that would either get me closer to writing professionally, or allow me enough free time to do so when I'm not working? The list goes on.

Unfortunately - and a bit ironically - after reading that article and deciding to really push for Non-Zero Days, this whole week more-or-less became one long chain of Zero Days.

I started off alright. My cold - while sticking around like a stubborn mule - is a lot better, and so I didn't spend most of my week in bed. Yay! However, there WERE two nights in which Hubby and I fell asleep at about 8:30, woke up at about midnight, stayed up another hour or so, before actually going to our bed. Odd nights.

Anyway, so I started off pretty good. I had this blog up on Monday; which meant it was a Non-Zero Day. Then the week sort of melds together. I can't remember if it were still Monday, or if it were Tuesday - but I know it was the beginning of the week - I went back and did the mind-map mini-challenge for last week's Writers' Huddle Winter Writing Challenge.
Mutant Mind Map
It's all about converting X-Future in to a stand-alone thing. As you can see, it's a bit jumbled. It's one of the reasons I am not a fan of mind mapping. I try to start off small and confined so I have room for more ideas, but there always seems to be more ideas than I have space to put bubbles. And then - as seen with my "Magic" section - I tend to change my mind as to how I want things to connect. The lines get crazy. Some things overlap categories too and I don't have the space to either rewrite the idea at the different categories or connect them via two lines. I just generally don't like mind-maps.

But I still did it! I caught up on last week's mini-challenge and I had been writing. I was on a roll that I could be proud of. Ronoxym even started up a Google Doc for our now collaborative story about Devon and Willow. So, I read through that, added some comments, rewrote some of the parts I did, and mentally planned out how we would publish it online for you fine folks to read once we're done. Sadly, Ron has been busy and super worked to the point of exhaustion, and so he hasn't written anything further; which halts me. So, let's hope for an easier work week for him so he can finish writing and I can keep working on this project too.

Speaking of this project, I was talking to Ron's fiance Cyhyr about the whole collab thing. I still feel so guilty that Ron's original story - which he had completely planned in his head, but ran out of steam writing it which is why he only sent me the first half - got so derailed when I did my "rewrite". I stressed that it wasn't truly a "rewrite"; that I found nothing wrong with what Ron had, it just didn't feel right to "Willow" and that's what inspired me to write my own version. And then I sort of did it again by writing my vision of how the story would continue when Ron had Devon confront Willow at her dorm room. Seems Ron had the conversation going differently, and so my continuation again threw him off. I also made Devon sound too whiny in my version. Whoops.

Anyway, so I was telling Cyhyr that I was sorry I shanghaied Ron's story, but she was actually elated that I did. Apparently not only is Ron's writing great Muse Fuel for me, but mine is the same for him. The different perspectives of the same tale really make us re-evaluate how we pictured it all going down. Since Willow is my character and Devon is his, neither of us truly knows how the other works. I THOUGHT I had a fairly good handle on Devon - being a fanfiction writer and all - but, as I mentioned before, that was proven wrong when "Devon" complained about me making him sound too whiny. So this collab thing really helps both of us out.

Both of us are now writing more frequently because as soon as one of us responds to the story the other one instantly jumps on the Writing Wagon to either rework the scene or continue on; the characters totally driving the conversation when doing so. Most occasions we credited our quick responses with something akin to the characters going "OH HELL NO! That is NOT how I sound!" or "Really? THAT'S your comeback!? Well, listen here, because I've got one HELL of a rebuttal for that!"

Ronoxym is greatly appreciative of the rewrites I do since he feels it really helps improve his original tale. I love his continuations of the story because I'm legitimately interested in where he was planning on going with it; plus, how it inspires me to write. Cyhyr loves my involvement because it actually kick's Ron's butt in to gear when it comes to writing. When he comes home he apparently starts work on Devon's half of the story, and she loves that he's getting a writing routine down. Something apparently both Ron and I have in common.

In fact, we have a LOT in common when it comes to writing. We both write more when we're inspired as opposed to setting a routine and forcing our way through the blocks until we get to the good parts. We both hear the characters in our heads and have our stories frequently derailed by them. We actually discover more about our characters by giving them free rein. We're kind of "lazy" writers; fitting the activity in when everything else is done - if we're not too exhausted at that point. There's other similarities, but that should give you the idea.

Cyhyr is sort of the opposite of the above. She does the whole "read a book AND get writing in" thing that is suggested for novelists. For me, it's either one or the other, and so reading tends to get shoved to the side so I don't feel bad about not writing for days. Cyhyr also carefully calculates every scene ahead of time to make sure it works perfectly for what needs to happen with her novel. Her characters never derail the scene. She always makes sure to schedule in writing and work other things around it. She's definitely set to become a professional writer. No Zero Days for that girl.

As I told her, she is like a director of her novel; knowing the full script, the exact blocking, and figuring out every set before starting anything. Her characters are actors to tell her story. On the flipside, Ron and I are like mediums channeling our characters. They aren't there to tell our story, we're here to tell theirs. It's messy. It's usually character-driven, as opposed to Cyhyr's plot-driven stories, and it's usually long-winded, large epics. Mostly because it takes an epic for a character-driven story to have enough happen in it to create a story arc....

Realizing this helped me understand why I'm so bad at writing drabbles, poems, and other short-format tales. Even my one-shots and "short stories" are easily 5000 words long. I focus more on the character and how they react emotionally than focusing on a plot that can be written out in 500 words.

I'm sliding off-topic here.

My point is that Ronoxym and I are so similar in our writing styles, and the fact that we seem to inspire each other to write like no one else can; not even Cyhyr or Hubby. I joked that it's because Ron is actually my writing Wonder Twin. Cyhyr and I joked about that some more before I realized that I just needed to go ahead and make Ron that as his Valentine's day card this year!

So... for Ronoxym:
Writing Wonder Twins
May we always inspire each other, but also learn to inspire ourselves.
Also... Cyhyr wants me to poke you in to submission until you start working more on your NaNo story about angels and demons and the like... she's SUPER interested in the concept and wants to be able to read it already!!!!

Okay, so - given how long this post is getting - it may seem like a lot happened this week. A lot of Non-Zero Days with my blogging, mind-mapping, new determination thanks to an article, and mini-self-discovery while chatting with Cyhyr. Unfortunately, that was only about three days out of the week.

The rest of the week consisted of those random early evenings, tiring days at work, reading, general laziness, and dealing with the insane winter weather - I think we're up to 2.5ft of snow now? Not including the mountains of snow drifts where it's all getting dumped when shoveled/plowed?

I should give myself some slack; forgive the Past Me - as that one article stated. I did do a lot in regards to planning out stuff - both the world building of Gyateara, and removing X-Future from the Marvel universe - which is different for me.

But I didn't write a Valentine's Day story this year. That could have chewed up a lot of writing hours too. I'm just not inspired to write something. Should it be Arnold/Helga? Phoebe/Gerald? Helga/Brainy? Lia/Chayse? Nix/Annika? Connor/Natalie? A new/original tale? I have no idea...

This week's mini-challenge was to "do something new". To do something you've never done before. Ali donated blood for the first time in her life. I'm sorry to say that I didn't really try anything "new" this week. Hubby tried to find loopholes: "You've never tried to convert a fanfic in to an original before", "You've never read 'House of Hades' before", "You could try out playing League of Legends." I might be tempted to do the last one before the day is out just so I do have SOMETHING new, but the others just didn't feel right to count. The League of Legends one doesn't really feel right either since I've WATCHED him play the game tons of times... but maybe it's different to PLAY it for the first time....

This upcoming week's mini-challenge is to "try something new when writing". I'll have to figure out what I want to do with that. It's mostly an idea to help us try things we've been avoiding for whatever reason - maybe we feel we're not good at it - and broaden our horizons. Although I have done it before, I'm not very good at fight scenes, so I may try that. I could maybe try writing something that is plot-driven instead of character driven. I could try writing an informative blog post instead of a journal-like one.

I've done all of these before, but I'm not that good at them. They aren't really "new" but they are writing styles I need help with. As for something truly "new", I'll have to think about that...

1 comment:

  1. I like the idea of Non-Zero Days! Unfortunately, I have too many zero days as well. Perhaps we should try together to have non-zero days when it comes to writing ;) I'm sooo good at putting writing off, even though I really want to get better at writing and work on longer pieces (which takes more work than short stories!).

    I'm still mulling over what my something new with writing is supposed to be. I never wrote a fight scene before - I might just steal your idea here :)

    Good luck this week with writing!