Scene Daily: Challenge Accepted

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barney-stinson-challenge-acceptedAt the beginning of this year I realised it was high time I got really focused on growing a number of elements in my life. The first of these was my business, which was hopping along from month to month, always paying the bills, but never doing more than that. I am currently living with my mother after a fire several years ago, and have spent nearly four years struggling to get out from beneath the rather crushing weight of thousands of pounds worth of debt.

At the start of this year I had one very clear goal in mind: I wanted to move out. Yet it was apparent that this would not be possible on my current level of income, even after I finished repaying my debts (which I’ve now done, YAY!). I got nowhere during November of last year with my new novel. I was at a standstill in my writing and I was severely depressed over the type of work I was having to take on. For the full (likely rather dull) story, you will find a video series on the new Bandit Channel entitled How I Changed My Life (In Two Months). The upshot of this was that, in January, my new business was born, splitting all my freelance services off from my publishing house – something I intended to do from the outset but never quite managed. Shortly after I decided it was really time to knuckle down and get some writing done. I made a bit of progress with my novel, then had a really productive week in which I maniacally worked on a totally new novel concept, which had sprung out of nowhere, and then everything once again ground to a halt.

At around this time I was trying to get my blogs in order here on my author page, and over on my new Bookshine Bandit page. One post I wrote recently was on How to Write When You’re a Writer. It really got me in the grove, realising that – as with all my ACTUAL work – writing my blog was an important aspect of my business and I had to start treating it as such. I now have set times in which I must write a certain number of posts. I write posts at other times if the mood takes me of course, but there are no longer any excuses. It’s in my diary. It’s a scheduled task. X number of posts to be written on one day every two weeks. And you know what? It works. I’ve got a nice little stock pile of posts ready to go, and the very act of continually writing them seems to have sparked something in me. I find myself writing ideas for future posts down on a daily basis, even if I don’t have the time or inclination to write the post then and there (although I often do).

So I thought to myself, why is fiction any different? If doing work for clients gets scheduled in and deadlines met because it’s paid work, and writing blogs can be similarly scheduled in with deadlines that must be adhered to because it is still business work, why can I not acknowledge the fact that my fiction writing is-despite what the various arguments to the contrary might be-work.

If I don’t keep writing my writing career will go no further.

To that end I made a rather monumental decision. I would not say that I was going to write for ten minutes a day, or half an hour a day, or anything like that, because I know what would happen – I would sit down at my computer, type a few sentences, procrastinate for the time allotted, save it, then pat myself on the back and call it a job well done.

No. WRONG.

That is not a job well done. That is a BIG FAT FUCKING FAIL.

So instead I have decided to write a scene a day. It doesn’t matter how long the scene is, or what the scene is for – in terms of what project it is for – as long as it is a complete scene. It can be for a novel, or a short story. It can be a self-contained scene that was simply bobbing around in my head and I have no idea what to do with it other than get it out.

One Day, One Scene. EVERY DAY.

Practically speaking this is going to be much harder than one might think. I know from experience that my scenes – for reasons that elude me – tend to end up being between 2,000 and 3,000 words, on average. I type at a speed of roughly 1,500 words per hour so, in theory, I should be able to get a scene written in 1-2 hours.

Simple then, right? Just set my alarm to go off 2 hours early and that’s it, job done.

I don’t know what it’s like for the rest of you, but for me, nothing is ever that simple.

You see, I can type 1,500 words an hour when I’m in the ZONE. You know, when the perfect words for every sentence are just lancing out of your fingertips like lighting from Thor’s Hammer, and you’re really struggling to keep up with free-for-all that’s going on in your head. You’ve got a whole novel in there and you can write it perfectly if you just had enough time, caffeine, and RAM on your sodding computer.

Then of course there are the other times. The times when you’re so far from the ZONE it is naught but a hazy memory and you’re half convinced it’s a myth. These are the times when you would sell your children for five minutes of one-to-one time with your muse. You’ve already sold your own soul to the literary gods and got ZIP, so it’s time to start working your way through the rest of the family, starting with your granny, because she’s the slowest to run, and ending with your cat, who is already barricaded in the neighbour’s tree house with the dog and enough of an arsenal to fend off the zombie apocalypse.

You never know what you’ll get from one day to the next, but the point of this exercise it that IT’S IRRELEVANT.

One scene a day. EVERY DAY.

In order to give myself some accountability for this challenge I have decided to post about it each day. Now, this is an introductory post, which, believe me, is making me go slightly cross-eyed. I began TODAY’s scene at approximately 11.30pm after a full day of work and have only just finished it. I am now writing this, and it is currently 2.30 in the morning. It is very likely most of my scenes will be written at this time of night, and most of my posts about said scenes delivered at similar times. Logic tells me I should write them in the morning, but this is about as likely as Dexter taking over all my admin tasks to free up some extra time for me, so for now, it shall remain my nightly duty.

Please do not expect these daily updates to be long or scintillating. Their purpose is to let you know that I am doing as I vowed, I have written my scene for the day and, if you’re lucky, I may muse briefly on the scene itself and anything I’ve come across to help KEEP YOU WRITING.

For now, I bid you good night, and shall say only of today’s scene that it ended up being 4,843 words (just, you know, to bitch slap me for thinking they were usually 2,000-3,000) and is the penultimate scene in a new short story I’m working on. I leave you also with a fun new mantra I have devised to keep me sane while I struggle to meet this new challenge!

Your Muse Is Not Your Goodess, She's Your Concubine

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