My third assignment in the paranormal romance class (bet you thought I’d forgotten about it!) involved getting a big picture together—or more specifically, a plan for getting a book finished. This left me with a few issues, mostly based on the fact that I really didn’t want the first novel-length piece I finished since high school to be a paranormal romance starring a were-kiwi. (For one thing, while the final product would have romantic elements, I would probably have made it ten pages and decided to just switch to bog-standard urban fantasy.) This is about the part where I realized that this wasn’t so much a class on specifically writing paranormal romance as it was a class on writing that happened to be aimed at paranormal fans; this conclusion was confirmed by the fact that the syllabus doesn’t talk about chemistry at all.
On the other hand, as a theoretical exercise this seemed like a pretty good idea; the worst that would happen—or at least, the worst that would happen before I got distracted by various grad school issues, trying to get up a post backlog, and trying to figure out how to herd artists—would be that I’d apply whatever I came up with to something else, like getting art done for the Generic Villain project or taking another stab at writing in Almagest.
The first two parts of the question weren’t all that important; I mainly focused on “how are you going to get this thing done?” Instead, I realized a few things. One, I needed to play to how I motivated myself. If there was one thing I’d learned from my participation in last year’s National Novel-Writing Month, it was that having a clear goal and working toward it worked well for me. There was no way I was going to be able to handle most of two thousand words a day, mind, particularly not now that I was back at a job where they knew what to do with me, nor with grad school coming up, and besides, I seem to work better giving my subconscious a little time to chew on my elements. 4,000 words per week, though, seemed doable; I’d had times when I got close to that in one day.
My biggest proposed decision (which I promptly dropped the ball on due to not being able to figure out which project to focus on—note that I completed this assignment in mid-March) was to standardize my planning stages. I figured an hour of dedicated planning every three days would be a good start; that’d give me time to power through issues, and possibly prime me to bias my wandering mind toward whichever project I applied this plan to rather than my other distractions or projects. Then—here another lesson from NaNo, and also from my games—I set the beginning of May as The Point At Which I Would Start Writing, Ready Or Not. Not being technically prepared doesn’t necessarily mean I’m not going to get stuff done; it just means that I’m making up a whole lot more as I go along.
I topped it off by designating one leg of my trolley commute each day for writing and/or planning, knowing that mass transit can be very conducive to my writing due to the lack of Internet-related distractions and that that would get me some dedicated writing time. Needless to say, it didn’t stick either, but if—when—I put this plan into motion, designating myself a new May, that will be one of the first parts I implement.
I’m not sure it was quite what I expected to learn, but at least it got me thinking!