I’m gonna book in a month.
In the middle of April, as life felt like it was both spiraling out of control and grinding to a halt, I noticed the orange and yellow spine a particular book on the shelf in my office. Nestled among numerous writing books – bought and read in lieu of actual writing – and more books about Japan and Japanese than I’ll ever have time to read, sat a book I must’ve bought back when I was living in Seattle called Book in a Month. The first time I read it back in the 2010sies, it helped me outline a few things but I was already so overwhelmed with material for my book about Japan that it didn’t help me much at the time.
However, when I picked it up this time, it sparked something. “Hey,” I thought to myself, “I’ve got ALL of next month off! AND I’ve got a massive, unwieldy and unreadable first draft that I’ve been avoiding diving back into for nearly a decade!”
rrrrrrllllLet’s get ready to self-flagellaaaaaate!
I reread the intro to BIAM and found myself thinking about revisions and daily word counts. It was like prepping for my first NaNoWriMo all over again! I figured I’d start on May 1st so, in the last week of April, I organized the office, set up my desk, gathered all the related boxes and files, installed Word Keeper on my phone, and had my wife shave my head. Like you do.
May 1st arrived. I opened my massive Scrivener file and found myself immediately overwhelmed, hitting all the usual stumbling blocks that always tripped me up in the past:
The story starts at the wrong time.
I’ve got way too much backstory.
So much of the book is pointless but what parts?
Oooh, something shiny!
As day 1 dwindled to a close with little work to show for it, I started to panic. I needed to change my approach. I needed a distraction-free writing space and a new perspective. Using a break, I did a little research and ended up downloading Q10, a full-screen program that I set up with green text to make my screen look like an old computer terminal.
I also decided to reduce my daily goals A LOT, much closer to the kind suggested in No Plot, No Problem.
Today, after several SUPER productive hours of doing anything but writing, I decided I would just write a synopsis of my story, chronologically, from start to finish. No revising or adjusting, just flat out writing the bare bones of what I want my story to be.
I slipped on my precious noise-cancelling headphones, cranked up some Smooth Sounds of the 60s, 70s and 80s, and got to work.
An hour or two later, I met my writing goal.
And, I actually kind of enjoyed it.