For this post we’re collapsing the fourth and fifth weeks of this summer’s online writing group to accommodate the Fourth of July holiday and a few Patriot Passes! The holiday meant out-of-towning and lounging and maybe, just maybe, not doing as much writing as usual.
So, we’re giving some Patriot Passes and combining some goals, and next week we’ll be back on track!
Week Four: This week my goals are to flesh out some high-level plot ideas that I picked from my brainstorming. I finished two yesterday, and I’ve got two or three more to get done.
Alissa (Patriot Pass!)
Amy (Patriot Pass!)
Week 5 goal (if I can still get in) is to write 5 pages.
Week Four: I admit not moving forward. This week is just a smidge less hectic, so perhaps I will at last finish my overall content list.
The list is no minor undertaking. It’s organized by general topic (like “writing process”) then by topics within the topics, and those will become individual short lessons.
Then of course I want to get each of the lessons built. Ha HA! (good laugh, Anne.) But actually the list seems to take longer than the build. I’m afraid of leaving anything out. So I’ve been revising it for years.
Week Four: I’m pleased to report that I did three blog posts last week. I’m not so happy to report that I did so many because we had a second flood. Bah! I did some work on my letter, but for some reason it is just painful. Don’t know when I’ve had such a block! I also did several entries in my gratitude journal, which was a little hard because the second flood made my quite grumpy. This week I will continue my letter. It is nearing completion. And another blog post, of course.
Week Five: Internet was still down yesterday, so I’m late. (YOU AND ME BOTH, BEV!) Anyway, I did nothing last week but pull weeds. My goal for this week is to finish my letter before vacation and get the blog updated. Not sure when that is going to happen. And I’ll be off the grid next week and thus will not be sending any goals on Sunday.
Connor (Patriot Pass!)
Week Five: I’m doing more tabletop writing.
It has its advantages. Writing for an audience that responds in real time gives writers clues as to what types of situations and characters they respond to, what plot hooks and twists they see coming and which ones they miss, and how their preconceived notions and genre savvy informs their reading. Information must be presented in a way that’s succinct so that it stands out above all the external stimuli the writer has no control over, and it must be bold enough to capture their attention and remain in their consciousness. Players can also ask questions about setting and scenery, cluing in the writer as to what sorts of details a reader is looking for.
Unfortunately, it also has its downsides. As players carry the impetus to drive the plot forward, a writer doesn’t get much of a chance to practice pacing. Players feel cheated when they can’t immediately resolve a conflict when it’s presented, meaning plots must often be linear and episodic. And, naturally, the introduction of multiple human elements means the best written story will often fall apart when faced with the creativity, whimsy, or boredom of the players.
Week Four: I did two pomodoros this week, which felt good! I didn’t get a lot written, but I got started, and that’s important to me. Next week I’d like to keep it up and do a couple (twotree) more.
Week Five: Nothing was done. Patriot Pass! Next week, get back on track.
Lisa (Patriot Pass!)
Weeks Three and Four — made very slow progress on the first story that I dissected out of the original draft I was revising — only wrote about two pages in two weeks.
Week Five goal — finish the initial draft of that first new story.
Week Four: Oof. I haven’t touched my story draft since last week. So my week four goal is identical to my week three goal (plus the added goal of not beating myself up for failing to meet my week three goal, as I am wont to do!). Writing is hard! (yes. yes, it is. see this week’s post below for a pep talk.)
Week Four: This week I was in Florida and did not write at all. Next week I hope to write at least 5000 words.
Week Five: This week: 1,008 words. Next week I’ll be on the road again, so who knows! I’m on chapter 24 of the novel, and it will end soon! Before fall semester begins! (you will do it, Robert!)
Week Four: My week four goals are to complete an essay on critical thinking and draft the assignment components. Also, my tan. (yaaaaaasssss.)
Week Five: Write the draft for a lesson on effective communication and narrow down the expert voices for the unit of study.
The blog post inspired me! So I’m going to test the lesson in rigor with some willing students. (yahoo!)
This week we’re talking about first drafts, specifically, shitty first drafts. So, like, yeah, we’re talking about all first drafts.
Part of what’s been keeping me from starting a new project is something that always keeps me from starting, and that’s a fear of not knowing where to start, not doing a good job once I get started, and then finishing up with a garbage draft.
And that fear of the garbage draft makes me sit around and think about it and imagine it, and think that maybe it will be okay, but then no, it’s probably just going to be garbage. So I don’t write, like a noodle-spined coward.
And usually, instead of writing (because I’m a noodle-spined coward) I watch television; and last weekend I watched a couple of rom-coms (four), trying to find a good female-directed and/or female written one.
And I did — I did!
It’s called Set It Up and it stars the adorable Zoey Deutch whose character is Harper, a young woman working as an assistant to a sports writer (played by Lucy Liu [yes.]) in The Big Apple. Our young Harper wants to be a sports writer herself, and while she is navigating her writerly identity, she befriends, charms, and falls in love with a goofy, comely young man named somethingitdoesn’tmatter. OF COURSE THAT’S THE PLOT IT’S A ROM-COM.
And Harper has an almost equally adorable best friend, Becca, played by Meredith Hagner (who I first saw in the Hallmark Channel Christmas movie [loose use of the word “movie”] A Gift Wrapped Christmas, and Hagner was the best damn thing about that 87-minute assemblage of shenanigans).
Becca gives Harper an excellent pep-talk about the draft that Harper is so scared to start. Harper has been camping out in her apartment, having recently lost her job and having all the time in the world to write: but she can’t write. She can’t write because she’s scared that her first draft will be shitty. And this is how best-friend-Becca responds:
“Of course your first draft’s gonna be bad; it’s gonna be terrible. And you know what you do, Harper? You go back and you make it better. But you can’t make it better until you actually do it! You’re not a bad writer…yet. You need to stop feeling sorry for yourself and just write something bad. So get off your bony little ass and just do it!”
“Okay! I’m going to write the shittiest article ever written!”
“Yes! It’s gonna suck ass! I can’t wait to read it!”
And it was such a lovely and honest moment. There was no fronting about how good the draft would be because Harper was born to be a writer and that’s all she ever wanted to do and blahbiddyblahbiddyblah. Nope. NO. Because that’s bologna. Writing is not some gift from the heavens. Writing takes so much work to do (so. much. work.) and so much more work to get right.
(But writers really are the unshowered, ramen-noodle-eating blanket blobs you see pictured above. That’s for real.)
So this week, I am Becca; you are Harper; and this is what I have to say: Stop feeling sorry for yourself and just do it; just write something bad. It’s gonna be bad. Let it be bad.
I can’t wait to read it.
(And also, go watch Set It Up. It’s streaming on Netflix. It’s written by a woman and it’s directed by a totally different woman. It’s cute and funny and a great summer treat for your sun-soaked brain.)