Back in August 2020 I challenged myself to make sure I added something to this blog every day for three months, a 92-day commitment. Today is Day 900 of that challenge.
This is my most successful attempt at a writing discipline ever. If I could translate that discipline to my efforts at fiction, I’d be gold.
I did have a breakthrough during this latest 100-day sprint. (I’ve found that reviewing progress every 100 days can be useful.) It happened after I left my latest novel-in-progress in a jam for a very long time.
You may recall the book’s working title is Jeep Thompson and the Lost Prince of Venus, and I’ve been struggling with it for, what? At least three years, I think. But I was finally cruising along, passed the halfway point and getting at least a few words in almost every day. I even got a major plot twist in.
But then the story went dry. No, that’s not true. It went stone cold.
The story just wouldn’t move past the discovery of, well, it’s a big discovery that changes a key relationship in the story. I even set the book aside for at least a month or so, hoping that Jeep’s next move would come to me.
It’s frustrating. I usually know how the story ends. I wrote the last paragraph of Chapter 26 of my 27-chapter first novella, The Imaginary Bomb, before I wrote anything else, for example. Not only do I know how Lost Prince of Venus ends, but I know the general sweep of four Jeep Thompson books. Sometimes, though, I’m in too much of a hurry to get from here to there.
And finally, a few days ago, I realized that’s why Jeep stalled this time: I was in too much of a hurry. That plot twist that changes a key relationship came way too early. It’s a pretty nifty twist, and I can’t wait for the reader to find out — but not yet.
The solution involved abandoning a chapter and a half and rewriting the moment of the big discovery to make it more of a what-the-bejeebers moment that won’t really make sense until the discovery is made at a more appropriate time.
Was laboring over the now-deleted chapter a waste of time? Of course not. Should I be carefully outlining books instead of doing this “discovery writing” where I know generally where I want the story to go but let the characters show me how they get there? Probably not; I once outlined an entire trilogy, but the process of developing an outline so satisfied my desire to tell the story that I lost interest.
So I’ve been meandering around Venus with Jeep Thompson and her pals, and this little detour did something interesting: The fire to tell this story is back. And when she does get to that big discovery, wow. Oh, wow. Just not yet.
I do have a definite goal for these next 100 days, though: I will finally finish the draft of Jeep Thompson and the Lost Prince of Venus before the 1,000th blog in the streak. I’m more confident about that than I’ve been in a long time.
I’ll let you know how that works out in, oh, about 92 days.