Currently my writing plan is 1,000 words a day. I’ve plotted out a schedule that at this rate, with a bit of rewriting thrown in, will land me up finishing completely on the 21st September. This is the hand in date for the CSSD writers and I like the idea of tying my ship to theirs, so to speak. However, this 1,000 a day is more a psychological number. I wouldn’t be happy with it if that’s all I managed. On Mehta, I was 2,000 a day. On Ayodhya, I was 2,000. While I pretty much hit that each day, I also ended up hitting myself just as much. Some days I’d clear this number in a few hours and do a little bit over, others I’d be there til midnight (God bless you and your opening hours, LSE Library). Either way, there was no real give in the schedule and that messed with me and my life a lot.
This time around, I’ve planned for 1,000 and I write 2,000+, or at least I have over the last couple of days. Today I got to my desk at ten, after chugging a Red Bull (I only do this when breaking a story) sat down and got on with it. Lunch. Another Red Bull. I was 2,400 words clear by 4pm. I had intended to go straight to football from the library, assuming I’d need the time, but decided to go home early instead. I could have stayed on longer, but I decided to be just like LCD Soundsystem and bow out while I was still hot. I’ve heard this is generally good writing practice and means I don’t have to neglect my duties here.
So on this project I’m up to 6,600 words of my 12,000 target and writing like a demon. This is over half way. This is great. This is positive. Right?
Wrong, my friends. Because what I’m currently doing is not *really* writing. I’m just hammering stuff out, mining for material, it’s slightly advanced automatic writing. Chris Morris has a great quotation about this, that I can’t find just now, but he basically says that he loves hammering out dialogue and conversations, that stuff is all sorts of fun, but that it’s not what telling a story is. Story is (say it with me now) structure. An outline is where the cleverness really is, the true work, which is why I appear to be avoiding it like the plague. But it’s looming. While I have a loose idea of how it’s going to flow, I need to work on it properly to prevent this becoming a thematically confused, rambling mess. I mean, I know theatrical monologues can sometimes feel like that (did I mention I’m writing a monologue?) but they rarely actually are. They know what they’re doing to you, kids.
Right now I’m circling wide and the circles have to get tighter. I will say though that I’m confident that I’m circling something that will be worth it. Today, I spend a fraught couple of hours tearing parts out of me for the material. Stuff I didn’t really want to write about, stuff that made me feel a little bit sick. But that’s what happened when I was writing Ayodhya this time last year. I came home pretty much every day and started pummelling the sofa in tasty teenage-style angst because it hurt to write it*. So maybe I’m exactly where I need to be…?
*This sounds wanky. I know. You’ll have to indulge me until the 21st, I’m afraid, it’ll just get worse from here on in.