My wife and I went camping this weekend.
The Monster Rangers, a group begun by the good folks over at Steam Crow (Who I’ve talked about in other blogs. Look them up. They’re great.) held their annual Monstro Camp Prime. This is a chance for those who see monsters, out in the world, in dire need of assistance join up, game, drink, craft, and most importantly, be with each other in the wilderness.
Daniel and Dawna Davis started Steam Crow out of a passion, and that passion carried them to something that hundreds, if not thousands, of people want to take part in.
Coming off this weekend, similarly to the past 3 years, I’m always hit with a huge burst of inspiration.
To be among these people, musicians, crafters, performers, all out in the Arizona desert, is something truly soulful. Unlike previous years, I’m not letting it slip away after a few weeks, returning to my daily routine of falling asleep on the couch with a mouth full of store-bought kettle corn while watching another repeat episode of New Girl.
So, I came home and wrote.
I organized the next three months worth of writing deadlines, categorized my independent contractor job tasks that I’ve always had a tough time (Project Planning, Skills Development, etc.), and became more mentally prepared for the upcoming year than when the new year started. (Which is when I wanted to do so.)
Best not to waste it.
Here’s what I plan on doing:
So yesterday I wrote 1,200 words of Project: GREY. Quite possibly the most I’ve done in a single setting in the last month. More days like this and I’ll be sure to finish my manuscript by own January 31 deadline.
Now, were they a pretty 1,200 words?
Not really. I’m sure there’s some hidden gems in a sea of awful, but that’s for second & third & fourth drafts.
Maybe a fifth? No, that’d be silly.
Let’s unpack that.
So I think the 1st Draft can be more “chess piece” storytelling. Move characters from place to place with plot as the focus. Get these guys where they need to go. (To state, this is for me and not necessarily as spoken gospel, but it’s what I think I’ve figured out I need to get my writing work done.) If something artsy or fancy sounding comes out of the dribble, great! Perk! But, that should not be the focus of the 1st Draft.
Get. It. Done.
Spelling. Fix that spelling and make sense of those sentences. You know the ones, they sound like a toddler looking to read Gaiman. Not all of them are great, and in fact many of them will be downright terrawful (terrible+awful). Fix grammar, spruce up spelling, and delete those unnecessary sentences. Also, keep an eye on that plot. Have it flow smooth as can be.
Take a few weeks off, Rob.
Let your mind rest. Don’t think about it. Print it out and hide
Come back with fresh eyes. This is when you’ll erase whole sections, add on the sensory languages, and make the world as real as can be. What’s it like walking into a room? Sitting on the bus? Working in a classroom? Add in those descriptive bits to flesh out the universe.
BETA READ. Share it with people. No, not just any people. People you trust.
From there, you can make the changes really matter in the reader’s mind, like missed plot holes, story flow, and so on.
It’s a process, sure, but it’s a necessary process, like chewing food. One that ensures you can write as freely as possible in the early stages of a draft and keep it tight in later stages.
The point, the purpose, the ultimate goal, is to keep moving forward and produce stories.
Project: GREY Word Count: 14,748; Due: January 31
Thanks for reading,
Check out mine and Arnie Bermudez’s webcomic, The Juan!