It started way back--and by that, I mean a few years ago. It was around the time when I was writing, or had just finished writing, Darkened Slumber, my Sleeping Beauty retelling. I had decided that for the next two Rooglewood contests, I wanted a modern spy story and a sci-fi superhero mystery(ish) story. I had ideas for both of them: who their main characters would be, some of the tracks I would include in the playlist, a number of scenes that would take place, et cetera.
A year passed with no contest. That was fine by me, because I had others to do, from getting my first job to working on other projects. Then 2017 rolled around, and I found out that this contest would be the last. I had to choose between my two ideas. It wasn't too hard, though, because I wanted my spy story to be a retelling of either Rapunzel or The Little Mermaid. The unfortunate thing was I had fewer ideas for the superhero story.
I was confident that it wouldn't be too hard. I had determined to power through it and get it done in the summer. The first day I wrote was July 25th. I wouldn't write again until September 10th, and then until October 9th and 29th. Each time I wrote, I never did more than a couple hundred words.
My issue? A lack of inspiration. Every time I tried to get into the story, I didn't feel it. To be honest, I disliked it. My writing felt ugly and far too simplistic. This wasn't a tale worth entering.
The deadline loomed ever closer. I felt it peering over my shoulder, and I debated throwing in the towel. Digital Pulse was going nowhere fast. Perhaps it just wasn't meant to be. I didn't know what to do, or how to continue. I'd heard the advice that you need to write even when you don't feel like it, but trust me when I say that it's hard. I would sit there and despise every word I typed--or at least, I felt like it could be ten times better.
In a last-ditch attempt to get inspired, I did a Beautiful Books post on November 18th. Looking back now, I'm not sure what gave me the idea to do it. Perhaps it was the fact that Tracey had done a similar post earlier that week. Turns out it was the right thing to do. I left that post feeling ready to tackle my story and put a little skip in its step. I got ideas for new characters, including the "mirror", a personal assistant by the name of Selah. Honestly, she's up there in my list of favorite characters. Her upbeat nature, random comments, and witty remarks earn her a special place in my heart.
I also got some encouraging comments on that post, with people saying they liked the concept of the story. With that gust of wind in my sails, I returned to Digital Pulse on the 20th. While my word counts weren't spectacular for the most part, I was still writing on a consistent. Things were shaping up quite nicely. I had even come up with the majority of the story's events during one work shift.
Then December 9th happened.
I know I've mentioned a couple of times already how one of my friends left me, and I'm not going to go into great lengths about it again here. While it may be becoming a tired subject for you, I believe this event had a profound effect on my story. Before this had all happened, I had decided that the theme of my story could be summed up in two words: moving on. I talked of being strengthened by storms; now I had to take my own advice. I had to deal with this hurt and hardship, and find a way to regain my stride.
I refuse to spoil stuff that happens in Digital Pulse. But now that I look back at it, I see my struggle in those words. Is it exaggerated at times? Sure it is. That's what writers do on occasion--well, at least this writer. I want my readers to identify with my characters and their difficulties, so I exaggerate it to make it relatable to more people. (Does that make sense?)
The events that happened in December influenced the story, and I think that's why it was quite poignant for me sometimes. I recall very few times that my writing--or any story in general--that's brought me close to tears. But Digital Pulse did that twice. Chapter 14 is, in my mind, honestly one of the best scenes I've ever written, for reasons I can't disclose. Perhaps it's because I almost cried while writing/reading it.
December, while painful at times, turned out to be my best month for writing in the entire year. On the 28th, I wrote just over 3k, something I don't think I've ever done. The next day, I finished up the story, took a little break, then went back for editing. Well, it was more like a read-through, but it still helped. I found a few inconsistencies, fixed those, tweaked some wording (although I missed an unneeded word in one sentence), and before I knew it, I was finished. So I sent it off and could breath again.
But I left the story differently than I thought I would. I wasn't tired of writing. Far from it, actually. My mentality when I finished was, "I gotta work on another project!" While I haven't yet, you can bet I will, which is why I'm sharing my writing goals for the year.
Before I do that, I want to quickly mention I did something very different for Digital Pulse. I normally find tracks that inspire scenes in my story, and I compile them in a playlist. This time, I initially didn't have a clear vision of the story as a whole. I'd found tracks beforehand, and while I kept some in the end, others didn't fit with the end product. So it was only once the story was over that I actually sat down and worked on the playlist. This is something I do when making playlists for other people's stories, but never for my own. I'm not sure if I prefer this method for my own writing . . . but I think I still ended up with a solid playlist.
Let's talk writing goals now. In college, I learned a good deal about SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Goals have to be these five things if you really want a chance to succeed. For example, if you say, "I'm going to lose weight this year," good for you! But I can tell you right away this resolution isn't lasting long. This isn't specific enough; you have to know how much weight you're planning on losing. You also need to make sure that number is a realistic one, and give yourself a proper timeline for achieving it. Otherwise you'll wait until the last minute (like I did with Digital Pulse), or you'll never do it.
So for 2018, I'm making goals for my writing, and I'm sharing them on here so I've got some accountability. My first goal is to reread A Totally Epic Pirate Story this month and decide if I want to finish it for closure's sake or if I want to leave it.
Once that's done, I will return to The Tournament of Convicts and keep writing that. I have pretty much the whole plot--most of it, anyway--in my head, so all I have to do is write. The deadline for completing it is the end of May.
After those two, I have to choose between continuing Maelstrom or beginning to novelize Darkened Slumber. I won't make that decision now, and I'm also not really putting a time on that right now. It may sound hypocritical, I know, but I want to focus more on the aspect of writing constantly rather than completion for the project this year. When 2019 rolls around, I can see where I'm at and go from there.
I'd also like to write more for An Old Face, a New Game by the end of the year. I'm saying at this point to write at least ten chapters. I'm working on a project with a friend of mine as well, called The Darkest Dawn. Again, no set deadlines on this because she's in school, and that would be unfair to her.
Every three months, I'm going to assess my goals on here and check on how things are going. That way, I can see my progress and tweak things if I have to. In January of 2019, I will examine the year as a whole and make new goals depending on how things went.
To wrap up this post, what did I learn from my writing this year, which mostly consisted of Digital Pulse?
- Inspiration may fall out of the sky and hit you on the head . . . or it may not. When it doesn't, go out and find it. Make it, if you have to.
- Writing frequently is the best way to get a project done, even if it's only a few hundred words at time.
- Challenge yourself to go farther than you have before. Stretch yourself. Always reach for something higher.
- Tragedy and pain in your life sucks. But you can still use it to strengthen your story, and through that, yourself.
- Don't wait until the last minute. It'll be more enjoyable if you have more time.
- Do more Beautiful People/Books posts! They help you picture your story and characters better, as well as get you out of a creative rut.
Well, I hope you all enjoyed this in-depth look at the journey that I took. Did you enter the Rooglewood contest? What're your thoughts on fairy tale retellings? Do you have writing goals--or any goals--for 2018?