First drafting progress: Finishing and looking forward

This year has been a strange and difficult year for all of us. The world is going through a period where we are spending more time alone than ever before. I know that for some people it has been more difficult to adapt to this new norm than for others. But when I think back to this year, I can safely say that I am quite happy with the progress I’ve made. I can say that because of Covid I made a lot of progress writing my book. And though it has not been easy, I have found a rhythm in this situation that I quite like.

So the big question now is: Did I finish my first draft? The simple answer is No, not yet. The expanded answer is that I am still working on the last chapter. The closing part of the chapter as it were. It is outlined but there are still a couple of hours that I need to spend to complete it. It is a slow process, yet I am confident I can finish it in the last weeks of the year. Confidence stemming from my progress over the last weeks and looking back at my progress of the entire year.

Edit December 20th: Finished!

Looking back

When looking back on the process it has been educational as well as interesting. Writing a first draft of one’s first book is equally exciting and terrifying. From the satisfaction of finishing the first chapter or rearranging the entire book into a solid structure. It all ads up to create an experience I will not forget. 

Thinking about the current draft I can already point out a couple of things that I am not happy with. The prose, point of view and the worldbuilding. They show the inexperience of my current self. For now I accept that these elements are not done and will be developed and iterated upon in the months to follow. 

The application of structure was the greatest improvement in the process. It allowed for a solid framework so I could make meaningful and creative decisions which added to the narrative.

But the most important thing I learned is having fun while doing it. Feeling the satisfaction of finishing a scene or a chapter. Counting the words to see the physical process as well as noticing the mental improvements by the desire to work on the story multiple evenings a week and during the weekends. 

Though I realize this has also been the consequence of my singular goal to finish the first draft this year. Yet I cannot deny that I created the time and (mental) space for it to be important in my life. As will I continue to do next year.

Looking forward

When l think about the next year I am not quite sure how the situation will unfold. I’m writing this on December 14th, the day the Dutch Prime Minister declared the hard lockdown for the next couple of weeks. And as disappointing as it might be for many people, I hold my stance that the situation with Covid continues to give us opportunity to look at our lives in a new perspective. And I encourage you to do so. I learned so much this year and made progress towards my goal of doing something professionally with writing. In the end, all these small steps add up so I can reach my goal.

January will give a fresh perspective and the option to make new decisions for the year to come.*  For example I know I will continue with my book, though the text will be put aside for at least a month while I fix some worldbuilding and think about the next steps. As mentioned I already have an indication of what can be improved, and need to decide how to best educate myself on the mentioned subjects. 

For now I would like to thank you for reading my First Drafting blog series. I hope it gave you an insight of what I was going through while working on this project, as well as the time and energy that is neccesary to finish it. I sincerely hope that this series also gave you the perspective that though it isn’t always an easy process, it is a fun and fulfilling thing to do. As I mentioned above, I learned a lot and it has given me the confidence to continue on this path. 

I wish you happy holidays and stay safe.

* Though you can made those decisions every month of the year, I find January particularly nice since its the start of a new year.

Untitled until I get creative

Date of writing: Wednesday October 16th

Congratulations to me: I have tricked my mind into sitting down and writing something. Although I’m currently a week of from work I have yet to seriously continue on my book. Procrastination is a thing, yes. I’m an experienced procrastinator and I know it. 

I can talk all day long about other interesting things that are going on or that are on my ‘to do list’, but the fact is that I had planned yesterday (Tuesday) to work on my book today. And it did not happen.

Funny how that didn’t work out. It seems I had found something more easier to keep my attention. And with that dopamine influx my afternoon was gone before I knew it. 

A little bummed by this I had the brilliant idea just before dinner to search the internet on how to bend my motivation to the the correct subject. How to easily move into action. But I quickly realized I already know the answer. Without finding what I eventually found. It happens to us all…

Just as an FYI: Because I am a master procrastinator 
I need to have someone else telling me thing I know already; 
so my mind can get affirmation and lose 30 minutes while doing it…… 

Do Something!

Now what I found is a theoretical frame. It’s called the Do something principle (by Mark Manson). 

The funny thing is this principle is a circular three-step framework where I can and want to add in a step 0 which I know will help me sometimes. Other times its just start with step 1. So here we go.

Step 0: if you’re doing something that doesn’t suit your needs, take a small break. Go to the toilet or take a walk. Just to break away from the situation or flow you are in. It helps to close off anything your doing. So if you’re gaming, close the game. This way, when you return to your workspace it’s ‘clean’. I usually have the issue that I start my PC, open the related programme but get distracted by something else. Stop what you’re doing and take a (small) break.

The Do Something Principle itself is as mentioned a circular framework were it does not matter where you start. You can enter the circle on any of the three positions. But in my specific case I have numbered the thing that I need to do as step 1.

Step 1: Action/Do something. In my case: write a paragraph or a sentence. It doesn’t matter the quality but write something. If the thing you’re aiming for is big (like writing a book), make it smaller so it can be done in one or two minutes. And if you find yourself staring at a piece of paper just write a word. You got to start somewhere, right?

This blog started with the word procrastination.

The strange thing is that step 2 and 3 usually follow naturally after you made your start.  Step 2: Inspiration. Even if the goal is to write one sentence, what usually happens is that we can and will do a little bit more.  And before you know it you’ve arrived at Step 3: Motivation. Cheers, you’ve motivated yourself to take further action. A round circle.

Out of sight, out of mind

The way I experience working on (bigger) projects is: the longer we are separate from one the tougher it gets to start anew or continue with it. So my plan for tomorrow is not to first post this on my website, but to open the book project file and write a sentence in the first chapter of the book.

To help myself I will now pull the internet cable from my machine so that is also not available tomorrow. 

I will let you know what happened in a couple weeks 🙂