Still no outline, but lots of ideas.

I’m still having trouble developing a full outline but it has been more of an issue of not having the time to sit down alone and map it all out than a reluctance to think about the big picture. I can sort of see how the story is going to shape up, but until I carve out about two hours to jot notes on index cards, I may not know how things will happen.

Three things I did to facilitate my writing this week:

1) I bought Scrivener for Windows: I wrote my NaNo novel in the Scrivener beta last year and even though I didn’t make full use of its features, I found it enormously useful. This year, I am breaking my novel into pieces to write it and Scrivener really lends itself to writing in sections. It’s kind of a relief to be able to work just on this one section and to know I can easily add pieces before and after it without having to scroll through a long document to do so.  Scrivener will let me just add another scene (in a separate section) right before or after and I can move the scenes around as needed.

2) I talked about my novel: I was having a little trouble moving past where I was earlier the week. I could tell I was just spinning my wheels, trying to up my word count. And that’s fine,within NaNoWriMo, if you are using it to get past the obstacle of writing in the first place. I don’t have that obstacle, I’m not afraid to put words on the page – not even 50,000 words (although, admittedly, I did need to use last year to prove to myself that I could write something that long, but I was never afraid to do it). My issue is in creating the habit of writing regularly, in not letting all the other priorities of my life crowd out my writing.

So I don’t want to just produce 50, 000 words, I want to create a complete skeleton of a story, much like I did last year. In order to do that, I need a solid thread to pull all the way through my writing and I have several key areas that I need to cover. So when my brain was spinning, I started talking about it. And I got cool input from all sorts of places.

As I mentioned yesterday, The Boy, in a matter of fact sort of way, gave me a key plot point – the demons’ motivation for certain actions.  Katie and The Man let me talk out another plot snarl and gave me good points to think about. Derek, Ange, The Man and Katie brainstormed weapons and demon defenses with me.

I’m really lucky to have such creative people around me all the time, people for whom writing isn’t a silly waste of time, but an interested, worthwhile endeavour that can be discussed just like any other work. It’s also a stroke of luck that my friends have such varied knowledge and interests that they can pull all manner of obscure and arcane references out of their heads to solve problems and help me create workable scenarios.

3) I was stubborn: I took my birthday off. I didn’t mean to, but it just so happened that there was just no time for writing that day. However, the other days this week when writing was hard, I forced myself to the keyboard and insisted that words must be generated. Last night it took me about 3 hours to produce 1205 words, partially because I was trying to write in a room full of people (writing in a room alone probably wouldn’t have worked much better though, I was not on my game yesterday) and partially because I didn’t know where to start next. I wouldn’t let myself away with less than 1200 words though because that’s how much I needed in order to be on target for day 11. So even if I ended up writing about what it felt like for my character to drive her car, I was going to keep typing until I got to 1200.

After a few false starts I ended up with a decent scene about her meeting a new character at the airport. And then with the infusion of that new character who could bring all sorts of new knowledge with her I was able to easily write over 2000 words today. I could have even written more but I decided to leave the story somewhere exciting so I could jump in tomorrow.

I’m enjoying this project and I’m enjoying learning about how to get myself to work more consistently. I am also looking forward to my experiment in increasing my word count quickly once I get that outline written.

Do you write? Do you use an outline? Does it help you write more quickly? How do you create your outline? How detailed is it? Do you find questions at the end of a post annoying? 🙂