Zel Update: Dedication Revelation

You’ve seen those people. Maybe you even are one of those people. The ones who have a passion and work toward bringing that passion to other people, often sharing their progress through blogs or social media or other things that you stalk, watching as it just seems so easy for them to get so much done.

I’ve always wanted to be one of those people–the people that are so dedicated to what they do. But it seems like I never reach that point with my writing, or, really, with anything else. In fact, most of the time, I don’t even want to open up my novel, let alone write in it.

Well, on Monday I had a little revelation on how they do it. You see, lately I’ve been having troubles writing in my Zel novel. I hardly write in it, and when I do, I’m forcing myself through until I can say, “I’ve written x amount of words, now I can be done.”

And on Monday, it just came to me: the reason behind why those people can be so dedicated, and why I didn’t want to write in my novel. I started writing when I had this thought, and here is what I wrote about it.

The key to being productive is not in words or time or amounts or how well something is written.

It’s in how well you enjoy it. It’s in those silly scenes that have no purpose but make you laugh, and those deep, emotional scenes where you touch a part of your characters’ hearts that you’ve never seen before. It’s in that love that makes you come back to the story again and again and again.

So don’t box yourselves in with rules and thoughts that your writing has to be good. It doesn’t! It has to be you, and if it’s pure you, it will be good, because you are good. It will be unique, because you are unique. And it’ll be just the slightest bit weird, because aren’t we all a little bit weird?

But that weirdness, that quirkiness, that’s what draws us in and makes us relate. That’s where our love of the story comes in, our love of the characters and the plot and all the aspects of the book — from an original love of writing it.

So love it. Don’t say it has to be good, say it has to be you, because you are the best thing that could ever happen to your novel. You’re the only one who can write it your way.

Throw away anything you don’t like. If it doesn’t make you excited, or make you itch to write the story, throw it out! Make something new up and replace it with excitement and happiness.

Yes, your novel will be a tangled mess of plot strings and holes and half-finished characters, but it’ll be a tangled mess that you will love.

And that is the most important thing.

That’s the secret–love! So simple, so pure, and yet…somehow not so easy. I’ve been losing sight of loving my novel, instead worrying about needing to write enough words every day, or making sure my characters are portrayed right, or making sure it’s actually good.

I’ve stopped focusing on love, and so instead of growing to love this novel, I think I’ve grown away from loving it. Loving someone, or something, is a choice more than a reaction. You don’t just love someone automatically, you have to spend a lot of time trying to get to know them and befriend them before love can be cultivated. I’m sorry to break it to you, all you Disney fans, but love at first sight desn’t actually exist.

Because of my lack of effort on trying to love my Zel novel, right now I honestly don’t love it. For some reason, even though I’ve written things that when I look back on them are really good, I didn’t end up loving them. I still don’t really love Zel and Cren very much. I don’t love the setting or the plot or the characters. It’s all just me trying to remember why I loved writing so much.

Bu the great thing is that it’s not to late for me to learn how to love this novel. I only have 30,000 words written, so there’s at least 50,000 words to go. I have time to become so infatuated with this novel that I can’t help but tell everyone about it.

On Monday, after I realized this, I went to my Zel novel and wrote a scene. A really silly, short scene, with a conversation between Zel and Cren that really amused me. One of the lines nearly made me giggle out loud (and I would’ve, if there weren’t other people in the room), and I don’t think I’ve ever laughed while writing. Maybe a snicker once or twice to myself, but never this urge to giggle because I thought something was actually funny.

I may not use it later on, but it’s the embodiment of the point I’m trying to get across. It was my writing and my really bad humor, and I enjoyed it so much. Because of that, I now truly love that scene.

So now it’s time for me to stop worrying about all the things my Zel novel needs to be, and just write it for what it isand for it wants to become. I think the final result will be well worth my effort.

Zel Update: Getting Unstuck

First of all, the Mini NaNo. Yeah. Heh. Well, I didn’t get to my goal on it, so I guess that kind of failed, but I still wrote 7,000 words in one week, which is more than I was writing before, so it sort of did accomplish my goal.

During the middle of the Mini NaNo, I had a bit of writer’s block. Or maybe something else–whatever you want to call it, I just couldn’t write the scene I was working on. I couldn’t really write anything.

I’ve been stuck before in my writing, and usually I just keep writing random stuff until I get to a point where I feel unstuck again, but this time I didn’t feel like that would work.  Either that, or I didn’t want to continue slogging through this sludgy writing.

So I became unstuck. It took a little over an hour of rambling to some friends, but it was really quite simple to fix. It followed this simple formula:

  1. Find out the problem or inconsistency.
  2. Understand how to make the problem or inconsistency correct again.
  3. Go back and begin writing where the problem began, this time using the correct way you developed in step 2.

So, it seems simple, but how does one go about doing this? Well, here’s how I began. As I was rambling to my friends, I started by listing some things that seemed to be off about my writing, even if I wasn’t so sure why they were off.

Take a wild guess at who happened to be off? Yup, it was Cren. *glares fondly* is glaring fondly possible? Okay, Zel was being problematic too, I guess, but I enjoy glaring at Cren. Actually, *glares at both of them*.

Right. So after I did some glaring at my characters, I decided to ramble a bit about what I felt was wrong with them at the moment. First I talked about Zel, and then I talked about Cren for a while, exploring what I knew about their personalities and how they were acting now.

The problem was that they were both acting way too nice to each other.

I’d already decided that Cren was judgmental, so he wouldn’t suddenly start being nice to Zel, who he’s only known as a murderer. And Zel is so determined to further her own purposes that the only reason she’d be nice to Cren is if she wanted something from him.

Next, I followed step 2: how to make the problem right again. Pretty much, the answer was to express their true views of each other better by having their words, thoughts, and actions be not quite so nice, since that’s what they’d normally do.

Most of step 2 I kind of skipped until I was actually writing again, but just getting into my characters’ skins and thinking about how they think and act helped me do this.

And step 3. That was problematic, because while the problem had worsened over the last 1000 words, this odd niceness had been going on for chapters. And this was a first draft–one of those things you’re supposed to write as quickly as you can to get the story out before even thinking about making it nice.

Going back several chapters and starting writing again from there was not going to work, not if I wanted to finish by April (which is hopefully still happening, but aahahhh I’m not sure on that).

Instead, I wrote a note to myself, explaining that when I revised those past few chapters I would need to use Cren and Zel’s correct personalities, and from now on I would be. And then I tried to write, pretending I’d fixed it.

That was kind of hard for me, since I write very chronologically, and a lot of what I write in later chapters is based on or has references to earlier chapters, so just pretending that I wrote an entire section seemed difficult when it hadn’t actually happened and I had no real material to draw from when I continued writing.

So I switched a few things, though only a few. I did decide to restart the chapter I was on instead of continuing with the horrible few hundred I’d already written, and I did change from Zel’s POV to Cren’s POV, since it seemed to fit better.

But once I started writing, it worked out really, really well. Zel and Cren’s conversation (or I should say “argument”) flowed together way better than they had before, and the chapter was overall much easier to write.

I think the hour that I spent following that formula was more productive than spending two hours or more continuing to write in false personalities for my characters. Taking the time to think about who my characters really were helped me write better, and I recommend the formula for anyone who is feeling stuck in writing. It really does help.

Oh, and one more Zel update for those of you who are more romantically-minded. I was writing on my google doc, and wrote a sentence that started with, “Walking over to Cren, Zel…”

“Cren, Zel” got underlined with red. When I clicked to see what the suggestion was, it gave me “Crenzel”, but when I looked to see if there was a definition for that, there wasn’t one.

It’s meant to be…even Google wants “Crenzel” to be their ship name. 😀