I’ve talked at length here about the need to make changes in my life and work harder at doing the things I’m inspired to do. I’ve discussed it until everyone, including me, is thinking “yeah, yeah, hurray… good for you. shut up and do it already!” So I did.
I’ve made a few minor tweaks to my lifestyle and my scheduling. I talked things over with my doctor. And I made a huge change in my writing methodology.
The results? Incredible progress on one side, and perseverance on the other.
One of my two main goals in my “New Normal” coming out of the six months of chemotherapy is to be fit and riding my bike. I discovered after a couple of tries that I am so weak physically, that I’m going to struggle to get started. Does that mean I’m going to slip? Just say the heck with it and sit on the couch? No way! Since the bike is too difficult right now, I’m working on running short distances to slowly increase my stamina (I’ve got a good 1.5 mile route that I’m using). Have I been doing a great job of sticking to it? No, not as good as I’d like. But I will persevere. I won’t quit. I refuse. It might take me a little longer than I’d like to get my weak body back where it needs to be, but you will see me pedaling around the mountains of southern Tennessee in a couple of months. It is a huge help when you all continue to ask me #whereareyourmiles
The combination of the lifestyle adjustments and a complete change in my writing methodology have seen my word counts absolutely soar over the past couple weeks.
What changed? I have started using what is colloquially referred to as the “Vomit Method” in my writing. Pleasant, I know – but it is an apt description.
My writing method before would utilize my outline and I would work to create a story that made sense, with character and place names, where structural elements and plot lines were in perfect synchronization with what came before and after… I was basically trying to have a rough draft that I could give to you (as a test reader), and have it all make sense. It took forever. And it wasn’t much fun.
With this new methodology, I just blurt out the story! It’s a little like me describing an entire movie to you that you haven’t seen yet. A really good movie. I write about the characters and some of what makes them individuals so you’ll recognize them as I continue, then I tell you about the story and what happened (and I’m seriously excited and breathless about it because the story was awesome!). I don’t bother to describe the settings, or talk about any complicated character development that happened. I don’t even bother with names for most of the characters or places… I JUST WRITE.
The difference? With the old method, a good writing day would be a tortoise-like 600-700 words. Painful. Uninspiring. And nothing that made me want to sit down at the keyboard and get to work.
Barfing my story out onto the computer? Try 2000 words per day, sometimes more if I can keep myself away from evil temptations like the thesaurus.
How will it change the end result? With the old method, I would have finished the process with the fabled Rough Draft (assuming I was ever motivated to finish at all). Instead, this process will produce this skeletal draft, which will then probably require two re-writes to get to the Rough Draft stage – where all the story lines make sense and the structure is interesting enough to keep you turning the page. Sounds like more work, right? But it won’t be. With the initial draft finished, I’ll be able to concentrate completely on making sure everything makes sense and is intriguing, and be able to get in-depth with my character development. It will also give my editor a chance to look at the story in a format where I’m not going to be pissed when she suggests a sizeable change (because I won’t have spent weeks working on those sections).
I’m having so much fun writing these days that I even found a new toy for us to play with… If you look over on the right hand column (under the Social Media follow links)… Yep, right over there →
You’ll see that I’ve added a new section called “Works in Progress”. I’ll update that once per week or so and you can see how I’m doing! Keep in mind that the word count goals are an estimate (100,000 words is somewhere a little over 300 pages), but should be pretty close to reality.
How am I doing health-wise?
Not bad. You can tell from my activity levels that I’m feeling better and motivated by both that and the fact that I’m done with chemo. The physical recovery from having my body torn up by the chemotherapy is going to take a while… My stomach and digestive tract are a disaster, I’m guessing eyelashes still are a couple of months away – to say nothing of hair, and we already talked about my overall physical weakness.
I have my post-chemotherapy PET Scan next week on the 14th, which will tell us whether we’ve succeeded in getting my lymphoma into a state of remission. So your prayers and kind thoughts are still appreciated. As much as I am trying to move on from all this, it’s kind of like Princess Leia said after they escaped the Death Star, “It’s not over yet.” Let’s just hope we’ve already made all the attack runs down that valley we need to and I’m not back in a couple of weeks quoting that movie again with, “Negative, they just impacted on the surface…”
Total nerd, I know… but it has served me well – I once won a piece of pie in Star Wars Trivial Pursuit by remembering that Princess Leia’s cell number on the Death Star was 2187. And they say we only use a tiny piece of our brains…