This year I decided to take one of my morning writing prompts from last year and write continuously on it everyday for a year. My plan was to have no plan and to simply use the last sentence of each day’s timed fifteen minutes as the starting point for the next day’s fifteen minutes. I deliberately did no planning or outlining. I kept a file of notes to add things as I went.
For the most part those notes involved comments like – add physical description, figure out if they are his step brothers or half brothers, and as the story changed, figure out what the company does.
The idea I had at the beginning was to separate my main character, James from his old life and force him as a grown adult to start over and rebuild his life. I thought it would be interesting to see what habits carried over and the choices that would be made when there was no more expectation.
And yet somehow James didn’t slip easily into a new life. he didn’t even slip roughly into a new life as people kept coming at him with guns. It was a most unexpected turn. But as I hadn’t planned any turns, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.
One of the things I wanted to see was that if an accumulation of daily fifteen minute writings could amount to anything. while at the end of this year there will need to be some severe editing and a balance between the mystery of the people with guns and James establishing his new life found in a way that makes for a good solid read, it is becoming a complete manuscript. I think part of the problem is time.
I think that time is causing a bit of the drifting in the story. The complete lack of outlining isn’t helping of course, but time is also a factor. As I said before my plan was to write on this project every week day for a year. we have just finished month eight and the accumulated word count of fifteen minute stretches has taken me to a word count of 100,238. Now 100K is definitely a novel length manuscript. And like I said, there will be heavy editing needed. In truth the way the story is meandering, it will take me the rest of the year to wrap up. But I think part of the meandering is due to knowing I still have four months of daily writings to use to finish the story.
I want the take of James to wrap up as close to the one year mark as possible. while I think this story will always blend James and his new life and the gun toting attackers it will need to be cleaned up, details sorted as I look at it in it’s entirety and as I said severe editing done. which is fine. This is an experiment after all.
My monthly posting of notes is both an attempt to keep you updated on the progress as well as a chance for me to sit and think about the experiment s a whole. I like this experiment and I think I will work on it again next year, but I am thinking there will be changes. I think that next year once I choose the prompt I want to break out, I will put together a few bullet points for the story before I truly begin. It won’t be a full outline.
Anytime I’ve actually made an outline they have been beautiful things. However after the fist couple of days they are pretty pointless for the story I am writing. But they are lovely. I do think a could of bullet points, like highway markers for the main story line would be a good thing with this type of project.
the second thing I think I may change next year is that I may choose two separate prompts to break out into stories. That way if I reach mid-year and realize I am close to wrapping up the story, I won’t feel the need to meander just to fill time.
Admittedly with James I’ve meandered so much that I need the time just to get back to the main story plot. and I think my meandering grew worse in June. I’ll have to look back to see once this is done, but I think that was when the meandering kicked in.
So these are additional lessons I have learned when doing this project. I will be keeping track of the lessons and hopefully implementing them in next year’s experiment. For now of course, month eight of James is complete and we press on into September as James finally begins to find himself again.