I’ve missed two deadlines. First off, this blog post is going up four days later than I’d wanted. Second, April 30th was the deadline for the first draft of Blythe vs. the Werewolf. I completed it on May 3rd.
But I got it done.
Working on the draft throughout April was an on and off struggle. There was a span of over two weeks where I didn’t work on it at all. And then I stopped tracking my word count.
I’ve talked about this in previous posts, but focusing on word count just hasn’t been working for me. Tracking everything weighed me down and made writing feel more like a chore than it had to. I got my final push to stop worrying about word count and just enjoy the act of writing again after watching Michelle Schusterman’s video, Let’s talk about word count goals and toxic productivity. In it, she talks about the false dichotomy of quality vs. quantity, and how “productivity” will look different for everyone.
Tracking word counts is super motivating for a lot of people, and that’s great! But it doesn’t work for me. I get far too focused on the idea of “writing a lot of words” every day. It rung true to me when Michelle brings up that worrying about being productive (getting x amount of words in per day, for example) can kill the desire to tell a story. Her video is about reframing our personal ideas of productivity from “getting x amount done” to figuring out how to get “into the zone” when writing.
She also gives a shout out to Markus Regius’s video, No more MilWordy, where he talks about coming to terms with a depression diagnosis, and how the depression has affected his life and his writing. When he was able to write again, he stopped tracking his word count in order to put less pressure on himself. This is where it all really clicked for me. In Michelle’s words, he “took quantifying productivity out of the equation, and that’s how he found success. He stopped measuring results and just wrote.”
I wanted to try it for myself. I guess in a way, I saw this as permission or at least encouragement to stop tracking my own word count. I abandoned my “get a sticker for x amount of words” system, pulled out a (mostly) empty journal, and started writing longhand. (Harder to know the exact word count that way.)
Turns out that was just what I needed, and after a week, I’d finished the second half of my draft. It’s a complete mess, but that’s the thing: It’s COMPLETE!
Revisions pending, of course.
I hadn’t reached “the end” on a draft in over two years, and doing so feels great. Allowing myself to stop worrying about how many words I could or should write in a day was so freeing. I actually had FUN writing again!
I still tracked when my writing sessions began and ended, but I could write the times directly onto the page and copy them over later. It allowed me more time and energy to focus on writing and waste less time on recording when I should start or stop.
Using pomodoro videos that kept track of the work vs. break sessions without me having to do more than hit “play” once really helped, too. As did the treasure trove of ambience and mood music videos available on YouTube. As I write this, I’m vibing to Take It Easy over at mynoise.net.
So, what’s next?
I think I’m going to let the draft rest for another day or two, and then I’ll start on the thumbnail sketches. I’m counting those as part of my revision process since fitting everything into a set number of pages will help me decide what to cut, condense, and refine.
That, and it’ll save me some time. I’ve got 60 comic pages to draw by October 1st, after all. That, and my self-imposed deadline for the thumbnails is still May 31st.
One thing I’m trying to decide is if I want to get back into drafting other stories while I move onto the visual component of BvtW. I miss working on Strange Company, and I want to get back to work on Wyrd Girl, as well. And short stories!
I guess not beating myself up over being “unproductive” and just enjoying writing again has worked wonders. Who would have thought?
P.S. I’m thinking about streaming my thumbnail process over on Twitch, so follow me there to see when I go live!
There isn’t much over there yet, but I’ll post here if/when I’ve figured out a schedule for myself.