Taking up the Challenge

So, Kat issued me with a bit of a challenge: can I use the time I have, as an unemployed individual, to try out the process of writing as a job. If I can stick to it for a week or two, maybe I can work out if this writing lark is dream or fantasy…

Well, after some encouragement, I’ve made some baby steps from an initial state of being somewhat freaked out, towards actually taking up the thrown-down gauntlet. First step was actually getting out of bed.

I’ve actually had something of a routine the last few months, but a routine that involves a not insignificant amount of being in bed. Each day I would wake whenever I woke, mess around on the internet for a while, then shower, make coffee, and struggle into wakefulness. Occasionally this pattern would enable some work to be done before lunch, but most of the time, it didn’t. Instead, I would walk my mum into work (she works half days), come home, make lunch, and settle into work around 2-2.30pm. I’d then press on with the job hunting process until 5 or 6pm.

So, a working routine, but nothing close to a real working day. Part of Kat’s challenge is actually putting in a full days work, and that means dragging myself out of bed before 9am.

***

This is how it’s gone thus far. Yesterday I got up at 8am. By 9am I was on my way out of the house, walking into Harborne. I went to WH Smiths, and purchased myself an A4 notepad and some new pens. Nice, long walk home, and down to ‘work’.

The morning I used my new pad to write down the basic outlines I had for script ideas. A total of seven projects, most of them only initial ideas, or very rough outlines. But at least now there is an ‘idea’ and a working title to each locked on paper. Somewhere to start.

After walking Mum to the office, the afternoon was spent writing the precredits and credit sequence to the first idea. It’s currently running on the working title of “A Very British War Movie”, although I can assure you that it won’t keep it. It’s not even a great indication of what the film is about, but at least sketches out the genre (ish). 1700 words isn’t bad for an afternoons work, although probably still short of Kat’s target.

Today I also managed to drag myself up before 9am, and I’ve written the opening to another project, working title “The Farm”. Only 630 words, but then there’s no dialogue.

***

So, not a bad start. Although, now things are going to grind to a halt. I really have to concentrate on an application form, over the next couple of days, and so that will distract me from writing. I hope to get back into it next week, although I may note down some thoughts in between moments of staring blankly at Job Descriptions.

The other problem, is that these two opening sequences were the only scenes I already had written in my head. Everything from this point on has to be genuine new creativity. Can I do it? Can I take these ideas and run with them? Will writing itself become a chore? At this point, I don’t know. I’ll keep you updated…

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5 thoughts on “Taking up the Challenge

  1. The challenge is to keep it going!! Found this with writing the thesis and to a lesser extent with the unpublished wonder that is the tale of my six months round the world trip.

    So here’s some suggestions: an interesting page which may or may not be useful – it’s about ‘ways to deal with writer’s block’ but is actually a good way to get started.
    http://www.sff.net/People/LisaRC/exer.htm

    Another suggestion is to ensure quick wins: begin by writing just a word. Then a sentence. Then a paragraph. Each one is a completed work in itself – so you get in the habit of finishing something you start. This is absolutely vital, for me anyway: nothing worse than that feeling of ‘there’s so MUCH left to do, I’ll never finish it, at least not today… now isn’t there some washing-up I can do…’

    Finally, and horribly for those of us who enjoy reading your blog and need to comment and email more regularly, blogging might need to be cut back. Creatively, even though unrelated, blogging *and* writing on the same day is amazingly like trying to boil a kettle with the lid off. Blog wins, every time.

    Movie suggestion from friend of mine with strange dreams: ‘ghost guns’ that bring ghosts back to life, thereby allowing you to commit an anti-crime.

  2. Well done on achieving a great first day! I hope the productive nature made you feel good and like you’d acheived something.

    If you are writing script style rather than fiction style I suggest that we ‘could’ revise down the word count challenge as this was a number based on NaNoWriMo, and novel description by necessity tends to have more words for the same amount of action. But I’d suggest keeping the word challenge as is for now and see how you do and we’ll see later as to whether it really is unrealistic. NaNoWriMo is aimed at people writing in their spare time and theoretically you have quite a large proportion of the day to write so I am not sure we should let you off quite yet ;-).

    Are there a few tasks that you are looking forward to in your writing bits? If so, maybe you can use those bits as rewards after spending less interesting time doing job applications. Spend a few hours doing applications and then reward yourself by spending half and hour or an hour doing something creative and fun. If you need to think hard about what happens next and it’s too much of a chore with your application filling, what about spending half an hour as a reward sketching out what the story cover might look like. Half an hour’s research on the internet for something story related would also work – although be careful with internet stuff if you are easily distracted and will find it difficult to cut yourself off after half an hour. I know I do which is why I did all my MSc work actually ‘at work’ – no temptation to mess around on the internet there.

    After spending the previous year doing dissertation work for 2.5-3 hours every night Monday to Friday I have become adept at managing my own complex system of rewards to keep myself amused and going 😉 It involves chocolate, slashdot, cake, fizzy drinks, chocolate, chatting with work colleagues and chocolate. Some of these might also work for you 😉

  3. For those who want an update (Kat):

    I’ve had an important job application to write, and another job possibility to research, and I’ve had to sign on. So there has been plenty of important things to do other than write. But there has also been plenty of writing.

    Thus far, it has been a nice mix. There has yet to be a day (other than the 1st) where I just try to write and nothing more, so I’m not sure how that will go. Currently most thought is going into the relationships one, which is moving along nicely, and I have plenty of other ideas to switch to should I get stuck. Not sure if that’s a good way to work when you’re writing as a career, but that’s what I’ve been doing…

    Tomorrow I’m off to Sheffield to see my baby brother, and Wednesday I need to call a man about a job, so may not get down to it again until Thursday…

    Thus ends the progress report

    • You need to work on your descriptions / excuses 😛 You make it sound like it’s going to take 7 hours to ‘call a man about a job’.

      It’s good to hear you’re still going at it. If you choose to share with us what you’ve produced at the end I’d be interested in looking at it.

      Kat.

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