“You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or despair … Come to it any way but lightly.” – Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
It’s evening here in Lithia, Florida, on May 26, 2023; sunset is less than one hour away, and the temperature is exactly how it was when I first started to write my first post of the day – 78°F/26°C. I don’t know if it rained this afternoon, but the dreaded thunderstorms in today’s forecast stayed far from my current neighborhood. I’ve eaten dinner – a black bean enchilada from, I believe, Publix – and I’m debating whether I should go watch TV out in the Florida room or try to work on The New Story, even though it’s Friday night and I should relax a little bit.
“When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest.” Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
As I mentioned in On Writing & Storytelling: To Write or Not to Write – Today’s Pressing Dilemma, I had two choices regarding what to do during my work hours (I try to write, more or less, during business hours, or 9 AM-5 PM Mondays through Fridays). The way I saw it, I could either:
- Write an all-new scene for the ninth chapter, or
- Focus a bit on editing existing material before pressing forward
I was still not in the best of moods when I opened up the various document files related to my work-in-progress; there are four at the moment: a “scratch sheet” file where I write rudimentary rough drafts of scenes, create conversations between characters, and try out various scenarios within the boundaries of the world in which The New Story and its cast of characters exist. If I write something that I like or seems to fit into the narrative well enough, I then copy-paste it onto my “Alpha” document, which is the official manuscript file for the new book. Then, after I’ve messed with the story in that document file – you know, using Word’s Editor function to spellcheck, count how many words, check for basic grammar issues and whatnot, I save it.
“Story is honorable and trustworthy; plot is shifty, and best kept under house arrest.” ― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
After that, I copy-paste the new material onto two different programs or apps: WriteItNow and Google Drive.
For organization, keeping track of progress, and maybe – once I figure it out, anyway – setting the new book up as an e-book independent from Kindle, I use a program called WriteItNow. This was one of the last purchases of creative writing software that I made while I was still living in Miami. I don’t want to go into my Amazon purchase history to double-check, but I think I bought WriteItNow and Dramatica either in December of 2015 or January of 2016, several months before I found out I was going to move to the Tampa Bay area. I thought that maybe if I used those programs, which are designed for creative writing, instead of Word, I would find the process of novel writing to be easier.
(Spoiler alert: Not really, but I do like some of the functions WriteItNow has that Word does not, such as the ability to generate a color-coded visual track of what chapters and scenes have been written so far, as well as a “map of the story” that you update whenever you add a chapter or a scene.)
The other program (or rather, Google app) that I use for The New Story is Drive, formerly known as Google Docs. That’s where I share my manuscript with my Beta Reader. I don’t copy-paste stuff there every time I write a new scene or start a new chapter; I don’t want to overwhelm my friend with too many scenes or chapters all at once. It’s rude, for one thing, plus she’s doing me a favor, not the other way around.
I updated that document – I believe – yesterday afternoon, but I will not add any more material to it until my friend has a chance to read, evaluate, and comment on what’s already on Drive. I’ll just focus on my job of pressing forward with the rough draft and see how the story develops.
If I get bored over the weekend or if I suddenly get inspired and must immediately write a new scene or even a complete chapter, I will, of course, work on The New Story. I’d rather take it easy, at least on Saturday or Sunday. But I also want to be happy, or at least productive, and right now the only happiness I feel is when I am writing and everything seems to just fall into place. That doesn’t happen every time I sit down to write, but when it does, it’s magic.