A couple of mates were talking up Inktober at the same time Karen Marston of Untamed Writing fame mentioned she was going to do 28 days of writing, kicking off on the third of October. I figured having two such groups running in tandem would be great, so I decided to use the Inktober prompts for flash fiction, and follow along in solidarity. I also thought I might as well do a poxy picture to go with the piece, as it won’t kill me and I might see some other benefits, aside from enjoyment.
Having both friends and random internet people (though the two are not mutually exclusive to my thinking, the latter can morph into the former with enough yarning) to report to worked better than just the one group or the other, I found (I’ve tried each separately in the past). With mates, they tend to be too understanding, because they know your backstory and why that molehill is casting a shadow that is like unto a mountain, and absolve you of your lapses. Unknown weirdos call you on that shit, but there’s no connection (well, at least not at first, I’ve read all the stuff people have posted links to, so some are more familiar than others) so there’s a tendency to not feel engaged with the faceless hordes. So having both camps on your back is ideal.
So I had the Inktober prompt words to go on:
Most days, I’d look at tomorrow’s word before bed, and brainstorm a bit. My normal fiction writing is 100-1K words, with 100 and 300-500 being my sweet spots. Usually I get a couple of tent poles or a punchline/twist and that’s it for me in regards to planning, as a drabble doesn’t exactly need complex story boarding. That didn’t really change during this either, as most pieces fell within my usual word count.
I did intend on using a larger range of media for the pictures (mosaics! found objects! not so much of the interpretative dance, though), but often ended up doing a batch of them in a hit, because I had a backlog I owed. That meant I had to rely on the stuff in my classroom that was already out (except for the time I used glitter just before lunch. Not a good plan, as I think I ate more than I got on the paper). I am a bit self-conscious about the art art side of things, unless I am doing my normal stick figures for my students.
Usually I did the picture after writing the story. Only once was it the other way and it ended up changing the vague plan for the story, for the better. I should have tried that more often, and may do so in the future.
I ranged further in my writing styles than normal. I’m not big on poetry, so I had a stab at a sonnet, and that nearly killed me. The cadences and rhyme structure kept breaking where I wanted to go with it. There was still a lot of SF&F, and comedy (well, I think the jokes work, your mileage may vary). Children’s stories showed up a bit more often than I expected (but I do like them, being a teacher and all), and I had a go at one that had the flavour of a folk tale, which was a fun variant. There were a few darker pieces, especially one for a Halloween entry, but being me, I made the ending more happily ever after because fuck grimdark, there’s enough of that going on in real life. Most of the stories have some elements I quit like, but there’s at least two the less said about them the better.
I loved writing more, though I did notice some words cropping up repeatedly (tentacle was in nearly half a dozen I think), which is something I will have to watch out for.
So far there’s been the aforementioned competition entry, one submission that got bounced (but with a fantastic note, if you’ve read this far, then you should send a story to 101words) and a couple of RP posts that were well received. The rest will need some polishing and will be good for here or submitting elsewhere. I also turned a shorter piece into a poorly animated movie with a voice over, but like I’ve said before skill is
trumped beaten by enjoyment.
There were a few ways I do (did?) my writing. Preferred is obviously using a real computer but I am bottom of the pecking order for that at home. At work, well often work work has to come first, obviously. But I got better at banging the keys in downtime instead of watching another cat video.
Phone typing has always been something I have gone in for. It’s there, I’m there, I might as well get some words down, especially at home when everyone else is otherwise engaged. There was a marked increase in this, especially for things that had to be submitted with a time constraint, such as RP posts.
I have also been ratcheting up the amount of longhand writing I’ve been doing, as pen and paper have no internet connectivity to distract me. I’m no slouch at typing, so transcription is a breeze, unless my desk eats the paper, or my writing is too messy. The losing the paper side of things has been combatted somewhat by my wife giving me a stylish notebook just as this kicked off, which I have used almost religiously, including–and this is a BIG THING–while on holidays. Originally I was going into this a bit half arsed, assuming there would be a week of cocktails on the beach or slogging up mountains hauling offspring, neither of which is overly conducive to putting pen to paper. But I wrote! My word, did I write (at least for me). My target word count was a mere 350 a day but “they” (for various values of them) say if you want to am to make a habit stick, make it a titchy little one that you can flop over with minimal effort.
I found myself writing more, early in the morning (I’m often awake and can’t fall back asleep before/as the sun is rising, why not be productive?) or late at night, instead of slacking on my phone.
Since I was also doing Inktober, I have the scrawls to go along with it. Here they are. Totals are: 34 stories, with a combined word count of 10914. There were also a few other ones (mainly RP posts) but I didn’t count/draw them, so I am not including them in the word count. I was aiming for 350 words a day, and ended up just scraping in with 352, so yay me, and it seems my system of just doing the bare minimum to pass is still alive and well. There were some that took a lot of extra work, like the sonnet, voice recording and editing the movie, and animating the fire (because I’m an idiot), but I don’t begrudge them.
November is Nanowrimo, but that can go jump. 1.5K a day is not currently sustainable for me, even if I gad about on a range of topics and stories like I have this month. I love the 28 scheme, as that gives you two days of brainstorming before you knuckled down and bang it out (or two days of celebration at the end). My plan is to stick to the ~350 words, but on one longer WIP. I already have it in mind, with some planning and tent poles and ideas jotted down from long ago, so I will re-read my notes (something else that’s unheard of, for some reason I always think that’s a waste of typing time, but because I can’t remember what I was doing, I don’t… you know… actually type (because I’m an idiot)). I love writing short format, but I want to have a serious crack at something longer, so I might as well ride the momentum and continue on with my growth.
Plus there’s a pile of editing still to do, and all those cat videos aren’t going to watch themselves. I think I’ll have a busy November.