Progress Journal for Aramis Gothboi: Book One
Mog’s ongoing account of completing the first draft.
Total word count: 12,564
1st MILESTONE (11,400 words) REACHED!
I’ve set three word count goals over the course of this project and as you can see by those numbers up top, I’ve well and truly smashed the first one. It’s time to celebrate! …Or is it?
In recent times a whole lot of us have been left with a whole lot more free time on our hands than we’re used to – myself included. If that’s the case, shouldn’t I have done twice the amount of work? There’s a lot of talk at the moment between creatives about productivity in these interesting times.
It’s tough out there right now with a lot of uncertainty around the corner for a whole lot of people. As one of the few that can be considered essential workers, it means I still gotta get up and go to work despite the government saying, please don’t. Unlike some who’ve straight up lost their jobs and now have to rely on that same government whose fault it was that they are now unemployed, I’m in the weird position of the casual worker with a job that pays just as much to be there as it would if I were at home on the dole (as it currently stands) – so yeah, what’s a guy to do?
I guess the point I want to make is that these are not ideal times. It’s not a great time to be thinking about the future, it’s not a great time to be enjoying the present, and it’s a hell of a lot worse than it has been in the past.
But when are there ever ideal times? Is there some kind of Goldilocks zone for living as a creative? I don’t think there are. You do what can, where and when you can. If you’re looking at Instagram accounts or on your Facebook feed at peers seizing the day, or at least pretending to with unsubstantiated vigour, and you’re there looking at your own confused mess in the mirror and trying to make comparisons between the two – just stop right now.
You are not them. You cannot compare yourself to them, or anyone. Growth, progress, a sense of forward motion only can only be measured by the ground you personally have covered. If you feel like stuck in your car with a flat, why not get out and take a walk to the nearest town and grab a postcard. Just chill.
And if you are struggling, know that you’re not the only one. Everything sucks right now, but getting all worked up about all the coulda shoulda woulda is just going to make you feel worse. If the news is getting you down, switch off the feed and get back into that book you were reading or watch your favourite show. As a creative, you have an edge over those that aren’t because you can create your own distraction, but only if you let yourself. Sometimes you just gotta rest up a bit before you dive in.
Should I have done twice the amount of work by now? No. I set my goals so they would be achievable. I don’t have that much more time than I did previously. I still have to do all the things that I had to do, and that includes keeping enough variety in my day that I don’t go mad during the isolation period. I could spend two weeks pushing forward to get 10,000 words on the page, but it would be the same as pulling an all-nighter to write an essay – it might get me over the line to hand something in, but it will be a lesser result than planning and spacing the work out over the time I’ve been given.
This week’s work has wholly focused on the aforementioned chapter where I needed to step back and spend some more time developing a character. I didn’t end up writing a scene or two as planned, but I did write some material that was all about who the character was and how she fits into the larger narrative. In my Youtube research I found Alexa Donne who made this little video, which has some pretty useful tips and pointers for character development.
From Loofah’s Mum, the two-dimensional placeholder, I now have Jemma. Jemma has forged herself a place in the village of Parochia and along with a purpose in the greater story. She has wants, needs and her own history, and wouldn’t you know it, while I was writing her, she seems now to have her own agenda too. Knowing your characters and their purpose is essential, so too is being able to control them. I think I have her under control, but she’s awfully independent and doesn’t much like being told what to do – and I love her for it.
What preparation do you do when developing characters? Are you a slave to the character profile sheet, write short stories to get to know them first, or something else? Share your tips in the comments!