Everyone has their own unique rituals when it comes to writing. Some start with a meticulous outline while others laugh in the face of a writer’s block while pantsing it all as they go. Some even lie somewhere in between.
My whole writing career and even when I was in school, I was a pantser. It was easy with the fact that I could sort of fracture my attention, write as I go while listening to lectures. Then when I was in the last few years of college I got an iPhone which I used to just record my lectures. Most of my professors were fine with this so I’d just spend the whole of the classes writing, going back later to listen and transcribe my lectures. I even made a good chunk of spending change by selling the transcribes for $5 a pop, $10 for that one professor that went on a lot of tangents. No one complained about that.
I didn’t need to plan anything out because, especially in my last three semesters where I was taking 7-9 classes a semester, I had hours of structured time to just write. I’d go back to figure out what I liked and rewrote what I didn’t. It was easy and exactly what I needed to do to get through classes. I have ADHD and sitting still just to listen to someone was out of the question most days. Especially since we had switched meds for me right before I went away to school. The new meds didn’t have as much of a punch as the others but also didn’t have the crash that made me grouchy and anti-social. The worst thing to be when going off to share a room for nine months with a stranger.
Then I graduated college and my structure was gone as well as my meds because I was an idiot. The meds I was on had to be built up in your bloodstream for a minimum of 14 days to work optimally and I had been horrible at taking them regularly yet I still succeeded. Got Dean’s List a few semesters in a row even. I hadn’t realized that the concrete structured schedules of my days were what allowed me to take 7-9 classes (course overload because I had 4 majors) and get As in all of them.
So, I graduated and started working. I worked changing shifts so my structure was gone. All except for NaNoWriMo, I barely wrote the rest of the year. It’s taken me years to figure out the factors that worked in my factors in college and the factors that have worked against me out of college. I realized that without structure, I needed to go back on meds. It took a while but I’ve not been back on ADHD meds for about 2 weeks and let me tell you. It’s helped a lot.
Now, for the structure, that I’m still working on. Slowly I’m building a support network but it’s not where I need it to be yet.
That all being said, even if in a very long-winded way, I can’t be a pantser anymore. I’m no longer forced to sit at a desk with no phone, no computer, no distraction, and just write and rewrite until the plot is what I want it to be. My writing rituals and methods need to evolve. It’s taken me up until this past month to realize that. I need to figure out how to plot. How to write up an outline in a way that works for me.
I tried, kind of, the snowflake method and I know I need to give it another shot but the first attempt failed. I got so hung up on fitting the exact structure of the snowflake method and burned myself out fast. It’s hard for me to write about a story without actually writing the story.
My writing rituals are constantly in flux as I’m trying to figure out the best method for myself. It’s frustrating, especially on days that I have the whole day to write and yet I don’t get anywhere near my word count goal. Or when I have no idea where I’ll be going next in my story. An outline would be amazing helpful at that point but instead, I start doing what I call ‘meandering writing’. Meandering writing is when you write in a way to get words on a page but nothing advances. No character development, no plotlines, nothing. It was a method I used in college to get through a block but again, I had the time to break through the block. Get to where I wanted and then rewrite the whole thing. Now, I have neither the time, the focus, nor the energy. Self-motivation is hard when one has executive dysfunction.
From here on out, I’ll be trying a slew of different techniques, programs, workshops, and whatever else I think could help to get me to where I need to be. Everything I try I’ll report back here. Some might find it helpful. Some might not because everyone is different but if there are even a few out there that are struggling like I am and have the same type of ADHD as I, maybe I can help them out as well.
So, next week, I’m planning on doing a deep dive into a program called Aeon which is supposed to help authors keep track of their timelines. Let’s see if it helps.
A quick update of my #onemillionwords projects. My total word count for the year is 140,529 words. I’m 111,551 words behind but my goal for April and Camp NaNoWriMo is to write 100k words this month so I can start trying to catch up. Wish me luck!