Narrative structure is a fairly simple concept. An orientation is followed by a complication and then a resolution.
I’ve already presented the orientation for this 1000-word-a-day project I am undertaking. Unfortunately, two weeks in, I have now reached the complication. Because apparently this 1000-words-a-day breeze isn’t quite as easy as I may have made out in my previous accounts.
Two things happened this week to throw me out of rhythm. Firstly, I spent two separate evenings down at the pub with friends and when I got home I did not write my 1000 words for those respective evenings but instead lay in bed watching episodes of As Time Goes By. And secondly, I did some editing. Yes. Irony of ironies: the main culprit for why I was unable to pump out my 7000 words this week was that I was busy reading over and reworking some words I had already written! The further irony is that whilst I have only contributed a measly 4000 words to my 1000-w-a-d project this week, I have somehow spent more then double the amount of time on my writing this week than I did in the previous one.
Let me do some explaining. I regularly meet up with a group of friends for discussions of craft (the writing variety, not the stuff with knitting and glitter and felt hats). We recently decided that we would share amongst the group a sample of our own writing. This sample is ‘due’ for our meeting tomorrow and as such I have spent three evenings desperately refining a 3000-word short story and readying it for sharing. Unfortunately this has left me very little time for writing fresh content. But it does illustrate an interesting matter of ‘craft’: I can very easily spend two hours on one day writing 1000 words, whereas on the next day I can just as easily spend three hours working on one paragraph of 50 words. Normally this doesn’t bother me. It is simply part of the giant iceberg which is ‘the writing process’—a process that is only about 10% actual writing and 90% fiddling around beneath the surface with syntax and semantics.
Now, I say normally this doesn’t bother me because normally I am very happy to spend a large amount of time re-reading my work and whittling away at the detritus. It’s a part of writing that I enjoy immensely. It’s the part that perhaps is most truly aligned to the idea of craft. It’s only when I set myself a quota of 1000-words-a-day that I begin to resent the ridiculous amount of time I spend editing my own work.
But no matter. The nice thing about setting myself a quota is that I know how far I have fallen behind. And the nice thing about complications is that they are followed by resolutions. A week of writing 1500 words a day isn’t the end of the world.