Word Count for July 2020

20200810_155225

Greetings from the abyss!

It’s always been hard for me to feel productive, even in the best of circumstances. Now that I spend most of my time confined to a three room apartment, it’s easy to lose track of what I’ve done. So I started graphing my word count by project and keeping it by my desk. It’s a good visual tool that changes everyday and encourages me to write more.

In July of 2020 I wrote 10,620 words, divided among seven projects. I did not write every day but the output was greater than either May (5904) or June. (4509).

20200810_155219

 

 

 

 

I wrote 3,487 words on The Lost Souls Veterinary Clinic Pilot script. Based of a short story written by my good friend and better mother, Marcia Canter, Lost Souls explores the responsibility we bare to those around us. Joe, a homeless veteran marked by addiction and loss, finds unexpected friendship with a cynical veterinarian, Rachel, and her bubbly yet social conscious receptionist, Jesse, when he brings an abandoned kitten into their office. When his dark past becomes clear, Rachel must decide if she’s able to trust him and Joe must decide if he’s worthy of redemption. I finished the pilot and added it to my writing portfolio.

I wrote 3708 words on a yet untitled film. It follows an elderly couple who discover ghosts in their assisted living facility. In these 3708 words, I finished the beat sheet and summary and began the script itself. I’m very excited to finish it.

I wrote 689 words on blogs, most of which are available on this website.

I wrote 1518 words on Comedy. Writing comedy is very different process from writing prose or even a script. In the case of stand up, I am likely the only person who will ever read it. Stand up isn’t about how words look on a page but rather how they sound out loud. I may do another blog about my stand up writing process but the cliff notes are I get an idea, try it at a few open mics and then write out the actual joke to edit and memorize. 846 words of that 1518 were on a sketch about breakfast cereal.

I wrote 782 words on Shy Turtle, which is a short story about a shy turtle and the various woodland creatures that try to make her less shy. I have no idea if anything will come of it but Shy Turtle is extremely relaxing. If you are ever stressed out, you could do worse for your mental state than researching semi aquatic animals.

I wrote 201 words on Gilded Girls, a D&D parody of the Golden Girls. Ideally it will become a comic but honestly I don’t know where, if anywhere, it will end up. It follows adventures Orcthy (a half orc warrior), B’lanche (an eleven bard), and Rose (a halfling monk) as they help Orcthy’s mother, Skullphia, (Orc mage) find a death worthy of her.

I wrote 235 words on a film outline tentatively titled Defarge. In a list that includes a D&D parody of the Golden Girls, Defarge is still the nerdiest thing I’m working on. It’s an epic film following the life of Therese Defarge, the main antagonist in Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. Madame Defarge has fascinated me since I read the novel in summer 2017. Obsessed with revenge at any cost, she is easily the most interesting woman Dickens ever wrote, possibly the most interesting character. I want to explore more of her life before and during the French revolution, to see the moments she embraced or turned away from her ultimate humanity before totally embracing her role as the villain.

I tend to write where the wind takes me, unless I’m working with a professional deadline. I can often go months without writing on a particular project, if I don’t abandon it all together. Blogs and Comedy are broad enough subjects that I usually write on them every month. Lost Souls is finished for the moment. The untitled film currently holds the highest August word count. Gilded Girls make take a back burner since I wasn’t particularly inspired in July and Defarge is still too new to get my full attention. We’ll see what August brings.

 

Happy National Writing Day!

Happy National Writing Day, according to the dark cabal of Twitter Hashtags!

Writing is both my favorite and least favorite activity. It’s saved my life multiple times and inspired countless suicidal thoughts. I’ve devoted most of my life to perfecting this craft. Someday I’d like to be paid for it.

I decided to be a writer in second grade. My motives weren’t based on any deep artistic inclination. It was 1997, and I heard somewhere that JK Rowling had more money than the Queen of England. More money than the Queen of England felt like a good starting paycheck, so I started writing.

Then I kept writing.

And kept writing.

And kept writing which brings us to today. I have significantly less money than the Queen of England. I’ve made peace with not being J.K Rowling. I’m still writing and, somewhere along the lines, I found artistic inclination. The revelation that I would keep writing no matter what else happened surprised me, but it’s true. Even if I never make another dime, I will keep writing.

Please don’t misinterpret the previous statement. I still want to be paid. Artistic inclination is a poor substitute for food, rent, and healthcare.

So how do you keep writing? That question is not rhetorical. I love hearing about everyone’s process. I love specific advice to ignore or embrace. A process is a method and conditions creators use to create. They evolve and change over time. If you don’t think you have a process, you probably have many. I have at least two, depending on what I need to accomplish.

My day starts at 6:30. My phone alarm goes off at 6:30. I turn it off and go back to bed. If I remember to charge my phone in the kitchen, I have to physically rise to turn it off. Then I can feed my cat. If I fell asleep with my phone by my bed, I turn it off without getting up, and Sherbert bites my feet. I recommend getting an alarm clock that bites you.

By 7 or 7:30, I am awake enough to make coffee. Then I go back to bed, or I get dressed. After I am dressed, I take my medication, or I go back to bed. My bed may as well be a magnet. Eventually, I go to my job if I don’t go back to bed.

I pay the bills with pet sitting. Dogs and cats don’t require a lot of mental focus. If I don’t have any extra duties, I go home after about an hour. When the job is over, the work begins.

First, I clear my mind by cleaning the apartment for a half hour. I clean the same four areas every day: my desk, my bed, the cat box, and the dishes from the night before. These tasks don’t always take thirty minutes, but I always find something else to do. Focusing on menial labor allows me to free my mind of distraction before I write. Finishing these tasks gives me a feeling of accomplishment that creativity seldom affords.

After I finish cleaning, I write. My daily minimum is 250 words, though I usually write more. When I was younger, I could write thousands of words in one sitting. However, those sittings were few and far between. Now I focus on consistency rather than breaking records.

I usually have three to five projects going on at once. I write essays for this blog, prose for publication, scripts to be performed, and new comedic material. I try not to write on any given subject for more than a half hour at a time. After forty-five minutes, I become sluggish. I get into my own head about editing or originality or money or any number of distractions. When that happens, I close my computer and do something else. When I’ve done something else for thirty minutes, I return to writing, and the cycle starts again.

Something else encompasses the entire rest of the universe. On bad days, I fall into the vortex of the internet and lose hours of creative time. To avoid that sticky spider web, I go off screen.  I count creative activities, like writing longhand, drawing or painting, and reading books for research or inspiration as time spent working. Exercise, eating, cleaning, playing with my cat, or taking a nap are necessary for my physical and mental health. Physical and mental health is required for writing.

Incorporating health into my creative routine is the hardest lesson to learn. Yes, I can ignore my aching back, grumbling stomach and drooping eyes to finish a project on time, but it’s not sustainable. We have a vision of the starving artist, squinting in candlelight with blisters on his fingers, breath visible in his thatched hovel. Reject it. Suffering can lead to art, but life will provide plenty without your input. You do not have to sacrifice health and comfort for creativity. I write much better with my anti-depressants, sugar loaded coffee, and my cat at my feet at the desk I love than I would in a cardboard box with only a bottle of cheap whiskey and negative self-talk for company. Life is necessary for art. Make caring for your body and mind a part of your routine, regardless of your creative inclinations.

I can keep the write/something else cycle up for most of the morning. Once I accomplish my word count, I am free to seek out other diversions. I may pick up some extra jobs, go to the library and research, or socialize. I seek out new opportunities and complete the mundane tasks of promotion and budgeting. I keep writing. Writing is fun. It can frustrate or depress at times, but most of it is fun. I couldn’t have kept writing for so long if it wasn’t mostly fun. My process keeps the work fun for longer and helps me navigate everything else.

Enjoy your work, your creativity, and your life. Find your own process.

If you enjoyed reading about my writing process, you should check out Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey, a book detailing the creative process of such figures as Georgia O’Keefe, Leo Tolstoy, and dozens more. Also, How Do You Write, a fantastic podcast where author Rachael Herron interviews other authors about their process has become a part of my process! I listen to the show while I clean in the morning!

Preparation in Pockets

Head over to  Writing to read the story in full!

In 2009, I wrote a short story about an awkward conversation on a subway. I submitted it to a small scholarship contest, placed fourth and won $200 and a trip to a Writers’ Conference in Oregon. It was the first money I ever made with my writing.

Preparation in Pockets is the adult version of that story. In 2009, it was only a thousand words: the maximum allowed in the contest. I’ve added about 600 words, given our protagonist more of a backbone, and ended on a note of… not hope, but determination. I value determination more than hope. Hope allows for an attempt but determination gets things done.

Other News: I’ll be performing in Laugh Riot Grrrl Fest, June 4-11, at The Tao Comedy Studio in LA! I hope to see you there!

Denver Folks! Look for my work in the upcoming issue of Fanny & Flo’s Femme Gazette at the Denver Zine Library!

Thanks and enjoy the story!