Yesterday’s cut and pasted scenes from the past couple of days really needed to be dealt with today. I had to stop cutting and pasting and start going through the material with fresh eyes, rewriting much of it and fleshing out the scant details from the 50,000 word NaNoWriMo version. I thought it would be a chore – messy, hard to pick up. I’ve had that experience in the past working on another manuscript during an earlier NaNo attempt to write a novel. It was dismal and I soon gave up.
This time, it wasn’t bad at all once I got going. In fact, it came together well, thanks to my ongoing novel journaling and Scrivener‘s ability to cut up blocks of text into individual scenes. If you don’t know how to do that, let me give you a little tutorial.
First, I cut and pasted in a large section of text into one of my scenes. After reading it in this new context, I saw that the second half of it needed it’s own scene – perhaps even it’s own chapter – and that I needed to add a scene between what I had previously written and the first half of the pasted text. No problem.
First, I placed my cursor where I wanted to split the file in two. Then I went to the menu at the top under Documents -> Split -> at selection for a simple splitting into two documents in the binder.
If I’d wanted to, I could select some text and split with the selected text as the title of the new file but it’s not necessary here. I had a new scene to work with and it was already started!
I also needed another scene before the new one so I created a new scene file and tucked it in between. I added synopses to these three scenes to remind myself what I wanted from each of them and I was ready to go.
Right now, I’m still working on the first of the three new scenes in which one of my characters, Steph, arrives at work and chats up her friend Wanda. Because I’ve organized the cut and paste into three distinct scenes, I have my writing sorted until the weekend.
Hot damn, it feels good.
Today was an average writing day. I ended up with about 1000 words although a lot of that involved copy pasting from my NaNoWriMo draft. Mostly, I wrote in my Novel Journal which, as it turns out, is what the writing I’ve been doing in my Planner Pro notes is called.
According to James Scott Bell on the Writers Helping Writers blog in his article called Using the Novel Journal for Writing Breakthroughs, keeping a journal specific to the writing of a novel or lengthy work gives the writer a place to explore possibilities, dive into backstory or character/setting sketches, ask questions and express frustrations.
If I wanted to, I could do this work within my Scrivener project which I have done in the past, creating a Notes folder outside of the Manuscript folder for this purpose. For some reason, however, I’m finding it easier to focus my thoughts when I’m away from the project space. I feel free to write whatever comes into my head without trying to fit into the current logic of the piece.
I have tried something similar to this in the past, free writing by hand before each writing session as an brain exercise but, while fun, didn’t seem to help me, when it came time to working on a specific project.
Bell quotes Sue Grafton explaining her process in using novel journals which is where he first learned of the idea:
The day’s date and a bit of diary stuff, how she’s feeling and so on. This is to track outside influences on her writing.
Next is notes about any ideas that emerged overnight. I especially like this part, because the writer’s mind has been working while I sleep and I want to pour out everything I can. The trick here is not to think too much about what you write. Just let it flow.
Third, Sue writes about where she is in the book. She “talks” to herself about the scene she’s working on, or problems that have arisen.
This is exactly what I’ve been doing and it’s making a big difference both in the amount of work I’m able to accomplish and my ability to focus on where I’m heading in the story.
Choose a format that works for you and give novel journaling a try.