Waxing Crescent — Commitment

The quote that has guided me my whole life

Seriously, I have had this quote in front of me right from the beginning, when I first decided to write a novel and I’d just finished reading Stephen King’s ON WRITING, and I was really teary because it was a goal that seemed to matter.

Also, I should say, this is the quote I spend my life trying to live up to. Like, I know I have to commit, but I spend an incredible amount of energy fighting that and running away instead.

Anyway, the quote is this:

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!

William hutchison murray

William was a mountaineer, by the way. A long hard slog made of many steps. Remind you of anything?

The Full Moon

Is the deadline for the practical fruits of our commitment.

Wow, we’re really getting down to business.

That’s this coming full moon on the 27th February. What are you going to have done writing-wise by then?

An output orientated goal

You need a way to QUALITATE your commitment (clumsily expressed, but hopefully you know what I mean — numbers, counting, something binary, you’ve either done it, or you haven’t).

This will be a measure of first draft writing.

Your goal might be a certain number of QUALITY hours spent on the project. (Remember, an hour of distracted time is not as good as 30 minutes of deeply focused activity. The more you practice writing without distraction, the easier it gets. If you want more on this, read: THE TALENT CODE by Daniel Coyle).

Or, you might prefer to specify your goal as a number of words.

For me, though, it’s usually a certain number of scenes written. And I am specific about WHICH SCENES, I’ll be writing.

Scene sketching

During the new moon we filled in what we knew about our story idea. (I always try to bring things back to the story. The story is the skeleton that holds everything together.)

My choice of scenes to write is limited — mainly because I don’t know my story intimately at this point. Remember, this is a new story. I haven’t written a word of it yet. And I’ll work out most of it WHILE I’m writing.

And I actually don’t want to write a lot of scenes. Instead, I will pick a couple of scenes that by their nature force me to make A LOT of story decisions. For example, a scene that shows my main character’s ordinary life — the life that will be knocked off course by the story.

Now, that fills me with FEAR. Because I don’t know yet! How on earth can I write it?

I don’t try to. Not really. What I do is spend the next couple of days (until the first quarter moon — our next phase) sketching the scenes out. I’m writing them, but not formally.

Like a painter filling in the canvas first. Except I’m using pen and paper.

So, pick your goal — number of words, number of hours, number of scenes (and which ones). If in doubt, go for less. We are not setting ourselves up to fail with this cycle. Later, we’ll evaluate how we went.

And just keep thinking of how different things will be when you get to the full moon and you’ve done it.