This is not how life’s supposed to be, dark and lifeless; lonesome. Once the morning struggle has passed and the cup of coffee has been drunken I fade into nothingness; a deep abyss as cold as the deep of northern winters. There’s no light at the end of the tunnel — just darkness — except for the bright light off the computer screen; taunting me with its clean white face. Nothing I can do about it. I scream, a silent scream; I would not want the world to notice my agony. It’s mine and mine to face alone; my dearest friend who never leaves my side. I forces a smile.
Sudden high pitch noice destroys the silence of a night’s sleep; morning struggle commence — I snooze the alarm clock — one more minute. An urgent need to pee forces me out into the cold air of the still dark space, leaving the peace and comfort under a down blanket. Slow brain guides my naked body through piles of crap towards salvation; looking for something to wear — dress-pants and shirt — pulled from the laundry basket. Morning coffee brew awaits — yesterday’s grounds thrown into the filled up trashcan — while I power up the computer to start today’s session; brain’s still asleep. A smoke before I begin staring at the screen sipping coffee — hours pass — slowly; no new words has been written, a hundred thousand to go. Several cigarettes inhaled; a slow death they say. Pity them not enjoying pleasures in life; a slow death I say.
It happened again and now I am filled with regret even though it is something I can not really help, it is out of my control. I am working on gaining control of the situation but the root of the problem runs deep and spreads into every part of my life.
Now you might ask yourself: “What is crazy Frank talking about?” Let me explain.
Every now and then I crash, hard, and I sleep for a full twenty-four hours, give or take a few a hours. It is a great deal of trouble as I am an employee and have a job to show up at. Furthermore, I can not tell anyone about it until I wake and by that time it is to late. My phone has by this time several missed calls, unread messages on Messenger. The first thing that comes through my mind when I realize what has happened is “fuck” and then I feel like crying. I rarely don’t.
As far as I can tell, the root of this problem comes down to stress and my creative mind – my brains never stops working on different ideas – but also my fear of not doing what I really should which ultimately will lead to my demise, feeling sad and regretful for not chasing after my dreams. Going through every day with the feeling of wasting time and not doing what you should do will take its toll.
So I dream, and fantasize about a different life, a better life.
I am not happy, not really. I survive the day and I can laugh and joke and be social. But deep down I am unhappy, closing myself off from the outside world and sit in the darkness of my messy apartment, contemplating whether I should actually do something useful or just go back to bed.
As I wrote in the last post I have begun road cycling and it has helped me a lot, especially on the stress part of things. When on the bike I am free from trouble and I get focused. I can not be on the bike every day all the time. I have, in its basic form, taken bike riding as a form of therapy to get away from everything that troubles me. It’s doomed to fail, unless I can manage to face my fears naked (so to speak).
And so the days goes on, one after the other, without me working on the problems. Ignoring them until they hit me – and they hit hard – and I am back to reality, feeling sorry for myself.
This is just a short update on my life in general and not really a topic on writing.
Although I have a novel series to continue writing in addition to two ongoing stage plays I have turned down the writing time in favor of more time spent on my road bike as I am in training for a 300 kilometer race due this June.
At this time I am highly focused on the training and I have found it helps me dealing with stress and making me feel better over all. I sleep better although still not as good as I would like but I take everything I can get. I probably eat better as well but just as with sleep I could do a lot better on that as well.
As with everything you can not do it every day all the time and so it is with the road bike training. Twice a week I have dedicated time to writing but so far, since the training started, I have yet to get down with the writing on said days. Most often I am exhausted and all I want to do is shove my face in a pizza and a bag of candy while wasting time on Youtube and movies. And so I do.
For the time being I will continue with my workouts and leave a little room for writing on the in-between-days but not set any writing goals or deadlines. The days are there if I want them. I probably need this leeway while I keep digging my brains out in the search for the ultimate balance of daily life.
Uncertainty is a constant while I put down words every now and then here and there – what project to focus on? Sometimes so much time has gone by that I no longer remember the aim I had for a certain scene or chapter. The only way to get back into that piece of work is to read it all and look through the notes, if any. I feel a lot of time is wasted, time I could otherwise have spent writing. Hours pass and then it’s either time for bed or to head for work. Another day’s gone by without any new words written. Bloody depressing.
In recent times I have more and more been looking at keeping my stories short, compressed into a longer series instead of a few large tomes. Easier said than done when it means restructuring several years of work. Maybe that’s what it needs, what I need. I looked into this the other day, trying to outline some kind of timeline but that would give me fifty+ two hundred page stories to write only to complete one of my larger projects. There’s another two equally large stories, partly in writing but mostly in my head. Those are connected with the first one.
As of today I really have no practical idea of how to deal with this, how to structure it all so I can stay focused. At the same time I am writing on two different stage plays and trying to write some poetry on the side. Something has to go. That’s one thing I am sure of. Who will be thrown into the sacrificial pit?
On one hand I know I’d like to self publish a novel series. On the other hand I really love writing stage plays, something about telling a story through dialogue. There’s a reason why I describe myself as “a coffee loving playwright…” I feel like I am standing at the crossroads but the once clear signs has been run over by a semi-truck and are nowhere to be found. And I do not have a map.
The never ending search for the ultimate writing software might have come to an end, finally.
I, like many of others, have been exploring different methods of putting words down in order to create stories whether it’s a novel, movie script or stage play. Throughout the years I have gone from the basic pen and paper to testing out typewriters (which is still appealing when writing poetry for some reason). My early scripts was written in a simple Word document but with time I found it hard to keep track of actions basically forcing me to have a separate document for just that purpose. Not to mention character sheets and so forth.
I decided to ditch Word and try out – which at the time was a free downloadable software – the desktop version of Celtx. I did use it for a few years and I was happy with it even though I wanted some upgrades to it, mainly for organizing and using multiple screens. I asked Celtx about upgrades but got the answer that they had stopped developing the desktop version for their web-based subscription version. I was not really keen on paying a monthly fee for a web-based version. The search for a new program began, once again.
So, I tried out Final Draft for just a while but did not like it and I thought it was way to expensive for what I was given. And that’s where I found Scrivener. It was pretty much all I wanted: many different templates for different kinds of projects; a comprehensive organization system including notes, character sheets and plotting; project targets and ease of tracking the progress. Best of all, it was cheep and a one payment/download to desktop-thing.
I have now used Scrivener for a couple of years and upgraded to version 3 of the software so by now I am pretty familiar with it. But it has not always been like that. Compared to the above mentioned programs Scrivener has a slightly steeper learning curve, mostly because of its massive amounts of functions. But that should not discourage you, just give it time and soon you’ll find what things you like to use and how you prefer to use the software.
Furthermore, for those who are building large complex worlds can buy Aeon Timeline – a timeline software designed to keep track of what happens when and who are involved. Aeon Timeline has a function that lets you sync up your Scrivener project for ease of use. Myself prefer to put data in manually but the integrated functions are there for those who need it.
What’s even more compelling to go for Scrivener in today’s world of digital media is the built in compile-function that lets you compile you project into a selection of different publications, like ePub and Kindle. So if you are one of those who intend to self publish, this software might be what you are looking for. Of course, you could use Adobe InDesign and format the finished project there and save it as an e-book, if that’s your preferred method.
For me, Scrivener has been the perfect match for my needs and companied with Aeon Timeline 2 and Scapple I have all the tools I need and would want to create and build on my large complex fictional worlds.
In the future I might do a brief overview in a video format to show more of the functions of these different software. A screen shot is not necessarily the best way. If that’s something you would be interested in, please leave a comment below.
Way back I downloaded the 30 days free trail of Literature & Latte’s Scapple only to use it sparsely. First I found the tool odd and confusing, taking way to much time when creating simple relationship trees. With time I learned how to use it properly – or enough for what I wanted it for in the first place – and got creative.
Then, when I had a new story idea for a stage play called The Baron of the Haunted House I realized I needed some sort of a family tree. I instantly went to Scapple and begun placing text holders and arrows and lines. I kept building over the course of a few days only to realize my 30 day trial was going to end sooner rather than later. I purchased the software.
I have never once regretted the purchase and now the family tree I created for this story lies in the background, always open so I can quickly switch to it when ever I need it. Not only does it serve as a great overview of the different families and their relationships, birthdates and deaths but also as inspiration. It’s amazing how a simple thing as a few boxes with names and arrows between them can be so useful.
Another very useful function of this software, compared to writing on a physical piece of paper, is that you can move things around, lock text holders within text holder whenever you need to make space for new information.
If you are – like I was – stuck with your story and don’t know how to move it forward why not try to make a relationship tree using Scapple. Soon you will see how everything’s connected and new opportunities for plots will most likely reveal themselves.