Cinder Day Ten — Distractions

Word Count: 747

Time: 0 min

Distractions are a part of life. And that’s okay. Some days we just have to play with the deck we’re given. That being said, I think it’s important to be cautious of two of the biggest distractions: regret and fear.

Today, both of those stopped me in my tracks. I compensated by obsessing over minor details that I could control. On the plus side, it made me aggressively productive at work, which allowed me to resolve problems quicker and more effectively.

But when we trap ourselves in the regrets of the past, or lose our minds over fear of the future, we rob ourselves of the strength to do what we need to do in the present.

—Johnny Eoin

Cinder Day Nine — I v. He

Word Count: 747

Time: 45 min

Okay, so, I’m finally off to a good start. I still need to carve out more time to write, but I seem to have overcome the problems that plagued me a few days ago.

I’m finally focused on telling the story through my character’s eyes; no longer worried about fancy sentence structure or creative descriptions. One of the biggest improvements happened when I switched from third to first person. 

I’m fond of both, but somehow I got it in my head that writing in first person would be “too easy” and it would tempt me into using exposition rather than description. 

First off, good writing is good writing, no matter the narrative style. I can just as easily overuse exposition in either voice. Second, so what if it’s easier to write in first person? Shouldn’t I be looking towards any and every thing that will make this undertaking easier? It’s like the time in college when I decided I wanted to do my animations using 24 drawings a second, instead of the equally acceptable (and easier) 12 drawings a second. Needless to say, I didn’t finish my project on time— at least not the way I intended— and my career has suffered for that. What was I trying to prove by making my work harder for me? No one cares that you lowered yourself on your sword and scribbled the pages in your own blood. All they want is a good story.

Another point I failed to realize is that you can’t force your writing into a format that doesn’t work, just like you can’t force a character to speak in a voice that isn’t their own. It just doesn’t work, and your work suffers for it. My story is an intimate dramedy about identity and self discovery— why wouldn’t I use first person to put the reader as deep as possible into the protagonist’s head?

Lesson of the day:

Let your creations speak for themselves and they will tell you all you need to know.

—Johnny Eoin

P.S. Remind me to talk about overworked outlines and committing to writing processes before trying them out.

Cinder Day Eight — Here We Go Again

Word Count: 316?! 😵🤔

Time: 3x 15 min sessions

So after completing the first scene of my book, I read over what I had, not in a premature attempt to edit it (like I usually do), but because something didn’t feel right.

Writing is hard, but it was never this hard. I was pulling out my hair and my teeth but everything I came up with was complete shit. The dialogue. The descriptions. The framing. The exposition. For a few desperate minutes, I wondered if all my dreams had been for nothing. Maybe I didn’t have what it takes to be a writer. 

It was at that moment I happened to flip through the posts on this blog, finding short stories I wrote when I started. Now don’t get me wrong, they weren’t masterpieces, but they weren’t horrible. In fact, it had been so long since I’d written anything that I’d forgotten what my voice sounded like, and for a second I thought my stories were written by someone else. 

I stopped that pity party quickly after that, realizing the reason why none of my words worked was because they weren’t genuine. I was so wrapped up in how everything was going to look, how it would be received, that I lost sight of the whole reason I chose to write in the first place. I was making decisions for my characters that weren’t reflective of who they were. In some ways, I’m not surprised. Despite all my planning, characters don’t come to life until you sit down and commit their actions to paper. That’s when they truly reveal themselves.

So I scrapped the scene and toggled my perspective. I grounded myself in my protagonist and aimed to see the world through his eyes, rather than those of a writer stuck in his fear and insecurity.

So I may have taken a step back in terms of word count, but it was necessary to prepare myself for the marathon that lies ahead.

—Johnny Eoin

Cinder Day Seven – Reckless Abandon

Word Count: 1,753

Time: 1hr 45min

I’m getting antsy. Why is it when I’m not sitting down to write, words flow in and out of my head, but when I’ve spent months prepping and planing out all my steps that my brain flatlines? 

Maybe I’m overthinking everything? Putting too much pressure on myself? Perhaps I should treat my first draft like one big info dump rather than trying to weave the perfect string of words. After all, isn’t that what editing is for?

I’ve had this trouble with other mediums as well. For some reason I expect drawings  to come out perfect the first time. I don’t give myself the chance to mess up and create with reckless abandon. Maybe that’s why I don’t make as much as I’d like.

It’s been 14 years since I decided I wanted to pursue a creative career and while I’ve made many improvements, I still feel impeded by a lack of well roundedness and refinement. I still can’t take what I see and bring it to life vividly. I keep thinking the fault lies in me— my lack of skills, discipline and commitment. But perhaps I’ve been looking at it all wrong. Maybe I already have all the weapons I need to do what I want, I just lack the proper plan to execute it. 

I mange to express myself here without any problem, and why is that? Because I’m simply writing from the heart, without looking it over with a fine tooth comb or editing myself as I go along. I allow myself to be expressive however that may be. Then I review it once or twice before I commit and let the chips fall where they may. 

The first draft of anything is shit.

—Ernest Hemingway

I think a shift in focus is in order. It’s not going to be easy, but my old methods haven’t been working, and I want this so badly that I’m willing to step out of my comfort zone to get it.

—Johnny Eoin

Cinder Day Six – Brick by Boring Brick

Word Count: 1,354

Time: 0

The more days I go without writing the harder it is to jump back in the saddle. 

I love writing, not just storytelling, but the process itself. I love finding that magical combination of words to express an idea or describe a setting. Nevertheless, at times I find myself overwhelmed by the amount of work it requires. I’m exhausted by the mere thought of seeing how much further I have to go to the finish line. It’s like building a castle, brick by brick— no, worse— like building a sand castle, grain by grain.

In those moments, I hesitate. I psych myself out of sitting down and facing that discomfort. But if I want to get anywhere in life, and writing especially, I need to ally myself with that discomfort, because only with it will I be able to grow.

Here’s to tomorrow.

—Johnny Eoin 

Cinder Day Five – Back to One

Word Count: 1,354

Time: 0

Okay, so not such a successful day. But you know what? That’s okay. Sometimes we stumble out of the gate. The important thing is learning from it. And what did I learn by not writing today? I learned that rest is vital to this process.

Last night I didn’t got to bed until after 1 a.m., so getting up at 6:30 a.m. to write before going to work at 9 a.m. was unlikely to happen.

I just need to refocus my efforts and remember not to beat myself up.

—Johnny Eoin

Cinder Day Four – Back in the Habit

Word Count: 1,354

Time: 30 min

I didn’t expect to write much today— actually I didn’t expect to write at all. But somehow I found the will to get up an hour early this morning and carve out a little time to write before my day began. It wasn’t much, but it did prove to me that if I set an intention, I can meet it. 

For a while I’ve known that in order to accomplish my goals, I was going to have to sacrifice sleeping in. I’d need to get up at the same time everyday regardless of how I felt and push something out of me, at least until I have the luxury of making this my full time job. Even then, who knows– with my dozens of hobbies?

We’ll see how I fare tomorrow. After all, good habits are built just like bad habits– one day at a time.

Cinder Day Three – Balance

Word Count: 1200

Time: 1 hour (focused), 1 hour (w/ distractions)

In addition to being an aspiring writer, I have a full time job, a relationship, two pets, a house to maintain, a body that needs working out, and a spirit that needs enlightenment. I’m an artist. I’m a film buff and an even bigger television junkie. I love to buy books and video games that I rarely finish.

Sometimes it feels impossible to get ahead of all my passions and responsibilities. There are whole weeks where my life feels like a picture made of dominos. Try as I may, I can’t stop them all from tipping over. I often wonder— which was the first to fall? And if I could stop it, would everything else stay in place?

Today was a rough one on my self esteem. If I’m being honest, it may have been preventable, had I stuck to the routine of meditation and self-healing I recently embarked on. But then again, that’s one of my problems. I start things with such ferver, and then I piter out. Some times it’s because they get too tough, and others, because I juggle too much. 

It’s hard to divide your time among things you love as well as life’s necesities. It’s so easy to make excuses and hard to stay on track. It’s even harder to get back on once you’re off. I wish I knew some trick to make it all easier, but I’m afraid it seems to be a matter of discipline, something I’ve always struggled with.

Still, my goal remains the same– to fill my days with the things I love. Even though I may stress about juggling them all, I have to remember how lucky I am to have so much to fill my life with. Maybe by remembering to be grateful, I will better conquer the obstacles that hold me back.

XOXO

Johnny Eoin

Cinder Day Two – Chained to the Rhythm

Word Count: 581

Time Spent: 30 min x 2 (focused), 1 hr 30 min (w/ distractions)

I have some bad habits when it comes to writing. The biggest of which is not giving myself enough time to get in the flow of things. On the flip side, I often forefit writing altogether if I miss my dedicated writing time, thinking that the microbursts I have throughout my day aren’t enough to accomplish anything significant. 

Today I realized both points of view are true.

Isn’t it worth doing something each day, even if it’s only for a few minutes? I did manage to add a few hundred words to my novel, despite all the start and stop due to distractions and time constraints. I am proud of that. But I quickly realized today that if I want to complete this novel within a foreseeable goal, I need to carve out enough time to churn out thousands, not hundreds, of words per day. 

The writing process is messy. Imperfect. It’s a lot of back and forth. The Doctor would describe it as wibbily wobbily timey wimey and he would be right. At any given moment, as an author you are juggling knowledge of a character’s past, present, and future, all while trying to paint a vivid picture of a word that has its own history and quirks. 

A perfect example– while writing my first scene, I had to describe the clutter sprawled across my protagonist’s floor. I quickly saw this as an opportunity to color in his lines, to fill in details I hadn’t yet fleshed out. What would he keep lying around? I knew some of his interests but not all. So, besides the quintessential dirty clothes that a young man of his lifestyle would have, I included comics, shedding light on what his possible world view might be like; how he sees good and evil. I also added elements of my own life in the form of back issues of  National Geographic magazines. 

When I was a kid, my grandmother got me a subscription, and every month I would get a new magazine, flip through it, and put it aside with the intent of going back and reading them later in more detail. After a while I amassed quite the collection. It wasn’t until a decade after my grandmother passed that I realized I had been holding on to not just unfinished stories that piqued my curiosity, but the memories of a bond she and I shared. It took some time before I could even bring myself to consider throwing them out. And to be honest, I can’t remember if I did (the dark side of having an attic).

So now, Cin is a National Geographic magazine hoarder. What’s his motivation behind it? I can’t fully tell. But I believe it fits in well with the traits and histoy I’ve established for him. 

It’s amazing how you can plan so much and still discover new bits about your characters along the way. You never stop researching. You never stop learning. That’s why I think it’s so important to carve out solid writing time to allow yourself the opportunity to continue exploring. Not everything is going to pour out onto the page because to have a fifteen thousand word outline ( 🖐🏼 guilty). But if you can’t fight off life’s little distractions, do what you must, and make the best of what you have. I learned more about my characters in an hour and a half of chaos than I would have if I just decided to quit before I began.

XOXO

Johnny Eoin

Cinder Day One – Stay Ready or Get Ready

Word Count: 74 😒

Today marks the beginning of a new journey– the first draft of my first novel.

I’ve had many false starts in the past, with this story and others. So what makes this crack of the whip different? I can’t say exactly, other than it feels different– I feel different.

It’s been seven months since I committed myself to writing this novel, and although I wasn’t as disciplined as I would’ve liked to be in my day to day efforts, I managed to complete a thorough outline of my story– including character sheets, location maps, and a timeline documenting the various character relationships going back decades before the story begins. I did all this to ensure I knew my world and its people inside and out before setting out on the arduous task of committing their experience to paper. I am eternally grateful to the book 2,000 to 10,000 by Rachel Aaron. Her tips on planning were invaluable. Without them I don’t think I would have been able to tackle the mountain of possibilities that stood before me from the start. 


It’s sobering to think despite all the work I’ve put into planning and plotting that I am still miles from the finish line. But I am closer than I’ve ever been and that is a powerful feeling. 

And I’ve still got a lot to learn– like staying focused, having only spent a few hours writing today, most of which consumed with other work and distractions. I’m also being reminded how hard it is getting into a good flow. My brain felt as if it was being banged against a wall waiting for the right combination of words to fall out. There is something to the quote:

If you stay ready you don’t have to get ready.

–RuPaul

Sometimes I fear I’m not ready. I’m scared. I’m rusty. But I don’t think being ready means conquering all feelings of doubt and concern. It’s the willingness to face them that deems one worthy of scaling the mountain before them.

My goal is to complete my first draft in one month– NaNoWriMo in March. I have no idea if I will reach that summit, but I’m ready to enjoy the climb.


XOXO 

Johnny Eoin