Working a Scene a Day

Image Copyright Larissa Kulik, 2013. Used under license from Shutterstock.com.

Image Copyright Larissa Kulik, 2013. Used under license from Shutterstock.com.

Even though I don’t NaNoWriMo, I feel the pressure that I imagine all writers feel to be more productive, especially as the end of another year approaches, so I thought that for the month of November I could invent my own practice. I thought I could write a scene a day, since scenes are the building blocks of novels and memoirs, and since I have scenes I want to write and books I want to build, and since, at the moment, blogging, traveling, freelance work, and other essential elements of life seem to be getting in my way.

Now that I’ve come up with this idea, I need to test it. Would it be too ambitious to write a scene a day? Would writing a scene or two a week be more realistic? I’m looking to render experience, characters, and places, after all, not to crank out more words and ideas than I know what to do with. I have to be careful. Words and ideas come so easily to me that I could get buried in them. What I need to save me from pointless verbiage is craft. I can cut away the excess and sail my way toward the books I mean to write by making myself at home in craft. That means slowing down, focusing, writing with intention. That means writing a first draft generatively and filling in details in the second and subsequent drafts. That means doing lots of revision.

So it’s official. I’m going to spend a month—probably November—writing a scene or two a week, maybe every day. I feel like a genius. I’ll bet this has never been done before.… Well, bummer. It turns out September is Scene-a-Day month—at least over at Go Into the Story by screenwriter and teacher Scott Meyers. If I start in November, I’ll be more than a month late!

Should I scratch my plan? Because I’m talking books, after all, not babies, and I can gestate indefinitely if I like. No, I’m going to go through with it. Because I want to birth another book. And I know I need a plan.

Scott Meyers suggests writing a scene every week day, which was 21 days in September. He limits scenes to two pages. That’s about 600 words a day, which is plenty. Not that I’m counting. It’s working the scene that’s important.

In case any of you want to do this with me—create your own scene-a-day practice—I’ve listed some resources below to help us get started:

Comments

  1. Dana Dakin says:

    I’ve already set aside November to begin writing. Was going to do an outline. Why not scenes. Would love to give it a go probably starting 8 Nov thru t-giving. That’s plenty.