Pursuant to my ongoing ADHD med journey, I believe... and I could still be struck down for my hubris in saying so... but I believe I have unlocked two of the most important skills a writer can have:

1. Sitting down and writing a really bad story any time I want.
2. Editing.
The first one is mostly what I have been doing with myself this week: writing bad stories. I'm not setting out to make them bad. Just not making "not bad" a requirement of the process. Using random prompts and following random rules so that I always have an idea what comes next.
Yesterday my main random story project for the day worked like this:

1. Random first line from internet.
2. Make a list of 2d6 things that happen in the story while the stakes are rising towards a climax
3. Add 2d4 more things from the climax to the conclusion.
4. Write that.
My original rule for number 2 was that *each thing* had to raise the stakes, but that proved cumbersome to actually do in practice, and led to me stretching the definition of "things" so that some of my outlined events were giant run-on sentences.
And the first half of the story really suffered as a result of that, between needing to up the ante so many different times in different ways and trying to get background and characterization in around that made it long and meandering.
I didn't reach the end of the outline by the end of the day yesterday. Previously my rule for myself has been "Finish everything you start writing, if you make it past an opening scene." The exception is because some random prompt combos just never get legs.
And when that happens, I find it more fruitful to jump to the next prompt and try again than trying to make it work. The point I'm at right now is "can write a story, some story" and not "can write any particular story I want". And also, these aren't stories I want. At first.
Buuut before I went to bed last night, after having ignored the not-great story through dinner and watching a game stream VOD , I thought about the terrible story that I hadn't wanted to write and didn't like... and saw where the good bones are buried, and how to resurrect them.
Beginning is too meandering and boring? Skip to the part where it's interesting. THAT's the story. Hate the viewpoint character and don't want to write over his shoulder or from in his head? He's not the viewpoint character. Literally everybody else is.
The camera follows him because the story's about him, but the perspective is from the series of characters he interacts with, which allows me to say the things I was trying to establish from him-inflected 3rd person POV narration through a variety of lenses instead.
This provides a Rashomon-like multifaceted picture of him from the outside, which allows me to write him with the worse qualities that are important to the story but which made him not enjoyable for me to write or read back through...
...while also providing a way to depict the changes he goes through on his journey from the outside instead of trying to work it into descriptions of what he was thinking, or stuff that he blurted out to no one in particular.
This should have had "without dwelling on them as much or making them so concrete", but my fingers got ahead of me. Good problem to have for a writer, comparatively.

And the stuff before the interesting stuff... it can still be related, in much more brief terms, through dialogue, and also after making that decision I realized how to cut even a hypothetical "full story" of what happened down to what actually matters.
Previous opening: about three thousand words about a sullen man stomping around a mall, getting himself turned around repeatedly while looking for the right exit while trying to avoid running into the girlfriend he had stomped away from and an aggressive lotion seller...
...until his growing certainty that people *must* be looking at him funnily and thinking about how weird and foolish he was to be lost in a mall led him to fly down a weird hallway he hadn't noticed before.
The random opening line was about someone realizing they'd gone this way before, which... as someone with no sense of direction or visual memory who used to be a mall rat, my strongest association for that realization is a shopping mall.
But the degree to which a mall can be an unfathomable labyrinth is not relatable, and I also had to deal with the fact that the man should have realized all the exits go to the same outside, which helped me figure out the ending of the story, but didn't improve the beginning.
The only things that actually *MATTER* in the 3,000 word opening I wrote are:

1. Stomped away from girlfriend in mall.
2. Neither wanted to deal with lotion seller or stomp back towards/past her.
3. Realization that "exits are exits, and out is out."
4. Went down weird hallway.
And when I reduce it down to that list of four things and not the arbitrary list of things I wrote where each one was supposed to raise the stakes (I revised the ante rule for the rest of the story only after this disaster of an opening)... I mean, that's a story.
This right here is the answer to You're Probably Wondering How I Got Here. This is a sequence of events. This is a complete prologue.

I could write that in prose with the same number of sentences, but I wouldn't personally find the results very interesting, and fleshing them out would require more narrative describing things from the guy's POV, which... honestly, I would bounce.
Now, anybody who has read a lot of my fiction is probably not surprised to hear it was taking me 3,000 words to get to the inciting incident for a short story. (If I'm honest, I was aiming for flash fiction.) If anything, you're probably thinking, "While, those ADHD meds helped."
But that is a lot of words to take to get to the part of the story where the story happens, and a lot of time to spend with nobody but an unlikable surreal horror-ish story victim/protagonist for company, especially when you then have to get through even more prose with him.
And at the same time that I've been doing these arbitrary writing exercises to (figure out how to, practice doing, and demonstrate to myself that I can) just sit down and write... I've been going back through the stuff from my most recent stalled story: Ash, the City, and Summer.
I started reading it just to get back in the headspace of the story and remember where I was... what had actually been written into the story and posted to my Patreon as a draft chapter versus what I'd planned, meant to write, or put in an abandoned future chapter draft.
And I had meant to just read through it to get up to date and jump back in, but then I started noticing typos... ones that my brain autocorrected without notice before meds... and I had to make notes where I found them, so I could update the Patreon versions, too.
And once I opened a file to take notes... I took notes. "This is interesting, make sure I didn't contradict it later.", "This with that suggests a theme.", "I could call back to this later.", "Need to remember this canon about elves.", etc.
Which I realized after the first day I did that... that's editor brain. I have activated editor brain. Achievement Unlocked: Editor Brain. I know how to edit my own stories now.
And if that had not happened, I don't think this got-lost-in-a-mall-and-wound-up-wandering-some-curséd-woods story would have been anything but writing practice and a grimly satisfying illustration that I *can* produce prose on demand if I'm not picky.
So to make a long story short (A THING WHICH IS NO LONGER TOO LATE BECAUSE I KNOW HOW TO ACTUALLY DO IT NOW!)... I'm very excited about my burgeoning ability to write awful stories on demand because an awful story can be turned into a good one much more easily than no story can.
And this is the thing: I have always known, said, and believed that any writing was better than no writing and that writing a terrible story was a foundational concrete step towards writing a great one... but in practice, anything I wrote that I didn't like was a failure to me.
Because the point where I was meant to have been gaining the necessary primary skills was in an environment that didn't know/care how to both challenge and engage me at the same time (school). The things that engaged me were no challenge, and the challenges were not engaging.
So I've only ever been able to really write when the writing was so easy that I would like the results at first blush. I could and did make use of warmup exercises like "write anything for five minutes" and produce five minutes of prose that wasn't anything...
...but as soon as the warm-up was over and I tried to write "for real", I would either write exactly what I wanted to write on the first try or do nothing. I could go back and do the warm-up exercise! But I couldn't write my story unless it was *good*.
Anyway. I could keep blabbing about this, but... I'd rather be doing the next draft of the story. And also, once I have an end product to point to, I want to do a process post about it on my Patreon.

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More from @AlexandraErin

19 Nov
Tangential to any specific cis author's comments about trans people in fantasy stuff, there is something that strikes me sometimes when I'm thinking about just how *weird* and incoherent the ciscentric view of what trans people are is, around this topic.
Because while there's the viewpoint of "There couldn't be trans people in this [historical period/alternate world] because there's no HRT or The Surgery," which implies that A Trans is *created* when A Regular undergoes particular physical changes...
...there's also the viewpoint that goes "There couldn't be trans people in this [high magic fantasy] because they have permanent shapeshifting spells and so anybody who was trans would just change their body and not be trans anymore.", which is the exact opposite.
Read 5 tweets
18 Nov
Afternoon writing thoughts:

1. Am I trying to get my writing groove back or figure out structures to channel my energy when I'm not in a groove?

2. ...that's a groove, that's what a groove does. "The groove" isn't the feeling of effortless movement but the thing that allows it.
Conclusion: Instead of bouncing back and forth between a false dichotomy of "find any groove you can and enjoy it while it lasts" and "figure out how to write without a groove", my approach should be: learn how to make grooves.
I realize that in terms of workable solutions, this falls short of belling the cat in that we're still at the stage of wondering if there's something that could be attached to the cat that would be helpful.

But defining problems clearly helps me focus on solutions.
Read 5 tweets
17 Nov
This is the tweet I'm second proudest of, so far, today.
This is the tweet I'm proudest of, so far, today.
Every time someone on here accuses me of saying something they disagree with just to generate engagement, I reflect on how the most fulfilling thing on here is when I make a joke that perhaps three people in the world will enjoy, and one of them finds it.
Read 5 tweets
17 Nov
Bill Gates was right in one respect: checking credibility on the net *is* more sophisticated.

When we only had old media, it was Hobson's choice: take their word or leave it. On the internet, you have perfect freedom to shop around until someone confirms your priors. Options!
One thing that jumps out from the full context here is that Gates's rosy view is based on the idea that the internet would be navigated using indexed directories of sites, which might be themselves navigable by search engines but would be vetted, curated.

But both the internet and the ability to automate the indexing of sites grew too fast for that to ever firmly solidify as the post-www status quo, and to the extent that the big search engines are curated indices, it's not in the service of a neutral pursuit of truth or utility.
Read 7 tweets
15 Nov
So, for anyone who knows my passion for trying out wearable personal viewscreen devices in hopes of finding the perfect virtual office space... the HTC Vive Flow is *very* close, albeit with the deadly flaw for this specific purpose of currently lacking keyboard support.
Any time I post about a gadget that puts HDMI screens in front of your face, I get people asking "Does it do VR?" and usually my answer is either "no" or "no, but it can technically do 3D" or "not well".

The Vive Flow is an actual VR device, one looking for a new market.
Most of the use cases for VR have been gaming, in spite of big business trying to make office work sound like the cool and edgy futuristic part of cyberpunk. The Vive Flow is not aimed at hardcore gaming; the games it's compatible with are more Cookie Gem Farm than 4 Left Guns.
Read 40 tweets
14 Nov
Honestly if I had to try to "save" the D&D alignment system, using only the existing values and axes, I would make it a two part choice, no incompatibilities, where it's [Praxis] [Ethos] or [Method] [End Goal].
So Lawful Evil would be someone who uses lawful means for evil ends, where somebody who is Evil Lawful would be someone who uses evil means for lawful ends.
Read 5 tweets

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