I've been working on a new story for a week or two now, or for a few months depending on how you look at it. This is actually the third attempt I've made at corralling these particular ideas bouncing around my head into an actual narrative, and it feels like stonemasonry at this stage: as though I'm chipping away at some massive block of marble with this ill-advised yet inescapable conviction that inside it, somewhere, is my story.
For a while over this past year, as I've gotten more involved with writing workshops and the online author community, I thought maybe I could teach myself to be a plotter. If I only tried enough different ways of mapping out my scenes and arcs, surely one of them would latch onto my brain and rearrange it in some fairly critical ways. Like Yeerks or Cordyceps, only with productivity instead of mind control.
Turns out that did not work, and what I got for my trouble was a completed first draft I'm not super passionate about, and a handful of ~10k word ficlets that withered and died because I kept trying to force them to follow something they didn't want to follow.
So now I'm here again, having shaken up these same ideas and spilled them out onto the page for a third time, only now I'm falling back on the same process I used to write Scrapetown. The good news is, I've nailed down a regular writing practice, which means I know I can reduce my initial drafting time from about six months to more like three.
The bad news is, I also know I'll end up with a glorious and sprawling mess of a novel which will require about another year of revisions as I chip away further at the actual themes and the correct character arcs that will be hiding underneath the moss and debris of my first draft.
But, y'know, life lessons and all. The first step to doing the thing is accepting how you need to do the thing, even if it's not the way someone else does the thing. My process may not be as neat and clean as I wish it were, but at least I'm done hamstringing myself trying to change it.