Time, Priorities and Discipline for Writers

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I missed the last day of the WriteOnCon. Out of town. Out of internet availability. I have had nearly a week to catch up. I listened to some of the talks, but now that I have them just sitting there, waiting for me, I have allowed myself to get distracted by other things in my life – big things, like cleaning turtles from our very own river oil spill, to the more mundane, like mowing the lawn, doing laundry, or meal prep. Each of those things are important in their own rights. (Oh, yeah. I forgot to mention making and canning the salsa today before the tomatoes overripe.)

Discipline and priorities involve decisions in our every-day lives. We only have twenty-four hours in a day, and we do need to eat and sleep and get a bit of exercise; besides that, most people need day jobs in order to eat and sleep with a roof overhead.

How serious are you when it comes to writing? Are raw writing (first drek-drafts), or revising, or learning more about the craft and the market, priorities for you? Or do you say you’ll get to it “someday soon, as soon as xx is over”? (In my opinion, the only “xx” excuse to keep yourself from discipline, is family, especially your children. They grow up way too fast to ignore them.) So… be disciplined. Write!

Book-In-A-Week Boost

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I’m attempting to write every day during June — rather like NaNoWriMo. It’s going about the same as my exercise program — more sporadic than consistent, I’m afraid. I only wrote about 5,000 words last week.

HOWEVER, this month I signed up for Book-in-a-Week (http://book-in-a-week.com) to give myself that accountability shot in the arm I sometimes need.

For Book-in-a-Week, you set a goal of the number of pages you plan on writing during the week (usually the first full week of every month; 250 words = 1 page), and each evening you send in your report. 

My goal for this week is 50 pages. This morning I wrote nearly 11 pages. Pretty good, even if I say so myself. (And, no, Susan, I’m not speaking from being on medication. I really did write almost 11 pages.) My secret goal is to double that, only if I say that out loud, then I may just be making myself accountable.

I’ll write like crazy during June, then revise like crazy for the rest of the summer. Exciting stuff, this writing.

Rest of January Writer’s Challenge

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Writer friend Sue told me her critique group was doing a Write-10,000-Words-During-January challenge… but that no one has mentioned anything about it since last year. And here we are a full third of the way through the month already. Tisk-tisk. I told Sue I’d take her up on it. Writers need accountability, after all, even if it’s “only” with each other (v.s. deadline with agent or editor).

Since we are both in revision-mode, we’ve found that our WIP word count is shrinking instead of growing, as is to be expected.

So… here’s our revised challenge:

1) 10,000 RAW words (i.e., newly written) by the end of January; and

2) At least one hour per day of writing in our busy schedules, be that RR or R — raw , revising or rewriting.

Anyone else want to take up the Rest of January Writer’s Challenge? Please feel free to join us.  You may place your word count or hours in the comment area of this blog during the remaining three Mondays in January. Good luck, and keep on writing.

Days One & Two of my First NaNoWriMo

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Okay. It’s November, and my first NaNoWriMo participation. Yesterday, we traveled in the van for most of  the day, day one of NaNo, meandering home from our vacation up north at a friend’s cabin on a lake. The only time I took out the laptop was a short bit on October 31, and then on November 1 — the morning we left. I felt I needed to get SOME words for my novel done so I wouldn’t fall too terribly behind on the suggusted word count.

By the time my hubby woke up a couple hours later (it was the last day of his vacation, mind you, and gave me some writing time), I told him I was ready to throw the laptop, jumpdrive, and every word I’d written right into the lake. I simply couldn’t get a good handle on the start. I hadn’t wanted to plan too much ahead. That’s not the NaNo way. I’m used to writing a novel over years, not days. And every day revising what I’d written the day before for two reasons: 1) my raw writing is really awful; and 2) it catches me up to exactly where I left off and gets me into the mood of the story.

Can’t waste time doing that during NaNo. MUST PUNCH KEYS. MUST PUNCH KEYS. Yet, today I raked some of the carpet of leaves from our yard (after I made myself write a couple pages). And now when I come back to writing, I think, “Oh. Maybe I should be blogging about this.” More procrastination.

Last night, the NaNo web site was sluggish, but after several attempts, I finally was able to get my count turned in. I am only 80 words or so behind of the steady daily count of 1,667 words. This morning I did about the same count. I could be doing MUCH HIGHER count, if only I’d quit procrastinating writing by all the other things I find to do.

I added two NaNo buddies today, answered some emails pertaining to NaNo, and sent son John, an email congratulations on his first day of NaNo with a word count very similar to my own. Yeah, John.

I confessed to him in my email that I cheated some on the word count. I included the “notes to the author” which I do all in bold so I can locate them quickly in the revision, notes like FIND OUT WHAT SUSPENDERS WERE MADE OUT OF DURING THIS TIME PERIOD. I also emailed my on-line critique group — four of the six of us are doing NaNo this year — telling them I cheated. That brought comments from two others who said they also cheated, counting words they’d written earlier in preparation for their NaNo novel. My guess is that my law-abiding son is not cheating like the rest of us long-term writers.

I need to quit procrasting by blogging or checking emails or adding buddies or raking our oak carpet from our wooded yard, and get back to the story. So… TTFN.

Seven Days to NaNoWriMo 2009

Am I ready for year #1 of NaNo? Undoubtedly not. Am I still going ahead with it? You betcha!

No turning back. I’ve already told nearly everyone I know that I’m doing this. Just yesterday, as I was going out to our mailbox in the rain, a friend drove up, and from within the shelter of her vehicle, handed me an envelope with my name on it.  Inside was a list of books and articles dealing with the historic town I’m basing my NaNo story on. Can’t beat that kind of friendship, even if I was drenched! I was all good with it, until she told me that as soon as the book was written that she wanted to read it. See, I figure, even I don’t want to read it on December first. It will be SUCH a rough draft, and I know some AWFUL writing, that I won’t want to look at it for a few months. All I’m planning on doing during NaNo is pumping out words.  Yes, I do have a story (plot) and some characters to go with that story. But ANYONE can come up with a story and characters. Everyone is surrounded by both all the time. What I want is for it to be good writing before anyone looks at it. It’s more about the craft than the words — except during NaNoWriMo, when it’s ONLY about the words. Oh, what a pull.