The Process Needs Some Processing

I’ve been frustrated a bit lately with my slow progress on Fugitives from Earth. Don’t get me wrong, because I’m profoundly grateful to be making forward progress at all, considering my difficulties with one of the major plotlines recently. I’m tapping out scenes as quickly as I can now, but the issue at hand is simply that it’s not going fast enough.

This year, for this novel, I decided to make a firm commitment to being a professional. You can’t slack off on your day job without consequences, and you can’t decide that “today’s not the day” and just browse YouTube instead. So, I determined that I wouldn’t let myself do that. Damn the torpedoes, I was going to write full steam ahead and not let anything get in my way. Now I’m at a point where I do want to write – I write every day just by habit, which is far more than I can say for any other time in my life. The problem now is time.

My day job takes up about ten hours, including lunch and traffic. I can’t sustain less than seven hours of sleep and I shoot for eight, so that’s seventeen hours, leaving (in theory) seven to write in. Cut out an hour and a half for breakfast/dinner, leaving six. Less an hour for chatting with the wife in the morning or afternoon and generally transitioning between tasks, for five hours. Less an hour (give or take) for chores, dog-related tasks, and hygiene, leaving four.

That’s four hours on any given weekday to write. At my average pace of 1000 words an hour, I could in theory write 20,000 words in a work week, but that definitely doesn’t happen. In fact, I think I wrote about 4,000 words last week at most. How to increase my output?

Well, there are other things I want to do with my life, even if writing is important. I need to read. I need to hang out with friends. I want to play some video games, because come on. Even if I take up half my time with that stuff, I should still have ten hours a week to write. 10,000 words. Why can’t I manage that?

I don’t have the answer. This isn’t one of those posts where I’m reveling in this sudden burst of knowledge and certainty. Instead, I’m a little discouraged. I feel like I can be doing more, because there have been periods even a few months ago where 2,500 words a day would be far from unrealistic. I suspect that cutting out useless filler in my day (like, well, YouTube) and instead focusing on each task at a time is a part of it.

Anyway. That’s what is running through my head; if anyone else has any recommendations I’d love to hear them. Maybe someday that ten-hour day job will be nothing but writing fiction, but if that ever comes it will not be soon. On the other hand, if it ever comes, the habits I forge now will be what gets me there.

2 responses to “The Process Needs Some Processing

  1. Timeboxing might be helpful:

    The article above explains it pretty well, but the basic idea is to put artificial limits on how long you spend doing something. Over the summer I aimed to practice cello 2 hours a day, and timeboxing was the only way I made it happen.

  2. Pingback: I Hear Words in the Air « The Tenth Word

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