Item number 1: Take breaks from writing.
Obviously writing is a time consuming, mentally taxing activity, and I’m not in the mood for that sort of thing every day. And sometimes life just gets in the way – as important as my writing is, family will usually trump it. And sometimes I just have a really bad day at work, and need to take a break. And sometimes I just lose track of time and I’m tired and I can’t think of what else to write and my muscles hurt and I don’t want to have to work tomorrow.
It’s a slippery slope.
The last two days have kind of conspired against me. New dog and little sleep means no writing. Good thing I built up such a hefty word bank!. In fact, I’m well on course to finish a record nine days early, right in the midst of the deadly week three.
Of course that’s not the end of my novel, not even halfway. Given my excellent performance so far, ahead of schedule, I’ve revised my drafting plan. I want to be done with the rough draft by the end of December, a full two weeks ahead of my originally planned completion date in January. That’ll give me a full three months to do the revision, and although I might need more than that, that’s pretty much all I’m going to allow myself.
As I write this, it’s a little under 25 hours until NaNoWriMo 2010 begins for real. I’ve got my planning done, more or less, I’ve got my characters and my setting, and I have tons of caffeine ready to go. So yeah, it’s time to kick this mother off. I’m basically trying to psyche myself up so hard that it’s going to be difficult to sleep tonight.
Earlier today, I went to the Portland NaNoWriMo Kickoff Party, and I had a blast. I’ve never done any of the social events that come with NaNoWriMo before; mostly just my close friends and I would hang out and write. This year, though, I felt compelled to get out there and try to meet some folks in the area who are in the same boat, and I’m glad I did.
That’s not a rhetorical question. I only have a few readers, but I’m honestly curious what they think about this question: how do you keep working, keep writing, keep not surfing the internet, when the tough times come? If I have a great deadline in NaNoWriMo, then that usually does the trick for me, but usually that’s not the case and it’s up to me to keep me interested.
I’m not having any huge difficulties right now, although I feel like I might be on the borderline. I’m doing my story outlining, as I mentioned previously, and it’s pretty much as boring as I expected. I keep running into the problem of balancing story elements, and I’m starting to get a bit concerned that I don’t have enough subplots (of all things). Sometimes this entire project just seems incredibly difficult.
Of course, it is incredibly difficult. Most people would never finish it. For that matter, I may never finish it (although I plan to!). So here’s how I’m coping: I admit to myself that what I’m doing is difficult and a little boring. But I make myself sit in front of this laptop for at least two 30-minute intervals, not browsing the internet, not playing Minesweeper, just staring at my Word documents. Eventually, doing nothing becomes more boring than writing, and I’ll start typing again.
I also turn the internet off.
Anyway, short post today. I’m honestly curious about what you think, so please sound off in the comments! This will be the last post until next Monday; I’ll be out of town and away from internet until then. Bon voyage!
If you Google “write a novel in six months,” you find a couple of other people who have created ambitious plans to do just that, but not a single person (as far as I can tell) who has actually succeeded. I’m not sure if that’s the best sign or not.
Regardless, I’m scavenging from their ambition to create a plan of my own. Naturally, I plan to be more successful than those internet failures, although time will tell.
So here’s the plan. There are 26 weeks in 6 months. October 3rd (tomorrow) will be the first day of the first week. There, it will begin.
The entire point of this blog is this: starting Sunday, October 3rd 2010, I will attempt to write a novel that is more or less publication-worthy in six months. The last day of this challenge will therefore be April 2, 2011. The novel will be approximately 125,000 words, which according to my research is more or less industry average for a science fiction novel, which is what I’ll be writing.
In other words, I’m kind of crazy. I’ve written 50,000-word novels for NaNoWriMo, as I mentioned in my previous post, and they’ve all sucked to various degrees. This one will be twice as long and I have much, much more grandiose expectations for it. Publishing? We’ll see.
So how will I succeed in going where I have never gone before? How will I fight off the inevitable ennui that arrives at about the 3rd week mark in NaNoWriMo? A couple of things.
- Planning. The most time I’ve ever spent planning a novel was about 10 days for my first Nano novel, and that consisted entirely of jotting little notes in my Moleskine notebook. For my last Nano novel, I planned for about 3 days. It was also by far the worst of the three stories, which may be a coincidence. For the six-month novel, however, I’m going to spend a WHOLE MONTH planning it out. I have never done this before. I’m hoping that the character bios, outlines, and world-building notes will actually help. I have no idea if this is the case or not.
- Experience. This is the only time that I’ve gone into NaNoWriMo as a regular writer. It had always broken a lengthy dry spell of writing for me, but by the time November 1 2010 rolls around, I will have been writing on a daily basis for the better part of a year. I know myself and I know what techniques work for me.
- My wife. She knows exactly how to motivate and encourage me, which basically consists of choosing between a stick and a carrot, and knowing that you get more done with a kind word and a gun than just a kind word. Her encouragement has been invaluable to me in every walk of my life and writing is no different.
So there you go. Therein lies my chances of success, except for one that stands out above all others.
- Humiliation. If I fail, everyone who reads this blog will know it. Since this includes my wife at the very least, I cannot fail.
Check back tomorrow for some more details of The Plan.