Tag Archives: writing

New Schedule, New Routine

I’m a creature of habit. Over a period of weeks or months, I tend to fall into a certain, unvarying routine in all elements of my life. At home, I write during the same time of the day every day. Every week, certain days are given over to doing things with my wife, others, with friends. There’s no need for me to keep a calendar because any variation from this routine is so memorable that I can hardly forget it.

So there are advantages to this system. That’s good; it’s such a deep part of my psyche that I could scarcely change if I wanted to. On the other hand, sometimes I’m forced to mix things up, and that’s where the bad times start. This last month has been one of those times.

Several posts ago I mentioned that my work hours were being drastically reduced, and at the time I expressed hope that having more time would mean I could write more. And I was correct: I can write more. But the fact is, I do write less, and after some deliberation, I’ve found two main reasons why.

First, what I mentioned above. My routine got broken, and rather than adapting myself to it, all of my plans fell apart and I got really lazy. It’s like I degenerated into some sort of primitive being, caring only for the satiation of immediate pleasures and lacking any ability to plan for the future. Or something.

Second, I’m kind of lazy in general, and given even the slightest excuse I’ll put off doing just about anything. Naturally, the long something gets put off, the harder it gets to do–laziness possesses tremendous inertia. And when I finally start doing something, I tend to lack the focus to work on it consistently unless there’s some external deadline. I’m sure you all are quite familiar with that.

So here’s the plan, then. I work from 10:30-5 (more or less) every day now. So, I get up at 6:30, shower, dress, etc., and by 7:00 my butt’s in the chair. I think I’m going to mix things up a bit and try to ease myself into daily writing: do some free writing, some blog posting, some flash fiction, whatever, for twenty minutes or so. Then, by 7:30, I’ll write steadily in thirty minute intervals (precisely!) and break for twenty (precisely!). That means that I get something like ninety to a hundred and twenty minutes of writing in, depending on whether I have to go into the office or work from home. If I work steadily at that pace, then there’s pretty much no limit to what I can accomplish.

Once I settle into this new routine, I’ll start edging out the breaks and start increasing the writing intervals. Eventually, I want to get into the professional position of being able to work steadily for hours at a time. Is this likely? I’ve never managed it before. Would it be worthwhile, if I could manage it? Absolutely, and that makes it work trying for.

The Halfway Point

So, this is the halfway point. Three months ago, I started a crazy project to write a publishable novel in six months. I really had no idea what I was doing at that point, and I probably still don’t.

So, quick status update: first, of all, I thought that I had two weeks to finish my first draft according to my schedule, but it turns out that I had planned to start my revisions on the 16th, with a week-long break starting on the 9th. That’s not a set-in-stone sort of schedule, but I want to get in the habit of sticking to self-created deadlines. Writing my remaining 26 scenes in 6 days is going to be a tough one, though, and I might have to borrow a few days out of the week of the 9th. Hard to say.

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I Know How My Novel Will End

Believe it or not, I didn’t before today. I was kind of wanting to slack off a bit on my drafting, and I realized that, hey, I don’t know exactly how my story is going to end. I knew that it was going to involve some Solar-System-shattering political changes, but I didn’t know any specifics. Now, I know that it will involve a few more specific things:

  • Characters on five different planets racing against the same clock.
  • Former enemies making up, then becoming enemies again.
  • Orbital strikes.

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Things I Should Not Be Allowed to Do

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.

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NaNo Week Three Update

As we head into the third week and the second half of NaNoWriMo, I’m going pretty strong. In fact, I’m doing better right now than I have at any of the previous years at this point. Usually I’m floating a day or two at most over part (25,005 words today), but now I’m almost a week ahead (I’m at 36,002 right now). And this is with two zero-word days last week, and one with less than a thousand words. I’m willing to call this a triumph. Continue reading

And So it Begins

NaNoWriMo 2010 is officially underway. In the last 30 minutes, I’ve written about 1,110 words, almost 1% of my novel’s total estimated length. I just have to do that 100 more times over the next month, plus a little extra on the weekends, and I’ll be sitting pretty darned pretty.

Oh, and all of my planning didn’t cause me to immediately choke. I had this fear all day that I would sit down at my keyboard, write a few paragraphs, and then suddenly think, “Oh crap. I don’t want to write this story!” Then I’d have to start all over with the plot and characters and so forth. But it didn’t, and now I can go to bed happy.

I don’t know if any of the Portland Wrimos are reading this, but since the downtown Portland write-in takes place on a Thursday, I’m not going to be able to attend, which sucks because the downtown people were pretty awesome at the kickoff party. Instead, I’m tentatively going to be hitting the SE write-in on Tuesday in Woodstock. Details are in the forums, as always.

Discovery Writing

I am a discovery writer. Despite some interesting experiences in the last few weeks, I tend not to do well with pre-planning, extensive outlines, detailed character biographies, and most else that doesn’t involve drafting and revising.

I should qualify that a little bit. I think that there’s a continuum of writing styles, from the heavy outliners to the discovery writers. Most people will hover about the middle half of that continuum, where they like to do a little bit of planning a head of time, and a little bit of figuring it out as they go.

The “figure it out as I go” part of the scale is where I feel most at home. In 2008, I abandoned my first NaNoWriMo idea (which I had done a fair bit of planning for) and started an entirely new novel with different characters, setting, plot, and genre on November 3rd. I still won that year and not only was it a blast, but it was one of the better novels I’ve written – in fact I’m revisiting a lot of the concepts in it for this year’s NaNo novel.

On the other hand, this doesn’t always work so well.

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How Do you Keep On Going?

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!

A Few New Things

Outlining is going apace. I’m really glad I’m doing it because it’s revealed a lot of weak points in my story that I would’ve steamrolled me over in the middle of the drafting process. It’s also revealed the tremendously detailed balancing act that writing a novel actually is – you need to balance characters, plot,  and scenes, you need to have a developed backstory, and show that backstory to the reader (but not too directly!), you need to make sure that there is always conflict brewing, and you need to keep tabs on a thousand different things that all have to come together in the end.

It’s a wonder that I ever wrote anything before without planning it to this extent. Even if this experiment is a failure, it will at least be a useful one, and when it all comes down it, maybe that’s what matters.

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Mars Gets All the Love

Mars gets all the love. When you hear somebody, whether a scientist or a civilian, talking about another planet in the Solar System, invariably they’re talking about Mars. Mars used to have water. Mars might have life. Mars Mars Mars. Enough, I say!

That probably needs some qualification. Obviously Mars is nearby, it has a 24-hour day, and it’s thoroughly habitable by the standards of, say, Mercury. It should hardly come as a surprise, then, that there have been a lot of scientific missions to Mars, and additional ones are being planned. It’ll be the first planet in the Solar System other than Earth to have a human presence.

However, that doesn’t excuse the favoritism that it gets in fiction. In fact, Mars has a lot of disadvantages for certain activities: it’s farther from the Earth than Venus (on average), it gets about a fifth of the solar energy that Venus does, and it would very likely require more energy to terraform, since it has no atmosphere or active geology. So really, where’ the love for Venus?

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