Back at the beginning of January I made several resolutions for the new year. One was to finish some of the half-finished manuscripts I’ve started. One was to write 500 words a day as part of the #WIP500 challenge over on Cara Michaels’ blog. One was to spend some time doing things other than writing. And one was to stop stressing over every single word I write, and just write.
In January I managed to write 18,300 words, which was 2,800 words over my goal of 15,500, and I was averaging 590 words a day. It wasn’t anything sensational, but it was a good start and I was happy with it. February started off much the same way, with an almost identical average.
And then a really cool thing happened. Or maybe I should say, a confluence of several things happened to create a really cool result. The first thing that happened was my discovery of this blog entry by Rachel Aaron, in which she explains how she went from writing 2,000 words a day to writing 10,000 words a day.
Let me say that again. She writes 10,000 freaking words a day.
Holy Mother of Pearl, Batman.
My first reaction upon reading that claim was, that would never work for me. Not in a million years. But I was curious, so I read the blog post. My second reaction, once I’d finished reading was, that would never… you get the idea. But then I gave it some more thought, and I realized that I didn’t have to write 10,000 words a day like a professional author in order to get some use out of her method. Also, the pre-planning aspect appealed to my up-tight, perfectionist, wood-tiger soul. So I decided to give it a try, and damn, am I ever glad I did.
The second thing that happened was that I started using a timer again. I’ve tried it before, set for ten minute increments, and it never worked for me because I always felt so rushed that I couldn’t think at all. After a short while of feeling too much pressure and seeing no results, I gave it up. But, since part of the method is to figure out your most productive time for writing, that meant tracking word count by the hour. So, back to the timer I went. But this time I set it for increments of either a half-hour or an hour, and what a difference that made. There was enough pressure to make me focus, but not so much that I couldn’t think, which meant that I actually started seeing results.
And now for the third thing. Something I’ve known all along, but could never force myself to do – give myself permission to write a bad first draft. This, of course, goes back to my perfectionism. I have, on occasion, sat at my computer for a good twenty minutes trying to come up with just the right way to say something. Which is great for writing a nice clean manuscript, but not so great for actually finishing things.
But with the timer running, sitting for twenty minutes debating anything isn’t feasible anymore. And so I gave myself permission to write the not-so-perfect transition, to put down the not-so-perfect word. In some cases, to write something I knew might get cut later, just to see if it went somewhere cool. And the funny thing is, I’m pretty sure that giving myself the freedom to be bad has actually made me better.
It’s definitely made me more efficient. Two months ago, there were days that I struggled to get to 500 words over the course of an entire afternoon. Today I wrote 600 words in half an hour.
It’s not exactly 10K a day, but it’s a start, and I’ll take it.
I just realized how much I’ve been neglecting lately – no serious work on my writing in months, not a single post on this blog in over a year and a half – and so one of my resolutions for 2012 is to get my ass in gear, with my writing and with my blog.
A short while ago my friend Noah had his first novel, Bleeding Heart Yard, published, and has since decided that he wants to read my first novel – the only trouble with that being that I haven’t finished it yet (although I have many half-finished attempts). He says he’s going to pester, hassle, harrass, and kick my ass, if it will help me finish – assistance for which I will be grateful – and I’m hoping that having someone to whom I can be ‘accountable’, even if it is only in my mind, will help me to keep on track.
Along with finishing a manuscript (and editing and submitting it) I’m also going to try to do more interesting things with the blog. I’m not going to make foolish promises that I can’t keep, but I’d like to make at least one interesting, useful, insightful, and/or timely post per month. More would be great, but if not, I’m okay with that.
And lastly, I’m going to try to remember to stop every once in a while and smell the damn roses. Last year I spent the first four months going hard with the writing, to the detriment of everything else in my life. Basically I had no life. All of my other pastimes (archery, reading, chain maille) went by the wayside and I think it’s safe to say that I burned myself out, because all my angst about being a ‘good little writer’ and getting my butt in the chair took the fun out of writing for me, and I had no other ways of recharging myself. But, recently, I’ve rediscovered the joy of photography, and am hoping to integrate that (along with my other neglected hobbies) into a more balanced creative existence. Wish me luck – I’m going to need it.
Apparently Publish America is at it again. Check out their latest antics here.
You would think I would have learned by now, but apparently not, because I just signed up to get my ass kicked… I mean, for NaNo again this year. What in the hell am I thinking?
Skyla’s in, and Tiff said she might go for it as well. Anyone else crazy enough to join us?
I usually try to keep to the topic of writing in some way or another, but this little tidbit was just way too freaking awesome not to share. There is a dude in Africa who trains bomb-sniffing rats. They’re friendly, and intelligent, and because of their size, way less likely to set off a bomb than a dog would be. They’re also really cute, and really need to be seen to be believed. Check it out.
I know I’m boring. I just can’t help myself.
Over at Skyla’s blog, here’s the latest How Not To Be A Douche Bag Author.
I could have sworn that I linked this one up already, but apparently not, so check out Write or Die: Putting The Prod Back In Productivity.
Over at The Last Word, here’s Ten Things New Writers Need To Know.
And for a little humor, here’s Top Ten Tips For Becoming A Better Husband.
In an effort to shake things up a bit, I’ve managed to come up with a post that contains something other than links. Weren’t expecting that, were you? Didn’t think so. Anyway, instead of links, I’ve got a recommendation for y’all that I think is pretty darn cool.
The title pretty much say it all…
Over at Skyla’s blog, the latest edition of How Not To Be A Douche Bag Author 101.
JA Konrath has a great post on How Not To Write A Story.
And inspired by JA’s post, Sarah-Jane Lehoux has started a contest for all the people – like me – who, when they are told don’t do this, hear instead I double-dog dare you.
Once again, I have nothing new or exciting to report (Writing, by and large, is a very boring spectator sport.) so this is going to be another post o’ links.
To get the party started, here’s Skyla’s latest How Not To Be A Douche Bag Author 101.
Here’s a post on how Twitter can help writers.
Lilith Saintcrow explains why A Good Book Ain’t All You Need.
It’s not one of the genres I read, but I thought someone might be interested in a writing competition put on by Harlequin.
And for a little bit of fun that has absolutely nothing to do with writing, here’s Jaws in 30 Seconds with Bunnies.