Okay, so continuing on with last weeks post: I'm listing off the things that I have learned about myself in the last year of writing/editing. Mainly the things that I do in first draft, that make things difficult in the editing phase. (I’m pretty much in the ‘trial & error’ phase of this little self-improvement project, so I will be posting changes and tweaks to these as I figure out what does and doesn’t work for me.)
My goal with this Writing Slob series, is to draft more efficiently, making edits less painful. My over all goal is to make all parts of the writing process as enjoyable as the shiny new idea phase! *how friggin awesome would that be?!* I’m strengthening my writing and editing muscles here.
I’ll start were I left off last week:
I already covered the Writing Schedule, and Writing Log, and admitted to procrastination with the Progress Bar… but I only covered the Personal Writing Journal I started, briefly in the comments. I had just added it that day, in fact. I was sitting in my office, toiling away for hours, at a very low productivity rate. I knew something was bothering me, nagging at the edges of my subconscious… but I could not figure out what- now, up until this year, I have avoided journals and logs and all that blah-blah stuff as time wasters. I mean, we’re here to write, so just write already! But sometimes, when you sit at your computer, or notebook, and just can’t concentrate… it is sooo much faster to take five minutes and work through the actual problem, then it is to try and force yourself to do work when your mind is someplace else. It’s not a journal I keep every day. Most days I just dive in.. but if there is something holding me back… I have found recently, that it is often helpful to just type what ever is in my head… get it out, work through it… clear the canvas… and get back to work!
So, that said, I have a little folder at the top of my Scrivener file for my WIP that contains all of these little productivity tools… takes only once to set up, and then they help you stay on point… easy-peasy. ;)
Now, on to the next bad habit: Overload.
FIX FIVE: Slow down. (a.k.a. ‘Why all this pressure, Casey?’)
I have a tendency to set myself up to fail. I will give myself these huge goals, all excited and amped up to get to work, then if I have one bad day… or just a really busy day… I get too far behind to catch up, leaving me feeling like a slacker. Then I try to play catch up, which for some reason always backfires… usually in writing quality, but sometimes in other areas of my life. And when I do get to writing from this pov, I’m writing from a negative place… all stressy and pissy. Anyway, long story short, I have found that I need to slow things down. Like a marathon runner… you have to pace yourself, or you’ll burn out before the finish line.
There are two ways that I have slowed down.
The first, goes back to when I make up that handy schedule. I look at my other schedules first. My husband and I keep a family calendar. It lists his activities and work plans in one color, and my activities and work plans in another color. This is the Master Calendar that I look at before I schedule my writing time. In the past, I would just schedule my writing time based off of my days off or time I could squeeze here or there at work. But more often than not… I would completely blow off my writing on the days that hubby was off work. I would rather see him. (no offense to my characters…but hey… he’s cuter. ;) Also, I know that some of my day-job work days are busier than others… they can’t all be expected to allow the same amount of writing time (I mean, it is a full time job, and sometimes, a rather stressful one). Ignoring these factors, always led to that negative catch up I was telling you about… never failed.
So, when I’m making up that writing schedule, I am looking at both our schedules and planning my writing time in a way that I still get to play hooky with my fella when we have days off… and I can breath a little at my day-job, while still keeping a daily writing schedule. It was as simple as giving up TV here and there, and not expecting 5k-10k everyday… rather be happy with the usual 1k or 2k, now and then. Just because I’m not at work, or actually busy, doesn’t mean I have to pound out a novel a day. *who am I, James Patterson? Why the rush?*
I save my 5k- and 10k days for those days when I’m wide open… special days where I can order a pizza, brew some coffee, and hole up in my office. They are treats, and not work, this way. Just because I can write 10k in a day, doesn’t mean I should try to do it every day. (That said, I admire the hell out of people who can.)
The second way I slowed down is, I recognized the difference between writing actual scenes, and writing notes, or plotting,(credit to 2k->10k, yet again). I can easily write out plot, character, or setting notes at a rate of 3-5k per day… this is no problem. BUT- when I am sitting down to write actual scenes and chapters… I’m a lot slower. (getting faster with The Writing Metric used in “2k –> 10k", but still… I’m slower in draft than in notes.) So, when I make my schedule… I keep in mind, am I world building? or am I drafting? It matters to me.
I posted my writing schedule last week, well here is how it has actually worked out so far:
I did make a few changes… but mostly, I recognized the difference between nailing down the story I was going for, and actually writing the manuscript. (while I have several key scenes written, the word count for these days is not as important as the type of work I was doing.) Hopefully, this solid groundwork for my story will make the actual drafting a bit smoother, and the editing of this WIP won’t need to be the total overhaul that my last WIP needed! *time will tell*
At the pace I’m going, and with the changes I’ve made, my goal for the finished first draft of this WIP is March 8, 2013. That is 16 days of prep, and 39 days of drafting. (at the end of which, the color coded draft, should make first pass edits less intimidating.) Wish me luck!
Writing is hard. Balancing all the things we want to do in a day is hard. But in the end, so worth it.
Happy writing, friends!