Get That Writing (Revising, etc.) DONE

Write

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had this crazy notion knocking around in my head that I needed large blocks of time in order to write. I waited around for the perfect set of circumstances to line up. Now, I’m a slow writer anyway. Add this and, well, it’s no surprise it took me so long to write my first draft or that I’ve been working on my revision for a year and only half way done.

Holy crap, has it been a year already?!

Yes, I’ve seen contrary advice before. I’ve also managed spurts in which I worked like mad at every opportunity. But it didn’t last and didn’t really change my thinking. Until I read examples in the blogs of two writers, husband and wife, Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith.

Dean Wesley Smith (referred to as DWS after this) blogged in April as he ghost wrote a 70,000 word novel under contract to a publisher in 10 days. (Here’s the first installment.) This is first draft, by the way, since DWS is a long-time pro author who doesn’t revise before sending to an editor.

After my initial shock wore off, I really paid attention to how he structured his day. I had heard he’s known for writing 1000 words an hour. I wasn’t prepared for the fact the guy is a freakin’ machine!

He gets an incredible amount of work done, and not just writing that one project. He was in the middle of teaching online classes, so was critiquing/evaluating/whatever for students and creating videos to go along with it, attended meetings with his publishing company, worked on edits for previously submitted work, answered email, wrote and answered comments on the blog posts, and, of course, went about his daily life interacting with his wife, his cat, going to lunch, etc.

The point was, DWS stopped for interruptions, meals, housework, running errands — and then went back to work. Again and again. For me, there usually comes a point in the afternoon where I’ve been interrupted so many times, I just give up. Then, after dinner, I’m usually a vegetable in front of the tv.

Ok, I’ve known for a while that I waste time. I find it hard to stay motivated, particulary if I’ve been pulled off task a lot — and I don’t multitask well. But his series really got me thinking.

Then, I noticed this post by his wife, Kristine Kathryn Rusch (hereafter referred to as KKR). She refutes the myth that I and many of DWS’s readers believed and took it a step further by discussing the health problems involved in writing for long hours at a time.

But the title of KKR’s post is “Habits” and the peek into the daily habits of a successful writing couple is invaluable. She explains how she plans shopping and meals, tricks she uses to keep herself writing even when she doesn’t want to, and  setting up her office to limit distractions when she is writing, though some will work even for those of us who don’t have a separate office .

So, what have I learned from this?

  • It’s good to get up from the computer, but I’ve got to go back to it later. Again and again… and again.
  • Many of my motivational problems are probably due to bad habits.
  • I need to set up better habits so I’m more efficient and can work smarter.

I’ll post an update in the future how this works out.

By the way, Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch have a ton of valuable information on their respective writing blogs. I encourage you to check them out.

image courtesy of Karin Dalziel at Flikr

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8 comments on “Get That Writing (Revising, etc.) DONE

  1. Awesome post. Looking into other writers’ lives is really helpful.

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  2. Observation and analysis: tools of the trade for sure. Thank you for sharing! I will definitely check out their blogs. Oh, and my revision beats yours: going on TWO years LOL.

    P.S. I have to force myself to apply the “get out of chair” rule too. (Opposite the “butt in chair” rule for desk jockeys.) It happens most often with the day job; I’ll sit for three-four hours straight – in the zone, super focused and productive – then realize I can’t feel my legs. Not good. Definitely motivates me to stay on top of the ol’ cardio.

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    • E.K. Carmel says:

      Hehe, I went to stand up the other day after a long session and my knees were NOT happy with me. Yeah, it’s time I listened to my body.

      As for your revision, I have no doubts you’ll get back at it – and it’ll be awesome!

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  3. curiocat says:

    Diane has told me a couple of times I need to get over there and read the posts DWS put up as he was ghostwriting. And I did; It gave me a headache. He and Kris are awesome creative machines. I want to be them when I grow up.

    This has been something I’ve been working on for awhile. Not only is it a habit but I also think it’s a matter of style and attitude, too. KKR and DWS are both creative, both artitsts. Beyond that they are also pragmatists and business oriented. They’ve also been doing this for a long, long time. I keep reminding myself of this when I despair that I can’t do it.

    You might be surprised to know I’ve been working on this since HTTS. Remember calling down the lightning? I’ve noticed my best ideas come when I think about it at my desk then go do housework or another task. The other day I happened to notice I get some of my best strikes when I’m cleaning out the litter box. I kid you not. Maybe it’s a metaphor or something, I don’t know. Lol.

    Point is this is not something, at least for me, that changes over night. Especially when it’s not necessarily your style. I find it difficult to get up and leave when I’m in the middle of something, come back and get immediately back into the groove, zone or whatever. I’m not sure it can ever be totally me but I do find the more I try the better I get. I may never grow up to be KKR or DWS but I can’t think of better role models so I keep trying.

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    • E.K. Carmel says:

      They are amazing role models and yes, they’ve been doing it a long time (I also don’t think they have children so no daily family craziness to work around either), so it’s hard for us newbies to even imagine getting to that point. But I’m happy with small changes.

      As for HTTS – good for you! – and I’m not the least bit surprised. That course really changed my thinking and writing habits. I think it effected all of us who really worked at it and took the lessons to heart.

      Some days are tougher than others, but I know you’ll keep at it, Angela. All we can do is chip away at things a little bit at a time. Besides, I think that’s how anything worthwhile gets accomplished.

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  4. D J Mills says:

    Glad DWS blog has helped you overcome one procrastination problem. I know it has helped me now I don’t need to plan large chunks of time to write. Just lots of little 10 minute, or more, chunks.

    I also am learning how to leave a sentence incomplete when I need to leave the computer for other duties, or stop one or two sentences from ending a scene. When I return, I complete the sentence or scene, and find I have slipped right back into writing mode without difficulty.

    All fun and games, which is good, because if I was not happy to return to the computer and my story then there would be no reason to continue writing. 🙂

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    • E.K. Carmel says:

      Since I learned about DWS from your blog, thanks for steering me towards him! That trick with the incomplete sentence or scene is something I’ve heard of but haven’t tried yet. I’ll have to.

      I haven’t gotten to the point that writing is fun yet. It’s still a mixture of frustration at the learning process and boredom because I’ve been with this one story so long, and amazement when I can loose 3 hours in intense concentration while revising. I expect when I’ve got more completed projects, I’ll feel differently. I can’t wait for that to happen!

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