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