Tag Archives: writing schedule

I Won’t Say the Block Has Broken…

free clip art guy reading

…but I put in some very consistent hours working on Sky last week, and, so far I’m doing even better this week. Two things happened to enable this (at least the observable things; the unobservable aspect, of course, being God’s gracein answering my prayers). Those two things were:

Number 1:    I decided that I needed to get into the office earlier, (first thing in the morning, in fact) and as part of that, to go to bed earlier the night before. To get to bed earlier, I have decided to stop watching all the TV I’ve been watching, staying away, in particular from shows that end at 10pm. It’s helped that during this time most of my favorite shows were either not on or reruns. (And last week’s new Elementary, with both the insertion of the gay character and mention of Sherlock’s interest in yet another perversity, “prurient writing,” helped me decide that it was not worth spending any more precious time and mental “space” on.)

Number 2 :  One of my biggest problems with actually working has been in trying to force myself to make decisions about the world or the next step in the narrative, and getting confused and overwhelmed to the point I do nothing.  So this time I decided to simply read through all my collected notes and plans. I have a notebook already in progress (my world-builder’s “Bible”) where I keep lengthy writings on the characters, the world in a fair amount of detail, situations of conflict, plot ideas, etc., so the plan is to simply read through that, making no demands upon myself to decide anything or figure out anything , or even like it all. I only have to read it.

And perhaps jot down any notes or questions that come to mind.

Well that’s been VERY effective.

Why, you might ask, haven’t I done this before? Well, because, you see, I know all that stuff! (Even though some of it dates back to 2001, and much of the rest to 2005) It would be a waste of time! I need to get with the next step in the narrative, not fiddle around reading old notes about the world I’ve constructed for that narrative to unfold in.

Well, maybe…though in truth I’d forgotten A LOT.  And what rereading it all has done, is give me a way to connect with the material that’s not threatening. If thoughts or questions occur — and they have been — I need only write them down, not Make a Decision!  This way I can relax and just proceed, and now I’m finding that it’s not just easy to stay in the office, it’s hard to make myself stop! And it’s getting me inspired again.

Like, when I read through the character “Bio” I have on my hero Talmas, last week. I got very excited and wrote in my writing log, “Wow! I am jazzed! I LOVE this guy!”  Two days later, having pulled out an old journal from when I had first taken up Sky after finishing The Enclave (because I was having problems similar to what I’m enduring now) I wrote, on Sept 8, 2009,

“Wow! The Lord kept nudging me to read my old notes and finally I gave in …. Oh, my. I’m in love with Talmas! He’s the center of this story… I am jazzed. This, I think is where I must focus.”

So, things are happening. Two weeks ago I averaged 4 hours a day. Last week my daily  average was 4.6 hours (and this despite multiple very strong distractions). This week, though, I hope to do even better…

 

 

Eating an Elephant

eat an elephant

I’m sure most of you know the old adage, ‘How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. ” Well, my next step in my writing rehab program, as outlined in my Overcoming Writing Blocks book, was just that.

Having dealt with the distractions in my environment, I moved on last week to the writing project itself.  First up was to break the task into “bite-sized units.”  For a novel,  that would be chapters or possibly “Parts,” though so far I have not been thinking of this book in  terms of “Parts.” For now I took the average of the number of chapters in each of my six books — 42 — as the number of chapters in Sky.

I’ve already written six of them, which  leaves 36. At a rate of 2 chapters per 3 weeks,  with time out here and there for holidays and trips, I would be done with a first draft around May 1 of next year.

Whether that has any tie to reality or not, I have no idea. But it’s a start.

Next was to come up with a “Purpose Statement.” For fiction writing that would be one’s main story question for the tale. In working through developing this,  many things came to light about the world I’m building and this plus the next step “research reading and taking notes” (which I take to also include work in developing the parameters of one’s make-believe world) sent me off for most of last week gathering all my scattered notes and ideas into folders with the intention of going through the collected material and deciding what I want to keep and what I want to toss.

In the process of all this I realized that I am no longer interested in the linear set-up of a single empire beneath my fictional planet’s surface with the heavenly city floating above as I had originally envisioned. There have to be various nations to carry out what I’m wanting to do,  and in fact in the chapters I’ve already written there are already at least two other national entities mentioned. So I see that this concept was there all along, despite my initial plans.

I’ve been taking all my note cards and entering the notes on them into one of my many world building documents, or if I’ve decided not to use that material, simply throwing it away. It’s been very productive work. Not when it comes to chapters written, but as regards the fundamental shift the story is now taking. Once an optimum number of the world building questions have been answered, I’ll be able to turn my attention to the plot…

The fact that I’m making this fairly major change, in addition to much new material I’ve gathered from miscellaneous reading, news events and my own increasing understanding of some of the spiritual issues I was wanting to deal with, I’m beginning to see there might have been a reason for my stall over the last few months… years? … that goes beyond mere burn out, life distractions, or lack of self-discipline…

More Problems with the Space Time Continuum

***

Last week, back before the election I wrote a post about the need to find a place for my mind, a “space that is free and uncluttered during the day” and said that I had come round to the renewed conviction that I really do have a need for a writing routine… a schedule.

The problem is, I never seem to be able to keep it, once I start it. So what good would it do to set up yet another schedule to follow, knowing I would fail yet again? And what about all those promises from God that He was going to do things? How do I factor that in? Is it me or is it Him? And how can I know the difference?

So I went to Him with these questions and He’s been answering me, though perhaps not in the way I expected.

My first realization was that I’m trying to do too much. In addition to walking the dog, daily Bible class, and the routine basic chores of housekeeping and personal hygiene, there have been all these other things that have come to my attention that I’ve been thinking I’d like to do.

Things like read the Bible through in a year by doing daily chapters; like doing a sketch a day, spending 15 minutes a day decluttering, practicing the piano every day. This in addition to taking care of the small garden I’ve inherited from my mother. It’s not enough to simply care for the two potted roses… I have to fantasize about finishing the brick patio, and doing many other things to improve the look of the yard.

Then there are the projects… the sewing things… if I could just schedule in half an hour a week. And there are the cards. And some paper-crafting scrapbook type projects I’ve been wanting to do with the Psalms. I’ll need to set aside some time to attend to those.

And don’t forget reading. I have a stack of books I’ve slowly accumulated through my readings of the various blogs… all of them waiting for my attention. If I just devoted fifteen minutes a day to them, I could get through them.

Then there are the long-term tasks about the house that need a place on the schedule — shampooing the carpet, washing windows, cleaning out closets…

And of course all the things that need to be done relative to the holidays.

Oh and baking! That’s fun. I love scones and coffee cake and cookies… I can always squeeze some of that in.

Finally, there’s all the TV I’ve started watching — six shows now, six hours a week. At minimum. But this is time with my hubby… so I can’t eliminate that.

Um…

I’m beginning to see some space-time continuum violations here as I’ve laid all this down (well, I saw them when I laid all this out last week, as well). Clearly I cannot do all that stuff. Even if I didn’t have to sleep, I wouldn’t be able to do all that. It’s… lunacy.

Plus trying to break up your day (more like shatter it) into fifteen minute increments provides NO time for any kind of substantive thinking. And I think it’d just be frazzling, having to change gears every half hour.

I think all this may be an artifact left over from my reading of The Artist’s Way  a couple of years ago with its encouragement to think of all these things you’d like to do and then go do them. That is probably not exactly what was advised but that’s the way I took it, and it’s not been good for me.

Furthermore, with all these “projects” or endeavors that I’m intending on constantly doing, I was leaving most of the materials needed to do them out around the house where I could see them and be “reminded.” Well, I was reminded all right and it wasn’t pretty: Oh yeah, I gotta do that wedding card; oh yeah, I want to scrapbook all those pictures; oh, right, I want to do a sketch today. And there’s those books I want to read. And the patio that I want to fix and the closet that needs to be cleaned, and the piano — I need to call the tuner, before it gets too out of tune again and if I’m going to do that, I’d better start playing it, too.

Before long I’m feeling anxious and condemned, wanting to do all the things on my mental list, in some way thinking I should be able to, not really accepting the fact that

THERE IS NO WAY I CAN

and just muddling my way through each day trying to do the impossible. And when I inevitably fail, I heap on the guilt.

So. I decided to make some changes.

First, I acknowledged and accepted that I cannot do all the things I want to do to.

(Yes, I know:  DUH!!!)

Second, I put away all those half-done projects, so I’m not continually reminded that I want to do them. If there’s time, I might do a card. If not. Oh well. I have a book to write. I can do cards later.

It turns out that “Out of sight, out of mind” really does work!

That alone made a significant difference.

Third, make daily writing a priority. That means, “No, you can’t check the email before you start. And no, you can’t take just a minute to check Drudge. You know it won’t end there. And just forget about the blogs ’til later. Really, what do you think you’ll find there? The powers that be will spend all year sorting through Benghazi and the Petraeus thing and you’ll likely still never find out what really happened anyway!”

I haven’t yet decided on what kind of schedule to follow with the writing itself.  I’m afraid if I don’t get in and write immediately upon getting up, I won’t do it. But my hands don’t always work right when I immediately get up. (the CREST syndrome makes them go to sleep if I try to type for long; later in the day there’s no problem)  So I’m still working on that. I think I’m going to go day to day and let the Lord lead me into the one that works best.

Four, cut back on the TV!  Tonight is my first cut: Hawaii 5-0.  Much as I like Alex O’Loughlin in the role of McGarrett, I’m finding this season’s changes annoying. I don’t like McGarrett’s relationship with Catherine (which seemed to come out of the blue), I can’t stand his mother, and Danny’s been driving me increasingly up the wall. Plus staying up for a show that in Arizona ends at 10pm results in me not getting to bed until around 11 and that leads to either a later rising time, or me be awakened by Hubby when he leaves for work and then I get shorted on sleep. Getting shorted on sleep has a direct impact in my ability to withstand the impulses of my flesh to go do whatever tickles my fancy at any given moment.

Finally, I’m going to follow Flylady’s method for establishing a new habit (work every day on the book) and according to her that takes a month of consistent practice. So I get a star for each day I go into the office and get some work on Sky done.

Today was my first day of full implementation. I got into the office at 8am, and actually did get some work done on sky. Maybe about 3 to 4 hours worth (I forgot to note the times). I did not finish my weekly household chores, but I’m hoping to do so tomorrow.

And once I publish this post I can do my stretching and then head straight to bed. And it’s not even 10 o’clock yet!