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Regaining the writing habit (hours not words)

I think it’s official now: I have fallen out of the habit of writing. I don’t mean to say “I’m not writing” or #amwriting – just that over the past year it’s been an ad-hoc effort, when the mood takes me.

I’m not in a panic – I have a new project, and I am even taking a class so that I have a talented writer to hold my nose to its grindstone. I am simply surprised not to be more weird about this.

I suspect it’s because the effort to market Demon turned out to be so creatively interesting – something akin to the difference between writing the play and acting in it.

Plays close, of course. Demon, I hope, will keep going. Perhaps the better analogy is to a previous album, songs on which I will perform for years after – but I’m more likely to perform the old songs if I keep coming out with new ones.

I don’t know if it will rise to the level of a New Year’s Resolution – and that would be a telling thing if it had to – but I need to start cultivating a writing habit again. That means approaching it with scheduled regularity for the next long while.

For me that means hours, not words. My colleagues often post their daily word counts, but that method never worked for me, probably because I don’t just write while I write. Like Penelope, I undo my work as I go, though unlike her I do it first thing in the morning. Even during the headlong charge of NaNoWriMo 2015, I couldn’t keep myself from editing, especially once I was three-fourths of the way to the 50K word count. People who write productivity books cluck and ruffle feathers, and isn’t that an analogy that’s not going anywhere kind to them? Stepping back….

I feel a pressure to keep it neat, akin to a bricklayer making sure to scrape away excess mortar. Perhaps that comes from the huge amount of words I threw out of early Demon drafts, and my desire not to write so inefficiently again. Perhaps I am just afraid the words will dry.

Perhaps, in my process, whatever it is, words can dry, and I’d be a fool not to respect that – whatever reality or self-indulgence that woolly concept implies to my number-crunching colleagues. They write them and I write me and I dry.

I get the rest of this week to play and shop. On Christmas night, I have to make a schedule. Maybe I should throw in a little time to exercise too. Or maybe that’s the New Year’s Resolution!


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NaNoWriMo recap (winner!)

National Novel Writing Month was a huge personal success for me, and a big confidence booster. I will miss my silicone NaNoWriMo bracelet tomorrow.

By the numbers, 50,028 words, finished in the wee hours of November 27. On the twenty-three days I wrote, I averaged 2,175 words a day, due mainly to a big push in the first two weeks that had me writing close to 2,500 a day.

As a project, I reached the end of the draft narrative. I kept control of the pacing so I landed it roughly as I intended. It was an active effort, matching my word count to the outlines, planning scenes ahead in 500-word increments, fleshing out passages still short of their part of the total.

However measured, when I could write, I did, at speed and with some level of consistent craft throughout. I’m not sure I believed I could do it. I am glad to no longer have to rely on belief.

I don’t think I have universal advice, but for me it started well before November 1. Continue reading


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NaNoWriMo update at the halfway mark (yay)

I keep meaning to blog! And it isn’t that I am SO BUSY – NaNoWriMo has become so all encompassing that all my draft blogs are navel-gazing treatises on processes which inform the start of my day but go by the wayside when it’s ten pm and I still have seven hundred words to go. Anyway.

In short, I am well ahead, 70% done (35,286 words out of 50,000) at the halfway mark.

I won’t be able to keep up this pace, but that was my point in pushing hard early – a strategy developed with and supported by my wife, who took point on family issues these last two weeks.

Still, to say a marathon is unsustainable as a lifestyle is to miss the point of the extremity. The point of the extremity is something personal to each extremist. Continue reading


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More Edits

The heck with this, I know — but I am editing the book again.

I thought I was done, or done for now. At 138K a little big but, you know, big-boned. It was fine. I could write new stories now, send out queries, sure that some kind agent would understand me.

A major contest starting in three weeks has a limit of 125K. I asked my wife and my writing group, and most everyone thought it was worth it to try to reach the goal, contest or no. They are right, of course. But it is an aggressive deadline.

To look fresh at the material, I chopped the file into chunks around 3500 words long. Continue reading