Over on my BIW list, a discussion has taken place.
I did a simple statistical crunch of the data from six months here, and you’re most likely to succeed if you goal 25 pages or less, or 100 pages or more.
I’ve seen this data presented before, and that’s actually part of the reason I consistently post higher goals. No, I’m not even kidding about that.
1) Have you actually succeeded in hitting this goal before? If you haven’t, why did you go for it this time?
Yep, last month. . I’ve had problems hitting 100 pages in the past, and this month, because I’m a stubborn obstinate sort decided to up the stakes. I was NOT going to not make it. Sheer pigheadedness made me reach it. I was sick and tired of setting writing goals and not making them, so last month I decided that that BIW was the start of a new habit of setting writing goals and reaching them. Consistently. Or else. Did I mention I’m stubborn?
As a side comment, quite a while ago – six months, or maybe 8 – someone on this list suggested doing a MAD day. Me, being the somewhat competitive sort (not at sports, oh heck, who are you kidding?), joined in. I wrote 65 pages that day – my personal best. That totally stoked me. It proves to me that I’m capable of so much more than I have been doing. It also makes it easier to envision reaching a goal of 150 pages in a week. Heck, that’s less than 3 of those MAD days at the rate I was going.
2) What are your strategies for making this many pages? What do you do with your external challenges (family, work, schedule, etc.)? What overcomes the internal hurdles most of us have?
I’m not employed, and I don’t have kidlets – just a very fat cat. Fahim places very few demands on me – other than making sure he has clean clothes and food to eat, he doesn’t care what the rest of the house looks like. I have a great deal of flexibility.
I get Fahim involved in the process. I’m a wonderful example of the writer who won’t write if left to her own devices, but Fahim "makes" me set goals and I negotiate for rewards, and the rewards are ones I’ll actually work for. I’m still at the point where I need daily rewards with daily quotas. Weekly ones aren’t as motivating for me yet. Last BIW, he "made" me set a goal of 150 pages new writing for BIW last month. I would have been happy to set the goal at 100 and perhaps reach 75. But with constant checking up on me, I actually made it! My reward was take away lunch (rice and curry packets). I was tired of cooking, so it was perfect.
I have a spreadsheet that I use to keep track of things like writing, editing, plot development, and other things I need to do every day. It adds up my weekly and monthly totals for me. (I used to be an accountant in my previous life, so this is child’s play for me.)
When I feel stuck, or bored, or tired, I get up and do something else. Clean something for fifteen minutes. Do a bit of mending. Read. Stand outside and watch the rain pelt down on the coconut trees. Play with my cat. Whatever. Anything to get a break. But keep the breaks short. Ironically, I frequently do more house cleaning during BIW than I do at any other point in time – I hate housework, but it’s also a procrastination strategy for writing. Go figure.
And when I feel stuck, I use a timer (go to www.flylady.org for more on the virtues of using a timer). Set it for fifteen minutes, shut my eyes, and type type type away the worst dialogue and description imaginable. Doesn’t matter that it’s crap – just write. I keep telling myself that. And it’s working. My typing speed is around 80 wpm, so in theory, I ought to be able to type about 4800 words in an hour, or 19 pages. My brain doesn’t work that fast, though. I can write about 10 or 12 pages an hour when I’m going at a good speed.
I also had two new projects to work on. Didn’t matter that I didn’t have either of them properly plotted. I had a rough idea and faked the rest. And when I got really stuck, Fahim and I discussed plot in the evening. With two projects, when I felt at a dead end with one, I switched to the other.
Did I mention I have the most supportive spouse in the world? Also a writer, and sci fi – same genre as me. It works out extremely well for me.
3) What do you go through making this many pages? How does it feel doing it? How does it feel afterwards?
It’s getting easier. It’s hard work, but after writing 50 or 75 or 80 pages some BIWs, it’s getting easier. Plus now that I’ve done 150 pages in a week, the aura of unattainability is gone. 150 pages in a week? Yeah, I can do that. No biggie. . . It’s the brick wall – that mental brick wall – that’s gone.
But it’s definitely slog work at times. At times, I don’t feel like I can do any more. But dammit, I gotta write just five more pages to meet today’s quota. Okay, put on that timer and just get the thing done. Sometimes, it doesn’t feel creative – it feels like I’m wading through a sewer just to get to the end. And other times, it’s fun, energizing, and I’m curious to see what’s going to happen, cuz even when I have something plotted, that doesn’t mean that it’s going to stay that way, or that I know EXACTLY what’s going to happen. There’s still a great deal of flexibility and uncertainty there.
Having achieved a goal like that, though. Oh my! It all becomes real. Like maybe I actually CAN become a writer by profession. Like maybe I actually CAN do all this. Maybe it’s not impossible after all. Maybe I really am a writer.
4) What’s the downside of blitz-drafting at this speed? We know the upside: half a big book in a week, or all of a smaller book!
Brain dead. Loss of feeling in brain. Numb. Pass out. Sleep. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Right. And this would be another procrastination strategy. I have to get back to editing now. Hope this helps.
- Today’s Progress 6 Oct 2003
- BIW starts today
- On setting goals
- On setting and achieving goals
- Insomnia as a form of writing sabotage
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