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Now that I've been kind of "in between" manuscripts for a few weeks, it's starting to wear on me--there is just so much yardwork you can do in 90+ degrees, and forget housework--and now I'm trying to make a decision here. What to work on, I mean.

1. Sequel to U.P. on hold for now. Seriously, why knock myself out when the first one won't be published till 2012, and, if it tanks, there will be no sequel. I have time.

2. LMB, the YA contemporary I started a couple years ago, received feedback from my agent, realized it essentially needed to be RE-written, and threw it aside last year to work on U.P. when I decided I wasn't up to the challenge. Frankly I'm terffied to open the file.

3. An adult WF-with-a-thriller aspect. OK, get this--last week I wrote 5 pages and deleted 4 1/2. After brainstorming with Pam yesterday, I have a better grip on one of the plot points, but I'm struggling both with the tense and with the POV. I could outline it, I guess, but that would make too much sense.

4. Something new. Except I haven't thought of it yet.

Writing is hard. It isn't always hard. But it's often hard. And here I have the same old problem I've had for years: working my writing around my "real job" schedule. I work the 3-11 shift and for years I used the excuse that this shift enables me to write in the morning. However, I'm finding it harder and harder to work on something new when I know my time is so limited. I figure I wake up at 6--but after working till midnight and not getting to bed much before 2, the last thing I want to do at that hour is...yanno...think.

So then I go back to bed till, say 8. Sometimes 7. Sometimes 9.  Now THIS is the time I should really get cracking. But there's coffee to drink and Coco Puffs to eat, and the news to watch...and maybe a movie...no, wait. STOP!

OK, so say I start writing when I wake up the second time, assuming the Wee Beastie doesn't demand my attention--actually, he's much better at staying out of my face, and often sleeps half the morning himself; therefore I can't use him as an excuse any more. Theo-rectally I could write till noon, till it's time to do whatever else I have to do before I get ready to go to work. That's 3-4 hours. 3-4 hours is good, right? I bet there are tons of you who would KILL for 3 or 4 hours of Writing Time.

My mental block is: 3 hours (or even 4)  isn't long enough. When I do write, and I mean seriously write--I don't mean revisions, b/c I can do those for 10 minutes at a time-- I do my best work when I have 6 to 8 hrs at a stretch...and when I am not constantly glancing at the clock, thinking: I gotta go to work, I gotta go to work.

Well. I think it's time for an ATTITUDE CHANGE. And I'm going to work on this, beginning tomorrow: A minimum of 3 hours a day of pure writing, and I'll give it 2 weeks to see if I can get into the swing. Barring an unexpected event of mammoth proportions, I absolutely will not make any excuses. The TV will stay off. The phone will go unanswered (people who count know to call me on my cell). If it works, it works. I may not know what I'm going to write, but dammit, I'm gonna write! 

Anyone else need a structured schedule? Some self-discipline? A writing buddy? I'm here. :) 


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 4th, 2010 11:37 pm (UTC)
Cheering you on!
Paradoxically, I have a writing assignment for my visit with my therapist next week. While talking about productivity issues, my (regret I haven't been) writing and your comment about my family (something like "no wonder there are so many books about dysfunctional families")(so true!) came up within a few minutes of each other. So therapist wants a three-page story about the recent (and ongoing) family dwama!
Aug. 4th, 2010 11:42 pm (UTC)
Re: Cheering you on!
I find it much easier to write about things that have actually happened to me (hence my periods of compulsive blogging) than to write fiction. Good luck with it!!!
Aug. 5th, 2010 12:27 am (UTC)
My mental block is: 3 hours(or even 4) isn't long enough. When I do write, and I mean seriously write--I don't mean revisions, b/c I can do those for 10 minutes at a time-- I do my best work when I have 6 to 8 hrs at a stretch

It's kind-of funny how differently people work-- I'm the exact opposite. I can scribble new stuff in snatched minutes, but revision? Nope, need a big block of time and no distractions!

Good luck!
Aug. 5th, 2010 12:28 am (UTC)
I'm beginning to understand why so many writers live in poverty. :) And starting to envy them, too.
Aug. 5th, 2010 01:00 am (UTC)
Mark Twain said something like if he had an appointment on Friday, he couldn't work all week, so you are in good company.

I also feel like I need huge chunks of time because it takes me so long to "mentally prepare" for writing, to get my brain into the story. I thought I had it licked at one point and even did a conference workshop on it but it can still be really hard to get to that writing place whenever there's a bit of time.

Aug. 5th, 2010 01:51 am (UTC)
"--to get my brain into the story."

This is it exactly!
Aug. 5th, 2010 02:15 am (UTC)
In the workshop, I used the analogy of Mrs. Tarleton from (the novel) Gone with the Wind. An avid horsewoman, she arose each day expecting to ride. To that end, she would dress in her riding habit and with her skirts hooked over her riding stick, would go about her other duties while her horse waited, saddled, outside. Sometimes, she never found the time to ride, but she was always ready should the opportunity arise.

So I think it can help a lot if you keep yourself "ready to ride," try to keep part of your brain in the story. One of the things you can do is take an index card and write a very brief summary of the last scene you were working on and then on the other side, write a couple of lines about what you think might come next and carry that with you throughout the day (or read it just before you go to sleep at night and first thing again in the morning.) So that way, the story is with you and your subconscious has something to chew on.

Also, I think writers have been conditioned to believe they need to wait for inspiration to strike in order to be able to write. But there's a wonderful quote from Jack London, something like "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go out and hunt it down with a club."
Aug. 5th, 2010 02:48 pm (UTC)
London was right. :)
Aug. 5th, 2010 06:44 am (UTC)
I think it's great that you have decided to give the 3 hrs a day a chance. I mean, you won't know if it can work until you've tried it! And it might not be the optimum way for you to write, but I am sure you will still get writing done.
Personally, I'd vote for Project #2. I suffer from knowing you have a whole novel sitting in a drawer...
Aug. 5th, 2010 06:15 pm (UTC)
I've learned that I can't take time off between books. If I take more than a week or so away from writing, I have a heck of a time getting back into it. I took way too long off between my last book and this one and I'm struggling. (Ask Sher.) I've almost convinced myself that I've been fooling myself. I can't write. I can't plot a decent story. I'll never be more than a wanna-be. The strange thing is, my days feel empty when I don't write, but at the same time, I sit down at the computer and feel inadequate.
Aug. 6th, 2010 02:39 pm (UTC)
I probably won't get my revision letter till the end of the month...it's hard to ceoncentrate on anything else, knowing I'll have to stop writing and work on that. But I know what you mean about getting back into the groove after a long absence. I think siting down at the computer and feeling "inadequate" beats wandering around feeling empty, don't you?
Aug. 6th, 2010 02:40 pm (UTC)
That was me!
STUPID LJ keeps bumping me out!!!!
Aug. 6th, 2010 07:17 pm (UTC)
Yes, Ma'am.
Aug. 6th, 2010 06:52 am (UTC)
I've needed to develop better self-discipline for a LONG time. Now that I'm on a road trip, stuck in a car for several hours straight with nothing else to do but read and write, self-discipline has sort of been forced upon me. ;)

Anyway, good luck! Writing time can be very hard to come by (and when it HAS come, it can be just as hard to use properly!), so hopefully you can make this new system work for you.
Aug. 6th, 2010 01:53 pm (UTC)
"...it can be just as hard to use properly."

Yes, and this is the problem. :o
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )


Jeannine Garsee

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