Monday, January 17, 2011

Good writing habits

It's heartening to know I can do it: bettering my previous score for NaNo. I got to 30 000 words for the 2009 NaNoWriMo then ground to a halt when my day-job bit me on my posterior. And yes... that unfinished epic is languishing on my hard drive somewhere. I suspect it's also another one of my "lost" novels.

I started writing Incarna on December 28 and I'm now just shy of 60 000 words. How do I do it, you may ask? I've been writing almost 3 000 words every day, though I don't beat myself over the head if I don't quite make it, for whatever reason. This is on top of my day-job and editing obligations for my publisher.

To be quite honest, I don't know how, save that I'm very disciplined in my approach to working. While I do spend a bit of time involved in social networking (reading blogs, Facebooking and Twitter), when I work, I unplug myself from cyberspace and go hide either in the lounge, sprawled on the couch, or in my bedroom.

I work in bursts, which means I'll start by reading 10 pages of a submission, edit 10 pages of a novel then reward myself by writing a page of my own work. This kind of round usually takes about 3/4 of an hour. Then I get up, fold some laundry, water plants or feed the animals, check my mail, and go back to the couch.

Granted, this works when I'm home all day. But on an ordinary work day? I get up at 5.30am, feed animals, have coffee, check mail for 15 minutes, get ready and catch the 7.20am train to town. I then work for 3/4 on the train, usually handling 10 pages of edits for my publisher then treating myself to my own writing until we arrive in the CBD. During lunch I usually do the same kind of editing cycle as I would on the train. The only time I have to read for pleasure is an hour on the train going home during the afternoon. This is my chill-out time, because when I get home, I wash dishes, feed the animals (including the husband), allow myself half an hour to reply to emails... and start with an hour or three of reading subs, editing and writing.

I don't watch TV anymore. Personally, it bores me to death. I have what I fondly refer to as a YouTube attention span. Anything over six minutes and I lose interest.

Also, another thing, I divide my writing time into two phases: writing and revising. I don't write new words while I'm revising. I simply can't give my revisions the kind of attention they deserve if I'm emotionally invested in laying down a first draft.

I guess what I'm trying to say is you too can write a novel in a month or two. Do so by giving yourself a deadline, and make it your goal to write the required word count every day. Identify times of the day you can use for this, even if it means getting up an hour earlier every day. If you really want to do this thing, you can. Then get your butt on the chair and write. You'll find it becomes easier the more you get used to the routine. But do remember to allow yourself to do some of the fun things between, without them becoming distractions.


Rachel Brimble said...

My god, Nerine, you are a machine! I dedicate as much time as I can to my writing but you truly put me to shame. Yes, my weakness is night time TV but my excuse is my writing after 7.30 pm is bad - and I mean BAD!
Great post,



Rebecca Rose said...

Nerine, you are so right. Discipline is the name of the game. And, while lately it has been tougher than normal, I still manage to get something done between the snowstorms and mom obligations--and that's all that counts!

Have a Sparkling Day!
Rebecca Rose

Nerine Dorman said...

Mostly I don't sleep much. I'm a bit OCD: there's always one more thing I need to do...

Sandra Sookoo said...

You're exactly right. You have to have discipline in order to turn out consistent work :-) Seems to me the evenings are when I get the most work done.