Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Getting my mind around getting it done

I am a slow writer.  At least, I think I am.

I can write quickly if I must.  I usually write 20 page research papers in under 36 hours.  Okay, sometimes I go over deadline and it's 72 hours.  Someone once told me that a good formula was an hour a page plus one to proof read at the end.  Though that formula wasn't true when I was in college, it has been for the master's program.

But for fiction?  I churned out a story, 3000 words, start to finish in about seven hours one night at Odyssey last summer.  It had some problems, but it also had a beginning, middle, and end.  Then I let my subconcious tackle the edits and problems of that story for six months, finally sitting down to redraft.  I've been redrafting for the past 30 days.

I'll get stuck.  I'll take a bunch of notes.  I'll find something else to do (most likely not writing). Then the perfect phrasing or situation to get me unstuck bubbles up in my mind the next day.

It's taking forever.

And I'm looking for ways to make it happen quicker.  There has to be something better than a sentence or single idea bubbling up per day.  Come on, lots of bubbles.  Let's think carbonation here.

Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less TimeIt's not just the revisions (although they're worse than anything else).  I've been putting off first drafts as well.  So I started reading Eat That Frog! a self-help book about time management.  Although, as theLiz told me, reading a book about how to not procrastinate sounds like a great form of procrastination.

Just read this interview with Julie Duffy of StoryADay.  It is indeed a month long write-a-story-each-day challenge.  Sounds intense.  Sounds like the pulp writers of yesteryear (but hold that though, it's tomorrow's post).  Sounds like something I'd really like to do.  Sounds like my sloooooooowness would either get kicked out or get me kicked out.  Hmm.

Duffy's advice:
Finish. Finish every story. Even if it's dragging and you hate it, learning how to work through that and get to to the good bit is all part of the craft. Just starting stories will never get you anywhere. Learning how to craft your ideas into finished stories is what it's all about.
I need to get over the starting and get on to the doing and the sticking.  Sticking with the doing.

Bestselling author Jenny Crusie writes:
There is a time before I begin a book that I panic. I can’t remember how I did it before, the first fifteen books must have been flukes, I don’t know everything that’s going to happen in the story, I don’t understand the characters, I’m a fake, the book is going to be a disaster, and my career is over. The fact that I do this before every book is not a comfort.
Then she found god collaging.

Hmm. Thanks -- tempting -- but no.  I'm already waist-deep in unfinished arts-n-crafts projects, I really don't need another excuse to buy and/or collect more of that stuff.  Although the whole panic notion does put me in mind of this absolutely spot on cartoon.

Is it really as simple as Ann Aguirre makes it out to be?  Find a group of people who want to write five thousand words a day and then you all write five thousand words a day?  She makes caveats that finding the right group of people is important -- and lordy do I know that: those groups where we all slacked off and secretly rejoiced that we'd failed together instead of failed alone, yeah, those groups weren't very helpful.  But she's big on there being no magic in the system.  There's no magic time, no magic aura, the stars do not align.  She just goes.  Does.  Is.

I guess I just need to go. Do. Be.  Get off my stupid starting block and keep going without tripping on it.  Of course, Aguirre's method is for the first draft, not the revisions.

Does your style slant toward slow or fast?  Slow and steady or (worse) slow and sporadic?

What processes and advice have worked for you?

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