I came across this thought-provoking post over on Routines for Writers and since I’d been planning a “Year in Review”-type post I decided to let it guide my process. (Structure is fun!) So check it out, and come back.
(And since this has grown to a monstrous, unpaletable length, I’m breaking it up into three parts. With a virtual cookie at the end of each one. Read on!)
My routine for the year has changed dramatically with the change in my work schedule and to be honest, I still don’t think I’ve found my stride.
Previously, I worked day shift, with Tuesdays and Wednesdays off. I got home around 4:30 pm and then would cook dinner and try not to be distracted by network television or how tired I was and try to write instead. When that didn’t happen (and that was often) I would look to my day’s off to catch up. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. Two nights a week I attended two writing group gatherings, one being the Underground Writers, the critique circle I’ve belonged to for the last two years, and the other being a drop-in, casual Monday Night Writers Pack that meets at the library. Whatever else might happen during the week, some writing got done on those nights. But never enough.
By the time November rolled around, my schedule had taken a 180, and not an unwelcome one. I work evenings now, not starting until 3:00 pm and home by midnight. It’s removed the network television from the equation (which really, I had limited a great deal before the switch) and it means that when I am at the desk, in my office, I’m not tired. I’m well-rested, I don’t have the weight of the day-job yoking my efforts. This worked out fantastically for NaNoWriMo. For the first time since I started NaNoWriMo and have held a day-job, I completed the 50,000 word goal.
So I have a place and time, my mornings. However, am I consistent? Am I organized?
No. Profoundly no. Looking over the Excel document that I used this year to track my word counts, I am far from consistent. February and September were my worst months. February is understandable. I had moved in to the new apartment, my personal healing process had begun, and my life was, frankly, not so different from being a bowl of pancake batter thrown against the wall. September’s drought is less easier explained. I’ll have to look through my journals to find out why. April through August was very productive, with April, May and June focused solely on my weird script-thing where I produced 36,000 words. After a break, July and August saw me get 20,000 words on the current WIP before I inexplicably petered out. I started building up again heading towards November, which I rocked especially thanks to the new schedule, but since finishing NaNoWriMo my output has dwindled again. Why? The season? Still adjusting to the new schedule? The post-NaNo hangover? Not sure. Yet.
Am I accountable? Yes, both externally and internally.
Externally, I cannot even guess where I would be without my writing buddies, the members of the Underground Writers. Wait, no I can guess: frustrated, hopeless, without a single finished piece of work and not a spec of faith in anything that I write. My gratitude for these wonderful people is boundless. I love them and count them among my dearest friends. Friends I trust to rip my stories a new one, mind, but friends all the same. Before them, I never shared my work. Couldn’t bare the thought of rejection, couldn’t hope for acceptance. Without them, I’d have never gotten past that first real wall. Events like NaNoWriMo, which helped form this group and offer a way to gather every year and work towards an external deadline have also been invaluable.
Internally, I try to keep track of everything that I do. That’s where the Excel document comes in. I started it with about three months to spare last year, so this year is the first where I entered the data for a full 12 months. I wrote over 134,000 words, not including blog posts, journal entries, or my brief fling with 750words.com — ah, wait, I remember what happened to September now! — and that is an all-time personal best for me. That included the bulk of my third novel (and the one I think I have a shot with), an overly-long horror screenplay that I think is a pretty damn fine story that needs to be translated into prose, and a handful of short stories, some of which I’ve started submitting.
I feel all warm and fuzzy writing that, and it’s not just the space heater, baby!
And now for something completely different — go check out Jon Lajoie. Psst, entirely NSFW and hilarious. You’ve been warned!
Come back tomorrow for Part 2!