Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pop Tarts and Tap water at 4am

It may not be the most desirable way to write, but it's mine and I own it.

You heard it right 4 AM every day, no excuses. I've been on that path since October 1, 2010. It's been a bumpy road at times, but it's mine. I've been wanting to be a committed writer for years, and 2010 was going to be my year. The year I finished my novel or bust! However after struggling seven months with an evening time slot of 10pm to midnight when my mind was shut down and I couldn't motivate myself into anything creative, I eventually decided that if I was going to make a big commitment in my life to write a book I needed to show to my self that I was committed beyond the days left over minutes. I wasn't getting anywhere robbing time from the next day.

The night owl shed his feathers and picked up mornings. Ouch... that still hurts.

I turned to the mornings with vengeance and here I am today with 2 complete first draft novels and I'm fresh into first edits on my number one project, Lightning Child.

Things went very well at first. Then life happened and my 10pm bed time was delayed and I'd wake up too tired to get much done. My high target of 1600+ words a day gets missed nearly every day and then I started struggling to reach my 1200+ target. Baby's get sick or teething and all sorts of things that I let keep me from writing before. Things both in and out of my control. (I'm sure all the mom's out there know just how much infants cripple your ability to write. I've also decided that children only wake up in the 4 to 6:30 am time frame if you are writing.)

I learned that my journey in being a daily writer included several things. First of all I needed the support of my wife with the children during writing times. I must make strong use of my break times at work to write. I need a solid 4+ pages to transcribe in the morning and get me started. If I have that then my morning is at least 1200 words or better. If I don't, it's a gamble.
Some day's I'm so exhausted I can barely keep my hands on the keyboards, so I've taken to standing up and pacing to get the blood pumping so I can stay awake for even just sixty seconds more before I have to pace around again. (I wonder if I look as stupid as I feel when I'm doing it?)

Saturday and Sunday afternoon nap times are my sweet spot. I use them to make up for lost ground in the week. Deadlines are deadlines. If you don't reach them... you're dead meat. I had to create deadlines to keep myself motivated. My wife follows up and asks how I'm doing. Shame, if I didn't meet my goal, is self delivered and in plenty big scoops.

I also have taken to snacking on sugary breakfast pop tarts or their off brand equivalents to keep the blood alive in the early A.M.. Then I wash the stale dry goodness down with some fresh tap water.... yum!

Still when all is said and done, even counting those days when I failed or when children or other distractions hit me hard, I did it. I wrote my book in 2010, and I started 2011 with a new goal to get 4 more before the year is out. 4 completely written novels, including first round edits. Unofficially I want to have book 1 submitted to even just one house or agent, with room for the others to follow. I'm all about those rejections. Bring them on.
I have a plan. This plan I hope to beat. If I keep writing and make my daily goal I'll have 1 million words in less than 2 and a half years. I suspect by then that I will be strong enough to get publication considerations.
I'm also supplementing my deficient ego with inexpensive writing conferences, author presentations/signings,writing pod casts and blogs. I've learned so much speaking to and listening to those who've already walked a similar path that I'm on. I try to be in the community and support it the best I can.

I suppose this is a journey and I'm going to live and love it the best I can. I'm one of those types that Bree Despain spoke about in her recent 'Tips for Aspiring Writers' presentation at the Whitmore Library in Salt Lake City 3/12/2011. I've had my eyes on future events for so long saying 'I'll be happy when...' that I forget to love my life now. Of course I knew this already and my extremely wise and beautiful wife reminds me of this all the time. But it's very applicable to my writing. If I have a tough morning writing, then I need to remember that I love writing. Do what makes it fun, even if it detracts from my word count that day. I need to enjoy my journey.
I'll liken how my writing is to how road trips can be. If you travel from point A to B in as short a time as possible. It's really rather un-enjoyable. If you make stops along the way to enjoy scenic views, historical markers, attractions and other fun things you'll take longer but enjoy your journey. It's the journey in life that we have to love. If I've decided I won't love my journey then I won't and with my eyes only focused on the destination I won't be happy until I get there. If there ever arrives, but that's a conundrum for another discussion.

So when writing has so much to enjoy along the way it would be rather fruitless to not just plan to enjoy the journey.
All journeys are different. I hope yours turns out to be fun and that you never lose the love in writing. If we don't quit, one day we will all get published regardless. May today's destination be two hours of writing fun.

In the mean time I'm just going to sit here at 4am and keep writing. With the occasional pacing, pop tart chomping and tap water chugging... of course.

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