Monday, March 25, 2013
I know I keep referring to Eugenia’s February post about the business of writing. I can’t seem to get past the suggestion of writing 1000 words per hour. I have responded to that post both with a comment and a post of my own. I have even tried writing 1000 words per hour and came to a conclusion that it was burn out central. But I can’t seem to shake the nagging feeling that I need to approach my writing a little more like a business.
For years writing has been a hobby and a passion and I treated it like that. I wrote when I wanted to. I wrote what I wanted to. I wrote how I wanted to. It made me happy, but if I was to live by the fruit of my writing, I would be happy but impoverished. Eugenia’s post got me thinking (more like obsessing) about what would happen if I treated my writing more like a business than a hobby. So for this month I decided to try something different; something outside my comfort zone. I decided to write a 30 000 word novella in three weeks. Not only that, I decided to write suspense, a genre that I have not written before, and using characters based on popular fiction.
That required some change in my writing process(es) and my organization. Since characters were based on popular fiction I had to first do a total immersion in the fiction. I had to read lots of suspense/mystery novels and watch suspense movies galore to get into the mode. Normally I write by the seat of my pants. My working outline is the story in my head, I know how it’s going to end (though nothing is written down) and I see the characters and scenes like I do a movie. However, for this project I had to write a detailed outline, character sketches, and relationship maps to see how the characters related to each other.
Remember I wanted to do 30 000 words in three weeks? Well that means 10 000 words a week or about 1400 words a day (note I said day not hour). But with the first week spent in total immersion and planning and outlining, it only leaves two weeks for actual writing. That’s a little over 2100 words a day. Now I know you’re thinking that’s not much. But throw in work, three young kids, and a household to run, and writing time is as precious as it is scarce.
I was determined. So I reorganized my day, measured the amount of time spent actually writing (I don’t have the Facebook distraction problem many have) vs. the amount of keepable words. I have found ways to occupy my kids that allows me to work for longer than a few minutes at a time, without resorting to television as a baby sitter.
It has been two weeks since I made the commitment and guess what? I am over 20 000 words with a nicely developing story. I know I didn’t do a thousand words an hour, but I have managed to carve the time out to write efficiently and effectively. And you know what? I am enjoying it.
One of my New Year’s resolutions was to get out of my comfort zone and try something that I haven’t tried before. I guess I can put that resolution down as QED and I love it.
And an important lesson I have learned: I can treat writing like a business and still be passionate about it.