Friday, 9 November 2012

In which I ramble about my writing and making the time to write

As I sit here, taking a break from my usual NaNo writing (which is going better than it was earlier this week incidentally) I tried to figure out what to talk about. Fridays are the day that I talk about my writing or thoughts about writing that relate directly to my experience. Then I thought ‘hey, I’m working and writing during NaNo at the same time for the first time, I’m working and writing at the same time for the first time full stop. Why not focus on that?’ So I am.

Writing is one of the most important things in my life. I think about writing and my ideas most of the time, even when I’m watching brain-numbing TV. I read about it a lot, I’ve got close to 20 books about writing on my Kindle alone, with a couple more physical books in my room somewhere. I searched for and downloaded podcasts about writing. Hearing about other people’s experience in doing what I do and learning from the mistakes they may have made or adapting ideas that they use is something that interests me, it inspires me. So I want to try to inspire you dear readers as others have inspired me.

If I don’t write I get grouchy. If I have no access to paper or pen, if I can’t get hold of anything to put down my ideas I get grouchy. If the words just won’t come out I get grouchy. This grouchiness, for me tends to lead towards the beginnings of depression (something that both sides of my family are genetically inclined towards, I don’t know why). This is something I’ve experienced at least twice before, once earlier this year when I was doing mind-numbing clerical work for 7 hours a day and once earlier this week. Thankfully I caught the shift in my mood quick enough and made changes to what I was doing so that I felt fulfilled and happy. The bad mood shifted away pretty rapidly after that and now I don’t feel like I’m going to break down in tears at any moment. That’s how much I love writing. Not being able to write or not feeling like I’m writing the right thing gets me down and has that much of an effect on my mood and mentality.

Working full time for the last couple of weeks and the next couple of weeks to come I need to make time for myself to write. Thankfully I have few obligations to family and friends which means that I generally get left alone. A pair of supportive parents who understand how much I love writing has certainly helped. They let me lock myself away in my room to hammer out a few thousand words and only interrupt me with important stuff, the news that dinner is ready or, my favourite, to bring me a cup of tea. They ask me how it’s going; they want to read my work and let me mumble about misbehaving characters. They don’t complain that they don’t see me for hours. In fact they remembered that come November I’d be out most of Saturday every single week. They encourage me and drive me onwards. In fact my mum gave me an idea on how to get more time for my writing once I get back from work this week. She said I should do it as soon as I’m home, when I’m still in a mildly professional zone and before I veg out with a computer game or book. And she was right. The first few days of NaNo I’d come home from work, play a game and then try to write. The words wouldn’t come. I’d gotten out of that zone and lost my focus. So I tried doing what she suggested and I found it amazing, a real improvement. The time it took me to get out a certain number of words was less and the words were all better quality. For a woman who doesn’t write that was some pretty savvy advice.

Originally I intended to take some time to write in the mornings, just to get a few words out before I got sucked into spreadsheets and attendance lists. That didn’t really happen as the buses to work are too uneven in when they arrive at the bus stop. I couldn’t write on the bus either as I get travel sick. Instead I’d listen to podcasts on writing and think about my characters and my plot. I also planned to write in my lunch break, to take a quiet 20 minutes or so to just get some ideas down. I even bought a notebook with just that purpose in mind. That didn’t happen either. My work colleagues are too fun to chat to (conspiracy theories and existential conversations abound in the canteen) and I tend to lose track of the time during lunch. Plus I didn’t want to become that odd work experience girl who sits in the break room covered in paper. 

As it turned out though I didn’t need to do any of this; my word-count is healthy (about 20k+ at last count) and I’ve got plenty of time to write in the evenings. I may not be getting as much written each day as I could hope for but that has less to do with me having no time and more to do with the number of distractions I allow myself; namely surfing the NaNo site, sitting on Facebook and looking at blogs. So I decided to give myself some incentives. I bought a new game on Saturday and began to play it. I had to stop quite early as it was bedtime but I was really into it. SO I’ve decided that I can’t play it again until I hit 45, 000 words. I also use chocolate bars as an incentive, giving myself one entire row every time I hit the daily word goal. I ate the entire bar by the end of Saturday. I need to buy a new one tomorrow. I have also got plans to buy a new notebook. Which one that will be I don’t yet know but what I do know is that I can’t have it until the end of the month or when I hit the 100k+ that I’m aiming for, whichever one comes first. I make myself write for an hour with the internet turned off and I refuse to move my butt from my chair until I’ve got 1k down, even if I really need to pee.

Incidentally withholding that kind of thing (peeing or cigarettes) from myself actually gets me writing more than I plan to; I did it earlier to get to 2000 words. When I added it up and topped up my word count on NaNoWriMo site I found I’d written 200 words past that goal. That little extra incentive to write lots and to write quickly really spurred me on.

What about you dear readers? If you’re taking part in NaNoWriMo this month;
what do you do to encourage yourself to write?
How are you making time to write if you have a busy schedule?

With those questions I leave you, to continue writing and to see what it is that’s making that loud banging noise I keep hearing.
Keep Writing.

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