Today I tried to open up a web browser on Odin the Desktop about thirty seconds after I sat down. Disappointing, really, since I’d almost broken myself of that habit (I still wanted too, but I usually remembered that Odin is internet-free and therefore not much good for web browsing).
One of the interesting parts about doing this diary is seeing how my process actually works. It’s an inexact science – logging word-counts doesn’t really tell me much about the content or how many times a scene gets rewritten – but it’s already proving informative.
For instance, I would have spent years telling people I was a get it done kind of writer, at my best when I just sat down and slogged my way through a manuscript for hours at a time. At the start of this year I actually set up my workflow around that assumption, sitting down to hit set word-counts every day (they varied from day-to-day; I’ll probably post about this once the novella is done). And while that worked for…hmm, maybe 2/3 of a month, on average…it seems like a disaster given what I’m learning here.
I write, on average, for twenty to thirty minutes. I can get a whole lot done in less time than that. Even when I give the illusion of sitting down for an hour straight, I’m usually just stringing along a series of shorter increments with some breaks where my brain just goes on spin-cycle for a stretch.
How have I been getting this wrong for twenty-odd years? How have I never realised this earlier? It seems like a really simple thing, but it changes all sorts of fundamental assumptions. Writing more, for example, isn’t a matter of getting longer blocks of time; I just need to make sure I get to the keyboard a couple of extra times every day.
So I’m experimenting with this a little, getting up a half-hour earlier to see if I can squeeze in two shorter shifts every morning rather than a single long one. I’ve got about an hour budgeted, after all, but I’m rarely sitting down for the entire thing.
Session 14.1 (7:43 AM – 8:03 AM)
Word Count: 389
Some more fleshing out of the first chapter; I finally figured out how to streamline a whole bunch of scenes down to a single chapter, which means I stand a chance of dragging this down to the 30k Novella length I’m actually aiming for.
Session 14.2 (8:15 AM – 8:48 AM)
Word Count: 524
Second round for the morning. Hit the end of this and realised how to streamline the streamlined version of the opening scene (ditch some characters), which has the advantage of giving the scene way more energy.
Session 14.3 (1:16 PM – 1:27)
Word Count: 270
Spare minutes at the end of lunch. No time to write this evening, on account of Trashy Tuesday Movie (we’re having some guest-tweeters round, which means I’ll likely lose the post-movie writing time I normally squeeze in).
Total Daily Writing Time: 1 hour, 4 minutes
Daily Word Count Total: 1, 183
Total Manuscript Writing Time: 16 hours, 16 minutes
Total Manuscript Word Count: 16, 657 (slightly misleading as a total; expecting to junk about two to three thousand words some time this week)