Tuesday, October 9, 2018

FOR HIRE: Healthy Writing Habit

I have no idea where this blog post is going to go, so you will just have to bear with me. The main reason I am even writing this post today is to achieve some of the writing goals I have set for myself where I have to write a goal number of words every week.

For several years, I have had a book bouncing around in my head and just never took the time to sit down and write it. I have a bit of what my mother, teachers, bosses, guidance counselors, and coworkers call a procrastination problem. Plus, I am incredibly lazy. I've also learned that choosing to own that label does not help to get things done. It just makes me feel less guilty about it.

 However, last year I came across this amazing website.


This website has been around for several years. You can click here to go to the site to learn about its history. I'm not going to tell you the whole story. However, the purpose of the site is really cool. It seems custom-made for people like me.

The National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo, for short) challenges people to write an entire novel in one month. Specifically, in the month of November. It has tons of tools to help you accomplish this goal, offers support groups, organizes writer meet-ups all over the world, and gives awesome prizes for the people who accomplish the goal.

The goal they suggest is to write 50,000 words over the course of the month. That breaks down to 1,667 words per day. However, it does not mean that your novel is ready to be sent to publishers come November 30. It just means you did the most difficult part to get past. The actual writing.

If you reach the goal and finish your book by the end of the month, it still needs to heavily edited, gone back through to fix plot holes, maybe develop your characters, be read by beta readers, etc. It is not ready to go, but it has been written. You have in your lap 50,000 words that you did not have a month ago.

Last year, after spending a summer being all excited about my book because it was really starting to take shape, this website is what gave me the incentive to actually sit down and get it written. I did it. And I did it in a tiny sardine can-sized apartment in Beijing. My wife even found time to be out of the apartment so I could have the place to myself and concentrate on my writing.

That was an extra incentive also. I always felt like I had to use that time wisely since she was doing it for me.

I finished the writing of that book last year, but it was really rough. Parts of the story were all over the place and really needed to be pulled together. Plus, I still had a few plot issues that I hadn't worked out yet. Not to mention that I know how the story of the book ends, but writing it well I have found to be quite challenging.

So, now it is a year later and it hasn't gotten past that initial 'crank it out' phase. And now November has rolled around again. I'm told it does this every so often.

I have decided to get back into writing mode again and tackle NaNoWriMo this year as well, but 1,700 words a day is a lot when you are not used to it. So, I've been working out. I sit down and write every day. Sometimes it is personal journaling. Sometimes it is blog writing. Sometimes it is brainstorming on the book I will be writing this year. Whatever it is, I just have to write and get my creative juices flowing to help me develop the habit of doing this every day.

My plan is simple. Getting my daily word count up will make it easier for me to tackle and complete the challenge of 50,000 words in thirty days. Then when I hit the end of the month (hopefully with a completed story), I can set it to the side and pick up the book I wrote last year. I think it has sat long enough and it is time to get back into it.

I will tie up all those loose ends, clean it up and start sending it out to beta readers to see what problems I may have missed. Then, once I get it all taken care of and sent out to agents, I can go back to working on the book I will have just finished this year so I can do the same with it. Once I get it finished, then I can send it out as well.

I feel a lot of pressure to get on these books because we spent a lot of time and effort and money to obtain a new house that would give us the extra space to be able to write without distraction. Red and I have spent the last two years in small apartments in both China and Vietnam. Now, we have a large comfortable place and we each have our won writing rooms. So, if we do not take advantage of this, then what was all this for?

I'm on it and confident that I can do it. It is just a matter of developing the habit and being sure that I stick to it.

It was just difficult to get started because we didn't have Netflix the entire time we were in China, but we do have it now in Vietnam. It's been a big temptation.


I mean, have you seen Santa Clarita Diet or G.L.O.W. or Stranger Things? You miss a lot when you're out of the country.

So, I write in the morning until I hit my word count. I then have a few hours free to do whatever I need or want to do before I teach in the evenings and then I can watch my Netflix at night. And I do watch it. I have missed it.

So, now that I have a routine and a goal, it should make things easier for me. Hopefully, this will help me develop the habit I so desperately need and will begin a long-time practice of daily writing. I really want to give up working a regular job and just be a writer, but that will require discipline. Something I have always been concerned that I do not have enough of.

I can do it. I know I can. I just have to keep at it.

If you read this all the way to the end, I am sorry for the rambling. I am just throwing down the words as they come to me rather than planning a post as I normally do.

Literary vomit.

6 comments:

  1. They say it takes 21 days to create a habit. No one talks about the effort to continue the habit. I have downloaded the HabitBull app to track certain habits, and it's pretty simple.
    I will happily encourage you, if that's what you want, but I fear my asking "Did you write?" will sound like nagging.

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  2. Have you considered doing the Nano editing month? (Of course I cant remember which month it is offhand) ;)

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    1. I will have to look at that. I definitely need it.

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  3. I pretty much consider myself unmotivatable so I'm glad this works for you. Good luck!

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    1. Give me a deadline with a clear goal and it feels like an assignment that must be completed.

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