Let's Work

For the last couple weeks, I've amazed myself with my efficiency writing G+RG. Over my winter vacation, I took time off from the novel to spend time with my family and think my way through the thorny act to come. I returned to work, so to speak, in the first week of January. Since then, I've moved through several chapters, and my deadline of late February/early March is actually looking possible. 

So, this is a few thoughts about my brain, my schedule, and where I am in my life. I don't expect it to be riveting. I just wrote a fight scene with a giant snake monster, so everything else seems a little boring now. 

When I was in college, I wrote late at night, usually after eleven, but my best work was very late at night. I wrote the Volcano Goddess Battle Sequence after pacing up and down my building's hallway at 3AM, talking to myself. 

Now, for H+MC, I had started working, full time. For money, to pay the rent and eat. I wrote during my lunch hour and tried to force in some words after work, but I was usually too tired. I even attempted Samantha Chaffin's Dawnlight Composition, which consisted of getting up at dawn, drinking tea strong enough to wake me up—but not so strong to make me sick!—and tip-tap on my keyboard until words formed paragraphs formed scenes formed sequences, and then leave for the office. Chaffin used this technique (called "The Roll-Out-of-Bed Challenge") to do the first draft of her recent novel All Hail the Pumpkin King

This worked crazily well for the bits of H+MC that I knew, but when I entered scenes where my outline was sparse, or if I had to fix a plot problem—and with a gazillion characters, there were a lot of those—I'd just stare at the screen and drool on myself until I had to leave for work. Then I'd supplement the writing time with lunch time, and then a writing retreat, and then the manuscript was done. 

Now, here we are at book three. G+RG. 

This book has three acts. I completed that act with the poem above back in December, and this month, I've been writing in the morning. I wake up at 6:30, get to the coffee shop by 7:30, and I write a thousand words. Then I catch my 9:05 bus to the office. This schedule has been working so well because I completed my outline during the fall, and I solve the hard thinking problems during the day.

Learning the rhythms of your brain seems to be key here. In the morning, I'm sleepy, but not physically tired like after a day at the office. So, these past couple weeks, I'm sleepy enough that I don't over-analyze, like I do during lunch or after work. Instead, during lunch and after work, I focus on the outline and thinking about the scene I have to write the next morning. I use the over-analyzing power to think, not when I'm actually writing. When I was working on H+MC, I wrote 300-500 words during lunch, and if I got any more than that, I considered it a blessing from God. 

These days when I write from 7:30-9:00, nothing else has my attention. It's also nice to start the day feeling like I've accomplished something.  

Back to brains and schedules. In some ways, writing is just about learning how your mind functions throughout your day and forming habits to take advantage of the natural cycle. Habits are wonderful things. I still don't like getting up. I especially did not want to wake up this morning, and I crawled back into bed after turning off my alarm. But I forced myself to get back up again.

I guess if I don't treat this like a job, no one else will.