A guest post by Lou Berger.
Summer is a fantastic time, depending on your particular situation, to knock out some writing assignments. I set goals, myself, that are frequently too aggressive. “If I can write 5,000 words per day, I can have this middle grade novel knocked out in TWELVE DAYS!”
I then hop about, making fist pumps and hooting, which frequently frightens the kink-tailed cat into yawning and turning over.
Then I sit at the computer and open up my manuscript to the place I left it: the blank screen, the header, the ominous “about xxx words” at the top.
Then I check Facebook. I mean, seriously, one has to make sure nobody is in need of witty retorts before settling down to some AWESOME writing, right? I whip through the latest posts, make my snarky comments, then, with a flourish, close out the Facebook application entirely.
WTF?! That took TWO hours?!
Fine. Log out of the Internet, open up the manuscript again, stare at the xxx word count.
In a flurry of activity, I bang out the opening paragraph, putting in that necessary “hook” to grab the reader, maybe a multi-armed alien wielding a blaster in each six-fingered hand, complicated technology spilling around its green, malformed body. Strike that. Two arms (we have human readers, after all, and we can’t be TOO weird) and a six-gun in each hand, mowing down the inbred members of Black Bart’s gang. Dammit! That’s a Western!
Grr. Another wasted hour.
Hitting your goals requires focus and discipline. Try different times of the day for your writing until you strike one that fits your circadian rhythm. Some people can only write when the day’s chores are done and silence descends upon the world in the late evening darkness. Some can only write early, when everybody else is asleep, in the pre-dawn darkness, when the remnants of sleep haven’t quite left our brains and our internal editor is still slumbering, damn his scaly hide. Others need the noise and bustle of a coffee shop and the myriad of goings-on to provide a white-noise-esque background to settle down the creative parts of the writing brain.
Choose your best time and location, and make it a goal to be consistent. 100 words a day, every day, beats the guy who writes 2,000 words in one sitting once every month. Consistency is key, and giving yourself permission to write utter crap as a first draft is one of the hardest things I’ve had to learn in my long journey to becoming an author. Letting your editor mumble into your ear while you write is certain death and doom to any project you embark upon. She (he) is not cognizant of the freedom required to write down utter dreck, but wants it picture-perfect on the FIRST try!
Ain’t nobody got time fo’ that.
My goals are to write consistently this summer, to carve off reasonable chunks of word products in relaxed sittings that, hopefully, happen once or twice a day. To focus on ignoring the snarky comment quotient in my Facebook pages. And to get this damned middle-grade novel DONE, at least in first draft form, no later than 6/15. I have an editor who wants to see the whole manuscript and she’s been SO patient with me. She deserves better.
What about your goals? Write me and tell me what they are at Lou@LouJBerger.com.
Lou Berger Bio:
Lou Berger is a Denver writer who lives with three kids, three Sheltie dogs and a kink-tailed cat. He’s unsure of the cat’s motives but permits cohabitation. His blog can be found at www.LouJBerger.com.