New writing schedule: update Feb 2014

Back in January I announced my new writing schedule. Well, it didn’t exactly go quite as planned. I did okay for what was left of January – five days fulfilling the “ideal” writing day, three fulfilling the “alternate” schedule, one Sunday off and one missed day.

February was less successful, though. Three days meeting the ideal to start it off, but then thirteen days in a row with nothing. On the 17th I picked up and managed four very good “ideal” days in a row, before missing two days, working on planning for one day for an “alternate”, missing four more days and writing for about half an hour – which I allowed as an “alternate” day – for yesterday.

So how can I fix things?

The almost two week period of no writing was a case of real life interrupting. The first few days I was feeling father miserable and not at all in the mood for writing. After that work picked up and I had to put some overtime in, leaving me too tired to write, not to mention frustrated with a colleague. There’s not much I can change from that to prevent it happening again. Deadlines mean overtime, it’s just the way the job works, and when I get afternoons off to account for the lost time there’s always something that needs doing – Friday afternoons giving more capacity than a Sunday for sorting things out in town. Still, I could add an hour to the evening session on such days, to start to make up for writing time lost to overtime at work.

The second block of non-writing was as a result of finishing a scene and needing to start the next one. It daunted me, and the “alternate” day in the middle of that block of not writing was making notes about how the scene would go, to help me actually write it – the novel itself isn’t planned in much detail at all, and I have found it easier in the past to plan in detail only directly in advance of writing the bit being planned. In this case, it was partly procrastination.

So the problem is starting a new scene. Was that just blank page syndrome, in the same way starting the novel in the first place was, or was it a symptom that the scene is not one I’m happy with? Perhaps a bit of both – though I do need the scene to link to what follows. In any case it isn’t too long and I should be able to move on to more exciting parts of the story soon.

To prevent this happening again, I will try wherever possible to not end a session at the end of a scene, but rather to use the momentum to go at least a couple of hundred words into the new scene so that the next day I am not starting afresh so much, but have material in place to build upon.

So that’s the plan:

  • When overtime at work leaves me too tired, I’ll add time to my writing session on the day where I get time off to make up for it.
  • When I reach the end of a scene, I’ll start the next scene before finishing the session so the next day I’ve got a starting point.

That still leaves misery as a hurdle. The particular cause of last month’s misery soon won’t be any more, but that doesn’t mean misery won’t crop up again as a means of stopping me from writing. My usual cure is ice cream and Pride and Prejudice. Perhaps I need something stronger. When it happens again, I will experiment with other cures, such as Black Books and jelly snakes, Avatar: The Last Airbender and chocolate raisins, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer and profiteroles. Though perhaps the answer would be to just try to write anyway, even if I only manage 50 words.

In March, I am of course going to continue to try to keep to the planned writing schedule, but given that I am expecting a little disruption in the latter half of the month from moving into a new flat, I will set myself a goal of writing every evening for seven consecutive days, on two separate occasions. It’s not quite meeting the goals of the writing schedule, but it’d be better than February and I think it is achievable.

That being the case, I am now going to go and write.

I would welcome further TV show-confection combinations as suggestions for the cure for writing-preventing misery.

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