Sunday, March 7, 2010

Day 50: 3600 seconds redux

Today is day 7 of my week of attempting to write for 3600 uninterrupted seconds per day.  I didn't succeed in doing it every day, but I did get 5 out of 7, which isn't bad.  I also learned a lot about myself and my writing during the process, and came up with a few rules that will hopefully help me get to 6 out of 7 this week (I'm going to let myself off the hook the day of my birthday party). 
1) Write, don't fix.

I get most stuck when I am looking over what I have previously written and try to "fix" it.  I can tinker over 2 or 3 pages almost endlessly.  That kind of work will have to happen later, but right now as I'm trying to get a first draft completed, I need to just write.  The times when I forced myself to write without editing were by far the most productive, and it was surprising how much material I could get down in a mere hour when I didn't stop myself.

2) Write before dinner.

When I first began writing last year, many of my most productive writing sessions were after midnight.  For whatever reason, that is not working for me at the moment.  Lately, if I start writing after 10pm at night, I fall asleep in front of the computer.  My most productive sessions this week have been before dinner or, like today, in the morning.  I intended to write for many hours last night, but as I was again falling asleep in front of the computer at 11:30, I decided to go to bed and set the alarm for 7:30am even though I didn't have to be anywhere til 2pm today.  It's only 10am and I've already done my morning pages, written an entire scene, had breakfast, set loaves of homemade sourdough bread to rise, cleaned my kitchen, and am now writing my blog post for the day.  I have 2 1/2 more hours to tidy up 10 pages to bring to class today.  I'm stoked.

3) Make writing time sacred.

Figure out when I'm going to write, put it in my schedule for the day, and don't let anything supersede it (especially given rule #2).   I have not mastered this practice yet, but I've recognized that I must do so.  

4) Have lots of healthy, low-cal snacks on hand.

Why does writing make me want to eat?  It's as if my mouth has to be chewing in order for my brain to be working.  I don't want to put back on any of the 30lbs I lost 2 years ago, so keeping popcorn and veggies and fruit around is imperative.  Either that or perhaps I should learn to kick this habit.  Anyone else experience this?

5) Quit Firefox.

Oh, how easy it is to turn away from the page and check my email, or facebook, or see how many people have viewed my blog today.  At least when I close the program, I can't just hit command-tab to get over to the endless time-suck that is the interweb.

6) Set a timer.

This turned out to be a fantastic idea.  Setting a timer for an hour made me actually not do anything else for that time -- not check my email, not get up to make a snack, not send a text message to my boyfriend, not go back and fix all those other pages.  It's like I could shut up my little brat by saying "it's only an hour, then you can come out and distract me again."  She seemed content with that.  This is the rule that makes all the other rules work.

Perhaps by the end of this week, I'll come up with 4 more rules so I can have my personal "10 writing commandments".   In the meantime, I'd love to hear from you about what helpful habits you have discovered help you get things done. Given that days like Friday will likely happen again, I can still use all the help I can get.
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