March 12th, 2013


Writing Process - the revised schedule

everywordiwrite inquires in a comment:

How much time are you devoting a day to writing? Is that still including research? Right now, is writing your main career focus? How varied are the types of things you're writing about? Do you include editing time with writing time, or separately, or are you saving it for later?

Curiosity sparked by personal need to return to writing in near future myself. :-)

First, I know some of you will join me in glee that she's getting back to the page soon! everywordiwrite's a fabulous writer who walks the very difficult tightrope of mining one's personal experiences with honesty and emotional rawness while still translating them into relate-able and moving pieces that transcend personal journaling. (And shout-out to the other wonderful writers I know who have totally stepped up their game this year in this area! Damn, I look forward to the friends list these days).

I'm so glad you asked, because I've been meaning to revise my writing schedule and this makes me write it down. (And now I get to check off "SHORT BLOG - The Week Ahead/Question/Challenge/Writing Practice").

YES, writing is my main career focus right now. I'm booking circus work (and I'll work in April and throughout the summer) but I'm not performing or teaching right now. I'll also take May to write, and I'm actively making writing space in my summer performance schedule.

I started out trying to work on two projects at once (a high school play and a memoir) and discovered I didn't have that much brain power in a day. I assessed the projects and thought about what I most wanted to do:

        High School Play=money, esteem, making a difference in children's lives, contributing to a community I care about
        Memoir=bigger market for book, step up to a different venue as a writer, money

And what it came down to was wanting to get a project done and out the door. The memoir (in draft 7, working on draft 8) is closer to done, and when I counted pages I realized I could finish this draft in about 50 days.

So I am now focusing on the memoir, and doing about two hours a day - one hour of hand-written edits on the previous draft (the past two days, mapping scenes on a chart and noticing plot holes) and one hour of re-typing and re-writing. I retype the entire scene, not just copy-paste, because it helps me find the flow to write in new material.

I'm trying to also submit work, but I'm not as successful at getting that done.

I'm pretty strict with time limits on things, as that helps me check something off the list and not spend the whole day wandering the internet. I have a time-keeper program where I track what I'm doing by category.

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My big takeaways right now:

I currently have the luxury of not working. It's still hard to sit down at the table and write, and I'm building a support network so that if my in-person writer buddy is out of town, or my online/text buddy is sick or not available, I've got other places to turn for accountability. I really, really need to be able to check in with someone else right now about writing. I wish I could do it alone. I can't. And the first step is admitting you have a problem :)

I AM A LAZY-ASS MOTHERFUCKER. I know this. Turns out I actually work harder to get things done when there's more structure to my day, like squeezing in writing before a deadline. So I'm working on developing routines--writing at the same time, at the same table, in the same coffee shop every day. Saying to myself like a four-year-old-twin, "That's nice that you want to play Word Bubbles, but you have to eat your broccoli write five pages before you go home." I'm trying to build a daily practice so that when life gets another gig, I still get my writing done. And I like star charts, so I've got a wonderful Excel sheet WordTracker by Svenja Liv. They are originally designed for NaNoWriMo, but they work year-round, they're pretty (and have graphs!) and come in cool styles. Really a great place to set word goals and feel good about meeting them or pressured to catch up.

Perhaps the most important thing is realizing that I've been somewhat scattershot in the past two months. I WANT TO WRITE ALL THE THINGS! But what I need to do is spend a few weeks only reading contemporary memoir and thinking about that. And then a few weeks really reading literary magazines and submitting to them. When I'm reading mostly online blogs, or mostly Slate/Salon/HuffPo type things, my work starts to reflect what I'm reading. So I need to immerse myself in the voices of where I want to be submitting work.

What's your writing schedule? What are you working on?