the 32 days edition
i started my literary year off by committing to 32 consecutive days of writing. it was carleen brice that reminded me that this was my third year of this practice. this new ritual of mine was inspired by this article by ann patchett. today i am sitting down to the scary work of actually reading what i wrote at such a feverish pace (feverish for me, since my pace tends to be fairly glacial). so far, it isn’t so terrible that i can’t stand it. i used some tricks to keep me moving forward this time.
1. 90 minutes. i love macfreedom. i’ve taken to shutting off my internet in intervals of 90 minutes. i read somewhere once this is the magic number of minutes for creativity. works for me.
2. the word count. i am always amazed at the mercurial thing a long work of fiction can be. usually my muse cools at the mention of word counts, but something called out to me to use them. i’ve been kind of battered by working on something for such a long period of time, that i decided to surrender to the whims of my novel. to release my control and just follow. so *poof* word counts suddenly started to work for me. i picked 1,000 words per day as my target.
3. daily word document. i am notorious for hating fiction the first day that i write it. when i first started writing, i combated the impulse to destroy everything i wrote by writing longhand in composition books. it had to be a composition book and not a tablet that was meant for pages to tear out. the fact that the composition book was bound and thus more book-like prevented me from tearing the pages out. i wrote in pencil, and wouldn’t take the time to erase big blocks of text, so it was easier to just move forward. this year i used a daily words file. i typed my 1,000 words into this document. at the end of the day i would transfer those words into another master document. this kept me (mostly) from the temptation to look back at what i had written so far and provided a clean slate each day. also, i think the fact that it sounds slightly biblical to me (daily words, daily bread) made it almost like a prayer.
4. shutting up. i mentioned that i had invoked a vow of silence about my work. i made a deal with myself. i could talk about process. how many days, how many words, etc. but i would not say more than a sentence about the actual story. this was difficult, but necessary for me. i think that this is helping me stay in the dream of the world that i am creating. before i felt like i was talking all of the nectar out of everything. writing is a way of thinking for me and blathering on about what it all means was sucking all of the magic out of the process.
at the end of my 32 days i have 34,262 new words (106 pages). a pretty lovely way to kick off my literary year.