Well, I actually got a lot done yesterday. Not as much as I toyed with doing (I seriously considered throwing caution to the wind and trying to finish the entire 50,000 this weekend by doing about 10,000 a day), but still a comfortable amount. I’ve got to repeat it again today and then again tomorrow if I want to be caught up, but I think I can manage it since I spent a lot of time taking breaks yesterday and didn’t really get started until after 2pm. I’ve got a busy middle of my day today, with a few social engagements, but my morning and my evening are clear, so I should be able to get my writing done in good time.
It feels really great to have a taste of what my life might be like if I were a full-time writer. If I got paid for my novels and brought it enough to make ends meet so that I didn’t need another job, I’d probably be able to get 6,000 to 10,000 words written a day one writing days and then maybe about three to six times that done on editing days, depending on the depth of the editing and how much re-writing needs to get done. That would be amazing. I would love to live like that. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to do that sometime in the next decade. Nothing would make me happier.
That isn’t to say there aren’t other things I want out of life, but none of them mutually exclusive. Teaching writing would be fun, but I don’t know if I’ve got it in me to do that every day for the rest of my working life. It’d be more fun to do a workshop or two every so often. A strong, long-term relationship would also be wonderful, but that shouldn’t impact my day-to-day work if I can actually support a life with my writing. A nice house would only make it easier since I wouldn’t need to have so many distractions in my room, where I’m trying to work. Travel would get in the way from time to time, but everyone needs a vacation.
The future can be fun to think about, but it looks so different my present that it can be hard to imagine the path that connects the two. There are a lot of little compromises in life and, despite what a lot of art, stories, and movies tell us, not all compromises are bad ones. I wouldn’t mind giving up the imaginary future office in my imaginary future house for one rented in an office park. I wouldn’t mind giving up the imaginary future travel for a leaner lifestyle if I don’t make enough from my books. There’s a lot I’m willing to make changes to as long as I get to write. That’s all I really need. I don’t even need to support myself on that so long as my job provides me enough income to spend my free time writing. I want to tell stories. As long as I can do that, I’ll be fulfilled.
While we like to believe our characters are the main actors in their lives, sometimes they get swept up in events. It can be a lot of fun for them or something really awful. Getting swept up in a parade can be fun, as can being swept up in a group of fun people going bar-hopping, but getting swept up in a drug bust or a riot is a lot less fun. Additionally, instead of being swept up in crowds or groups, they can get swept in events. Maybe they were a witness to a crime and wind up getting carried along in what happens or maybe someone throws them a party and they wind up being carried along by someone else’s plan. Heck, maybe they literally get picked up and carried along by people celebrating them or they get kidnapped. For today, write at scene in which your character gets carried along with something.
Today’s inspiration is my favorite movie, How to Train Your Dragon. While the adaption from the original texts is not even close to accurate, I feel like the movie nevertheless possesses its own unique charm and should be considered separately from the children’s books. The movie has an amazing score that I love to turn on while I write and all of the characters feel so human. Even the titular dragon feels so incredibly well-developed and human despite being modeled after a cat. All the dragons were modeled after cats. Its amazing. They’re all large, scaly, winged cats that just wanna be your friend if you’d just stop trying to kill them. The development of the protagonist from a scrawny weakling with a large brain to a scrawny weakling with a large brain and leadership qualities isn’t super novel or unique, but the movie definitely makes you feel good about yourself and about things in general as a result of that development. I’d say it’s definitely worth a watch or two. It’s easily one of DreamWorks’ better movies of the past decade.
Like yesterday’s tip, today’s has to do with marathon writing sessions. If you aren’t very good at sticking to a time schedule because of restlessness or you’ve got things you need to do during your day beyond just writing all day, try using word amounts to set your breaks instead of times. This only works if your to-do list doesn’t have specific times associated with its tasks, but it can be a lot easier to manage because you won’t be constantly checking the time. It can also help you feel less like you’re wasting time because a mini-break that winds up taking half an hour doesn’t change your big break time. If your mini break is every 100 words, then you’ve still got another few hundred to go until your big break.
I like to break mine into 1,000 word segments. If I’m just trying to 1,000 words out instead of focusing on time, I can usually get 1,000 words written in about half an hour if I actually stay on task rather than get distracted during my quick 250 word breaks. Otherwise, it takes about 45 minutes. And I use my bigger breaks for things like getting a new cup of tea or filling my water bottle or having my early evening energy drink. It works really well if you have a concrete goal, can count-down your progress, can’t “make progress” by accidentally wasting time, and have a reward you genuinely want at the end of the road. This is my preferred method for writing marathons.