Wednesday, April 11, 2012

the metrics

My piles of tax detritus are spread out on the carpet downstairs. Our kitchen is in that temporary state while we work out post-disaster-possible-remodeling scenarios. Soccer tryouts loom, and that's always fun for a soccer mom. And by fun, I mean, bring on the Xanax.

And then there's the writing. I really should banish any activity until I work through this first draft of my new project. The momentum and enthusiasm is there. I'm officially in love with my narrator. I have an outline. I know where I'm going. Plot points, rising action, compelling romance with twists. But I need to figure out a pacing strategy. Not the pacing on the page, but the pacing on my ass. I'm good for 45 minutes at a crack. Just about enough time to render a scene. Then, I have to skedaddle. Get up and throw a load of laundry in the wash. Return emails. Go for a walk. Collect the eggs. Take out the trash. Go to a Pilates class. Re-microwave my mug of coffee. Oh yeah, and, then there's the paid work I need to do each day.

Do I sound like I'm whining? I am. But this is my blog, after all.

I'd like to figure out how to write 3,000 words a day. That's four or five hours of concentrated writing time. How best to break that up? I really want help here, guys... Any strategies, time-management techniques, ideas? Let's discuss.


  1. Hi, stranger

    I like three (3) 1000-word scenes a day: 1 before lunch, 1 before dinner (write for your food), and 1 before bed (write for your sleep). As usual, nice theory, but actual results may vary. Ha!

    Moses Solomon :)

  2. Alex! I mean, Moses! I love the idea of writing for food. Hm. A new diet? Like, 1,000 earns 500 calories or something.

    Thanks for the comment!

  3. I have no idea. I tried writing 2,000 words a day every day for a month (while working a full-time job) and I did succeed. But now I doubt I'll ever set strict word count goals like that again. I loved how much work I got done, but I may have lost some quality/focus in the process:

    I do like the idea of writing for my food/sleep, though...

  4. Oh, Laura, yeah, I know. I did NaNoWriMo once and came to similar conclusions (referencing the blog post above). Lots of filler stuff I ultimately deleted. But, there is this golden nugget aspect too. Sometimes it takes a critical mass of "just doing it" to arrive at a point of depth you otherwise wouldn't. Does that make sense?

  5. I know you're all on the edge of your seats. Made it to 1500 words today. And that's with concerted effort and no exercise breaks. 1500. Really? Is that the best I can do? Growl.

  6. hey lady!!!

    it's me, amyg, sorry i've been awol. your question made me think of an article i read awhile back--it think in poets and writers--about a writer who would break, not matter her stride, every 15 or 20 minutes. now that i'm writing it, the idea sounds not only counter-intuitive, but a really bad process. how would you get anything done. now i'm going to have to go back and find the article and see what it was all about as i am only remembering enough to sound like a dolt.

    maybe the answer is 1500 a day and just take twice as long to get where you're going? not so much about "the best you can do" but what brings about the best...

  7. I was thinking about building it around meals, too. (What does that say about us?)

    I like the way Moses framed it. Give it a try!

  8. amyg, where you been??? And what about your book? What's new?

    And yes, the 1500 words a day limit, probably the best I can hope for. I'm slow and getting slower.

    However, all sorts of magic things bubbled up today whilst tarrying about on the page. Pelicans and Faulkner and Christ stories. Really, any more than 1500 words and you'd have to sop me up with a sponge.

    Lisa, let's go get some food. Hungry?

  9. in the last month, since my return from AWP, my sister found out she was expecting and had the baby april 3. in one month. a healthy 6lb9oz, 19", gorgeous, blonde hair, blue eyes, already-breastfeeding-every-two-hours baby boy. there are a number of details i'm excluding, but the major plot twist would be a sister went from finding out she was pregnant to giving birth. my little sister. my baby sister. (the one who had just moved in with me days before AWP.)

    now i have a nephew i can't get enough of and find myself shopping for no matter where i am (boppies, diapers, onesies, first books, footies, things to swaddle him in, discounted easter chocolate for his mom, tuck's medicated pads, baby lotion..."i love my aunt" t-shirts...)

    funny how a new baby can suck every single minute of your day, either in thought or just looking into his brand new, fresh face and snorting that brand new baby smell. aw. that brand new baby smell. it's like honey and flowers and spring and all the stuff that air fresheners fail to achieve. i love him so much. alright, i'll stop. (can you tell this is the first i've written of him?)

  10. OMG! Breaking news! amyg, congratulations to you--and also, congratulations to that fabulous bundle of love for having the smarts to have YOU as his aunt!

    And it'll be important to have you in his life as mentor, because I can't imagine a more intriguing memoir than, "I was born a month after my mom discovered she was pregnant."

    That's so cool!

    Babies. What would spring be without them...

    Thanks for sharing this, and best wishes to your sweet family.

  11. BTW - I'm thinking back to my first draft of "The Ruler of the Galaxy," and I remember that I was somewhere around 10,000 words a week of varying quality. I gave myself a generous buffer day every Friday to make my quota, which sometimes stretched into Sat and/or Sun. Anyway, I originally targeted 1 chapter a day, or 1 month for the whole draft. I revised it to 2 months once I figured out my real writing speed. I finally finished it in three.

    I also remember sitting next to another writer on a plane ride and spying as she worked on her first draft. She had a lot of blank spaces for scenes she was going to go back and fill in, later. I didn't do that. I just forced whatever junk out so that it would be there, which I could fix in the second draft.

  12. I'm in "fill in the huge gaps" mode in my manuscript, which means no word count goals but putting in the emotional weight. And man is it weighty.

    The benefit: my dogs are getting more walks in a day because I have to get out and walk it off. Yesterday it poured rain. We walked anyway. And I never never walk in the rain.

    And that's what a nice Pinot Grigio is good for at 6 pm. :-)

  13. Teri, I wish you lived closer! You'd be such a fun walking partner.

    I have killer cardio hills behind my house, and have discovered that a sweaty, heart-pounding walk often jars loose whatever it is that needs to be jarred loose in order to do that deep work. Weird, eh?

    And yeah, thank God for pinot.

  14. Hill hiking / walking sounds divine.


Thanks for commenting. If you have trouble posting a comment, let me know!