Monday, April 27, 2015

13 Week Novel—Week 9: The Middle

Yes, I know it's not the middle of 13 weeks, but it's probably the middle of your story right now. Or maybe a little past the middle. The part where focus diffuses, where the plot strays, where the story gets claustrophobic or entirely hijacked by something just introduced. The part where the writer begins to question herself. Thus, allergies kick in, stomach flu comes on, or migraines take over.

Here's the remedy. Now get back to work. Image: National Museum of American History Smithsonian
I've had one of those weeks. I just wanted to write, but stuff kept coming up and my trip back to Tucson seemed to show up out of nowhere—even though it's the same time each week. I pulled out of commitments but I still had no time. Then I got sick. There aren't enough hours in the day.

And then, when I don't write, I lose steam.

So here's a practice I've been adopting throughout this novel and which has been quite useful in this week of no time:

Take a break from whatever it is that insists it must be done and just write 300-400 words. For instance, I teach. I cannot put it off for later. I have to be there on time. It's more work to find someone to take over for me and to inform them about what my students need for that day, so I just have to teach. I also have to have a plan for teaching or I look like a bumbling idiot. (I've tried not having a plan.) If I put the planning the class for too long, I get stressed an unproductive with the lack of plan looming over me.

But what I can do is stop for a few minutes and write what I need for my story. Sometimes these are notes, sometimes dialogue, sometimes a scene. I can do this several times a day. The beauty of this is that it fits in with everything else because it's a 15 or 20 minute blitz and when my ideas slow down, I go back to my lesson planning or my other business. This way, I don't have to worry about losing steam in my writing session because it's over. Usually, no matter how sick or busy I am, I can find a way to hide to get a few minutes in. No one needs to know what I'm writing.

I keep about 50 blank pages in my calendar, so I always have something to write on, even if I don't have my computer. Often it's better for the writing blitzes to happen on paper because typing them into my draft allows me to re-think the moment and allow new parts to grow.

So, for this week, I've got 2500 words to write. But that's nothing with a bunch of little sessions each day. Then I've got to reflect a little on what I have... and maybe proofread this post.

See you next time!

Coming in a little late? Find out about the 13 week challenge here. And see the first week's activities here.  

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