On Forced–I Mean, Disciplined–Writing

People of the planet Earth who know me, and doubtless inhabitants of other planets who tap into our Aethertubes as well, agree that I am not the most disciplined person on said planet. The reason I’m going to a personal trainer to lose weight is because I cannot summon up the required discipline on my own. Neurons within my brain or whatever it is rebels at the thought of forcing myself to keep to a rigid schedule of anything. (Although I am obsessive about getting to work early.) I’m trying, though, to reimprint those neurons, and I’m happy to say I’ve had a modicum of success.

Two reasons for this miracle of modern reprogramming occur to me. One, I’m newly obsessed with writing. Now, I’ve written fiction since I was 10 or 12, but with my discovery of Smashwords, Kindle and e-publishing, I’ve felt a new empowerment, of which I’ve written elsewhere. Two, I very much want my writing to succeed. I don’t particularly want to be famous (okay, maybe a little), but I do want to sell books to more than my friends and family (because, let’s face it, they can only buy so many copies).

Because of this obsession, I’ve constructed a schedule of marketing for my books, and so far I’ve stuck with it fairly well. Outlook mercilessly reminds me of my to-do list items. The schedule includes tasks such as “Comment on 2 blog posts daily” and “Write a blog post on Aether Excursions every Thursday” and “Freshen Amazon Author Central page monthly.” One of the tasks I haven’t been so good at keeping up with is “Write 500 words daily on Noora and the Vessel of the Clouds,” my work-in-progress (WIP). Now, 500 words isn’t much, about half a single-spaced page in Word. I try, but I tend to slack off on that particular item.

But I got an invitation from an author I very much respect, a former Horror Writers Association colleague, Nancy Etchemendy to participate in this year’s Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop Write-a-Thon. How cool is that? (It’s not too late to sponsor me! Here’s the link. Proceeds go to support the famous Clarion Writers Workshop.) The challenge I chose was to write 1000 words per day for a week.

I’m a slow writer. I tend to self-edit as I go, diving off into research tangents. But I figured I could write 1ooo words a day.

Most days have gone pretty well, although it’s hard to find the time. It takes me about an hour to write about a page or a little more. But by tomorrow, I should have about 10,000 words toward my novel. If I keep this rate up, I could have the first draft finished in a couple of months. Amazing, you say? It is when you consider it took me at least 22 drafts to write the 100,000 words that are Second Death. Yes, I’m Donna, and I’m an over-write-a-holic. But I’m working on changing that.

How long does it take for an action to become a habit? Six weeks or so? Maybe I’ll keep this rate up. Oo, maybe I’ll join Camp NaNoWriMo and write the rest of it in a month!

Wow, talk about re-channeling engrams. That might even cause an entire personality change.

Not sure if the universe is ready for that yet…

[What are your experiences with forced stints of writing? Let me know about them in the comments.]

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