Yesterday I finished the first draft of my Kormak novel, Mask of the Necromancer. I did it ahead of schedule, just carried along by the flow of the writing. You’d think I’d be happy, but no, being a writer and a neurotic, I’ve found a way to make myself unhappy about this. Since I believe in spreading the misery, I thought I would share my method with you.
This week I made a commitment to write 3000 words a day, 50% more than I normally would. Mostly this was a result of reading Rachel Aaron’s 10K a day article and recognising the truth of it. One of the big changes I made to my work routine was to set Freedom for one hour instead of 30 minutes, which is normally how long I write for to avoid RSI problems. When I was younger I used to write in one and two hour bursts and I was a lot more productive back then.
Guess what? It turns out I am still more productive writing in longer bursts. It gives me time to settle into my rhythm just like Rachel says. I actually exceeded my target of 3K a day every day this week. So why am I unhappy? I mean I finished the book.
Indeed. But I still have that 3K a day commitment and I don’t know what to write today. Should I start something new or should I get on with revising the Kormak book and prepping Sky Pirates for general release. Common sense says that I should do that. These are projects that will earn me money and I have some non-negotiable deadlines ahead for some of this stuff. I really should just settle down and do it. But…
I made that commitment; 3K a day. It would be cheating if I don’t do it. I know this is stupid but there is this little nagging voice in my head that keeps squeaking away anyway. I suspect a lot of writers are like this. They get ideas fixed in their mind, small neurotic obsessions, that niggle away at them. In the great scheme of things, it matters not a jot what I do today, but it matters to me, now, with that monkey chatter in my backbrain. It’s distracting me and working against productivity.
Intellectually I know there is more to writing than simply producing a quota of words. I know the editing and the rewriting is just as important as the initial draft. The problem is that it does not matter what I know intellectually. The voice is nagging away. It has not even stopped while I am writing this.
I know I should just make a decision and go with it. In ten days, let alone ten years, it won’t matter what I did today as long as I do something constructive. Now if I can only find a way to convince the voice of that.