Sunday, September 27, 2009

Math of Words

I vowed on this blog that I would have a 1st draft of my novel by Oct. 1st.

Well, unless there's some divine intervention in the next 24 hours, I didn't get there. I don't have the words, the pages. They did not come. First, I'm disappointed in my lack of discipline. Then I'm disappointed I'm too hard on myself. That feeling escalates until I'm disappointed for not be harder on myself. And the cycle begins again. It's a harrowing, neurotic, ridiculous process. It goes without saying there are ups and downs.

When I write, I try and get 1,000 words per sitting thank's to Inkygirl's 1,000 Words A Day Challenge I've found this to be the easiest way to just get words out. Just move forward, 1,000 words at a time. The math is simple. It puts things into perspective. If you want a 75,000 word novel. Write for 75 days and you'll have it. It makes the process a little less daunting. For me, anyway.

There are nights when it is absolutely painful. A scene drags. It's completely mis-guided, mis-directed, and I am wandering senselessly through awkward prose and pacing. These are nights when I desperately hit the Microsoft Word counter, begging to the word Gods that I've hit 1,000. Devastated when I see something like 337. (Anything below 400 feels like a nightmare when the words just aren't flowing.) But I manage to push through by telling myself, if the words dont' get written, the novel doesn't get finished. It's as simple as that.

There are times when I'm flying through a scene and I don't even look at the clock, when I hit the word count thinking I'm at evil 337 and see that I'm at 1300. It's a welcome surprise. I often stop mid-sentence, excited to pick up next time, paranoid and fearful that if I didn't stop there, the words might not come the following day.

It's easy to get caught up in the math of the words. For a first draft, I prefer it that way. Like, I said, it's the only thing that allows me to move forward right now.

And I've realized, that there are a lot of things holding me back. Most of the time, I'd prefer to watch netflix, or sit on the couch and zone out in front of the boob tube after a long day at work. And I have other interests. Other people in my life I'd prefer to see. Other activities I'd prefer to engage in. When I arrive home at 9pm from a yoga class, cook dinner, and eat at 10pm, the last thing I felt like doing is writing. When it's really beautiful out on a weekend (and oh, have you been to NYC in the fall?) I want to go hiking or biking. I don't want to sit indoors and watch my protaganist have all the fun. And on Friday and Saturday nights, I want to drink wine, watch movies, go out for nice dinners, see my friends, and celebrate having managed to get through a boring work week, cooped up in grey office cube...

But, I am ever-surprised by my characters, the people they meet, and the places they go. I am constantly shocked by plot twists I never thought would happen and excited by all the new prospects that arise in this constantly evolving work. There are exciting things happening alone at a desk with a cursor blinking on a blank computer screen. For real. There are. If there weren't, you wouldn't find me there...

So, I use basic math to keep me going.

75,000 1st draft word goal
59,000 written =
16,000 to go

16,000 to go
1,000 a day =
16 days

And when you put it that way. It doesn't seem so bad.

So, help me get through the next 16 days please (I'm telling you now, they won't be consecutive). Text me, tweet me, e-mail me, ask me what number I'm at. For those of you that have the pleasure of seeing me face to face, smack me upside the head if I tell you I didn't write that day.

And uh, don't remind me of the impending edit just yet. I'm stickin' to numbers for the time being. :-)