It’s week 3 of AcWriMo – only one more left! – and I’ve been pondering on today’s walk to the library about lessons learned so far.
Making myself work for a set time of 3 hours is vital – Some people work on words, some do mini-time (e.g. pomodoros). I need the full three hours, and here’s why. If I don’t commit to big blocks of time I give myself ‘breaks’ when things get hard. I will avoid doing the hard stuff if I only gave myself a small word target, or if I could goof off every 25 minutes. When you have set your mind on 3 hours and 2000 words you have no choice: You have to write through the hard stuff.
I goof off when the going gets tough: As noted above, the times when I most hated having the 3 hour big-word target was when a paragraph of idea was pissing me off. Notionally I could write “SOMETHING HERE ABOUT MOTIVATION” and then come back to it later, but if I was going to meet my word-count target then oftentimes I had to write the something about motivation whether I was ready or not.
Not being ‘ready to write’ is not a good enough reason for avoiding writing – A lot of people discussing #AcWriMo have said that they feel being forced to write is actually counter-productive. They need more time for reading, re-writing, and thinking, rather than yet more writing. For me, this simply isn’t true. There are other hours in the day when I can read, think and re-draft, but if I don’t force myself to generate words then I won’t. Furthermore, I’ve been amazed at what happens when I just keep typing. It’s like my brain has already though through most ideas and they start to come out – even if half-baked – when I have to keep writing.
There is a downside to writing a lot – It does force more re-drafting. I have to re-draft at the best of times, but that’s because I’m a crappy verbose writer not because my thoughts aren’t clear. Writing before you’ve really thought through your ideas does, unfortunately, mean that they’re not always in the correct order (and sometimes they’re just plain rubbish) so, sad as it is, this means even more re-drafting.
I need not be pathological about re-drafting – Because I now know that I must re-draft I’ve found that it can become a wonderful distraction and the last two mornings have mostly consisted of me re-writing the same words as the day before. That’s unacceptable, and it’s cheating. Me and myself had a word on the way back from the library and it won’t be happening anymore.
Dragon dictation software is wonderful – The day I wrote well over 3000 words in 2 hours, that was down to Dragon. Dictating only works at certain times – when I have draft notes together and there’s time to go over the punctuation etc. But it saves my hands (RSI is going to set in soon) and it gets the typing job done quicker than via manual means. I like.
Being productive feels really good – I’ve put together a scrapbook of all the things I’m writing. They’re starting to mount up quickly. It’s impressive. And I have to remind myself that it’s only been 2 and a half weeks so far. Exciting times.