Thursday, 11 August 2011

Why writing is like exercise...

So, until Tuesday, the only thing I'd written in approximately 18 months was my entry to the RNA Elizabeth Goudge competition and that was a couple of months ago. My lack of words wasn't because I was competing in the world procrastination championships but because I was hard at work editing and rewriting Home for Christmas whilst holding down a full time job and cramming in a busy social life.

I've got a bit of time on my hands at the moment but it's limited and in approximately six weeks time Project Top Secret (what is it with me and all these stupid projects I won't reveal? Annoying i know but I'm incredibly superstitious) begins and I won't have time to dedicate to Project B for quite a while.

So...I need to make the most of the time I do have available to me - hence the 10,000 word a week targets.

'I can do 2000 words a day, no problem' I told myself as I was typing up my last blog post. Sure, it took me 7 months to write the first draft of 'Home for Christmas' but I wrote 'Heaven Can Wait' in 3 months and 3 weeks - that's 2000 words a day isn't it (actually its more like 1,600)'

But you know something? Writing really is like exercise and if you don't do it regularly not only will you dread (and make excuses for) doing it again but your first attempt will be tough, you'll feel like it's taking forever and afterwards you'll be exhausted! And the next day you won't want to write again because you mentally ache, but you have to if you want to achieve whatever goal it is that you set yourself.

Meg Rosoff recently posted a blog post about how coming up with an idea for a novel is the fun bit and writing it is hard work. I totally agree. There's nothing I love more than lounging around, daydreaming about a novel idea and occasionally scribbling a few ideas into a notebook but that's just the writer warming up (the exercise equivalent to driving to the gym whilst telling your passenger how you're going to go on the treadmill for half an hour followed by an hour of weights and a 20 min bike cool down). You're wearing the right gear and you're talking like someone who exercises but you're not actually sweating!

Writing, like exercise, IS hard work and, over the last 3 days I've had to use all my mental reserves to keep writing until I hit 2000 words and not give into the gremlins in my brain that tell me I'm tired and deserve a rest and who really cares if I hit my self-imposed deadline or not. It's the same sort of thing when I'm on the treadmill 'one more mile and then you can stop' then, when I hit that mile, 'just to the end of this song and then you can stop'. I trick myself into continuing.

And you know what? When I complete that 3 mile run or hit 2000 words it's a similar kind of buzz. Because I've achieved something I worked hard for.

Today I wrote 2234 words, yesterday it was 2054 and the day before that 2058. That's TWENTY-SIX and a half pages of my moleskin notebook (I thought I'd give writing longhand a go for this project) and every one of those pages would be blank if I hadn't been my own writing personal trainer mentally shouting 'you can't stop yet!'. (That's not to say a big part of me isn't secretly dreading another punishing writing regime tomorrow and would much rather lie on the sofa and watch DVDs!)

My aim was to write 10,000 words this week. I just need to write another 3,654 in the next two days and then I can give myself Sunday off! Now there's another way to motivate myself...

How do you motivate yourself?


thechattychicken said...

As a teacher I barely write anything in term time - other than reports (horrific) - and simply think about the book. Then I have this small window to get it all down and feel every day must be used. Fundamentally though I can't NOT write, it's a bug which some people just have and although it is hard you can't give it up. Yes, we're doomed! Cesca

Suz Korb said...

You're writing 2000 words per day by hand? Wow! Now that really will give your digits a good workout ;)

Cally said...

Cesca - I know what you mean about 'can't not write', I think it's hardwired into me, even if I do grumble about it sometimes!

Suz - yep, gonna have the slimmest hands in the bis by week 7. About the only part of me that will e! ;)

Debs Carr said...

Brilliant word count. I've given myself a few days off from writing and instead of relaxing, I can't wait to start doing it again.

Len Lambert said...

You are such an inspiration! 2K words per day by hand??? Unbelievable. You are amazing.

Chris Stovell said...

I've motivated myself by reading this! Go you!

Rena George said...

Oh, Cally, what a disaster. Just as things were going so well, too.
The voice recognition software sounds interesting though, hope it helps to keep the wheels turning.
Take care.