Cashing the Reality Check

By now some sharp-eyed reader has checked in on the blog and noticed a day is missing. “Hey,” this reader is saying, “Where’s my daily dose of writing insights? Where’s my daily encouragement during Nanowrimo? Where’s my cheese sandwich?” Through the magic of blogging I could engage in time manipulation, go back to yesterday and insert the post into the matrix as if nothing happened. But that’s not reality. Reality is that things don’t always go as planned, and no battle plan survives contact with the enemy.

Time is my enemy. If you’re a Nanowrimo author, or any kind of author at all, time is your enemy as well. How we deal with our time determines what kind of writing we produce. As with anything, writing improves with practice, and practice takes time.

The best-case scenario includes deliberately making time in your day to do some writing. This kind of budgeting is easier for some than others, but you can find it in even the most crowded schedule if you look for it. In a perfect world, you would be able to spend the same amount of time at the same time of day writing your story. You would do it at your moment of peak energy and creativity. No matter when you can make time to write, you should make sure that you can do so without interruption or distraction.

Planning your day around your writing has a number of advantages, the first of which is simply ensuring that the writing gets done. You can build anticipation of the opportunity to write, thinking about your story during the day and planning your prose before it hits paper. When the deed is done, you get a sense of accomplishment. Most importantly, planning to write shows discipline, which leads to consistency and technical improvement.

Not every day can be planned. Not every plan goes to schedule. And not every writer is comfortable with a highly regimented structure to his day. In this case, simply writing when you get the opportunity still gets the job done. If that happens at different times each day or if it occurs in fits and starts as the occassion demands it still gets done. It makes tracking word count a little more difficult and tends to break up the coherency of passages, but it has the advantage of flexibility, and the supreme virtue of accomplishment. Making a habit of writing exclusively this way doesn’t promote good discipline, but does log valuable practice time.

Finally, realize that not every word from every session is going to flow perfectly from the pen. That’s okay. Many of the errors and rabbit trails that creep into writing get fixed in the editing bay. The discipline of daily exercise and the experience of logged practice time count for more than the initial quality of the writing. That will come with time.

Most importantly, realize ahead of time that you will likely miss a session. The editing process will delete whole passages that you’ve worked on over multiple sessions. Beloved characters will dwindle into insignificance. Essential plot points will fall by the wayside. All of this is okay as long as you soldier on and continue to write. Don’t get discouraged by any one thing, and don’t expect every description and every line of dialog to be literary gold.

There’s your advice: don’t get discouraged. Here’s your encouragement: mistakes are okay, and can be fixed. And as for the cheese sandwich: as the Italian chef said, “It’s a gouda thing to have.”

Last 5 posts by Winston Crutchfield