Keeping My Word

I’m a big fan of keeping commitments. I committed to a lifelong marriage, I committed to caring for my two sweet puppies, I committed to a 30 year mortgage, and I committed to getting through revisions for this story by March 30.

I’m happy to report here, that I’m well ahead of my goal. As of last night, I’ve written a whole new introduction to the book and revised and reworked 24 of 36 chapters. Something about this process just clicked recently and I found myself easily tying up loose plots ends and having no trouble deleting lots and lots of things that didn’t work.

I think part of my inspiration comes from the week I spent at SXSWedu. The company I work for was a sponsor and I got a badge and was able to attend sessions, workshops, and panels full of interesting and innovative ideas. Being surrounded by people who think big and people who want to change kids’ lives was extremely motivating, both professionally and personally.

I thought this process would be a lot more difficult. I thought I’d be too attached to chapters, plot lines, and characters to delete them. But I found that just the opposite was true. It felt like spring cleaning to go in and take out lots of stuff. I wrote this piece during Nano and I found a lot of incessant character rambling and inner thought diatribes that were written just to fill up word count. Taking that stuff out has freed me to do so much more with my character and to leave a little more to the reader’s imagination.

With all this progress, I’m revising my March goal. Instead, I’d like to be done with this round of revisions by the 15th and to print a hard copy of the piece sometime this weekend. Then I’m committing to a full read-through and making additional revisions by March 30th.

Showing Up

So many writers talk about the struggle to turn up to the page. Once we carve out some time, set up our space, follow our routines and finally sit down (or stand, if you have one of crazy treadmill desks!) the writing feels like no big deal. It’s the set-up and the process that turn us off some days. I’m finding the easiest way around that is to write daily. Nanowrimo got me back in that habit and it’s sort of stuck ever since. In fact, now, when my mind starts to wander or I’m less than busy, I write. At work, I sort of miss crafting my writing, so I sneak in a little break here and there to write to myself or to you all.

I think writing, as a habit, is an easy one to maintain because it is extremely and immediately fulfilling. You see the progress and process and words filling up the page. It’s not a habit like exercise that takes months to see results. One, 15 minute sit-down with writing will create loads of words, a possible scene, a character sketch, a poem.
I’ve been doing this daily writing on top of my 10 pages a day revision project. The revision takes around 15-20 minutes, as does the writing. So I’m happy to fill 30-40 minutes each day with writing. On days when I have more time, I spend more time on it. On days when I have less, I try to stick to my 30-40 minute commitment.

So, showing up to the page, thinking through my writing, creating routines, blogging more, revision- it’s been a productive 2013 so far, let’s hope it keeps up!