Letting life get in the way

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From http://fulaifu.net/4057/well/well-2/

When I teach the Year of the Novel course, the first part of the course deals with establishing a writing routine. This routine needs to be something that works for you and your family and your life, but that also gives you the time you need to achieve what you want to achieve within a reasonable time frame.

As part of that, I point out the maths of how easy it is to write a 100k novel in a year when you break into small parts.

Firstly, to make the maths really easy, I work out the number of words per month over 10 months, not the full twelve. This not only makes the math easy, but means you’ve automatically built in the redundancy of life getting in the way for two months of the year.

Then, you take the 10k words per month and divide it by four weeks to work out the words per week – again, for the ease of the maths. The savvy among you will note that this means you actually only have to work for 40 weeks a year rather than 52 weeks a year. That’s equivalent to three months you get off from writing now to deal with life.

So then its 2500 words per week. Now, some people (me!) can do that in an hour. But you can break it up to 500 words a day over five days (there, you’ve got two days a week free to deal with life as well) and can probably manage that in a reasonable time.

So if you think it through, know what your wordage per hour is and how much time you’ve got, it is possible to timetable your writing and allow yourself time for life.

Don’t ever buy into the idea you must write every day, and that you can’t take a break from your writing.

In fact, I put it to you that allowing time for life is vitally important to your writing.

Astounding writer Kaaron Warren has a phrase – refreshing the well. Writing comes from a well of creativity within you, and like all wells if it doesn’t have a contact flow of water keeping it wet, it will dry up. How to you refresh the writing well? There’s a multitude of ways (Kaaron has a great blog series about it here) but the important thing is that you need time to do it. If you’re writing every day, when are you going to refresh that well?

Also, writing comes from your experiences as much as anything. Things you’ve read or watched. Things you’ve done. Places you’ve been. People you meet. How are you going to do any of these things if you are at your keyboard typing all the time.

Then there’s the fact that living changes you, teaches you, creates you, and this in term changes, teaches and creates your writing. It’s not always in a good way – I missed six months of writing last year in first working with my sisters to nurse my mother through her last months, and then grieving her. That living has changed, taught, created me and my writing. The things I am interested in pursuing now are very different to the things that drove me just a year ago.

So make sure you have time in your life for life. And when life needs to take over the writing – let it. The writing will still be there when you get back to it, and you’ll be a stronger, wiser person and your writing will be the better for it.

Progress report

  • Drafting a new Claudine story
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