Sunday, 1 July 2012

1st July: Day 1 of the Preparation Period

To start with, in case you were thinking I had forgotten about the blog for a few days, I want to clarify and establish the ground rules now. When I said 'everyday' I actually meant 'every-working-day'. I aim to have something up so that when you wake up Monday-Friday there will be an exciting and dramatic post for you to read (and when I write 'post' my computer thinks I actually want to say 'post-resurrection', which seems slightly presumptuous of it, I don't talk about theology ALL the time). I'm not suggesting that most of you happen to only read my blog as procrastination from work. I wouldn't suggest that at all. I'm quite happy to just state it. Most people read blogs when they should be working. I don't expect my blog to be any different, and I appreciate that you read it at all.

So, I'm writing this Sunday night, for you to read Monday morning.

It is Sunday 1st July, 2012.

It is the beginning of a new financial year, and also the beginning of my challenge.

Yesterday I went to bed quite excited. I had spent time writing up all the things I would need to do in my first two weeks of preparations. I also had gone to the library and got out lots of books on everything, and even started a few of them.

Today I woke up and refused to get out of bed.

A bleak horror started to filter into my soul over what I had set myself up to do. I started to whimper and hid my head under the blankets. I grabbed one of the books I got for pleasure and tried to escape, which worked sporadically until I would come back to myself and find the fear had crept in a bit further.
Even the need to pee didn't get me out of bed, I must not have drunk enough the night before.

Eventually I used a mixture of bribing, guilt and negotiation. If I got up and got dressed, I could have fish and chips for breakfast/lunch (it just so happens that the shop voted by Nova radio station as the best fish and chips in Melbourne is right around the corner from me). I would get up and get dressed, but I wasn't going to have a shower and that would show the world. Once I got up and dressed, I would go shopping, eat my fish and chips, perhaps have a nap, and then start on my preparations. Over 6 hours later, I started my preparations. So it worked, sort of. 

What are these preparations I hear you say. I'm glad you asked. Along with my mental preparations, such as finding my muse, I realised that if I wanted to spend 4 hours a day (at least) writing as well as holding down a job (I'm dropping down to just 10.30-5pm 4 days a week, but I still need to factor getting ready for work, getting to work, not being able to stay in my trackies all day... serious things my friend), spending some time on practical preparations is not wasted.

So, this is what I worked out I needed to do:

  1. Work out a daily routine – one for days I work and one for days I don't – and in these two weeks, test them out, adapt as necessary.

  2. Write out a timetable of which books I would be working on in each two week period.

  3. Write out a chart that I could keep tally of the word counts so I can encourage myself that I'm actually getting somewhere.

  4. Start a file for each book which includes: a brainstorming session where I pour out as much as I can about what I currently see that book being, create some mind-maps to expand the range of ideas, write up possible character descriptions, etc.

  5. Create a list of books which I think are like each one of my novels, go buy them so I can read them for inspiration as I write. (If I haven't mentioned, the books that I want to write range across a wide variety of styles, so I will need help changing over to each new type.)

  6. Very practical: prepare a whole lot of meals for the freezer (you will come to learn how much I love my slow-cooker).

  7. Start reading and listening: in the genre I'm writing in, on writing in general, on motivation and self-discipline... anything that helps.

  8. Go through past notebooks and documents for other possible story ideas.

  9. Get plenty of sleep and start building up the exercise again.

  10. Go through my apartment and test out possible writing spots. (I usually write in bed or on the couch, bed being my favourite. But it does make going to sleep quite difficult because my mind is all alive. I'm currently testing out actually using my study. It's not that bad, might make a few adjustments, but this might work. Though sitting up does hurt my back after a while. Hmmm...)

  11. Spend time with God. (This is important for me for a number of reasons: I get most of my self-discipline and encouragement from God, I also get corrected on a lot of my theology by reading my Bible and other inspirational works, and as my Muse, spending time with God gives me new ideas and places to go. Then there is just the pure relational aspect. People say that writing is a very lonely business, but as I always have a constant companion it never seems that bad.)

So, for the next week or two, I'm going to be working through this list and getting everything ready. I will try to save you from the boring bits, but fill you in on all the neat tricks I learn along the way.

I'm currently thinking that I will actually only take one week of prepare now and just focus on the next six months, and then take the other week at the beginning of the new year to prepare for the six months after that. And if the whole things crashes and burns, I will know one week earlier.

Eventually I'm hoping I'll be able to write full time, but for the foreseeable future, I have to work enough to pay all my bills at least, which is quite annoying as I'll still have all the bother of work, but also still be dirt poor on spending money. But at least I won't be evicted.

I have this week off from work, as we have had a hugely busy period for the last few months and am a bit burnt out. This nicely gives me time to prepare, but means I also need to put some effort into recovering.

If anyone has advice on other preparations I should be making, I'm open to all suggestions!

And just to finish, on this first day of the writing challenge I have friends and two live plants.
I'm hoping by the end I can still say the same along with 100 first drafts.

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