Well, have been having varying success with my writing this week. As mentioned, Sunday was a wipe out word count wise. Monday I did roughly 8,500 on the third book in my trilogy (which might turn out to be longer than a trilogy, still waiting to see). Tuesday did a sad little 3,000 as I worked well in the morning, but then came home after work and gym and just needed to read. Was feeling all dried out and in need of some relaxation. Wednesday I made my 7,500 which would have been great, except it was my day off so I was aiming for 10,000. And today I did okay in the morning, coming in at just under 3,000, but this evening had a personal training session at the gym later than I usually go, and then somehow cooking dinner ended up taking an hour, so I didn't get down to write until 9.30pm. So have only managed 5,000 words today.
So, have decided: it's time to get serious. In the mornings I'm varying between 2,000 words on a bad morning, 3,000 usually, and 4,000 on a good morning. But I am writing for generally the same amount of time, but sometimes I'm just a lot more effective (Okay, once or twice I've got to 2,000 and decided to fall back asleep, or take some time to read, but those few instances aside). The evenings are similar. I can sit down for the same amount of time and get a 2,000 word difference.
I've talked quite a bit about the flow and how useful it can be. I've outline a basic method for making sure it comes to your aid. But now I need to go even more hardcore. I need to know more than just 'exercise, eat, work'.
Based slightly on something Dorothea said, I've decided I really need to investigate what makes me write well and what holds me back on a practical daily level. So, I'm going to try and keep a diary where I rate how well my writing session went and analyse the factors that led up to it: how well did I sleep? Did I go to sleep particularly early or slightly later? What did I eat before hand? Do I work best after a meal of protein or carbohydrates etc. And particularly: what I was reading at the time?
This was the focus of Dorothea's message, to identify writing that makes you want to write. There are some authors that you will absolutely love, but they don't inspire you to write for yourself. And then there are authors or genres you think you despise, but they always send you running to pen and paper, possibly just to prove that you can do it better. In becoming more systematic about the process and identifying everything that makes me work best, I will be able to maximise my performance.
Athletes from all around the world are currently gathering in London for the Olympics. And they have spent the last few months, if not years, analysing every part of their life so that they can be at their best to go those few seconds faster. I'm going to treat my writing the same. If I work out that having some protein before I write means I can write an extra 1,000 words in that session, and I have two sessions a day, that means for each fortnight I could write at least an extra 20,000 words, which is two whole extra days off!
So, I'm going to start my process of self-examination on Saturday (unfortunately tomorrow's writing is going to have to be stuffed in around a variety of other things, as I can't see me having a block of time that I will be able to sit down and write, but I will do my best all the same.)
If I find out any amazing secrets, I will let you know.
For anyone else thinking of becoming serious about writing, I recommend the exercise as well. But I would say do it after you are at the stage of writing everyday. It's like when I go to the gym and see people wearing compression tights, but still only doing a walk on the treadmill. The pants really aren't going to help you unless you are working close to your maximum. Finding out that you can write 10% more if you drink tea instead of coffee won't be a big benefit unless you are actually writing, and writing a substantial amount. Until you have trained yourself to do, say, 1,000 words a day, spend more time focused on that. See my previous post for exercises on how to increase your writing.
The thing that has sparked my sudden desire to learn more is that I currently feel I'm spending every possible moment writing just to meet my targets. So getting more for my efforts and being able to finish a bit early would make a huge difference.
Just to give an overview for those of you who think I'm being a bit melodramatic:
I get up between 6.45-7am (which I know is not super early, but since I have to have 8-9 hours sleep, I'm really pushing it), get breakfast and a cup of tea and am sitting down to write around 7.15am. I then write until about 9.30am, when I need to get ready for work. I get home from work between 5.30-6pm, go straight to the gym and do 30mins work out with 15 mins of stretching before coming home, having a shower and cooking dinner. I usually get to sit down to write again around 7.30 and I write until usually around 10pm, by when I will hopefully have hit my target for the day. I then suddenly remember I also have to write my blog. I spend another half an hour plus doing that, before getting ready and falling into bed. If I manage to finish my writing early, I like to curl up in bed and listen to podcasts while doing my knitting (yes I am an old lady in training. But at least I've almost finished my new throw rug, while it's still cold!)
I manage to fit in reading: a few minutes while I eat my breakfast and dinner, the two stops I go on the train each way, and for about 20mins in my lunch break.
This also might explain why on my days off I tend to collapse.
But soon I will know the secret for amazing writing, and then I will take over the world! Or at least keep creating my own ones to play with.