Thursday, May 17, 2007

Writing Journal

A week or two ago, my friend Nate had an excellent writing suggestion. We were talking over the perennial "How do you write consistently?" question, which has many answers from "Just do it you slacker," to "I don't, I wait on my muse."

Anyway, although I've been on a good kick lately, I'm always looking for ways to get more consistent. What Nate mentioned was a writing journal. Now this is not a journal where you blather about your genius, writing reams of deathless prose about your work. Writing too much in the journal would kind of defeat the point of getting stuff done.

The writing journal is intended to help you record 1) what you did, and most importantly 2) what and when you're going to write next. That second part has been the most interesting and helpful part. When I finish a writing session, the last thing I do before cracking open that bottle of homebrew is to set a date and time when I'll write next.

I've been using a simple format, four or five lines at most:

5/19 (Saturday) 1 hr, evening
Plan: Edit through end of chapter with Nicolae. Get Kyle to his next destination.
Result: Finished up through Kyle's full chapter. Stopped on pg. 169.

Actually putting a plan down on paper makes it easier to do for me when the time comes around. I've still missed a couple sessions, and that gets written into the journal too, but primarily it keeps me thinking about what's next, and that's always a good thing.

On the editing trail

I realized earlier this week that I hadn't posted to the blog in quite a while. There's been a couple good reasons for that--took a trip to Anguilla in the beautiful British West Indies (which I plan to write about in the near future), and the bulk of my free time has been pouring into my latest editing pass on the novel.

Last post, I had just begun re-reading the book. I was pretty pleased with the outcome. On the one hand, it's improved a lot--I've rooted out many of the large structural issues, there weren't a lot of the drifting sections, the story flows along like I want it to. There's plenty left to tighten, beef up, and otherwise improve before it's ready for prime time, but it's fulfilling to see how much progress I've made.

Anguilla was a huge boon for the writing too. Every day, I spent a couple hours of the morning with pages on the porch overlooking the water. Aside from being massively relaxing, I also got lots done, and I've carried that momentum into my return. Since I've been back, with only a few exceptions for family visits and critique group, I've edited a chapter a day. I'm not really working much faster than I used to, but I'm getting better at consistently putting in the time.

At this pace, my finish-line for being pitchable in August is looking good. Excellent!