Saturday, May 8, 2010
"Think of it as the James Bond principle of writing assignments. The closer you get to zero hour, the more surefire and exhilarating your writing--like Bond's day-saving solution--should be." Kyle Morrison
I grabbed this quote directly from my Facebook pages, made by my good friend and awesome furniture mover, Kyle Morrison. It was his response to another one of my whiny comments regarding writing, and why I was procrastinating via Facebook when I should have been pushing the pen.
After I glared at the comment for all of ten seconds, the solution to my angst materialized. Whenever faced with an actual deadline, in my case, writing assignments for college credits, I always waited until a week to a few days before its due date. Rarely did I begin thinking about it when the professor dictated the assignment. Sure, I'd mull it over for a bit, and maybe commence cursory research, but never sank my teeth in until the calendar closed in on the date. I'd then hunker down behind closed doors for an entire weekend, gathering research and pounding out a draft. Usually by Sunday night the final paper was ready for turning in on its due date, which was usually that week, or on some occasions, the next day.
Did I mention that I've never gotten less than an A on any paper I wrote for college? My U.S. History professor remarked on a piece I wrote about Thomas Paine that it was above college level writing. It took about eight hours the previous weekend to complete. (Seriously. I'm not making this up. If I knew how to use my new scanner, I'd provide a copy showing his comments. But alas, I don't, so you all will just have to take my word for it.)
In my English Lit. classes the professor always had us free-write for about five minutes at the beginning of every class. Sometimes he used prompts, others he'd just let us wing it. The idea, he would say, was to release your conscious and feel the words from your gut. It was an amazing exercise for me. My pen moved like it was filled with grease for ink.
Buzzer shot writing, that's what I called it. And now that I've been in this slump, and thanks to Kyle's brilliant analogy, I can see the problem I faced. NO GOAL. NO DUE DATE. ZERO-ZIP-NADA-DEADLINE. Believing that the magic would reappear, well, magically, was merely an excuse for not writing.
The magic never died. My motivation did. I've whined about this on and off at this blog, in particular, this one. This person, who, because that's just her wonderful way, ran to my rescue. She hooked me up with a writing group that focuses on writing one hundred words per day for one hundred days.
One of my biggest excuses for not writing was that I needed a huge block of time in order to write. The theory behind writing one hundred words a day for one hundred days is that it takes minimal time each day, therefore it's easy to carve out a small bit of time in order to accomplish this goal.
GOAL: The magic word missing in my writing repertoire. Even the smallest of writing goals, in this case, one hundred words a days, not only keeps me connected to my writing, but magically multiplies into more. One hundred words isn't a big challenge. Since beginning this regime on May 4, I've written 1,881 new words, which translates to seven and a half new pages. Like eating M&M's, I couldn't stop after the first hundred. Gold! I struck gold! (And thank heavens I can stop eating M&M's after the first hundred.)
Another day. Another one hundred words and more.
What motivation is lacking in your writing life? What gets you back on track?