Most of us have experienced the heady rush of momentum when a deadline looms ahead. A non-negotiable, externally set deadline. The same kind of energy is more difficult to recreate when the said deadline is self set.
I have experienced this in the past, especially during home organising projects. Things happen so much faster when a houseguest is arriving in the weekend. The level of confidence and commitment that comes when one is in the flow is remarkable. These periods of extreme efficiency have been brief for me. Once the momentum is lost, it takes so much effort to get back on track.
Writing a book is a long process. Life’s many challenges are a great temptation to break the writing discipline. Writer’s block doesn’t help either. To keep myself on track with writing my book and to get myself into a heightened state of efficiency, I decided to impose certain conditions.
I needed to break it down into smaller measurable goals with a deadline each. So I have different finish by dates for the first draft and the final manuscript. I am not sure how many edits it will take since it is my first book. Judging the 5,600 words I have written till date, I have a feeling I will be spending quite an amount of time revising. Oh no, my goals are not that clear after all!
Word Count Breakdown
The average running length of a novel in my genre is 100,000 plus words. I am going with 110,000. I plan to finish the first draft by the end of August 2012. Roughly I would have to produce 1,800 words per day. To keep a log of daily word counts I downloaded the NaNoWriMo 2011 word count tracker and adjusted the daily goal. The spreadsheet gives a running tally, per hour rate, percent completed and also a project finish date given the current pace.
More than the fear of failure we fear standing shamefaced among our peers. To create that kind of artificial pressure I have announced to the world that I am working on the first draft of my first novel. Who cares? No one does. It will only be interesting if I fail. My family and friends encourage me and support me in this new found hobby. Then there is self doubt. Do I have it in me? There is only one way to find out. And if the answer is not favourable, it can always be remedied with a good dose of learning.
Writing without distractions for an extended period of time helps me gain momentum, making the words flow more smoothly. I had underestimated the power of a nine month old to seek attention (and here he is, clawing at my legs, asking to be picked up). I have always believed that so long as I planned and prioritized my activities properly, I could manage to find the time to do what I want. But how do I explain that to my baby? Jokes apart, I can still do this. I am working to be an advanced early riser. Getting up a good two hours before the world around me wakes up would give me solid time for good work. What a wonderful start to the day that would be! I am currently aiming for 4 a.m. Knowing myself, I still need my rest. So I have to factor in an early bedtime too. That would take a lot of getting used to.
So many conditions to create a sense of urgency!
Now, if only I had a book deal to begin with, that would have cranked up the pressure and given me just what I need, a powerful kick in the pants.