Sunday, December 07, 2014

Training Myself To Write

Typewriter Letters by Lainey Powell

Today I was reading an article by Dean Wesley Smith about Pulp Speed. He talked about the golden age of pulp fiction where writers who were disciplined could write 1,000,000 words a year or more. That's only 2778 words per day he calculated, working everyday of the month. Of course, you might want to take the weekend off, so subtracting four Sundays & Saturdays from a thirty day month would mean you'd need to write 3788 words per day to get the same results. At 1000 words an hour, that's just under four hours of work daily—part time status. If you doubled that and worked an eight hour day, you'd double your output to 2,000,000 words a year—the equivalent of twenty 100,000 word books a year.

The trick to the numbers, however, is that each book would have NO REWRITING. They'd all be submitted as first drafts. Apparently, you'd also do no research or plotting. You'd just sit down and wing it. Just the idea of that level of output & confidence is staggering to me. No rewriting? With my ADHD mind, I'm lucky the story at the end is the same one from the beginning. Still, there is something to be learned here. The article mostly focused on the new golden age of eBooks and the need for speed, but I was struck at how slow my output was in comparison.

Between ADHD, Depression, and Chronic Motor Tic Disorder, my writing output is in fits and spurts. I waste so much time distracted with news, side projects, and boondoggles, too. Work and responsibilities take up most of my time, as they should, but with so much free time squandered—or spent being disabled—it's time for new coping strategies.

So What's the Problem?

There are a few problems, actually. First of all, ADHD intolerance for boredom is an issue. Rewriting can be dull work, even though I find the material interesting. Consequently, I procrastinate writing time here and there. Secondly, there are times when I don't feel justified in working on the book. Blogging is short and sweet, so I don't mind doing that, but writing a book is a longterm commitment, and I have so many other paying things to do. Lastly, I don't have good writing habits. My hang up wasn't that I didn't like writing, but that I had a hard time getting started. The fix for all three problems was the same solution.

I decided to rethink how I started my day. What were the most important things I needed to do before all else, the lack of which meant my day would be out of focus and unproductive? I wanted to pick three things to work on—to start small then build out from there. My current morning schedule was heavy on things to do and light on actually doing them anyway. It was overdue for a tune-up. I wrote down the following items to build my core morning.

  1. Scriptures
  2. Prayer
  3. Distracted Writers Club - 25 words per day

First, I wanted to get my mind in the right place. Scriptures instead of news, then prayer. Prayer helps with depression (along with meditation, yoga, and Mindfulness), something I've written about in my book. As for writing, I had organized the Distracted Writers Club before, so I committed to begin it again. This was specifically work on my book, not journaling, blogging, or social media. Most of us can write volumes once we get going, but sometimes getting going is the hard part. I chose to write a mere 25 words per day not because I thought that was all I could manage, but because it's such a tiny number it is easy to commit to. The purpose of the Distracted Writers Club is to train yourself to want to write daily and feel good doing it—to learn how to justify this time for yourself.

I've begun the experiment today. ✔ ✔ ✔! I feel good starting my day out right, and that 25 word goal was a cinch to meet. I wrote hundreds more before I had to put my writing aside for work. I'm keeping track of my progress over at Lift. 25 words per day with Saturdays & Sundays off comes out to 550 words per month and 6,600 words per year. It's not 1,000,000, but it's a start. Besides, once I sat down I blew past the monthly number within thirty minutes.

Do you have a hope or dream that your ADHD or Depression gets in the way of you accomplishing? Tell me about it in the comments.