I was going to do another post on rewriting today, but WHO AM I KIDDING? No one in the free world has a brain cell left after last week. The powers that be, bless them, decided that we need an extra day of holiday today, which means no one is doing anything whatsoever of use.
So pass me the champagne and chocolate, while I continue my British crime TV binge. I’ve worked my way through – well, I started with THE WALKING DEAD, not British but created by Frank Darabont, brilliant, then moved on to SURVIVORS, SHERLOCK (God, WHY do I always fall for the crazy ones?) and am now catching up on WIRE IN THE BLOOD, with a short detour into Robson Green starring in a younger crazy detective incarnation: TOUCHING EVIL.
Amazingly, I have not had any nightmares, though there have been a few apocalyptic settings in my recent dream life.
Anyway, the New Year. Writing. All that.
One good thing is about writing a blog is that it makes one – well, me, anyway – more inclined to make public resolutions. I’m not actually sure how useful a list ever is. When it comes down to it, we all have kind of the same resolutions every year. Basically. Write more books and be a better person, right?
But this year I wanted to do a list, mostly because 2011 was so hard it’s amazing just that I survived it.
I complain about the abject agony of writing all the time, but this year writing has been lifesaving, just to have one familiar thing to do every day, in the face of what, bluntly, has been a lot of death. My father, a beloved aunt, my cat of 19 years, and the fatal illness of a cherished friend. Not fun. In many ways, maybe in spite of appearances, I’ve been pretty effectively shut down.
But things are getting better. I’m feeling that I could move beyond survival to actually enjoying myself again.
So resolutions make sense, because they imply there IS a future, at least until the world ends next December. JUST KIDDING.
First, the standard ones:
Working out. This is one I don’t have to worry about. Exercise has been periodically too much of an obsession; I’m one who more often needs to say, “You don’t REALLY need to take that two-hour Boot Camp class today.” I know if I don’t work out every day I become a rabid animal within 48 hours; it’s my version of antidepressants. But these days I’m more balanced about it. I take mostly dance classes, which is the way I most like to move and it’s so easy it’s never a big deal to get myself to class to do it. So dance four or five times a week and one killer ab/ass class on top of that, not as much fun as dancing but the results are so immediate and visual, it’s addictive. No, I mean, it’s good.
Eating. Pretty good about this, too. I don’t eat too much, I eat mostly the right things, I know how to combine proteins, and I don’t keep anything like ice cream or Cheetos or macadamia nuts in the house, period. One thing here - I am going to try to eat more Superfoods next year – why not, right? Salmon, blueberries, pomegranates, almonds, yams, dark greens; I love all that stuff anyway.
Getting out more. Well, with my conference schedule this year I don’t have to worry about a social life, even though I have the typical author problem of feast or famine in this department. You live like a hermit while you’re writing, and party till you drop at the conferences. These days I’m mostly paid to go, a big perk of the job. But I am resolved to say yes more than no to social events.
Giving more. I am grateful to be feeling financially stable, and am glad to plug my favorite charities at the beginning of the year: Children of the Night, Kiva, Equality Now, Equality California. And don’t forget Wikipedia – you KNOW you use it.
- Children of the Night - Rescues teenagers from prostitution.
- Kiva You can pledge $25 or more as a microloan to small businesswomen in developing countries, the loan will be paid back and you can loan again to someone else.
- Equality Now Ending violence and discrimination against women and girls around the world.
- Equality California - Advocates for civil and legal rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Californians.
Writing more? Not possible without brain meltdown.
My problem here is not that I’m not writing enough, but that I have too many concurrent projects. But I had a really productive December and am on track to finish my latest paranormal by my deadline at the end of January, which will make me less frantic about my contractual obligations. And I am closing in on finishing the thriller that I’ve been working on this year, sometimes just a few minutes a day, in between all the death. But five minutes a day for a year equals a book.
Did you catch that? I’ll say it again. Five minutes of writing a day for a year equals a book.
Which is what I really wanted to write about today, because I don’t think it’s said often enough that you CAN write a novel (or a script, or a TV pilot....) in whatever time you have. Even if that’s only five minutes a day. If you have kids, if you have the day job from hell, if you are clinically depressed – whatever is going on in your life, if you have five minutes a day, as long as you write EVERY DAY, to the best of your ability, you can write a novel that way.
I don’t know if I’ve posted this here before, but I wrote my first novel, The Harrowing, by writing just five minutes per day.
My day job was screenwriting, at the time, and yes, it was a writing job, but it had turned into the day job from hell.
But fury is a wonderful motivator and at the end of the day, every day, I was so pissed off at the producers I was working for that I would make myself write five minutes a day on the novel EVERY NIGHT, just out of spite.
Okay, the trick to this is – that if you write five minutes a day, you will write more than five minutes a day, sometimes a whole hell of a lot more than five minutes a day most days. But it’s the first five minutes that are the hardest. And that often ended up happening. Sometimes I was so tired that all I could manage was a sentence, but I would sit down at my desk and write that one sentence. But some days I’d tell myself all I needed to write was a sentence, and I’d end up writing three pages.
It’s just like the first five minutes of exercise, something I learned a long time ago. As long as I can drag myself to class and endure that first five minutes of the workout, and I give myself permission to leave after five minutes if I want to, I will generally take the whole hour and a half class, and usually end up loving it. (There are these wonderful things called endorphins, you see, and they kick in after a certain amount of exposure to pain...)
The trick to writing, and exercise, is – it is STARTING that is hard.
I have been writing professionally for . . . well, never mind how many years. But even after all those many years—every single day, I have to trick myself into writing. I will do anything – scrub toilets, clean the cat box, do my taxes, do my mother’s taxes – rather than sit down to write. It’s absurd. I mean, what’s so hard about writing, besides everything?
But I know this just like I know it about exercise. If you can just start, and commit to just that five minutes, those five minutes will turn into ten, and those ten minutes will turn into pages, and one page a day for a year is a book.
Think about it.
Or better yet, write for five minutes, right now. Then pass the champagne and chocolate.
Happy New Year, everyone!
Screenwriting Tricks for Authors and Writing Love, Screenwriting Tricks for Authors, II, are now available in all e formats and as pdf files. Either book, any format, just $2.99.
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- Smashwords (includes online viewing and pdf file)
- Barnes & Noble/Nook
- Amazon UK
- Amazon DE