“The Write Gift”. Very punny, hmm? I couldn’t help myself—I’ve broken into the nog of the egg a tad early this season! Around this time of year, I crave delicious eggnog with great, billowy swathes of heavy cream, freshly grated nutmeg and just a nip (or two!) of rum. And the weather at least looked wintry from here in my little office with gray skies and brisk winds (okay, so it’s actually 70 outside, but a girl can dream, can’t she?). It was a perfect nog-type day in my book.
And speaking of books: My gift to you this season is a formula that will have you writing a draft novel in just one year! And I hate to admit this, but it’s actually a re-gift. This little calculation was given to me by a dear friend who also happens to be very allergic to writing and words in general, truth be told. Only numbers, please. And logic. She got a little weary of her wordy friend complaining about having no time in the day to work on a novel. There were two blogs to maintain, articles to write, courses to create, and so on. So just a week or so ago she sent me the following calculation, which I prettied up a bit. After all, all numbers and no glitter makes Jack a dull boy. All joking aside, this was a gift of fabulous proportions, as you can see!
After she gave me a minute to look at the numbers (because I am more allergic to numbers than she is to words) she asked me one question:
How long does it take you to write a page?
My writer friends know that this can’t be answered easily. If I am inspired, I might whip out a page in fifteen minutes, but if I am feeling a little blocked — hoo boy! That page could take eons. Well, maybe not literally. But it could take a very, very, very, very long time.
The more I puzzled through this, the more I realized that we’re not talking about Stephen King-esque final draft wizardry here. We’re talking writing a draft novel — first draft. And a first draft is all about getting something down on the page that I can work with later. Plus, I needed to follow my own advice and treat it like a Jay-Oh-Bee (JOB, for those of you with allergic worditis), so no slacking allowed. In that case, I thought it would be safe to consider that I could write a page in some span of time between 15 minutes and 1 hour. No excuses.
So, if I only need ONE HOUR at most to crank out my magnum opus in one year, what do I need to do to make that hour available to me? Do I need to get up earlier? Stay up later? Do I need to write a draft novel during lunch?
My first thought was to get up earlier because I am, after all, the very morning-est of morning people. Those little cartoon birds in Cinderella swoop in at first morning light and we are all ready for the ball in just a few moments. But I have also promised myself that I would partition off some morning time to get my blood moving. Writing all day can be great for the intellect, but it can be very hard on the physique. I do have a standing desk, but none of my body parts are in motion while I work there except my fingers, and they have kept their shape quite nicely, thank you. Afternoons are less controllable than mornings for me, and my brain tends to turn off past 9:30 p.m. so night-owling it will probably not work out well.
After giving it some thought, I’ve decided try a combination of getting up earlier AND incorporating the “Writing Out Loud” technique that I’ll share with you next week into my morning walk. It might take some extra coordination, but I think it can help me keep both of my promises to myself: that I will exercise more and that I will complete at least a rough draft of a new novel by next December.
Whatever holiday you are celebrating, be it Christmas, Hanukkah, Shabe-Yalda, Omisoka or one of the many others that are honored at this time of year, may peace and happiness be yours this season. If you want to give me something back, leave a comment telling me how you’re going to find time to write your daily page. I can’t wait to hear!