Monday, April 11, 2011

The Novel, Guerrilla Style Part 8: The Reprieve (Second Interlude)

I am not a self-editing, self-censoring, or self-conscious writer. I am not a writer who seeks perfection either. Seeking perfection, I think, is another form of procrastination. Perfection generally leads to self-editing, self-censoring and that leads to bad things. Do not fall into these pits. So often when I talk to writers and we begin with these “how do yous,” and “what's next” conversations, I always say: “Well, I'm a hack, I love to be a hack and being a hack is my greatest ambition.” I feel this way because a hack, if nothing else, is someone who really just wants to write. Whether you are a hack or a novelist committed to the ages, you must write. Just write.
We've been on this Guerrilla Novel kick for several weeks now, about 2 ½ months. It's been just over a month since the first interlude. As the novel builds, and as our work habits progress, now is the ideal time to reorganize our habits, reconnect with our initial commitment and reevaluate our project. In this 17 week program, we are now half way there.
Spend a few minutes looking at your work habits. Did you commit to this project everyday? Or on a prescribed plan? Did you try different times of day or different durations? Have you found frustration and anger or joy and accomplishment? What have been your greatest moments? Notice I'm not asking you what you did well. Sometimes the greatest moments were the uncomfortable ones, right?
At the half way mark, it is not too late to change modes of work. It's not too late for anything, really.
I'm writing this post as I've recently finished Sand and Asbestos. Funny part about it Sand and Asbestos, it was getting published before it was completed. Writing this piece was difficult only because of the logistics. Since I sent a chapter at a time on Fridays, it made me reanalyze the project and the process weekly. As a new experience for me, I was grateful for the challenge. I can say this, weekly, I looked at the work and the process and had to plan accordingly. Things that worked well one week may not have worked well the next.
Taking a little time from your writing schedule to analyze the process on the whole is refreshing, it is (or should be) beneficial. Two steps back and a deep breath and it's easier to see the project as a whole.
This week, know we are half way there. That may mean 25,000 words, and it may not. The question is, what and how will you complete the project at the scheduled time and what have you done so far?
I don't think it's out of your field of vision as a writer, and in this case a novelist, to adjust your work schedule accordingly.
It's been my experience that the mid-way point is about the ideal time to begin an understanding of the work and of yourself.
Ask questions of yourself. If you have someone in your life intimate with this project, ask them questions. Ask them about the work if you're sharing it. Ask them what their impression is of the task that you have now spent the 2 ½ months undertaking.
And I suppose my only question for you is this: are you enjoying yourself and your work?

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