Thursday, June 24, 2010

Eating the elephant one bite at a time


You write a book the same way you eat an elephant. One bite--one bit--at a time. It's a long hard slog. (Okay, an elephant reading a book doesn't have anything to do with eating or writing, but it is an elephant, and a book...)

I was going to say it's probably a good thing that stories aren't exactly like elephants, because a whole elephant would go bad before one person could eat the whole thing. (Not that I can imagine one person actually trying... A whole tribe of people, maybe...) Except, it's entirely possible that stories might rot a little before one finishes writing it. Or go stale, anyway. Still, that's not my point here. We don't want to stretch that metaphor right out of shape.

The point is that when you take on a task that is going to take a while, you just have to keep doing the next thing. Keep writing the next words. And the next ones, and the next ones.

I have fallen out of practice of doing the writing First, and I need to get back into it. If not First, then Whenever I Can.

And in pursuit of that, I have joined a "100 words" loop. The goal of this loop, generally, is to write 100 words every day for 100 days, no excuses, no exceptions.

There are some members who have slightly different goals--one is writing 300 words a day, with weekends off. (This will put her ahead of the 700 words a week pace...) One of the main rules is that, if you get More than 100 words, you can't say so. Just say that you got your words for that day. That way it doesn't turn into a competition, or something for someone to beat themselves up over. Oh, and if you miss a day--you have to start over with Day 1.

One of the members, Kay Hudson, has made it up to Day 300-something. Or maybe 400-something. She's now burning up the contest circuit with finals and agent/editor requests. And she's on Day 52 of the new cycle.

I'm on Day 3. I had to squeeze my words in yesterday between the dayjob in the a.m., and the dentist in the afternoon. (I now have my permanent, gold crown on my back tooth, and the sharp, hurty temporary crown is no longer hurting my tongue, and the tooth has calmed down and is no longer crazy sensitive to cold. I am happy.) But the words are squozed. I have made it through the scene I was unsure about, and I think it works. I am on the verge of the black moment, crisis, climax, etc. etc. and the end. I do tend to write extended black moment/crisis scenes, so we will see whether I can soldier through this before the grandboys come for sea camp.

I did get all their paperwork done and turned in and fees paid, so we are all set for them to come and stay and dissect fish and such in two more weeks (or three). It will be fun. And until then--the writing.

One bite, 100 words, at a time...

1 comment:

scarlettprose said...

This is the practice I've taken to editing. I wake up at 5 am, place my (larger than most) butt cheeks into the chair, and edit my manuscript for a solid hour. Sometimes that hour breezes through pages, sometimes it struggles with one paragraph that just needs "something". But I do it. And I progress. Right now, I'd say I've finished one leg of the elephant.

Also, I noticed you were on the Gulf Coast. I'm on the Florida panhandle, waiting to see what happens with this new almost-tropical storm. Hopefully we'll take a direct hit, which will send the oil back out away from the coast. We've only a just few days ago started to see tar balls, and slicks, etc. Makes my innards flip-flop.

Anyway, happy writing!