Saturday, March 31, 2012

Second Quarter Goals for 2012

For newcomers: my blog is an ongoing writing dare, but lately I've been giving it shape via the group writing challenge A Round Of Words in 80 Days. This round will run from April 2 to June 21.

This next quarter I'm continuing with the experiments in writing habits. A writing dare is a good way to do this, because you can emphasize just one thing (or two) and see what difference it makes by measuring just that.

I've done word counts, and I've counted minutes. This quarter I'll be counting writing sessions. (I've done something like it less formally, and it has been good. It's a variation on the "just start" method.)

  • Three "microburst" writing sessions per day.
  • Total of 4800 minutes of writing for the whole effort.
  • For project goals, I'll be splitting the effort into three. (more below)

Microburst Writing

This is related to Writing Sprints -- where people challenge each other to sit down and write at a certain time of day, for a certain short period. They usually start and stop via Twitter or online chat. A Microburst is different in that it's not organized, not a group effort. Basically, it's about building up energy in the background, and then releasing it in a sudden burst. Like a sudden wind storm, or like releasing the hounds. Or getting a static shock.

And when the energy is done it's done. It may take five minutes, it make take an hour. (Lately, I've noticed it seems to average at 20 minutes.)

I had some very good results from these writing bursts this past quarter. However, the down side is that they require a lot of staring at the wall time. You have to build up a lot of creative energy. Now, last quarter, that brainstorming/thinking effort was the thing I was counting (at least for part of the dare).

But I do the thinking thing naturally, so I don't know if I need to make it part of my goal. I'm not sure if measuring it helped or maybe hindered by putting my focus on the wrong thing. Given past performance, though, I think it's better to measure the bursts, and let the thinking take care of itself.


My attention span is too short to do the same thing for 80 days. I'm really much better off dividing what I'm doing by month. Plus I really have three tasks to do this quarter.

  • April: Finish Devil In A Blue Bustle
  • May: Brainstorming and exploratory writing on The Man Who Stepped Up
  • June: Start serious draft of Stepped Up.

This schedule won't be hard and fast. I expect to finish Bustle before the end of April, but the end of the semester will be on me. I will probably take a break from Stepped Up by working on the rewrite of Bustle in late May as well. However, I am setting a firm "Prime Directive" for each month. I like to have a single prize to keep my eyes on at any one time, even if I might play around with other things.

One goal I set, even before I got behind, is to not publish Devil in a Blue Bustle until July. I want to slow down the finishing process on a book. I think it will help my writing to be more deeply into the next project before I publish the previous one. Publishing is a distraction, and a place to lose momentum.

(And also, most books need some drawer time before final polish and edit. I like, in a way, to have the ability to settle in an enjoy a book on last edit and format check.)

And On Monday.... expect a story. I realize that Easter is coming up, so I decided to post my story from the Pink Snowbunnies In Hell anthology. Just a little bit of fluff with George and Karla called "Revenge of the Peeps."

See you in the funny papers.


M. Dunham said...

That's so very true. With my last novel, I realized how many things I do that don't work for me, and some that really do, so I'm trying a totally different way of conceptualizing this novel I'm working on.

The Daring Novelist said...

Yep -- always evolving. One day we'll get it right....