Friday, April 16, 2010

Would that Edits were as Habit-Forming as Words

With the notable exception of pantsing my way through my rough drafts, I'm very into planning. I am a big fan of the idea that it takes 21 days to make a habit. The Franklin Covey system and I go way back. I like SMART goals and spreadsheets and timetables. My planner is color coded in addition to being prioritized by type of task. I'm a huge planning nerd.

I was talking to someone about writing the other day and I happened to mention NaNoWriMo. We were talking about getting over the two-page problem. (You know, where you never get more than two pages into a story because you get stuck trying to make it perfect or your idea just runs out of steam after those first few moments of inspiration.) The reason I always recommend NaNoWriMo to people with the two-page problem is two-fold.

  1. That's how I got over my own two-page problem back in November of 2006.
  2. NaNoWriMo, falling in November, is 30 days long, giving you more than enough time to turn writing daily into a habit. (If you recall from the first paragraph, I firmly believe habits take 21 days to form.)

Not only did NaNoWriMo get me into the habit of writing every day, it got me into the habit of writing whenever I had time, of keeping a notebook on me for sudden moments of inspiration, and of expecting writing sessions to yield at least a thousand words rather than just two little pages. I found my writing style through NaNoWriMo, which just happens to be perfectly compatible with the program.

Other people have to work a little harder during November, being that they're not complete and total pantsers capable of banging out 1000 words in 15 minutes if hyped up on enough coffee and leftover Halloween candy. I spare brief moments of sadness for those poor unfortunate Wrimos. And then, you know, I have to get back to work, because there's likely a word war I'm supposed to be paying attention to.

But, Nikki, you might be thinking, it's April. Why are you talking about all this now?

An excellent question! You see, I have a problem. NaNoWriMo gave me the perfect way to form a writing habit. I have yet to find anything that helps me form an editing habit.

My style of editing is meticulous, with many methods and tools layered on top of each other. It can't be accomplished in the same fast-paced, no sleep, go-until-you-die-and-then-get-up-and-go-some-more fashion as my writing. I've tried it. I ended up completely burned out and almost decided to give up writing altogether. I also didn't get through the revisions, so, other than being a nice lesson in what I can and cannot do, the exercise was quite pointless.

Since getting pregnant, I've fallen off the wagon with regard to my writing. I spent my first trimester basically living the life of a newborn. Wake up. Eat something. Throw up. Gee, that was exhausting. Go back to sleep. Repeat for three months. There was not a lot of writing. There was definitely not a lot of revising. And now here I sit on the other side of it, completely out of the habit of working at all with no spiffy internet competition to help me get back on track.

I suppose I could try Script Frenzy, but I have no real interest in writing a script and I feel like that would just slice another month out of the very limited time I have left to get my current WIP completed and queried out.

And so I guess I shall have to get back into the habit the old fashioned way, just trying to remember to do it every day until I don't need the reminder anymore. It would be nice, though, if editing was even half as much fun as playing with shiny new words.

1 comment:

haricot vert said...

Editing? Gahhhh! Revising? Gahhhh! Re-working ideas, dialogue, description until the entirety stays shiny? /feels faint and reaches for a restorative, extra tequila please!

...So much for my idea to say something encouraging. /weak laugh