Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Process Examination #10: Lowered Expectations (aka Reality Bites)

OK, so I finally did some number crunching and frank assessment of THUMB and another project that has come up.

(This other project is a revision of a novelette into a novella for a sub opp with Samhain publishing, which is primarily an e-book publisher and their stock is primarily romance. This project is much more toward paranormal romance than SF, so I'm going to submit it under a pseudonym as a nod toward perhaps starting a career in that genre and in e-books. The career that I want is in traditionally pubbed science fiction and fantasy novels, though, and I've seen more than one writer suffer due to a backlist in a romance genre and in e-books. Hence the pseudonym. But I do have a number of shorter pieces and ideas that don't seem to fit in with the SF short fiction markets, so I might as well see if I can turn a coin where they might fit better.)

Anyway, a draft of THUMB is going to be 90K minimum and 100K maximum, and I've only written about 23K so far. That's 67 or 77K by the end of the year if I want to hold myself to my original goal of a draft by the end of the year. I was thinking I could buckle down and likely make this work. But with the sub opp that fell into my lap, I need to add a minimum of 12K to the novellette and a maximum of 22K to bring that story into the range this opp is looking for. So that means about 80K minimum and maybe even as much as 90K by the end of the year.

While I would like to be producing at a level that would have me reliably writing 30K a month, I'm not there yet, and with holiday guests and travel coming up and my stubborn refusal not to give up one night of downtime with my husband every week (I will not sacrifice my family or my marriage for any career), I just don't think it's possible to get 80K or 90K by the end of the year. Because the sub opp is due Jan13, I pushed my THUMB goal back by a month, giving me just under four months to finish that draft and about three months to finish the paranormal revision.

It's a bit more manageable, but I know that I have to push myself harder than I have been, hold myself to what I'm capable of doing each night. I'll be revising the novelette during Drew's naps (that's an hour of guaranteed work), and in the evenings, I'll be working on THUMB. I can fairly reliably produce a minimum of 500 words for every hour I have my BIC, often 750, and sometimes 1000.

So I'll need 24 to 44 days of pure writing at 500 words to get to the right word count on the novella. Add in 15-20 for pre-writing and rewriting, and I'm set for meeting the sub opp deadline with a good amount of wiggle room.

As for THUMB, I need 134 to 154 days of pure writing at 500 words/day to get to the end of the draft. Given that I usually have more than an hour to work in the evenings, I think I can shave off 30-40 days from that estimate. I'm also going to work out a weekend schedule with Mark that gets me a couple of extra hours during the day and boost my output that way as well.

Basically, I've taken a hard look at my writing goals, at my writing output, and at the habits I've fallen into that reduce the output for no good reason. For example, when I had a great writing night last week and then felt my brain turn to mush the following nights, I gave myself a half hour each time and called it quits without trying anything to get words. I'm going to start employing freewrite mandates at times like those. If I feel in any way that the words aren't going to come the way I like that lets me write my usual output, then I will start freewriting in fifteen minute intervals. The freewriting can be an examination of why I'm not feeling the words come, it can be a rambling examination of the chapter I'm trying to slog my way through, it can be the same word over and over and over and over and over again. But I have to freewrite for fifteen minutes and then re-evaluate how I'm feeling about producing actual draft content. Given how I've seen my mind and muse work in the past, I'm pretty sure that this will trigger something I can run with, if not in the first fifteen minutes then definitely in the second. And if it doesn't, then at least I will have tried.

This is the way I'm going to get a better handle on my regular writing abilities and start treating myself and my goals seriously in yet another way. I want a career in which I write a book a year at minimum, preferably two. I think I'm capable of it, but I really haven't given myself a chance, haven't worked on discipline enough to see what I think of a schedule that would give me that output. I know I'm happier when I'm consistently producing, regularly working my way toward the end of a project. I think this is going to have great results.

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