Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Day 28

At 49,742 when I called it quits tonight...just over 250 words to go and two days, so feeling pretty confident I'll make the minimum quota.

Quit because it was bedtime, and one important lesson I have confirmed through this exercise is the importance of stopping mid-idea.

In the past, I would make the mistake of working for as long as the words were pouring out, fearful that if I turned off the faucett when it was running, it might be a long time before I could get it turned back on. So I'd keep working as long as it kept coming. correspondingly, if I'd get to a tough patch, I would take a break, rather than continue to spin my wheels until despondancy set in. But the inevitable result of this combination would be that whenever I went to start on the next day's work, I come back to a problem area. I'd have finished up whatever was working for me, and had either to start the next section from scratch -- so I'd spend hours staring at the blank page wondering how to begin and what to put next -- or be stuck facing the same problem that had defeated me the night before. Demoralization, procastination and angst were therefore the constants of this process.

In contrast, I have learned (it may have been Candas Jane Dorsey who first suggested this to me, but can't be sure) that if you stop at some arbitrary deadline (dinner time, bedtime, kids story time, etc.) in the middle of a sentence you really really want to finish, that it's driving you crazy you didn't get a chance to put down before you forget it, then what happens is that when you do eventually get back to the page, you start by furiously writing down all that pent up stuff you didn't have a chance to get out last time. So you hit the page running, as it were. So in contrast with the procastination that plagued my thesis and dissertations, I found more recent writing (and particularly the current experience with NaNoWriMo) one of hardly being able to wait to get back to it. Instead of constantly facing problems when I start each day, I start the day with momemtum working for me rather than against me. It is sooo simple a principle!

As a result, I really only had one day with a very minor writer's block. hardly even worth mentioning. A very great contrast to my previous experiences!

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