the writing abyss

I’ve been quiet on the blog front because, no matter how hard I try, I can’t tackle a project with moderate amounts of effort. I’M ALL IN. OR I’M NOT.

I thought I’d pulled a good psychological trick by setting myself modest word count goals. 500 words a day on workdays, 1000 words a day on the weekend when I get the advantage of baby nap time, for a weekly average of 5000 words and therefore roughly four months to a finished first draft. Not fantastic, but not bad for juggling a full-time baby, a part-time job, and a book.

Hah! The trouble is that I immediately stop thinking of goals as a weekly average, and start thinking of them as a daily minimum. If I get 800 words written on Monday, those 300 extra words do not give me license to relax a little on Tuesday. If anything, they only spur me harder, because hell, if I can get 800 words done on Monday why can’t I do it again on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday? And if I can get 800 words done on a weekday, why am I slacking and barely exceeding that on the weekend??

The fervor of a book bleeds all over the rest of my activities, because I start calculating my spare time in writing time. Half an hour free after the baby goes to sleep? Well, I could read a book for half an hour and unwind…but that’s a waste of a potential 3-400 word writing sprint! Does the house need cleaning? Not as much as this scene needs finishing. Do I desperately need new pants for work? Yes, but it takes 20 minutes to drive anywhere from my new house and that just adds up to waaay too much time spent running errands.

I’m even eyeballing the word count ticker on this blog post, because every word I write here is a word I don’t write in my manuscript instead. The baby is sleeping! The clock is ticking! Soon he will awake and the endless cycle of feeding and playing continues! The pressure!!

*whispers* I’ve even started…waking up before the baby some days to get an intense 5am-6am writing session in. Hang my head in shame! But it’s my most fevered time of day, because I am the closest I get to being rested and I am actively drinking a cup of coffee throughout. By about 5pm I am a worthless slug.

I’m a workaholic without a deadline. If you knew me in college, you have an idea of what kind of crazy workaholic I become with a deadline. Daily planners are my friend. To be honest, when I don’t have multiple things going on simultaneously, I get pretty listless, even a little depressed. I’ve got to DO SOMETHING.

Anyway, as a result of my insatiable word-venturing, I’m about to hit the halfway point of this book about cowboys and mermaids and a living earth that maybe likes to revolt against people it doesn’t like. I was 25% done on March 8th (according to my word count spreadsheet YOU HEARD ME RIGHT), which means I’ve powered out a quarter of a book in two and a half weeks…the first quarter having taken six and a half weeks. Whoops.

Next weekend is my baby’s first birthday party (ALREADYYYYY), so I’m going to set aside the word count and take a halfway editing break. I’m not going to take an actual break–have you even been listening to me? But the first half needs some tweaks to match the outline I’ve hammered out for the second half, so this seems like a good time to take a deep breath and fiddle around before I get any further.

After that? The gloves come off and this book gets pummeled into shape.