{wind sprints}

Glasgow Botanic Gardens D 57

Some of us on earth are natural-born saunter-ers.

I can stroll six or seven miles, just casually, without really noticing much (unless it’s hot).

Given a choice, I will always walk, and not run.

It’s not that I’m not a decent runner – I can dash for twenty yards with the best of them. Just don’t ask me to do more than that. Running is one of those things which people like Fair and my friends A. and Vette can do. Running is something the Zen do, the ones who can take the incessant yakking from their brain about how hot it is, how much their quads/lungs/arches hurt, and how annoying that little bit of sweat tricking under their bra strap is – that’s not me. I can’t do it long enough for running to count.

Equally, I’ve never been a person who is good at reading How-to books. I can read essays on writing, but the minute you hand me something with covers — it’s over. Brenda Uueland was the last book I read on writing, and that was in college, thanks. A requirement. Some things, you’ve just gotta do, instead of reading about.

I watch other people prep with outlines and plot summaries. They organize and sticky note and write their three Daily Pages, and they’re awarded, when they’ve written, with their Kitten, but I can’t, can’t, can’t stick with any of that — or so I thought.

I’ve been sliding through the MORASS of finishing this novel, and I finally decided I needed to just FINISH for heaven’s sakes, any way I could. I said, “I’m just going to finish quick and dirty – it’s going to be a hot mess, but it’ll be done.

You may have noticed that I’m a leetle tightly strung. Slightly wound. I don’t write like that, though I always wish I could. I revise DAILY. I write two pages, and then change six words five chapters ago. And then I write two more pages, and change the first page to include a whole six paragraph section. It’s always two steps forward, three steps sideways, one step back. Fiddle, fiddle, fiddle, pick, pick.

It produces what my editor calls “clean copy,” but it TAKES FOREVER, and sometimes I think I put my brain in knots, but the only way I can go forward seems to be to go …sideways. It drives me crazy.

Quick and dirty, though, works, if I work in sprints.

Working in “sprints” is a term familiar to coders and Tech Boy HATES IT and thinks it’s a completely empty buzz word for any number of reasons, and he always complains that a well planned project doesn’t need some externally enforced buzz-word to make it come in on time and on budget. Be that as it may, I took my path from a combination of the Cory Doctorow 20 Minute Doctrine and from the coding practice. I first wrote a plain sticky note of what I thought would happen next. It was very general and vague, but forced the conclusion with the use of the phrase, “And then they.” And then they went to the party, and then they went home, and then they found the Bad Guy – I made it like a four-year-old telling a story in just the broadest strokes, just to get it down on paper. Next, I set a timer for twenty minutes, and wrote – no email, nothing online, no music, no phone, no nothing. I just wrote. When my timer went off I took a break – tea, lunch, mail, Lexulous. And then, I came back.

I got a ridiculous amount of work done toward my conclusion today. Some of the narrative went places unexpected, despite the “And then they” document, but I feel like that’s so promising. I know where I’m going, but there are still cul-de-sacs and shortcuts across vacant lots to be discovered along the way. If your story isn’t even predictable to you, surely you have a good thing going.

Honestly, I can’t say how long it’ll last, but this is forcing me to turn the Titanic at long last, and I’m hopeful. I just might get this done before the 24th (also known as Iceberg)…

8 Replies to “{wind sprints}”

  1. First–LOVE seeing a picture of you happily sauntering down the street! And great post–I’m a planner, an organizer, an outliner…and I can’t write a decent novel to save my life. Whatever works for you to produce the fabulous books you make. I do love that you went so far out of your comfort zone and that it took you great places. Sometimes, no matter what your usual process is, changing it just shakes new things loose. Not that one process is better–I think it’s just *change.* Happy finishing!

  2. The only reason to run, in my book, is if someone is chasing me. And then, really, only if their intent is to hurt me. I’d rather walk, stroll or briskly trot…

    I love lists, I love schedules, I love the books that tell me how to do things. I buy them, set them on the shelf, and never open their covers… Do it the way that it works for you, my friend. Even if you are sprinting in spurts!

    Sprint away and get it done. I recommend stopping every hour or so to stretch, put your face in sunshine and then go back refreshed.

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