I’ve written various novel drafts. Usually I start them, at least, during NaNoWriMo. The month-long deadline means I have to start it on November 1, no dilly-dallying, no messing around, start it when the clock strikes 12 and keep on going ’til it’s done. You haven’t had enough time to plan it? Tough titties. Get moving.
Doing it on your own is more tricky. There’s no specific day I have to start writing. I could do it today, or a month from now, or wait until November (which I am not considering an option). The lack of a big, angry deadline has me floating about in space. I keep telling myself, no, you don’t know what you’re doing yet, you haven’t planned enough. Who are the other characters? You only have one, and half of another. What is the setting like, aside from “modern, but more gothic”? What, when you get right down to it, is the plot?
I don’t know the answers to these questions, and because I don’t have to start writing… I haven’t done. I sit here and muse on things for a while and then I stop musing and do something else. I haven’t made many notes, even. The idea was to let it stew in my brain until I had a better idea of what I’m doing, that if I thought about it enough it would develop itself overnight. I went in search of a pre-novel checklist. It does not make me feel more secure. (On the other hand, it did bring to my attention the phrase “Your brain will absorb this stuff like a corpse taking on river-water” so it’s still a win.)
I’m afraid. If I touch this novel, this idea, I might ruin it. What happens if….
Well, what happens if? If what? If you start writing and what comes out isn’t what you really want? If you run into a wall? If you have to start over? So you start over. You’ve already done that. Doing it again wouldn’t be the end of the world, it’d be a step closer to the novel you want to write.
I haven’t yet summoned the power to begin, and every single thing I do feels like procrastination. I don’t want to write something else, or blog, or make art, or even read because it feels like procrastination. I feel guilty for doing it.
So instead, I do whatever I fall into, because it doesn’t feel like “work, just the wrong work”, it feels like nothing. What I’ve fallen into is fanfiction.
Look, I approve of fanfic. I do. It’s great shit. Some of it is brilliantly written. But reading it until 6am (oh shit, is that the sun coming up??) and then writing it all the next day when you should be starting your own novel, Sophie, holy shit is probably not the best idea. If nothing else, I seem to have fucked my sleep schedule right up. Haha great job.
A couple of days ago I wrote five thousand words in one day, which is near my all-time record. Every page adds to my storied “ten thousand hours”, yes. All writing is writing. But not all writing is necessarily productive. I’m not beating myself up over it… I’m not really annoyed at spending the day writing fanfic. I enjoyed myself. I’m annoyed that I haven’t started my “proper” work yet. I’m annoyed that here I am, blogging, when I could be writing. (Blogging counts as writing, doesn’t it? Doesn’t it?!)
I did some playing, and turns out if you write 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, you could hit your 10,000 hours in around a year and a half. I wonder how long a person could pull off a schedule that demanding before going completely mad?