Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Writings of The Muse
In just about every aspect of her life, Renee is an extremely organized person. She's schedules everything. Even the laundry. She loves planners and to-do lists and spreadsheets. So much so that it almost surprises me she's not an Inner Editor in her own right. Though, I suppose, being human would make that difficult. It's kind of hard to flit around in someone else's head when you're not incorporeal.

Most abstracts don't really like the whole incorporeal bit, which can get in the way of things like dating and picking up the dry cleaning. But it does make our jobs a whole heck of a lot easier.

I'm getting off track. Renee is very organized and scheduled and she likes things to progress steadily and predictably so she can plan it out all down to the last possible detail.

Except when it comes to her writing.

When it comes to setting down fiction, Renee prefers to take all that nonsense and fling it over her shoulder and right out the window, and never mind whose head it might happen to land on. (That's frequently Long-Suffering Husband, but that's a whole different blog post.) She doesn't like plotting, or tracking, and her preferred method of forward progress is to percolate for a few days (or weeks) and then blast out ten thousand words in one messy euphoric afternoon.

Remember that old parable about the tortoise and the hare? Renee lives like the tortoise, but she writes like the hare.

The hare may not win the race in the story, but you have to admit that he's never boring.

Alas, we've come to a point where we just don't have time to work that way. Between minding the kids and maintaining the house and neglecting the husband and even herding the cats, there's plenty of time for percolating--Renee's of the belief that if you're not thinking about at least five things at once, you don't have enough on your mind--but not a whole lot of wide open afternoons with nothing on the calendar but a big cup of coffee and a bigger cup of words.

We get two hours in the morning when she really ought to still be sleeping. That's it. And so there needs to be structure, or these books will never get themselves written.

I'm trying to be patient with Renee. She's not happy about this development, but she's trying. We plotted out our current writing project and made a lovely spreadsheet and set a number of daily, weekly, and monthly goals. We spend the first fifteen minutes of every writing session looking at what we wrote last time and figuring out what we're going to write this time. We're keeping tabs on pace and progress.

It's not as much fun. It doesn't have the same sense of romance and whimsy as the old method did. But at the end of the day, it does seem to be working. The words are still flowing and the work is still satisfying, which in the long-term is probably better. I think I've finally convinced her that this is the best way to go.

We're slowly transitioning Renee from hare to tortoise.

Because really, is there any other pace at which you could transition into being a tortoise?

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