Habit #2: Daily Fiction Writing

Well, last week flew by when I wasn’t looking, and though I started this post, I never came back to it. It was a crazy week of running around being a mom, mostly. In some ways, I look forward to summer break, because even though the distractions are here, there tends to be less driving. And since Kid #3 gets his driver’s license in May, I should have even less driving this summer than I did last year.

Anyway, moving along…

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts about the habits, my intention was to only focus on one habit at a time and not to move to the next one until I had that one fairly well established.

I have not been following that intention.

Here’s the thing… I know that most of these habits feed each other. Getting more sleep makes it easier to write and easier to avoid alcohol, and avoiding alcohol improves sleep, and praying helps pretty much everything, and avoiding time wasters helps me get everything else accomplished, and so on and so on. So as I’ve actively focused on one habit at a time, I’ve also looked ahead to the next habits and started integrating them where I can.

But for right now, the habit I’m focusing on the most is daily fiction writing. I’ve been trying to write 1,000 words every day on Unquickened since January.

And it’s… basically been going fairly well… More or less…

Let me say first of all that this was both a harder and easier habit to work on than I thought it would be.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m in a bit of a lull with commercial writing. While I would like to have more commercial work, I’m not exactly brokenhearted about this lull, largely because I’ve been working more on my own stuff since my time opened up a bit.

I’ve been here before. This is how the whole ugly business started back in 2009. (Again, that 10-year milestone knocks the breath out of me just a little every time I think of it.) I was in a lull then, and I filled it with writing fiction. I still have a lot of regrets about that, but the proverbial genie is out of the bottle, and there’s no recapturing the Furies once Pandora’s box is open, and whatever other mixed metaphors you want to use. Here I am, writing fiction, hoping that I don’t damage myself or my family any more than I did the first time around.

But on the other hand, here I am, writing fiction, rediscovering the fun of storytelling, of revealing information to myself one bit at a time, building characters, setting, worlds… There is a joy to it, one I always hesitate to acknowledge.

I’m convinced that my Muse is a drunk garden gnome with a personality disorder.

In any case, Unquickened is now about 135,000 words, so it’s closing in on the length it should be to fit in with the first two books in the series. I can see how the different threads and plot points and such are going to align and merge, and I know what the ending will be (though I’ve pretty much always known that). It’s still a disjointed mess, and there are lots of revisions in the offing, but I have to admit that I am kind of enjoying it again.

I haven’t enjoyed writing fiction in a really long time.

As far as the actual habit goes, it’s been hit or miss. While it’s my goal to write 1,000 words every day, it doesn’t always happen. I would say I’ve probably managed to hit that goal about two-thirds of the time. There have also been a few days where I’ve focused on content editing, and there have been days when I can only manage 500 or 800 words for whatever reason.

I’m also looking down the road a few weeks to the time when I’ll be done with this first draft. It’s actually not that far away. My goal is to have the first draft done by the end of this month. It may not be the right word count at that point, but I think I will probably have the basic skeleton of the book ready to start focusing on the second draft. The thing is, editing is a very different beast from writing. I want to continue writing 1,000 words each day even when I start editing Unquickened. I’ll probably start drafting book four, Soultainted. But the question is, how will I find the time to both edit and write and build my business?

And the answer is, “I have no idea.”

The mom schedule for spring and early summer is very full. Between the school drop-off/pick-up schedule, the afternoon/evening taxi, meal prep, volunteer schedules, the graduation/college search/kid-launching process, and the usual house-and-pet-balancing act, I am overwhelmed with the sense that something has to give, and soon.

I don’t want that “something” to be fiction writing again.

So for now, I think I’m camping at Habit #2 until I figure out a little more of this balancing act. It’s going to take a while to get this habit established. This is kind of like exercise for me, I think. I don’t know if it can be a “first thing” habit, because my life has enough “first thing in the morning” duties. But I think I do have to work on giving daily fiction writing a place of priority. I just haven’t quite figured out how to do that.

But… in the process of focusing on this habit, I think it’s good to celebrate the fact that I’m actually enjoying it. So many habits are things we do because we feel like we should, or they’re things we like having done, but hate the doing of them. This, writing fiction, is finally something I’m enjoying again. Those of you who have followed me for any length of time know how huge that is.

We’ll see if I still feel that way when I start editing this draft of Unquickened.

2 thoughts on “Habit #2: Daily Fiction Writing”

  1. “I’m convinced that my Muse is a drunk garden gnome with a personality disorder.”
    That line rang two bells with me: First, the guy in Germany who’s closing up the garden gnome manufacturing plant. (Apparently there’s only the one. Who knew?) And second, Of course! Why would your muse be different than anyone else’s. Except you admit it. LOL.
    (I don’t know what it says that I had five typos in those four lines.)

    “This, writing fiction, is finally something I’m enjoying again.”
    Most important, though I hope it’s not the *only* thing you enjoy.

    Thanks for sharing; it’s always good to read you.

    1. There’s only one garden gnome manufacturing plant??? What???

      I think I’m more well-rounded than I was when I started writing fiction again back in 2009. Even though AHG was an enormous time suck and had its own disadvantages, it did help me take the blinders off and develop in some other ways besides just as a writer. And also, that period when I went dark helped to reset everything. Even though it was a painful period, it was a good thing in the long run.

      Always good to read your comments, Tony. 🙂

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