Being out there gave me an "away" spot where phones, doorbells, and the internet weren't distractions, but I was still near my research and notes in my upstairs office if I needed to get to it. I had a tight deadline which meant that I had to write every day and all day. I not only had to finish the first book in a new trilogy, I had so many details to work out for how this whole new world worked. Details!
The surprising thing was, I found I loved writing even more when I wrote this way--non stop. There was less agonizing over what came next. The juices were always churning. Except for a few days around Christmas, I never missed a single day of writing from November through April. That was almost 6 months of non-stop writing! And pretty much all day long.
For me this was a huge leap. But I definitely had to make some changes in how I approached my writing. For one thing I increased my daily word count goals to 1200-1500. I know for some writers that is nothing, but for me that is a lot.
Another thing I did was NOT incessantly revise as I wrote. I had a habit of spending as much or more time revising each day as I did writing. That was a hard habit to break. I like to see things pretty and perfect and my words to sparkle and they definitely weren't doing that. Also, revising is so much more fun than heading into uncharted territory. But this time, I was writing a true ROUGH draft. This actually made more sense because why spend hours making something perfect if it might get cut in the revision or totally overhauled? Still, I love playing with words and getting only the most essential ones down, and getting the emotional tone fine-tuned, so I had to get tough and turn a blind eye to the crappiness. The carrot I held out to myself was that when I was finished I could revise to my heart's delight--my favorite part of the process. (But my poor editor and beta-readers had to deal with abundant yards of burlap, purple, and knotted prose.)
As I wrote I looked for writing inspiration from time to time, perusing again my writing library, or looking for new tidbits, and I came across this from Laini Taylor: "Be an unstoppable force. Write with an imaginary machete strapped to your thigh." All of her writing advice was great but this really hit me because I already had this sort image lurking in my brain along with the order, "Be fearless!" If I expected my characters to forge ahead, I could expect nothing less from myself. That became my daily motto--along with a scary me waving a machete.
I also came across this from Rachel Aaron. I especially found the "Knowledge" advice so completely helpful. The thing was, I was already doing something similar but in a less effective way. Each day when I finished writing, I used to jot down a few words or sentences of where I thought I wanted to go the next day. I reversed that and started keeping a notebook, a daily log where I spent 10-20 minutes writing out scenes, interactions, key points I thought should happen, all in much more thoughtful detail than I used to, each day just before I began writing. It set the tone and my writing goals. Did it all happen or go the way I thought? Never. At least not exactly, but it gave me something to work with, or diverge from--not just empty white space to get lost in. And if I did feel lost, I would look back at this log and revise my plan!
With each book I've written, I've tackled it a little differently, but this time I tackled it a lot differently. I think it's good for a writer (well, at least for me) to shake it up now and then and get out of their comfort zone. You learn new things about yourself and maybe add a new tool to your writing chest.
In the midst of all this writing, I did have other things going on, including the publication of the last book (!) in The Jenna Fox Chronicles, Fox Forever--and all that went along with that, including some fun travels (Thank you Houston, Rochester, and Fort Worth!) These travels included a first for me--presenting in a church on the altar no less--with stained glass saints looking on! It somehow felt scandalous. (Jessica Brody, Marissa Meyer, and Lauren DeStefano, I'm looking at you.)
Other book news is simmering that I hope I can share soon. In the meantime, I'm getting ready to revise the above mentioned book (3rd round) which is still untitled and I'm quite eager to jump into Book 2. I've fallen in love with my characters over these past months. I want to see what happens next! I'm sure more months of craziness lie ahead.
But if you're in the middle of it now . . .