Sunday, September 5, 2010

Writer's Challenge V

"It's doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction."
Jonathan Franzen

JAN: My son told me about this quote and I just had to hunt it up and use it. Because its so TRUE. Email is my downfall.

Email and Hurricane Earl. I'm writing this Friday, in advance of Earl, in case we lose electricity or cable connection. I also had guests come today, so I confess, I've been vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, moving deck furniture and bikes into the basement, filling containers with water and restocking at the supermarket and the liquor store before we are all ordered off the streets at 2 p.m Also found the evacuation center and if I'm going to be honest, must admit I stopped by the beach to check out the big waves.

Pretty cool.

Anyway, upshot of the deal is that I haven't written a word today. In part that's also because I've done as much as a I can on both my novel and my non-fiction book proposal until I get home -- which is Tuesday. But tomorrow, if there is electricity post-Earl on Martha's Vineyard, I vow to go back and fuss with my synopsis just to keep my head in the writing game.


Earl was such a bust, the winds didn't sweep away the whiffle ball inadvertently left on the deck. But I did get to write first thing this morning today. I did it by writing in my bedroom before I even came down for coffee with my house guests. Every just thought I overslept.

I am so dying to get home to my office, my printer, and my research materials, that I just called and made my car reservation earlier off the island.

How's it going for everyone else?? Are you thwarted by weather, Labor Day weekend celebrations or have you already moved onto September and the post-summer work ethic?


  1. Well, last week I fessed up to cheating once. This week I didn't cheat -- but that meant one day I had to live without accessing the internet at all because I didn't write anything. Family was here, and by the time I had time, I just didn't feel like writing.

    So I didn't write, and I didn't turn on the computer.

    I lived; the world seems to still be spinning on its axis! Hurricane Earl even dropped from Category IV to a tropical storm.

    Since the challenge started I've written 14,000 words on my newest WIPs (one fiction, the other nonfiction) and finished a full edit of another fiction project, which was taking up most of my time.

    Thanks again for the challenge. At this point the hardest part is forgoing a simple internet search to answer a question. Instead I highlight it with yellow to mark it for revision.

    Like anything else, the more I do it, the easier it becomes. After the challenge is over, I'm not sure whether I'll choose to stay pure on research or allow myself that quick answer. I think that's going to be okay, as long as I don't click on the next interesting thing.

    On email though, I'm a convert.

    ~ Jim

  2. Hi James,
    You are an inspiration to me! Both in productivity and -- a whole day without an Internet fix!!

    That's going to me my own, personal challenge after this one is over!!


    I agree: It's hard not to check the Internet for a quick fact. But the problem is... those facts often aren't that quick to access.

  3. I'm with James on the challenge this week. After my confession, I did't cheat this week either, but I also didn't get online until after dinner one day and late afternoon on another. And yes the world didn't end, I wasn't traumatized, and no one really needed me as uregntly as I tend to think they do.

    It was frustrating not to be able to go online to look up a recipe when I was cooking early in the day...but I survived. This might be something I change after the challenge. I think it's happened twice in a month so that's not so bad. But I agree with Jan that the addiction can creap back in, so I will be aware fo that and try to stick to my "no online until I write a page attitidue. Why? because it works!

    I'm developing the habit of writing a page a day (or more, sometimes four) before I get lost online.

    I sent three stories off to my critique group, planned my list of ideas for continuing the challenge, and I'm working on the setting a schedual for rewrites.

    I didn't count up my stats this week, I think I will say that for week 6, but I know I added to my chart and that's enough to know right now.

  4. This past week I heard twice, yes twice, that being an artist and writer "isn't really a job." Both times the words came from people who were asking for a favour but wanted it done first thing and via email.

    To paraphrase Jim's words, I lived,they lived, and the world still seems to be spinning on its axis.

  5. This is working for me - noticing how the stuff I force out and think is crappy one day looks eminently salvageable the next day.

  6. Darlene,
    Don't you wish you had a taser for just those moments?

    Pat -- I don't think it matters WHEN or how late in the day you start writing. The important thing is staying off the Internet.

    I'm also not keeping stats -- partly because where I am on both my books -- I actually can't write a whole lot of new pages until I get back home to my research materials and my printer. So instead I'm just fine tuning each one -- but doing it first thing in the morning before Internet - and more importantly at a summer house -- before I go down and hang with my house guests and have coffee on the deck.


  7. Week 4: Day 28, page 41

    Jan, glad to hear Earl was a more a whisper than a shout.

    My new writing schedule also faced a visitor induced setback this week. My best friend came to visit. I did squeeze in some early morning writing on a couple of occasions, but confess to two days no writing(but no email and almost no internet, either.) Lots of visiting, a bit of shopping and much fun playing tourist in the place I call home. It’s hard to feel guilty about that, especially since enthusiasm for my novel is still at an all time high. Hoping for good productivity next week.

  8. End of summer is great for me--I took three vac days from work and pretended I was a full time writer. (Lovely! But easier to do if you know the job is there when you're finsihed.)

    I blew up my synopsis after I took away two POV characters...very scary! I dropped back 2500 words--and now have caught up!

    I agree Hallie, what seems so terrible one day is not--so-bad and fixable the next. which proves the axiom: just go on! Which I say to myself daily.

    Jim, the yellow highlight thing is what I do, too.

    And WRITE FIRST continues to be such an empowering thing! (Which is why I didn't post here til 1:53!)

  9. I'm going to steal the yellow marker revision thing, Jim and Hank.

    Ilonka, no guilt. It's the end of summer and we'll all be more productive in September -- when maybe, just maybe, I'll start keeping a word count on the non-fiction book.

  10. I have noticed some days I struggle to get that one page done and other times four pages flow out and work well and those pages need very little rewrite.

    I've seen this when I do NaNo but this is the firs time I've see it with short stories. Sometimes all four pages are a struggle and I push them out page at at time just to get the draft finished, other times I finish the story in one sitting.

    This challenge has been a total learning experience for me--and a learning experience for the better all round.

  11. I confess to taking almost the whole week off (apart from preparing a seminar I'm teaching at a writer's conference next weekend). I really needed a break from writing, the internet, work, etc. I organized/threw out stuff, worked out, hiked, had mommy-daughter time with each of my girls separately, and stuff like that. Back to work tomorrow at 6am.

  12. Only had two days this week when I could start writing first thing in the a.m. Otherwise, started the other days with work (which involves Internet), then found time later in the day to write.

    Today (one of those non-work mornings) I drafted the next to last chapter. Ten pages. It's first draft sucko-bad, but I'm ready to tackle revisions tomorrow a.m. (and hopefully it'll be a non-work morning).

    Until next Sunday check-in, Colleen

  13. I'm a cheater. I guess it's like dieting for me. Tell me I can't do something and I do it.

    BUT, I did exceed my word goal this week, attended a critique group (and read), and finished and sent off a short story. So the effort is there.

    Hank - I took a vacation day as well and told myself that I was going to use at least two hours a day this long weekend to write. IF I can work for 8 hours, I should be able to write for two.

  14. I'm not sure what it says about my character, but I get a little thrill out of being a cheater, of doing things backwards. Hence this week I've stood the challenge on its head: I have to write at least a page before I can go to bed. Since that's always after midnight, I can count it as 'morning', right? The words flow very well after I've spent all day avoiding them.


  15. Jayne,
    It's amazing the weird machinations we writers go through and what it takes to get us writing.

    I am totally into NO WRITING weeks when you need them. And let's face it, the end of August normally a good time to do it. I just needed a K in the A in August.

    Colleen, I'm a firmer believer in writing bad to write well. It's like that stuff has to come out, be read on the page, so that all of a sudden you know what's right.

    Lynn, if you exceeded your word goal, what else really matters?

    Pst, I don't know why that happens, what's in the atmosphere or in my coffee, but it definitely happens to me.

  16. OK, me, too. I was up against such a big deadline at my day job that I didn't take that 20 minutes to write my page before I started. I caught up on Friday with 5 pages, but now the way-too-busy weekend means I need to write 3 tomorrow.

    The good thing? I found I missed my page a day. I missed being immersed in this new story I'm creating (what I hope will be Book 2 in the series. Book 1 is as yet unpublished...). When I do that early-morning page, then I think about the characters and the unfolding plot all day long. Which makes the next day's page easier to write.

    It's a great lesson.


  17. Well the good news is that this is the second time I've been on the internet for the whole week. The bad news is I didn't write because I started work again, my husband was driving me crazy with getting ready for Earland I went to Michel Lang and Lucienne Diver's book launching party in SoHo on Wednsday night. (Had a blast)

    I came up with an idea which I bounced off my daughter who prommptly told me she didn't like it at all. But I'm sticking to my guns though I'm trying to figure out a different way to portray it.

    See you next week.

  18. Work and deadlines have interfered big time; as they used to say. But that should be less of an issue this week. Hmm, I've thought that before...


  19. Edith,
    I'm glad you missed your page a day!! I'm really just revising, revising revising, now so I really miss my page of NEW writing a day, too

    Donna and Missy -- I'm certain September will be better writing weather (and I mean that figuratively) for all of us!!


  20. I'm a day late here. The weekend continues to be the spanner in the works. I didn't write at all yesterday -but I also didn't get on the net. It was one of those days when I have to stand in line to get on the desk top computer and I didn't have the patience.

    But I also didn't fire up the laptop and do my writing. Too much needed to be done around the house. That normally doesn't stop me, but as I live with someone that doesn't believe being an artist and a writer qualifies as a job (I think it registers in the waste of time category for him) sometimes I just don't feel like rocking the boat.

    On the up side I wrote 1500 words today because I'm combining this challenge with another challenge this week. So I'm feeling like I made up for yesterday.

    And I didn't really miss the internet yesterday, so even though it's going to take me ages to get caught up on deleting emails, I'm feeling pretty virtuous.

  21. I've eked out a little bit of new material this week. Life still happening here. I'm hoping to finish strong.

  22. Thank you for the Writers Challenge! I've made progress on my mystery and revision on my novel that had been stagnant. I've been travelling for the past three weeks which provided its own set of issues and roadblocks but its amazing what staying off the internet until I've written 1 page can accomplish. Thanks again!