Thursday, 25 February 2016

The laundry, the writer and the timer they both used

I wrote 8500 words last weekend. I decided to sit and write my story for the JOURNEY project and get the first draft done after weeks of excuses. I did write, but other stories, so I wasn't procrastinating. I was avoiding the story that I should have been writing. The reasons for the avoidance are many, but let's just say that writing a story where grief is the main theme just after my mother passed away, was not going to be easy and I dreaded that. But I did it.
Before I get into the how of that, a small laundry lesson. My washing machine beeps when it has finished the program I had chosen for that load. I use that as my timer. I don't have to watch the clock or worry about how much time or how many words I still have to do. I write, and the washing machine's beeps will call time for a session. Since the lengths of the programs vary according to the load, how many rinse and spin cycles I chose, etc., I can use that to suit my energy levels.
Mid-morning will require a shorter cycle since I have to watch my blood sugar and eat at predetermined intervals. After I had something to eat, I can select laundry that requires a longer cycle. While this might be weird to you, it helped me to write a story that I had to write, but had been avoiding. With a deadline (that I set) not too far away, I had to make a plan to force myself to do this. And here is how I did that:
Saturday - it was short before 11 am, and I had to have a meal at about 12 pm. I went through my laundry basket and chose light fabrics, of mixed colours - typically clothes I would wear to work that won't get dirty because my job is mostly office based. Cycle = 40 minutes.
I started writing at 10h56. I didn't hear the machine beep because of music playing on my computer and the air-conditioner running in the passage outside my home office. I stopped at 11h57 and managed to get from 466 to 1651 words in that time.
The scene was emotionally draining, and I felt tired, so I took a long break. Took care of the laundry, had lunch, took some time to play with the dogs and got back to my computer at 13h39. I had another load of laundry ready but this time, the cycle was 1hr and 35min.
Again I stopped at 14h49 and managed to get to 2921 words. I was beginning to see a pattern that had nothing to do with the story. I could sit and write for about an hour before I had to get up and move around because of a back problem. I had noticed this before (also at work) but never really paid attention until I had this story to write. Okay, now I could work around that too.
Saturday evening I added a few more words and went to bed with 4527 words written. Not bad for a day where I had multiple tasks to do and had a story to write.
The requirements for the story are a minimum of 9000 words, so I was aiming towards that. This was the basic story, I would have to do a lot of editing, but this minimum target was not a bad place to aim for.
On Sunday my husband and I had our usual breakfast out, so I could only start writing again once we were back home a few minutes before 10 am. I didn't do much laundry, except some underwear because I was running low. Since I now knew that my body could handle being still for an hour at a time, I could work with that without worrying about the clock or my word count.
Here is how my Sunday went:
10h07 to 10h49 - I added another 858 words.
By 12h03 I had 6042 words in the story.
14h23 - 6451 words
14h34 - 6663 words
16h35 - 7485 words
16h50 - 7751 words
17h01 - 7984 words
17h31 - 8455 words
18h11 - 8975 words
As you might guess, I wasn't writing continuously, but that was okay. I had been able to consistently add words to my story until I felt the story was done. The above info I wrote down on a piece of paper next to my computer. This habit of mine to keep track of my words helps me to keep going.
Yes, my story is not 9000 words, but it will require more words to paint the complete picture that I want for my readers.
Don't misunderstand me - I cannot do this every weekend. I have other obligations most weekends, and I was utterly exhausted afterwards. So much so that at work on Monday I was having a hard time focusing. This it not the most number of words I have written over a weekend. If memory serves, I have done more than 10 000 words for NaNoWriMo one year.
These 8500 words came at a high emotional price for me, but having read the story afterwards (not ready for editing yet) I feel it could it be a story worth publishing. Let's hope my writers' group agree otherwise I will have to come up with a new idea - and soon!