Thursday, March 13, 2014

Reheated Leftovers

There's nothing quite like the feeling you get when you decide to scrap a chapter, rewrite it from scratch and then, looking for ideas, you read the chapter you'd originally decided didn't work. And then you realize there's quite a bit of good writing there in amongst all the things which didn't work out the first time through. Crap!

So you try to work them in even though you're not entirely sure they fit, partly for efficiency's sake, partly because you always have that nagging feeling deep down inside that once you give birth to something clever you're never going to be able to top it. You think creativity's a finite resource. That once you write something down, if you don't immediately use it, it'll go away like it's Texas crude being shoved through a fleet of diesel trucks or something.

Or, as in my case, you're kind of a lazy bastard and easily amused by your own sense of humor. Hey, I'm not above laughing at my own jokes.

But you try to wedge these bits and pieces in, hoping they work out and you don't forget to rename something or overlook some heinous continuity error which will reveal you for the lazy son of a bitch you are.

Between the time I wrote the two chapters, I decided to rename the villain so he wasn't a reference to an in-joke my friends commonly use. I also decided to kill off a character who had a prominent habit of showing up in the text I wanted to steal from myself. Oops. I also had a much better idea of what was going to go on in Act II and wound up having to foreshadow a great deal of things I didn't in the first draft. So, yeah, lots of shoehorning happening there.

My experiment in time management went swimmingly well, however. I'm at my best early in the morning when there are no distractions. It's dark outside (or just becoming sunny), the world is quiet, nobody's interrupting me, I'm fresh and alert and I can drink a pot or two of coffee without fear of being up until four in the morning.

Pareto's Law in action: 80% of your productivity comes from 20% of your effort. If you do your best work in the morning, logic suggests you'd better damn well overclock your morning. I've got a Chrome extension set to block any web site which might distract me. No music, no distractions, no social media, news feeds or transdimensional monkey-porn...just me and my laptop. I've even started getting up about twenty minutes earlier to maximize this window of time. Of course, then I have to make excuses at work about why I tend to conk out at two in the afternoon. I suspect it'll be easier in sunnier weather when I can go outside and nap during my breaks. If you fall asleep at your desk, that's a problem. If you fall asleep on the patio, with your smartphone nearby, people applaud your energy-management skills. People are weird.

I can blog pretty much at any time. Kick me in the shins, a blog entry will fall out of one ear. Blogging is easy, even when I'm using my posts to tell a story. Actual fiction, though? We're talking kind of a narrow window here. If I wrote fiction right after work or getting back from the gym, it would probably be pretty dire, because I'm tired and got other things on my mind.

So, optimization, that's where it's at. I've been averaging about 1200-1500 words per day, which is pretty damn good for me, considering it's in a relatively narrow window of time before work. I'm hoping to get that up to around 2k, decent quality, not word dumping. We'll see how this goes.

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