A popular trend these days is binge-watching TV shows. Back when the medium was invented, you had to wait a whole week or even an entire summer to see the latest episode of your favorite show. Today, with DVDs and streaming video, you can sit for hours on end and become totally immersed in your favorite fictional universe.
While we don’t use our streaming video to its fullest, my wife and I have 3-4 TV series on DVD and tend to cycle through them when a new season comes out. The most intense experience we ever had was when we watched all of 24 in one summer. It was the definition of obsession.
For better or worse, my writing career has been defined by such binges. I greatly admire how NoNoWriMo encourages more people to write the book they've always wanted to, but there are some downsides to this race-to-the-deadline approach.
I learned how to write quickly when I was in college and worked as a reporter. These skills have been helpful as I typically have only the summer to write anything longer than a blog post or short story.
Over the last 17 years, I have written 4 manuscripts during the few summers when I wasn’t working or teaching. While I have streamlined the process with better outlining, my basic procedure remains the same: I sit down in the morning and write until I hit my word goal, which is usually 2,000 words. Some days I am under, while other days (especially toward the end) I have written up to 5,000 words in a day. This summer I wrote more than 60,000 words in seven weeks, with days off here and there to actually get outside and enjoy other humans.
While this was an immensely rewarding experience, I am not planning to repeat the process if I can at all avoid it. I imagine it’s like being on a movie set for weeks on end and you are in every scene. It becomes all-consuming.
I’m not going to lie and say I wrote every minute of every day. Sometimes my “research” time was spent discovering what my friends were saying about each other on Facebook.
Today, I have a completed manuscript, along with several notes for changes I need to make. I also have gained a few extra pounds and my tailbone really isn’t my best friend these days. We won’t even talk about what may or may not have happened to my vision during this process.
I spent most of my waking hours thinking about my story and, while I’m told things happened in the world this summer, the time has passed by in a blur.
All in all, although I love writing, there has to be some happy medium between writing for an hour a day and devoting every hour you can to the process.
When you figure out what it is, would you please let me know?
I've been writing stories and taking photos since I was old enough to hold a pencil and stand behind a tripod.