A few weeks ago, I wrote that I was returning to the keyboard after a hiatus of too many months napping, reading, working out, doing crosswords, playing solitaire, drinking wine, mowing the lawn, surfing the Internet, cursing the cats, brooding through Wichita’s monsoon season — any and all of the hundreds of things writers do to avoid actually writing. As a bit of reinforcement before the fact, I bought a new laptop computer, reasoning that it might be easier to write if I didn’t always have to be in the same room when I was doing it.
So far, it’s working. While I’m not going to give the new machine all the credit, it’s probably true that the deep shame of buying unnecessary hardware has fostered at least a temporary surge in productivity. My goal is a minimum of 500 words a day; so far I’ve been closer to 1,000.
For this book project, I’m trying a couple of other new tricks — new to me, at any rate. I only reread the last few paragraphs of what I’ve done the day before. In the past, I’ve wasted days endlessly tinkering with single scenes, or even single paragraphs, without making any real progress on the story at hand. I’m finding now that forswearing all but the most fundamental editing helps keeps things moving forward. I figure there will be plenty of time to run it all through the shredder when I’ve got a complete rough draft.
Also, I’m trying really hard to ignore that persistent voice in my head, the one that keeps saying, “By the way, you know this is crap, don’t you?” OK, it might actually be crap, but at this point I think I’ll wait to judge it as a whole, rather than the sum of its parts. Job one is writing the damned manuscript; I’ll consider the futility of selling it at a later date. It’s like an amateur runner in a marathon, I guess: You know you’re not going to win it, but it’s very important to finish.
In the meantime, my real advice for aspiring writers: Get yourself a new computer. It can’t hurt.