Sunday, February 28, 2010

Mind over Matter: BICHOK

I've been battling a WIP into submission and desperately trying to beat back the demon beasts of frustration, doubt and anxiety. I've been doing all of this while my darling husband is living under my feet 24/7, driving him to Physical Therapy three times a week, hauling him to the doctor, doing all the chores he did plus my own, helping him shower and dress (that, thank God, is over), entertaining him after PT with long drives and lunches, teaching my daughter to drive, saving my darling cat Clancy's life, hosting little gatherings for DH's friends so they can see him and help me entertain him--well you get the picture.

I don't have much time to battle a WIP when I have all these other stressors in my life. Yet, I am battling it every day. Yes, I am writing every day. How? What is my process? When? Where do I find the time? In a nutshell, I just do it.

Easy? Nope.

The last time I had to battle a WIP into submission, we moved. I wrote in a box. I wrote in a car. I wrote at Starbucks. I wrote whenever I could squeeze in the time. And I finished the revision. And that little book has done well for me. So I am not letting one husband being underfoot and the chores of life being quadrupled stop me from getting the work done.

So here are my little tips for getting BICHOK even when the Butt does Not have TIME to get in the Chair.

(BICHOK: Butt in Chair, Hands on Keys)

*Exercise. I am going to the gym FIRST thing in the morning after I take my darling daughter to school even though I know I could use that time to write because my body needs to be strong in order to maintain my drive to write.
*Eat healthy foods. Yes, despite my love affair with wine, I also eat a very healthy diet making sure I get all my veggies and fruits in and trying to stay away from breads and pastas. This keeps my brain in gear.
*Set a daily goal to write. Yes, write every day. I wrote every day in February (even when my husband had surgery and was in the hospital). I am still writing every day. I did not worry about word count. I only worried about writing. One day it was a paragraph, the other a scene. Now I am up to about 1000 words a day, but I also did a LOT of cutting (30,000 words cut -- ouch).
*Be flexible about when you write. I usually write in the mornings. That is my BEST time to write. But I've got a lot on my plate and a husband who needs me. So now I write when I can. During DH's PT, I go to the library or local coffee shop and write for one hour. No fooling around. I write. When I get up in the morning before everyone else, I write till they emerge. When a slot of time opens up in the early evening, I write. Only got a half an hour? Use it to write. You'd be amazed about how much you can accomplish in a half an hour.
*Redefine the word write. Writing isn't just putting words on a piece of paper (if ONLY IT WAS). No, it's printing out scenes and reading them, looking for problems in them. It's cutting and moving pieces around or deleting them altogether. It's talking about the story problems with a CP. It's entering contests (I entered two and sent off my critique pages for the author critique workshop coming up at GRWA in March). It's fiddling with the synopsis. It's brainstorming. Any time you spend on the MS is writing. One of my CPs says if all she does is TOUCH the MS hard copy, she counts it.
*Consider it an escape from real world problems. Now when I am filling out forms for insurance claims (those of you who know me know I am allergic to filling out forms), calling doctor's offices and hospitals for explanations of this's and thats, cleaning floors or scooping out the kitty litter, I tell myself my reward for all the hard work is being able to park my butt in the chair and put my hands on the keys.

Oh, lovely. I get to write every day! Think of writing as more than a book to form and to wrestle into shape so you can sell it one day. Consider it a gift, a reward and a joy to pursue. Then you'll want to use every spare bit of time you have to write.

Go ahead. Get your BICHOK and write!


Gwen Hernandez said...

Yep. Any work on the MS counts as long as it moves you toward finishing the book.

I'm proud of you for getting so much done despite the turmoil of February!

Christine said...

Thanks Gwen. I'm up to almost 66,000 words and heading toward the ending again. Whew. Feels like I am in a weird writing marathon.

Callie James said...

Well done, Christine. Looking at that schedule, I think I'd be choosing sleep instead.

MaryC said...

Congratulations on getting so much accomplished despite trying circumstances. A great attitude counts A LOT.

I actually have the opposite problem. I've spent so many years working in bits and snatches around all the other obligations that I find it hard to write when I do have large slots of time. I almost have to trick myself into thinking it's just ten minutes here or half an hour there.

That's why the 100 words a day loop works so well for me. I sit down knowing I only have to do 100 words - less intimidating to someone who is used to writing in fits and starts. Of course once the story drags me in, I end up with much more. Still, if I know I've done my 100 words, I know I did something each day. I've done over 60,000 words on the WIP this way.

JoAnn said...

Wow, Christine! It sounds like craziness has taken over your life. But it also sounds like you have it well under control. Kudos!

Jeanie said...

Great post, Christine! You are an inspiration to us all. And I totally agree there are many components to writing, including brainstorming, editing and revision. In many ways, the writing part is the easiest, though that's no walk in the park. But any progress moves us forward, and that is what we want. Keep at it, girl! You will triumph over this stubborn WIP. I know just how you feel with the chores and care taking and mothering you have to do. Sometimes I feel like I half-ass do everything, from being a mother and wife to doing my job at work. I think we are ALL amazing women to do what we do and still write!

M.V.Freeman said...

Ha, my narcissitic side felt like it was written for me.

You are correct. Write when you can, how you can...that's what it is.

Speaking of... I have to write...LOL

Excellent post Christine.

Louisa Cornell said...

Great post, Christine !! And it comes at a good time. I too am wrestling a manuscript into revision submission and sometimes I think the manuscript is winning !

Still, it is hard for me to get writing time in every day and I KNOW that is the most important step I can take toward becoming a published author.

Some days all I do is edit or read over what I've written. Other days I can knock out 5 pages. I have done 40 pages in a 48 hour period, but I don't recommend it. Nearly killed me.

Still, maybe trying the 100 words a day thing, Mary C, might be a good place for me to start. Less guilt that way!

Jeanie, you couldn't do half-assed if your life depended on it. I am continually amazed at all you do !

Christine said...

Hi Everyone: here is my snippet response as I have been working hard on research today: I learned to shoot guns Woohoo! I think the key to writing is be flexible. Don't get locked into a "mode" just do it.

The 100 word a day thing is great. For me it is write everyday. Whatever works will work ...

Keep writing and have FUN!

Jeanie said...

Louisa, if you could see my house right now . . . It looks like it exploded!

I'm out of commission with a broken ankle and my husband does his best, but he's not a housekeeper. There are Labrador hair bunnies rolling across my kitchen floor, the beds aren't made, the dishwasher is full of clean dishes and the counter is covered with dirty ones, folded laundry (yes, thank you DH for folding the laundry!)is all over the living room and there is a science experiment growing in the fridge because I'm the only one that ever cleans it out!

Oh, yes, and the garbage needs to be taken out and there are no groceries in the house.

I need a wife!

Angel said...

I have to admit that often the writing is the first thing that gets let go when life is hectic, mostly because I'm the only one who loses if that doesn't get done. Everything else seems to affect other people.

So I spend a lot of time reminding myself how important writing is, even if it seems like I'm the only one who cares. No one will die if the house is dirty (I'll clean it before it is condemned). It isn't the end of the world if laundry doesn't get done (if it was, they could do it themselves). And the kids love macaroni and cheese for dinner. :)

You've done great, Christine! I'm very proud.


Christine said...

Jeanie: I know your pain re: the foot. Let the dust bunnies multiply and write with your leg propped up. Dirt never killed a body--you'll be up and ordering life around before you know it.

Angel: Thanks so much! I have YOUR write every day challenge to thank for getting through the dreaded month of February. I might have let it defeat me otherwise. Now I am close to the end of the "fill in the to-do scenes" revision and have over 67,000 words! (we won't discuss the thousands of cut words as well aack -- if only I could keep them all I'd be finished LOL).

The household does not have to be perfect. Just under minor control. I love to cook, but lately we've had a lot of takeout and microwave meals and that's okay--for now. I'm a neatnik but my writing MUST come first. It's the beat that drives my heart.