Too Many Notebooks

You might as well face it, you’re addicted to notebooks.

I remember being nine and putting “notebooks” and “diaries” on my birthday and Christmas wish lists. We’d go to the drugstore and I’d salivate over a pink, three-subject, college-ruled, spiral-bound notebook (still have that, although the cover came off). And I’ve rhapsodized about old diaries here.

But now, as I outline Books 2 and 3, as well as craft pitches for various ideas I’ve had over the last year, I’m finding old ideas everywhere!

The problem with this, is that the reverse is also true: I can’t find anything! A few days ago (and I posted this on Twitter), I said to Homes, “Where is that prophecy I wrote?” His response: “In a big vault, with rows and rows of other prophecies, trapped in spheres.”

I never should have made him read Harry Potter.

There’s a line in Zero Effect that goes: “Now, a few words on looking for things. When you go looking for something specific, your chances of finding it are very bad. Because of all the things in the world, you’re only looking for one of them. When you go looking for anything at all, your chances of finding it are very good. Because of all the things in the world, you’re sure to find some of them.”

So true.

Clark thinks it’s too many notebooks, too. She bats at them in disapproval.

So what do I do? Something must change because I’m going bonkers trying to find pitches I may or may not have written months ago, and prophecies I apparently didn’t write months ago (because I read through six months’ worth of diary angst, obsession, and drivel, and never found the stinkin’ prophecy), and random scraps of ideas and half-formed Blake Snyder beat sheets. Maddening, I tell you.

And I LOVE Scrivener and always will, but there’s something grand about opening a notebook and jotting down ideas. There’s no screen involved, and my eyes thank me for that. And I can curl up on the couch more easily. It’s peaceful.

So…maybe limiting myself to a set number of notebooks? Say, seventeen?

PS: In the middle of writing this post I went to Target and bought two more notebooks. It’s a disease. I rationalize the purchase by exclaiming, “Back to school clearance!” but in truth, disease.

5 Rules for Getting It Written

I wrote the first draft of my work-in-progress (nicknamed le manuscript) in a little over two months. I’m sure it’s not the fastest record on time, but it’s much better than my first manuscript (over a year to complete) and my second (clocking somewhere around eight or nine months). Experience has something to do with it, but for me, it helps to have some rules.

You can do something with assigning word counts to different stages of the plot, like Anne Greenwood Brown describes in her blog post that inspired this one, “Kicking Out a Fast First Draft.” What I did was a slightly-less-insane version of NaNoWriMo, a goal of 1200 words per day. My friend Seven organized it, and we and a few other writers encouraged each other to go, go go!

Not all of us finished our drafts. Part of what helped me was I was already somewhere around 15,000 words ahead, because I’d started drafting le manuscript in February, then gave it up in March when I realized Manuscript Numero Dos needed some serious help (it still does). But I got le manuscript done, and will now be revising it for the next 86.92 years.

Here are some rules that helped me reach my goal:

1. A Writing Schedule Is Your New Best Friend. This was easy at the time, because Z was still taking her naps (this is a blog post for a different day). The rule was: I pick up my blank book and work on that draft, as soon as she goes down for her nap.

2. A Back-Up Writing Schedule Is Your Second Best Friend. If, for some reason, I got distracted by the scrub jays in the back yard, or the way my pinky fingernail desperately needed filing, or how that spot on the wall kinda-sorta resembles an ex-boyfriend’s nose… If I didn’t make 1200 words during Z’s nap, I had to finish them up after she went to sleep that night.

3. Clean Houses Are For People Who Don’t Write. Or who write, and have maids. Or who write, and have older children they can make into their chore slaves. I did whatever household chores I could while Z was awake. She really loves to “help.” That’s right, Z, washing dishes is FUN. Never forget it, ’cause this is just the beginning, baby.

4. Do It On Paper. My Paperblanks journals are the bestest ever. You know why? No wireless internet. No Mahjong Titans or other tempting solitaire games. No wireless internet. No lights to irritate the eyes after prolonged exposure. No wireless internet. I recently read a blog post, How to Get More Done by Pretending You’re on an Airplane. It’s true. The most writing is done distraction -free. Twitter, lately, has been hearkening to me like a sadistic siren, and I don’t even like Twitter. I don’t. There. I said it. Now every time I try to log on they’ll tell me Oops! they’re over capacity.

5. Outline It. I’m way too much of a control freak to just start writing. I also adore lists and bullet points. So I come up with a rough idea of where I want the story to go and how I want it to get there. This doesn’t mean that I know all the major players right away. This doesn’t mean I ignore tempting paths – I take them. Having an outline keeps me going because I don’t have to chew thoughtfully on my pen while deciding what should happen next. One of my critique partners, Jo, has a good post on creating an outline (click here for that), although I get by with a bullet-point synopsis.

Like Anne Greenwood Brown says at the end of her post, there’s no way she’d share her first draft with anyone, not even her mother. I agree. The first one is total trash. If anyone has tips on how to revise a novel in two months, do share. As things are going, I only have about 86.33 years left of revising le manuscript.

There’s probably more, but I’m off to the woods for some mosquito-slapping, bear-dodging, holing-up-in-my-cabin-and-writing adventure. See you Wednesday.