Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Pacing and Busy-ness

Since my last post, on how being busy can result in my being more productive as a writer, I realised another benefit of being busy: it prevents binge-starve writing. 

Binge-starve writing has often been my default setting. It involves writing thousands of words some days, then being unable to get even a few words down on other days. This wouldn't be so bad if they were the extremes of an otherwise stable and regular writing habit, but these binge-or-starve days have tended to form the largest proportion of my writing practice.

But busy people don't have time for bingeing. If you spend hours writing when you ought to be doing other things, it throws your schedule off track and then it affects your daily routine and sleep patterns... Everything becomes chaos. And when you don't binge, you tend not to starve so much.

Doing NaNoWriMo for the first time has highlighted this for me. Having a 'diet' of 1600-2000 words a day means I stop when the ideas are flowing, instead of waiting until my writing dries up and I'm exhausted. It also gives me extra motivation to write every day, as opposed to thinking 'I'll just write 10,000 words over the weekend to catch up' and not writing for a few days. 

Writing every day can also help keep the momentum. Ernest Hemingway is known to have taken a similar approach, stopping his working day when the writing was still flowing. I hope to kickstart the habit of writing every day by doing NaNoWriMo, as well as finishing a hefty chunk of my novel's first draft. Pacing myself, in theory, should result in my sustaining a regular, solid output of words.

I'm finding this approach particularly beneficial for novel writing, as I need to absorb the story in order to continue writing each day without extensive recapping. An hour of writing every day is thus more productive than doing 5 hours twice a week, huge chunks of which would be spent reading my notes and reviewing what I've already done. It also gives me a daily time-out from chasing my puppy around the house!


  1. It sounds like NaNoWriMo is going really well, Hayley. I'm so glad. I agree with the idea of stopping while the ideas are flowing. It always leaves me with the feeling that I can't wait to get back to my desk. There's nothing better than the anticipation of returning to something creative that's going well. Sometimes I wake up incredibly early and can't resist creeping downstairs to write some more. I have to wrap up in a blanket at my desk now - it's very cold at 4am. Wishing you the best of luck and continued success! x

  2. Yeah, it's going okay! I did have a wobbly moment on Monday, doing only 1000 words, but I caught up the next day. Thanks for commenting - I think you're very dedicated (or perhaps mad!) to write at 4am. I have enough trouble getting up between 5 and 6 to let my puppy out!

  3. Great to hear how well it's going for you, Hayley. I love the discipline of NaNo - it definitely makes me keep going!