Monday, October 18, 2010

Structure and Discipline: The Beauty of NaNo and TPR

In my other life I am a homemaker. Or is that the other way around, that this life - my writing life - is the other? Regardless of which life you look at, typical structure is lacking. There is not start time or end time, no job descriptions or evaluations, very little in terms of work incentives. The flexibility that comes with that is very attractive; reading time, writing time, kid time, bon bons available at any moment. I love all that. But on a day to day basis I find this lack of structure painful. What's stopping me from getting bon bons at any moment? Better question, what is making me start writing, or clean the house, or force my child do his homework? Although I would never say I hate doing any of those things(I may hate the homework), my brain screams resistance. It would be a heck of a lot easier to just stay in my pajamas and read novels and let my kids do the same. What does any of it matter anyway?

Well, scratch that. The kids matter and so does the husband so I am obliged to do the laundry, and cook the dinner and all the rest. The home work? Well, I have to teach my son discipline, because if I have learned one thing from the lack of structure in my life, it that discipline is the only thing I got going for me as a writer. And it matters that I keep working on this writing thing because I want to get better and eventually succeed at it.

It was from all that pain that TPR has sprung. Not only does it structure my unstructured day into workable amounts of time but at the end of those time periods, I have a cohort with similar goals. We understand each other and know what it takes to get better at this writing thing.

And if you look at it that way, that is also the beauty of NaNo (I spoke of what NaNo is last week. Or go to the horse's mouth to learn about it). I read a post by Michael Stearns at Upstart Crow yesterday suggesting that 1000 words of writing per day is optimal and not NaNo's inflated 1,666 words per day - that is IF I write all 30 of them (but with Thanksgiving in there and my spirit wear volunteer job that is not likely, so I'm aiming for something like 2,500 words per day and taking weekends off). ALTHOUGH I totally agree with him, I WOULD write better if I didn't push so hard.

But here it is NaNo is an extended TPR. As a finite period of time, I can focus entirely(I don't really mean that, life must go on - which incidentally often happens during TPR too) on writing during the month. But before then everything else must get done.

There's the structure that I need. A DEADLINE! We have until November 1st! I will finish that resume, clean a couple closets, write a couple queries, do a little blog re-haul, and make sure those characters are prepared for the deluge soon to come at them. When November comes, I will be writing those words hour by hour in TPR and hoping that you are there to share my discomfort (or triumph! as the case may be). Click through the door on the right to find this week's schedule.

And after November? I guess I will just have to deal with the mess I make when December comes.

What do you need to get done in the next 2 weeks?