There’s something awesome about going for a walk, leaving your phone behind on purpose and not caring what time it is or how long you’re walking for, since you don’t have a laundry list of things to get done before work the next day.
Yes, I realize I’m a teacher with five weeks off (because summer school) and clearly lots of time on my hands. (I almost appended a good-natured “fuck off” to the end there.) Here’s the thing: summer doesn’t mean vacation for me. Summer means lots of writing time. Teaching summer school online for three weeks in July put a bit of a damper on that, so to make up for it I’ve been doing consistent “office hours” since last Tuesday, literally treating writing as a full-time day job. Spoiler alert: this concept is, in Pokemon terms, super effective.
I can’t claim credit for the idea, which I got from my friend Derek Kunsken, well known in our circles for almost religious productivity. I’ve done group writing sessions with him that are essentially a bunch of us showing up for “work” as writers: whether it’s drafting, editing, promotion, etc, with a lunch break and maybe a couple smaller breaks to stretch or make tea. Surrounded by a bunch of other like-minded people, we get a ton accomplished (which I guess is the opposite of your typical office setting). The key is that you can’t slack if the person sitting across from you is still pounding out new words, and they can”t if you’re still working, so it becomes a feedback loop of productivity. This past week I tried to do the same thing solo, but I didn’t think I’d be able to pull it off, since at home it’s too easy to get up and do dishes or answer Can*Con emails or call my Dad.
But in just a week of work, I went from having 1/3 of my draft 4 revisions done on my novel to completing my draft 4 revisions.
Obviously there’s still work to do on this novel, specifically some worldbuilding tweaks and then extensive line edits. But I think the reason why these solo office hours worked is because I sat down, looked at everything I want to get done over the next while, and forced myself to do it. That might sound overly simplistic, but writing is what I love and I have a lot of story I want to tell, including a couple novellas, a bunch of short stories (including commissions), collaborations with some friends of mine, and so on. Most importantly, the closer I get to September, the more headspace I’ll have to dedicate to getting ready for a new semester, and I decided I didn’t want to lose momentum on my novel. Line edits are easy to do with other stuff on your plate; major content revisions, not so much.
Having that ticking clock in the back of my head only adds extra motivation – provided I don’t burn myself out, which is why I took the last two days off from most writing work and relaxed. But tomorrow it’s right back into office hours, not just on line edits for Draft 5 but also to start laying the groundwork for other projects. There is, after all, no time like the present.
I also have announcements! First, in case you missed it, my short story “Moments” is now available as a reprint in Timeshift: Tales of Time, after a successful Kickstarter a few months ago. I’ve talked this anthology up a lot online because it’s packed with awesome flash fiction, and I’m particularly proud of my contribution, which details a love story between two time travellers through the short poems one writes about the other.
Also, first short story sale for 2019 achieved! Super pleased to announce that “Exactly What You Need” will appear in Abyss & Apex sometime in early 2019. Stay tuned for more news on that, as well as forthcoming work from me in Hyperion & Theia, Digital Science Fiction, and The Outsider.
And lastly, my friend Tracy Townsend has a two-part article on dialogue with Luna Station Quarterly, and incorporated some safe advice from yours truly in Part 2. You can check it out here. Then go read Tracy’s other stuff!