I’m about to do something that most moonlight novelists can only dream of: taking time off from my day job to work on my book. Okay, actually I’m on leave for the next two weeks to rehabilitate a chronic injury that’s been worsening of late, but the athlete in me can’t stand being broken, so I’m trying to think of it as a writing sabbatical. A Writing and Athletic Recovery Sabbatical, or WARS (five years of government work has made me a whiz at acronyms).
It’s a wonderful opportunity. I can devote hours—swathed in ice packs, but uninterrupted –to writing. And it scares the crap out of me. All these years, I’ve had my job as a mitigating factor in my productivity. Hacking out a few pages constitutes a triumph; the ponderous development of drafts is forgivable. But now there are no excuses. It’s type up or shut up. If I can’t make progress now, with no impediments, how will I ever hack it as a full-time author?
I’ve set up two things to help me make the most of this dauntingly ambitious project. First, a quantifiable goal. Or at least a productivity spectrum: writing can be a fickle craft. The minimum I plan to accomplish is seven chapters. Since I’m already on chapter ten and the story is about halfway done, seven chapters should put me very close to the finish line. Best case scenario, I pound out chapters like miles on my long runs (something else from which I’ll have to take leave while healing, sigh) and complete the first draft.
The second is asking you all to hold me accountable. I’ll post regular progress reports during the next two weeks, a sabbatical journal. Why will this motivate me? Because my self-respect couldn’t bear for entries to read “today I tinkered with a few verb choices, then spent five hours binging on Battlestar Galactica.” I can do better than that. You deserve better than that.
So strap on my thinking helmet, squire, and let the WARS begin.
As soon as I finish watching game one of the ALCS.