May 8th, 2013

crossed heart

How to write a book in six months — writing austerity measures, tips, and tricks to save time

Originally published at Cassie Alexander. You can comment here or there.

It’s been a bit since I’ve done one of these, but I’ve been, as always, busy. (This is an extra special one since I’ve already taken ambien, it might devolve into a fist fight at the end, stay tuned.)

However, my friend Ferrett Steinmetz shouted me out on his blog (The Loneliness of the Long Distance Writer.) for this series because he was ruminating on how you had to structure your life to make a solid amount — a replicable amount of art — happen on the regular, which is something I do. You can click on the “How to write a book in six months” to see more of them, and if you’ve got something you want me to talk about, feel free to email me to request it. I was thinking about this post while my hair-color was setting yesterday, and while I was writing on break at work last night — and then I read this article this morning  that made me want to froth. “I didn’t think art could make me rich but I thought it mighy pay some very cheap rent, nope”

Did that girl ever think about her future? There is so little money in publishing. So so little. Even less in poetry. Dreaming big is great, but every artist eventually hits a wall where they realize, “Shit, it’s go time.”  And either they lack the passion or the drive or the access to drugs or no longer have good health to keep doing what they’re doing and they fade away with fond memories of that one time they were in a band or have that one magazine that accepted that one story on their bookshelf along with a hundred other strangers.

I really do believe in the ten thousand hours of practice to get good at anything. And I believe in the million words of crap theory too — I know I wasn’t publishable until I’d hurdled them. And it wasn’t so much that all of that old stuff was bad, it was that I wasn’t self aware enough in my craft to make it good enough to sell. The layers of skill you need to make a successful go of your art are like an onion crossed with a maze. (Let’s blame that shitty metaphor on the ambien, shall we?) Getting good, getting realized as good, getting paid as good — each of those stages take So Much Time. Time that doesn’t happen before you’re twenty-five, unless you’ve got a wish-giving pony.

Anyhow, juggling my normal part-time ICU work, a book deadline coming up, trying to scrounge some free time for two one off projects, and a massive move that’s flying down the train tracks at mach speed, here’s the latest ways I’m keeping myself writing lean-times.

I love pandora — but when I find songs I like on there, I just buy them, so that I can play them without the temptation of thumbsing up or down songs. It sounds silly, but that 30 seconds of distraction a few times an hour adds up, if you’re me.

I only answer emails once a day, twice at most. Mostly because I’m on mailing lists and I don’t really care what people have to say unless the subject title is within my interests. Getting to delete threads whole — or skimming their entirety if the right wise people have chimed in — is far easier to deal with then deleting or reading peace meal.

I switched to a new little laptop and now I no longer have book marks, nor do I keep any. If — and it has to be a big if, like, so amazing, I will love it for forever — any websites blow me away, I email them to myself with the title of the thing, and then immediately market it read when it comes through. So I know I’ve got it, should I ever need to google search it up.

But I don’t have any feeds, RSS, or any bookmarks at all anymore. And I delete all my cookies all the time. So that if I don’t actually remember that a particular website was cool — whose url I would then have to physically type in — I just don’t go there anymore.

This cuts down on nominal sites that are half cool, because really, why bother, you’re just wasting time you could be writing. If I can’t care enough to type it in — and if I don’t remember it when I’m looking for things to do on the internet while bored — it’s gone. And that’s a good thing. I can’t remember where I used to waste so much of my time online back in the day.

Hope those help some of you get a few more pieces out of your day to write in! (And hooray, this wasn’t that ambieny after all….yet ;))