Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A short note on Self-Discipline

Discipline, discipline, discipline! I had a sticker on my old monitor: BICHOK. It means Butt In Chair Hands On Keyboard. See, it works like this: You can't make money without a book to sell, you can't sell the book without a publisher, you can't get a contract without a manuscript, and you can't have a manuscript until you put fingers to keyboard and type it in.

I have a 3" ring binder so stuffed with ideas it looks like my 6-year-old grandson's school backpack at the end of the week. I see a movie, and I get an idea. I read a book and think, "I'd do that differently." And worst of all, I watch documentaries and come up with entire series. (moan!) Ideas from the Muse are not the problem. I need an intelligent octopus to help me type them all into the computer!

I've given myself carpal tunnel and tendonitis when a story wouldn't let me go. My hands swell up, and I can't even hold a coffee cup without whimpering. So, I'm limited to between 1000 and 2000 words a day. To accomplish this, I have a Power Hour. I shut the door of my office, on which there is a sign: "If you knock, I'd better hear sirens!" and I type what I've already plotted out. Right now, the entire plot for my WIP is up on my bulletin board in the form of plot cards. Each row of cards is a chapter, with the bottom row being the one I'm working on. Yes, I have to move them down to do the next chapter. A nefarious plot on my part (okay, pardon the pun) to refresh my memory on the whole story as I write.

Sometimes I have appropriate music in the background. When I write a Native American tale, I have NA music. When I write magic and mayhem, I play Celtic. When I write about demons, devils, and naughties, I play the CD, "Infernal Violins." You've never heard Danse Macabre until you've heard a violin master do his best to burn his violin with friction! No words. All instrumental. Lyrics interfere with the words in my brain, unless they're in a foreign language like Gregorian chants or opera like "Carmina Burana." Right now I have nature sounds in the CD player, specifically "Rain and Thunder." Finally, I use Christmas CD's to get me in the mood to write holiday stories in July and August. It's nearly impossible to get "in the holiday spirit" otherwise.

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