This past weekend I had a wonderful opportunity to hole up in a local hotel by myself and do whatever/whenever it is that I wanted. It was an amazing Christmas gift from my spouse. So of course I slept when I was tired, ate when I was hungry, and wrote every spare moment I could. It. Was. Amazing.
First off, sleeping with no dog (who has terminal cancer and I get up with at least once a night), no baby (who gets up at least once a night) and no toddler (who’s actually pretty good at this point) was extraordinary. I didn’t have to get up once through the night. This hasn’t happened in six months since I was on vacation in England. Second, no alarms were set. None! That hasn’t happened in … years. Years. I get my writing done first thing in the morning, so I have to set an alarm to make sure I’m up before the rest of the house, or when on vacation, before activities start for the day. I slept until my body told me it was time to wake up. The last time I can remember that happening was in grad school at Penn State. But it was right back into the trenches of sleep-interruptus-ending-in-alarms for me as soon as I got back. So this past weekend was a blip of sleep paradise for me.
I wrote a lot for me that past weekend, 4.1k words on Friday, 5.1k on Saturday, 3k on Sunday. To put that in perspective, my highest day in 2016 to date was 2.8k, and for 2015 was 3.5k. So I shattered some old records and in the process learned two important lessons. You hit the goals you set, and writing momentum is a great thing.
You hit the goals you set, so you should set your goals high is one my takeaways. Before the weekend started I set a goal of 10k words over the weekend, with Saturday being a 5k day. I had never written that much in a single day, but I wanted to push myself. I hit that goal. But what I found in the process, was my mental state was keyed into that goal. It controlled my pacing and once I hit that goal in the evening, it felt like my mind then checked that box and let all the exhaustion come crashing in. I set a high goal for myself and I hit it. But now I’m left wondering if I should’ve stretched higher. I suspect I could’ve.
The other lesson I learned is novel writing is like riding motorcycle for me, the faster you go the more stable it is. When I had whole days dedicated to writing my current novel, the story flowed easier, I was able to remember where I left off of faster in-between sessions. It felt like connections, plot points, character reactions were all easier when everything was fresh in my mind. Now that I’ve been back a week, the novel writing feels disjointed, like I’m watching a movie in five to ten minute chunks a day. And there’s frustratingly little I can do about it at this point. I carve out what time I can every day and that’s all I get. I’ve already harvested every spare moment of a typical day, and most days, things intrude even on those times (like right before I wrote this blog post, my dog had a seizure and I lost a half hour to taking care of him and cleaning up the mess).
So I had a wonderful weekend away that taught me two important lessons. One I can apply immediately, while I have yet to figure out how to apply the second to my everyday life. If I ever figure out how to weave the writing momentum into a disjointed, jammed pack day, I’ll let you know.