December has always been a very quiet month for me... when it comes to writing, at least. There are too many things going on in December. My parents celebrate the commercialized version of Christmas, meaning that a great deal of last minute shopping always goes on, and Christmas day is spent inside, with family, playing with whatever came under the tree. On top of that, the dreaded thing called "finals" always happens in early December, which leads to frantic paper writing and all night study sessions; I never seem to finish everything I have to during the day, meaning that I get no time for anything pleasurable until AFTER finals are over, and at that point, I don't even want to look at my word processor, much less use it. Another disadvantage of December is that it falls right after November-- also known as National Novel Writing Month; I just wrote a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, meaning I DEFINITELY do not want to even look at my word processor anymore, much less use it.
This leads to a very unproductive month of socializing, overeating, and general slacking. Yes, it is nice to get a break now and then, but at the same time, that break makes it extremely difficult to get back into the swing of writing in January. My writing gears rust over with disuse, the forward momentum I had on my novel has ground to a halt, and it becomes harder and harder to find motivation, much less the drive, to finish anything.
I'm currently trying to make it so that my month is not such a flop, that my writing does not grind to a halt, and that my book gets the time and attention it deserves.
Switching from writing at a first draft level, by the seat of the pants, during NaNoWriMo, back to writing at a polished, sixth draft level, which I am preparing for submission, has been extremely difficult. I cannot just sit down and pound out 1667 words a day of whatever comes to mind anymore, so I've had to do a few things to get me pumping out words again, but with more direction and focus.
Sometimes, I do not always have time to sit down, get into the zone, and write. I lead a busy life, like many other writers, so I had to find a way around this. What I do, in these moments, is try to plan ahead a bit. This can be as simple as just thinking about what my next scene is going to be about, figuring out what song inspires me for the next scene, or writing out the basics of the next scene, point by point. I always keep sticky notes in my purse just in case I have a moment to jot down scene notes.
This is really nice, because the next time I sit down to write, I know exactly what I'm going to be working on. I have no need to sit around, staring at my computer screen, wasting all my writing time just trying to figure out what I'm going to write. Because of this, in a little fifteen minute window, I can generally write between 250 words to 650 words.
Another thing I am doing to maximize my productivity is by keeping track of my writing. Yes, it may seem like it is only making more work for me, but wait! I'm gathering information! On my productivity spreadsheet, I list the date, where I am writing, what project I am working on, what times I am working from, my staring wordcount, ending wordcount, the total word gain, my average words per hour, what music I am listening to, and how noisy my environment is.
I've only been keeping this spreadsheet for a week now, but I can already see some serious trends. The noisier my environment, the less work I get done. I tend to do the best when I have no wifi. Having music only playing in one ear, or having distractions around, tends to also effect my wordcount production.
The last thing this spreadsheet tells me is how much I've written in a day. While this is good on its own, its secondary effect is what has proven the most useful. Whenever I look at my spreadsheet, and see that I haven't written in a day, I feel guilty, horribly, horribly guilty. This makes me want to write more. This makes me actually set aside time just to knock out some writing, even if it is only fifteen minutes worth.
So far, these new tools have helped me get back on the writing pony after a very productive but very taxing NaNoWriMo. My writing is switched back into sixth draft mode and I'm producing much bigger numbers than I had been.
Wishing you all lots of productivity and good writing,
~Tiffany "Kysis" Tackett