Thursday, May 7, 2009

Anonymity Jones, and Writing Quote IV

It's finished, and is currently sitting in Leonie's inbox. Ah, wondrous day!

It was so tempting to stay in bed this morning, and sometimes I wonder if I'm burning out. I know that sounds dramatic, but having worked in a high stress healthcare career for almost twenty years, I think I'm qualified to identify the signs of burnout. The fact is, I've been pretty prolific over the couple of years. Not Jackie French prolific, just 250,000 words prolific. Hunting Elephants, The Gimlet Eye, the first in the Edsel Grizzler trilogy, and now Anonymity Jones, plus all the incidental stuff, articles etc. I've got several (10-ish) more projects lined up, but I also feel like I need a break.

The problem is, though, that if I'm not writing, everyone else is. And I'm aware of the collective weight of Other Stuff being written, and published, and bought. So this is why, after finishing a YA novel at 11pm last night, I'm now cracking my knuckles in preparation for something new.

The other day someone called me a 'word machine'. To which I replied, 'Yes, I churn out the words, but then a bunch of women in hair nets have to pick out the bent ones.'*

I learnt a long time ago that if I set myself a minimum amount of writing time per day, I can waste that so easily. There are so many distractions right here, contained within the 6 square metres of space that is my study, and at the end of an eight hour day, I'll have achieved very little in terms of actually writing anything. So my solution - which works very well for me, I might add - has been to set a word quota. 2,000 words a day. Minimum. Every day. And most days I achieve that, although lately I've been limiting myself to 1,000 words on weekends.

But how many bent words am I producing? I think that's an important consideration.

So, to the writing quote, this time from the British author and historian Gerald Brenan. And here's what he had to say about this:

It is by sitting down to write every morning that one becomes a writer. Those who do not do this remain amateurs.

* (No disrespect meant to any of the lovely publishers and editors with whom I work. As far as I'm aware, none of them wears a hair net.)


Gus Gordon said...

Before hair nets were compulsory, bent words often found their way into the hair of the many women that worked in the word factories. The outcome was never pretty. These words were then extracted in a complicated washing process and used for Booker prize winning novels. So many odd words just jammed together in the one place for no apparent reason whatsoever. Hairnets have saved many a reader.

simmone said...

you are scaring me with your wordage!

james roy said...

Ah, my plan is coming to fruition, Simmone. (Mwa-ha-ha) I'm compiling a list of Aussie YA authors who I hope will be similarly scared, and will stop writing altogether, thereby leaving a greater market share for me. And yes, Simmone, you're on that list.

jonathan said...

I loved Town, am enjoying Hunting Elephants so far and have a copy of The Gimlet Eye on my desk. So keep those words coming!

As for the word count, I'm only a wannabe writer but am currently trying to get 250 words written most days. I have had varying levels of success.

james roy said...

Thanks, Jonathan. The thing about the word quota is that if you knock it over before lunch, you can have the afternoon off, or do it all again after lunch. But if you're still at your desk at one am, that's no one's fault but your own.

Rob Roy said...

Best cure for burnout is a break from work to recharge, preferably on the other side of the world. I'm booking holidays at the moment - so when do I add a few weeks off to show you round?

Oh, and send your helmet size too.

james roy said...

Rob, you make me laugh. Helmets have sizes?

Kirsty Murray said...

Whoa! You are a veritable Jack London. I'll have to dig out his bio for you - he had the same word quota but dropped dead in his mid 40s... hmmmm... take a break, Jim.

Sam said...
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