Our guest author today is Larry Brill. Larry spent 25 years as a TV news anchor and reporter, picking up numerous awards along the way. After leaving the business in 2000 to set up a video and marketing consulting business, Larry penned his first novel, Live At Five, a gentle lampooning of the TV news business. His second novel The Patterer, carries the same theme back in time to explore how today’s news clichés might play to an 18th century London theater audience.
How One Writer Beat the Distractions Trap
Confessions of a Fiction Procrastinator
This should be a great week to put in some serious time and finger grease on my latest novel-in-progress. (Would it still be elbow grease if your effort were confined to typing?) I am between projects in my “day job” as a creative director and video producer, so I have plenty of time on my hands to write fiction. Therein lies my downfall. Too much time and no specific deadline is Kryptonite to my writing.
Which is why I hate Facebook. And Twitter. And email. And the Internet in general. They are the thieves I face whenever I sit down at my computer. This week I also hate clear, blue sunny skies in need of admiring, lawns in need of mowing, and cats in need of a good scratching. In other words, I hate all the distractions that pull me away from my story. There are so many and I am, by nature, a serial procrastinator.
You see, I work out of a home office with one computer for all my personal and business needs. It’s convenient in so many ways, except. Except that Work (capital W) I do in the daytime frequently spills over into the evening, while taking care of bills and budgets and other household “paper” chores frequently encroaches on the hours I should be attending to the clients’ needs. And lost in the midst of juggling all that, multi-tasking in the worst possible sense, is the time I need for fiction.
When I wrote my first novel, Live At Five, I was still working a morning shift at the NBC affiliate here in Austin. It was a lot easier to schedule time for fiction back then because I had a routine. Get up and go to work. Come home and complete tasks that fall into the category of life maintenance. And the hours between dinner and bed were reserved for writing. Fewer dinners out, no TV and no DVD. The schedule was set and I blocked off the hours (unofficial but fairly rigid) to find time for work, life and fiction. [LiveAtFiveSmlpic}
Now, without that structure, it feels like I’m painting, as if I’m smearing colors, one for each of those parts of life, onto a single canvas. They all run over each other and blend into one. I’m not whining, it’s a beautiful bit of art, my life is, but like an abstract painting it’s hard to focus on any one element. And when I can’t focus on fiction, both my writing and I suffer.
Which is why I love the National Novel Writers Month. If you haven’t yet heard of it, NaNoWriMo is a thirty-day challenge that starts on November 1st and runs through November 30th. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write a 50,000 word novel in that time. You can register online, and each day that you add words to your novel you upload them to the site to keep track of your progress. You can set up a buddy list to monitor each other’s progress and egg each other on. And there are a number of other ways they inspire you to keep at it.
It’s like having a deadline on steroids.
1,666 words a day (average) to make the grade.
And the best part? The words don’t really matter. It’s quantity versus quality. Though in the two times I’ve taken up the challenge, both successful, I found that, for the purposes of a first draft, some of my best prose came out of a wild stream of consciousness under the threat of missing my deadline.
The NaNoWriMo challenge forces me back into the kind of writing schedule that has helped me not only complete, but publish two well-reviewed novels. For some reason, the discipline that I lack eleven moths out of the year takes a vacation every November. And so does the serial procrastinator inside me.
Larry is giving away a signed paperback to a US resident, or if you're an ereader, you can choose to get a pdf, whether you're in the U.S. or international, so leave a comment. Then zip over to Larry's website to learn more about him and his books.